Archive for the 'China' Category

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US and India

As Barack Obama becomes the third US President to visit India in the last decade, C Raja Mohan looks at why the visit is different from previous ones and what to expect. In The Indian Express:

When Barack Hussein Obama arrives in Mumbai next Saturday, he will be launching only the fifth presidential visit from America since India gained independence more than 60 years ago.

The fact that Obama is the third president to travel to India in the last decade, however, shows how much Washington and Delhi have begun to matter to each other. The ‘wasted decades’—former foreign minister Jaswant Singh’s description of the prolonged period of estrangement between India and the United States during the second half of the twentieth century—are now behind us.

Beyond the new intensity and frequency of bilateral engagement, Obama’s visit underlines one little-understood but fundamental change in the context of the India-US relations.

Until recently, Delhi constantly worried about how the United States, the world’s foremost power, might hurt India. On the eve of President Clinton’s visit to India in March 2000, Delhi was concerned that the United States will ramp up the pressure against India’s nuclear weapons programme. It was also afraid that Clinton will side with Pakistan on the question of Jammu and Kashmir. More:

Obama should visit Tawang monastery

Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar in The Times of India:

Visits that are remembered are gamechanging ones, like the George W Bush-Manmohan Singh nuclear summit. Can President Obama make his visit a gamechanging one? Here are two suggestions. First, he must visit the Tawang monastery in Arunachal Pradesh. Second, he must declare emphatically and repeatedly that the US will do everything it can to stop China from supplying two new nuclear reactors to Pakistan.

Obama wishes to have good relations with China and Pakistan, not just India. Politics dictates that he will try to be all things to all the countries he visits, and avoid statements and policies that may strengthen relations with one country at the expense of the other. Yet, if the longterm strategic partnership proposed by Bush and supported by Obama has substance, it must include the vision of India as a democratic counter to an economically and militarily powerful China that might throw its weight around aggressively in Asia. Hopefully this will not lead to hostilities, and neither India nor the US should even remotely think of any sort of military pact.

What is needed is a US gesture that will show strategic support for India without totally alienating China or creating the potential for military confrontation. An Obama visit to Tawang will be exactly such a gesture. It will be an effective way of signaling US support to India’s claims in Arunachal Pradesh.

China will of course express outrage, since it claims that Tawang is part of Tibet and hence of its own territory. China even objected to the Dalai Lama visiting Tawang. More:

China, India and the West

Simon Tay in Foreign Affairs:

In the aftermath of the global financial crisis, the economies of North America and Europe remain fragile while those of Asia continue to grow. This is especially true in the cases of China and India, which both boast near double-digit rates of growth and have therefore inspired confidence around the region. But too many commentators discuss China and India with breathless admiration — extrapolating, for example, that growth will continue at a breakneck pace for decades. In doing so, they treat emerging economies as if they were already world powers, echoing the hubris that preceded the Asian currency crisis of 1997-98.

Pranab Bardhan‘s Awakening Giants, Feet of Clay: Assessing the Economic Rise of China and India is a welcome corrective to that view. It succinctly summarizes the challenges facing China and India, including environmental degradation, unfavorable demographics, poor infrastructure, and social inequality — threats that the leaders of China and India understand. Even as others have lavished praise on China, and Chinese citizens have grown stridently nationalistic, Chinese President Hu Jintao and others in the current leadership have been cautionary. As Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said in 2007, the country’s development is “unsteady, unbalanced, uncoordinated, and unsustainable.” In India, meanwhile, although the government has orchestrated campaigns to highlight the country’s growth and reform, its plans to develop roads and other infrastructure are a prominent and expensive recognition of the country’s enduring gaps. More:

Indian exuberance is misplaced

Shoba Narayan in The National:

The odious comparison comes up all the time, especially during the recent run up to the Commonwealth Games. Every time a walkway collapsed or an official complained about filthy toilets, India collectively sighed and mutely acknowledged the elephant in the room: the Beijing Olympics. Across the globe, in Indian blogs and usenet mailing lists, Indians engaged in a collective, heartfelt and oft-repeated comparison between the two most populous nations on earth. As I prepare to spend 10 days in China, I wonder if the Chinese indulge in as much soul-searching about India as we do about their country?

Against this milieu, The Economist’s recent issue that talks up India over China offered welcome relief to Indians. “How India’s growth will outpace China’s,” said the cover. The numbers, certainly, seem to add up. Indian stock markets are flirting with their all-time highs. According to data from the Bespoke Investment Group that compared the performance of stocks in 22 countries since the financial crisis of 2008, China is the worst performer and India the second-best, behind Mexico. Chinese stocks are down 56 per cent from the peaks reached before the global downturn. In comparison, India is down a mere 2 per cent. In last week’s World Economic Outlook, the IMF forecast that the Indian economy would grow 9.7 per cent next year and 8.4 per cent the following year; higher than the 8.5 per cent that the Indian finance minister Pranab Mukherjee estimated when he sought to reassure investors last week that India’s record foreign institutional investor inflows and its strong market rally did not point to a bubble economy.

