Lam Wing-kee knew he was in trouble. In his two decades as owner and manager of Hong Kong’s Causeway Bay Books, Lam had honed a carefully nonchalant routine when caught smuggling books into mainland China: apologize, claim ignorance, offer a cigarette to the officers, crack a joke. For most of his career, the routine was foolproof.
Thin and wiry, with an unruly pouf of side-swept gray hair and a wisp of mustache, Lam was carrying a wide mix of books that day: breathless political thrillers, bodice-rippers and a handful of dry historical tomes. The works had only two things in common: Readers hungered for them, and each had been designated contraband by the Communist Party’s Central Leading Group for Propaganda and Ideology. For decades, Lam’s bookstore had thrived despite the ban — or maybe because of it. Operating just 20 miles from the mainland city of Shenzhen, in a tiny storefront sandwiched between a pharmacy and an upscale lingerie store, Causeway was a destination for Chinese tourists, seasoned local politicians and even, surreptitiously, Communist Party members themselves, anyone hoping for a peek inside the purges, intraparty feuding and silent coups that are scrubbed from official histories. Lam was an expert on what separated the good banned books from the bad, the merely scandalous from the outright sensational. He found books that toed the line between rumor and reality.
Other retailers avoided the mainland market, but through years of trial and error, Lam had perfected a series of tricks to help his books avoid detection. He shipped only to busy ports, where packages were less likely to be checked. He slipped on false dust covers. Lam was stopped only once, in 2012. By the end of that six-hour interrogation, he was chatting with the officers like old friends and sent home with a warning.
Source: The Case of Hong Kong’s Missing Booksellers – The New York Times
By Harvey Thomlinson April 2, 2018
HONG KONG — China is a sea of labor unrest. During the first 10 weeks of this year there were more than 400 publicly reported strikes, more than double the number during the comparable period last year. President Xi Jinping’s government has responded with a firm hand: Labor activists are being arrested and assaulted simply for demanding their wages.As China’s rate of economic growth has slowed over the past few years, China Labour Bulletin, a Hong Kong-based organization. . .
Source: Opinion | China’s Communist Party Is Abandoning Workers – The New York Times
“HONG KONG — China is a sea of labor unrest. During the first 10 weeks of this year there were more than 400 publicly reported strikes, more than double the number during the comparable period last year. President Xi Jinping’s government has responded with a firm hand: Labor activists are being arrested and assaulted simply for demanding their wages.
As China’s rate of economic growth has slowed over the past few years, China Labour Bulletin, a Hong Kong-based organization, tracked a surge in reported strikes — most likely a small measure of all the actual strikes — from fewer than 200 in 2011 to 1,256 in 2017. Government data indicates a 38 percent increase in the number of labor dispute cases heard by Chinese courts, from 589,244 in 2011 to 813,589 in 2015.”
Source: Opinion | China’s Communist Party Is Abandoning Workers – The New York Times
“President Trump said he would impose about $60 billion worth of annual tariffs on Chinese imports on Thursday as the White House moved to punish China for what it says is a pattern of co-opting American technology and trade secrets and robbing companies of jobs and billions of dollars in revenue.
The measures come as the White House grants a long list of exemptions to American allies from steel and aluminum tariffs that go into effect on Friday, including the European Union, which has lobbied aggressively and publicly for relief from the trade action.
“The word that I want to use is reciprocal,” Mr. Trump said in announcing the tariffs in the Diplomatic Room of the White House. “If they charge us, we charge them the same thing.”
The China tariffs are his strongest trade action yet against a country he has branded an “economic enemy.” They fulfill one of his core campaign pledges, to demand more reciprocal deals with trading partners around the world.
But coupled with the administration’s decision to exempt the European Union, South Korea, Brazil, Canada, and Mexico from the tariffs on cheap metals, the action demonstrates how much Mr. Trump’s nationalist trade agenda is really targeted at a single country: China.”
Source: Trump Hits China With Trade Measures as White House Exempts Allies From Tariffs – The New York Times
No foreign photographer spent more time in Vietnam than Horst Faas, who oversaw photographers in Saigon for The Associated Press, who was based there from 1962 until late 1970 and then regularly returned until the withdrawal of American forces in 1973. Despite being heavily wounded just before the Tet offensive — which did not stop him from going to the office on crutches during the attacks on Saigon — he survived the war thanks to a cocktail of fearlessness, Germanic common sense, good luck and wry humo
Source: Opinion | In Vietnam, Turning a Camera on the War – The New York Times
Thank you James Hill for this extraordinary story. You wrote, “In 1993 Tim Page, a British photographer who was wounded four times during the war, approached Mr. Faas to help produce a visual memorial to the photographers who had died in Vietnam. Mr. Page had already managed to unearth a large number of works from photographers who had been documenting the North Vietnamese side. …their book, “Requiem,” appeared in 1997. . . “When the exhibition first opened in Hanoi in March 2000, Mr. Faas was amazed to see veterans from the war arrive with magnifying glasses to look at details in the photographs. His and Mr. Page’s only stipulations were that the images should be accompanied by short, objective captions; no polemics. The exhibit is now on permanent display in the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City; standing there for over an hour this summer I watched as a mix of local schoolchildren and tourists came in to look, often overwhelmed by its earnestness and the power of the images on display.” If I ever return to Vietnam, I will find this museum in Ho Chi Minh City. I will find the book Requiem,which I had never heard of. In my library, I treasure a photo book, :Vietnam Inc,” 1971, by the photographer Phililp Jones Griffiths. Sad, haunting, and extraordinary. x David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth-century Vietnam,” and blogs on Vietnam at TheTaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNewsWorldwide.wordpress.com
Thomas Friedman is great in this column. He writes that China is a big problem, but the Trump steel tariff hurts our allies and not China. Then:
“So what would a smart American president do? First, he’d sign the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade accord. TPP eliminated as many as 18,000 tariffs on U.S. exports with the most dynamic economies in the Pacific and created a 12-nation trading bloc headed by the U.S. and focused on protecting what we do best — high-value-added manufacturing and intellectual property. Alas, Trump tore it up without reading it — one of the stupidest foreign policy acts ever. We Brexited Asia! China was not in TPP. It was a coalition built, in part, to pressure Beijing into fairer market access, by our rules. Trump just gave it up for free.
