China

The Year of the Pig is here…literally

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 20/02/2019 - 2:00pm in

Andre Vltchek Gong Xi Fa Cai: happy year of the Pig 2019! Congratulations, the Year of the Pig has arrived! According to the Chinese astrology, 2019 is a great year to make money, and a good year to invest! 2019 is going to be full of joy, a year of friendship and love for all the zodiac signs; an auspicious year because the Pig attracts success in all the spheres of life.” So, what is astrology actually saying? We will soon have some sort of ‘brotherhood of men’ year ahead of us; a year that could bring both peace and understanding between all the zodiac signs? We all wish that it could be possible. But we all have doubts that this is what is actually ahead of us! * So, where does the world stand, as the most populous nation on earth – China (but also Vietnam and several other countries) – celebrates the New Year? To be honest, the world does not ‘stand’ at all – it lies in the gutter. It appears to …

Australia revokes Chinese tycoon's citizenship over alleged political interference in Australian politics

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 14/02/2019 - 9:47pm in


Huang Xiangmo. Screenshot from HK Apple TV.

The news concerning Chinese tycoon Huang Xiangmo's revoked Australian citizenship has shaken the Chinese overseas and diasporic communities last week. Huang is now settled in Hong Kong and told the media that the ban from entering the country was “grotesquely unfair” and “based on unfounded speculations that are prejudiced and groundless”. However, the Australian government and many researchers feel that Huang was unfairly using political ties to push Chinese Communist Party interests within the country.

The Chinese Border-Crossing Question and Answer project hosted by the Hong Kong based Culture and Media Education Foundation (CMEF) interviewed Perth-based researcher W.L Yeung to explain the context of the incident.

CMEF: Who is Huang Xiangmo? How has he made his reputation in Australia?

W.L Yeung (WLY): Huang Xiangmo, whose legal name is Huang Changran (黄畅然), is a property developer, a Director of the Yuhu Group (玉湖集团), a political donor and a lobbyist. He relocated to Australia from China around 2011. The Australian public first heard of him when he splashed AUD$12.8 million on a mansion in a prestigious Sydney suburb in 2012. This real estate transaction had stimulated a buying spree of similarly expensive properties among Chinese investors.

Huang caught public attention again in 2014 when he donated AUD$1.8 million to the University of Technology Sydney to replace an existing China research centre, famous for its independent critical research, with a pro-Beijing Australian-China Relations Institute (UTS ACRI) headed by Huang’s handpicked Director, Australia’s former foreign minister Bob Carr.

He subsequently donated another AUD$4.5 million to several universities. Among the beneficiaries of his generosity is a former Australian diplomat who had once been a vocal critic of the Confucius Institute.

Mainstream media did not start to look seriously into him until 2016 when a Fairfax reporter discovered that Huang had made more than AUD$1 million donations to both major political parties from 2012 to 2015. Since then the total sum surged to around AUD$3 million.

The Fairfax report also revealed details of how Huang was caught up in a corruption scandal in his hometown of Jieyang in Guangdong Province prior to his departure for Australia.

CMEF: The Australian government's decision is based on security advice that he was “amenable to conducting acts of foreign interference”. What are the “acts of foreign interference” has Huang done in Australia?

WLY: I believe the “acts of foreign interference” here refer to Huang’s united front association and the pattern of his donations, both of which suggests he has been actively seeking political influence in order to promote the interests of the Chinese Communist Party.

Huang was head of the Australian Council for the Promotion of Peaceful Reunification of China (ACPPRC) and is currently head of the Oceanic Alliance of the Promotion of Peaceful Reunification of China (OAPPRC). Both organizations are official branches of the China Council for the Promotion of Peaceful National Reunification (CCPPNR) in Beijing run by the United Front Work Department of the CCP Central Committee. Huang’s membership in these groups was mentioned by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) as one of the reasons for cancelling Huang’s permanent resident status.

A 2016 protest rally in support of China’s sovereignty at the South China Sea (SCS) was staged by the Melbourne branch of the ACPPRC. It also links to other protest activities, including protests against the visits of the Dalai Lama to Australia.

During parliamentary debates into the Sam Dastyari scandal in 2016, alarming evidence had emerged, pointing to ways in which Huang used his friendship with politicians to solicit policy endorsement in alignment with Beijing’s interests:

  • Labor Senator Sam Dastyari, who was caught on record of allowing Huang to pay a fine of A$44,000 on his behalf to settle a court case, had previously parroted Beijing’s line on SCS, contrary to his party’s policy, in a press conference Huang arranged exclusively for Chinese language media.
  • At about the same time, Huang withdrew a AUD $400,000 donation promised to the Labor party after the party’s foreign affairs spokesman had openly criticized China’s expansion at the SCS.
  • It was suggested that Huang and others had topped up their political donations in 2014 prior to the signing of a controversial China-Australia Free Trade Agreement.

