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Everything Old Is New Again: China's Revives the Silk Route

The Asia Society Museum has just announced a new show called "Secrets of the Sea: A Tang Shipwreck and Early Trade in Asia "

The show will open in March of 2017 at the Park Avenue address.

The Asia Society describes the show as a celebration of the flourishing exchange of goods, ideas and culture among Medieval China, Southeast Asia and the Islamic Middle East.

The show is important because it shows the foreign trade of the Tang Dynasty, the most cosmopolitan dynasty in Chinese history, one that was international in character, and the Golden Age of China in the arts and literature.

This is of particular interest because Chinese president Xi Jinping has announced the "One Belt, One Road" initiative, a revival and expansion of the old trade routes.

(The map to the left illustrates the historical trade routes. The map beneath it shows the planned "Belt and Road" expansion upon the historical routes.)

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The TPP as seen by Asian Countries

Experts from Asian countries have weighed in on the U. S. pulling out of the TPP.

They want the U. S. to stay. "If the United States, rich with experience in global
leadership, retreats in this situation, there will certainly be a leadership vacuum."

This is the view expressed in a publication of the Asia Foundation subtitled, "Strategic Recommendations for the Incoming President of the U. S. on Foreign Policy Towards Asia." For a download, go to:

http://asiafoundation.org/publication/asian-views-americas-role-asia-future-rebalance

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China Policy Under Trump


There is no doubt that the most important bilateral relationship in American foreign policy is the relationship with China. This is why I welcomed the recent NPR interview with Michael Pillsbury, a China hand and present member of the Trump transition team.

My father was a brilliant trial lawyer who could change tactics in the middle of a trial, depending on the testimony of the witness. A favorite quote of his was, "You have to speak to people in a language that they understand."

This sounds obvious, but actually it is a study in communications strategy. The United States has been very poor in its communications strategy with China for the past eight years and I include the foreign policy team of the present administration and the past two secretaries of state. All of them have a tin ear when it comes to understanding nuance. They fall into the Chinese category of Western barbarians.

I shall not mention all of the specific issues that called for America to weigh in, but the Umbrella Revolution in Hong Kong comes to mind. The young were in the streets asking for the democracy promised at the handover of Hong Kong from Britain.

Mr. Pillsbury is the author of the perceptive book "The Hundred Year Marathon." He is also a speaker of Chinese and a scholar of Chinese history. His approach is that of a military man. He served in the Reagan and Bush administrations. By this I mean that like military men the world over, Mr. Pillsbury is a strategic thinker. This is exactly what is needed in dealing with China, for the Chinese have been brilliant strategic thinkers for the past two thousand years.

A word about Chinese history. They were the pre-eminent civilization in the world for centuries until the rise of the West. They failed to come to terms with Western science and technology. They screwed up modernization royally, because of their belief in their own culture. They turned inward at a time when the West came to dominate the international order.

The Chinese have made up for lost time in the past three decades. They are moving onto the global scene. As Mr. Pillsbury says, China is sometimes a friend and sometimes a rival.
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The Themes that Haunt Us All: The After-effects of War



Thirty years ago, the British director Peter Brook staged the great Indian epic poem, "The Mahabharata" at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. The cast was multi-ethnic. The point was, that art is universal. That the themes speak to humanity.

The philosophy of the Mahabharata is grounded in the great Hindu themes, but the script was written by a Frenchman and parts were played by actors of many different races and nationalities.

The great Japanese film director Akira Kurosawa did film versions of the Shakespeare plays, "MacBeth" called "Throne of Blood" and "King Lear" called "Ran" or "Chaos."

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The TPP: Right Or Wrong?



Does your brain trying to figure out the plus and minuses of the TPP? I mean the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal that the Obama administration supports and Trump rejects. You're not alone.

Here is a breakdown. The TPP is a trade agreement among eleven countries of the Pacific. Pacific trade is the most vital in the world.

In the words of the China specialist, Gordon Chang, the issue is not the lopsided benefits of tariffs, dumping and currency manipulation. These can be negotiated.

The question is: Whose vision of Pacific trade will prevail, Washington's or Beijing's.
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China Bullies Hong Kong

The New York Times has today's headline in an Opinion Piece right. "China Bullies Hong Kong."

Two elected officials, young advocates of independence for Hong Kong, were denied their seats in the legislature.

China promised Hong Kong would retain its democratic institutions when Hong Kong reverted to Chinese control in 1997 after centuries under British
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A Conversation With Ai Wei Wei at the Council on Foreign Relations



Ai Weiwei is the artist who has defied the Chinese leadership on the subject of human rights. He was in New York, interviewed by my friend Jerome Cohen, the dean of China lawyers.

Cohen is a brilliant observer of the Chinese political scene. His best question was about Xi Jinping, the President of China.

Cohen posed the following question. Xi speaks of Confucianism all the time. The chief value of Confucianism is respect for parents. Xi's own father was put to labor by Mao, and when he returned, he still spoke up for the rights of people. What is he doing?
How do you honor your father?

See Weiwei's answer in the video.  Read More 
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China: Sea Power or Land Power? The New Silk Road Explained

On the 12th of July, the International Court of Arbitration at the Hague awarded the Philippines the decision on the South China Sea.

This was a defeat for China, which refused to participate in the arbitration, arguing that the court had no jurisdiction.

The loss was bitter and the China were furious.

What does it all mean?  Read More 
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Mark Zuckerberg Speaks Halting Mandarin

This is fascinating. Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, speaks at Tsinghua University. He addresses a young and middle-aged audience for twenty minutes in halting Mandarin. He seems to do it from memory, without a teleprompter.

He speaks in tones, he struggles at bringing phrases to memory at times, but he is working at correct pronunciation, an exercise which pleases Chinese to no end. They usually think that Westerners are too damned dumb to get their language.

He is not a smooth speaker, as some Westerners are. Jon Hunstman, the former American ambassador, speaks fairly good Chinese and so does Jerome Cohen, the China lawyer. Zuckerberg even gets a laugh, which is pretty good for a Western barbarian. Thus the Great Wall across the great cultural divide may be breached and one wonders does this have any resonance for the Great Firewall that Chinese censors have placed around the Internet.

Zuckerberg, of course, is known to the Chinese as a technical genius. He speaks about connecting the world. This is a great performance. The audience applauds him. I have to run this story down, because I want to know more about it. Sty tuned for further reportage.



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Chinese Maritime Buildup Increases Tensions over the Senkaku Islands




Here's a capsule explanation of what's going on in the East China Sea. This territorial dispute is one of the flashpoints in the region, since the Japanese insist on making ports of call.

Here's a link to an image that focuses on the China/Japan territorial dispute. There are other conflicting claims in the region.

https://goo.gl/images/KMbTBk

In 2012, the Japanese government bought three of five islands from a private family. Japanese vessels regularly patrol the sea, off the coast of Okinawa. The Japanese and the Chinese government have disputed claims to the islands.

The Chinese call them the Diaoyu Islands. Dispute over them has been going on since the 1970s.
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