North Korean Abductions in China? A Source Review

Thanks to the publication of an extensive report from the Committee on North Korean Human Rights on the subject of North Korean abductions, there is an excellent conversation going on at the indespensible blog for North Korean-China issues, One Free Korea, regarding the nature and the veracity of allegations that China allows North Korean agents into the PRC to hunt down and abduct people who are judged to be enemies of the DPRK.

The committee’s report, cited below and at at One Free Korea, asserts that North Korea has abducted about 200 people from China in the last twelve years or so.

See: Yoshi Yamamoto, Taken! North Korea’s Criminal Abduction of Citizens of Other Countries (Committee on North Korean Human Rights, May 2011) http://www.piie.com/blogs/TAKEN-Final-Proof.pdf

See Also

Mike Kim, Escaping North Korea (Rowman & Littlefield, 2008), pp. 33-35.

Adam Cathcart, “Allegations of Rogue North Korean Agents in Chinese Border Region, Sinologistical Violoncellist, 31 August 2009, https://adamcathcart.wordpress.com/2009/08/31/allegations-of-rogue-north-korean-agents-in-chinese-border-region/

Adam Cathcart, “Fistfuls of Chinese Earth, Breaths of Conspiracy, Fusillades of Propaganda,” Sinologistical Violoncellist, 3 September 2009, https://adamcathcart.wordpress.com/2009/09/03/fistfuls-of-chinese-earth-breaths-of-conspiracy-fusillades-of-propaganda/

Joshua Stanton, “For North Korean Spies, Sending Refugees to the Gulag is Entry Level Work,” One Free Korea, 19 April 2010 http://www.freekorea.us/2010/04/19/for-north-korean-spies-sending-refugees-to-the-gulag-is-entry-level-work/

Joshua Stanton, “Ten Years Later, South Korea Questions North Korean Agent in U.S. Resident’s Kidnapping,” One Free Korea, 16 January 2010 http://www.freekorea.us/2010/01/16/ten-years-later-south-korea-questions-suspected-north-korean-agent-in-us-residents-kidnapping/

Chosun Ilbo, “North Korean Abduction Squad Roams Freely Through China,” January 19, 2005 http://english.chosun.com/site/data/html_dir/2005/01/19/2005011961043.html

Chosun Ilbo, “Ethnic Korean ‘Mole’ Helped N.K. Agents Abduct Pastor in China,” 14 December 2004  http://english.chosun.com/site/data/html_dir/2004/12/14/2004121461025.html

Chosun Ilbo Editorial, “N.K. Should Avoid Provocation and Return Kim,” 14 December 2011 http://english.chosun.com/site/data/html_dir/2004/12/14/2004121461036.html

Chosun Ilbo, “N.K. Abducted 40 from 1999 to 2001,” Jan. 19 2005 http://english.chosun.com/site/data/html_dir/2005/01/19/2005011961017.html

Chosun Ilbo, “Beijing Turns Blind Eye to North Korean Kidnappings,” 19 January 2005 http://english.chosun.com/site/data/html_dir/2005/01/19/2005011961031.html

Huanqiu Shibao [Global Times, Beijing], “韩国派特工在中国调查电话诈骗案/Hanguo pai tegong zai Zhongguo diaocha dianhua zapian an [The Incident of South Korea Sending Spies to China to Investigate Telephone Blackmail],” http://world.huanqiu.com/roll/2009-09/564229.html 

Lee Hae Young, Lives for Sale: Personal Accounts of Women Fleeing North Korea for China, U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, 2009 http://www.hrnk.org/download/Lives_for_Sale.pdf 

Trashing Diplomatic Etiquette, or Just Empty Cannon Shots? Huanqiu Shibao Weighs in on Clinton’s ‘Fool’s Errand’ Comment

There has been an immense amount of action which has occurred in the U.S.-China relation in the past week, actions about which, being on several “fool’s errands” of my own, I nevertheless hope to comment upon.

At the end of a week of bilateral meetings in Washington, rather than grand strategic debates, we seem to have in hand the following tempest-in-a-teapot:

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in an interview with the Atlantic Monthly about democracy in the Arab world, made brief and passing — and very critical — comments about the Chinese Communist Party.