Government records also indicated that Dastyari had attempted to use his political influence to fast-track Huang’s citizenship application.

CMEF: Huang has been active in Australia for many years. Why does Australia government decide to take act until now? Has there been any political and legal development recently that leads to the current decision?

WLY: Australia’s counter-espionage legislation was seriously out of date in the past. Foreign donations were permitted in Canberra as as well as in most states (except NSW). Following months of intense debates and reviews, a new set of legislation on foreign political interference was passed in June 2018 which bans foreign political donations. The new legislation gives a clear definition of political interference, provides law enforcement the necessary tools to investigate and prosecute offenders, as well as the legal basis for the government to force foreign agents to register and to prosecute them when they fail to comply.

Diplomatic relations between China and Australia is now at an all-time low. China seems to take an offence at Australia banning Huawei from taking part in future 5G mobile infrastructure rollout and the passing of the foreign political interference legislation.

What is the general public reaction to the revoke of Huang’s permanent residence? How does the Chinese community react to the news in particular?

Yeung: Public opinion supports the government’s decision. Prime minister Scott Morrison’s personal rating had slightly improved since Huang’s ban was made public, even though Liberal continues to trail behind Labor in opinion polls.

The Chinese dissident community is jubilating. A Chinese-Australian community group, the Australian Values Alliance, has just issued a statement to welcome the decision. Outside of the dissident circle, however, Chinese communities nationwide are rather quiet, reflecting a sense of uncertainty and insecurity over the impact of the new legislation.

Pro-Beijing Chinese media in Australia have fired some pathetic shots. A widely circulated WeChat post from a Perth-based public news platform attempted to rouse sympathy by claiming that Huang, a respectable community leader, had been treated worse than a serial killer. The WeChat platform is owned by the general secretary of the WA Shanghai Federation, a powerful united front group whose president is an honorary advisor of the WA branch of the ACPPRC.

Phoenix TV has also posted a video interview with Keith Suter, who called himself an Australian scholar of international studies. However, the Australian international studies community on Twitter was unable to verify Suter’s qualification and his institutional affiliation. During the interview, Suter argued against the legality of ASIO’s ruling.

CMEF: What is the implication of the decision to Australian domestic politics and diplomatic relation with China? Would there be further action taken to reduce China’s interference in Australia?

WLY: A part of the new legislation contains a transparency scheme, modeled in part on the United State’s foreign agents registration act. It will require individuals or institutions to make a declaration if they are acting on behalf of foreign power to influence the political processes of Australia. Those who are currently lobbying for foreign governments in Australia have a six-month grace period to register. It is expected that some individuals or institutions who have failed to comply will be prosecuted. So yes, I believe this will go a long way in protecting Australia against interference from most foreign countries including China.

I am one of the Australian scholars of China, the Chinese diaspora and China-Australia relations who signed a joint letter in March 2018 to support the new foreign interference legislation. I share with other cosignatories a firm believe that “identifying, recognizing and winding back CCP interference as an unacceptable and counterproductive part of bilateral engagement is a step towards developing a healthy China-Australia relationship over the long term”.

China’s Mountain Of Debt Is About To Crumble

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 14/02/2019 - 4:53pm in

A worrying update about China's corporate debt.

More than Cognitive Dissonance

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 13/02/2019 - 1:00pm in

James O’Neill The dilemmas in Canberra go beyond the respective roles of the American alliance and the China trade. They point to a failure to grasp historical reality and an equal failure to perceive the future. In a recent article in the influential Australian website Pearls and the Irritations (www.johnmenadue.com 8 January 2019) Richard Broinowski set out several reasons why the Canberra establishment (Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Ministry of Defence and Prime Minister and Cabinet) in what he described as cognitive dissonance, have adhered to a pro-American set of foreign policies. This has been the case ever since then Prime Minister John Curtin’s announcement in 1941 that Australia was essentially switching its reliance on the United Kingdom to an equally dependent relationship with the United States. Mr Broinowski then set out a series of factors why this has been the case at least up until the 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper, although he now detects some faint glimmerings of a possible policy shift. Such optimism in my view lacks a solid evidential foundation. …

Book Review: Natural Resources and the New Frontier: Constructing Modern China’s Borderlands by Judd C. Kinzley

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 12/02/2019 - 10:40pm in

In Natural Resources and the New Frontier: Constructing Modern China’s BorderlandsJudd C. Kinzley tracks Xinjiang’s transformation from a disregarded ‘wasteland’ to a literal goldmine through the discovery of natural resources that altered the trajectory of the region’s development. Full of fascinating details drawn from painstaking archival research, the book’s scope is impressive but underplays the human consequences of colonialist resource extraction, finds Tom Marling

Natural Resources and the New Frontier: Constructing Modern China’s Borderlands. Judd C. Kinzley. University of Chicago Press. 2018.

