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

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

This morning’s key headlines from

  • 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 ofalways portraying Americans as arrogant and insensitive in countriesaround the world. 

But now it’s China’s turn. China’s new president Xi Jinping istouring Africa, telling everyone that China believes in “equalityamong all countries irrespective of their size and strength,” andexpressing opposition to “the big bullying the small and the stronglording over the weak.” I guess he has to hope that Africans don’tread the newspapers about China’s brutal military bullying tactics inthe South China Sea. 

China’s exploitation of Africa is enormous. China imports oil, coal,minerals and other raw materials, then sends hundreds ofthousands of traders to Africa to sell them electronics, spare parts,and consumer goods. The Chinese obey few environmental laws or laborlaws. Chinese investments in Africa rarely benefit the Africansthemselves. There are now 1-2 million Chinese businessmen and womenin Africa, mostly living in their own communities separate from thegeneral 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 andminerals, to fuel its economic boom], and sells us manufacturedones. This was also the essence of colonialism. Africa is nowwillingly opening itself up to a new form ofimperialism.”

But not for long, according to Botswana’s president Ian Khama: “We have had some bad experiences with Chinesecompanies in this country. [In the future] we are going to belooking very carefully at any company that originates from Chinain 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 MaoZedong’s first lady, Jiang Qing. In 1938 Mao married her, a beautifulactress half his age, after dumping his second wife, with whom healready had five kids. She rose to power in 1966 when she led thebloody Cultural Revolution, taking revenge against her politicalenemies. She was extremely unpopular and was arrested after Mao’sdeath 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 wideattention. Comments about her attire when arriving in Africa — blackhigh heels and stockings, an understated leather bag and a light bluescarf emerging from beneath a dark trenchcoat, collar turned upagainst the wind — have gone viral inside and outside of China. 

Before marrying Xi Jinping, Peng was a well-known singer. In onewidely-shared video clip, Peng, dressed in military garb, sings aboutsoldiers. The stage show is juxtaposed with stock footage ofbattle-ready Chinese tanks, jets, and warships. Sounds like a marriagemade 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’sknown that private bank accounts under 100,000 euros will not betaxed. It’s known that private bank accounts over 100,000 euros willbe taxed at 40% or more. But it’s not known what “capital controls”will be used to keep depositors from transferring money out of thecountry when the banks open again. 

Anti-German sentiments are growing in many parts of Europe, becausethey are perceived to have forced the harsh deal on Cyprus — andindeed, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has expressed enthusiasm forthe final deal. “The Germans” has become a “watchword for dominationor discipline or austerity” in the eurozone, according to onecommentator. According to one Spanish economics professor, “LikeHitler, 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 itcannot overlook the United States’ nuclear threats and militaryactions any longer, North Korea’s Supreme Command put its military onthe highest war alert: 

Our people and army are entering the final stage ofpreparations for war against the United States to defend theircountry’s dignity and sovereignty. 

The U.S. nuclear war racket has gone beyond the danger line andentered the phase of an actual war, defying the repeated warningsfrom the army and people of the Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea (DPRK).

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

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

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