The reason for India’s current strength goes back to China’s mercantilist, export oriented economy. China’s fortunes, linked as they are with the West, mean that when the West sneezes as it did during the credit crisis, China catches a cold. Thanks to a large domestic economy that is not so export-oriented, India (and Indonesia) have been relatively immune to this phenomenon. A recent report from HSBC said trade confidence in India was the highest among the 17 countries they surveyed. India’s trade confidence index for the coming six months stood at 140 , up from 133 in the first half of the year. China’s was 111. More:

In The Economist: A bumpier but freer road

An interview with the Karmapa Lama

Saransh Sehgal interviews the 17th Karmapa Lama, Ogyen Trinley Dorje. In Asia Sentinel:

Q: There has been great interest in your study of environmentalism, psychology and foreign languages. Is it because the restrictions on your overseas travel prompted you to spend energy on these subjects? What relations do you see between Buddhism and these subjects?

The 17th Gyalwang Karmapa: Generally, there are many people using different languages and studying different languages is to overcome the lack of language skill and have clear communication when interacting with some of those people who come here; it is sad when misunderstandings remain with those people who come here from faraway places.

Therefore, I put my best efforts into having, at the least, formal conversations with them. Studying modern psychology and Tibetan Buddhism, with ancient and modern going hand in hand, is to deepen and brighten my knowledge. In the case of environmentalism, the environment has become an important issue and therefore it is important to understand it. I do all this voluntarily to fulfill my personal and social responsibilities of leading a society. It is not at all a new topic I had begun because of overseas travels.

Q: You have been handling an environment protection group. What has the group actually done- what are the findings?

A: This environmental protection group we have here deals with basic issues such as raising environmental awareness, discussing environmental issues, finding and propagating the means and methods to protect the environment, waste management, cleaning the environment, the use of solar power for conservation of energy and planting trees. Generally speaking, we are able to raise new environmental awareness amongst our Tibetan community. What we have been doing deals with very basic issues; we have not yet reached a very high standard concerning protection of the environment. More:

Rivals: Misconceiving Asia

Achin Vanaik in For Liberation [via 3quarksdaily]:

The mass of recent literature on the ‘rise of Asia’ largely focuses on the implications of this development for the West. [1] It rarely stops to consider the impact on inter-relations between the Asian states themselves. In Rivals, ex-Economist editor Bill Emmott attempts to correct this by examining the cases of China, India and Japan, and argues that the interaction between the three will decisively influence the shape of the coming world order. As he points out, their triple coexistence as major powers represents a historical novelty. In 1820, when China and India between them accounted for almost half of world output, Japan remained a relative backwater, its modernizing drive of the Meiji period lying decades in the future; by the 1930s, when Japan had become a full-fledged industrial and military power, China was impoverished and riven by warlordism, while India groaned under the British yoke. The headlong economic development of the prc and steady growth in India over the past decades suggest that the two Asian giants will join Japan among the top five national economies in the world.

Yet this very process is creating ‘disruptive transformations’ that will profoundly alter the economies, societies and polities of the states in question, Emmott argues, potentially raising new tensions between the three. Rising prosperity has brought commensurate expansion of Chinese and Indian global ambitions. The coming years will see intensifying competition over resources and markets, not least in the battle for Burmese oil and gas fields. In addition, Emmott sees an incipient arms race developing, in a region littered with potential flashpoints. As well as territorial disputes—over Aksai Chin and Arunachal Pradesh in the case of China and India, and over the Senkaku and other islands in the case of China and Japan—there are further sources of tension in Tibet, Taiwan, the Korean peninsula, Pakistan and Kashmir, which the deteriorating world economic outlook will likely only heighten. Emmott proposes a ‘plausible pessimistic’ scenario: China’s bubble-prone economy enters a deep recession, accompanied by rising social protests; the ccp tightens its grip with increased recourse to nationalism, amplifying regional tensions through displays of truculence. With Japan too bolstering its military, Taiwan might become the cause of a ‘short, exploratory exchange of fire’ that could also draw in the us. More:

China and India: Contest of the century

From The Economist:

A hundred years ago it was perhaps already possible to discern the rising powers whose interaction and competition would shape the 20th century. The sun that shone on the British empire had passed midday. Vigorous new forces were flexing their muscles on the global stage, notably America, Japan and Germany. Their emergence brought undreamed-of prosperity; but also carnage on a scale hitherto unimaginable.

