Sunday, June 1, 2014


China has a lot of neighbors.  Fourteen countries border it, and across the water a ways there are the Philippines, Japan, and Taiwan.  You also have Hong Kong and Macao, which are special "Administrative Regions" of China.  If you are Chinese, you need a passport and visa to go those two places, and, well... it's complicated.  In fact, having this many neighbors is very complicated.  Some of these neighbors, you would not want living next door, in fact most of them you would rate as undesirable, and the Homeowner's Association would never have even allowed them to come to the open house, let alone buy a place.
Four of their neighbors have nukes: India, Russia, Pakistan and North Korea.  
Pakistan recently made the news when a pregnant woman was beaten to death with bricks outside of the courthouse of its second largest city, Lahore.  By her family.  For marrying a different guy than the one they wanted her to.  This kind of thing happens a lot.
It also turns out that the husband had murdered his first wife, but that it was OK since his son legally pardoned him, which makes it alright in Pakistan!  You can't make this stuff up.  Stephen King would have considered this one of his finest story ideas and maybe have retired, knowing he had reached the ultimate pinnacle of horror twists.
They also have crazy Muslims that blow themselves up in crowded public places and kill and terrorize women who want to go to school.  And they have nukes.  Howdy, neighbor!
Afghanistan also shares a border with China.  It's a kind of stone age Pakistan, more savage, and without nukes, but which has the distinction of being the graveyard and black hole of empires.  There are several more "Stans", backward places all.
Drugs and firearms come in from Myanmar, Laos and the Stans. Crazy Islam filters in.  Human trafficking.  Cheap porn!  This neighborhood kind of sucks.
You might think that China would want to try to create some stability here.  They kind of do, sometimes.  They haven't had a border conflict with India in a while, and... Um..... Let me think....Oh, yeah!   Russia is mostly a good neighbor, having just closed a big gas deal with China! They have a long, Commie relationship.  Stalin and Mao had a complex loathe/hate affair, each trying to outdo the other as to who could be the biggest rat bastard of the 20th century along with Hitler and Tojo.  Today Russia provides China with a lot natural resources, and China provides a place for Russians to work, along with an unlimited source of bootleg electronics and luxury items.  And the governments never say a bad word about the other.
Another of China's neighbors is North Korea, without a doubt the shittiest place in Asia to live.  This is the result of 3 generations of draconian rule by the Kim family.  Baby Kim, the present ruler closely resembles an evil villain from a 1960's James Bond movie. He takes great delight in eliminating his enemies in ways so deviously creative, that schlock Hollywood writers have bookmarked "North Korea Executions" on their Google news pages in order to get ideas for their next Vin Diesel script.
This chubby, cherubic faced twenty something has all the charm and predictability of a rabid, meth crazed badger.  Oh, and he has nukes.  Fortunately, his delivery system consists of rockets cobbled together from whatever parts are available on the black market and designed by ill educated, stressed out engineers, whose families are being held hostage by the sadistic minions of Baby Kim.  Nobody works well under the kind of stress caused by the knowledge that errors may result in Medieval family planning practices.  The rockets have had success in leaving the North Korean borders and landing in the ocean, much to everyone's relief.
The hapless citizens of this hellhole regularly starve, are imprisoned, disappear, and suffer a daily existence completely devoid of joy.  The lucky ones die at birth.  This Communist experiment in human misery could not exist without the support of China, which feels the need to keep a buffer zone between itself and the US military which keeps a substantial force along the border between North and South Korea.  The US, in turn can make a valid case for these troops being necessary to keep Baby Kim from sending his million brainwashed soldiers over the border in order to impose his version of Workers' Paradise on the entire Korean peninsula.
China really would not like this, since it does billions of dollars in business with South Korea, and the Chinese looooove Korean soap operas.  By the way, watching South Korean soap operas in the North will get you executed or worse!  Just goes to show how far China has progressed.  
It's a sorry state of affairs, and even though Beijing would prefer that the Kim family had produced a less odious offspring, they still seem OK with this arrangement.
One would think that having most of your borders adjacent to backward bastions of savagery would be cause for unease, but China seems mostly unfazed.  Instead, China has been enjoying some neighborly squabbles in the South China Sea with the Philippines and Viet Nam, claiming islands and territory for itself in spite of lack of proximity to China's shores.  Throw in their more legitimate claims to some rock piles that Japan says are theirs, and you have some potentially very troubled waters.
This neighborhood that China occupies is a lot more interesting than that of the United States.  The US borders two countries that it mostly gets along fine with, and apparently longs to be in a more interesting place, so it is Pivoting to Asia.  At least the part of Asia that is not Afghanistan.  Pivoting out of there.  Of course, to keep things interesting, they would pivot to support the Japanese in their shaky claim to those uninhabited rocks.  We have a treaty with Japan!  It seemed like a good idea at the time, since we had completely defeated them in WWII and they had a constitution that prohibits them from going to war, but they have right wing nationalist prime minister who seems to wax nostalgic for the good old days of the Greater East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere.
Japan still enjoys near universal loathing among East Asian countries due to the fact that they conquered most of them, ruled with unrivaled cruelty, practiced savage mass murder and slavery, and the government has never publicly apologized for these acts. 
Fortunately, the only nukes Japan has are in the crappy power plants that dot this earthquake and tsunami prone country.
Rather than pivot toward Asia, the US might be better served by pivoting on home, and leaving this place to be messed up by its own people.  Bring the jobs back home and build a big wall along the West Coast.
This neighborhood that China occupies is dangerous and edgy.  Not many of the neighbors are the type you would invite over to barbecue or would feel comfortable loaning your lawn mower to.
Your back yard fence might include razor wire, guard towers, mine fields and a clear field of fire.
Won't you be my neighbor?

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