A Fascinating Graphic: Comparing Chinese Provinces With Countries

By: Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

Several months ago The Economist released a fascinating graphic on China, titled “Comparing Chinese Provinces With Countries.” As the title implies, this graphic compares each of China’s provinces with different countries. The comparisons are GDP, GDP per person, population, and exports. There are a number of interesting things that the graphic shows.

Unsurprisingly, China does “best” in the population graph. While everybody knows that China’s population is the largest in the world, the sheer size of China’s population can still sometimes come as a shock. The province Anhui by itself has the same population as that of Great Britain, for instance. And there are seven provinces with higher populations than Anhui; the most populated province, Guangdong, has 58% more population than Anhui. On the low side of things comes Tibet, which covers a lot of space but has a mere 3.0 million residents (smaller than some American cities). It’s pretty astonishing to see how small Tibet’s actual population is, given the huge amount of news coverage devoted to it.

The exports graph is also interesting. Most provinces have absolutely tiny exports, belying China’s reputation as an exporting power. Beijing, for instance, exports only 29.2 billion in goods – about the same as Oman. Five coastal provinces account for 77% of China’s total exports; of those five, Guangdong alone is 30% of China’s total exports.

Humorously, the highest rated comment (by far) on the article goes “I cannot find Taiwan.”As a newspaper published by the United Kingdom, The Economist does not include Taiwan as a Chinese province. A Chinese version of the same graphic, of course, would include Taiwan.

Finally, there is one area where China does quite badly: per capita income. The average income each person makes for most provinces reads like a who’s list of Third World, developing countries – Angola, El Salvador, Namibia. This is after thirty years of enormous economic growth, which really makes one think about how poor China was back in the days of Mao Zedong.

The poorest province of China is Guizhou, in which GDP per person is only $3,335. GDP per person in Guizhou is lower than that of the African countries Congo-Brazzaville and Swaziland. But guess which country Guizhou’s GDP is closest to:

India!

GDP per capita in the poorest province of China – a province poorer than several sub-Saharan African countries – is the same as GDP per capita in India. It makes one realize that India, for all its recent economic success, is still really really poor.

 

 

A Russian Perspective on the Russian-Georgian War

By: Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

In the summer of 2008, although many people have forgotten, Russia and Georgia fought a brief war. The war began when Georgia launched an invasion of its rebellious province South Ossetia. South Ossetian resistance was bolstered when Russia launched a massive intervention. Georgian and Russian forces fought for several days, ending in a resounding Georgian defeat.

The American perspective of the war reflects American suspicion of Russia, dating from the hostility of the Cold War. Georgia, most grudgingly acknowledge, did start hostilities. But Russia’s response was extremely disproportionate and, in this view, deserves to be condemned. On the other hand, the war has revealed that Georgia is definitely not ready to join organizations such as NATO or the EU.

This article, by Mikhail Barabanov of the Moscow Defense Brief, provides a fascinatingly different perspective. It is from the Russian point-of-view, specifically a military one. Mr. Barabanov begins by celebrating the quick victory of Russian forces:

Initially, Georgia’s attack on the capital of the self-proclaimed Republic of South Ossetia on August 8, 2008, seemed like it would lead to yet another bloody, drawn out Caucasus war. However, the quick, energetic, and sustained intervention of Russia (the guarantor of peace in South Ossetia since 1992) escalated by August 11 into a powerful blitzkrieg against Georgia proper. Commentators who until recently described the Georgian Army as the “best” in the post-Soviet space were at a loss for words.

He then paints a picture of the situation that stands at stark contrast with the usual Western perspective. America’s media generally describes Georgia as a reforming country moving towards democracy and rule-of-law.