Now digest the main historical event of this week: China has officially become the world’s second-biggest economy, overtaking Japan. In the West this has prompted concerns about China overtaking the United States sooner than previously thought. But stand back a little farther, apply a more Asian perspective, and China’s longer-term contest is with that other recovering economic behemoth: India. These two Asian giants, which until 1800 used to make up half the world economy, are not, like Japan and Germany, mere nation states. In terms of size and population, each is a continent—and for all the glittering growth rates, a poor one. More:

India digs under top of the world to rival China

India is building a tunnel to bypass the dangerous Rohtang Pass as part of a plan to match China’s power. Lydia Polgreen in The New York Times:

Rohtang Pass — The name of this white-knuckle pass, one of the highest in the world, means “pile of corpses” in the Tibetan language. Every year a few dozen people die trying to cross these spiky Himalayan peaks.

For six months the road is snowbound, putting at the mercy of the elements tens of thousands of Indian troops posted beyond it in this remote but strategically important region along India’s long and disputed border with China.

In the past decade, as China has furiously built up its military and civilian infrastructure on its side of the border, the Rohtang Pass on the Indian side has stood as mute testimony to India’s inability and unwillingness to master its far-flung and rugged outermost reaches.

But now, India is racing to match its rival for regional and global power, building and bolstering airstrips and army outposts, shoring up neglected roads and — finally, decades after it was first proposed — building a tunnel to bypass the deadly Rohtang Pass. More:

Adventures in very recent evolution

In the last few years, biologists peering into the human genome have found evidence of recent natural selection. Nicholas Wade in The New York Times:

Ten thousand years ago, people in southern China began to cultivate rice and quickly made an all-too-tempting discovery — the cereal could be fermented into alcoholic liquors. Carousing and drunkenness must have started to pose a serious threat to survival because a variant gene that protects against alcohol became almost universal among southern Chinese and spread throughout the rest of China in the wake of rice cultivation.

The variant gene rapidly degrades alcohol to a chemical that is not intoxicating but makes people flush, leaving many people of Asian descent a legacy of turning red in the face when they drink alcohol.

The spread of the new gene, described in January by Bing Su of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, is just one instance of recent human evolution and in particular of a specific population’s changing genetically in response to local conditions.

Scientists from the Beijing Genomics Institute last month discovered another striking instance of human genetic change. Among Tibetans, they found, a set of genes evolved to cope with low oxygen levels as recently as 3,000 years ago. This, if confirmed, would be the most recent known instance of human evolution. More:

Bangladesh’s moment may have arrived

As costs have risen in China, it is losing work to countries like Bangladesh for cheaper, labor-intensive goods. Vikas Bajaj in International herald Tribune:

Gazipur, Bangladesh — The eight-lane highway leading from the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka, narrows repeatedly as it approaches this town about 30 miles north, eventually depositing cars onto a muddy, potholed lane bordered by mangroves and small shops.

But this is no mere rural backwater. It is the sort of place to which foreign manufacturers may increasingly turn, if the rising wage demands of factory workers in China prompt companies to seek new pools of cheap labor elsewhere.

Already, in factories behind steel gates and tall concrete walls, tens of thousands of workers, most of them women, spend their days stitching T-shirts, pants and sweaters for Wal-Mart, H&M, Zara and other Western retailers and brands. More:

In Tibetans, evidence of “fastest case of human evolution”

Nicholas Wade in The New York Times:

Tibetans live at altitudes of 13,000 feet, breathing air that has 40 percent less oxygen than is available at sea level, yet suffer very little mountain sickness. The reason, according to a team of biologists in China, is human evolution, in what may be the most recent and fastest instance detected so far.

Comparing the genomes of Tibetans and Han Chinese, the majority ethnic group in China, the biologists found that at least 30 genes had undergone evolutionary change in the Tibetans as they adapted to life on the high plateau. Tibetans and Han Chinese split apart as recently as 3,000 years ago, say the biologists, a group at the Beijing Genomics Institute led by Xin Yi and Jian Wang. The report appears in Friday’s issue of Science.

If confirmed, this would be the most recent known example of human evolutionary change. Until now, the most recent such change was the spread of lactose tolerance — the ability to digest milk in adulthood — among northern Europeans about 7,500 years ago. But archaeologists say that the Tibetan plateau was inhabited much earlier than 3,000 years ago and that the geneticists’ date is incorrect.

