n.32 October 2010

'Balinghou' is the name China gives to its twenty-something generation. Most were brought up in the 1980s, as Xiaoping Deng's 'relaxed' China sought to modernize. But domestic critics worry about this 'me' generation tends toward selfishness, apathy and materialism. They also criticize its lack of motivation. Some of the new boomers do little to dispute the notion, saying money comes first.  More significantly, the generation of the 1980s seems to have little or no interest in politics.

Ailing "Dear Leader" Kim Jong-il has been working tirelessly ensure that his twenty-something son Kim Jong-un has all he needs to take over isolated North Korea. According to Korea experts, part of the succession strategy has involved a series of military bluffs intended to burnish the young man's otherwise anonymous reputation.  By challenging the West, the elder Kim has instead been sending a message to his own population, namely that Pyongyang’snew top man will continue to serve, protect and oppress.

Despite being a multicultural society with flourishing cities that have a style of their own, Australia features a system of political representation and a polite but caustic style of political debate that remains very much in the spirit of its British motherland. But recent elections revealed a stunning absence of a vision regarding the direction of foreign policy.

The Rajin-Sonbong Special Economic Zone ties North Korea to both Russia and China. While Moscow has made only modest efforts to court the hard line Communist regime, Beijing is moving more aggressively. China has studiously provided Pyongyang with ongoing economic assistance, hoping to consolidate its regional influence and open a northeast import-export corridor. If it succeeds, the Chinese strategy may well yield long-term rewards.