Find this book: amazon-logo

Formally christened as China’s ‘new frontier’ in 1884, Xinjiang, like other ‘new worlds’, has endured virulent colonialism. Today, under the governance of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), it is a place to which criminals and social outcasts are banished to live alongside an indigenous population that is being systemically stripped of culture, society, history and ethnicity. Recalling the ignominious history of French, British and American testing in the Pacific Islands, it has even been irradiated in the name of nuclear defence.

Tracking Xinjiang’s transformation from a disregarded ‘wasteland’ (huang) to literal goldmine, Judd C. Kinzley’s Natural Resources and the New Frontier elaborates on how the discovery and industrialisation of natural resources rekindled dormant colonial interests and irredeemably altered the trajectory of the region’s development. Kinzley uncovers some fascinating details, including the unexpected agency and savvy of the final generations of Qing officialdom and the often oddball nature of frontier economics. New perspectives offered on China’s fitful first steps into industrialised geology, and the relationship between the geophysical and the geopolitical, are particularly valuable at a time when China is responsible for more than 85% of the world’s rare earth element (REE) production.

Echoing Eyal Weizman’s deconstruction of topography and territory in Hollow Land, Kinzley argues that the resource wealth of Xinjiang functioned as a base upon which ‘layers’ of national interest – Chinese and Soviet – accreted (and over which the governance of the province was precariously draped). These layers include the reconnaissance of, and control over, geographical and geological knowledge (spurred by gold and oil bounties, as discussed in Chapter Three), and the development of transport connections and trade institutions (Chapter Four).

Kinzley’s account of Xinjiang between 1911 and 1949 is greatly enriched by this more malleable approach to geopolitics. Cut loose from any state financial support in 1911, the province was controlled by warlords Jin Shuren and Sheng Shicai between 1928 and 1944. Bereft of cash and facing uprisings from the region’s indigenous populations, Jin and Sheng traded pastoral products like fur, pelts and wool for material and financial support from the Soviet Union. While the Great Terror was engulfing Russia proper, Soviet envoys to the borderlands were financing the construction of necessary transport links and co-founding trade institutions like the Soviet-Xinjiang Trading Company and the Bountiful Xinjiang Company. In a brief interregnum before war engulfed Asia, Kinzley argues there emerged in Xinjiang a ‘vertically integrated system of production and processing that transformed local products into commodities’ even before they left Xinjiang (a model that today is being recapitulated by China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in countries like Ethiopia and Thailand).

Image Credit:  The Pamir Mountains, Xinjiang (Wikipedia Public Domain CC BY SA 2.5)

Unfortunately, the indigenous peoples of Xinjiang make few appearances in the text, and they are often superficially represented. This is a shame, because the book’s resource and business focus might have offered some novel insights on indigenous histories in the region. Kinzley himself briefly provides an interesting example, noting that efforts to pacify and settle nomadic groups in the 1930s were augmented by the Bountiful Xinjiang Company. The company’s agents fanned out across the province and accumulated unprecedented knowledge of nomadic goods production, and in doing so they ‘served to bind pastoral regions and their inhabitants […] into a more clearly integrated raw material hinterland’ (93).

By the birth of Communist China in 1949, while Xinjiang was producing valuable weapons-grade elements like tungsten, uranium, beryllium, lithium, tantalum and tin, it was also riven by social disintegration, as hyperinflation, crime and ethnic strife went unchecked. The book’s later chapters find that the intimate relationship between natural resources and territoriality, established in the nineteenth century, carried over into the twentieth. Kinzley points out that resource extraction industries furthered the ongoing progress of reabsorbing Xinjiang into China, by creating ‘governable spaces’ in the form of booming Han-populated oil cities like Karamay and Koktokay.

Although promising a ‘unique perspective on the origins of a simmering discontent among indigenous groups in Xinjiang’ (my emphasis), Natural Resources and the New Frontier serves more to obscure than clarify the origins of today’s unrest in the region. Sources of indigenous discontent are reduced to statistics like growing wealth inequality, while the CCP’s increasingly hardline stance – involving racial profiling, and mass surveillance, imprisonment and indoctrination – is ignored. While it is noted that former President Jiang Zemin began funnelling considerable resources into Xinjiang in the late 1980s, that this coincided with the first wave of intensified policing, military occupation and Sinification is not. So too is no mention made of the US-sanctioned post-9/11 designation of Uyghur separatists as terrorists, the 2009 riots in Urumqi or the ‘Strike Hard Campaign against Violent Terrorism’ policy that was launched in 2014. This absence is conspicuous considering that the book is being published at a time in which outcry over CCP tactics in Xinjiang has reached a comparative climax, and in which the central role of institutions of higher education in effecting this policy is becoming better understood.

