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How Japan Manages to Hang Tough in History Debates with Korea & China


Separating China from NK is Worth SKs Silence on the South China Sea

South China Sea

I got this map from here. Very useful. The article below was originally published at the Lowy Institute last week, here.

In short, I don’t mind too much that the Koreans aren’t engaged on the South China Sea freedom of navigation dispute, because keeping their mouths shut and schmoozing the Chinese is necessary to get China to finally cut North Korea loose, which in turn is the only way North Korea will ever collapse. This is why I have never thought much of the criticisms that President Park Geun-Hye is a ‘sinophile.’ If you were South Korea, you would be too. If you lived next to giant China, and they were permanently bailing out your mortal enemy, then sucking up to them (within limits) is a good idea. I am not a big fan of PGH, but she has really gotten the Beijing-Pyongyang nexus right that her predecessors did not. Let her keep flattering Xi Jinping.


The Flipside

by Fred Colton

They were supposed to practice writing Mandarin characters but Luke always just sat there and drew dicks. 4,000 hanzi to learn and not a single one Luke couldn’t turn into a thin veiny phallus. He incorporated scrotums as needed to help with the curves and slants. Slid the drawings to the other students and everyone chewed off their bottom lips off to stifle the laughter. Hanzi made of cocks. Just twisting and snaking around each other.

Mandarin, mandatory since kindergarten. Mandatory in over one hundred countries. Kids, Mandarin is your passport to the world. Learn it and you can trade stocks in Paris or be a professor in Capetown.

“Or I could just stay here and keep winning races,” Luke told his parents, and his brother Bob, and the bowtie in the guidance office.


Happy 2,578th Birthday Siddhartha Gautama (a.k.a Buddha)

Buddha’s Birthday was celebrated all over East Asia yesterday. Held on the 8th day of the 4th lunar month, Buddhists attended their local temples for free vegetarian meals, sermons and to view fiery hand crafted lanterns.

The big guy has showed up quite a bit in my travels around the Far East. He’s appeared in temples, in picture, on rocks, on mountains, and a whole host of tourist crap. His eyes are usually shut and he looks like he might be sleeping; he seems like a pretty chilled out dude to be honest.

I think it’s pretty clear that I’m not a Buddhist (nor am I much of anything really), though I do like a few of his ideas and have learnt a little about the guy.


This Week Out There – May 11th – 17th

A selection of this week’s expat-related stories

 


 


Note to Congressional Republicans: Please Don’t Send One of Your Iran Letters to China


Missionary Imposition

1910107_506533641047_2726_nThe first Koreans I met were in Xi’an, China.


Low Blows in Shanghai

Pudong International Airport

Pudong International Airport

It was 9:00 on a Thursday morning and I had just landed in Shanghai, the largest city in China by population and the largest city proper by population in the world. I was ultimately headed to the temples of Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia. However, before I could bask in the tropical temperatures and dubiously bathe myself in sunscreen, there was one thing standing in my way: a 9-hour layover.


Hong Kong

Northeast Asia 2015 Predictions: Another Year of the Repetitive, Uninspiring Status Quo


Looking Back on What Predictions for East Asia 2014 I got Wrong…and a little Right



untitledI have always liked these end of the year prediction check-ups, and new year prediction-making exercises. It’s fun, but it also is an important check on irresponsibility in our punditry. Month after month we say this or that is important, or this or that will happen. But later when the current we thought was important turns out not to be, or the ‘revolutionary’ leader we thought would ‘change everything’ turns out to be a bust, we conveniently forget about that and say some other trend is actually what really matters.


My Top 5 List for 2104: 5 Biggest Foreign Policy Events in Korea

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This is a follow-up to my previous post – a top 5 list of events for US power in Asia in 2014.


My Top 5 List for 2014: 5 Biggest Foreign Policy Events for the US in Asia

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I love these hoky, end-of-the-year lists. But I don’t know much about genuinely interesting or cool stuff, like the top 5 classical music pieces or architectural masterpieces of the year. So before you read another list about the Kardashians’ top 5 lip glosses, or the 5 most repetitive comic movies of the year, here is an uber-wonky one that’s basically about the sustainability of the pivot.


The S2 train from Beijing to Badaling

I see tours all over Beijing advertising organized tours to the Great Wall, starting at 180RMB (or $30 USD). This is affordable and somewhat convenient. They often even feed you free lunch. What bothers me about this trip are the forced trips to jade or silk markets where they up sell you on cheap, useless touristy things. You are literally forced to wander a place you wouldn’t otherwise hear about or want to be at.

I decided to research going to Badaling, an area many tours are advertised to take you too. It’s a bit of work but totally doable.