When lowlanders try to live at high altitudes, their blood thickens as the body tries to counteract the low oxygen levels by churning out more red blood cells. This overproduction of red blood cells leads to chronic mountain sickness and to lesser fertility — Han Chinese living in Tibet have three times the infant mortality of Tibetans. More:

China’s cultural diplomacy

China has mastered the art of cultural diplomacy; it’s high time India gets inspired. John Lee in The Hindustan Times. Lee is a research fellow at the Center for Independent Studies (CIS), Sydney. His paper, ‘Unrealised Potential: India’s Soft Power Ambition in Asia’, was released by the CIS on June 30:

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is obsessed with building ‘soft power’ — the attractiveness of a country’s civilisation, culture, values and political system — as well as ensuring that China is respected and admired for its achievements since reforms began in 1978. In contrast, India puts little emphasis on promoting the country’s historical, economic, political and cultural credentials to the world. Its appreciation for the value of ‘cultural diplomacy’ is poor. One result is that the mere mention of India as a Great Power usually evokes only chuckles from an Asian audience. Although loathe to admit it, New Delhi would do well to learn lessons from Beijing about the importance of selling its strengths and achievements to the world.

One lesson is the sheer amount of economic and manpower resources Beijing devotes to shaping its messages and selling its story. For example, China has funded more than 270 Confucius Institutes in 75 countries teaching Mandarin and the CCP’s version of history to more than 100 million foreigners. Beijing aims to have 1,000 institutes up and running by 2020. In contrast, India has only 24 cultural centres in 21 countries functioning under its missions abroad.

Another example is Beijing’s active and effective diplomatic charm offensive, which has been in place since the mid-1990s. Currently, China has more diplomats than any other country in the world, including America. In China’s State-dominated society, diplomats are chosen from the cream of the crop and are given extensive language and cultural training. Moreover, according to some estimates, Beijing dispatches more diplomatic, business and cultural delegations to all corners of the region each year than all other Asian countries combined. In contrast, foreigners complain about the aloofness, ineffectiveness and bureaucratic stubbornness of many of India’s current diplomatic staff. For a country with a GDP of around $1.3 trillion and a population of 1.2 billion, official Indian delegations are small, infrequent and poorly utilised. More:

China intensifies tug of war with India on Nepal

Jim Yardley from Kathmandu in The New York Times:

For years, Nepal never bothered too much with policing its northern border with China. The Himalayas seemed a formidable-enough barrier, and Nepal’s political and economic attention was oriented south toward India. If Nepal was a mouse trapped between elephants, as the local saying went, the elephant that mattered most was India.

But last week a Nepalese government delegation visited Beijing on a trip that underscored, once again, how China’s newfound weight in the world is altering old geopolitical equations.

As Nepal’s home minister, Bhim Rawal, met with China’s top security officials, Chinese state media reported that the two countries had agreed to cooperate on border security, while Nepal restated its commitment to preventing any “anti-China” events on its side of the border. More:

India worries as China builds ports in South Asia

Vikas Bajaj in the New York Times:

Hambantota, Sri Lanka: For years, ships from other countries, laden with oil, machinery, clothes and cargo, sped past this small town near India as part of the world’s brisk trade with China.

Now, China is investing millions to turn this fishing hamlet into a booming new port, furthering an ambitious trading strategy in South Asia that is reshaping the region and forcing India to rethink relations with its neighbors.

As trade in the region grows more lucrative, China has been developing port facilities in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar, and it is planning to build railroad lines in Nepal. These projects, analysts say, are part of a concerted effort by Chinese leaders and companies to open and expand markets for their goods and services in a part of Asia that has lagged behind the rest of the continent in trade and economic development.

But these initiatives are irking India, whose government worries that China is expanding its sphere of regional influence by surrounding India with a “string of pearls” that could eventually undermine India’s pre-eminence and potentially rise to an economic and security threat. More:

In 2025, India to pass China in population

From the New York Times:

populationIndia will become the world’s most populous country in 2025, surpassing China, where the population will peak one year later because of declining fertility, according to United States Census Bureau projections released Tuesday.

The bureau suggests that the projected peak in China, 1.4 billion people, will be lower than previously estimated and that it will occur sooner. With the fertility rate declining to fewer than 1.6 births per woman in this decade from 2.2 in 1990, China’s overall population growth rate has slowed to 0.5 percent annually.

In contrast, India’s 1.4 percent growth rate is being driven by a fertility rate of 2.7 births per woman. More:

Mira Sinha Bhattacharjea — 1930-2009

Sandeep Dikshit in the Hindu:

Mira_sinha_bhattacharjeaBorn in 1930 and selected for the elite Indian Foreign Service in 1955, Mira Sinha’s first posting was to the Indian Embassy in Beijing. She worked there for nearly four years when she fell victim to a bizarre government rule of those times that forced women officers to quit if they got married. She resigned from the IFS – the service to which her first husband also belonged – and soon began teaching post-graduate courses on Chinese politics at Delhi University.

