Introducing a great map blog

This is among the greatest map blog, probably by someone in Taiwan. It is in Chinese, but there are English labels in most of his maps. All of the posts are very interesting, and indeed things I have been thinking about blogging. e.g.,


When will China's GDP overtake the US?

The Economist's View quoted Bloomberg's John Berry that China's Booming Economy Will Never Surpass U.S.. There are a lot of assumption going into how fast the GDP growth in both countries in the next 30-40 years, and other factors such as population and exchange rate.

What I am going to do is look at the historical benchmarking. I feel this is a more accurate measure, as it models the narrowing of gap and increasing difficulty of playing catch up. Below is the chart of OECD nations GDP/cap from 1960 to 2003 (source: demographia), measured in real 2003 PPP converted US$ (PPP so that exchange rate aberration is sort of removed, real so that nominal inflation is adjusted).

China's GDP/cap (in PPP) is about 16% of USA today ($6400 vs $40000), similar to the relative ratio of Korea/US in 1970. It took Korea about 15 years to reach 1/4, and 20 years to reach 1/3 of US level. It is likely to take China the same or longer time given its huge size. Therefore, total GDP of China (in PPP) could be comparable to that of US in 15-20 years, in an optimistic scenario. (There was 9 years of 9-11% growth for Korea from 1960-1990, average CAGR was between 7-8%)

If we assume another big "if", that China will follow Japan's path afterward, i.e. after 15-20 years, China will be at where Japan was at in 1960 relative to US, there will be another 30 years when China joins the developed country pack (70% of US). So the optimistic scenario is that it will around 2055-2065 then. Once China joins the developed country pack, it could follow the path of any of these 14 countries. Whichever path it takes, it will at best reach around 80% of US' GDP/cap. However, no one large/medium country (except small banking havean such as Luxemberg or BVI) has surpassed US at any point of time (*) since 1950 in terms of GDP/cap, and the runners-up are resource rich countries Norway and Canada. It is likely that China will then remain at around 75%-80% of the US level of GDP/cap, like what Japan has been at for the past 20 years.

This is assuming the PPP conversion for Korea/Japan historically and for China today are correct. Alternatively, similar adjustment in exchange rate to converge the PPP gap is assumed during the next 30-50 years.

This is also assuming no major political or economic disruption in the world (not just China, as world recession or war means disruption to China's trading) from now till around 2060. That is why "peaceful development" is the correct, and the only sensible strategy for China. This is also why China cares about a peaceful world environment, and why it has taken great pain in settling border disputes with its neighbors, and is willing to give up its 1.5M sq km claim in dispute with Russian and 90k sq km with India.

Update: (via New Economist) EIU has this forecast, showing China overtake US in PPP terms in total GDP by 2026 already (equality around 2020)

Note (*) Japan did overtake US in the late 1980s briefly in exchange rate GDP per cap, but that was due to a short-lived exchange rate abberation



Military expense classification: case study of Japan and US

It was said that China is the only country which does not list its space program, or all the army pension in the military budget. Transparency in budget and 'proper' classification are needed. Apparently China is not the only country which needs more "transparency".

According to this report, Japan's military spending classification is similar to China's. The 'adjustment' by Rand/SIPRI/Pentagon also applies to Japan, e.g. space program, and protection fee payments
  • 2006 Official budget: US$41.6bn
  • 62.4bn Yen ($0.5bn) on Spy Satellite not included in military budget (related article on Japan's program)
    • Question: In US, NASA is not under DoD, NASA budget should also listed separate from defense budget (see below)
  • 600bn Yen ($5bn) paid to US for the cost of its bases in Japan, also under a special budget. The US troops are supposed to defend Japan, it is quite natural that this will be paid to Japan's own military if US forces is relocated
  • Another undisclosed amount for the relocation from Okinawa bases (to Guam), to be paid by Japan. It was estimated to be about 330bn Yen ($2.9bn), a one-off expense.
  • Japan Coast Guard (Maritime Safety Agency 海上保安庁 ) is not under the defense budget (this is probably comparable to China's PAP), total budget for 2005 was 168.7bn Yen ($1.4bn)
    • The Coast Guard, similar to the Coast Guard of the US, has been involved in fishering disputes and coastal patrolling activities. It also seeks to spend 350bn yen (over 7 years) to build new fleet (I am not sure if this 50bn yen is already included in the 168.7bn number
    • Question: does national guard and coast guard of other countries listed under defense? It appears not. If so, does that mean Rand/Pentagon/IISS have over-estimated China's defense budget?
  • $1-1.2bn (i.e. 1/3 of the total cost) contribution to the US Missile Defense System, spread over 6 years starting 2006, so cost for 2006 will be about $0.2bn
  • Over 1000bn Yen ($8.5bn) of pension for the JSDF is not listed under the military budget
Taking these into account (except the Guam base), the Japan's total military spending is over 670bn yen, or $57bn. It would be $60bn if one includes the cost to send the 9,000 US forces back to Guam. I have tried to verify the numbers through independent web-sites outside China (see links above), but I am not able to find the pension number, or to confirm if such number is indeed outside the defense budget.


US defense budget, apparently is also defined similar to China's, with space program, national guard, coast guard, separately listed
According to this analysis of the 2006 budget, US military spending for 2006 is $558bn, plus another $85bn unbudgeted.
  • Current Military, $558B:Military Personnel $109B, Operation and Maintenance $154B, Procurement $81B, Research and Development $68B, Construction $7B, Family Housing $4B, Retired Pay $46B, DoE Nuclear Weapons $17B, NASA (50%) $8B, International Security $8B, Homeland Sec. (50%) $16B, Ex. Off. Pres. $78, Misc. $4B, “Allowance for Anticipated Supplemental” (Iraq) $25B
  • UNBUDGETTED: $85B (est.):Most of the spending for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is not included in the President’s Budget but the Administration has announced it will seek this money as supplemental appropriations later in year as it has in the past two years
  • Past Military, $384B: Veterans’ Benefits $70B; Interest on National Debt (80% estimated to be created by military spending) $314B
US spending is so big anyway, so no one really care about digging this out to compare with China. It is the US tax payers and peace lovers who created the site above. The numbers are all from official numbers, except the interest on Natioal Debt could be lower. But understanding how the numbers break down and what the categories are helps us to understand the hypocrisy of the DoD report.

