Category : Asia

(NYT front page) How China Polices the Future: An Unseen Cage of Surveillance

The more than 1.4 billion people living in China are constantly watched. They are recorded by police cameras that are everywhere, on street corners and subway ceilings, in hotel lobbies and apartment buildings. Their phones are tracked, their purchases are monitored, and their online chats are censored.

Now, even their future is under surveillance.

The latest generation of technology digs through the vast amounts of data collected on their daily activities to find patterns and aberrations, promising to predict crimes or protests before they happen. They target potential troublemakers in the eyes of the Chinese government — not only those with a criminal past but also vulnerable groups, including ethnic minorities, migrant workers and those with a history of mental illness.

They can warn the police if a victim of a fraud tries to travel to Beijing to petition the government for payment or a drug user makes too many calls to the same number. They can signal officers each time a person with a history of mental illness gets near a school.

Read it all.

Posted in China, Science & Technology

(Washington Post Op-ed) China’s military expansion is reaching a dangerous tipping point

Top military leaders from the United States and China met last weekend at a forum in Singapore, where they attempted to manage mounting tensions between the superpowers. But throughout Asia, there’s growing fear that China’s drastic military expansion will soon result in Chinese regional military superiority, which could embolden Beijing to start a war over Taiwan.

That sense of urgency was palpable at last week’s Shangri-La Dialogue, an annual conference of diplomats, officials and experts from across Asia, organized by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies. Over three days of discussions a common sentiment emerged: China is racing to become the dominant military power in Asia in the next few years — and if it succeeds, Beijing is likely to use force to attempt to subdue Taiwan’s democracy. Russia’s attack on Ukraine has dispelled any notion that revisionist dictatorships can be deterred by anything short of a superior opposing military force.

In recent years, Chinese President Xi Jinping has said that China plans to achieve military parity with the United States in Asia by 2027. As the Chinese military advances in both technology and territorial presence, leaders in the People’s Liberation Army are now openly threatening to attack Taiwan and promising to fight anyone who attempts to intervene. Beijing is speeding up its plans, and the United States risks falling behind.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., China, Foreign Relations, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General

(Economist) Beijing and Shanghai are still trying to get a grip on covid-19

Since the beginning of June, when the authorities in Shanghai lifted a months-long lockdown, many aspects of life in the city have returned to normal. The once-deserted freeways around China’s financial hub are again full of traffic. The white-collar workers who moved into their offices during April and May have at last returned home. The number of cases of covid-19 found outside quarantine has dropped to single digits. Just one was detected on June 13th.

But Shanghai’s officials are still on edge. Many residential communities reopened only to be locked down again when a positive case, or merely a close contact of one, was found in their vicinity. Residents continue to be taken away to quarantine centres if they live in the same building as someone infected. A case linked to a hair salon on a heavily travelled thoroughfare resulted in hundreds of people being whisked into isolation and several housing compounds being locked down. The city ordered most of its 25m residents into mass testing on June 11th and 12th.

This is what the new version of China’s “dynamic zero-covid” campaign looks like. Rolling “micro-lockdowns” and mass testing are meant to replace economically destructive citywide lockdowns. The strategy is supposed to be more targeted, finding and quarantining individual positive cases and their close contacts within hours. But calibration is proving difficult.

Read it all.

Posted in China, Health & Medicine, Politics in General

(AJPS) Young-Hoon Lee–Korean Pentecost: The Great Revival Of 1907

Then began a meeting the like of which I had never seen before, nor wish to see again unless in God’s sight it is absolutely necessary. Every sin a human being can commit was publicly confessed that night. Pale and trembling with emotion, in agony of mind and body, guilty souls, standing in the white light of their judgment, saw themselves as God saw them. Their sins rose up in all their vileness, till shame and grief and self-loathing took complete possession; pride was driven out, the face of man forgotten. Looking up to heaven, to Jesus whom they had betrayed, they smote themselves and cried out with bitter wailing: “Lord, Lord, cast us not away forever!” Everything else was forgotten, nothing else mattered. The scorn of men, the penalty of the law, even death itself seemed of small consequences if only God forgave. We may have other theories of desirability or undesirability of public confession of sin. I have had mine; but I know now that when the Spirit of God falls upon guilty souls, there will be confession, and no power on earth can stop it.