These remarks have caused something of a kerfuffle in the Beijing media.

In response to Clinton, the Huanqiu Shibao editorial of May 15 2011 noted:

  美国国务卿希拉里用破坏外交礼仪的语言批评中国人权,称中国“做蠢事”(fool’s errand),西方与中国的人权之争呈现出更多的不规则性。西方对中国的态度像是外交、舆论战,以及它们国内政策工具的大杂烩。猜西方一个激烈指责“背后”的故事是很累的,简单说起来,西方在当下的人权之争中咄咄逼人,但这场冲突究竟谁是“胜利者”,却要历史说了算。

Which translates roughly as:

American Secretary of State Hillary [Clinton recently] critiqued China’s human rights by describing China’s ‘fool’s errand.’ By using this language, [Clinton] laid wreckage to diplomatic etiquette, and brings even more unpredictability to the Sino-Western debate on human rights. The Western attitude toward China appears to be one where human rights is used as an implement in the mish-mash of domestic politics, diplomacy, and the war for public opinion. Gathering that the story of fierce Western criticism behind [China's] back is tiresome, [we can] put it simply: Western criticism of China’s human rights has presently become totally overbearing [咄咄逼人]. However, on this field of struggle, only history will say who emerges ‘the victor’.  

Huanqiu Shibao’s editorial language is far more expressive that that of the paid-to-be-sternly-taciturn Jiang Yu, the Foreign Ministry spokesman whose remarks are reported on by China Digital Times [hat tip to CDT; an earlier version of this post can be found in the comments section on the linked piece over there].

The Global Times’ English version of the May 15 editorial in question is way, way toned-down and changed around, and includes the token reference to the now-useful-to-all-parties Ai Weiwei, who is so good at disappearing that he does not make the Chinese edition at all.

The strange thing in analyzing Clinton’s comments to the Atlantic is that they came in the midst of a much longer interview focused almost entirely on the Middle East. In fact, Clinton is in the middle of a comparison of China with — get this — Saudi Arabia when the conversation turns, and then she almost immediately swivels back to the prospects of regime change in Syria.

Is it possible that Clinton’s criticism of China is quite intentional, and intended to lay down some preemptive covering fire (in the form of “empty cannon shots,” as Mao famously said to Nixon about pro forma propaganda) for the Obama administration’s domestic opponents as the administration is engaging in multiple high-level meetings with China and signing a battery of bilateral agreements?

The anguish of the artistic community, and the Tibetans in exile, the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce, and the Falun Gong notwithstanding (all of whose complaints are, like those of the American communist parties, very much separate and disconnected, united only by the object of mutual derision), is there nothing to celebrate about last week’s cooperative efforts in Washington, D.C.?

There is a ton of video footage available of Clinton’s various bilateral sessions with Chinese leaders last week, and in none that I’ve seen does Hillary Clinton appear to be lecturing Chinese leaders in tones reminiscent of the Atlantic Monthly interview as to how they need to change in order to avoid the historical dust heap.

(Stalin’s advice for avoiding said dust heap, by contrast, would have been an ice pick to the head of the regime’s opponents — effective and cheap, but in China there are not enough ice picks and too many heads for this strategy to work, and besides, this is the United States, where no problem, including the President’s national origin, can’t be solved without a little public bellyaching and a lot of transparency.  The relative clarity of ice, in other words, beats steel ice picks, and Jefferson trumps Lenin.)

At one point, Clinton happily looks on as her Chinese counterpart describes the good old days when [the Republic of] China and the U.S. got together to launch air raids on Japan.  When you’re remembering World War II and channeling Song Meiling, it’s best not to mention that China vaguely resembles Saudi Arabia, even if you think it does. (The video of this session was up on Friday on the State Dept. website and on YouTube, it now appears to have been taken down.)

The Huanqiu Shibao editorial therefore accurately notes the milieu in Washington last week.  The Secretary of State did indeed warmly greet her Chinese colleagues, the editorial states, concluding: “It makes one wonder if, when they talk about human rights to China, the leaders of some countries aren’t just going through the motions [走过场].”

