Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Breaking the blockade

I'm glad China is managing to break the Gaza blockade with everyday necessities, though this article is a little strange.

Is it an ad for the quality of "Made in China" goods? A critique of the blockade?

Maybe if China would speak up about the human catastrophe that Israel has imposed on Gaza, rather than focusing their Security Council activism on blocking pressure on Iran...


What struck me most about the whole Google-China thing was the surprise some people expressed that the e-mail addresses of human rights activists were being hacked at all. I mean, how many of the activists thought for a minute that their accounts were safe? No one who does that kind of work trusts their phones, their computers, anything (see, for example, Marquand's story about journalists' experiences with hacking in China).

Google should get a lot of credit, but not for saying enough is enough to a particularly egregious problem that the company alone had been suffering in silence. They should get credit for finally stating something blindingly obvious, for finally acting as if something everyone else had put up with for ages was not, actually, normal.

The sharpness of China's reaction---Google's decision was on the cover of the Chinese-language, paper edition of the nationalist Global Times the next day; the English-language China Daily followed with a deceptive "point-counterpoint"-style piece on Google the next day, if I recall correctly---was surprising for me. But maybe it shouldn't have been. Stating the obvious is sometimes a big deal.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

China's inequality

After carping about China's Gini coefficient for ages, it's interesting to see that it is finally leveling off, if the OECD can be believed. According to the organization's recent survey, China even fell slightly from 41 to 40.8 between 2005 and 2007. I don't like the Kuznets Curve on ideological grounds and because, while it only seems to have held true in some cases, it has been used as almost a prescription for developing countries: become more equal, let a few get rich first, and things will settle out later. But it might be true for China.