Perhaps the only adjustment that China needs is to include the Arms Import, which is actually quite transparent itself (China's budget listed them separately mainly because of its forex policy. But that should really be changed.)


Related note: Wu Jianmin, the Dean of Foreign Affair Insititute in China, was interviewed by Xin Jingbao on Japan, Xinjingbao is among the group of liberal media in China (led by Nanfang Weekend), and is recently persecuted by the CCP.
  • "We need to distinguish the right wing from the general public in Japan, the right does not represent all Japanese, we cannot oppose all Japan people because we oppose the right. Regarding Sino-Japanese relationship, we still need to have confidence. From a long term perspective, friendship for generations suit the interests of the two people. President Hu said, it is win-win if China and Japan are in peace, lose-lose if we are in fight."
  • "We need to question the notion that Japan needs to choose between China and US as its strategic partner. Sino-US and Sino-Japan relationships have stand-alone solutions...The mutual benefit between China and US is greater than the differences, [similarly for Japan and China]. They are both evolving and developing. Do you really have to choose one over another?"
  • "Some said we need to be tough on Japan, as it only yields to the strong. This is misled. Being tough on any nation will not work, it won't work even on a child...[I believe] the solution lies in developing mutual interests and hope [for interaction/trust/relationship] between the 2 peoples"


China population (ii) - historic changes

China's population has been between 15-60M most of the time in history, until late Ming dynasty. Whenever there is a war, the population decreases significantly, but peak population has seldomly passed 60M for the 2000 years before late Ming. Below is a chart (source), please remember the following caveats when reading it
  • The statistics are mostly done when war is over or during peace, so a few deep trough (during wars) may be missing in this chart, when there were no stats available. The dynasty beginning number is indicative of the damage of the war preceding the change in dynasty
  • Lost of populations in war include war dead, famine, migration of people and hiding (in mountains - esp in beginning of Qing)
  • Major civil war causes change of dynasty, and population decrease of 1/2 to 2/3. However, the numbers in the beginning of a dynasty is often under-stated as people were moving around and the stats were incomplete (so the real impact might not be as bad)
  • Since there were small changes in geographic boundary, the population stats were not entirely comparable (but it is probably 80-90% correct)
  • Because Chinese dynasties tax on land size, headcount and household numbers, it is likely that the total populations are understated due to tax evasion (some scholar estimated that popluation reached 100m around late Song, so official stats could be 30-40% below real figures)
  • A major trick of concealing population is not include serf and slave. Yuan's real population is above the same as South Song/Jin. However, Yuan's numbers were relatively more accurate because it cracked down on cheating of the rich people
  • There was an estimate for Xia (2000-3000BC) population of 13.35M
After 1700,
  • Official population passed 100M around 1720, 200M in 1764, 300M around 1790, 400M around 1834, due mainly to higher food yield, with introduction of new world plants such as corn, potatos, etc.
  • Virtually no growth between 1840 to 1900, when western powers invaded China and Taiping Rebellion took away 20-30M lives
  • From 1900-1947 the growth was slow, from 430M to 460M, with a peak of 470M around 1928 when civil war lessened but then the Japanese invasion took 20-30M lives



Why building a dam would keep Khabarovsk's water supply clean

China has built a new dam on Fuyuan waterway, a small pathway south of Heixiazi Island and a by-pass before Heilongjiang (Amur) and Ussuri River 'formally' meet.

As illustrated in the map below. The yellow stroke is where the dam is located. Heilongjiang is polluted when the tributary Songhua River merges upstream (from west), But Ussuri River is clean (flows from SW). After the dam is built, Heilongjiang water would not meet Ussuri water until point B, the water between points A and B will remain clean, which is where Russians water supply source is.

The building of the dam is suggested by the Russians, according to some report. Fuyan water is very shallow (0.9m at tis deepest, 0.3-0.4m on average).

Meanwhile, there is also rumour that the Russians worry about the dam building will dry up the Fuyuan waterway and hence connecting Heixiazi will Chinese side of the bank. The rumour is unfounded, as we can see form the map, the western portion of Heixiazi belongs to China upon recent border negotiation and both sides of the Fuyuan waterway will be inside China border. (The actual hand-over will happen in 1-2 years)

Some history of the border dispute: in 1929 USSR took Heixiazi and Yinlong Islands, plus a number of other border territories from China. In 1964, both sides agreed on principle that demarcation would be based on shipping route, which means China would get back both islands. However, no formal treaty has been signed and the relationship between the two countries deterirated. Negotiation in recent years results in current compromise, where China would get about 174 sq km (about 50%) out of a total of 350 sq km. In addition, China will have the nagivation right to go through the other sides of Heixiazi to connect sail from Heilong Jiang to Ussuri Jiang.
Related note: I expect the Kurils dispute between Russia and Japan might end up with a similar deal.

The map above is at the NE tip of China, see the insert (lower right corner, and a small rectangle in the larger map above) of the map below for its location.



World FDI map

Here is a map of Foreign Direct Investment flow of the world, in 1980 and 1998. While China's attention is impressive, it is still lower than that of the Western Europe and US. But China is probably among the top if one measures FDI/GDP.


Lee Kuan Yew on India

Atanu Dey of India Economy blog has a very insightful series on Lee Kuan Yew's recent lecture, Nehruism and India's economic development (part 1 and part 2 of Part 3, the lecture).

Plenty of comparison between China and India, and also about the various explanation for the difference in performance, e.g., the myth of blaming democracy. Well, when there are problems in China, we see similar scapegoating as well. I wish there are more people like Atanu Dey in the sino-blogosphere. Criticism are abundant but constructive criticism and suggestion are not often seen here.

Atanu listed incompetent bureaucracy as one of India's problem. I am sure I can just name as many incompetent and corrupted bureaucrats in China. I suspect there is more behind the apparent incompetence and bigotry in these government decisions, in all countries, i.e. an intertwined web of interest parties that is hard to break. Example, China's coal mines.

