Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Preliminary Ruminations on China

Korea Times notes that the Seoul government has hired a lobbyist in Washington, DC to shepherd through the so-called KORUS free trade agreement, which has been languishing in Congress for years.

A big issue in the states has been, and remains, beef imports to Korea, which have been hampered by incorrect impressions that US beef is responsible for "mad cow" outbreaks--what Koreans call crazy cow. What's crazy, of course, is the claim that US beef has ever been responsible for BSE illness.

Another issue is the automotive imbalance. On the order of a million Korean cars are sold in the US each year, whereas a paltry 6000, according to the article, make the reverse trip. My own brother used to bitch about this, but has been much more conciliatory now that Kia is opening a plant in his backyard, near LaGrange, GA. Koreans have a cultural mindset that buying a non-Korean car is virtually treasonous. Furthermore, it's hard to argue in the states that, dollar-for-dollar, Korean cars are a much wiser choice. Much wiser.

US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton will be in Seoul soon, and will be followed by hubbie Bill in May, and I'm sure both will try to get Cheong Wa Dae to make significant changes in KORUS. I don't know the extent to which they'll succeed, and I'm not sure they should.

After all, China gets most or all of the same perks as Korea, except, of course, the 8th Army's on-going presence, even though it has a government and ideology that is antithetical to US and Korean interests.

I'll grant you that Korea's democracy is imperfect, but it needs encouragement, whereas the Chinese government needs quashing--a wake-up call, a realignment of moral values. I remember watching the whole Tiananmen Uprising--to me, that was when CNN made its bones, not the first Iraq War--really hoping we were seeing the demise of an outmoded and unpopular system of government. What a disappointment to see the clearing of Tiananmen that week-end in June, right after Heritage's graduation ceremonies. After Tank Man, I didn't see how they could continue.

Korea had had it's own breaking point a couple of years earlier, and broke in favor of democracy, and held real elections the next year; China, to its shame, took the opposite path, and murdered some thousands of its own people, though the exact number will never be known.

Of course, another number that will never be known is the value of US dollars sold into the Chinese treasury to pay for George Bush's tax cuts for the super-rich and his war of choice in Iraq. Before you start to object to that characterization, if you wish to, please note that the recent years of Republican rule have, in just EIGHT years, virtually DOUBLED the entire debt of the United States accrued during the previous TWO HUNDRED AND TWENTY-FOUR.

The Chinese don't need to go to war with the US to crush it, they just need to cash in their T-bills. Yep, Bush sure did make us safer.[/rant]

Anyway, as you may know, I'm headed to Beijing in the morning, and after my flight arrives, I plan to take the subway to city center and have a look around before meeting TB at the Lama Temple Yonghegong. I'll piss on Mao's Tomb while I'm there. Or not.

Check this space regularly for updates.

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