If you want to do this, you’ll have to plan ahead and use your time wisely.

A train to Badaling from Beijing costs 6RMB (or $1 USD) and takes 90 minutes. The train only leaves 6 times a day though. Realistically, you could come here and back in one day though if you wanted to. Or you could stay at the Great Wall Courtyard Hostel. It’s a 5-10 minute walk from the train station.


I have been staying at the Happy Dragon Hostel in Beijing, and...

















I have been staying at the Happy Dragon Hostel in Bei


My first point of action after arriving in China was getting a...



My first point of action after arriving in China was getting a SIM card for my phone. A friend recommended the company, China Unicom, to me. 3G data and a modest phone plan for my iPhone for 150 RMB. Super easy and got it at the airport. Look for the machines by the bathroom after you go through customs. An employee will be there that speaks English and they’ll walk you through the plans. I think it’s totally worth it just to get around with, since I have found no free wifi around Beijing.


Blatant Pimping: The Worst Motorcycle in Laos

We usually don’t demean the fair cyber pages of this blog by something as base as promotion, but screw it, I’ll shed my secret identity and let the cat out of the bag: I, Chris Tharp, aka “Mr. Motgol,” got a new book out YOU should stop what you’re doing right now, click on the link below, and buy it. Hey, it can’t be that bad. After all, these guys had some nice things to say about it:

“In The Worst Motorcycle in Laos, Tharp takes us on a wild ride from the neon streets of Tokyo to the dirt tracks of Indochina. The essays are insightful, humorous and unflinching. A great read for the active and armchair traveler alike.”

- Michael Breen, author of The Koreans


My November Diplomat Essay: If We can’t Stop Fighting in the Middle East, We’ll Never Pivot


My August Diplomat Essay: Can China Legitimate its Would-Be Hegemony?


Relax, Korea is not ‘finlandizing’ for China


Xi’s Trip to Korea: SK as a Hole in the Pivot in Exchange for Help w/ NK

 

This is a re-post of an essay I wrote last week at the Diplomat. I guess South Korea-China relations is a hot topic, because I got a bunch of emails over this – note to grad students.


My Diplomat on Essay on Xi’s Trip to Korea: SK as a Hole in the Pivot in Exchange for Help w/ NK


My Lowy Essay on China Picking 3 Fights in 9 Months: Japan, Phils, Vietnam. WTH?

The essay below is a reprint of something I wrote for the Lowy Institute a few weeks ago (original here). I got into back-and-forth with Brad Glosserman and Hugh White over Chinese foreign policy intentions.


My Lowy Essay on China Picking 3 Fights in 9 Months: Japan, Phils, Vietnam. WTH?

The essay below is a reprint of something I wrote for the Lowy Institute a few weeks ago (original here). I got into back-and-forth with Brad Glosserman and Hugh White over Chinese foreign policy intentions.


My Newsweek Japan Story on the Sino-Vietnamese Clash in the South China: End of the Peaceful Rise?

Nwk J Vn China

Below is the English version of my essay for the current volume of Newsweek Japan. (Japanese version here.)


My Newsweek Japan Story on the Sino-Vietnamese Clash in the South China: End of the Peaceful Rise?

Nwk J Vn China

Below is the English version of my essay for the current volume of Newsweek Japan. (Japanese version here.)


Guest Post – Dave Kang: ‘Military Spending in East Asia is Lower than You Think’

The following is a guest-post by my good friend Dave Kang. Dave teaches international relations at the University of Southern California. If you are working on East Asia, you really should know his stuff; if you don’t, get to it. Below he complements his recent TNI essay with the full flow of charts and graphics. This post is a very important rejoinder to the constant assertion (think Robert Kaplan) that East Asia is on the brink of war and that everyone is freaked out by China. The thing is, East Asian military spending doesn’t actually suggest that at all.


Guest Post – Dave Kang: ‘Military Spending in East Asia is Lower than You Think’

The following is a guest-post by my good friend Dave Kang. Dave teaches international relations at the University of Southern California. If you are working on East Asia, you really should know his stuff; if you don’t, get to it. Below he complements his recent TNI essay with the full flow of charts and graphics. This post is a very important rejoinder to the constant assertion (think Robert Kaplan) that East Asia is on the brink of war and that everyone is freaked out by China. The thing is, East Asian military spending doesn’t actually suggest that at all.


My Diplomat Essay for May: ‘No, Crimea is Not a Model for Aggression in Asia’

The essay below is a local reprint of my essay for the Diplomat magazine this month.


My Diplomat Essay for May: ‘No, Crimea is Not a Model for Aggression in Asia’

The essay below is a local reprint of my essay for the Diplomat magazine this month.


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