strike rueful poses over their brews and noodles here in Chengdu.
Its easy to shake one's head at the Bush Crew's follies and swap
estimates of the Arabic/Islamic (World?) backlash whilst basking
in the Sichuan spring sun, miles and miles away from Iraq.
at a meeting the Ministry of Propaganda held to discuss Chengdu's
lack of a global identity, the chief representative for the Netherlands
Business Support Office remarked that most Dutch have no clue where
Chengdu is. Neither do most Americans. Or Iraqis.
in the back quipped," Hey, we're the safest place in the world!"
laughed and got back to the business at hand. And such is the case
in Western China, far from the various crises rocking the world.
The pending war in Iraq is more of an ice-breaker and a joke. Even
the most serious and impassioned discussions inevitably end in a
shrug and a grin and a
Thank God I'm here!"
the consequences for China could be quite serious when war begins
– and even the most modest backlash estimates uttered over gong
pao chicken will reverberate in China. China is a member of the
global community, as we are often reminded, and this membership
carries with it certain perks.
supposed reconstruction of Iraq may or may not take place – a government
will have to be put in place and the people will have to be convinced
that an American Protectorate is actually in their favor. European,
Russian and Asian energy companies will have to be convinced, as
well. Of course, all this may be taking place during a counter-attack
– a counter-attack that may take any of a million different forms.
And, Oh yeah, Afghanistan will not be left behind, as Blair and
US will be spending billions and billions of war dollars over the
next couple of years (while cutting taxes) and this can only add
to the slowdown of the US economy. This will undoubtedly affect
as the Asian crisis hit every economy with shady banking and investment
schemes, so the Middle East crisis will hit every economy dependent
on oil (that means everybody). Already at $40 a barrel, the war
will take the oil prices even higher.. The US has reserves and plans
to seize a few more in the next few months and Russia's oil industry
may take off if Middle Eastern oil slows to a drip. China has almost
no reserves, is the second leading importer and the third largest
Chinese consumer will feel the pinch as soon as the Chinese corporations
the world has forgotten the oil crisis of the 1970s and what havoc
it wrought throughout the US before things were calmed down. Now
with the addition of China – the mass complications of a world-wide
oil crisis could be quite an amazing show for expats around the
world (and in Chengdu of course) to yap about over beers and noodles.
support of the Franco-Russo-German plan to ask for more time and
more documentation and, basically, more real facts, before war begins
helps as much as geography to mitigate any violent repercussions.
The terrorists out there might all be creating lists of those countries
whose defiance of the US has ensured the safety of their airlines
Chinese government's serious reaction to protests of any kind also
help decrease the chance of violent repercussions. Last weekend
the whole world took to the streets to protest the war. Only China
did not participate. Hong Kong did, but they aren't China, yet.
Chinese aren't able to publicly take a stand on anything, then it
must be pretty difficult for China as a nation to offend someone
in Chengdu, the safest place in the world, coverage of the protests
was scant, reaction was blank and business went on as usual. Just
as the N. Korean crisis elicits a less lively conversation than
Iraq, so the consequences of war for other countries is more of
a hot topic than any impact war might have on China.
country is still quite isolated from the world – all the travelers
and businessmen and internet bars and pirated DVDs fail to staunch
the flow of "How can you be American if you don't have blue
eyes?" comments. An isolated mentality still persists here
amongst the populace, who see China as blissfully aloof from all
the killing that is about to take place.
won't rain down on China, even if N. Korea decides to do something
rash. Hell, even the nuking of a few northeast Asian cities wouldn't
alter much more than the weather here in Sichuan. And it's the lack
of these types of consequences that make Chengdu seem like such
a safe place.
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