2019年5月20日 星期一

US-China: collided with the bedrock, state-led economy could not be given up


Recently the Nihon Keizai Shimbun Electronic Edition reported the following:
米中、突き当たった岩盤 国家主導経済 譲らず
2019/5/12 2:00日本経済新聞 電子版
合意寸前とみられていた米中貿易交渉が暗礁に乗り上げた。ワシントンでの閣僚級協議は平行線に終わり、米国は制裁関税の対象を中国からの全輸入品に広げる「第4弾」の詳細を13日公表すると発表した。両国は交渉継続では一致したが、根底にある国家システムを巡る対立の溝は深い。世界景気の最大のリスクである米中衝突は再び激化する懸念が強まってきた。

「閣僚級での合意は難しい。トランプ米大統領と習近平(シー・ジンピン)国家主席の首脳同士で決着してほしい」

米通商代表部(USTR)で910日開いた閣僚級協議。中国の劉鶴副首相はライトハイザーUSTR代表とムニューシン米財務長官を前にこう繰り返すだけだった。米国による制裁関税引き上げ期限をはさんだ瀬戸際の交渉はわずか3時間あまりで終了した

201812月、トランプ氏と習氏は首脳会談で貿易問題の打開策を探る方針で一致した。5カ月間に及んだ閣僚級協議では中国の産業補助金削減や知的財産権保護、為替政策の透明化など7分野で協定文を作成し、150ページの文言を英語、中国語で互いに詰める段階まで進んでいた。

トランプ氏も「歴史的な取引は間近だ」と早期解決を示唆してきたが、5月に入って中国側は協定文の見直しを突如要請した。ライトハイザー氏から報告を受けたトランプ氏は「中国が約束を破った」と激怒し、交渉は一気に暗転した。


「劉氏は共産党内の保守派から集中砲火を浴びている」。北京の外交筋は打ち明ける。51日の北京での前回協議を終えて党内に根回しをしたところ、「米国に譲歩しすぎだ」と不満が噴き出した。特に産業補助金の削減には既得権を脅かされる国有企業幹部らの反対が強かったもようだ。

地方政府が補助金で産業を誘致し、経済成長を競い合う仕組みは中国の「国家資本主義」の根幹だ。市場経済を志向する改革派の劉氏には外圧をてこに国内経済の革新を図る思惑もあったとみられる。だが習氏の幼なじみで地方経験もないまま出世してきた同氏へのやっかみも加わり、強い拒否反応を引き起こした。

習氏自身も産業政策の変更に伴う国内法の改正など、国家主権に関わる問題を米国との協定で縛られることに反対したフシがある。香港紙サウスチャイナ・モーニング・ポストによると、習氏は劉氏らが示した対米譲歩案を拒否し、「すべての責任は私が取る」と伝えたという。

農産品の輸入拡大など貿易問題は譲歩しても、共産党の一党支配を揺るがしかねない問題では絶対に譲らない――。米中貿易交渉は最終局面になって中国の体制維持という「岩盤」に突き当たった。

トランプ氏は閣僚級協議の終了後、ツイッターへの投稿で「建設的な協議だった。交渉は続く」と強調した。だがムニューシン氏は記者団に「次回協議の日程は未定だ」と語り、行き詰まり感を漂わせた。

トランプ氏は協議中に「(第4弾の)手続きは始まっている」と投稿するなど、関税を脅しに使う姿勢を再び鮮明にしている。対中交渉の難航を当初から予想していたライトハイザー氏の政権内での影響力も増しており、対中強硬路線に一段と傾く可能性も大きい。

制裁関税第4弾が経済にもたらす衝撃はこれまで以上に大きい。UBSの試算によると、米国がすべての中国製品に25%の追加関税をかけると、中国の国内総生産(GDP)成長率は1.62ポイント低下する。景気対策で底打ちの兆しがみられた中国経済が再び急減速し、米経済にも跳ね返りかねない。

米中の関税合戦はすでに経済合理性からは正当化できない規模にエスカレートし、将来の覇権をかけた争いという対立の本質をあらわにし始めている。

Translation

2019/5/12 2:00 Nihon Keizai Shimbun Electronic Edition

The US-China trade negotiations, which were considered to be nearing an agreement, had run into unseen difficulties. The ministerial-level talks in Washington ended without any agreement, and the United States announced on the 13th that it would release the details of the "fourth wave" that expanded the target of tariff to all imports from China. The two countries had agreed to continue negotiations, but the gap between the two countries over the underlying national system was deep. There was growing concern that the US-China clash, the biggest risk to the global economy, would intensify again.