A more thoroughgoing examination of the paramilitary organisation known as the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC, aka ‘the bingtuan’), extending into the modern day, might have served to better thread the resource focus together with these contemporary social dynamics. Conceived in the 1950s as a means by which to demobilise People’s Liberation Army troops after the Korean War and to rapidly increase the Han population of Xinjiang, today the XPCC is a private corporation that accounts for 17% of the Xinjiang economy, and its vast agricultural output is dependent on controlling and exploiting natural resources like water and soil. The XPCC is, among other things, a media conglomerate, a property developer and a prison operator. While the rise of a new generation of ‘resource cities’ in the deserts of Xinjiang may recall past boom towns like Karamay, the crucial difference is that these new cities are now designed, built, owned, operated and populated by the XPCC.

Natural Resources and the New Frontier abounds with the kinds of details that only painstaking archival work can uncover. Its scope is impressive, and Kinzley offers fresh insights on everything from the failings of the Nanjing government under Chiang-Kai Shek to the unique implementation of Mao’s Great Leap Forward in the borderlands. It would, however, best be read as a companion to a more comprehensive recent work like Justin Jacob’s Xinjiang and the Modern Chinese State (University of Washington Press, 2016). In the context of resource histories, it is also a very different creature from Donald Fixico’s The Invasion of Indian Country in the Twentieth Century or even Eduardo Galeano’s Open Veins of Latin America, in which the human consequences of colonialist resource extraction are brought to the foreground.

Tom Marling has a PhD in History from Hong Kong Baptist University. His research interests include late-Qing tabloid fiction and the urban environment of Shanghai, and the history of pre-CCP organised labour in south China. He is one of the co-editors of Collected Essays of To the Seas and Beyond: An International Conference on the Maritime Silk Road (Hong Kong Museum of History and Hong Kong Baptist University Department of History, 2018). Read more by Tom Marling.

Note: This review gives the views of the author, and not the position of the LSE Review of Books blog, or of the London School of Economics.


‘I’ Newspaper: NASA Planning Permanent Return to the Moon

Before the deep political stuff, a piece of space news. According to yesterday’s I for 11th February 2019, NASA is planning to go back to the Moon and found permanently manned bases. The article by Clark Mindock, ‘NASA wants to station humans on the Moon’ on page 23 ran

NASA is planning to send astronauts to the Moon again, but this time it wants to keep them there.

The US space agency’s administrator, Jim Bridenstine, called yesterday for “the best and brightest of American industry to help design and develop human lunar landers”, in response to what he said was a clear mandate from President Donald Trump and Congress to once again get astronauts out of Earth’s orbit.

In a post detailing Nasa’s lofty goals – to return astronauts to the Moon, and one day send them to Mars for the first time in human history – Mr Bridenstine said that the US was playing for keeps this time.

“I am thrilled to be talking once more about landing humans on the Moon,” he wrote on the Ozy website.

“To some, saying that we are returning to the Moon implies that we will be doing the same as we did 50 years ago. I want to be clear – that is not our vision.

“We are going to the Moon with innovative new technologies and systems to explore more locations across the surface than we ever thought possible. This time, when we go to the Moon, we will stay.”

Mr Bridenstine said that the ambitious plans would begin later this week, with partners from private industry and elsewhere invited to NASA headquarters in Washington DC to discuss the next generation of lunar landers.

So far, Nasa has already co-operated with nine companies to send cargo tot he Moon, with the ultimate goal being to develop landers that can take astronauts back there.

As a space fan, all I can say is that it’s about time. Way back in the 1970s and 1980s space experts and commenters, like Sir Patrick Moore, the presenter of the Sky At Night, were predicting that we’d have bases on the Moon and elsewhere in solar system by now. But that was before space budgets were drastically cut and NASA instead concentrated on the Space Shuttle. This was supposed to open space up to just about anybody who could afford the cost of a ticket and was in reasonable health. Its crews experienced 3Gs at lift-off, but this was considered to be so low that a 70-year old man could tolerate it. Unfortunately the Shuttle was massively overengineered and the Challenger disaster put the programme on hold while its causes were investigated and corrected. Even then its use remained risky, as we saw a few years ago when one disintegrated during re-entry over America and the programme was subsequently cancelled.

There were plans in the 1990s for a private, commercial return to the Moon, according to Focus Magazine, but that didn’t seem to get anywhere.