It would be interested to hear what Atanu has to say about China's problems. The two countries have both made some progress and encountered a different set of obstacles. The road ahead is full of challenges for both. Learning from China's mistake in its manufacture-centric development model may help India better prepared for its future development; and the same applies to China when it turns its attention to the service industry.
  • "Just as China is learning from India to improve its performance in the IT sector, so India must emulate China’s success in attracting FDIs and the jobs they create in manufacturing. It can do this by building infrastructure and educating and raising the skill levels of its workers...The right strategy for India is to walk on two legs: traditional labour intensive industry and modern IT. Both legs need strengthening through further reforms ….”
Down the path, both India and China need to walk on 2 legs.

I am of the opinion that China did not choose manufacturing and India did not choose service consciously as its path to grow. It is the natural selection of free market that did the job. China has a reasonably educated cheap workforce and India an English literate one. The buyer and sellers were matched and evovled by Darwin, not by Deng or Jiang or Nehru's successors. However, what these politician could do (and should do, or have done right) is to create a fair and efficienct envirnment for such econmic darwinism to happen.


Peaceful development

As "China Vows Peaceful Use Of Its Power", a "Hawkish China general will step down", and "Major General Zhu Chenghu received an 'administrative demerit' ".
  • Major General Zhu Chenghu received an ''administrative demerit" recently from the National Defense University, which bars him from promotion for one year, said the sources, who requested anonymity.
    ''He misspoke. But the punishment could not be too harsh or we would be seen as too weak towards the United States," one source said.
    An administrative demerit is the second lightest punishment on a scale of one to five, but still potentially damaging to his career. The lightest is an administrative warning, while the heaviest is expulsion.
    ''His chances for promotion in the future are extremely slim," another source said.
    The Defense Ministry declined to comment.
    In July, Zhu told a group of visiting Hong Kong-based reporters China would have no choice but to resort to nuclear weapons in the event of a US attack over democratic Taiwan, which Beijing has claimed as its own since their split at the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949.

The only two in the military that disagree with the "No first Use" principle have been taken care of. (Apparently there was also a clash between the hawks and doves in PLA and the doves won.)

Beijing knows that action is needed to prove its claims to peaceful development. And it is showing the world its determination. It is hardly a co-incidence that the 3 pieces of news reach the international press at the same time, especially that of Major General Zhu, who is the grandson (some said nephew) of Red Army Commander Zhu De.

Implications of China's GDP revision

China's GDP is 16.8% higher than previous estimate. Almost all western academic praise this as a long due revision. While there is still considerable error in the new number, and in fact, any statistics of such a large scale (and can be announced before the calendar year actually ends) need to be viewed only as an reference number, a major bug is fixed.

The fundamental message remains unchanged.
  • China is a large economy, ranked #6 in 2004, between France and Italy (Ranks: USA, Japan, Germany, UK, France), and can catch up with Germany and Japan in the next decade of two. But it is still a developing country, with GDP/cap under $2000, 1/20 that of USA.
  • Since the change of methodology does not change the growth number significantly (what has missed in 2004 was also missed in 2003), the trends (growth numbers) are still correct. i.e. the growth would be 9.0% or 10.0%, instead of 9.4%, depending on how much the missed 'service sector' has grown.
However, there are a few implications we can draw, some of which suggested by the Economists
  • The survey also confirms some long-held suspicions about China's economic make-up: that its service sector is bigger than the one-third of GDP suggested by the old figures (the new data show more than 40%)
  • that consumption is also higher and that investment and savings as a proportion of GDP are lower. This lot of figures look more sustainable than the old lot. But they are still only a best guess at the truth. And, at a sixth the size of America's, China's economy still has a bit of catching-up to do

I would also add a couple more, the trade surplus as a percentage of GDP is smaller than previously thought, so is the forex reserve/GDP number, or saving/income rate. In particular, my export market share needs to be recalculated.

With the service % now at 40.3%, China's color code is change to the same as India's, although India still leads by about 9-10 percentage points.



China's military spending

First, I am of the opinion that everyone should spend less on its military, and that includes China.

China's official defense spending in 2004 was $25.4bn, by including factors such as PAP, space program and more weapon imports, RAND estimated the range to be $31-38bn (2003 figure, average=$34.5bn), SIPRI $35.4bn. China's GDP was $1933bn in 2004 (old number was $1650bn) according to most recent annoucement. So China's defense spending was 1.3%-1.8% of its GDP according to various estimates.

But here I have not considered one well published (but not neccessarily accurate) source, the Pentagon, estimated China's spending to be $67.49bn, based on PPP adjusted conversion into US$. Because much of China's military spending is for importing weapon from Russia, using hard currency, everyone (including RAND, SIPRI, armscontrolwonk) have rejected the PPP proxy. Pentagon, for its own agenda of securing more fund form the Congress, is the only body that stubbornly insists on the misleading PPP. Anyway, let's see how that translates in % GDP. This is from CIA's country profile for China
  • GDP (PPP): $7.262 trillion (2004 est.)
  • Military expenditures - dollar figure: $67.49 billion (2004)
If CIA's own data is correct, China spends $67.49bn/$7262bn=0.93% of its GDP on defense. If we use the new GDP figure, $8480bn (in PPP), the ratio is only 0.79%.
  • From the same CIA site, there is a conflicting (derived) number. It said China's "military expenditures - percent of GDP: 4.3% (2004)". This is based on a wrong calculation of dividing a PPP-adjusted number by an exchange rate valued GDP (about $1.65tn). To compare 2 numbers, you need to get the units right. What CIA/Pentagon did was like saying I am taller than Yao Ming because I am 6 feet tall and Yao is only 2.29m.