"Agreement is difficult at the ministerial level. It is hoped that it would be settled in a submit between US President Trump and Chairman Xi Jinping together with the leaders."

Ministerial talks were held on 9th-10th at the US Trade Representative (USTR) office. China's Deputy Prime Minister Liu He was just repeating requests in front of Lighthizer of USTR and US Treasury Secretary Mnuchin. This negotiations which was held on the brink of the United States sanction in the form of tariff increase came to an end in just over three hours.

In December 2018, Trump and Xi agreed at a summit meeting that they would seek solutions to trade problems. The five-month ministerial-level talks reached agreement texts in seven fields such as China's industrial subsidy reduction, intellectual property right protection, currency policy transparency, etc.  It had progressed to a stage where written texts corresponding in English and Chinese of up to 150 pages were reciprocally put together.

Trump had also suggested there could be early resolution, saying "a historical trade is near," but in May, the Chinese suddenly requested a review of the agreement. Mr. Trump, who received a report from Lighthizer, and was furious that "China broke his promise," and the negotiations in one go turned for the worse.

"Mr. Liu is under fire from the conservatives within the Communist Party." This was revealed in Beijing's diplomatic circle. After the last talks, in Beijing on May 1st during a discussion with people concerned in the party, which was being regarded as an informal process of quietly laying the foundation for the proposed changes, dissatisfaction erupted, "too much was given to the United States." In particular, there seemed to have opposition from state-owned business executives who felt their vested interests were threatened when industrial subsidies were to be reduced.

The mechanism in which local governments attracted industries with subsidies and let them compete for economic growth was the basis of China's “national capitalism”. It seemed that Mr. Liu, who was a reformist aiming at the market economy, had a desire to use foreign pressure as a leverage to innovate  domestic economic reforms. However, Liu as Mr. Xi’s childhood friend who did not have local experience since birth, had envy being added on him and a strong rejection response was created.

On revising domestic laws in line with changes in industrial policy etc. and to be bound by an agreement with the United States on matters relating to national sovereignty, Mr. Xi himself also had a different tune. According to the Hong Kong newspaper South China Morning Post, Xi rejected the concession to the US put forward by Liu and others, saying that "I shall take up all the responsibility."

Even concessions might be given on trade issues such as the expansion of imports of agricultural products, matters that could shake the party rule of the Communist Party would never be given up. The US-China trade negotiations reached the final stage and hit the "bedrock" that was maintaining China's system.

After the ministerial-level talks, Mr. Trump emphasized in his post on Twitter that "it was a constructive talk. Negotiations will continue." But Munushin told reporters, "The schedule for the next round of talk is not decided," a sense of deadlock could be felt afloat.

Trump had re-emphasized his attitude to use tariff to threat, such as his posting that "the (fourth wave) procedure is starting” made during the discussion. The influence of Mr. Lighthizer, who had initially anticipated difficulties in negotiations with China, was also increasing within the administration, and there was a great possibility that it would lean further towards hard-line policy on China.

The impact of the fourth sanctions on the economy was greater than ever. According to UBS estimates, China's GDP growth rate would fall 1.6 to 2 points when the US put an additional 25% tariff on all Chinese products. China's economy, which showed signs of bottoming out due to economic stimulus measures, would rapidly decelerate again, and the US economy might also bounce back.

The US-China tariff war had already escalated into a scale that could not be justified by economic rationality, and it had begun to reveal the nature of the confrontation of future wars.

          The above article by Nikkei has given readers a simple summary on the final phase of the Sino-US trade talk that was ended with a dead-lock.

2019年5月18日 星期六

Egypt - a noble's tomb of 4000 years ago opened up, still with colorful decorations


Recently CNN.co.jp reported the following:

A tomb at the Sachara  archaeological site (Source CNN)

4000年前の貴族の墓を公開、色鮮やかな装飾も エジプト
2019.04.19 Fri posted at 16:20 JST
(CNN) エジプト考古省はこのほど、首都カイロ南郊で発掘された古代エジプト第5王朝の貴族の墓を公開した。内部の保存状態が非常に良く、色鮮やかな彫刻なども残っている。

墓は古代エジプトのピラミッドなどが集まるサッカラ遺跡で見つかった。アナニ考古相がこのほど、外国大使らを墓に案内した。

「クーウィ」という男性の墓とされる。近くに第5王朝イセシ王の墓があることから、クーウィが王と親戚関係にあった可能性も指摘されている。

入り口はピラミッドにみられるようなトンネルになっている。内部は独特のL字型で、狭い通路を下ると副室につながる。その先にある広めの部屋には壁一面に彫刻が施され、供物を並べたテーブルにつくクーウィの姿が描かれている。