Hey, if “going through the motions” gets us some real “Eco-Partnerships,” maybe it’s all in a day’s work.

Or maybe the State Department is banging on the table about the rights of American students — like the 25 I brought to Sichuan and Tibet last fall — to travel to China as part of the Hundred Thousand Initiative.

Or maybe they are busy talking about currency, trade, and our mutually dependent economies.

Fool’s errand, indeed, but then again, so was Henry Kissinger’s trip through Pakistan to Beijing in 1971, laden with briefing books by Chas Freeman and the hopes of a President burdened by a war (or two) and the hopes of a second term.  Who is writing Clinton’s briefing books and coordinating her strategy on China might even deserve a bit of begrudging support, as to both Sun Tzu and Chairman Mao (as well as their successors and their advisers in Zhongnanhai), “unpredictability” might be considered a word of praise for a premeditated but previously unseen Washington strategy.

via Le Monde

North Korea: Examination Materials

I recently completed a month-long lecture series on North Korean-Chinese relations at Pacific Lutheran University.  Because these lectures were occasioned by a course I teach at PLU (hell yes I teach courses, credits and grades dropping from my very fingertips!), I had the pleasure of writing an exam on the topic.

Here, in no particular order, are a few of themes or questions which were covered in the lectures and which my students consequently suggested that I should have put on the exam.  But who cares that they were on an exam?  What matters is that they have content and merit, and deserve further discussion.  (Thus their appearance in this forum.)

Is this really necessary?  Do we really need to be asking yet more questions about North Korea and Sino-North Korean relations?  Shouldn’t we first try to get answers about some questions of agreed-upon significance, like how many nukes North Korea has?  Or if Jimmy Carter’s visits to Pyongyang accomplish anything at all?  Or if Kim Jong Eun wears a foreign wristwatch?

Well, quibble though you might with certain of them, very few of these questions resemble the rather elementary questions to which North Korea and its relationship with China are treated in our present environment of English-language media analysis, a few really good blogs notwithstanding.

So, to the questions:

- What long-term opportunities (financial and political) would be presented to China by a peaceful collapse of North Korean political power?

- In what ways does the North Korean obsession with Mount Paektu strain relations with China?

- Does the history of the 7th century (e.g., the destruction of the northern power of Koguryo by the southern power of Silla, in alliance with the Chinese Tang dynasty), constitute a template for unification of which the DPRK leaders should be fearful today?

- What role does the small North Korea-Russia border in the extreme northeast of the peninsula play in balancing (or unbalancing) the Sino-North Korean dynamic?  Is North Korea able to balance China off of Russia now, or are those days of navigating between Beijing and Moscow truly in the past?

- What role did the U.S. occupation of Japan play in the formation of the North Korean state system?

- How did Mao Zedong’s rationale for intervention in the Korean War in 1950 differ significantly from that of the Ming dynasty during the Imjin War in 1592?  Is it possible that Mao in some sense retained a desire to secure North Korea in a neo-tributary system?

- What similarities exist between the present-day North Korean system (and its “court politics”) and that of the Qin dynasty as depicted in the works of Sima Qian?

- How and why are the concepts of sadae/sadaejuui and juche embedded in (North) Korean culture?

- List the current statistics for the relative military strength, in terms of troop estimates, for the ROK Army, the PLA, the Japanese SDF, and USMC/USAF/USN in East Asia.  With which one (or ones) of these military forces does the Korean People’s Army have anything approaching parity?

- To what extent was the Korean War a proxy war, and to what extent was it a civil war?

- The story of North Korean refugees seems fantastic, politicized, and laden with imaginative tropes. Is it really as bad for North Korean refugees as it seems on YouTube?

- What is the proper label for Sino-North Korean relations?  Is this a “brotherhood forged in blood”, a “pragmatic partnership”, a “friendship betrayed”?  Suggest a few taglines for the relationship and justify your new label.  Could we call both China and North Korea “unruly allies”?

- Why does North Korea go to such great lengths to propagate myths of Kim Jong Il’s “birth” at Mt. Paektu?  Does it matter that, as “the Text” asserts, his birth was foretold by a sparrow, illicited a double rainbow, and that a new star appeared in the sky?