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Posted in Church History, Korea, Pentecost

(Guardian) Al-Qaida enjoying a haven in Afghanistan under Taliban, UN warns

Al-Qaida has a haven in Afghanistan under the Taliban and “increased freedom of action” with the potential of launching new long-distance attacks in coming years, a UN report based on intelligence supplied by member states says.

The assessment, by the UN committee charged with enforcing sanctions on the Taliban and others that may threaten the security of Afghanistan, will raise concerns that the country could once again become a base for international terrorist attacks after the withdrawal of US and Nato troops last year.

Critics of the US president, Joe Biden, will point to the report’s description of a “close relationship” between al-Qaida and the Taliban as evidence that his decision to pull out all US forces was an error.

Read it all.

Posted in Afghanistan, Foreign Relations, Terrorism, War in Afghanistan

(W Post) Beijing chafes at Moscow’s requests for support, Chinese officials say

Russian officials have raised increasingly frustrated requests for greater support during discussions with Beijing in recent weeks, calling on China to live up to its affirmation of a “no limits” partnership made weeks before the war in Ukraine began. But China’s leadership wants to expand assistance for Russia without running afoul of Western sanctions and has set limits on what it will do, according to Chinese and U.S. officials.

Moscow has on at least two occasions pressed Beijing to offer new forms of economic support — exchanges that one Chinese official described as “tense.” The officials familiar with the talks spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the matter’s sensitivity.

They declined to share specifics of Russia’s requests, but one official said it included maintaining “trade commitments” predating the Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, and financial and technological support now sanctioned by the United States and other countries.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, China, Economy, Foreign Relations, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Russia, Ukraine

(Economist) Asia’s advanced economies now have lower birth rates than Japan

Japanese fertility is still ultra-low compared with almost any society in human history. Yet it is now higher than that of any well-off East Asian or South-East Asian economy. The numbers in Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan ranged between 0.8 and 1.1 in 2020 (see chart). Nor is this a temporary blip caused by the pandemic: Japan’s figure was higher than all those countries in 2019, too.

Rich, baby-averse Asian countries in the region have three things in common. First, their people rarely have children outside marriage. Only around 2% of births in Japan and South Korea are to unmarried mothers, the lowest levels in the oecd, a club of rich countries. In wealthy Western countries that figure is typically between 30% and 60%. In China, the few who become pregnant out of wedlock are often denied benefits. The region’s decline in births has closely tracked a decline in marriages. The age at which people commit to a lifetime of entanglement has also been rising, further delaying child-bearing.

A second shared factor is expensive schooling. Pricey private tutoring and other wallet-emptying forms of “shadow education”, as such extras are known, are common in East Asia. The most frequent reason cited by Japanese couples for having fewer children is the cost of raising and educating them. Lucy Crehan, an education researcher, says that these problems might be even worse in other parts of Asia. Japanese pupils face their first high-stakes exams only at the age of 15. In contrast, children in Shanghai and Singapore must take such tests as early as primary school, piling on the parental pressure to perform and adding to the family’s tuition bills.

Yet it is the third factor that might explain why Japan is out-sprogging its rich Asian peers. A flurry of research in recent years suggests that high house prices cause young couples to delay having children.

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Posted in Aging / the Elderly, Asia, Children, Marriage & Family

([London] Times) Chinese police told to shoot Uighurs who try to escape camps

Uighur prisoners in the western Chinese region of Xinjiang are to be shot on sight should they try to escape from “re-education” camps where they are said to be arbitrarily detained, according to leaked police documents.

A cache of police files allegedly obtained by hackers and shared with foreign media also reveals the faces of nearly 3,000 people, including children, who appear to have been detained because of their religion.

According to the BBC, the official files outline an internal police protocol that “describes the routine use of armed officers in all areas of the camps, the positioning of machineguns and sniper rifles in the watchtowers and the existence of a shoot-to-kill policy for those trying to escape”.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in China, Islam, Religion & Culture, Religious Freedom / Persecution

(CC) Jason Byassee–The unexpected gift of missional friendship

Joas Adiprasetya, a pastor and seminary professor in Jakarta, Indonesia, has proposed an alternative to our ubiquitous “servant leadership” paradigm. He calls it philiarchy, the rule of friendship. “I have called you friends,” Jesus says, still dripping wet from the foot washing (John 15:15). This friendship is not one-sided. Jesus needs his friends, just as they need him. The rule of philiarchy means we honor others’ personhood and don’t try to subsume it into our projects, our needs, our selves.