My problm with CIA's site, while it is handy, is that it also lacks some important information. e.g. if a PPP adjusted value is quoted, I should at least know what ratio it used. US State Dept or DoE use exchange rate GDP, which is a source I use more often now (worldbank and EIU are better source, but they do not have detailed demography or geography data).

update: great insight from Strategic Unit



Chinese and Korean Family Names

click for music

(via Asiapundit) DPRK Studies shows that 45% of all Korean (South) people are either Kim, Lee or Park. If one use the same breakdown and project to the whole of Korea one has the following chart (source, 2000 figure)

  • Top 3 concentration: 45%
  • Top 10: 64%
  • Top 15: 72%
  • 22 names have over 1% population (see chart): 81%

The Han Chinese, being a much larger ethnic group, is less concentrated.

  • Top 3 concentration: 23%
  • Top 10: 44%
  • Top 15: 51%
  • 19 names have over 1% population (see chart): 56%
  • It was said that there are some 15 family lines for Kim, Kim's need to check the line to avoid 'in-breeding' before getting maried. one is not supposed to marry within the same line.

Total Han Chinese population is about 1.2bn (92% of all Chinese)

The estimate is based on the population census of 1990, by sampling for each province and adjust for the population weight of the province. Taiwan is included in the survey. Regional difference is widely observed.

  • Chen is the largest name in Guangdong and Taiwan (I suppose also in HK as well), over 10% of the local population
  • 19% of all Huang's in China live in Guangdong (close to 8% of GD people)
  • Wu represents over 5% of Fujian people, but only 2% in all China.
  • Largest name Li, has a population of 95M, and close to 100M if including overseas Chinese dispora, biggest than the entire population of Germany or the 2 Korea's combined
  • There are over 1000 common surname in large cities such as Beijing and Shanghai
  • Many large names are probably expanded by ancient dynasties. e.g. Lee of Tang (many sinicized minorities and other Chinese were "rewarded" by being given the Emperor's name), Zhu of Ming, Liu of Han, Yang of Sui, Zhao of Song, etc.
  • 1700 surnames (incl non-Han) in Taiwan in 1978, increased to about 2000 in 1989, but that is partly due to aborigine switch away from sinicized names
  • see wiki for more

If the regional difference in Chinese is indicative, my extrapolation for N Korea must not be taken seriously (although the Korean, as a smaller country, is probably more homogeneous)

With the computer power today, I expect China would be able to publish an accurate bottom-up census like Korea did. Numbers may differ slightly.

update: don't miss language hat's comment discussion, and faar outliers's post.


Another data point to the Nanjing Massacre "dispute"

Here is from the de-classified US Foreign Affair file #RG59-793.94/11631, from US Ambassador to Germany William Dodd at Berlin to Under-secretary of State Welles and Secretary of State Cordell Hull, dated Dec 14th, 1937. Click to read for yourself.

Note: The infamous Nanjing Massacre happened between Dec/13, 1937 to Feb 5, 1938 (the city fell on Dec 13). But this telegraph is dated Dec 14 1937, so the numbers are probably the sum of the civilians killed in the Shanghai up to the date Nanjing fell but not include those killed in Nanjing.

More discussion in Chinese here.



China/HK could create another SAR

Which area/country has the highest GDP/cap in the world? The answer is not Luxemberg.

It is a small group of Carribean Islands, BVI, the British Virgin Island.

China can create the same economic miracle, to add another 0.1% to its GDP. There are 4 candidates in the Lingding Yang (Lonely Ocean - See map below) near HK

  • Nei Lingding Island (Between Yuen Long and Shekou, but this one is a wild life reserve, population 600, monkeys. so this one is most likely out)
  • Wai Lingding Island (10 km south of Cheung Chau, 10 years ago speedboats used to shuttle from Ap Lei Chau to the massage parlour there)
  • Guishan Island (It is now connected with two other pieces of rocks through reclamation, Niutou and Zhongxin. Next time your flight lands in Chek Lap Kok, you can notice a lot well-built area south of Lantau)
  • The Dangang Islands (3 Islands, south of Stanley)

All these islands are within an hour from HK by hydrofoil/hovercraft. So the bankers, lawyers and accountants can live in HK (The Islands, esp WLD and DG, should provide much fresher air and more beautiful views).

  • GS is also close to Macau/Zhuhai. In particular, Guishan could be linked by a bridge from the SW tip of Lantau, piggybacking on the planned HK-Macau-Zhuhai Bridge.
  • DG and WLD are close to Lamma Island, Stanley, or Ap Lei Chau

What China needs to do is to create another SAR, with a new set of "Basic Law". There is already the HK model. This one can be more 'aggressive', in the sense that it copies BVI law wholesale. The constitutional exercise can also be a preparation toward a framework (e.g. federation) to lure Taiwan to 're-unification'.

Wai Lingding Island already has a pier and some infrastructure.


Top defense expenditure of the world

Non-violent Resistance pointed out Japan's little secret (Via Simonworld). Here are the data.

Def Bud/$bnGDP/$bnPop/MArea/k km^2
USA455.30 117002939629
UK47.40 210059245
France46.17 200060547
Japan42.40 4600128378
China35.40 165013009597
Germany33.89 270083357
Russia19.40 582142.817075
Korea15.49 6804898
India15.06 69211003287

Country$M/sq km

The data is from Stockholm International for Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), 2004 figures. Yes, China's data was adjusted up from its official number of $29bn, and is about the average value of the Rand estimated range ($31-38bn).


Tuna fish? Taiwan to become a normal government

While Japan has worked to become a normal nation, since 1971, Taiwan's government has never treated itself as a normal one, despite claiming to be a sovereign country. As it places the CCP government across the strait as its biggest potential threat, it had chosen to be mum on issues such as Diaoyu, fishing, and Spratly.

Recent discontent from Taiwanese fishermen might have finally changed this. Accusing Taiwan of tuna fish "laundering", Japan has pushed for a ban on Taiwan fishermen. The result was a quota cut from 14,900 tons to 4,600 tons. Further sanction is expected in the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission, again led by Japan. Some in Taiwan have complained that their recent friendliness to Japan, restraints on fishing dispute in the East China Sea, and even some civilian support to Japan's right wing, as "hot face stuck onto a cold butt" (热脸贴上冷屁股).

However, things might start to change. Today Apple Daily reported Taiwan is finally getting serious on maintaining its control on some remote island, and a new airport is being constructed on Taiping Island (Itu Aba), the largest in Nansha (Spratly, for more infor see this).