Mr. Barabanov, on the other hand, describes Georgia as a war-hungry nation intent on building its military:

…Mikhail Saakashvili devoted exceptional efforts to the creation of a fighting armed force that could return the separatist autonomous republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia to the Georgian fold…Significant funding went into force generation: during Saakashvili’s rule, Georgia broke world records for defense spending, which grew by 33 times to reach about $1 billion per year in 2007-2008. Last year’s defense budget was 8 percent of the Georgian GDP. Only Saudi Arabia, Oman, and North Korea spend more as a proportion of their national wealth.

The rest of the article then details the mechanics of the war, and the Russian perspective on the Georgian defeat. Unsurprisingly, Georgia is characterized as the aggressor and Russia. Mr. Barabanov argues that Georgia suffered a total defeat, also unsurprisingly (and, to be fair, not unrealistically).

There is one final point which Mr. Barabanov makes, and this one is something that is worth dwelling upon. While acknowledging the strength of the Western armies themselves, he is far more skeptical about Third-World armies trained by the West. Armies like these (i.e. the Georgian army), he argues, have consistently underperformed vis-a-vis the technology they have. The quote is relatively long, but it is worth stating in full:

A clear analogy can be drawn between the fate of the Georgian Army and the collapse of the armed forces of South Vietnam in 1975. Like the Georgian Army, the South Vietnamese Army was built, trained, according to the American model and was well equipped. However, when they fought against the forces of North Vietnam, which combined local combat techniques with Soviet and Chinese organization and tactics, the outwardly impressive South Vietnamese forces proved to be much less effective than expected and fell apart after several defeats. In Georgia, as in South Vietnam, the imitation of Western methods of organization and force generation failed to match Western levels of military effectiveness. The creation of an effective national military machine requires long-term work on the part of the state, and an ability to take national characteristics into account. In and of themselves, “Western” standards of force generation do not guarantee superiority over “non-Western” armies. Those who believe in the a-priori superiority of the West in military affairs have learned yet another unpleasant lesson from the Georgian affair.

Here Mr. Barabanov’s words strike quite squarely on the truth. America has never been very good at training non-Western forces. The South Vietnamese and Georgian  cases indicate this. Today the United States is once again desperately trying to train a national Afghani army to Western standards. Americans would be wise to take Mr. Barabanov’s words into account.

 

 

A Russian Perspective on the Russian-Georgian War

By: Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

In the summer of 2008, although many people have forgotten, Russia and Georgia fought a brief war. The war began when Georgia launched an invasion of its rebellious province South Ossetia. South Ossetian resistance was bolstered when Russia launched a massive intervention. Georgian and Russian forces fought for several days, ending in a resounding Georgian defeat.

The American perspective of the war reflects American suspicion of Russia, dating from the hostility of the Cold War. Georgia, most grudgingly acknowledge, did start hostilities. But Russia’s response was extremely disproportionate and, in this view, deserves to be condemned. On the other hand, the war has revealed that Georgia is definitely not ready to join organizations such as NATO or the EU.

This article, by Mikhail Barabanov of the Moscow Defense Brief, provides a fascinatingly different perspective. It is from the Russian point-of-view, specifically a military one. Mr. Barabanov begins by celebrating the quick victory of Russian forces:

Initially, Georgia’s attack on the capital of the self-proclaimed Republic of South Ossetia on August 8, 2008, seemed like it would lead to yet another bloody, drawn out Caucasus war. However, the quick, energetic, and sustained intervention of Russia (the guarantor of peace in South Ossetia since 1992) escalated by August 11 into a powerful blitzkrieg against Georgia proper. Commentators who until recently described the Georgian Army as the “best” in the post-Soviet space were at a loss for words.

He then paints a picture of the situation that stands at stark contrast with the usual Western perspective. America’s media generally describes Georgia as a reforming country moving towards democracy and rule-of-law.

Mr. Barabanov, on the other hand, describes Georgia as a war-hungry nation intent on building its military:

…Mikhail Saakashvili devoted exceptional efforts to the creation of a fighting armed force that could return the separatist autonomous republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia to the Georgian fold…Significant funding went into force generation: during Saakashvili’s rule, Georgia broke world records for defense spending, which grew by 33 times to reach about $1 billion per year in 2007-2008. Last year’s defense budget was 8 percent of the Georgian GDP. Only Saudi Arabia, Oman, and North Korea spend more as a proportion of their national wealth.