My guess is that NASA is finally getting round to putting a permanent human presence on the Moon not just because Trump fancies going back to the glory days of the Cold War space race, but because the EU and the Chinese are also planning the serious exploration of the Moon. A little while ago ESA – the European Space Agency – announced they were planning to put people on the Moon, while last week the Chinese successfully landed a probe on the Moon’s far side. The Chinese are putting such effort into their space programme that the quantum physicist and SF writer, Stephen Baxter, predicted back in the 1990s that the first person on Mars would probably be Chinese sometime in the next decade. Under Reagan, one of the big aerospace conglomerations and think tanks published a report arguing that America needed to develop its space technologies and industries, and move out onto the High Frontier, in order to secure its place as world leader. It’s likely that this is the same thinking behind this announcement by NASA.

As for exploring the next generation of lunar landers, I wonder if they’ll be able to use any data or blueprints remaining from the original lunar modules that landed Armstrong, Aldrin and co all those years ago. After the Apollo programme was cancelled, the massive Saturn 5 rockets were broken up, with the exception of those on display at the Kennedy Space Centre, and the plans destroyed. This has outraged many space scientists like John S. Lewis, the author of Mining the Sky, who compared it to the destruction of Chung He’s fleet by the Chinese eunuchs in the 14th century. Chung He was a Chinese admiral, who led a fleet of ships on an exploratory mission to the outside world, going as far as the Bight of Benin in West Africa. However, when he returned the eunuchs at the imperial court had his fleet destroyed and further exploration banned because they feared that opening the country up to foreign contact would have a destabilizing effect on its society. The result of this was that the country remained isolated and stagnated until it fell prey to foreign colonialism in the 19th century, most famously through the Opium Wars.

Hopefully NASA’s announcement will mark the beginning of a new, serious wave of interplanetary exploration which aims to put people on the Moon and other planets, as space scientists, engineers and SF fans and writers have been dreaming about and working towards since before the great German director Fritz Lang made his epic movie Die Frau im Mond (‘The Woman in the Moon’) about a German moon landing back in the 1920s.

Private Eye on the Real Reason James Dyson Is Moving His Business to Singapore

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 09/02/2019 - 1:40am in

A week or so ago I put up a number of posts reporting and commenting on the outrage James Dyson caused when he announced that he was moving his company’s HQ to Singapore.

Dyson has been given a great deal of support from this country, and in the West Country he was regarded, or at least presented by the local media as a local hero. But he’s done this before. A few years ago he demanded that Bath give him more land to expand his business. They refused, so he decided instead to expand in the Far East. He needn’t have done so. If there was no room at Bath, he could have happily gone to other south-western towns. He already has plants in Malmesbury and Bristol, for example. Or gone further afield, like Wales or the north, which would also have been glad to have him. But he didn’t.

It was especially hypocritical as Dyson was telling everyone within earshot a few years ago that we should have joined the Euro. Then he decided he was backing Brexit. Now it appears that he has gone to Singapore partly because they’ve signed a trade agreement with the EU, which would make it easier for him to export his goods to them from there rather than Blighty.

Private Eye has run two pieces on Dyson in this fortnight’s edition for 8th-21st February 2019. And they make it very clearly that he’s going for the same reasons every exploitative multinational is heading abroad due to neoliberalism: to take advantages of countries with low tax rates, where workers can be hired and fired almost at will. The first article, ‘Bye-Bye Suckers!’ on page 7, runs

So Sir James Dyson’s relentless bullishness about post-Brexit Britain was so much hot air. The man who will now move his HQ to Singapore evidently has little real faith that Brexit will unleash the potential he has long claimed.

Th benefits of Singapore are likely to go beyond the proximity to his Asian empire that Dyson claims. By moving east it will also be easier to reduce workers’ rights. As Dyson told the BBC’s Andrew Marr last year: “This is controversial, but since I don’t know what orders I’m going to get next month or next year, industry, manufacturing industry’s very volatile. Not being able to flex your workforce is another big reason why you wouldn’t start a manufacturing business or expand a manufacturing business.” Elsewhere, he agreed bluntly, it was easier to hire and fire.”

This is not the most generous response to what the UK has given Dyson. Since 2012 his group has sucked up around 100m pounds in tax credits, ie discounts on its corporation tax bill. IN 2011 the then chancellor George Osborne brought in a special tax break for buyers of “energy efficient hand-dryers”, which meant…Dyson airlades.

There’s more information in the Eye’s ‘In the City’ column, entitled ‘Singapore fling’ on page 41. This runs

What is it that so attracts billionaire inventor, entrepreneur and avid Brexiteer Sir James Dyson to Singapore? Last month he announced that his privately owned Dyson group was switching legal residence to the Far East city state for “commercial reasons” and “future-proofing”. This followed the decision to produce the Dyson electric car in Singapore from 2020.