In a conversation with The Hindu, one of her students, former foreign secretary Shiv Shankar Menon, recalled the trying circumstances under which she set up the Department of Chinese Studies at Delhi University in the 1960s. Sinophobia was at its peak “There were four of us in one batch and there were more teachers than students. But she persevered and even at times when Sino-Indian ties went through tremendous emotional upheaval, she retained her capability of being objective. To do so consistently is a tribute to her calmness, grace and dignity.” More:

High tensions

Tawang Monastery. Photo: Arunachal Pradesh Tourism

Tawang Monastery. Photo: Arunachal Pradesh Tourism

Peter Savodnik travels to Arunachal Pradesh, India’s Himalayan state whose contested border marks the front lines of the increasingly combative rivalry between India and China. In the National:

Tawang sits about 3,000 metres above sea level and is enveloped by sharply etched mountains and crystalline skies. The centre of the village comprises a narrow artery riddled with two- and three-storey hotels offering “fooding and lodging”, souvenir stands, barber shops – the Fancy Hair Cut Salon, with room for just one stool, is a big draw – and 4x4s that ferry tourists from Tawang to Jang and Bomdilla, also in Arunachal Pradesh, and Tezpur and Guwahati, in Assam. The tourists who come to Tawang are mostly young, newly moneyed Indians, according to Bijoy Baruah, a tour guide from Guwahati-based Jungle Travels India, but they also include older people, many with backpacks and ponytails, from Scandinavia, Germany and the United States. Buddhist monks in red robes from the Tawang Monastery, the largest in India and the second-largest in Asia, are ubiquitous. Old men sit in front of rug shops and miniature cafes cupping honey-ginger tea. A eight-metre gate painted aqua blue, orange, green and yellow frames the frenetic, honking crush of cars and people.

Usually, Tawang hovers just above the cloud line, and the only thing that mars the horizon are Army helicopters shuttling troops and materiel to and from the bases that dot the mountains just south of the border with China. Since 1962, when China briefly invaded northern India, Delhi has maintained a sizeable military presence in these parts. The Indian Defence Ministry’s official history of the 1962 war, which was completed 30 years later, states that Indian forces suffered 2,616 casualties against some 700 on the Chinese side. (The exact numbers are difficult to tabulate because many soldiers went missing or died from the cold.) More importantly, the war revealed that India was helpless to defend itself, particularly in the mountains. Chinese troops had gained valuable, cold-weather experience fighting in Korea in the early 1950s and, more recently, in Tibet. (Tibetan guides, familiar with the intricate mountain passes, gave Chinese soldiers critical help during the 1962 conflict.) India, meanwhile, maintained a small and ineffective Army that, much like today, was focused on Pakistan at the expense of its border with China. More:


China, India rivalry

india_map1

Peter Wonacott in the Wall Street Journal:

Some Chinese analysts say friction between India and China are playing into what they say is a U.S. wish to contain China. “If border tensions between India and China continue to simmer, I can’t say the U.S. will be displeased,” says Shi Yinhong, a specialist in Sino-U.S. ties at People’s University in Beijing.

The contested territory in northern India lies in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The region abutting China, known as Ladakh, consists largely of rocky mountain terrain with isolated green pastures grazed by yaks, goats and horses. Many of the herders and traders living on both sides of the blurred border share the same Tibetan heritage and Buddhist faith. The main town on the Indian side, Leh, was an ancient caravan stop.

Today, the area crawls with Indian soldiers. Indian border police tightly regulate visitors traveling east toward China. The Indian army has accelerated a road-building program in the region.

The roads, which run beside Indian army camps and over a pass above 17,000 feet, are dotted with offbeat signs: “I’m curvaceous, be slow,” warns one. “I like you darling, but not so fast,” says another. More:

[Map: WSJ]

Think again: Asia’s rise

Don’t believe the hype about the decline of America and the dawn of a new Asian age. It will be many decades before China, India and the rest of the region take over the world, if they ever do, writes Minxin Pei in Foreign Policy.

statuegraffiti1Dine on a steady diet of books like The New Asian Hemisphere: The Irresistible Shift of Global Power to the East or When China Rules the World, and it’s easy to think that the future belongs to Asia. As one prominent herald of the region’s rise put it, “We are entering a new era of world history: the end of Western domination and the arrival of the Asian century.”

Sustained, rapid economic growth since World War ii has undeniably boosted the region’s economic output and military capabilities. But it’s a gross exaggeration to say that Asia will emerge as the world’s predominant power player. At most, Asia’s rise will lead to the arrival of a multi-polar world, not another unipolar one.

