Tag Archives: Nanjing

Nanjing And Nagoya: History And Denial

There is nothing that history does better than to throw a spanner in the works of modern policy. Forgive the rhetorical flourish but Beijing’s attempts to warm its oft-recently cool relations with its frenemy, Tokyo, in this 40th anniversary year of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Japan, have been brought to a grinding halt by the 1937 Nanjing Massacre.

On Monday, the mayor of the Japanese city of Nagoya, greeting a visiting delegation from Nanjing, denied that the massacre had taken place. The reaction of China’s netizens to this mendacity–and the Nanjing delegation’s apparent lack of a sufficiently outraged response–was so intense that the issue became front page news even in Chinese state media. The Nanjing city government has now suspended its sister-city relations with Nagoya and China’s foreign ministry has had to weigh in, expressing a finely weighted “strong dissatisfaction”.

Tokyo, too, is trying to distance itself from the dispute. Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura said that Nagoya and Nanjing should settle it themselves. “It isn’t a matter for the state to interfere in as they have sister-city relations,” he said.

This particular interruption to national relations may blow over quickly, at least as a diplomatic dispute. Yet it is a reminder of how easy it is to unleash the historical animosity between the two countries, forces that in China can burst out in sometimes violent and often unexpected ways, regardless of what governments would wish. And it will give Tokyo yet another reason to be wary of Beijing’s rapprochement.

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When Beijing Betters London And Shanghai LA

A McKinsey Global Institute ranking of the world's top 50 cities by GDP in 2005

By 2025, Shanghai and Beijing will have higher GDPs than Los Angeles and London, a further sign of the world’s eastwards economic shift. The prediction comes from the McKinsey Global Institute, the economic research arm of McKinsey & Co., the international consultancy firm, which has been working on mapping the changing economic power of the world’s metropolitan areas, and is recirculating some work on this it first released in March. Shanghai is already among the world’s top 50 cities ranked by GDP, but as well a Beijing, Chengdu, Chongqing, Foshan, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Shenyang, Shenzhen, Tianjin, Wuhan and Xian will all join it by 2025, McKinsey predicts. European cities will be most numerous among the dropouts, but another will be Taipei.

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A Rare Sighting Of North Korea’s ‘First Lady’ In Nanjing

The visit of North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Il, though it hasn’t, as is customary, much troubled the attentions of state media, has excited social media. An employee at an LCD factory Kim visited on the outskirts of Nanjing this week uploaded a video that showed a woman believed to be Kim Ok accompanying the Dear Leader. In the screenshot above, she is the lady in the bright green jacket getting out of the back of the lead car from which Kim Jong Il had disembarked on the other side about 10 seconds earlier. (The full video can be viewd here.)

The 46-year old Kim  has been the 70-year old Kim’s personal secretary since the 1980s and is widely believed to have been his consort, perhaps now his wife, since the death of third wife, Ko Young Hee, in 2004. There are unsubstantiated rumors that Kim Ok has born the Dear Leader a son, who is now seven years old.

Kim Ok is thought in intelligence circles to have become a person of considerable power and influence within the regime, having overseen Kim’s recovery from his suspected stroke in 2008. She is said to be a backer of the succession of Kim Jong Il’s third son, Kim Jong Un, whose mother was Ko.

The two Kims are often spotted together, if not photographed, in North Korea, where she is known as ‘the First Lady’. The couple are rarely seen abroad, but then neither is the Dear Leader.  Intelligence sources in South Korea say she accompanied him on his 2006 visit to Beijing and also on his two visits last year, not surprising given her official role. The photograph on the right is taken from a U.S. government photograph of a meeting she attended at the Pentagon in Washington in 2000 and is about the only one of her ever published.

A decade on, the Nanjing video is a notable get on the part of the camera-phone paparazzi.

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Nanjing’s Not So Secret Espionage Museum

This Bystander loves this story, even though I suspect it falls into the too-good-to-be-true category: A new museum in Nanjing about spying is off-limits to foreigners. “We don’t want such sensitive spy information to be exposed to foreigners, so they are not allowed to enter,” a museum spokeswoman told the Associated Press.

Only Chinese are allowed inside the Jiangsu National Security Education Museum, which documents espionage practices and houses a collection of spy gadgetry going back to the Party’s early days in the 1920s, such as hollowed out coins for hiding documents and guns disguised as lipsticks. And no photography inside the building, either, not even if you have one of those miniature spy cameras that are on display.

All rather quaint in this era of GhostNet and other high-tech cyber espionage. But why have a public museum in the first place if you want to keep it secret?

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