Thai Garden

Recent Issue – Vol 81, No 1 – Spring 2008

The Forest for the Trees: Trade, Investment and the China-in-Africa Discourse

Barry Sautman and Yan Hairong

Trade and investment are topics central to the China-in-Africa discourse that has strongly emerged from the West in the last few years. Western opinion leaders, along with several African opposition parties, often characterize China’s role in Africa as “colonialist,” “neo-imperialist” or “predatory.” Placing China’s trade and investment in the continent in comparative perspective, the paper assesses the empirical validity of such charges, by examining those issues that receive disproportionate attention in the discourse: China’s importation of oil from Africa, her exports of textiles and clothing to Africa and to the world in competition with Africa, as well as her ownership of a Zambian copper mine. It is concluded that China, as part of the world capitalist economy, injures African interests in many of the same ways as the principal Western states. The racialized China-in-Africa discourse, however, is largely inaccurate, reflective of Western elite perceptions of China as a strategic competitor, and acts as an obstacle to an effective critique of exploitative links between Africa and the more developed states.

En français


Jathika Hela Urumaya and Ethno-Religious Politics in Sri Lanka

Neil DeVotta and Jason Stone

Sri Lanka’s April 2004 parliamentary elections were a watershed because for the first time a political party comprised solely of Buddhist monks contested the polls. Despite being created just two months before the elections and generating passionate debate over the appropriateness of Buddhist monks participating directly in politics, the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU), or National Heritage Party, fielded over 260 candidates and won nine seats. The party claimed it wanted to institute a righteous society; yet its goals and policies were similar to those advocated by other Buddhist nationalist groups and seemed set to complicate further the attempt to end the island’s civil war. Nearly four years later the JHU’s politicking has tarnished its members’ reputations and the Buddhist clergy’s image. Indeed, it appears the JHU may be an epiphenomenon and its rise the apogee of political Buddhism, which has dominated Sri Lankan politics for the past fifty years. The Buddhist clergy has, for better or worse, been involved in Sri Lanka’s affairs for a long period of time. From that standpoint, the JHU is not necessary for Sri Lankan Buddhist nationalism; its weakened status and even demise are unlikely to especially affect the island’s war and peace trajectories.

En français


North Korean Market Vendors: The Rise of Grassroots Capitalists in a Post-Stalinist Society

Andrei Lankov and Kim Seok-hyang

The article deals with the social changes that have taken place in North Korea since the mid-1990s, when the collapse of the centrally planned economy led to the growth of private commercial activity. This activity remains technically illegal, but the relevant bans and restrictions have been rarely enforced due to endemic corruption and disorganization of the state bureaucracy. The article is largely based on in-depth interviews with North Korean black market operators. It traces their origins, the type and scale of their businesses, and changes in their mode of operations.
The article demonstrates that the “second economy” came to dominate North Korean economic life by the late 1990s, since authorities’ attempts to limit its scale were largely ineffective. The growth of the “second economy” produced new grassroots capitalists who sometimes came from underprivileged social groups, but more typically represented people with good official connections. It is also remarkable that foreign connections (usually with China) played a major role: to a large extent, merchandise sold at the North Korean markets either came from overseas or was to be exported overseas eventually, and in many cases the merchants’ initial capital was also provided by relatives residing overseas.

En français


Narcotics Trafficking in China: Size, Scale, Dynamics and Future Consequences

Ryan Clarke

This article examines narcotics trafficking in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and in its special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau. A general overview is provided regarding types of narcotics trafficked, most common sources, and the key actors involved. Problem areas, or “hot spots,” are identified and analyzed. Regions that are addressed include south China/Southeast Asia, Xinjiang/Central Asia, and the northeast China/North Korea border region. Responses by the PRC to the problem are also discussed. This article puts forth the argument that much attention has been paid to China’s rapidly growing economy and defence capabilities, but there has been less focus on its drug trafficking markets, which have grown in size and scale on pace with China’s legitimate economy. Because of its huge population, large geographical mass, and long land and maritime borders, the PRC is an ideal transit and consumption point for narcotics from East, South and Southeast Asia. Further, Xinjiang is of particular concern, given recent geopolitical developments in the region and the construction of the Gwadar port in Pakistan, which aims to provide Xinjiang with a road link through Pakistan and possibly Afghanistan. As such, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) should use its heavy security presence in the province more efficiently and increase its role in counternarcotics efforts. Although the problem is manageable at present, if these issues are not adequately addressed China may descend into an environment where organized crime is rampant, foreign investors are reluctant, and the ability of officials to tackle everyday issues is highly limited.

En français



Books Reviewed In This Issue

Asia General

Procyclicality of Financial Systems in Asia. Edited by Stefan Gerlach and Paul Gruenwald.
Reviewed by Robert Wade

Reshaping the Asia Pacific Economic Order. Edited by Christopher Findlay and Hadi Soesastro
Reviewed by John Ravenhill

The Unpredictability of the Past: Memories of the Asia-Pacific War in U.S.-East Asian Relations. Edited by Marc Gallicchio.
Reviewed by Mikyoung Kim

Transforming East Asia: The Evolution of Regional Economic Integration. By Naoko Munakata.
Reviewed by Wendy Dobson

China and Inner Asia

Capitalismes et capitalistes en chine. Des Origines a Nos Jours. By Marie-Claire Bergère
Reviewed by Rene Goldman

China stands up: The PRC and the International System. By David Scott.
Reviewed by Yongjin Zhang