The Dyson party line is that the imminent move is nothing to do with Brexit or tax – it will still pay UK tax on UK operations – but all to do with Singapore being a lot closer to China, its main market, than Wiltshire. Who knew? Dyson’s 2bn pound move from hairdryers and bagless vacuum cleaners into cars is his biggest gamble.

So what does Singapore have over a “no deal” Brexit Britain – which Dyson welcomed? What about:

* A recent free trade agreement with the EU, to go with ones with China and the United States, plus the Singapore Freeport;

* International companies who headquarter themselves in Singapore can see corporation tax (currently 17 per cent, compared with 19 per cent in the UK) fall to 10 or 5 per cent or even zero, thanks to lengthy tax breaks and generous incentives, especially for those who create jobs;

* No tax on dividends – the Dyson family could have paid 38 per cent on the 86m pound dividends for 2017 (down from 111m) from the parent Weybourne Group;

* No capital gains tax on a future sale or inheritance tax (IHT) (Dyson is 71);

* Less stringent corporate disclosure and governance requirements for private companies (a Dyson moan);

* Finally, no risk from a Corbyn government targeting the rich.

Dyson moved control offshore once before – to Malta in 2009 – then returned in 2013. He has also legitimately taken advantage of film tax schemes and IHT-efficient investments in agricultural land. Still, Singapore tax and access attractions clearly played no role in the move east by this latter-day Stanford Raffles, who assured Leave voters that no deal with the EU was no problem because “they’ll come to us”. Now it seems Dyson has decided to go to them.

Geopolitics of Europe and the Iron Law of Evolutionary Biology

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 05/02/2019 - 11:05am in

Europe after the Brexit, NATO 70 summit and Turkish geopolitical vertigo Professor Anis H. Bajrektarević A freshly released IMF’s World Economic Outlook brings no comforting picture to anyone within the G-7, especially in the US and EU: The WTO Round is dead, trade wars are alive, GCC is rapidly Pakistanising while the Asia’s core and its Far East slows down. No comfort either comes from the newest Oxfam Report – Are 26 billionaires worth more than half the planet?, which the ongoing Davos Vanity Fair known as the WEF tries to ignore (as much as this gathering of capital sustains in ignoring labor). The Brexit after-shock is still to reverberate around. In one other EXIT, Sartre’s Garcin famously says: ‘Hell is other people’. Indeed, the business of othering remains lucrative: The NATO 70 summit will desperately look for enemies. Escalation, the best way to preserve eroded unity, requires the confrontational nostalgia dictatum. Will the passionately US-pushed cross-Atlantic Free Trade Area (substituting the abandoned TIPP and compensating for the Sino-US trade war) save the day? Or, …

‘Foxconn Was a Major Con’: Backed by Trump Promises and $4 Billion in Subsidies, Company Admits Factory Jobs Not Coming

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 31/01/2019 - 7:18pm in

Foxconn fleeced Wisconsin. But this was a feature, not a bug.

Yay! My Book on Slavery in the British Empire Has Been Published with Lulu

On Monday I finally got the proof copies I ordered of my book, The Global Campaign, which I’ve just published with Lulu, the print on demand service. The book’s in two volumes, which have the subtitles on their first pages The British Campaign to Eradicate Slavery in its Colonies. The book’s in two volumes. Volume One has the subtitle The Beginnings to Abolition and the British Caribbean, while Volume Two is subtitled Africa and the Wider World.

My blurb for the book runs

British imperialism created an empire stretching from North America, the Caribbean, Africa, Asia, and the Pacific, much of whose population were slaves. Global Campaign tells how slavery in the British Empire arose, the conditions and resistance to it of the peoples they enslaved, and the steps taken to end it by the abolitionists across the Empire and the metropolitan authorities in London.

The first volume of this book, Volume 1: The Beginnings to Abolition and the British Caribbean describes the emergence of this Empire, and the attempts to end slavery within it up to end of apprenticeship in 1838.

Volume 2: Africa and the Wider World describes how the British tried to end it in their expanding Empire after 1838. It describes how abolition became part of the ideology of British imperialism, and spurred British expansion, annexation and conquest.

The two volumes also discuss the persistence of slavery after abolition into the modern world, and its continuing legacy across continents and cultures.

The contents of vol. 1 are an introduction, then the following:

Chapter 1: the British Slave Empire in 1815
Chapter 2: From Amelioration to Abolition
Chapter 3: Abolition, Apprenticeship and Limited Freedom, 1833-1838.

