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NEWS FROM THE REST OF THE WORLD
While we all focus obsessively on the tribal squabbles in the Middle East, things are happening elsewhere. See, for example, this report on China's relentless build-up against Taiwan.
I try to keep tabs on the China watchers and their moods. The current mood is darkening. When Hu Jintao came to power three years ago he was a largely unknown quantity. Now China watchers are looking back on the previous era as one of comparative liberalism. Here is Australian sinologist Geremie R. Barme in the Jan '06 China Journal:
"With the accession of Hu Jintao ... many presumed that the relatively lax ideological rule of the Jiang Zemin years would continue. Ever-optimistic observers even thought that here, finally, China had a Soviet-style reformist of its own (recall putative Sino-Gorbachev's past, Qiao Shi for example).
"It was probably the 2003 commemoration of the 110th anniversary of Mao Zedong's birth, and the speech that Hu Jintao made at the Great Hall of the People in December that year, that put paid to such a notion..."
Hu's 2003 speech (if you have a high tolerance for commie boilerplate) is here
. Graham Hutchings reviewed it here