Adiprasetya invited me to speak at his seminary. I invited him to Vancouver to teach our students. This isn’t favoritism to a friend. It’s creative friendship. We wanted our students to learn from each other. Our friends and our friends’ friends were blessed. We trusted what we were going to get precisely because we’d spent time together doing nothing but enjoying one another. He introduced me to durian—a fruit banned on public transit across Asia for its pungency and now banned from the Byassee household as well. I heard him preach in Indonesian with the fervor that I wanted among my students in Vancouver. He studied Jürgen Moltmann’s social trinitarianism. I hate social trinitarianism. I knew I was in love.

Creative friendship is worth the risk. Just ask Jesus, Peter, James, and John. When Jesus commands us to love one another, to befriend as God has done in Christ, it is hard to wriggle off the hook. Creative friendship is a means of salvation, not less promised by Christ than the sacraments or the scriptures or creation itself.

Read it all (registration or subscription).

Posted in Anthropology, Canada, Indonesia, Parish Ministry

(CNN) Akanksha Singh+Roshan Abbas–In the world’s largest democracy, ‘looking Muslim’ could cost your life

When, as journalists, we prepare for a job, we think carefully about our questions, locations and equipment. But for one of us, documentary photographer Roshan Abbas, there is an added consideration — how much of his true identity to reveal.

Abbas, co-author of this article, is a Muslim man in India. A country where, under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s watch, Muslims are being vilified and evicted from their homes, their freedom of religious expression stifled.

It’s oppression Abbas has experienced firsthand, choosing not to wear a kurta — a loose, collarless shirt — that might point to his identity as a Muslim, when traveling the country for work.

The decision is cautionary. In public spaces, there looms a sense of uneasiness. Mob lynchings of Muslims who look visibly Muslim have arisen in the past.

Read it all.

Posted in Hinduism, India, Islam, Religion & Culture

(Economist) The Indian economy is being rewired. The opportunity is immense

Over the past three years India has endured more than its share of bad news and suffering. The pandemic has killed between 2.2m and 9.7m people. Lockdowns caused the economy to shrink temporarily by a quarter and triggered the largest internal migrations since partition in 1947, as city workers fled to their villages. Religious tensions have been simmering, stoked by the anti-Muslim chauvinism of the Bharatiya Janata Party (bjp), in power since 2014 under the strongman prime minister, Narendra Modi. Now a heatwave is baking the north of the country and the global oil- and food-price shock is battering the poor.

Yet as our Briefing explains, if you take a step back, a novel confluence of forces stands to transform India’s economy over the next decade, improving the lives of 1.4bn people and changing the balance of power in Asia. Technological leaps, the energy transition and geopolitical shifts are creating new opportunities—and new tools to fix intractable problems. The biggest threat to all this is India’s incendiary politics.

Since India opened up in 1991, its economy has prompted both euphoria and despair. One minute it is the next China: a rising superpower bursting with enterprising geniuses. The next it is a demographic time-bomb unable to generate hope for its young people; or a Wild West where Vodafone and other naive multinationals are fleeced. Over the past decade India has outgrown most other big countries, yet this has been overshadowed by a sense of disappointment. It has not engineered the manufacturing surge that enriched East Asia nor built enough big companies to marshal capital for development. Its fragmented markets and informal firms create few good jobs.

As the country emerges from the pandemic, however, a new pattern of growth is visible. It is unlike anything you have seen before. An indigenous tech effort is key. As the cost of technology has dropped, India has rolled out a national “tech stack”: a set of state-sponsored digital services that link ordinary Indians with an electronic identity, payments and tax systems, and bank accounts. The rapid adoption of these platforms is forcing a vast, inefficient, informal cash economy into the 21st century. It has turbocharged the world’s third-largest startup scene after America’s and China’s.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, India, Politics in General

(BBC) Sri Lanka protests: Leaders under pressure as anger at economic crisis boils over

Security forces are out in force across Sri Lanka with orders to shoot looters on sight amid continuing protests at the government’s handling of a devastating economic crisis.

Despite a nationwide curfew, there was a second night of arson attacks.

Shops near Colombo were torched, as well as a resort owned by the son of ex-Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa.

The ex-PM is holed up in a naval base after resigning when public fury erupted over fuel and food shortages.

At least nine people have been killed and about 200 injured in unrest since Monday.

Read it all.

