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).Hu's 2003 speech (if you have a high tolerance for commie boilerplate) is here. Graham Hutchings reviewed it here.
"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..."
I found the Hutchings article highly disturbing and highly interesting. I have been "head down and runnin'" over at Jihad Watch for so long, I tend to forget the rest of our geo-political puzzle, except to worry about allignments in general. I think that ideologically, the communists and Islamists are closer than they realize. Both movements are an expressions of an underlying materialism and in both we see materialism's choking effect on the human spirit. Beware the red/black alliance.
Actually, I do have a tolerance for commie boilerplate, but North Korea is more my taste, via its total lack of priorities.
But it's interesting to note, as is partly evident by the lack of Taiwan coverage in the mainstream media, that a sycophantic streak has emerged in the media's portrayal of China nowadays, not unlike that seen in the coverage of the Middle East.
China is getting its way in marketing itself as the Friendly Land of Clean Bathrooms in advance of the 2008 Olympics; meanwhile, Hu Jintao, the military, the Taiwan issue, suppression of dissent (thanks, Google), etc., etc., are getting swept under the rug.