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Just to be on the safe side: scare the population

Davey Meelker

In our trip through China we couldn’t help but notice the many security measurements. In our view this is greatly exaggerated, since China seems like such a safe country. Probably safer than many places in the West. So why are these severe security measures necessary? Many say it is needed to control the population, but is it also plausible that it is needed to justify Chinese repressive policies?

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What will become of China? Maybe the predictions aren’t always right

Sanne van Oosten

When will China overtake the US as largest economy in the world? OECD predicted that this will be by 2015, Goldman Sachs predictes 2025 and the World Bank predicted 2030.  New research suggests it will rather be sooner than later. However, these reports often don’t include many social and political factors, which are hard to predict. China will face many challenges the upcoming years.

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Sharing is multiplying

erdem-gunduz-standing-man-protests-turkey-istanbul

Erdem Gunduz at Taksim Square in Istanbul

Lotte van Geijn

In the story of David and Goliath I always forget who is who. Is David the giant and Goliath the shepherd boy? Or is David the shepherd boy and Goliath the giant?

I am standing in front of a huge statue. It is a man with a bag in one hand and a jacket loosely in the other.  He looks like he just got back from work, walking home, but suddenly decided to go into another direction. Tomorrow, he will not follow the same route to work again. Tomorrow, everything will be different. Behind this huge statue is a small army of green figures. Toy soldiers. We kneel down to look at them closely. I feel your breath on my face. Suddenly a soldier stumbles and within a domino effect the start to fall. This place makes me rebellion. We put the plastic soldiers back on their feet: ‘Back in line.’ One stubborn plastic soldier keeps looking at you. We decide to let him be different.

The diversity of Asian drinking cultures

Drinking culture_BloggersWithoutBorders

Sanne van Oosten

Yes, drinking cultures, plural. There is no way to speak of one typical way of drinking alcohol throughout Asia. Some just don’t drink, some drink obsessively, others only drink obsessively on special occasions and then there’s the ones that use drunkenness as a way to make important decisions.  Please allow me to explain with some drunken examples.

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Is China pumping up a housing bubble?

Construction work in Chonqing, pumping up the housing bubble

Davey Meelker

When walking in Chinese cities it seems to be undeniable that the sky is the limit. Literally. Everywhere are high-rise buildings, often with stunning architectural features. There is no stopping this huge development and at many places there are still new buildings built, both for apartments and offices. In the meantime it is estimated that there are more than 64 million vacant apartments in China. Isn’t that strange?

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Developing China: nobody can stop the authorities

Flats marked to tear down in China_BloggersWithoutBorders

Davey Meelker

When we were visiting the Chinese metropolis GuangZhou, we were impressed by the modernity of this city in the southeast of China. It doesn’t look like anything like it looked a few decades ago. Everywhere there are skyscrapers, there is a convenient trilingual subway system and it has wide roads. It is clean and much more modern than all European cities. Our friend took us to one of the only remaining old neighbourhoods one day. On our way we passed large blocks of houses surrounded by a wall with the military guarding it. Our friend explained that this was a nice old neighbourhood, but the government decided to build more flats and skyscrapers.  When they decide something, they take drastic measurements.

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China’s creativity

Sanne van Oosten

Many people complain of China’s lack of artistic creativity. Some people say the Chinese art scene lacks creativity because of the Chinese education system that emphasizes memorization of facts instead of emphasizing creativity and free thoughts. They say it has everything to do with the difficultness of Chinese characters, since so much of education’s efforts are put into learning to memorize characters not much time is left for anything else. The fact remains that Chinese art is in a phase of a lot of copying from successful others, but is that really all that strange?

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How the Second World War is plummeting Japan’s Economy

The lobster street in Osaka Dotombori, Japan

Davey Meelker

The Japanese economy shrunk 3.5% on an annual base between July and September. Further, the trade deficit doubled last October to 6.7 billion dollars. A great cause is of this economic downfall is the Chinese boycott on Japanese products. The shipments to China decreased 11.6% last month and the car export even plummeted with 82%. We shouldn’t just look to the islands disputes to know the reason for this boycott, we have to go back 75 years when Japan invaded China and the conflict between the tow countries erupted into a full war.

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China and Tibet: an honest quest to find the truth

The landscape of Tibet outside the Tibet Provence

Davey Meelker

When people in the West want to badmouth China, they will definitely point to Tibet. Ordinary Chinese have no idea why the West is making such fuss out if it, and doesn’t like its nosiness. As a Westerner I know the Western story best, but I am questioning if it is not just part of Western propaganda. Are we maybe exaggerating the human rights abuses? With this question in my mind I explored greater Tibet.

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Uyghurs versus Tibetans, same story different sympathies

Sanne van Oosten

People in the West can be extremely emotional when it comes to Tibet. Their civilization is being diluted to extinction and there is nothing that can be done about it. But the Tibetans aren’t the only ones facing the same fate in the hands of the Chinese. The Uyghur minority based mostly in the Western frontier of Xinjiang province are experiencing the same thing. Still, you’ll never see any Westerners take to the streets to stand up for their woeful fate. Same story, different people? Not really. Try this one. Same story, different sympathies.

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