長い年月を経たにもかかわらず、一部に鮮やかな色彩が残っていた。クーウィのミイラや、内臓を納めるために使われたつぼのかけらも発見された。

エジプトは2011年の大規模デモで遠のいた観光客を呼び戻そうと、遺跡の発掘や公開を加速させている。

Translation

Jan. 20.19. Fri Posted at 16:20 JST

 (CNN) The Egyptian Archaeological Ministry had recently opened up a tomb of the fifth Egyptian royal dynasty excavated in the southern suburbs of the capital city of Cairo. The state of preservation inside was very good, and colorful sculptures etc. were left behind.

The tomb was found at the Sachara  archaeological site, where the ancient Egyptian pyramids were gathered. Anani the minister of Archaeology had recently invited foreign ambassadors to visit the tomb.

It was considered to be the grave of a man named "Koui". Its close proximity to tomb of the 5th Dynasty King Isesi pointed out that Koui was likely to have a close relationship with the king.

The entrance was a tunnel leading to the pyramid. Inside was a unique L-shape, going down a narrow passage it would lead to a sub-chamber. On the far side there was a large room where carving was done on a wall. Koui's figure sitting at a table displayed with offerings was drawn.

Despite many years, bright colors remained in some parts. Also found were Koui's mummy and fragments of a pot used to store the viscera.

Egypt was accelerating the excavation and release of archaeological sites in an effort to bring back tourists who had turned away due to a large-scale demonstration in 2011.

           I think tourists will return to visiting Egypt only when the security situation is improved

2019年5月17日 星期五

My visit to Tokyo 2018 (23)


A location map of Kappabashi

On the 6th of November I visited Kappabashi (合羽橋) which is located at the east of Taito District (台東区). This visit marks the end of my trip to Tokyo in 2018. According to the Tokyo Tourist Guide, Kappabashi is “a shopping area with a proud history of over 100 years. This 800-meter-long street is lined up with more than 170 wholesale stores offering Japanese, Western and Chinese tableware; Japanese and Western dessert-making tools; all types of kitchenware; raw ingredients of food, packing supplies; food samples, and more”.
A kitchen-ware shop
A bamboo-ware shop







Several types of shops are particularly popular here: kitchen-ware shops, food model shops, bamboo-ware shops and also a few shops that sell decorations for restaurants. There is also a shop that makes game ticketing machine/vending machine.  I particularly like the shops that sell imitating model of food and dishes, whether it is at full sized or an miniature.

A food-model shop
A Game-machine shop








In the vicinity there is a golden statue of a kappa (河童, river-child) and a plaque was put up in the 15th year of Heisei (A.D. 2003) by a local merchant association to explain the background of this golden statue  which is also known as kawatarō (川太郎, , "river-boy"). As a Japanese folklore creature kappa is known in Chinese folklore as 水鬼 "Shui Gui", Water Ghost. In Japanese Shintō they are considered to be one of many suijin (水神). A hair-covered variation of a Kappa is called a Hyōsube. Hyōsube (兵主部 or ひょうすべ) is a child-sized river monster from Kyūshū that lives in underwater caves. It prefers to come out at night and loves eating eggplants. In many cultures water related deities are used to scare children of the dangers in staying and playing in the water.

A plaque put up in  2003
Kappa statue
      






        After visiting Tokyo in 2018, I plan on visiting Kyūshū (九州) as the destination of  my next visit to Japan.

2019年5月16日 星期四

Alcohol detected from a Japan Airlines captain during a pre-flight inspection - duties relieved


Recently NHK News On-line reported the following:
日本航空の機長 乗務前検査でアルコール検出 乗務を交代
201957 2118

先月、日本航空の機長から乗務前の検査でアルコールが検出され、乗務を交代していたことが分かりました。

アルコールが検出されたのは、先月29日、日本航空の上海発成田行きの便に乗務する予定だった50歳の男性機長です。

国の新たな基準では、アルコールがわずかでも検出された場合乗務が禁じられていて、会社によりますと、機長の呼気からは1リットル当たり0.11ミリグラムが検出されました。

機長は前日の夜に、副操縦士とともにホテルの部屋で飲酒し、スパークリングワインや缶ビールをおよそ1.4リットル飲んだということです。

日本航空は去年10月、イギリスで飲酒した副操縦士が実刑となったことを受け、問題に真剣に向き合わない企業風土が背景にあったとして、グループ一丸となって社会の信頼を取り戻していくとする報告書をまとめていました。

日本航空は「一連の飲酒対策を講じている中で本事案を発生させたことを重大に受け止め、信頼回復に向けて取り組んでまいります」とコメントしています。

今回の飲酒問題について、日本航空は経営情報などを公開しているホームページの中の「安全の取り組み」として掲載していますが、運航には影響がなかったとしてプレスリリースの項目には掲載していませんでした。

Translation

Last month, alcohol was detected from a captain of the Japan Airlines during a pre-on-board inspection and his flight duty was replaced.