- In what ways is the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Region a crucible for new North Korean culture?  Can it be considered “a Third Korea”?  In what ways does it run countercultural to the ways of Sinicization?

- Compare the Chinese de facto absorption of North Korea during the Korean War to  German reunification of 1990.

- Can the Tumen Tiger avoid extinction? What barriers exist to the survival and flourishing of this species?

- Are the golden cows along the Chinese side of the border really happier than their North Korean counterparts across the Tumen?

- How have Chinese goals for Korean unification changed since 1950?

- Describe the impacts of, and the Chinese reponses to, the North Korean nuclear tests of October 2006 and May 2009.

- Kim Jong Eun was recently pictured in North Korean state media holding a pair of binoculars upside down at a military exhibition.  In what ways does this image, and the way it was covered in Chinese state mdia, represent larger problems and anxieties about Jong Eun’s possible succession?

- Although North Korea militantly emphasizes its cultural independence from China, in what ways does North Korean language — both colloquial and bureaucratic — exemplify Chinese influence?

- How did Chinese and Soviet communism, Asian philosophies such as Daoism and Confucianism, Chinese Legalism and Korean fortitude combine to create or otherwise influence North Korean policies and politics?  Is it fair or accurate to summarize North Korea’s political system merely as “Stalinist”?

- Do technology and cultural transfers into North Korea along the Chinese border like USB drives full of songs or DVDs of South Korean movies constitute a “new culture wave” in North Korean society?  Is it fair to write about a “Chinese wave” in North Korea akin to the “Hallyu/Korea Wave” that has been so objectified in East Asia?  What elements in North Korea’s traditional culture (and official state culture) would resist Chinese influence?

-  Briefly describe problems associated with both the garrisoning of the Ming Army in Korea and the stationing of Chinese troops in North Korea from 1950-1958. Is it fair to say that China and North Korea have both internalized the lessons of these events?

- North Korea is indeed a “shrimp between whales,” but it is also a skilled practitioner of “judo diplomacy” whereby the “whales” are adeptly tossed around.  After describing a couple of salient examples of the above point, argue that either China or Japan (pick one and explain your choice) is most often on the receiving end of North Korea’s manipulations.

- Are the North Korean notion of juche and the Chinese notion of tributary relations inherently at odds?  In what ways does each nation temper its ideologies in the practice of foreign policy in order to keep Sino-North Korean relations relatively smooth?

- Describe the unique role that Sinuiju plays in North Korean history and in contemporary interchange with the PRC.

- Describe how and why Hyesan has become a “model city” for Kim Jong Il since the 1960s.  Why do South Koreans and occasional foreign observers travel to the city today?

- In the context of analyzing U.S. involvement in the Korean War, critique or support the statement “The first mistake was putting MacArthur in charge.”

- In what ways does heavy North Korean patrolling of the northern frontier give lie to the statement that the DPRK enjoys “brotherly relations” with the PRC?

- For people just beginning to pay attention to North Korea and its relations with China, why is a brief description of the Korean War so important?  Is it possible to understand North Korea, or Chinese policy toward North Korea, without reference to the Korean War?

- At the end of the day, when it runs out of calories, energy, and alternatives, is North Korea truly locked into a sadae/submissive relationship to China?

Cogitating Korea and Strategically Flexible Syllabi, Wiedervereinigung in the Shadow of the Reichstag, Berlin -- photo by Kuroda Chiaki

A Few Brilliant Observations

Asked to evaluate Douglas MacArthur’s tactical decisions in November-December 1950, student Adam Hoagland, while ignoring the General’s significant decision to firebomb Sinuiju and drop the Tarzan bomb on Kanggye, put forth a methodically brilliant Sun Tzu-based critique of old man SCAP:

MacArthur made the fatal mistake of underestimating his enemies and their drive to resist.  He did not concentrate his military power but spread it too thin to push forward or hold a position.  He did not study the terrain to find the best advantage or weaknesses.  He was not formless in his tactics but used a very recognizable and predicatable advancement of troops.