Asia is nowhere near closing its economic and military gap with the West. The region produces roughly 30 percent of global economic output, but because of its huge population, its per capita gdp is only $5,800, compared with $48,000 in the United States. Asian countries are furiously upgrading their militaries, but their combined military spending in 2008 was still only a third that of the United States. Even at current torrid rates of growth, it will take the average Asian 77 years to reach the income of the average American. The Chinese need 47 years. For Indians, the figure is 123 years. And Asia’s combined military budget won’t equal that of the United States for 72 years.

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India’s God factory thrives — in China

In Hindustan Times, Reshma Patil reports from Beijing

medas-photostream1India’s constant demand for gods has saved atheist China’s biggest ‘Hindu god factory’ from the global recession.

Indian consumers are also inspiring more Chinese to learn the tricky art of mass-producing cut-price gods with names they cannot pronounce.

Across south China, known as the world’s export factory, sinking markets in the US and Europe have crippled over 67,000 factories and left 20-30 million migrants unemployed since last year.

But the Chinese workers, who make 40 Hindu gods per person per day in a factory in southeast China’s Quanzhou near Taiwan, are clocking overtime 7-10 pm shifts to make the Ganesha you will buy in Mumbai or Gurgaon. more

[Pic: Meda's photostream, under the Creative Commons License]

China’s Dalai Lama rival

From BBC:

China's choice, Gyaincain Norbu / Xinhua photo

China's choice, Gyaincain Norbu / Xinhua photo

And the man China selected as its Panchen Lama, the second most important figure in Tibetan Buddhism, has been at the forefront of that campaign. Although he is only 19, the Panchen Lama has already stepped onto the public stage to praise the Chinese Communist Party.

Tibet expert Professor Robert Barnett, of New York’s Columbia University, says this is part of China’s efforts to undermine the appeal of the Dalai Lama, the spiritual head of Tibetan Buddhism. More:

From Xinhua:

At the age of five, he won the approval from the central government of China as the reincarnation of the 10th Panchen Lama after a lot drawing ceremony among three candidates in the Jokhang Temple in Tibet’s capital city of Lhasa in 1995.

The boy, with the secular name Gyaincain Norbu, left his family at Lhari county, Nagqu prefecture in northern Tibet, since then.

The reincarnation of the Panchen Lama, together with that of the Dalai Lama, top the reincarnation system of living Budd has in Tibet which distinguishes Tibetan Buddhism from other religions or other schools of Buddhism.

Both the first Panchen Lama and first Dalai Lama, living between the 14th and 15th century, were students of the Guru Tson-Khapa, founder of the Gelug Sect of Tibetan Buddhism. More:

Murder in the snow

In September 2006 two groups of people crossed paths in the snow-capped Himalayas, one seeking freedom and the other adventure. A brutal shooting threw them together, changing their lives forever. BBC will be broadcasting a documentary on the shooting and its aftermath on Monday, November 10 at 1900 GMT. Sally Ingleton tells the story

Each year an estimated 2,500 Tibetans make the dangerous and illegal crossing through the Himalayas into India.

Many are young teenagers seeking freedom both in religious practice and in their education. A big incentive is the prospect of meeting their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, who lives in exile in India.

In 2006 the plight of these refugees came to international attention when a group of mountain climbers witnessed and recorded Chinese border police opening fire on one group of pilgrims as they made their way across the Nangpa pass in the Himalayas, 18,000 feet (5,500m) above sea level.

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A video of Chinese army soldiers shooting Tibetan refugees as they tried to escape over the Himalayas in September 2006 can be viewed on YouTube here

httpv://in.youtube.com/watch?v=hXC5RxhZUYw

What is karma?

Sharon Stone’s comments on the sidelines of the Cannes Film Festival that the earthquake in China was a result of ‘bad karma’ kicked off a storm that eventually had the actress issue an apology. But what is karma, and more specifically, what is bad karma? The BBC Magazine digs deep.

Sharon Stone claims the earthquake in China is the result of bad karma for its treatment of Tibetans. Is her definition – “when you are not nice, bad things happen to you” – correct?

Radiohead sings of the “karma police”, called in to arrest those who upset Thom Yorke: “This is what you get when you mess with us.” And Boy George warbles about a “karma chameleon”, in a toxic relationship because he’s not “so sweet” anymore.

Cause and effect, see. Actions have consequences.

And Sharon Stone, a convert to Buddhism, has claimed – to much criticism – that the earthquake that killed at least 68,000 people in China was bad karma for Beijing policy in Tibet. “I thought, is that karma – when you’re not nice that the bad things happen to you?” she mused at the Cannes Film Festival.

Karma is an important concept for Buddhists, Hindus and Sikhs. Translated from the Sanskrit, it means simply “action”. Because karma is used in a number of ways and contexts – even among different branches of Buddhism – this can be confusing.

