2012年11月20日

これが中国を治めることになる男たちだ


Meet the Men Who Will Rule China
( TIME )

In The Wizard of Oz, the ruler behind the curtain in the Emerald City
turns out to be not an imposing mystical force but a mere mortal --
and a rather unprepossessing one at that. On Nov. 15 in the heart of
Beijing, just a short walk from the Forbidden City, a line of seven
men -- all with neatly coiffed, dyed black hair -- emerged from
behind a giant screen adorned with red-crowned cranes. Thus at
shortly before noon was the world introduced to a powerful clique,
headed by Xi Jinping, that will rule China. The new Politburo
Standing Committee, as the clutch of seven is called, was unveiled at
the Communist-era Great Hall of the People, nearly an hour later than
was initially expected. First to stride the crimson-carpeted stage
was Xi, the new General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party and
longtime presumed heir of outgoing leader Hu Jintao. But even if Xi
walked out first, he is only the first among equals in a country that
has traded the personality cult of the Chairman Mao days for a
collective-leadership style. In China, there is not just one wizard,
but seven.

The new men in charge are, in the order they walked onto the stage,
Xi, followed by Li Keqiang, Zhang Dejiang, Yu Zhengsheng, Liu
Yunshan, Wang Qishan and Zhang Gaoli. Technically speaking, the
selection of the Standing Committee was conducted by a Communist
Party Central Committee with 205 members, itself chosen by the 2,000
or so delegates to the 18th Party Congress (representing 82.6 million
Chinese Communist Party members) that wrapped up its week-long summit
on Nov. 14. In reality, the Standing Committee’s composition was
more likely the result of intense back room negotiations between
forces loyal to Hu and his predecessor Jiang Zemin, among myriad
other factions that belie the unified reputation of the party that
has ruled China for 63 years.

Where will the seven men -- who strode carefully to seven spots pre-
marked with black tape on the stage -- take the People’s Republic?
Frankly, we don’t really know. These men have risen to the top in
part because of their ability to hide their personal quirks under a
cloak of Communist secrecy. But there are a few things we can divine
from the septet. First, the new Standing Committee is jammed with
princelings, the offspring of Communist Party elders who grew up
accustomed to the privileges of power, despite some tumultuous years
during the Cultural Revolution when the tide turned against these
coddled scions. Being a member of the crimson aristocracy doesn’t
dictate a Standing Committee member’s politics. Zhang Dejiang, who
walked third in line, is a North Korea-trained economist, while Wang
Qishan, No. 6, is considered more of a market-oriented reformer.
Still, one thing unites most of these princelings: they are acolytes
of former party chief Jiang, who at 86 years old still retains
surprising influence in party politics.

Xi’s ascension marked a break with a decade of leadership by the
ultimate colorless Communist cadre. When Hu Jintao took power a
decade ago, some hoped that he might usher in political reforms to
match China’s economic opening. Those hopes were dashed; over the
past 10 years, Hu felt more like a Party hologram than a flesh-and-
blood leader. Only twice in his tenure did he give substantive live
speeches to the Chinese people. By contrast, in his first remarks as
General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party on Thursday, the
broad-shouldered 59-year-old Xi cracked a spontaneous joke --
apologizing for keeping the assembled press waiting, a comment that
was not part of his official remarks -- and spoke naturally. His
delivery contrasted with the slow and emphatic whine of ideologically
tinged speech that mars so many Chinese leaders’ speaking styles,
most notably Hu’s.

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2012年11月06日

あらら!最新の調査でフランス人の衛生意識の評判が落ちる


Ew La La! New Poll Sullies French Reputation for Personal Hygiene
( TIME )

It isn’t news likely to upend enduring Anglo-Saxon stereotypes
regarding the French. According to a new poll, nearly one fifth of
all French people say they don’t wash every day, with 3.5% avoiding
soap and water more than once a week. So much for obliterating the
decades-old Anglais claim that “the French don’t bathe”.

The study also found about 20% of French people surveyed admitted
they don’t wash their hands before dining, and more than 12% forego
the trip to the sink after using les toilettes. By contrast, over 86%
said they do wash their hands as a prerequisite to preparing a meal.

Findings in the BVA poll for hygiene product manufacturer Tork won’t
do much to undermine the enduring -- and outdated -- American and
English preconceptions of the French as being a tad nonchalant when
it comes to the old corporal sponge-down. That malodorous reputation
took root in the ancient French preference for dousing themselves
with perfume or cologne rather than with soap and water when body
smell began putting a hurt on the nose.