Had only Hoagland been a Sinologist in SCAP’s employ, a man of ambition who had MacArthur’s ear in 1950, then an understanding of Chinese military strategy might well have prevailed.  But he was not, and it did not.  MacArthur also failed to respect his senior commander (e.g., Harry Truman) and, to my knowledge, never stood up for the returned POWs from Korea when implications of communist “brainwashing” were leveled at them.

Since my students have all read Sima Qian’s Records of the Grand Historian, the history of the Qin dyansty, I tossed out a hypothetical question: What would happen if we had a modern day re-appearance of the assassin Jing Ke, who was sent from Yan to kill Qin Shihuangdi around 210 B.C., in Pyongyang acting on behalf of the CCP?  In other words, I asked the students to consider the historical template of Jing Ke in the contemporary Sino-North Korean context.  What would happen if China sent an assassin — a modern-day Jing Ke — to kill Kim Jong Il or his son?

Amanda Fitzhenry, a student who plans to study in South Korea, answers, and does so in detail which is far, far better than I could have mustered myself:

If Jing Ke were to infiltrate the North Korean capital, it would need to be shown in a way of supporting or worshipping Kim Jong Il.  The fact that Jing Ke was in the rural area would not be able to work in the DPRK situation because of the limited ability to travel.  To be able to be in Pyongyang, Jing Ke would need to be a trusted man to the North Korean Workers’ Party and willing to risk the gulag for his family and himself.  His mission would provide China with the chance to obtain North Korea (and Mount Paektu) for China.  But, with the downfall of the DPRK would come instability for the region with 24 million people fleeing, as well as the economic duty to rebuild the country.

One final observation: In the space of little less than a decade, my North American university students have become progressively more convinced of China’s capability to handle anything.  That is to say, presenting the students with a scenario whereby China would totally absorb North Korea is never really scoffed at: China, we now presume, has all the resources in the world to rebuild North Korea and could, somehow, convince the South Koreans to stay in Seoul in the event of a Chinese takeover north of the DMZ.  A tall order indeed, and hardly likely to occur, but old Robert Kaplan’s essay in Atlantic Monthly in 2006 about just such a scenario has many more adherents in American universities that one might expect.

In the Teeth of a Semester

In his Will to Power, the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche — probably enjoying summer weather in his favorite Italian haunt of Genoa — writes about the universal need for thinking individuals to attend a strenuous school at the right stage of life.  There is simply no substutite, Nietzsche says, for a rigorous university education, for the forge that such an education creates, for the habits of sustained psychic struggle that it fosters.

In an environment today where students often style themselves as “consumers” of education and express joy at the slightest indication that an easier path might be taken, do Nietzsche’s words still hold true?

They are probably more true than ever.

Three Recent Speeches on U.S.-China Relations

Jon Huntsman, U.S. Ambassador to the PRC, delivers the Oksenberg-Barnett Lecture in Shanghai, 6 April 2011, sponsored by the NCUSCR (National Committee on U.S.-China Relations):

Hillary Rodham Clinton, U.S. Secretary of State, delivers the first Richard Holbrooke Lecture at the State Department in Washington, D.C., on 15 January 2011 (speech starts in earnest at 5:30):

Joseph Biden, U.S. Vice President, opens the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue forum in Washington, D.C., 9 May 2011:

High Altitude Social Isolation Tense Political Situation = Dream Job for Foreign Aid Worker in Tibet

In the best cases, one of the unheralded side benefits of being a professor involves the holding of office hours, the offering of an open door.  This morning, the open door resulted in two very interesting meetings.

My first meeting was with a very sharp ROTC officer, and ran the gamut of globe and various points of American military intervention.  To the benefit of readers of this blog focusing on Korea, the meeting resulted in me learning that we have whole batteries of anti-North Korean missile defenses already set up in Hawaii.  (Read the Chinese concerns about these batteries –”actually aimed at China” — here.)

My second meeting, with a student who is auditing my lectures on Japanese war crimes in China, led me to the following question, which is the focus of today’s post:  “Have you ever considered working for the United Nations?”

