The Dragon Awakes

Howard French has reposted a very good article on China’s military buildup and the corresponsing politics written by Ian Bremmer for The National Interest. Still, can we finally stop using such cliched titles? Let’s just all accept that ‘the dragon’ is already awake and stop beating a dead horse.

The whole thing is good reading, but this quote really jumped out at me.

The “Taiwan lobby” in the U.S. Congress is also sounding an alarm. On February 16, Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate proposed a joint resolution to resume diplomatic relations with Taiwan. The proposal would have proven political dynamite if it had any chance of passing. It did not. While the Bush Administration resolutely opposed the move as a dangerous encouragement of Taiwan’s independence movement, China treated the resolution as a grave insult.

Does anybody have more info on this? In particular, the resolution in question and its voting record. I’m a little surprised that this didn’t make the news when it hit the senate floor.

Another question:

Nor was Washington able to dissuade Beijing from going ahead with a March “anti-secession law”, which provides a quasi-legal basis for invasion should Taiwan declare formal independence.

Now, Taiwan’s international status is at best ambigious. Were it universally considered an independent, sovereign nation than any invasion by China would be a clear violation of international law, but is their any actual standard for acceptable behavior regarding breakaway territories? Clearly nobody seems to be bothering Russia about their campaign against the separatist Chechnyans, but on the other hand East Timor had fairly broad international support in their independence movement. Are there any other noteworthy cases in the past 30 or so years?

Napoleon ‘tried to learn English’

Living in countries like Japan or Taiwan (and probably S Korea and some other countries) where the vast majority of westerners are employed as ‘English teachers,’ one is keenly aware of the English-learning obsession.

Thanks to the Beeb for telling us who really started the craze.

Napoleon had his first lesson on 17 January 1816, when he asked las Cases to dictate to him some sentences in French, which he then translated, using a table of auxiliary verbs and a dictionary.

The surviving sentences appear to indicate Napoleon’s feelings towards his exile. He wrote:

“When will you be wise.

“Never as long as I should be in this isle.

“But I shall become wise after having crossed the line.

“When I shall land in France I shall be very content.”
According to historian Dr Peter Hicks, las Cases describes how Napoleon hated being sat down to work like a schoolboy but steeled himself for the task.

Dr Hicks said: “He was not necessarily anti-English. He had to fight because it was the enemy of France.”

He added: “In France people are amazed to find that he was learning English. But he didn’t do it for pleasure. He wondered how much money he could have saved in translation if he could have learnt English.”