  • The airport in Taiping will be larger than that in Dongsha, it will allow for landing and taking off of C-130, F-16, Mirage-200, etc., and even air-force-1 of the president
  • "太平島機場的規模將比東沙島的簡易型機場還大,可供空軍C-130運輸機、F-16、幻象二○○○等戰機,及海軍S-2T反潛機起降,連總統乘坐的空軍一號專機都可降落。"

The area of Taiping Island is only 0.41 km2, less than the size of vatican city (0.44). The runway will be about 1km long. So I expect some reclaimation has to be done. (latest report has it Taiping has 0.49 km2 now, having grown almost as fast as Kowloon pennisula. still the perimeter is about 3km, i.e. you can round it in 30-40 min walking)

But an airport there will also help to shorten the shift (3 month long today, and it costs over NT$40M and 8 days per trip by sea) of the 200 soldiers on the island, and help to deliver sick and injured fishermen in nearby sea. Rafts (see fig) are used today as the reefs stop ships from getting to close.

Perhaps the governments on both sides of the Taiwan strait could cooperate on these issues, especially if Ma could win the election in 2008. But even in CSB's tenure, this is an area he could work on to improve cross strait relationship, e.g., by offering to ferry the fishermen or sick soldiers from mainland, and hence recover from his recent election defeat.

The pressure on Taiwan's defense from the mainland will be eased, if the two governments could find some common interests and build trust with each other, especially if this involves the navy. This should be viewed (and approached) as defensive, instead of aggressive activities, because China has already signed a co-development accord with the neighboring countries regarding the Spratly. More trust and cooperation across the strait will greatly reduce the tension and possibility for a war. It would also help both sides to reduce extraneous spending in defense.


Update(Dec 15): Japan's proposal to further cut Taiwan's fishing quota were rejected in the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission, due to objection from PR China, and some Pacific Island nations (Marshall, Solomon) which were compensated by Taiwan for fishing in their EEZ. Some in Taiwan asked, "Can we now see who our real friend is?"


Taiwan already has another smaller airport in South Sea, in Dongsha (Pratas) Island about 300km south of HK.

Which is locate on a circle coral ring.

Map: Chinese dispora

Here is a map of Chinese dispora based on Nationmaster (click to see detailed data table).

  • Nationmaster's coloring scheme is not very good. But I do know the graphic/flash skill to improve it
  • Overseas Chinese dispora probably only counted Han populations. I am not sure how ethnic minorities such as Bai are accounted for. (Korean Chinese who emigrated most probably identify themselves as Korean). But the numbers will not change significantly.
  • mainland China has 1.3bn, Taiwan 23M, HK 7M, Macau 0.5M were not charted here
  • Russia has about 100k, but for unknown reason it is not charted by Nationmaster.
This map is for % population in the host country (detailed data from Nationmaster.)


Speech of the day: 'Asian Strategy As I See It:Japan as the "Thought Leader" of Asia'

Speech of the day, by Taro Ars-0, at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan, Asian Strategy As I See It:Japan as the "Thought Leader" of Asia
  • "Asian" as Another Word for "Optimist"...You might call it old-fashioned if I would say the following, but it is that exact outlook on life that is held by the main character in the TV drama Oshin, which has been so enormously popular even in Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Iraq.
  • If Japan is seen as having some strengths, then first and foremost Japan itself needs to be conscious of that strength, that power, as everything starts from there. Then, the crucial point becomes utilizing it well in order for it to impact meaningfully upon yourself and others.
  • Japan is, for the countries of Asia, a "thought leader," and, indeed, it must be one.
  • Modern Japanese history also teaches us the fact that the intense emotion of democracy is quite capable of shifting into nationalistic furor. Young democracies-or rather, indeed, young hearts that aspire towards democracy-are, we know, quick to become passionate and intense...From the end of 1950's into the 1960's, Japan was experiencing exactly that kind of situation. I must say that I see in several countries of Asia, both politically and economically, a current situation very similar to what Japan had experienced at that time. How Japan was able to weather this very dangerous period-that is what we need to be explaining to our neighbors [What is he talking about? I though nobody thought Japan in 1950s or 1960s was dangerous. It was the true leader of Asia then.]...However, nationalism, beyond being a troubling annoyance, also carries with it the problem that it can easily spiral among neighboring nations.
  • Defining Japan: Japan as a Stabilizer...Japan's role as a stabilizer in the area of security clearly stems from the weight that the Japan-US military alliance holds.
  • Welcoming the Rise of China...Competition is almost always a good thing for socioeconomics...What would be even more beneficial is the expansion of this competition into the political and social fields in the years to come [compete politically with your neighbor? how?]
  • I can also state that I hope that China sheds its stance as a "veto power", who tends to say "no" at almost every turn and shifts towards more constructive means of leverage. In this regard as well, with Japan as a "thought leader" in Asia, I think that Japan and China can find many opportunities for cooperation.
  • Sixty years ago, we could count only seven independent countries in all of Asia. [are you listening ASEAN? you owe your independence to the Imperial Army.]
Read the full text for yourself here. Long babbling, but largely well intended. However, I really think he needs to hire a speech writer and a P.R. specialist. I know the target audiences is probably American, but ASEAN leaders are also listening.

IMO Asia's owes its industrialization to Japan's modernization in the 1950-70s. It was the spill-over effect from Japan that in part led to the emergence of the 4 NIC (small dragons), and later 4 small tigers and China. However, Japan did not lead Asia, nor ever shared its experience or technology with its Asian neighbor. It is also unlikely it would in the coming years.

Japanese/English quiz: Taro = yam, Ars-o = ?