What a great question!  Why a great question?  Because it leads one to UNJobs.org.  Should you have missed it, the UN jobs website is itself a treasure trove of information about global development generally, even for those of us who have full employment.  It should be read more frequently.  I mean, wouldn’t we all benefit from a little “Training on Energy Efficiency and Passive Building Design for Cold Climate Conditions, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia“?  Doesn’t knowing about such things help to sharpen our understanding of the problems of architectural design in Mongolia, or in empty Inner Mongolian cities around which French photographers are prowling as my very keyboard clatters?

And for globally-minded graduates who can’t find global opportunities for which their are qualified, it is good to find the UNJobs.org posting entitled “Driver, Abuja, Nigeria,” a position for which one needs a Secondary school education, English fluency, a good driving record, and the ability to check the car’s oil and keep track of “vehicle logs, office directory, map of the city/country, first aid kit, [and] necessary spare parts.”  What a fantastic job!  Driving in Nigeria and keeping track of documents, yeah…

Attention unemployed college seniors: the window for this entry level UN job closes today!

Much closer to the heart and the content of this East Asia blog is the following, fascinating, job posting for Handicap International Belgium, which is seeking a Program Manager for its Tibet office.

Before you cross yourself off of the list of potential applicants or click on to some other, more relevant station on the Electric Carnival which is the Internet, you may wish to read the job description, for it reveals the difficulty for foreigners working in the Tibetan Autonomous Region in a way that is, to me at least, more interesting than a Heinrich Harrer memoir.  Aside from its (always-inspiring) requirement that the candidate be fluent in both English and French (because, really, who shouldn’t be working on their French proficiency?), one can learn a great deal about the aid environment in Tibet from the job description, which I will quote at length:

Handicap International Belgium is seeking a Program Manager for its Tibet office.

Specifics: High altitude (3600 m); Weather conditions difficult, cold in winter;
Accommodation in a hotel; Social isolation, rare entertainment and difficulty travelling out of the city (permits required); Tense political situation; Very few other expatriates living in the area

Job financed: Yes; Donor: Belgian Development Cooperation, EC, Luxemburg Cooperation

Possibility of a couple: Yes (but no possibilities to get a job for the accompanying person)
Possibility of children: Yes (but no access to an international school which makes schooling difficult; no local initiative for foreign children schooling)

Context: The Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) remains one of the latest developed areas in China. Given the natural and socio-economic level of the region, the situation of disabled persons in general and children in particular remains precarious. Very few services or specialized facilities for people with disabilities are available in the field of rehabilitation and the needs remain tremendous in terms of detection and diagnosis, special care, physical rehabilitation, technical aids, integrated education, vocational training, information, counseling, awareness and social integration.

Description of the projects:  The recent “Second China national sample survey on disability” estimates that more than 75 percent of people with disabilities in the country are living in rural areas where they often represent the most vulnerable group with difficult access to basic health care, rehabilitation and education. Although the Government has set up very concrete and ambitious objectives for the coming years to improve the situation, measures taken by the China Disabled Persons’ Federation and its branches at provincial level do not reach yet people living in rural areas. In these areas, the level of knowledge of the local authorities and the general public on disability is still extremely limited and disability management skills are almost inexistent. In this context, Handicap International has initiated disability programs in 5 provinces/regions of the country (Guangxi, Tibet, Qinghai, Yunnan and Sichuan).

Handicap International has been operating in the TAR since 2001, in cooperation with its partner, the Tibet Disabled Persons Federation (TDPF) and its branches at prefecture levels. 7 different projects have been implemented since then:

  • Support in the set up and management of orthopedic workshops in Lhasa and Chamdo cities, provision of on-site orthopedic services in Shigatse prefecture, and delivering physiotherapy services at the 3 centers;
  • Community-based rehabilitation and inclusive development for persons with disabilities in Lhasa Urban District, 2 rural counties of Lhasa municipality, namely Medrogongka and Qushui; Shigatse and Chamdo;
  • Support to the set up and capacity building of the Disabled Persons Associations (Deaf, Blind and Physical).
  • Delivery of Vocational Trainings, internships and job placements of PWD from TAR. This project has been extended with a livelihood project (employment and grants for PWD).
  • Inclusive Education for children with disabilities in mainstream schools and kindergartens in Lhasa and Shigatse prefectures;
  • Social Protection and Security for persons with disabilities in health, education and employment in TAR;
  • Mother and Child Health prevention project in Lhasa (end on Dec 2010).