Vol. 2’s chapter are

1: Sierra Leone, the Gold Coast and Lagos
2: India, Ceylon, Java and Malaya,
3: The Pacific, Australia, New Zealand and Fiji
4: West Africa and the Gold Coast, 1874-1891
5: The Ottoman Empire, Egypt and Sudan
6: East and Central Africa
7: Zanzibar and Pemba
8: Legacies and Conclusion

Both volumes also have an index and bibliography. I also drew the cover art.

Volume 1 is 385 pages A5, ISBN 978-0-244-75207-1, price 12.00 pounds.
Volume 2 386 pages A5, ISBN 978-0-244-45228-5, price 12.00 pounds. Both prices exclusive of VAT.

The books are based on the notes and summaries I made for the British Empire and Commonwealth Museum of some of the official documents they’d acquired from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on slavery. I also supplemented this with a mass of secondary reading on slavery, the slave trade and the British Empire. It’s a fascinating story. I chose to write about slavery in the British Empire as a whole as I found when I was looking through the documents that slavery certainly wasn’t confined to the Caribbean. It was right across the world, though most of the published books concentrate on slavery in the US and the Caribbean. There has been a recent book on slavery and abolition in British India and Ceylon, now Sri Lanka, and I remember seeing a book on the British campaign against slavery in the Pacific, published, I believe, from one of the antipodean publishers. I doubt very many people in Britain are aware that it existed in India and Sri Lanka, and that attempts to outlaw it there date from c. 1798, when the British judge of the Bombay (Mumbai) presidency ruled that it was illegal. Similarly, general histories of slavery do mention the infamous ‘coolie trade’ in indentured labourers from India and China. They were imported into the Caribbean and elsewhere around the world in order to supply cheap labour after the abolition of slavery in 1838. However, they were treated so abysmally in conditions often worse than those endured by enslaved Blacks, that it was dubbed by one British politician ‘A new system of slavery’. There’s an excellent book on it, with that as its title, by Hugh Tinker, published by one of the Indian presses.

General books on slavery also discuss the enslavement of indigenous Pacific Islanders, who were kidnapped and forced to work on plantations in Fiji and Queensland in Australia. But again, I doubt if many people in the UK have really heard about it. And there are other episodes in British imperial history and the British attempts to curb and suppress slavery around the world which also isn’t really widely known. For example, abolition provided some much of the ideological impetus for the British conquest of Africa. Sierra Leone was set up in the late 18th century as a colony for freed slaves. But the British were also forced to tackle slavery and slaving in the Gold Coast, after they acquired it in the 19th century. They then moved against and conquered the African kingdoms that refused to give up slaving, such as Ashanti, Dahomey and the chiefdoms around Lagos. It’s a similar story in east Africa, in what is now Tanganyika, Zambia, Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) and Malawi. The British initially wished to conquer the area as part of the general European ‘Scramble for Africa’, and their main rivals in the region where the Portuguese. But the British public were also aware through the missionary work of David Livingstone that the area was part of the Arabic slave trade, and that the indigenous peoples of this region were being raided and enslaved by powerful local African states, such as the Yao and the Swahili as well as Arabs, and exported to work plantations in the islands of Zanzibar and Pemba off the east African coast. At the same time, Indian merchants were also buying and enslaving Africans from that area, particularly Uganda.

The British were also concerned to crush slavery in Egypt after they took control of the country with the French. They encouraged Khedive Ismail, the Egyptian ruler, to attempt to suppress it in Egypt and then the Sudan. It was as part of this anti-slavery campaign that the Khedive employed first Colonel Baker and then General Gordon, who was killed fighting the Mahdi.

At the same time, Stamford Raffles in Singapore and Raja Brooke of Sarawak justified their conquest and acquisition of these states as campaigns to end slavery in those parts of Asia. The British also took over Fiji at the request of the Fijian king, Cakabau. White Americans and Europeans had been entering the country, and Cakabau and his advisors were afraid that unless the country was taken under imperial control, the settlers would enslave the indigenous Fijians. Indeed, Cakabau had been made king of the whole of Fiji by the colonists, though he was acutely aware of how he was being used as a figurehead for effective White control of his people. At the same time, the White planters were also forming a White supremacist group. So he appealed to the British Empire to takeover his country in order to prevent his people’s enslavement.

British imperial slavery started off with the British colonies in the Caribbean and North America. I’ve ignored slavery in the US except for the period when it was part of the British Empire. The Canadians ended slavery nearly two decades before it was formally outlawed throughout the British Empire. It was done through enlightened governors, judges as well as abolitionists outside government. The country’s authorities did so by interpreting the law, often against its spirit, to show that slavery did not legally exist there. There were attempts by slaveowners to repeal the legislation, but this was halfhearted and by the 1820s slavery in Canada had officially died out.