Posted in Politics in General, Sri Lanka, Violence

(WSJ) Biden Officials Divided Over Easing China Tariffs to Slow Inflation

The Biden administration is split on whether to pare back tariffs on imports from China in an effort to cut consumer costs and reduce inflation, as the White House gives renewed consideration to a step that has divided officials.

On one side of the debate within the administration are Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, who favor easing the tariffs on some of the roughly $360 billion annually of Chinese imports put in place under the Trump administration, according to people familiar with the matter.

On the other are Trade Representative Katherine Tai and others who are reluctant to relinquish U.S. leverage over China in a continuing effort to reshape Chinese economic behavior, according to the people.

President Biden has been undecided on the question but has recently revisited the issue as the White House looks to reduce the highest inflation in four decades, according to one of the people. The discussions come as the administration on Tuesday started a legally required review of the Trump-era duties. The U.S. Trade Representative is required to study the impact on tariffs first imposed in 2018 on the economy after four years.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., China, Economy, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Politics in General

(NYT front page) Inside China’s Zero-Covid Fortress, Xi Admits No Doubts

China’s leader, Xi Jinping, waved at crowds of giddily cheering students. He held meetings with Olympic Games officials, economic policymakers and European leaders. He toured a tropical island.

But there was a revealing gap in Mr. Xi’s busy itinerary last month, exposing the predicament that Covid is creating in a politically crucial year when he hopes to extend his hold on power. He stayed behind the scenes when it came to China’s biggest, most contentious lockdown since the pandemic began.

Throughout April, Mr. Xi gave no public speeches focused on outbreaks in China as its biggest city, Shanghai, shut down to try to stifle infections, and then Beijing went on alert after a burst of cases. Nor did Mr. Xi directly address the 25 million residents of Shanghai who have been ordered to stay at home for weeks, despite their complaints of scarce food, overwhelmed hospitals and confusing zigzags in mass quarantine rules.

“He wants to deliberately keep a certain distance in from Shanghai,” said Deng Yuwen, a former editor of a Communist Party newspaper who now lives in the United States. “No doubt, he’s doing a lot about fighting the pandemic behind the scenes, but of course he does not want to be directly drawn into the mess in Shanghai.”

Read it all.

Posted in China, Health & Medicine, Politics in General

(NYT) China’s Covid Lockdown Outrage Tests Limits of Triumphant Propaganda

Immediately after Beijing said it had detected a new coronavirus outbreak, officials hurried to assure residents there was no reason to panic. Food was plentiful, they said, and any lockdown measures would be smooth. But Evelyn Zheng, a freelance writer in the city, was not taking any chances.

Her relatives, who lived in Shanghai, were urging her to leave or stock up on food. She had spent weeks poring over social media posts from that city, which documented the chaos and anguish of the monthlong lockdown there. And when she went out to buy more food, it was clear many of her neighbors had the same idea: Some shelves were already cleaned out.

“At first, I was worried about Shanghai, because my family is there, and there was no good news from any of my friends,” Ms. Zheng said. “Now, Beijing is starting, too, and I don’t know when it will land on my head.”

Anger and anxiety over the Shanghai lockdown, now in its fourth week, has posed a rare challenge for China’s powerful propaganda apparatus, which is central to the Communist Party’s ability to stifle dissent. As the Omicron variant continues to spread across the country, officials have defended their use of widespread, heavy-handed lockdowns. They have pushed a triumphalist narrative of their Covid response, which says that only the Chinese government had the will to confront, and hold back, the virus.

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Posted in China, Health & Medicine, Politics in General

(NBC) Baseball’s Mr. Nice Guy: Suzuki’s unique unwritten rule

Thirteen times in 12 games as a Cub, the right-handed slugger with the uncommon eye at the plate has walked — and then stepped back from the plate and taken the long way to first, circling behind the catcher and umpire before relocating the base line.

“It’s kind of disrespectful to walk in front of someone,” the former Japanese batting champ said through his team interpreter, Toy Matsushita. “Especially if it’s someone older than you. It’s Japanese culture. It’s not a good thing to do.”

Not every player from Japan has done that in the majors; in fact, we can’t think of any from recent memory (Kosuke Fukudome, for instance, is left-handed, so it doesn’t apply; same with Yankee slugger Hideki Matsui before him).

And not every player in NPB in Japan does it, say veteran Japanese baseball writers.