Alcohol was detected from a 29-year-old male pilot who was scheduled to board a flight from Shanghai to Narita on the 29th last month.

In the country's new standard even if a small amount of alcohol was detected, flight duties would be forbidden. According to the company, 0.11 milligrams per liter was being detected in the pilot's breath.

The captain was drinking in a hotel room with a first officer on the other night and had drunk about 1.4 liters of sparkling wine and canned beer.

Japan Airlines after noting that in October last year a vice pilot who drank wine in England was put to prison, saw this as a background that its corporate culture had not faced the issue seriously. The group had compiled a report stating that the whole group would regain the trust of society.

Japan Airlines commented, "We will take seriously the fact that this case had occurred while we are taking a series of measures against wine-drinking, we will work to restore confidence."

Regarding the issue of alcohol consumption this time, Japan Airlines had published this under "Safety Measures" on the homepage website which was about management information etc. It was not published in the press release as it had no impact on flight operations.

              I hope JAL would really improve its management system to ensure the safety of its passengers.

2019年5月12日 星期日

Samsung – to postpone releasing its folding smartphone

Recently the Nihon Keizai Shimbun Electronic Edition reported the following:
サムスン、折り畳みスマホ発売延期 不具合の指摘受け
ネット・IT エレクトロニクス 朝鮮半島 北米
2019/4/23 9:35
【ソウル=山田健一】韓国サムスン電子は23日、米国で26日に予定していた画面を折り畳める新型のスマートフォン(スマホ)の発売を延期すると発表した。体験用端末を使った一部メディアから不具合を指摘されたため。サムスンは「数週間後に改めて発売日を発表する」と説明する。ブランド力の毀損は避けられず、停滞感が出ているスマホ事業の打撃となる。

発売を延期するのは「ギャラクシーフォールド」。画面を畳めば4.6インチのスマホ、広げれば7.3インチのタブレットのように利用できる。スマホ事業復調の起爆剤にする狙いがあった。

端末を使った米メディアは画面を折り畳む部分にシワや傷ができる可能性を指摘していた。サムスンは23日の発表で「最高のユーザー体験を保証するために端末の改良が必要」だと強調。内部テストを進めるため、発売日を延期するとした。

スマホメーカーが発売計画を直前に取り消すのは異例だ。米国を皮切りに、5月には欧州と韓国で相次いで発売する予定だったが、いったん白紙にする。年内を目指していた日本での発売にも不透明感が漂う。

ギャラクシーフォールドは、国や地域によって違いはあるが、1台約20万円する高価格が話題になっていた。サムスンの2019年の販売目標は約100万台。仮に年内の発売ができなくなる場合、単純計算で19年に売上高ベースで約2千億円の影響が出る。同社のスマホを中心とするIT&モバイル部門の売上高と比較すると2%程度の水準にすぎないが、失った顧客の信頼回復には時間がかかりそうだ。

スマホ市場は、世界首位のサムスンと、米アップル、中国華為技術(ファーウェイ)の3社が厳しい競争を繰り広げている。折り畳み式のスマホは、19年中盤に華為技術が発売を予定するほか、シャープもこのほど試作機を公開した。サムスンのつまずきで、大手では華為技術が世界で初めて折り畳み式を発売するメーカーになる可能性がでてきた。

Translation

2019/4/23 9:35

[Seoul = Yamada Kenichi] Samsung Electronics announced on the 23rd that it would postpone the release of a new smartphone in the US that could fold its screen originally scheduled for the 26th. A problem was pointed out by some media that had made trial use of this terminal device. Samsung said, "We will announce the release date again several weeks later." An erosion of brand name could not be avoided, and it would be a blow to the smartphone business that was feeling a stagnation.

It was "Galaxy Fold" that the release was postponed. If you fold the screen, it could be used like a 4.6-inch smartphone, or into a 7.3-inch tablet when expanded. It was intended to be a detonator for smartphone business recovery.