Once a smart president restored participation in TPP, he’d start secret trade talks with the Chinese — no need for anyone to lose face — and tell Beijing: “Since you like your trade rules so much, we’re going to copy them for your companies operating in America: 25 percent tariffs on your cars, and your tech companies that open here have to joint venture and share intellectual property with a U.S. partner — and store all their data on U.S. servers.” “
Source: Some Things Are True Even if Trump Believes Them – The New York Times
The world’s largest refugee camp, a temporary home to more than half a million people that sprawls precariously across barren hills in southeastern Bangladesh, faces a looming disaster as early as April when the first storms of the monsoon season hit, aid workers warn. “It’s going to be landslides, flash floods, inundation,” said Tommy Thompson, chief of emergency support and response for the World Food Program. “It’s going to be a very, very challenging wet season. That’s if we don’t have a cyclone.”
“But then, in a matter of weeks, as refugees poured in by the tens of thousands, trees were hacked away. Canals were dug. Bamboo-and-tarp shacks went up. More trees were cut as refugees scrambled to find firewood.
The hills, where elephants recently roamed, are now bare. Even the roots have been pulled out, leaving nothing to hold the parched soil together as rainwater washes downhill, potentially taking tents and people with it and quickly inundating low-lying settlements. The United Nations says 100,000 refugees are at acute risk from landslides and floods.
The early rains — known in Bengali as kalboishakhi, which translates loosely as the storms of an “evil summer” — are a precursor to the full-on monsoons. They strike when the soil is still dry and especially susceptible to mudslides. The only warning of their approach is usually hot winds that send the dry earth of summer swirling through the air.”
Source: The Biggest Refugee Camp Braces for Rain: ‘This Is Going to Be a Catastrophe’ – The New York Times
DL: It is too bad that these 600,000 Rohingya refugees were forced or allowed to deforest the area they were placed in. Now they have turned that piece of dessert into a probable death camp when the monsoon rains appear. I need firewood now, versus, I need these trees to prevent flooding later, is a choice I hope that I never have to make.
Fifty years ago next week, Senator Eugene McCarthy of Minnesota scored a near-upset in New Hampshire’s Democratic presidential primary, setting in motion Lyndon Johnson’s announcement, three weeks later, that he would “not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your president.” It was a jaw-dropping series of events, one that gave McCarthy a near-mythic status in American political history.
Just weeks earlier, the longtime campaign reporter Theodore White observed, it had been “unthinkable that a sitting president of the United States could be unhorsed within his own party either by primaries, conventions or riot in the streets.” But McCarthy galvanized popular opposition to Johnson’s foreign policy and, seemingly overnight, turned the election into a referendum on America’s continued involvement in the Vietnam War. At least that’s how it is popularly remembered.
In fact, commentators then and since have misinterpreted McCarthy’s upset performance in New Hampshire in a way that sharply misread public opinion and unfairly saddled Johnson with sole responsibility for a war that most Americans — and most American political leaders of both parties — still strongly supported on the eve of the New Hampshire primary. To understand how it happened, it’s helpful to wind the clock back to the fall of 1967.
Source: The Myth of Eugene McCarthy – The New York Times
This piece is full of new information for me, and shows that I might be better off with one blog instead of three.
SANTIAGO, Chile — A trade pact originally conceived by the United States to counter China’s growing economic might in Asia now has a new target: President Trump’s embrace of protectionism.
A group of 11 nations — including major United States allies like Japan, Canada and Australia — signed a broad trade deal on Thursday that challenges Mr. Trump’s view of trade as a zero-sum game filled with winners and losers.
Covering 500 million people on either side of the Pacific Ocean, the pact represents a new vision for global trade as the United States threatens to impose steel and aluminum tariffs on even its closest friends and neighbors.
Mr. Trump withdrew the United States from an earlier version of the agreement, then known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a year ago as one of his first acts in office. It will undeniably be weaker without the participation of the world’s biggest economy, but the resuscitated deal serves as a powerful sign of how countries that have previously counted on American leadership are now forging ahead without it.
“Only free trade will contribute to inclusive growth of the world economy,” Taro Kono, Japan’s foreign minister, told a group of ministers from Southeast Asian countries in Tokyo on Thursday. “Protectionism isn’t a solution.”
Source: U.S. Allies Sign Sweeping Trade Deal in Challenge to Trump – The New York Times
Here is a comment I endorsed at the NYT.
I’m sure that most in the beef industry voted for Trump. Well guess what, More expensive steel is going to mean your costs are going up and the tariffs mean your income is going down. America First? Much more of this and it will be America Last.