n.41 April 2012
East41’s Dossier is titled Chinese Shadows. Each of its reports is directly tied to the complex life and times of the world’s second-largest economic power. We preview the coming Communist Party Congress and anticipate some of the major changes expected at the top, predictable but still intriguing. We also examine economic growth and investment, focusing on the country’s riveting array of contradictions and social contrasts.
Claudia Astarita gives readers an exhaustive look at impending changes within the secretive Chinese executive, while Antonio Barbangelo probes China’s widening portfolio of foreign investments. Francesco Sisco examines Beijing’s ties with Europe while Simone Pieranni takes a detailed look at the cultural reform through which China hopes to influence the world as a whole, exporting parts of its own vision elsewhere.
The problematic situation faced by Chinese workers is ably and amply covered by a report produced for us by the “China Labour Bulletin,” beside which you’ll find an autobiographical account by author Lijia Zhang that offers fascinating (and amusing) insight into what it was like working in Communist China of the 1980s.
We also cover the ups and downs of ties between Russia and China in terms of energy policy and technical innovation, reports written by Astrit Dakli and Maria Elena Viggiano, respectively.
We close out the Dossier with a special report on Hong Kong by Francesco Guarascio, vividly illustrated by Alessandro Rizzi’s photos.
As always, we provide a reading list of book reviews for those of you eager to dig deeper into the subject matter.
The issue’s photo essay comes from Agenzia VII, which gives us a selection of images that portray modern China for what it is, a county that embraces the modern while adhering to tradition, at once embracing wealth and poverty, openness and censorship.
Europe is also on our mind. Giuseppe Scognamiglio reflects on the euro crisis as a means toward continental reinforcement; Antonio Ferrari and Constanze Reuscher tackle Greek crisis from the vantage points of Athens and Berlin; Stefano Bottoni probes the uneasy relationship between Hungary and the EU.
Our columns are rich as always. Together, Roberto Santaniello’s “Western Shore” and Bottoni’s “Eastern Shore” bring you up to date on political affairs throughout Europe. You’ll also find Manuela Dviri’s “Tel Aviv Notes” and the Levada Center’s insights into Russian affairs, as well as two regulars: “That’s Incredible,” compiled by Francesca Lancini and Carlotta Magnanini’s “By the Numbers.”
This issue’s Special Reports covers Bosnia, divided as it is by ethnic woes; Turkmenistan and its appetizingly immense Central Asian gas reserves; and Qatar, which is pressing for a wider diplomatic role in the Middle East.
Finally, we recommend Paola Caridi’s fascinating look at the growth of graffiti and wall art throughout the Middle East since last year’s Arab Spring.
by Maria Cuffaro
"It doesn’t matter if a cat is black or white,” China’s Deng Xiaping was fond of remarking, “so long as it catches mice.” This was Deng’s way of describing the oxymoronic prospect of a socialist market economy, which seemed like a pipe dream in his early days. In 1989, Deng was president of the Communist Party’s military commission. The country was a vast peasant country. No one was rich. There were no capitalists.
Despite internal turmoil that has included the resignation of a president, Berlin seems focused on Greece alone. While tabloids assail Chancellor Angela Merkel for making exaggerated concessions, few leading Germans see a more practical way out of the euro crisis than the path she’s chosen.
Nearly 20 years after Dayton Accords, Bosnia remains stuck in a political and ethnic stalemate. In Sarajevo, museums are closing for lack of funding. In Mostar, communities live apart. The result is a country on the verge of a nervous breakdown.
Ambitious Ankara is eager to bring the West back to the bargaining table with Iran to avert what could be a catastrophic military engagement. At the same time, it has its hands full dealing with the Syrian calamity, which is closer to home and shows no signs of stabilizing.
by Francesca Lancini
Gay Hurdles. Though homosexuality was decriminalized in Russia two decades ago, anti-gay legislation is making a rapid comeback, with St Petersburg becoming the latest city to ban “homosexual propaganda.
Though Russia and China have improved their ties thanks to Beijing’s need for nearby energy resources, some of the deals are beginning to fray at the edges. Moscow wants more customers while China is diversifying its suppliers. In the end, it’s a
dance for Central Asian supremacy.
by Simone Pieranni
China is deeply aware of the “Yellow Peril”-style stereotypes that have long been associated with its people, its culture, and its global aims. As a result, Beijing officials are now working more actively than ever to make international perceptions of China more realistic and open-minded.