The US media that had used this terminal device pointed out the possibility of wrinkles and scratches on the part that folded the screen. Samsung said in a statement on the 23rd that "the terminal needs to be improved to guarantee the best user experience." We decided to postpone the release date to carry out internal testing.

It was unusual for a smartphone maker to cancel its release plan just before releasing. Starting with the US, it was scheduled to be released in May in Europe and South Korea one after another, but it was blanked out now for a short period. There was also a sense of uncertainty in its release in Japan that was aiming for the end of the year.

Although there were differences between countries and regions, the Galaxy Fold had been talked about of carrying a high price of around 200,000 yen per unit. Samsung's sales target for 2019 was approximately 1 million units. If it became impossible to release the product by the end of the year, it would have an impact of about 200 billion yen on the sales basis of 2019 by a simple calculation. It was only about 2% of sales in the IT & Mobile division centered on smartphones, but it would take time for the lost customers to recover their trust.

The smartphone market had Samsung at the world's top, competing fiercely with the US Apple and the Chinese Huawei. Huawei planned to release a folding smartphone in the middle of 2019 and Sharp recently had also released a prototype. Samsung's stumbling block had made it possible for Huawei to become the first company in the world to launch a foldable type.

              I look forward to seeing the next generation smartphone.

2019年5月10日 星期五

'Clash of Civilizations' Has No Place in U.S. Foreign Policy


Yahoo On-line recently reported the following:
Yahoo Finance
'Clash of Civilizations' Has No Place in U.S. Foreign Policy
Bloomberg  Hal Brands,Bloomberg Sat, May 4 8:00 AM PDT
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- It isn’t often that high-ranking U.S. diplomats publicly invoke the ideas of ivory-tower academics. But earlier this week, the director of policy planning at the State Department, Kiron Skinner, used a controversial concept created by Harvard professor Samuel Huntington to describe America’s unfolding rivalry with China. Speaking at a Washington think tank, Skinner said that China’s rise constitutes a generational challenge that will require a generational response. She also argued that the rivalry represents a great “clash of civilizations,” the term Huntington, who died in 2008, coined in predicting what would take place after the end of the Cold War.

The Trump administration is undoubtedly right that competition with China will be a decades-long affair. Yet the Clash of Civilizations model won’t help the U.S win that competition, because it actually supports Beijing’s strategy better than America’s.

Huntington introduced the clash thesis in a famous Foreign Affairs essay written in 1993. He argued that, with the collapse of communism, ideological rivalries would no longer drive global affairs. Rather, conflict would occur between groups defined by culture, religion and identity. Among the clashing groups would be a Western civilization in Europe and North America, and a “Sinic” civilization made up of China and many of its Asian neighbors.

The clash thesis gained popularity amid bloody struggles between Muslim and Christian communities in the former Yugoslavia, and particularly after the eruption of the war on terror after 9/11. The U.S. government always rejected Huntington’s framing, though: the George W. Bush administration argued that the war on terror was a product of a clash within a civilization — between the tolerant and intolerant parts of the Muslim world — rather than a clash between the Muslim world and the West.

Today, there are profound cultural differences between the U.S. and China, in addition to myriad economic and geopolitical strains. But critics of the Trump administration will hear talk of a civilizational conflict as an echo of the idea, promoted by the controversial former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, that the world has reached a confrontation pitting the Christian West against the rest. And even leaving that loaded issue aside, the concept is ideologically and geopolitically counterproductive.

For one thing, “clash” rhetoric sacrifices the moral high ground in the U.S.-China competition. America has long claimed that democratic values and human rights are not distinctly Western ideas. Instead, they are universal ideas that people everywhere deserve to enjoy — and that no government has a right to deny its people.

This argument, although sometimes selectively applied, represents a fundamental foreign policy strength because it allows the U.S. to identify itself with the aspirations of people around the world — even in countries that are controlled by hostile regimes. Moreover, U.S. officials have used the idea that human rights and democratic values are universal as an ideological bludgeon against authoritarian governments, as it did to great effect against the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

The Chinese government, by contrast, has embraced the concept of civilizational difference as a means of autocratic self-protection. Beijing has long rejected the idea that it should liberalize its political system — or simply stop throwing dissidents in jail — on grounds that “Western” concepts of democracy and individual rights are incompatible with the traditions of China’s unique civilization.

The U.S. should not be supporting this idea, even implicitly; it should not be affirming the civilizational wall the Chinese regime has sought to build between its citizens and the democratic world.