Challenges and Policy Programmes Of China’s New Leadership.Edited by Joseph Y.S. Cheng.
Reviewed by Richard Baum

Disciplining the State: Virtue, Violence and State-Making in Modern China. By Patricia M. Thornton.
Reviewed by Dali L. Yang

POLITICAL RIGHTS IN POST-MAO CHINA. By Merle Goldman.
Reviewed by James Seymour

REPORTING THE CHINESE REVOLUTION: The Letters of Rayna Prohme. By Baruch Hirson and Arthur J. Knodel. Edited and with an introduction by Gregor Benton.
Reviewed by Stephen R. MacKinnon

REVOLUTION, RESISTANCE AND REFORM IN VILLAGE CHINA. By Edward Friedman, Paul G. Pickowicz and Mark Selden.
Reviewed by Shu-min Huang

CHINA’S FUTURE NUCLEAR SUBMARINE FORCE. Edited by Andrew S. Erickson, Lyle J. Goldstein, William S. Murray and Andrew R. Wilson.
Reviewed by Colin Green

THE NANKING ATROCITY, 1937-38: Complicating the Picture. Edited by Bob Tadashi Wakabayashi.
Reviewed by Norman Smith

Managing God’s Higher Learning: U.S.-China Cultural Encounter and Canton Christian College (Lingnan University), 1888-1952. By Dong Wang.
Reviewed by David Luesink

Understanding The Political Culture Of Hong Kong: The Paradox of Activism and Depoliticization. By Wai-Man Lam.
Reviewed by David Ownby

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in its First Decade. Edited by Joseph Y. S. Cheng.
Reviewed by Graham Johnson

Rising China and Asian Democratization: Socialization to “Global Culture” in the Political Transformations of Thailand, China and Taiwan. By Daniel C. Lynch.
Reviewed by Sophia Woodman

Governance of Biodiversity Conservation in China and Taiwan. By Gerald A. McBeath and Tse-Kang Leng.
Reviewed by Jack Patrick Hayes

Foreign Policy Making in Taiwan: From Principle to Pragmatism. By Dennis Van Vranken Hickey.
Reviewed by John F. Copper

Northeast Asia

Political Reform in Japan: Leadership Looming Large. By Alisa Gaunder.
Reviewed by Benjamin Nyblade

The Fable of the Keiretsu: Urban Legends of the Japanese Economy. By Yoshiro Miwa and J. Mark Ramseyer.
Reviewed by Ronald P. Dore

War Memory and Social Politics in Japan, 1945-2005. By Franziska Seraphim.
Reviewed by Theodore F. Cook

Burma and Japan Since 1940: From ‘Co-Prosperity’ to ‘Quiet Dialogue’. By Donald M. Seekins.
Reviewed by Stephen McCarthy

Kingdom of Beauty: Mingei and the Politics of Folk Art in Imperial Japan. By Kim Brandt.
Reviewed by Barbara Thornbury

BIPOLAR ORDERS: The Two Koreas Since 1989. By Hyung Gu Lynn.
Reviewed by Alon Levkowitz

NORTH KOREA POLICY: Japan and the Great Powers. Edited by Linus Hagström and Marie Söderberg.
Reviewed by Mark Caprio

South Asia

PARTICIPATORY CITIZENSHIP: Identity, Exclusion, Inclusion. Edited by Ranjita Mohanty and Rajesh Tandon.
Reviewed by Ashwini K. Swain

INDIA’S 2004 ELECTIONS: Grass-Roots and National Perspectives. Edited by Ramashray Roy and Paul Wallace.
Reviewed by John R. Wood

WARRIOR ASCETICS AND INDIAN EMPIRES By William R. Pinch.
Reviewed by David Curley

Southeast Asia

BRICK BY BRICK: The Building of an ASEAN Economic Community. Edited by Denis Hew Wei Yen.
Reviewed by Robert L. Curry, Jr.

MODERNITY AND RE-ENCHANTMENT: Religion in Post-Revolutionary Vietnam. Edited by Philip Taylor.
Reviewed by Janet Hoskins

Whither the Philippines In the 21st Century? Edited by Rodolfo C. Severino and Lorraine Carlos Salazar.
Reviewed by Aprodicio Laquian

COLONIAL PATHOLOGIES: American Tropical Medicine, Race, Alexandra and Hygiene in the Philippines. By Warwick Anderson.
Reviewed by Minna Stern

KING OF THE WATERS: Homan van der Heide and the Origin of Modern Irrigation in Siam. By Han ten Brummelhuis.
Reviewed by Porphant Ouyyanont

HOW TO BEHAVE: Buddhism and Modernity in Colonial Cambodia, 1860-1930. By Anne Ruth Hansen.
Reviewed by Erik Davis

Indonesia and the Muslim World: Islam and Secularism in the Foreign Policy of Soeharto and Beyond. By Anak Agung Banyu Perwita.
Reviewed by Robert W. Hefner

REALPOLITIK IDEOLOGY: Indonesia’s Use of Military Force. By Leonard C. Sebastian.
Reviewed by Shane Barter

Australasia and the Pacific Region

Customary Land Tenure And Registration In Australia And Papua New Guinea: Anthropological Perspectives. Edited by James F. Weiner and Katie Glaskin.
Reviewed by William H. McKellin

Security And Development In The Pacific Islands: Social Resilience in Emerging States. Edited by M. Anne Brown.
Reviewed by Nancy J. Pollock

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