Carmen N Pedrosa
We are ecstatic that the Filipino crowd has finally found its strength and the way to express it. For the moment Duterte supporters are full of hope that Rodrigo Roa Duterte, an obscure mayor from Mindanao is the answer. He has come forward with his program and he has a party to implement it – the PDP Laban. He is serious about constitutional change that will transform the Philippines into a parliamentary system with a federal structure. He will have many enemies but he will also have friends and a multitude of supporters to carry out the difficult task.
I don’t think he needs to be told about the treachery of evil. He has lived with it when he was mayor of Davao. But caveat emptor (avoid danger) the famous Latin quotation is relevant to him as well as to us. Evil is a constant in reality. The danger is to think that it can be destroyed with a magic wand. No matter how much he may wish it, it will not happen overnight. Nation building is a slow process of creating effective institutions that should last long after he is gone. And most of all he must keep in mind that as leader of the Filipino crowds that waited for him to remember always that he must not make “the perfect come in the way of the good.” That I believe is the temptation for a man with a heroic bent like Duterte. He wants to do good, he lives humbly and speaks in the language the masses understand. Never mind the critics who tell him that he needs to speak with the Arrneow accent.
His role in history is to begin the process of change. We were subjected to an imperialist constitution from the Americans in favor of a presidential system. That ensured the rule of oligarchy as its new channel to imperialist rule. The all powerful Philippine President would act like the all powerful American governor general.
The recent slowdown has called previous narratives about China’s rise into question for some. How should we view this economic slowdown? What role will the US play? Global Times (GT) London-based correspondent Sun Wei interviewed Martin Jacques (Jacques), a senior fellow at the Department of Politics and International Studies, Cambridge University, and a visiting professor at Tsinghua University, Beijing, about these questions.
GT: Nobel Prize winner Joseph E. Stiglitz claims in an article that the “Chinese century” has begun and that Americans should take China’s new status as the No.1 economy as a wake-up call. Professor Joseph Nye of Harvard University explains in an essay why the “American century” is far from over. Obama said last year the US will lead the world for the next 100 years. What do you think of these debates?
Jacques: The US is still the dominant power in the world in probably every sense. China is only challenging it economically by virtue of having a huge population. China’s rapid transformation is clearly already having profound economic consequences, and beginning to have serious political, cultural, intellectual, moral, ethical, and military consequences as well. That’s in a way what President Xi Jinping‘s government represents. The Chinese dream imagines a different place in the world and a different future for China.
John Harris’ ‘Long Read’ piece for The Guardian (29 September 2015) includes an interview with Martin Jacques and an assessment of his editorship of Marxism Today from 1977 – 1991.
In May 1988, a group of around 20 writers and academics spent a weekend at Wortley Hall, a country house north of Sheffield, loudly debating British politics and the state of the world. All drawn from the political left, by that point they were long used to defeat, chiefly at the hands of Margaret Thatcher. Now, they were set on figuring out not just how to reverse the political tide, but something much more ambitious: in essence, how to leave the 20th century.
Over the previous decade, some of these people had shone light on why Britain had moved so far to the right, and why the left had become so weak. But as one of them later put it, they now wanted to focus on “how society was changing, what globalisation was about – where things were moving in a much, much deeper sense”. The conversations were not always easy; there were raised voices, and sometimes awkward silences. Everything was taped, and voluminous notes were taken. A couple of months on, one of the organisers wrote that proceedings had been “part coherent, part incoherent, exciting and frustrating in just about equal measure”.
What emerged from the debates and discussions was an array of amazingly prescient insights, published in a visionary magazine called Marxism Today. In the early 21st century, that title might look comically old-fashioned, but the people clustered around the magazine anticipated the future we now inhabit, and diagnosed how the left could steer it in a more progressive direction. Soon enough, in fact, some of Marxism Today’s inner circle would bring their insights to the Labour party led by Tony Blair, as advisers and policy specialists. But most of their ideas were lost, thanks partly to the frantic realities of power, but also because in important respects, Blair and Gordon Brown – both of whom had written for the magazine when they were shadow ministers – were more old-fashioned politicians than they liked to think.
At the core of Marxism Today’s most prophetic ideas was a brilliant conception of modern capitalism. In contrast to an increasingly dated vision of a world of mass production and standardisation, the magazine’s writers described the changes wrought by a new reality of small economic units, franchising, outsourcing, self-employment and part-time work – most of it driven by companies and corporations with a global reach – which they called “Post-Fordism”. Computers, they pointed out, were now being built from components produced in diverse locations all over the world; iconic companies had stripped down their focus to sales, strategy and what we would now call branding, outsourcing production to an ever-changing array of third parties. As a result, economies were becoming more fragmented and unpredictable, as the bureaucratic, top-down structures that had defined the first two-thirds of the 20th century were pushed aside.
Over the past few months, the Chinese stock market, rather than its real economy, has been making headlines. The index rose almost 50% between March and mid-June before coming back to the March level over the next four weeks, when the authorities took several steps to halt the slump. These moves—like reducing interest rates, restricting margin trading, getting some state-controlled organizations to buy equities or provide margin money, suspension of trading in a number of shares, etc—are standard measures which all policymakers, including those in Anglo-Saxon economies, take when a bubble in asset prices bursts.