ASEAN + 3 or ASEAN + 6? for East Asia Summit

Update (Dec12) :
1. Related, FT article
2. Kuala Lumpur Declaration on the ASEAN Plus Three Summit (Full Text)
3. Francis Fukuyama's essay in WSJ (May 2005) (pdf)
4. an old essay by Waseda University Professor Lim Hua Seng agrees with me
5. Jeffrey Robertson of Australia (pdf) examines the benefit of ASEAN+1/3/5, and why Asia FTA has been resisted by Japan and US, until China joined and support the ASEAN cause.
6. Japan Times essay on the "China-Japan Feud"; my take is that ASEAN+1 will go ahead regardless and Japan could end up as the loser.
Update (Dec12) :
7. Asian Leaders Hold Summit Without U.S. Presence - Washington Post -"The whole process is open," said Cui Tiankai, who heads the Asian affairs department at the Chinese Foreign Ministry. "Now we have 16 countries, but next year we could have 17 or 18. For example, we are aware of the interest expressed by the United States government."..."That's the new way of China's diplomacy these days," Natalegawa said. "They are very flexible."
8. Beijing opposes exclusive East Asia bloc - UPI - " Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao told leaders at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations forum in Kuala Lumpur that China does not seek regional leadership. He also "made it clear that China is opposed to building any self-enclosed or exclusive bloc in the East Asia region," the official Xinhua news agency reported. "
Update (Dec13) :
9. Aso's speech: "Asian Strategy As I See It:Japan as the "Thought Leader" of Asia" Read for youeself. IMO he really needs to hire a speech writer and a P.R. specialist.
10. Andy Mukherji is right that an Asian FTA will be hard to materialize, if taking the ASEAN+6 path. But we have more options, we can start with ASEAN 6 + China 1. Then for Korea, Japan/etc to join one by one.

There has been report that Japan opposes to the ASEAN+3 solution toward an East Asia trade pact. It proposed ASEAN+6 instead, fearing it would be "led by China". This is part of a ploy (can i call it conspiracy?) from the neo-con in US to contain China, when the Bush administration felt bitter about being left out in an Asian conference(*).

There are 10 nations in ASEAN:

The 10 nations have already achieved significant progress in reaching a free trade pact. But there is no catalyst to push for it. Adding the NE Asia 3 may be the catalyst (or anchor) that is long needed. To include 3 more nations into the pact 3x10+3(among the NEA 3)=33 negotiations are required.

To include 6 more nations 6x10 + 6*5/2!= 75 more negotiation is needed. Significant delay is expected. ASEAN + 6 proposal is dragging the feet of an East Asian trade pact. Nothing gets done if you are too ambitious. This is why APEC fails to achieve anything substantial.

Therefore, ASEAN+3 is a more practical solution to reach a trade pact. The next 3 countries (India, Australia, NZ) can always join later. By prioritizing free trade for ASEAN+3 it does not mean excluding the next 3. On the contrary, it speeds up future inclusion of the next 3. In fact, by proceeding in gradualism, one also allows for other neighboring countries, such as Mongolia, Sri Lanka, Bangaldesh, Maldives, East Timor and PNG, to join once ASEAN+3 is established, similar to how the expansion of EU has been accomplished.

China will perhaps be the anchor of ASEAN+3. But China will not control the whole of East Asia as a result. ASEAN combines has 600M people. By irrationally opposing a practical solution (of ASEAN+3), Japan (and US) is hurting the economic interests of everybody in the region, including Japan itself.

Hopefully the ASEAN nations, with the experiences gathered in past negotiation, realize this. If Japan does not like it, it can opt out. ASEAN+2 will only need 21 new negotiations and it would be a much easier task to accomplish. Not having Japan in the FTA will be a minus for all, but it can always join the Asia family when it decides it wants to. But ASEAN+2 is still better than no trade pact at all.

Note(*): Apparently geography has not been taught well in US schools. USA belongs to the North America continent, not the Asia continent. Contrary to what the diplomats in US want to believe, there has never been any conscious effort in leaving US out in this East Asian Summit. In fact, ASEAN has said USA could join if it signs the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation, like Australia did. Russia has signed, and may get its invitation ticket to the next meeting.


Economic performance of land-locked countries and Trade - a tribute to WTO

The chart below shows the growth in GNP(above) and GNP/cap (below) between 1965-1998. The blue areas denote countries with shrinking GNP (and GNP/cap). One striking observation in the GNP/cap graph is that the land-locked countries (Africa inland strip from Bukina Faso to Zambia, and Mongolia) performed worst. This is a statistical evidence that economic evidence is hurted by lack of access to trading.

How about inland countries in Europe (Switzerland, Austria, Czech/Slavia, Hungary)? The infrastructure is well developed, and the distance to sea is not too long. They also border wealthy neighbor and hence access to over-land trade.
Other countries with shrinking GNP/cap

  • Iran: the invasion by evil Saddam Hussein (supported by US) and embargo from US after the 1979 revolution. Hopefully this will change.
  • UAE and Kuwait puzzled me. change in oil price (oil price at 1998 was below $20/barrel)? or dilution by foreign labor?
  • Georgia: turmoil after USSR collapse + lack of natural resources compared with other ex-USSR republics
  • Ethiopia, Sierra Leone: prolonged civil war
  • Cote D'Ivore and Ghana are also puzzles when compared with neighbor land-locked Mali
  • Madagascar: I believe (hope) the lemur country will recover soon
  • Nicaragua: civil war again
  • Venezuela is another puzzle. But this at least shows us Chavez should not shoulder all the blame as he is no wrose than his predecessors, contrary to what the neo-cons in US have alleged.

The poorest countries are not always the ones that receive most aid. Israel is among the top recipients ($105/cap).

Nor is the richest countries the ones that contribute most, as illustrated by the some UN ODA (Official Development Aid) numbers below (Source).

Judging by ODA alone may not be fair, "Center for Global Development attempts to factor in some quality measures and has an attempt at “Ranking the Rich” based on their commitment to development for the world’s poor. This index considers aid, trade, investment, migration, environment, security, and technology."

Finally, a quiz, which country/area (i.e. ignore politics, and consider Taiwan as a country/area) has the highest GDP/cap?


Map: world population and GDP scaled maps

This is the world map scaled by population (via Boingboing/Awholelotanothing). It shows why BRIC (the biggest 4 developing countries in this map, sort of, though they should include Indonesia, BIRIC) has been talk of the town these days.
Below is the similar (anamorphose) map for 1950 and 2025, as projected in 1993

Here is one scaled by wealth (GDP in PPP, 1995 data), note China and Russia grew a lot in the past 10 years

This is the same map using exchange-rate converted GDP (perhaps with slightly older data as well): Color denotes income: yellw=highest, green=lowest.

