Shanghai

Nowadays, it seems like every third Thomas Friedman column is about how the United States is engaged in a green-tech competition with China—one that, much to his chagrin, we seem to be losing handily. His argument's not totally groundless. China really has put more effort (and money) into developing cleaner energy technologies than we have. So have plenty of countries, like Germany and Denmark.

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Last week I criticized the White House for backing down when the Chinese insisted on limiting coverage of Obama's townhall meeting in Shanghai. I still think the Chinese were bluffing, and that their bluff could have been called without any fallout. But James Fallows actually raised the issue in a conversation with a government official who helped organize the trip, and the official's explanation is worth reading: "We negotiated endlessly against a very difficult Chinese government on the issue. Their intransigence tells me several things.

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Interesting point about the China trip from expert Minxin Pie, via Mike Allen: What was accomplished: There may be a silver lining. Because the press coverage of his trip is quite bad, it may have caused some heartburn in Beijing. At the end of the day, Chinese leaders know that a good relationship with Obama (and a weakened Obama cannot manage U.S.-China ties effectively) will be in China's interest. So there is a chance that China will do something after the trip is over to show that Obama's visit is not fruitless after all. Sounds plausible.

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As I mentioned yesterday, I'm somewhat skeptical of the benefits of "getting tough" with the Chinese on issues like currency manipulation and our trade deficit. (I think you need to do it, but you've got to be sophisticated about it.) But Obama's town hall meeting in Shanghai, which was heavily stage-managed by the Chinese, is one place I think the administration really should have gotten tough. From the NYT: The event in some respects signaled a retreat from the reception given at least two earlier American presidents, Bill Clinton and George W.

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Peking Over Our Shoulder

Our Chinese shareholders get nosy.

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What A City Needs

Wrestling with Moses: How Jane Jacobs Took on New York’s Master Builder and Transformed the American City By Anthony Flint (Random House, 256 pp., $27)   For urbanists and others, the battle between Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs was the great titanic struggle of the twentieth century. Like the bout between Joe Louis and Max Schmeling, their conflict has magnified significance, as the two figures have become symbols. Jacobs is the secular saint of street life, representing a humane approach to urban planning grounded in the messy interactions of the neighborhood.

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China, it's rapidly becoming clear, has a trash problem. As the country has gotten wealthier, it's become the world's largest producer of household garbage. Packaging, old electronics, newspaper, bottles, plain old junk—all of it's piling up and there's increasingly no place to dump it. As Keith Bradsher reported in The New York Times yesterday, "Beijing officials warned in June that all of the city’s landfills would run out of space within five years." One remedy is to incinerate the trash, which China has been doing.

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Fitzgerald, eager to draw the shy, Yale-educated prep-school French teacher into his dashing retinue, arranged to have Wilder and Wilson picked up at the train station, but it was Marcel Proust who helped to smooth the way between them.

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In the second half of 2003, Jiang Yanyong sat down to write a letter about what he had seen during the Tiananmen Square uprising and share it with the party's new leaders. Jiang had had a unique view of the massacre, and the words came easily, in a flood of suppressed memory and emotion. "I am a surgeon at the PLA No. 301 Hospital," he wrote. I was chief of the department of general surgery on June 4, 1989. On the night of June 3, I heard repeated broadcasts urging people to stay off the streets.

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The Boxer Shorts Rebellion

When the man who calls himself ”Chinabounder” moved to Shanghai to teach English and, apparently, have a little naughty fun on the side, he probably didn't know what he was getting himself into. His type is so common in Asia that it's almost a cliche: Bars from Hanoi to Seoul are filled with Western men gallivanting with local women. But this one made the mistake of blogging about his supposed exploits—”She jumped and quivered, sighed and open- mouthed pressed against me,” he bragged at chinabounder.blogspot.com—and mixing in criticism of China's occupation of the Xinjiang autonomous region.

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