The rest of the article then details the mechanics of the war, and the Russian perspective on the Georgian defeat. Unsurprisingly, Georgia is characterized as the aggressor and Russia. Mr. Barabanov argues that Georgia suffered a total defeat, also unsurprisingly (and, to be fair, not unrealistically).

There is one final point which Mr. Barabanov makes, and this one is something that is worth dwelling upon. While acknowledging the strength of the Western armies themselves, he is far more skeptical about Third-World armies trained by the West. Armies like these (i.e. the Georgian army), he argues, have consistently underperformed vis-a-vis the technology they have. The quote is relatively long, but it is worth stating in full:

A clear analogy can be drawn between the fate of the Georgian Army and the collapse of the armed forces of South Vietnam in 1975. Like the Georgian Army, the South Vietnamese Army was built, trained, according to the American model and was well equipped. However, when they fought against the forces of North Vietnam, which combined local combat techniques with Soviet and Chinese organization and tactics, the outwardly impressive South Vietnamese forces proved to be much less effective than expected and fell apart after several defeats. In Georgia, as in South Vietnam, the imitation of Western methods of organization and force generation failed to match Western levels of military effectiveness. The creation of an effective national military machine requires long-term work on the part of the state, and an ability to take national characteristics into account. In and of themselves, “Western” standards of force generation do not guarantee superiority over “non-Western” armies. Those who believe in the a-priori superiority of the West in military affairs have learned yet another unpleasant lesson from the Georgian affair.

Here Mr. Barabanov’s words strike quite squarely on the truth. America has never been very good at training non-Western forces. The South Vietnamese and Georgian  cases indicate this. Today the United States is once again desperately trying to train a national Afghani army to Western standards. Americans would be wise to take Mr. Barabanov’s words into account.

 

 

A Russian Perspective on the Russian-Georgian War

By: Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

In the summer of 2008, although many people have forgotten, Russia and Georgia fought a brief war. The war began when Georgia launched an invasion of its rebellious province South Ossetia. South Ossetian resistance was bolstered when Russia launched a massive intervention. Georgian and Russian forces fought for several days, ending in a resounding Georgian defeat.

The American perspective of the war reflects American suspicion of Russia, dating from the hostility of the Cold War. Georgia, most grudgingly acknowledge, did start hostilities. But Russia’s response was extremely disproportionate and, in this view, deserves to be condemned. On the other hand, the war has revealed that Georgia is definitely not ready to join organizations such as NATO or the EU.

This article, by Mikhail Barabanov of the Moscow Defense Brief, provides a fascinatingly different perspective. It is from the Russian point-of-view, specifically a military one. Mr. Barabanov begins by celebrating the quick victory of Russian forces:

Initially, Georgia’s attack on the capital of the self-proclaimed Republic of South Ossetia on August 8, 2008, seemed like it would lead to yet another bloody, drawn out Caucasus war. However, the quick, energetic, and sustained intervention of Russia (the guarantor of peace in South Ossetia since 1992) escalated by August 11 into a powerful blitzkrieg against Georgia proper. Commentators who until recently described the Georgian Army as the “best” in the post-Soviet space were at a loss for words.

He then paints a picture of the situation that stands at stark contrast with the usual Western perspective. America’s media generally describes Georgia as a reforming country moving towards democracy and rule-of-law.

Mr. Barabanov, on the other hand, describes Georgia as a war-hungry nation intent on building its military:

…Mikhail Saakashvili devoted exceptional efforts to the creation of a fighting armed force that could return the separatist autonomous republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia to the Georgian fold…Significant funding went into force generation: during Saakashvili’s rule, Georgia broke world records for defense spending, which grew by 33 times to reach about $1 billion per year in 2007-2008. Last year’s defense budget was 8 percent of the Georgian GDP. Only Saudi Arabia, Oman, and North Korea spend more as a proportion of their national wealth.