“Depends on the person,” Suzuki said, “but that’s what I was taught as a kid, to be respectful.”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Japan, Sports

(NYT) Shanghai Seethes in Covid Lockdown, Posing Test to China’s Leadership

Parents have organized petitions, imploring the government not to separate children infected with the coronavirus from their families. Patients have demanded to speak with higher-ups about shoddy conditions at isolation facilities. Residents have confronted officials over containment policies that they see as unfair or inhumane, then shared recordings of those arguments online.

As the coronavirus races through Shanghai, in the city’s worst outbreak since the pandemic began, the authorities have deployed their usual hard-nosed playbook to try and stamp out transmission, no matter the cost. What has been different is the response: an outpouring of public dissatisfaction rarely seen in China since the chaotic early days of the pandemic, in Wuhan.

The crisis in Shanghai is shaping up to be more than just a public health challenge. It is also a political test of the zero tolerance approach at large, on which the Communist Party has staked its legitimacy.

For much of the past two years, the Chinese government has stifled most domestic criticism of its zero tolerance Covid strategy, through a mixture of censorship, arrests and success at keeping caseloads low. But in Shanghai, which has recorded more than 70,000 cases since March 1, that is proving more difficult.

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Posted in China, Health & Medicine, Politics in General

(Economist) No country for young women–The Taliban are pushing females out of public life

On march 23rd thousands of Afghan girls headed to school for the first time in eight months, kitted out in bulging rucksacks, neatly pressed headscarves and covid-19 face masks. Within hours, they were at home in tears—and not because of playground fights or test results. In a last-minute pivot, the Taliban had backtracked on a decision to reopen secondary schools for girls and sent them home.

The new Taliban are beginning to look a lot like the old Taliban who ran Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, when women who failed to cover every inch of flesh in public were beaten and adulterers were stoned to death. But Afghan women have changed after two decades of American-backed government. Many have university degrees. Before the Taliban seized power last year, almost 30% of civil servants were women. On the streets of Kabul book-waving girls have been chanting: “open the schools”.

When American forces withdrew from Afghanistan, the big question was how the Taliban would make the transition from a fundamentalist insurgency to running a country. Girls’ education became the litmus test. In August there was some hope they wanted to show a gentler face. Officials were interviewed by female presenters on television. At the Taliban’s first press conference after seizing power, a spokesman reassured the world that women would be “very active” in Afghan society.

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Posted in Afghanistan, Education, Politics in General, War in Afghanistan, Women

(Economist) A half-a-trillion-dollar bet on revolutionising white-collar work

Two decades ago India’s information-technology (IT) firms were the stars of the rising country’s corporate firmament. The industry’s three giants, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), Infosys and Wipro, became household names at home and familiar to chief executives of big businesses abroad, who had outsourced their companies’ countermeasures against the feared “millennium bug”, expected to wreak havoc on computers as the date changed from 1999 to 2000, to Indian software engineers. By the mid-2000s the Indian IT trio’s revenues were growing by around 40% a year, as Western CEOs realised that Indian programmers could do as good a job as domestic ones or better, at a fraction of the price. Then, following the global financial crisis of 2007-09, revenue growth slowed to single digits. For years afterwards the stars seemed to be losing some of their shine.

Now they are back in the ascendant. Having declined as a share of GDP between 2017 and 2019, exports of Indian software services ticked up again as the world’s companies turned to them for help amid the disruption to operations and IT systems wrought by the pandemic. In the last financial year they reached an all-time high of $150bn, or 5.6% of Indian GDP (see chart 1). NASSCOM, a trade body, expects the industry’s overall revenues to grow from $227bn last year to $350bn by 2026.

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Posted in Globalization, India, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Science & Technology

(Nikkei Asia) Czar Vladimir Putin is divorced from reality: Niall Ferguson

These are miscalculations, not signs of madness. They’re the kind of miscalculations you make if you are very divorced from reality, because you lead the life of a czar, in vast — if hideous — palaces, surrounded by people who are terrified of you and tell you what they think you want to hear. If I put myself in Putin’s position, I don’t think he’s trying to resurrect the Soviet Union. He’s looking back even further and trying to bring back the Russian Empire, with himself as “Czar Vladimir.”

It’s an ideology of conservative, orthodox nationalism that Putin offers, that has nothing to do with the Soviet legacy. A lot of people get this wrong.

He has a huge incentive to speed up the defeat of Ukraine, using more brutal methods if that’s what it takes. Because if he doesn’t win, then I think his position at home will become very vulnerable.

