Quick Links (#2)

More on China and Bitcoin (with valuable links). “If you are a resident of China and have a BTC account there are numerous interesting [hedging] possibilities, none of which I recommend for the faint-hearted.”

Shanghai Mayor Han Zheng interviewed on the Free Trade Zone.

Overseas Third Plenum round-ups by Gabriele Battaglia (from the Left) and Jack Goldstone (from the Right). Plus three analytical overviews from major Western financial institutions.

Demographic background to the end of the ‘one-child policy’.

Geremie R. Barmé recalls the 1983 campaign against Spiritual Pollution.

This doesn’t seem like a great idea.

The return of Confucius (popular version).

Bitcoin’s Eastern Future

Simon Black’s comparison of US (official) and East Asian attitudes to Bitcoin speaks for itself:

Places like Hong Kong and Singapore understand that they have a role to play as preeminent international financial centers in becoming financial hubs for digital currencies.

If the US wants to shoot itself in the foot (again) and shut itself out of the market, so be it. But Asia is embracing its potential role in the marketplace, complete with all the risks and rewards.

It wasn’t but a few weeks ago that a Hong Kong-based bitcoin exchange ran off with a few million dollars of customer money. But that hasn’t cooled demand in the region… nor has it sparked a wave of debilitating regulations to clamp down on digital currencies.

What this ultimately means is that all the new businesses and intellectual capital associated with digital currencies will flock to Asia… just in the same way that all the cutting edge precious metals firms are now basing themselves in Singapore.

ADDED: “The U.S. government believes that some scary people are using bitcoin. But here’s another scary prospect: If the government goes overboard with a hard-line approach on bitcoin and other emerging digital currencies, it may merely push them overseas, where they will surely flourish outside of its control.”


Confused Westerners, wondering how the Xi-Li leadership’s quasi-Maoist political initiatives square with its commitment to economic reform, will find their quandaries resolved by Zachary Keck’s excellent analysis in The Diplomat. Regardless of liberal assumptions to the contrary, enforcing Central Party discipline on China’s regional fiefdoms is tightly aligned with the reform agenda. (Realism in this regard is advanced by the acknowledgement that authoritarian liberalization is the only kind there has ever been, anywhere.)

Xi and the central Party’s authority over local leaders will go a long way toward determining the scope and extent of the economic reforms China undertakes in the years ahead. Xi and Li have both made it clear that they understand the nature of reforms China needs to sustain growth. Their ability to act on this understanding is a different matter entirely. Although they will face stiff resistance from many segments of society, local leaders are notable in that they are involved in nearly every major area of reform. […] Thus, overcoming local government resistance will be a crucial part of Xi’s ability to undertake the necessary economic reforms. Xi and the central leadership seem to understand this given their year-long effort to consolidate their control over provincial and other local leaders.

(The entire article is excellent — read it all.)


At Project Syndicate, Andrew Sheng and Xiao Geng provide a brief commentary on China’s economic policy outlook:

At the Third Plenum of the 18th Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, currently under way in Beijing, President Xi Jinping is unveiling China’s reform blueprint for the next decade. In advance of its release, the Development Research Center of the State Council, China’s official think tank, presented its own reform proposal – the so-called “383 plan” – which offers a glimpse of the direction that the reforms will take.

Despite a keen sense of the obstacles ahead, the writers are clearly impressed:

But the kind of deep and comprehensive reforms that China needs are always difficult to implement, given that they necessarily affect vested interests. In order to win public support for reforms, thereby maximizing the chances of success, the government must offer clear, accessible explanations of its goals. … The Research Center takes a holistic approach to the reform process, viewing it as both a systemic change and a change of mindset. Translating its proposals – which are as profound as Deng Xiaoping’s 1978 reforms – into simple, straightforward terms is no easy feat, but one that the 383 plan handles with relative deftness.

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Gardens of Time (Part 1)

It might be presumptuous to assume there is any such thing as the Idea of cultivation. The absence of any such idea (a deficiency that is immediately stimulative) could readily be imagined as the condition that makes cultivation necessary.

When the search for a conclusive concept is abandoned, the cultural task of the garden — in its loftiest (Jiangnan) expression — begins to be understood. No less that the acknowledged fine arts of East or West, the Suzhou garden merits appreciation as a philosophical ‘statement’ in which aesthetic achievement is inextricable from a profound apprehension of reality. Perhaps, then, no short-cut or summary seeking to economize on the creation and preservation of the garden itself could possibly arrive at the same ‘place’, or — even with the most restricted sense of cognitive purchase — discover the same things.

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The Decopunk Delta

As this blog spirals around to its re-starting point, it fetches back the tasks it has yet to advance upon, including the most basic (announced in its sub-title). Why the ‘Decopunk Delta’? Mostly because that’s where time frays.

+ Golden Age Shanghai is unsettled business, and as things surge forward, they turn back.
+ Art Deco is the world’s lost modernity, as everyone senses, without quite knowing how.
+ Art Deco escaped its time, at the time. It is the pre-eminent time-travel relic of the earth.
+ What Art Deco communicates is vivid, yet still unverbalized.
+ Art Deco fascinates again, today, because it is obscurely recognized as the key to the encrypted meaning of world history, and nowhere is this more insistently hinted than in re-opened Shanghai.

– The ‘-punk’ suffix is pulp-code for any cultural time-travel tool undergoing contemporary development.

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