The rest of the article then details the mechanics of the war, and the Russian perspective on the Georgian defeat. Unsurprisingly, Georgia is characterized as the aggressor and Russia. Mr. Barabanov argues that Georgia suffered a total defeat, also unsurprisingly (and, to be fair, not unrealistically).

There is one final point which Mr. Barabanov makes, and this one is something that is worth dwelling upon. While acknowledging the strength of the Western armies themselves, he is far more skeptical about Third-World armies trained by the West. Armies like these (i.e. the Georgian army), he argues, have consistently underperformed vis-a-vis the technology they have. The quote is relatively long, but it is worth stating in full:

A clear analogy can be drawn between the fate of the Georgian Army and the collapse of the armed forces of South Vietnam in 1975. Like the Georgian Army, the South Vietnamese Army was built, trained, according to the American model and was well equipped. However, when they fought against the forces of North Vietnam, which combined local combat techniques with Soviet and Chinese organization and tactics, the outwardly impressive South Vietnamese forces proved to be much less effective than expected and fell apart after several defeats. In Georgia, as in South Vietnam, the imitation of Western methods of organization and force generation failed to match Western levels of military effectiveness. The creation of an effective national military machine requires long-term work on the part of the state, and an ability to take national characteristics into account. In and of themselves, “Western” standards of force generation do not guarantee superiority over “non-Western” armies. Those who believe in the a-priori superiority of the West in military affairs have learned yet another unpleasant lesson from the Georgian affair.

Here Mr. Barabanov’s words strike quite squarely on the truth. America has never been very good at training non-Western forces. The South Vietnamese and Georgian  cases indicate this. Today the United States is once again desperately trying to train a national Afghani army to Western standards. Americans would be wise to take Mr. Barabanov’s words into account.

 

 

Mexican Immigrants and the 2012 Mexican Presidential Election

By: Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

There are quite a number of Mexican citizens living in America. Much political attention has been paid to these people by both American political parties. Liberals hope that the votes of their children will carve out a new permanent Democratic majority. Conservatives, on the other hand, relentlessly campaign against undocumented immigrants and “amnesty.”

When immigrant rallies occur, conservative media frequently focus on immigrants from Mexico waving Mexican flags. The implication is that these people are more loyal to Mexico than the United States.

Let’s take this thought a bit further, to a subject which most conservatives don’t think about. Like the United States, Mexico will have a presidential election in 2012. There are a lot of Mexican citizens in the United States (whether documented or undocumented). What if they voted?

So far they have not. Before the 2006 presidential election, Mexicans living abroad had to physically be present in Mexico to vote. Given the difficulty and expense of doing this (for all expatriates, not just Mexican), this effectively disenfranchised the Mexican expatriate population.

Before the 2006 presidential election, a new law was passed. This allowed Mexicans living abroad to register for an “overseas” ballot. The expectations were quite high; imagine the power of Mexico’s enormous expatriate vote to affect domestic Mexican politics.

As it turns out, however, only 32,632 Mexican citizens living in America bothered to take the offer. Most of them probably didn’t know about the procedure, or perhaps found it too complex. Apparently Mexican immigrants are just as disconnected to Mexican politics as they are to American politics (or more disconnected, in all probability).

Whether turn-out will be just as low in 2012 is still a mystery. Still, it’s pretty fascinating to consider what might happen if expatriate voting actually went into high-gear. What if the current ban on campaigning abroad was overturned? Imagine the PRI holding a political rally in California (or better yet, Arizona!). How about the PAN running advertisements on Univision?

Probably nothing more would piss nativists off than having Mexican political parties physically campaigning in the United States for the Mexican immigrant vote. It’s a humorous, if slightly unrealistic, thought.

 

 

Diaries

Advertise Blogads