GDP/cap 1995 by PPP

GDP density (US$/km2) is a guide for real estate speculators.

Share of service in GDP shows strong correlation to GDP/cap (note India has higher service content than China, due to the IT/outsourcing industry)

Future trend: GDP/cap growth (1990-2001)

More population sized maps, population scaled flags

Simple square shape, population scaled

Shape preserving, pop-scaled

Square shaped GNP map, 2000



SEPA head resigned, but the organization problem has not been solved

7) Update(Dec 10): According to Asiaweek, Xie was indeed a scapegoat. Jilin Province even asked Xie to hold the information from the State Council. Central Propaganda Ministry should also ge held responsible for the media censorship.

6) Update(Dec 7): It was reported Wang Wei jumped from his apartment after he met with his superior, and rumour has it that a letter was written before he jumped. Could he be asked to should all the responsibility by his superior? Could the letter (if exist) show us who the (other)real culprits are?
Note: there are usually several deputy mayor in each city, each is responsible for different funtions. Wang's responsibility include "industry" and "work safety". He was at the scene of explosion and in charge of the fire-fighting. He also announced there was no leak/pollution right after the fire. Wang was promoted to the position last year, after the department store fire disaster.
IHT reports on the special investigsation commission.

China's State Environment Protection Adminstration (SEPA) Xie Zhenhua resigned, after the Songhua River fiasco.

As the head of SEPA, he has the responsiblity in monitoring the pollution and coordinate between provinces (Jilin and Heilongjiang). However, is he the chief culprit for the fiasco? Would a diligent SEPA solve the problem in future?

Some background on China's bureacracy ladder system, it works more or less like military ranks. i.e. each official has a rank, whether his position is with the geographic or functional responsibility. Here we are looking at how functional responsibility (SEPA) interacts with geographic responsibility (Jilin Province, Jilin City, Heilongjiang Province & Harbin City). Another complication is a third dimension in this matix, the CNPC faction of power, which, as State Owned Enterprise (SOE), also is ranked in the hierarchy

  • Province governors and party secretaries (and certain major cities like Harbin and Changchun) are equivalent of Bu ("Ministry", 部), so the provincial heads are equal in rank with Ministers (Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai and Chongqing are regarded as provincial ranks)
  • SEPA was a Ju ("Administration", 局), but in 1998 its status was promoted to be equivalent to the Minister level in China's bureacracy ladder
    • However, even within all the ministers, there are big minister and small ministers. SEPA's head, 'newly elevated' to become a minister, is a small and junior minister
    • e.g., Guangdong is a lot "bigger" than Hainan (so is its leader's seniority). Governor of Hainan Wang Qishan was "promoted" to become Mayor of Beijing in 2003 after the mayor was fired, even though his rank remains as 'minister'

Now, how do you expect a less senior bureaucrat to mediate between two heavy-weight officials, and those you are dealing with could become Deputy Prime Minister any time? This is what I found from an internet post, roughly recapped in English below (italic)

  • CNPC is probably at the deputy minister level, the General Manager is at most half a rank lower that the (senior) minister level of Jilin Provincial Governor, and perhaps more senior since the CNPC is more "meaty"
  • SEPA in Beijing does not control Jilin Province (as I said above, Mr Xie is a less senior minister)
  • The local SEPA (provincial level) is always one level more junior (in rank) than the governors and mayors
  • Since the local SEPA was unable to tell the governors or mayors (in this case even the enterprises) what to do, and SEPA head is junior to the Provincial head and hence unable to mediate, the system failed
  • The fact that we knew the truth was basically a result of "no other alternative" from Heilongjiang's part. So it first told a so-called "white lie" of cleaning ducts, then rumours leak and it was forced to tell the truth
  • 各位网友我来说句,如果觉得在理请支持一下。这个事件的处理的种种令人费解的现象,起源于一个现行的大型国有企业的官阶制度。中石油至少是副部级单位,他们的老总和吉林省长最多差半格,而所属又是中直,所以地方管不了,而国家早就取消了企业的行政级别,可是象中石油这样的大型国企的一把手是从政府官员中选拔的,而当初人家是正部级或副部级干部,你让人家当企业领导就好像亏了他,(实际不亏,因为企业比机关工资高,但不是旱涝保收,不过目前还没有哪个特大型国有企业的老大开不出工资)所以作为安抚只好答应人家继续保留行政级别,这样一个部级单位有谁敢管,地方的环保局即使发现问题也不敢过问,而国家的环保局又不能监控到吉林。出了爆炸这样的事,吉林也不敢大肆张扬,因为人家是中直企业,人家是专家,自然石化系统说没有污染就是没有了,所以只能忍气吞声,默默地告诉自己的属地管好自己的人看好自己的门,又在几天后权衡事情太大没办法隐瞒,而且一旦隐瞒弄不好要出人命,所以就在五天后通知哈尔滨。而哈尔滨的同僚接了烫山芋之后,不敢怠慢马上去采样,一化验确实有事,但是不敢公布,因为人家吉林都没有张扬,这里有什么猫腻哈尔滨不了解,所以还是低调处理,暂且说维护吧,可是没想到反而引起了恐慌,没办法了纸里包不住火呀,只好如实说了,这才惊动国务院领导。要想彻底解决这样的问题,只有彻底取消行政级别,彻底取消省直、中直这种区域划分,这样监管起来全部依法办事。你只要是一个企业,就要服从环保局监管,环保局和审计局这样执法部门应该见官大半级,就像古代的钦差,直接归国务院任免,这样出了污染就很好找到责任人,出了事大家就不用考虑你是哪里的来头,都一切公事公办。如果这样还出现污染那就很容易发现就是环保局的责任。国务院就有责任换一届环保局的局长。大家说对么?

The poster went on to suggest China to abolish the ranking system so as to clarify accountability and responsibility. I am not sure I agree with him about the solution, but he was certainly right that if SEPA did not have the power it should not be held accountable.