That notorious hygienic reputation was more recently reinforced by
the post-war combination of cramped spaces and slowed urban
reconstruction that forstalled the arrival of full-service bathrooms
in private dwellings until well after they’d become an integral part
of domestic life in the U.S. and U.K. That differing evolution --
and the abundant use of garlic in cooking -- produced a generation
of midcentury American and British tourists who’d return home from
their otherwise glorious continental visits to report that the French
were particularly malodrous.

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2012年10月26日

キューバ危機50年 1962年から凍りついたままの米国とキューバ


The Cuban Missile Crisis at 50: America and Cuba Still Frozen in 1962
( TIME )

It’s hard to attribute anything but coincidence to the fact that
Cuban President Raul Castro issued a major immigration reform on
Tuesday, Oct. 16, which was the 50th anniversary of the start of the
Cold War’s most harrowing moment, the Cuban Missile Crisis. But the
two things are nonetheless related. Castro’s reform -- eliminating
the onerous exit visa requirement for Cubans who want to travel
outside the communist island -- is a reminder of how the missile
crisis prompted both Washington and Havana to shut down movement into
and out of Cuba for the past half century. And it’s one more sign
among many that each side needs to put that cold-war past behind it.

Eight months before Oct. 16, 1962 -- the day U.S. President John F.
Kennedy was informed of the presence of Soviet nuclear missiles in
Cuba, just 90 miles from Florida -- the U.S. had already imposed a
unilateral trade embargo on the regime of Cuban dictator Fidel
Castro. That’s largely because Fidel, who ruled Cuba from 1959 until
handing the presidency to his younger brother Raul in 2006, had
aligned his Caribbean nation with the Soviet Union. Now, by letting
the Soviets use bases in Cuba to position ballistic missiles that
could strike deep into the U.S. -- and by urging Soviet leader Nikita
Khrushchev, according to Khrushchev’s account, to fire those
missiles when Kennedy ordered a naval blockade of the island during
the 13-day U.S.-Soviet standoff -- Fidel had further stoked
Washington’s wrath.

The crisis ended peacefully when the Soviets removed the missiles in
exchange for a pledge to eventually remove U.S. missiles from Turkey.
But a few months later, on top of the trade embargo, Kennedy ordered
a ban on all U.S. travel to Cuba. Meanwhile, Fidel tightened
restrictions on Cubans’ ability to leave the island. The embargo and
the U.S. travel ban, incredibly, are still in effect -- and so is the
Cuban regime’s policy of using those measures as a scapegoat for the
impoverished island’s economic blunders and as an excuse for the
repression of political rights. “For 50 years,” says Tomas Bilbao,
executive director of the Cuba Study Group in Washington, D.C., which
advocates an end to the embargo as well as democratic reform in Cuba,
“both sides have continually taken measures that prevent the free
flow of people, to the detriment of Cuban civil society. Now both
sides are finally starting to take steps to facilitate it.”

But while that calculation worked for communist China, it’s a bigger
gamble in Cuba, where communism’s viability is much more dependent
on the personality cult of the Castros. Which is why it’s ultimately
more in the interests of U.S. Cuba policy to drop the embargo and the
constitutionally questionable travel ban, laws that even most
Cuban-Americans now agree are relics that need to go. For one thing,
those measures have failed, utterly, to dislodge the Castros. As a
result, engaging Cuba economically -- more important, engaging the 12
million hapless Cubans who after half a century are still paying for
cold-war clashes like the Bay of Pigs and the missile crisis -- could
help lay stronger groundwork for democratization when old age finally
accomplishes what U.S. sanctions couldn’t.

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2012年10月23日

政権移譲に備える中国で、毛主席の調子はどうなのか?


As China Readies for Leadership Handover, How is Chairman Mao Faring?
( TIME )

Poor Chairman Mao. China is still ruled by the Communist Party, which
will undergo a once-a-decade changing of the guard next month. But
the founder of the People’s Republic, who normally enjoys public
celebration in state media before major political events in the
People’s Republic, may be somewhat diminished on the eve of the Nov.
8 Party Congress during which President Hu Jintao is expected to
begin handing over power to Vice President Xi Jinping.