Market euphoria and gloom are recurring features of all financial, or asset, markets, and exaggerated when leveraged, or margin, trading is preponderant. To recall a few examples from the supposedly deep and “mature” US financial markets: the October 1987 crash of the stock market; the “rescue” of Long-Term Capital Management, a hedge fund, by the Fed “persuading” several banks to take it over; the bursting of the dotcom bubble in 2000; and the 2007-08 crisis in the mortgage securities market. The US Federal Reserve is famous for writing a “Greenspan put” option in favour of markets.
More important in the long term is the way China has been fostering the internationalization of the yuan. A few years ago, Arvind Subramanian, now India’s chief economic adviser, wrote a book titled Eclipse: Living in the Shadow of China’s Economic Dominance. His argument is that, given the size of China’s economy (the world’s largest in purchasing power parity terms) and trade, and the fact that China is the world’s largest creditor nation while the US is a very large debtor, China is likely to become the dominant financial/economic power in the near future.
China is not emerging from a vacuum. It has a well-documented history of excellence, writes Jeffrey Sehume.
Johannesburg – For conscientious researchers the exercise of studying societies removed from the mainstream is not simply to collect information and gather facts.
For these researchers, keen to loosen the mysteries behind the formerly unknown, the journey is to evaluate “new” experiences, to perhaps draw comparative lessons. Ultimately, this is done in order to illuminate the past, improve understanding about the present, and inform the future. The People’s Republic of China has drawn the interest of lay researchers and scholars since that country began to open up in 1978.
Interest in this strikingly different society has tended to focus on unravelling the political and economic frameworks responsible for its status as a powerhouse for the new millennium.
As the Dalai Lama exiled in India turned 80, the situation regarding the Tibet issue has reached a crucial stage. There seems to be no chance of resumption of talks between Beijing and the representatives of the spiritual leader as deep differences between the two sides persist; the last contact was five years ago. China’s economic and security policies have led to an overall stability in Tibet; its international economic clout has grown leading to a weakening of foreign support to the Dalai Lama’s movement. With these as basis, China may feel confident about its ability to control events in Tibet and despite some internal viewpoints in favor of a soft line towards the Dalai Lama, China may not be in a hurry to reach a rapprochement with the latter. It is quite possible that China would choose to wait for the passing away of 14th Dalai Lama and appoint his successor on its own within the country in which case it can hope for a close to the Tibet issue once for all. Till such time, there may not be an end to the prevailing stalemate with respect to the Tibet issue. The stalemate has negative implications for relations between India and China though the Tibet issue is not a bilateral political problem among them. Any settlement of the issue between Beijing and the Dalai Lama can contribute to creating a right atmosphere for solving the vexed India- China border problem which was once non-existent and arose only after China liberated ’Tibet.
Hong Kong’s mother tongue is under threat. Cantonese may be centuries old but how much longer can it sustain the pressure from China to pick up Putonghua? By Arthur Tam and Anna Cummins. Additional reporting by Emily Cheng and Allen Jim
Our tongue. Our voice.
Language is the tongue that gives a nation its voice. And Hong Kong’s voice has never been as intrinsically linked to its identity as it is right now. Cantonese isn’t just the city’s language; it’s one of the many yardsticks by which Hongkongers measure their cultural and political differences from the rest of the Mainland.
We all know the abrasive political situation between the Central People’s Government and the SAR is complex, contentious and set to continue into the foreseeable future.This is particularly magnified in the light of the 18th anniversary of the handover, as well as the recent rejection of the pro-Beijing electoral reform package. But it was four years ago, in 2011, that Hong Kong’s voice took its first major, measurable shift in tone. According to the government’s census, Putonghua overtook English as the second most spoken language in the territory for the first time in 2011, with 48 percent of people claiming to speak the official language of mainland China, and 46 percent claiming to speak English. In the 2001 census, only a third of respondents could speak Putonghua.
Jonathan Freedland’s new thriller The Third Woman is set in a future in which the United States is in thrall to China. Freedland told the Guardian newspaper that his new book was inspired by Martin Jacques’s bestselling When China Rules the World which, according to the review in the Guardian, argues that ‘China has no interest in moving towards western-style democracy. Rather, its economic power will grow as it learns to operate “both within and outside the existing international system… sponsoring a new China-centric international system which will exist alongside the present system and probably slowly begin to usurp it”’.
Al Jazeera’s most watched English-language programme is Head to Head. Hosted by Mehdi Hasan, who is also the political editor for the UK edition of the Huffington Post. It features Mehdi’s obstinate, in-your-face form of firebrand interviewing. He is immaculately researched and fiercely combative. Set in the Oxford Union, the surroundings seem almost at odds with the intention of making Mehdi’s guests squirm. Yet there is no end of very high-profile figures wanting to be on his one-hour show – especially intellectual figures who have achieved some public prominence. Bernard Henri Levy and Tariq Ramadan have been among his guests (or victims). Because public intellectuals take their turn alongside political figures, and because each interviewee is the centre of attention for an hour, Head to Head is probably the English-speaking world’s most sustained thinking person’s programme. The combat, in short sharp sound-bites, still allows more thought to be portrayed than any other programme. When Mehdi flags, he turns to three panellists who, in turn, ask questions of the guest. Mehdi might have moments when he can thus pause, but his guest cannot.