Thursday, April 29, 2010

China Threatens U.S. Superiority in Satire

The Daily Show featured a very funny segment on Wham-O's decision to move production from China back to the United States.

Here's the clip:
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Wham-O Moves to America
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

I was amazed at the performance of a Chinese spokesperson, Li Daxi of the "Chinese Association of Business", who appeared a) in on the joke and b) completely comfortable setting up and trading punchlines with the Daily Show's Aasif Mandvi.

I felt a twinge of fear as well.

As the PRC's economic, diplomatic, and military clout has risen, we could still take comfort in the fact that America had the best humor system in the world, and official China had as yet proved itself unable to take--or make--a joke.

If that advantage had been lost--if indeed the Chinese had even mastered deadpan satire and mordant syntax, as the Wham-O clip implied--the Sinopocalypse was definitely at hand.

I was greatly reassured, however, when I Googled Li Daxi's biography:

Daxi Li was born in Puning, Guangdong of China. He graduated from South China Normal University in 1975, and received MS from Zhongshan University in Guangzhou, China in 1980. He received his Ph.D. in high energy physics from CUNY in 1985, and continued his research in McGill University, CCNY and NYIT as a Research Associate and an Assistant Professor from 1985 to 1991. His works in physics include dynamic symmetry breaking, quark mass difference, Superstring compactification, and Superstring models. ...Since 1992, his research interest has been in finance. He has 14 years of experience in investment banking and venture capital. He worked as a Senior Analyst and Assistant Vice President with major Wall Street investment banks Salomon Brothers Inc. and Lehman Brothers Inc. for over 10 years, and has been involved in many important IPO and VC investments...

Obviously, this guy is an outlier whose sense of humor was honed on Superstring compaction, VC pitches, and the Lehman collapse during thirty years in North America. We don't have to worry about the PRC marching an army of comics out of its clone farms to take over our comedy clubs and cable-TV satirical news shows ...yet.

In other news, the Communist Party Nepal (Maoist) is putting 500,000 cadres into Khatmandu in what might be the final stage in their push to topple Nepal's divided and impotent government and seize state power. India and the United States are not happy. Maybe something will turn up in the Western media about that.

Also, because of press o' business, I am only now getting around to posting notices on four articles I wrote for Asia Times:

China sees US as hedge for Taiwan, Tibet

I make the point that behind China's insistence on U.S. reaffirmation of the one-China policy in return for support on Iran sanctions is Beijing's awareness that it is facing a new generation and a new paradigm of resistance in its dealings with Tibet and Taiwan.

Say hello to Marjah...or "Little America"

This article draws on what I have found to be the best book on contemporary Afghanistan, Joel Hafvenstein's memoir of his year in Helmand, Opium Season. Betcha didn't know Helmand as we know it is the creation of a massive American infrastructure project from the 1950s. As U.S. military forces slog through Marjah, Hafvenstein's book should be required reading for students of our Afghan adventure. My piece is pretty good, too.

China has a Congo copper headache

The West is pretty sensitive to the appearance of neo-colonialism--except in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The DRC and its young president are regarded as, and treated as, mere creations of the West as part of its effort to clean up the colossal mess it made in the Congo. Then China comes in and makes a gigantic copper deal with the DRC's nominal masters instead of the powers behind the throne and runs into a US/French/IMF buzz saw...

More than bribery: Wealth, power and Rio Tinto

This article links the Rio Tinto case to the Chinese government's efforts to take down a nettlesome and politically connected steel tycoon, Du Shuanghua.


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