Mickey Mouse Gets 20 Years in Chongqing, Mudfight in Oakland, and other news

The Chosun Ilbo gives some coverage of an Asian economic conference that just completed in the Liaodong port city/jewel of Dalian:

This is the first time since China’s heyday in the 19th century that the East Asian economic bloc surpassed the European economic zone in terms of size. The reason East Asia has been gaining so much influence is that Asian countries centered around China have been the fastest to recover from the global economic crisis. Anchored more firmly by manufacturing industries than its financial sector, East Asia suffered a lesser blow from the crisis, enabling its economies to continue growing.

Obama’s half-brother emerges from giving piano lessons to poor kids in Guangzhou to promote his book.  Let’s hear it for small acts of musical diplomacy!

Yanbian Daily News reminds us again why Yanbian is very different from North Korea, and why the region just might serve as a kind of model for a type of cultural change in North Hamgyong province.  Or, why ethnic Koreans are so dynamic and the color pink is so dynamite:

Yanbian City News, New People's Environment, "Online I'm Super Red/Cool" Info

And less happily, a South Korean professor asserts that China has no contingency plans for a North Korean collapse, while the sage Jonathan Pollack says:

Officials in Beijing no longer mask their frustrations with North Korea, especially after North Korea’s defiance in twice undertaking nuclear tests. The second nuclear detonation occurred less than 100 kilometers from the Chinese border and Pyongyang has disavowed all previously negotiated restraints on its nuclear development.

Confronted by the North’s egregious misconduct, Beijing has pursued a two-sided approach. It participated fully in U.N. Security Council deliberations, endorsed the sanctions imposed by the Security Council in mid-June, and is collaborating with the United States and others to implement the sanctions regime.

At the same time, China’s leaders have permitted harsh criticisms of North Korea in authoritative journals and newspapers that would have been unimaginable in the past. Chinese analysts now write contemptuously of the North and of how its actions have threatened Chinese interests.

Some senior officials have also voiced severe, if private, criticisms.

By characterizing North Korea as an increasing liability to China, Beijing has sought to deny Pyongyang any political or strategic advantage from its nuclear actions. Though this harsh assessment does not dominate official policy, there seems no doubt of its increased legitimacy and prominence in Chinese internal debate.

The second track of Beijing’s response has focused on keeping North Korea afloat. This latter strategy, much in evidence during Wen’s visit to the North, seeks to retain normal interstate relations and avoid excessive punishment or isolation of Pyongyang. During Wen’s visit, China and North Korea signed various documents on economic and technological collaboration, with Beijing offering the prospect of longer-term investment and infrastructure development.

No one seems to be following up on the story of the North Korean forest fires that raged two weeks ago.  Perhaps no one gives a damn and would rather talk about ad hominem attacks sailing out of Oakland and D.C.; sometimes Korea-watchers get into beefs that make the rap world look downright civilized.   

By contrast, a very thoughtful editorial was published yesterday in the Chosun Ilbo about how South Korea ought to be, yet is not, reflecting upon the German commemorations of that nation’s unification process in 1989 and 1990.  The spirit of reflection and self-criticism embedded in this piece is worth thinking upon.

Ri Gun, North Korea’s nuclear envoy, has been meeting with American scholars in San Diego and New York.  Ri Gun also met with ex-officials like Winston Lord, my old seatmate at a US-China relations conference at the State Department in 2006.  I think it is good to have folks who were involved with the Nixon/Mao detente of the early 1970s getting their hands on North Korean officials, but I can just hope that Charles Freeman is one of the people who, although ousted via a completely unnecessary and little-noticed attack by the right-wing foreign policy underground early in the Obama administration, will be consulted as well.

And in the trial of the year in Chongqing, the gang leader known as “Mickey Mouse” was sentenced to twenty years:

Li Yi (C), head of an organized crime gang, is sent to the Second Intermediate Court of Chongqing under the escort of policemen in southwest China's Chongqing Municipality, Nov. 5, 2009. (Xinhua/Chen Cheng)

Oh, and Kim Jong Il says that the DPRK is “crisis proof.” Since everyone at the Dalian conference was no doubt talking about how brilliant he was, I’m sure he’s quite correct.  For some reason these foolish peasants in the border city of Tumen don’t agree, and, as Curtis Melvin puts it, “crimes of necessity are on the rise” in North Korea.

But give the North Koreans their due — at least they are sending delegations to trade fairs in Changchun:

thank you Beijing Review -- the last time I read this publication was in a gleaming waiting room of the PRC Visa Office in San Francisco; I almost choked at how the current regime was playing up the benefits of the Sino-Soviet Alliance of 1950; but it has some quality information all the same; jade and string, jade and string...

But Changchun is still an edgy place, and Chongqing isn’t the only game in town, as we learn:

A Mafia ring leader, who is also son of a former high-ranking city official, was executed Thursday by lethal injection in Changchun, capital of northeast China’s Jilin Province, according to a court statement.

Convicted of murder, kidnapping, intentional injury, extortion and other crimes, Xu Wei, 42, was sentenced to death by the Changchun Intermediate People’s Court on Sept. 20, 2007.

The Higher People’s Court of Jilin Province ruled against Xu’s appeal and upheld the first-instance verdict on July 10, 2008. The Supreme People’s Court approved the death sentence after reviewing the case.

Xu, deputy manager of Yushu City Thermal Power Co. and son of Xu Fengshan, former deputy mayor of Yushu city, was found to have provided guns to two gangsters who shot dead Xu’s business rival in 1997.

Xu even pulled strings through his police complice and bailed out one of the killers, the court was told.

Believing a township head didn’t pay him enough respect, Xu ordered his men to beat him to death in 1998. In the end, the man was struck into coma and died in hospital in 2000 at the age of 49,court verdict said.

In a separate case, the father Xu Fengshan was sentenced to death with a reprieve of two years for taking more than 20 million yuan (2.93 million U.S. dollars) in bribery and harboring criminal organizations.

I think China and the Northeast in particular is fertile ground, therefore, for real gangsta rap.  But it would necessarily have to be underground; the Heishehui (black societies) wouldn’t have it any other way.

World Politics Review carries an essential-reading article on how Japan is warming its ties with India as a means of containing China.  Oh, the plot is so damn thick already, Hatoyama!  Forget the 1930s; I think the plot lines for this were more likely laid with the emergence of the non-aligned movement in the mid-1950s, no?

And, finally, and just for fun, there is this South Korean image from imgur.com, via the irrepresible scientist fresh from Helsinki’s domed and herring-scented splendor, Eliezer Gurarie:

xD26t

Every day is hump day for the clay-footed; and underemployment of undergrads calls for a wave of linguisticeconomicaquisitionpropulsion; it's either a real job, foreign correspondentry, or taking orders in Sichuan dialect from people with tattoos named Mickey.