Dalai Lama, Goal in the Distance -- photo by Heinrich Harrer

Dalai Lama in Long Beach, California

In the orbit of the greater Los Angeles area, Long Beach serves a peculiar, often gritty, and vital function.  A few months ago I experienced enlightenment in Long Beach thanks to two gentlemen who had just gotten out of prison for “just stabbing somebody” and were on their way back from an appointment to remove the white supremacist tattoos which were all over their faces.  Slightly post-drunk on a wobbly train, they explained to me so beatifically their new lives in a halfway house: “We have meetings all the time, like ‘Dealing with Anger’ and ‘Growing Up Male’,” they said.

Since my father was, when he was living, a slightly post-drunk janitor who introduced me to more than a few ex-cons and societally marginal figures, and who himself ended up in a halfway house (in a way he never left, really), I think I was more open to the wisdom that flowed from these two men in Long Beach, even though they had horns inked on their temples.  Maybe it was because they offered me some fried chicken and seemed understanding that I was, strangely, without a phone on the Long Beach rail line.

And thus, today, I was pleased to learn that another dispenser of wisdom of a sort, he of the ex-con hairstyle, and a man who lives in a perpetual state of “halfway” (between India and China, I suppose, or between mortality and sacred revolutionary immortality) arrives today in Long Beach!

In other words, the Dalai Lama has arrived in California, having just been in Tokyo.

Since I have been reading Huanqiu Shibao and the (ever-more attuned to the world!) North Korean Central News Agency for my foreign news these past few days, the story had almost passed me by.

As to the venue for the Dalai Lama’s arrival:

Your Holiness, Long Beach is indeed a place which is in great need of some spiritual uplift.  The scientists and narcissistic TED fellows (but how would anyone know about them, were they not narcissists and hucksters of the modern age?) who momentarily clotted up its byways and convention halls were unable to transform this slow-chewing and rust-clotted industrial aperture of Los Angeles, but perhaps you, dear sir, having gone forehead-to-forehead with Chairman Mao, are up to the task.

And now for some footage of the Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama in Beijing, circa 1954-55!

Additional reading: JustRecently on Wang Lixiong, Tibet, and the indefatigable WOESER

Three Miniatures on Sino-French Parallels, Relations

Rooting around in the proverbial cellar of this castle in the sky/blog, I came across three essays involving, more or less, Jean-Paul Sartre and his reception in the PRC.

https://adamcathcart.wordpress.com/2009/05/17/sartre-cultures-of-defeat/ 

https://adamcathcart.wordpress.com/2009/05/18/sartre-cultures-of-defeat-ii/

https://adamcathcart.wordpress.com/2009/06/27/thoughts-on-sino-french-relations-from-“the-time-of-distrust”-to-today/

Is there any quarter in China’s vast intellectual canvas where Sartre’s philosophy evinces a depression, that is to say, an impact?  Perhaps even a dominant impact?  As opposed to Sartre himself being taken with Maoism in 1968?

Apparently there was a “Sartre craze” at Beijing University in 1979.  And then what?

And why aren’t his war novels read more, both generally and in China?  These texts are worth coming back to more than a few times.

Finally, as to consequences of a Sino-French mutual fascination in the 1950s:

Wolin’s work is reviewed here (somewhat unfortunately, with Eurocentric myopia!) by the Guardian.  What I should like to do is re-wire this question by way of finding origins of intellectual fascination in the early Cold War with China.

Spring Cellist, Spring!

Leading the basso continuo on the Bach Concerto for Two Violins in D minor at the University of Washington, Seattle -- photo courtesy Seattle Metropolitan Chamber Orchestra

With more to come about performances in Berlin in February and April, 2011, in Seattle/Tacoma in March and May 2011, and the anticipated Berlin/Beijing!!/Chengdu tour coming up in July 2011.

Here’s a little preview of the cadenza that begins Gao Ping‘s Cello Sonata No. 1, a composition which I premiered in Berlin last April and have every intention to champion until my death (timely or untimely), indeed!