After the British acquired Cape Colony at the southern tip of Africa, the very beginning of the modern state of South Africa, they were also faced with the problem of ending the enslavement of its indigenous population. This included the indigenous Khoisan ‘Bushmen’, who were being forced into slavery when they took employment with White farmers. At the same time, the British were trying to do the same in Mauritius and the Seychelles after they conquered them from the French.

The British initially started with a programme of gradual abolition. There was much debate at the time whether the enslaved peoples could support themselves as independent subjects if slavery was abolished. And so the abolitionists urged parliament to pass a series of legislation slowly improving their conditions. These regulated the foods they were given by the planters, the punishments that could be inflicted on them, as well as giving them medical care and support for the aged and disabled. They also tried to improve their legal status by giving them property rights and the right to be tried in ordinary courts. Special officials were set up, the Guardians and Protectors of Slaves, to examine complaints of cruelty.

This gradualist approach was challenged by the female abolitionists, who grew impatient with the cautious approach of the Anti-Slavery Society’s male leadership. They demanded immediate abolition. I’ve also tried to pay tribute to the struggle by the enslaved people themselves to cast off their shackless. In the Caribbean, this took the form of countless slave revolts and rebellions, like Maroons in Jamaica, who were never defeated by us. At the same time a series of slaves came forward to accuse their masters of cruelty, and to demand their freedom. After the Lord Mansfield ruled that slavery did not exist in English law in the late 18th century, slaves taken to Britain from the Caribbean by their masters presented themselves to the Protectors on their return demanding their freedom. They had been on British soil, and so had become free according to English law. They therefore claimed that they were illegally kept in slavery. As you can imagine, this produced outrage, with planters and slaveowners attacking both the anti-slavery legislation and official attempts to free the slaves as interference with the right of private property.

This legislation was introduced across the Empire. The same legislation that regulated and outlawed slavery in the Caribbean was also adopted in the Cape, Mauritius and the Seychelles. And the legislation introduced to ensure that indentured Indian and Chinese labourers were treated decently was also adopted for Pacific Islanders.

Slavery was eventually abolished in 1833, but a form of servitude persisted in the form of apprenticeship until 1838. This compelled the slaves to work unpaid for their masters for a certain number of hours each week. It was supposed to prepare them for true freedom, but was attacked and abandoned as just another form of slavery.

Unfortunately slavery continued to exist through the British Empire in various forms despite official abolition. The British were reluctant to act against it in India, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Java and Perak in what is now Malaysia because they were afraid of antagonizing the indigenous princes and so causing a rebellion. In Egypt they attempted to solve the problem by encouraging the slaveowners as pious Muslims to manumit their slaves freely as an act of piety, as the Prophet Mohammed urges them in the Qu’ran. In the Caribbean, the freedom the former slaves enjoyed was limited. The British were afraid of the plantation economy collapsing, and so passed legislation designed to make it difficult for the freed people to leave their former masters, often tying them to highly exploitative contracts. The result was that Black West Indians continued to fear re-enslavement long after abolition, and there were further riots and rebellions later in the 19th century. In British Africa, the indigenous African peoples became second class citizens, and were increasingly forced out of governmental and administrative roles in favour of Whites. Some colonies also conscripted African labourers into systems of forced labour, so that many came to believe that they had simply swapped one form of slavery for another. The result has been that slavery has continued to persist. And it’s expanded through people trafficking and other forms of servitude and exploitation.

The book took me on off several years to write. It’s a fascinating subject, and you can’t but be impressed with the moral and physical courage of everyone, Black and White, who struggled to end it. I chose to write about it in the British Empire as while there are many books on slavery across the world, there didn’t seem to be any specifically on the British Empire. Studying it also explains why there is so much bitterness about it by some people of West Indian heritage and how it has shaped modern politics. For example, before South Sudan was given its independence, Sudan under the British was effectively divided into two countries. In the southern part of the country, the British attempted to protect the indigenous peoples from enslavement by banning Arabs. They were also opened up to Christian evangelization. In the Arab north, the British attempted to preserve good relations by prohibiting Christian evangelism.

I also attempt to explain how it is that under the transatlantic slave trade, slavery became associated with Blackness. In the ancient world and during the Middle Ages, Whites were also enslaved. But Europeans started turning to Black Africans in the 14th and 15th centuries when it became impossible for them to buy Slavs from eastern Europe. So common had the trade in Slavs been that the modern English word, slave, and related terms in other languages, like the German Sklave, actually derive from Slav.

It’s been fascinating and horrifying writing the book. And what is also horrifying is that it persists today, and that new legislation has had to be passed against it in the 21st century.

Pages