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[Pic: Sharon Stone with the Dalai Lama]

Previously on AW:

Video of Sharon Stone’s ‘bad karma’

China’s angel on a wheelchair

And, for a very different story on the tortuous trail of the Olympic Torch, here’s a dispatch by NBC’s Ed Flanagan on how a woman in a wheelchair has become an unlikely heroine back home in China

In recent days it has been difficult to take away any positives from China’s now unfortunately titled torch relay, the “Journey of Harmony to Beijing,” at least based on international news coverage of the events.

But the media here have found a positive face in the young, handicapped woman who was confronted by protesters in Paris this week.

Jin Jing, 28, a former Paralympics fencer from Shanghai who uses a wheelchair, won national acclaim for what the media described as her heroics in protecting the Olympic torch from a group of pro-Tibetan protesters (all protesters have been ubiquitously labeled “Tibetan separatists” and “pro-Tibet independence activists” in state media reports).

Jin’s feisty defense of the torch – she suffered scratches and a bruised leg during the confrontation – has been heavily covered by China’s media, which has the unenviable task of mitigating the scope of the protests.

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[Pic: China Daily]

China and Tibet: The spin campaign

From TIME:

Cyberspace in China is a rough-and-tumble place, where mobs of virtual vigilantes can single out an innocent victim for public humiliation in a way that isn’t common in other parts of the world. But in recent days the sights of China’s netizens have been trained not on a person but on an institution: the Western media, which is being vilified as unfair, uninformed and incompetent in its coverage of the uprisings over Chinese rule in Tibet. In blogs, chatrooms, bulletin boards and even by instant message, ordinary Chinese are excoriating the international press. There’s even a special website that has been launched to attack perceived media bias. Among other transgressions, the site’s home page displays mistakes by German TV stations in which Nepalese police, shown in videos rounding up Tibetan protesters in Kathmandu are identified as Chinese.

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China needs the Dalai Lama

Robert Thurman, professor of Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Studies at Columbia University and President of Tibet House US, in the ‘On Faith’ section of The Washington Post:

If there ever was a social and political movement based on faith, on spirituality, it is the 50-year campaign of the Dalai Lama for the freedom of his people, and the present spontaneous uprising of the Tibetan people who want to be free to restore their spiritual life, in the closer presence of their spiritual and political leader. These acts of truth-the Dalai Lama’s long insistence on nonviolence and dialogue in responding to the genocidal acts of one of the world’s largest military powers, and the Tibetan people’s resistance in the face of overwhelming odds-may yet produce miraculous results, as one of the world’s greatest “lost causes” becomes a possible success.

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What led to Tibetan backlash?

Jim Yardley from Beijing in The New York Times:

Chinese leaders have blamed “splittists” led by the exiled Dalai Lama for spurring violent protests in Tibet and orchestrating a public relations sneak attack on the Communist Party, as they gear up to play host to the Olympics Games this summer.

But to many Tibetans and their sympathizers, the weeklong uprising against Chinese rule in Lhasa reflects years of simmering resentment over Beijing’s interference in Buddhist religious rites, its tightened political control and the destruction of the environment across the Himalayan territory the Tibetans consider sacred. If there is a surprise, it may be that Beijing has managed to keep things stable for so long.

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In this video, the Dalai Lama tells a group of international journalists he would resign as Tibetan leader if the situation veers out of control in Tibet. Speaking in Dharamsala in northern India where has been in exile since 1959, he denied accusations from China that he was inciting riots.

Can the Dalai Lama resign?

From BBC: While denying accusations of inciting violence in Tibet, the Dalai Lama – who endorses non-violent protest – has gone so far as threatening to “completely resign” if the situation veers out of control. But can the man many Tibetans consider as their leader just throw in the towel?

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Tibet and technology

In Slate, Anne Applebaum says shaky cell-phone videos from Tibet foretell doom for the Chinese empire

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Cell-phone photographs and videos from Tibet, blurry and amateur, are circulating on the Internet. Some show clouds of tear gas; others burning buildings and shops; still others purple-robed monks, riot police, and confusion. Watching them, it is impossible not to remember the cell-phone videos and photographs sent out from burning Rangoon only six months ago. Last year Burma, this year Tibet. Next year, will YouTube feature shops burning in Xinjiang, home of China’s Uighur minority? Or riot police rounding up refugees along the Chinese-North Korean border?

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In Boing Boing, Xeni Jardin on blogger reaction and growing protests even as China blocks YouTube. Read that post here.

Finally, Kadfly is a tourist currently in Lhasa and has been posting despite problems with the Internet

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Today people returned to the streets of Lhasa in droves. There are tons of Chinese police and army in the city but they are letting people wander without too much difficulty. Schools were also open today – hopefully all this means that there will not be any further escalation of the situation. Since the 14th things have quieted down dramatically – aside from a few booms and bangs we haven’t been able to hear much from where we are.