The clash thesis is also geopolitically dangerous, because here, too, it plays into China’s hands. The Chinese government has long argued that the world should, in fact, be divided along civilizational lines: That Asians have more in common with each other than they do with the U.S., and that Washington should therefore leave Asia to the Asians — meaning that it should allow China to dominate that part of the world. This argument provides an intellectual underpinning for everything Beijing is doing to push the U.S. out of the Western Pacific: Undermining U.S. alliances, building up its military, and weaving webs of economic dependence around its neighbors.

The idea of drawing sharp boundaries between East and West is thus critical to China’s strategy — and it is lethal to America’s. To counter China, the U.S. will need to rally a coalition that cuts across civilizations. This includes, but is not limited to, the democracies of the Western Hemisphere and Europe and an array of Asian countries that are troubled by China’s rise. Yet talking about civilizational clashes merely highlights the cultural and racial differences between the U.S. and Vietnam or India, at precisely the moment when common geopolitical interests need to be brought to the fore.

To hold together a diverse balancing coalition against an ambitious China will be hard enough. American diplomats shouldn’t make that task any more challenging than it has to be.

(To contact the author of this story: Hal Brands at Hal.Brands@jhu.edu
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tobin Harshaw at tharshaw@bloomberg.net
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.
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My translation

(彭博意見) - 高級別的美國外交官通常不會公開援引象牙塔學者的觀點。但本週早些時候,美國國務院政策規劃主任姫朗斯金納 (Kiron Skinner) 利用哈佛大學教授塞繆爾亨廷頓(Samuel Huntington) 所創建的一個有爭議概念來描述美國與中國正在展開的競爭。斯金納在華盛頓的一個智囊團發表講話,中國的崛起​​是一代人的挑戰,需要一代人的回應。她還認為,這場競爭代表了一場偉大的“文化衝突”, “文化衝突”這一詞是已於2008年去世的亨廷頓所創出,用作是預測冷戰結束後將發生的事情。

特朗普 (Trump) 政府毫無疑問是正確的,與中國的競爭將會是一個長達數十年的事件。然而,“文化衝突”模式無助美國贏得這場競爭,因為它實際上支持北京的戰略多於美國。

亨廷頓在1993年撰寫的著名外交文章中介紹了衝突論點。他認為隨著共主義的崩潰,意識形態的競爭將不再是全球事務的推動力。相反,在文化,宗教和身份所定義的群體之間會發生衝突。衝突群體中包括歐洲和北美的西方文明,以及由中國和許多亞洲鄰國組成的“中國”文明。

在前南斯拉夫的穆斯林和基督教社區之間的血腥鬥爭中,特別是在911事件後的反恐戰爭爆發後,衝突論文得到了普及。儘管如此,美國政府總是拒亨廷頓的框架:喬治布殊(George W. Bush) 政府認為,反恐戰爭是文化衝突的 - 是穆斯林世界的寬容和不寬容两派之間衝突 - 而不是穆斯林和西方世界的衝突。

今天,除了無數的經濟和地緣政治壓力之外,美國和中國之間存在深刻的文化差異。但特朗普政府的批評者將聽到關於文明衝突言論的迴聲,這是具有爭議的前特朗普顧問史蒂夫班農 (Steve Bannon) 提出的這一想法,即世界已經達到西方基督徒對抗其餘所有的人。即使撇開其中付加意思,這個概念在意識形態和地緣政治上都會帶來消極效應。

一方面,“衝突”言論犧牲了美中競爭中的道德制高點。美國長期以來一直聲稱民主價觀和人權並非西方的特有觀念。相反,它們是世界各地人民應該享有的普遍觀念 - 並且任何政府都沒有權利否認其人民應該享有。

這一論點雖然有時被選擇性地應用,但它代表了一種基本的外交政策力量,因為它允許美國認同世界各地人民的願望 - 即使在受敵對政權控制的國家。此外,美國官員使用的觀點是,人權和民主價觀是普遍的,是反對威權政府的意識形態打擊,因為它在冷戰期間對蘇聯生了巨大影響。

相比之下,中國政府已經接受了文明差異作為專制,自我保護手段的概念。北京長期以來一直拒接受它及應該放開政治體制這一觀點 - 或者只是停止將持不同政見者投入監獄 - 理由是 “西方” 的民主和個人權利概念與中國獨特文明的傳統不相容。