If I’m him, the crucial thing now is to achieve victory over Zelenskyy and the Ukrainian army as fast as possible so that we can get to some peace negotiation from a position of strength. In that negotiation, Putin might be willing to make some concessions to get the sanctions reduced or removed.

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Posted in China, Foreign Relations, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Russia, Ukraine

(Bloomberg Opinion) Hal Brands–China Placed a Losing Bet on Vladimir Putin

For one thing, Putin’s attack has underscored the financial and technological dominance of the Western world. There is simply no precedent for the speed and severity with which the U.S. and its allies have punished Putin, almost totally isolating Russia from the global economy.

Sanctions are inflicting severe damage on Russia; a stock-market collapse, import problems and a debt default all loom. China is watching from the sidelines as the world’s leading democracies have shown the willingness and ability to pummel international aggressors economically. Although China, with a larger, more diversified, more globally integrated economy, is a far harder target that Russia, Xi must be wondering what economic carnage awaits his country if it attacks Taiwan.

Second, Russian aggression has activated antibodies to Chinese power. Japan, Singapore and Taiwan joined the anti-Putin sanctions team because they worry that unchecked aggression in Europe will tempt Beijing to make moves in the Pacific. If Putin sets a precedent of successful conquest, Japanese prime minister Fumio Kishida has said, “it will have an impact on Asia, as well.”

Warnings that Beijing might use force against Taiwan in the next few years no longer seem so hyperbolic, which means that Putin’s gambit could result in more determined, multilateral containment of China.

Read it all (registration or subscription).

Posted in China, Foreign Relations, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Russia, Taiwan, Ukraine

(NYT) ‘No Wavering’: After Turning to Putin, Xi Faces Hard Wartime Choices for China

Now it appears that Mr. Xi’s display of solidarity may have, possibly unwittingly, emboldened Mr. Putin to gamble on going to war to bring Ukraine to heel.

A retracing of Beijing’s trail of decisions shows how Mr. Xi’s deep investment in a personal bond with Mr. Putin has limited China’s options and forced it into policy contortions.

Before and shortly after the invasion, Beijing sounded sympathetic to Moscow’s security demands, mocking Western warnings of war and accusing the United States of goading Russia. Over the past two weeks, though, China has sought to edge slightly away from Russia. It has softened its tone, expressing grief over civilian casualties. It has cast itself as an impartial party, calling for peace talks and for the war to stop as soon as possible.

The quandaries for China, and Mr. Xi, remain.

Read it all.

Posted in China, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Russia, Ukraine

Archbishop of Canterbury visits Pakistan’s Christians

The Archbishop of Canterbury visited Pakistan this weekend to show support for its Christian community. During the three-day visit he prayed with Christians, listened to their experiences and offered comfort to those grieving in the wake of attacks. He also met with national leaders to raise the concerns of Christians and discuss protecting freedom of religion or belief for all people in Pakistan.

In a meeting in Islamabad on Monday with the Prime Minister, Imran Khan, the Archbishop informed Mr Khan of his visit yesterday to the city of Peshawar, where a priest from the Church of Pakistan was murdered in a terror attack in January. The Archbishop raised the issue of creating social cohesion and the importance of respecting people’s freedom of religion or belief, particularly in education systems.

During the meeting, the Archbishop also said that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was both a tragedy and “an act of great moral evil”, and spoke of the need for urgent efforts to build peace.

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Pakistan

Meir Soloveichik for Eric Liddell’s Feast Day–Finding God in the Olympic Footrace

While Americans rightly exult in the achievements of U.S. medalists, “Chariots of Fire” also serves as a reminder that athletics and even patriotism only mean so much. When Liddell is informed that a qualifying heat takes place on Sunday, his Sabbath, he chooses not to compete in that race. The camera cuts from athletes at the Olympics to Liddell reading a passage in Isaiah: “Behold the nations are as a drop in the bucket . . . but they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings, as eagles. They shall run, and not be weary. They shall walk and not faint.” David Puttnam, a “Chariots of Fire” producer, wrote me that the verses were “specifically selected by the actor, the late Ian Charleson, who gave himself the task of reading the entire Bible whilst preparing for the film.”