IMO this is an organization problem. There are merits for the rank system, and there are other solution that make this matrix organization which work. Again, one of the solutions is to use the appriasal system to make sure that the provincial head will fully support the works of the functional departments at the local level. This requires the performance evaluation of provincial governors and mayors to receive input from functional units such as SEPA, and from officials at lower ranks. Holding those responsible for the current incidence will also create a precedence, but the Jilin Provincial head bears bigger responsibility than Mr Xie.



1) Many dubious links of Jilin's provincial party heads to CNPC and Jilin Petrochemical have been reported. But I am giving them the benefit of doubt at this point of time.

2) When Wen Jiabao was in Harbin, a women told him "Thanks to the party and the government, you have us in your heart." Wen immediately said, "You have got this in reverse. It should be the party and the government to express thank to you, thank for your understanding, support and cooperation." (在慰问群众时,67岁的老人杜继亮的大女儿说,“我们的生活井井有条,社会秩序也很好。谢谢党和政府,把群众放在心裹。”温总立即予以纠正说,“你这话要倒过来说,应该是党和政府谢谢你们,谢谢群众的理解、支持和配合。”) The reporter went on to say, the promotion system for officials is still from top-down, they do not have to be responsible to the people. It such top-down approach is not changed. How many of them would listen to Premier Wen's words? (目前,中国官员的选拔、升迁仍然还是上面说了算,因此,官员并不需对人民负责。如果不改变这种“唯上不唯下”的体制,温总感谢群众、向群众说明事实真相的指示,究竟有多少官员听得入耳呢?)

3) Update (Bonus): For the famous Chinese song "On Songhua River", rightclick to download or see here. It was composed after Japan invaded Manchuria. The lyric starts by painting the beautiful picture of Songhua River "My home is on Songhua River in the Northeast, there are forest, coal, and bean and sorghum covering the mountains and fields..."

4) Update(Dec 5): GM of Jilin Petrochemical, Yu Li was fired. (see also here) But there must be someone in Jilin province who forced Harbin to tell the 'white lie'?

5) Update(Dec 6): Deputy Mayor of Jilin City, Wang Wei, was found dead at home yesterday. Likely a suicide case. But shouldn't the Provincial head and the Mayor be responsible for thess tragedies? Meanwhile, State Council set up a special investigation commission to "follow up on the responsiblity of related enterprise,s departments and units". This commission is headed by the Director of State Administration of Work Safety (SAWF), Li Yizhong, a ministry ranked official like Mr Xie. (It was of depute-minister rank before Feb 2005). I believe he will look at the Qitaishan Coal Mine accident on the way. Some media reports have point the responsibility to Deputy Party Secretary of Jilin Province, Wang Yunkun, who had served at Jilin Petrochemical in the past.



How many votes could Japan's far right get?

I was cautious but I was generally optimistic about Japan's democracy. I did not think Japan's right is the majority. But I did not have the data to prove or disprove this.

In the Japan Focus interview with Tojo Hideaki's grand-daughter (H-T Michael Thurton), it talks about a revisionist organization in Japan and provides me with one crucial number
  • "...Kamiya Kotoku, who is also chairperson of a support organization for Seicho no Ie, [Truth of Life]; a Shinto cult established in 1930 and reformed in 1949, it campaigns to replace Japan’s postwar constitution. Boasting five million members worldwide, its supporters include ultra-right author Suzuki Kunio and other members of the revisionist right in Japan. "

I believe there is probably some exaggeration in the 5 million membership (and it is 'worldwide' number, though I could bet there aren't many outside Japan), true number may have to be discounted by 30-70%. On the other hand, there are also many other right wing organization whose membership do not neccessarily fully overlap with that of Kamiya Kotoru. So we could assume the party membership (if there were) at 4% of the population, what would this imply in terms of popular votes?

  • (Does anyone has the number of SDP (Social Democratic Party) member vs the number of votes it received in the recent parliament election? We can use that ratio as a proxy for a rough estimate)
  • Before I have the numbers in Japan. I would use Taiwan's data to proceed with my estimate
  • Total number of votes in 2005 general election in Japan was 67.781M (total population 130M, 52.1% voted)

So the ultra-right could get as much as 42.7/67.8=63% votes!!! However, the Taiwan voter turnout is higher than than of Japan (but only by 5 percentage points), and that the 5M membership is most likely exaggerated. But even if you discount this number by 70%, Japan's ultra-right could gather 20% votes! This explains why Koizumi keep going to Yasukuni. It also explains all these textbook, constitution bigotry that Japan's government supports. Such estimate (20-63%) is also consistent with various polls in Japan about Yasukuni visits.

Could Japan become another Nazi Germany? I hope not, but I am much less optimistic now. I just hope the 5M is a wildly exaggerated number.

This is why Korea and China are worried. After all, they would be the first to suffer. And they suffered a lot in the past.


Rest of the interview provides you a good view on the "logic" on these bigots, e.g.

  • About Tojo: "[Hitler's] different. He killed his own people – Jews. ...My grandfather didn’t kill his own people. "
  • About Unit 731: "I’ve seen the photos by China which look at ways of disinfecting against pests. I don’t know about it. "

Light viewing: China parade

This is from 1999 National Day, I think.
For more pictures see 1, 2, 3.

More Arirang Festival

(Earlier post on Arirang here, other North Korea related posts here and here)

First let's see how they welcome Hu-Ge (a bit long, can FFWD after the Young Pioneer presented flower). The extravaganza in China of the Mao era. Yes, it is a lot of productivity lost, but they are not producing otherwise anyway. And the "investment"is probably justified by the return -- rumour has it at US$2bn.

This is a great slide show with beautiful chorus ("No Monterland without You") of the arirang festival (13M, takes sometime to load -- or rightclick to download, or here)

This is another (via 1stopkorea.com, see introduction)

1stopkorea is a great site, a lot more videos. Definitely click in if you are interested in know more about Korea, North or South. e.g.
  • a state of mind - "The story of two North Korean schoolgirls and their families in the lead up to the Mass Games." (Trailers are available for download. )

Practice sessions