美國不應該支持這個想法, 就算在不意之中; 它不應該認同中國政權在其公民和民主世界之間尋求建立一幅分隔文明的牆。

衝突論也具有地緣政治危險性,因為在這裡,在中國的手中它也會被發揮作用。中國政府長期以來一直認為世界應該按照文明的方式劃分:亞洲人彼此之間的共同點多於對美國的共同點,華盛頓因此應該把亞洲留給亞洲人 - 這意味著它應該讓中國主宰世界這一地區。這一論點為北京為推動美國離西太平洋所做的一切提供了知性的支持:削弱美國聯盟,建立軍事力量,並圍繞鄰國編織一個互相依賴經濟網。

因此,在東西方之間劃清界限的想法對中國的戰略至關重要 - 而且它對美國來是致命的。為了對抗中國,美國需要團結一個跨越文化的聯盟。這包括但不限於西半球和歐洲的民主國家以及一系列受中國崛起困擾的亞洲國家。文化衝突論只會突出了美國與越南或印度之間的文化和種族差異。

將一個多元化的平衡聯盟與雄心勃勃的中國团结起来將是非常困難的。 美國外交官不應該讓這項任務變得更具挑戰性。

My comments

I think the present conflict could be understood as a regional conflict of interest between China and the US.  When China became the world’ second largest economic entity about a decade ago, it began to flex its economic muscle towards its Asia neighbors, and started to advocate its territorial rights in Asia in general, and in the South China Sea in particular. China’s leader is trying to realize its “China Dream” (中國夢) in bringing China back to a strong country (for more information on 中國夢 please see the same hashtag in my blog). China is challenging the US’s presence in the South China sea and causing the conflicts. There are little cultural elements in the present conflict, it is mainly about economic interests. Yet economic power of a country can easily be transformed into political and military power. To find out an answer on the cause of the present conflict, one may try to ask why this conflict sudden appeared starting a few years ago while cultural different between East and West has existed for over several hundreds if not several thousands of years.

While CCP practices ideological control inside its country on grounds that “Western” concepts of democracy and individual rights are incompatible with the traditions of China’s unique civilization, yet one could find it difficult to define what is meant by “the traditions of China’s unique civilization”. Tradition and civilization are cultural components of a nation which are always changing over time. It is absurd for a country to always adhere to its past tradition in charting its future course in development. For CCP, the only reason to advocate the uniqueness in tradition and civilization is to use it as a pretext to say no to freedom of speech and thinking etc. One way to understand the present conflict between the West (mainly the US and EU) is that it is a competition between two political systems: China that advocates state control for high efficiency at the expenses of democracy verses the West that advocates democracy at the expenses of efficiency. Chances are that usually a highly efficient political system could have a higher chance to win conflicts with other countries. For example, Nazi Germany in Europe before the US joining WWII.

Japan in late 1960s became the world’s second biggest economy. Its soft power was reflected in its high-quality consumer and household products, for example cars and cameras; and in cultural goods such pop music, cartoon and TV drama. Contrasting this, China’s present soft power is money, in the form of a huge consumer market at home and exporting construction projects abroad. This is further supplemented by its the ability to give out easy loans to other countries. China's  ambitions are wrapped in its  “One Belt One Road” thinking.

The only way for the US to check China is to use trading power; and to build up a strong alliance by outreaching to new friends such as Vietnam who has a worry over an expansive China. On the ideological front, the US should continue to advocate that human rights and democratic values are universal and to use it as an ideological tool against authoritarian governments, as it was done in fighting against the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

So, a “clash of civilizations” is not relevant to the present conflicts between China and the US. Rather I love to liken the present confrontational situation to the national relationship between Imperial Japan and the US before WWII when Japan was under a totalitarian regime and tried to dominate Asia.  If there were no Pearl Harbor attack on December 7, 1941 that dragged the US into a war,  I think Imperial Japan would continue enjoying a much longer prosperity by relying on its military superiority over its Asian neighbors.

2019年5月9日 星期四

Group food poisoning at a restaurant of a luxury hotel in Tokyo


Recently the NHK News On-line reported the following:
高級ホテルのレストランで集団食中毒 東京
2019426 1917

今月、東京 港区の高級ホテルのレストランで食事をした客32人がおう吐や下痢などの症状を訴え、一部の患者からノロウイルスが検出されたことから、保健所は集団食中毒と断定し、26日から3日間、レストランを営業停止の処分としました。

営業停止の処分を受けたのは、東京 港区の「ホテルインターコンチネンタル東京ベイ」の1階にあるイタリアンレストラン「ジリオン」です。

東京都によりますと、今月14日から15日にかけて、このレストランで食事をした7つのグループの客、合わせて39人のうち32人がおう吐や下痢などの症状を訴えたということです。