The Isaiah passage is liturgically important for Jews: Parts of it are declaimed in synagogue on the Sabbath when we read God’s command to Abraham to leave the center of civilization and found a family, and a faith, in a new land. Isaiah reminds Jews that Abraham’s children have encountered much worse than what Harold Abrahams experienced. While most nations now rest on the ash heap of history, the biblical Abraham’s odyssey continues. The countries competing in today’s Olympics come and go, while those who “wait upon the Lord” endure.

“Chariots of Fire” also offers a message for people of faith who have grown troubled by the secularization of society and the realization that they are often scorned by elites. Like Liddell, we may be forced to choose religious principle over social success. Hopefully, however, we will be able to use our gifts to sanctify this world. As Liddell’s father told his son in the film: “Run in God’s name, and let the world stand back in wonder.”

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Posted in --Scotland, China, Church History, History, Missions, Religion & Culture, Sports

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Eric Liddell

God whose strength bears us up as on mighty wings: We rejoice in remembering thy athlete and missionary, Eric Liddell, to whom thou didst bestow courage and resolution in contest and in captivity; and we pray that we also may run with endurance the race that is set before us and persevere in patient witness, until we wear that crown of victory won for us by Jesus our Savior; who with thee and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in --Scotland, China, Church History, Missions, Spirituality/Prayer, Sports

(WSJ) Beijing Weighs How Far to Go in Backing Putin on Ukraine

China’s top leaders have spent days weighing how far Beijing should go to back Russian President Vladimir Putin and how to manage a partnership many call a marriage of convenience as opposed to one of conviction.

With the threat of a Russian invasion of Ukraine looming, China’s final arbiter of power—the seven-member Politburo Standing Committee led by President Xi Jinping —has largely disappeared from public view.

Behind closed doors, according to people with knowledge of the matter, one topic of intense discussion is how to respond to the Russian-Ukraine crisis and back Moscow without hurting China’s own interests.

The brooding has gone on for more than a week, practically since Mr. Putin got on a plane back to Moscow after meeting with Mr. Xi and attending the Feb. 4 opening of the Beijing Winter Olympics. The unusually extended discussion underlines how urgent and delicate the situation is for Beijing despite Mr. Xi’s public stance of support for Russia.

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Posted in China, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Russia, Ukraine

(NYT front page) With Indoor Ski Resorts and Curling Schools, China Lifts Xi’s Sports Dream

In the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou, which has sweltering temperatures for much of the year, children are ditching their flip flops for skis and hitting the indoor slopes.

Out west, high up on the Tibetan Plateau, Qinghai Province has become an unlikely center for curling, the traditional Scottish sport known as “ice kettle” in Chinese.

Over in the northeastern province of Liaoning, a group of retired men gather every day in the winter to strap on helmets and hockey pads and face off on an outdoor ice rink.

Such scenes, once rare, are growing more common as the ruling Communist Party charges ahead with an ambitious campaign to transform China — large parts of which have never seen a single flake of natural snow — into a global winter sporting power.

Read it all.

Posted in China, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Politics in General, Sports

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Charles Freer Andrews

Gracious God, who didst call Charles Freer Andrews to show forth thy salvation to the poor: By thy Holy Spirit inspire in us a tender concern, a passionate justice, and an active love for all people, that there may be one Body and one Spirit in Jesus Christ, our Savior; who with thee and the same Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, India, Spirituality/Prayer

(NYT) As Officials Look Away, Hate Speech in India Nears Dangerous Levels

The police officer arrived at the Hindu temple here with a warning to the monks: Don’t repeat your hate speech.

Ten days earlier, before a packed audience and thousands watching online, the monks had called for violence against the country’s minority Muslims. Their speeches, in one of India’s holiest cities, promoted a genocidal campaign to “kill two million of them” and urged an ethnic cleansing of the kind that targeted Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.

When videos of the event provoked national outrage, the police came. The saffron-clad preachers questioned whether the officer could be objective.

Yati Narsinghanand, the event’s firebrand organizer known for his violent rhetoric, assuaged their concerns.

Read it all.

Posted in Hinduism, India, Islam, Language, Religion & Culture, Religious Freedom / Persecution

A Prayer for the Feast Day of the Martyrs of Japan

O God our Father, who art the source of strength to all thy saints, and who didst bring the holy martyrs of Japan through the suffering of the cross to the joys of life eternal: Grant that we, being encouraged by their example, may hold fast the faith that we profess, even unto death; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Posted in Church History, Death / Burial / Funerals, Japan, Spirituality/Prayer