World View: China's First Lady Steals Spotlight in Africa

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com:
  • Today's Schadenfreude: The 'Ugly Chinese' in Africa
  • Peng Liyuan, China's new first lady, steals the spotlight
  • Anti-German sentiments grow in Europe after the Cyprus bailout
  • North Korea's military goes on highest war alert

Today's Schadenfreude: The 'Ugly Chinese' in Africa

For decades since the end of World War II, the media has been full of "The Ugly American," as a novel, then a movie, then a stereotype, always portraying Americans as arrogant and insensitive in countries around the world. 

But now it's China's turn. China's new president Xi Jinping is touring Africa, telling everyone that China believes in "equality among all countries irrespective of their size and strength," and expressing opposition to "the big bullying the small and the strong lording over the weak." I guess he has to hope that Africans don't read the newspapers about China's brutal military bullying tactics in the South China Sea. 

China's exploitation of Africa is enormous. China imports oil, coal, minerals and other raw materials, then sends hundreds of thousands of traders to Africa to sell them electronics, spare parts, and consumer goods. The Chinese obey few environmental laws or labor laws. Chinese investments in Africa rarely benefit the Africans themselves. There are now 1-2 million Chinese businessmen and women in Africa, mostly living in their own communities separate from the general population, doing the day to day work that gets Africa's oil, coal, and minerals back to mainland China. 

According to Lamido Sanusi, the governor of Nigeria's Central Bank: "China takes our primary goods, [such as oil and minerals, to fuel its economic boom], and sells us manufactured ones. This was also the essence of colonialism. Africa is now willingly opening itself up to a new form of imperialism."

But not for long, according to Botswana's president Ian Khama: "We have had some bad experiences with Chinese companies in this country. [In the future] we are going to be looking very carefully at any company that originates from China in providing construction services of any nature."

He added that other African leaders shared his views. CS Monitor and VOA

Peng Liyuan, China's new first lady, steals the spotlight

China's first ladies have not been very popular, starting with Mao Zedong's first lady, Jiang Qing. In 1938 Mao married her, a beautiful actress half his age, after dumping his second wife, with whom he already had five kids. She rose to power in 1966 when she led the bloody Cultural Revolution, taking revenge against her political enemies. She was extremely unpopular and was arrested after Mao's death in 1976. She died a few years later, supposedly of suicide. Since then, China's first ladies have remained mostly invisible, wielding power only in the background. 

So China's glamorous new first lady is attracting world wide attention. Comments about her attire when arriving in Africa -- black high heels and stockings, an understated leather bag and a light blue scarf emerging from beneath a dark trenchcoat, collar turned up against the wind -- have gone viral inside and outside of China. 

Before marrying Xi Jinping, Peng was a well-known singer. In one widely-shared video clip, Peng, dressed in military garb, sings about "bravely advancing for victory" amid a chorus line of bayonet-wielding soldiers. The stage show is juxtaposed with stock footage of battle-ready Chinese tanks, jets, and warships. Sounds like a marriage made in heaven. Guardian (London)

Anti-German sentiments grow in Europe after the Cyprus bailout

Many of the details of the Cyprus bailout are not yet known. It's known that private bank accounts under 100,000 euros will not be taxed. It's known that private bank accounts over 100,000 euros will be taxed at 40% or more. But it's not known what "capital controls" will be used to keep depositors from transferring money out of the country when the banks open again. 

Anti-German sentiments are growing in many parts of Europe, because they are perceived to have forced the harsh deal on Cyprus -- and indeed, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has expressed enthusiasm for the final deal. "The Germans" has become a "watchword for domination or discipline or austerity" in the eurozone, according to one commentator. According to one Spanish economics professor, "Like Hitler, Angela Merkel has declared war on the rest of the continent, this time to secure economic Lebensraum." Deutsche Welle

North Korea's military goes on highest war alert

Saying that it's the country's "crystal clear judgment" is that it cannot overlook the United States' nuclear threats and military actions any longer, North Korea's Supreme Command put its military on the highest war alert: 

Our people and army are entering the final stage of preparations for war against the United States to defend their country's dignity and sovereignty. 

The U.S. nuclear war racket has gone beyond the danger line and entered the phase of an actual war, defying the repeated warnings from the army and people of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).

A South Korean official said a statement by the Supreme Command is very rare because the organ is an emergency body operative only in war time. 

The war threat comes on the third anniversary of the North Korean torpedo attack on the South Korean warship Cheonan, killing 46. Yonhap (Seoul)

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