In the Oct. 16 issue of Seeking Truth (求是 or Qiushi), the Chinese
Communist Party’s flagship magazine, an article appeared entitled
Sparing No Effort to Push Forward Reform and Opening Up. Like many
articles about the Communist Party in Seeking Truth, the editorial
was notable for its comically authoritative language, with gems like:
“Its direction and path are absolutely correct, and its
effectiveness and contributions cannot be denied. Any standstill or
regression will find no way out.” Given that this is the last issue
of the journal to be released before the Party Congress, the contents
of the piece were dissected for ulterior meanings. One curiosity was
quickly noticed: Where was the Great Helmsman?

“We should adjust ourselves to the recent domestic and overseas
changes, satisfy the expectations of the masses, strengthen our
confidence, uphold the guidance of Deng Xiaoping Theory and Three
Represents, implement the scientific development outlook, further
deepen our understanding of the regular patterns of socialism, the
rule of the Communist Party and human society’s development.”

Maoism enjoyed a comeback in China over the past couple years, as the
booming economy spurred by the country’s capitalist embrace has been
accompanied by less welcome trends like income inequality and
corruption. A renewed commitment to socialist thought was supposed to
bring about a more equal society, according to these neo-Maoists. But
the political downfall earlier this year of its star proponent,
former Chongqing Party Secretary Bo Xilai, has blunted brand Mao.
Among Bo’s many alleged misdeeds are graft and violating Party
discipline -- precisely the kind of ills a renewed Socialist ideology
were supposed to combat.

Yet more than half of 3,177 Chinese surveyed earlier this year said
they like American ideas about democracy, according to a poll by Pew
Research Center released on Oct. 16. Another interesting tidbit from
the Pew survey: half the respondents considered corrupt officials a
major social problem, up from 39% four years before. Mao was supposed
to cleanse the country of graft. But reality proved otherwise, as the
Bo case most recently shows. Xi and the new Chinese leadership will
have to figure out how to purge the government of this scourge and
still keep its grip on power, with or without state-media adulation
of the Chairman.

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2012年10月19日

バルカン戦争 100年後と暴力の歴史


he Balkan Wars: 100 Years Later, a History of Violence
( TIME )

A century ago today, the Balkan wars began. On Oct. 8, 1912, the tiny
Kingdom of Montenegro declared war on the weak Ottoman Empire,
launching an invasion of Albania, then under nominal Turkish rule.
Three other Balkan states in league with the Montenegrins --
Bulgaria, Greece and Serbia -- rapidly followed suit, waging war on
the old imperial enemy while drawing upon a wellspring of national
sentiment in each of their homelands. By March 1913, their
blood-soaked campaigns had effectively pushed the enfeebled Ottomans
out of Europe. Yet by July, Greece and Serbia would clash with
Bulgaria in what’s known as the Second Balkan War -- a bitter
monthlong struggle that saw more territory change hands, more
villages razed and more bodies dumped into the earth.

The peace that followed was no peace at all. A year later, with
Europe’s great powers entwined in the fate of the Balkans, a
Yugoslav nationalist in the Bosnian city of Sarajevo killed the crown
prince of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Europe plunged into World War I.

“The Balkans,” goes one of the many witticisms attributed to
Winston Churchill, “generates more history than it can locally
consume.” To Churchill and many Western observers of his era, this
rugged stretch of southeastern Europe was a headache, a geopolitical
mess that had for centuries been at the crossroads of empires and
religions, riven by ethnic tribalisms and the meddling of outside
powers. Half a century earlier, Prussian Chancellor Otto von Bismarck
-- the architect of the modern German state -- expressed his disgust
with this nuisance of a region, scoffing that the whole of the
Balkans was “not worth the bones of one Pomeranian grenadier” in
his employ.

But while these grand statesmen of the West saw a backward land
brimming with ancient hatreds, the Balkans’ turbulent past, and the
legacy of the Balkan wars in particular, perhaps offers a more
instructive history lesson for our present than even World War I.
This is not just because the Balkan wars spawned some historic firsts
on the battlefield -- such as the first instance when aircraft was
used to attack an enemy (by the Bulgarians) or some of the first grim
scenes of trench warfare in continental Europe (observers recount
how, in one trench, the legs of dead Turkish soldiers froze into the
ground and had to be hacked off). It’s because in many ways these
battles fought a century ago reflect our world today: one where
internecine and sectarian conflicts -- in, say, Syria or the
Democratic Republic of Congo -- are enmeshed in the agendas of
outside powers and where the trauma of that violence often augurs
more of the same.

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