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The official version

chinadaily15.jpgOn a day when 10 people died in violence in Tibet, here’s the front page of the state-owned China Daily. In case you’re trying to locate the Tibet story, you’ll find it at the bottom of the page, in columns 2 and 3. The headline says: “Dalai Lama behind sabotage”. And the story reads:

The government of Tibet Autonomous Region said Friday there had been enough evidence to prove that the recent sabotage in Lhasa was “organized, premeditated and masterminded” by the Dalai clique.

The violence, involving beating, smashing, looting and burning, has disrupted the public order and jeopardized people’s lives and property, an official with the regional government said.

The sabotage has aroused indignation of and is strongly condemned by the people of all ethnic groups in Tibet, he said in an interview with Xinhua.

Here’s the link, but you’ll have to register for a clearer image of the page.

China shuts down Mount Everest

Jane Macartney reports from Beijing in The Times, UK:

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China has closed Mount Everest to climbers amid fears that activists could disrupt the Olympic torch ascent of the world’s highest peak. The announcement that Chinese authorities had halted access to its side of the mountain that straddles the border between Tibet and Nepal came amid reports of a third day of protests by Tibetan monks around Lhasa, the capital of Tibet.

In a letter to expedition companies, the China Tibet Mountaineering Association said: “Concern over climbing activities, crowded climbing routes and increasing environmental pressures will cause potential safety problems in Qomalangma \ areas.” It added: “We are not able to accept your expedition, so please postpone your climbing.”

Carrying the Olympic torch to the 29,035ft (8,840m) summit has been hailed by the Games host city, Beijing, as one of the grandest feats of the event. Running the relay through one of China’s most restive regions, where many Tibetans chafe under Beijing’s rule, also risks politicising the Games.

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Closing Everest – what China fears most

From the Website, mounteverest.net:

China’s worst nightmare for the Olympic torch event is not crowding or safety – the mountain will after all re-open after the torch. China’s worst nightmare is a picture of the flame on Everest summit, alongside a climber holding up a “Free Tibet” sign.

This explains why the officials have tried to convince Nepal to close the peak also from the south side during the Chinese Everest climb. But why would such a sign be dangerous? Why fear the two words “free Tibet” so much?

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Nepal, too, puts Everest off limits

From The New York Times:

Come early May, the darkness and the hurricane-force winds will fade and in the lambent daylight a calm will fall on the highest place in the world. Mountain climbers await this interlude, the Everest weather window, when nature leaves its great summit open for a two-week spell before the monsoons come.

Those who aspire to the 29,028-foot peak of Mount Everest, who have their flights arranged and their guides paid, sought to salvage their plans Friday as international politics began to intrude on the yearly ritual.

The government of Nepal, gatekeeper of the mountain’s popular southern face, has disclosed plans to block climbers’ ascents for the first 10 days of May, at the request of China.

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Rupert Murdoch’s adventures in China

He might run a slew of tabloids but Rupert Murdoch’s own private life has been pretty much off-limits. With the publication of a kiss-and-tell book (Rupert’s Adventures in China: How Murdoch Lost a Fortune and Found a Wife, Penguin Books, 2008), former Australian journalist Bruce Dover goes where few men have gone before. Eric Elis reviews the book in The Asia Sentinel.

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Few of Rupert Murdoch’s former employees are eager to write about him. Likewise, few of his publications are eager to review a book about him. This review was turned down by the Far Eastern Economic Review, which is part of Murdoch-owned Dow Jones, after it was initially accepted. Nor has it been reviewed by the Murdoch-owned Australian or the Australian Literary Review.

Such is the real or imagined damage that Rupert Murdoch could inflict on a media career that few of his minions have been so bold as to write a kiss-and-tell account of their time at his elbow.

I can think of only one; Harold Evans, the ex-editor of London’s Sunday Times who Murdoch tapped to be editor of London’s Times after buying it in 1981. Evans lasted a year, resigning in high dudgeon over the editorial independence the man Britons call “The Dirty Digger” — pace his Australian antecedents — supposedly guaranteed to secure the purchase.

Evans’ splenetic book Good Times, Bad Times became a best seller and his joust with Murdoch did his career no harm — he later ran Random House, edited some worthy U.S magazines and penned magisterial histories. Like Murdoch, he became a naturalized American. Unlike Murdoch, he was knighted by the British establishment in 2004 for “services to journalism.” There are other tomes posing as Murdoch insiders like ex-Sunday Times editor Andrew Neil’s Full Disclosure and the hugely funny Stick It Up Your Punter: The Uncut Story of the Sun Newspaper but they are better assessed as snapshot newspaper biographies.

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