症状は軽く、入院した人はいないということですが、港区のみなと保健所が調べたところ、患者や従業員の一部からノロウイルスが検出されました。

感染源の食材は特定されていませんが、客には、タコと大豆のマリネが入った前菜の盛り合わせや、肉料理、それにパスタなどのコース料理が提供されていたということです。

保健所は、このレストランの食事による集団食中毒と断定し、26日から3日間の営業停止の処分としました。

レストランは、すでに今月20日から営業を自粛していて、「ホテルインターコンチネンタル東京ベイ」は「事態を厳粛に受け止め、今後の再発防止に向けて、社員教育、食品衛生管理の再徹底を実施します。発症されたお客様には多大なるご迷惑、ご心配をおかけしますことを心よりおわび申し上げます」とコメントしています。

Translation

This month, 32 customers of a luxury hotel restaurant in Tokyo Minato Ward complained of symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea, and also norovirus was detected in some patients. The public health center declared it a mass food poisoning and the restaurant was suspended business for three days from the 26th.

It was the Italian restaurant “Zillion” located on the first floor of “Hotel InterContinental Tokyo Bay” in Minato-ku of Tokyo that received the business suspension order.

According to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, from 14th to 15th this month, a total of 32 customers out of 39 people in 7 groups who ate in this restaurant complained of symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea.

The symptoms were mild, and no one was admitted to the hospital, but when Minato Ward Health Center did the examination, norovirus was detected from some of the patients and employees.

Although the source of infection was not identified, customers were given a platter of appetizers with octopus and marinated soybeans, meat dishes, and course dishes such as pasta.

The health center concluded that the food at this restaurant had caused a mass food poisoning and order it to suspend business for three days from the 26th.

The restaurant, which had been refrained from doing business since 20th of this month, commented that "Hotel InterContinental Tokyo Bay” “has taken the situation seriously and will carry out thorough employee education and food hygiene management in order to prevent future recurrence. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience or concern that have been caused to our customers. "

              I hope this restaurant could regain the confidence of consumers soon.

2019年5月8日 星期三

Amazon to Close Internet Mail Order Service in China


Recently CNN.co.jp reported the following:
アマゾン、中国のネット通販サービス閉鎖へ
2019.04.19 Fri posted at 17:41 JST
 香港(CNN Business) 米アマゾンは19日までに、中国で運営するマーケットプレイス(仮想商店街)を数カ月以内に閉鎖すると発表した。これにより中国のアマゾン利用者は、国内の出店者から商品を購入することができなくなる。

サービス撤退の理由は明かされていない。アマゾンは声明で、マーケットプレイスの閉鎖を出店者に通知しているとし、7月18日をもってサービスを停止すると述べた。

調査会社イーマーケターによると、中国のネット通販の市場規模は年間約2兆ドル。米国はその4分の1をわずかに上回るに過ぎない。

15年前に中国へ進出したアマゾンだが、国内で優位を占めるアリババや京東集団(JDドット・コム)と比べると、そのシェアは微々たるものだ。イーマーケターの推計では、中国国内の電子商取引の半分以上はアリババが手掛けているとされる。

専門家からはアマゾンの苦戦の要因として、中国市場における競争の激しさやアマゾンのブランド認知度の低さを指摘する声が上がっている。

アマゾンによれば、ユーザーは7月18日以降もグローバルストアから商品を購入することが可能。クラウド・コンピューティングや電子書籍端末「キンドル」といったサービスは引き続き中国国内で提供するという。

Translation

Hong Kong (CNN Business) - Amazon of the United States had announced on the 19th that their Market Place (virtual shopping mall) operating in China would be closed within several months. As a result, Amazon customers in China could not purchase goods from local storekeepers.

The reason for the withdrawal was not clear. Amazon said in a statement that it had notified stores to shut down the Market Place and would stop its service by July 18.

According to research firm E-marketer, China's online mail order market was about $ 2 trillion a year. The United States had only slightly above one quarter.

Amazon, which advanced to China 15 years ago, had a small share compared to Alibaba and Jingdong Group (JD.com), which dominated the domestic market. According to E-Marketer’s estimates, more than half of the e-commerce in China was handled by Alibaba.

Experts had pointed out that the keen competition in the Chinese market and the low brand awareness of the Amazon were identifiable factors that caused Amazon's struggle.

According to Amazon, users could purchase goods from the global store after July 18th. Services such as cloud computing and e-book reader "Kindle" would continue to be provided in China.

              So, Amazon does not necessary has an advantage in doing business in China.