Friends with benefits
This week presented Beijing’s top bananas with a busy schedule of social obligations. Everyone came to town. German Chancellor Angela Merkel decided to roll up her sleeves and go sort the recent Airbus snafu out herself. This lady knows how to solve problems; she visited Tianjin, the location of an Airbus manufacturing facility, accompanied by the father of all Tianjin guanxi, Wen Jiabao. With Angela smashing them over the head with a chair and Grandpa Wen climbing the ropes in preparation for a body slam, even the most hardened of corporate masters couldn’t help but crumble. If only the Yangtze River Dolphin had that kind of backup. Meanwhile, in Beijing, Hu Jintao was busy entertaining new Egyptian prez Mohammed Morsi in those delightfully plushy chairs in the Great Hall of the People (oh yes, we have sat). Morsi got more than a prestigious moment to rest his cheeks and enjoy a fine cup of green tea. That is before they informed him he had been not-so-randomally selected for a US$200 million check courtesy of the China Development Bank (terms and conditions may apply). Chinese analysts used the occasion to conclude that China’s policy of non-interference has not destroyed its ties in the region. “If China was so bad for the Middle East people, I don’t think President Morsi would come to China,” said Wang Suolao, who researches China-Middle East relations at Peking University. Perhaps, Wang…but what would you do for US$200 million? Across the narrow sea, the US was also present this week, just more covertly. Everyone’s favorite town cop announced that it is considering expanding its X-Band-radar-wildfire-array-that-goes-bang-bang-waaaah into southern Japan. You know, to better serve you.
Invasion of the flag snatchers
The worst part of pouring over economic analysis all day is that it leaves little time for what used to be the best part of summer – camp. Here we are with the season almost gone by, and we’ve missed out on all that canoeing, kumbayaing, and marshmallowing goodness. At least some Chinese seem to still find time to enjoy that old camp pastime, Capture the Flag. In Beijing on Monday, a man tore a mini-flag off of the Japanese ambassador’s car and ran away screaming “you’re never gonna catch me,” an apparently racist comment about Japanese people’s inability to run. Japan shortly thereafter called for a probe of the incident, having forgotten their agreement with Beijing that the winner of the capture the flag game would be awarded sovereignty over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands. The flag snatcher is purportedly in prison waiting to be tagged by one of his teammates and freed. Meanwhile, the Japanese ambassador accused the flag snatcher of being a no-good cheater and claimed that his car had been driving through an invisible “safe zone.” True to form, Japanese diplomats have always been poor sports, whining about not having a UN Security Council seat and running home to mom at the slightest sign of trouble. On the bright side, Japan and China are reportedly in negotiations in a more adult fashion: By squirt gun fight.