Googling the Rim
Later one night than earlier the next morning, as PacRim Jim ruminated on lost youth or some such fiddle-faddle, it occurred that the search engine Google (www.google.com) could be used to obtain a rough idea of the share of one Pacific Rim countrys mind that is occupied by another.
Among the results tabulated below, that the U.S. and Japan are the most-linked pair was to be expected. Of disappointment, however, was the apparent mutual disinterest between the dozens of cultures of the thousands of islands of The Philippines and the dozens of islands of the thousands of cultures of still-mighty Russia.
(At this point, the more perspicacious reader might expect a discussion of the rigorous methodology upon which this research was based. Well, expect again, Poindexter, because the very thought of exactitude completely enervates the once indefatigable PRJ. Suffice it to say that Korea includes the South as well as the hell to its north, and US and United States were used for such rocky dirt and dirty rocks as keep Canada and Mexico from fatal embrace.)
|9/2002||Asia 2050, China 1
Ready for yet another scary prognostication?
China will dominate Asia by 2050.
"How could that happen?," you ask.
Well, curiously obliging reader, PacRim Jim will tell you.
If the current Russian population trend continues, by the year 2050 Russia will be home to only 60 million people, less than half its current population. Not to be out-enervated, Japan's population also will dwindle to 60 million, not counting the bazillion androbots.
By contrast, China's populationhence its relative military and technological strengthswill swell, reaching approximately 1.5 billion Chinese in 2050, more than 10 times the combined populations of the Russian remnant and the senescent Japanese.
Emboldened by such trends, tens of millions of lebensraumisch Chinese will drift northward into Siberia, quickly outnumbering the hapless Russian population and quite settling the question of Siberian sovereignty. By 2050, therefore, with the addition of Chinese Siberia (Sinoberia?)formerly most of RussiaChina's area (and natural resources) will more than double.
What will that mean to whatever remains of the West?
A cursory examination of the Asian map below should suggest a couple of questions:
* Will Russia merge with the United States to forestall China's expansion to the Ural Mountains?
* Will proud Japan become a vassal state of China?
Stay tuned. For although PacRim Jim is not at liberty to disclose the contents of future's fortune cookie, his uncounted children no longer study Japanese. They study Chineseand Mandarin Chinese at that.
|8/2002||Asia More Indian, Less Japanese
Forget everything you know about Asia.
That done, now remember everything you knew, except for the population hierarchy.
Over the next 50 years, the projected increases in Asian populations will millstone India with the teemingest swarm, by golly by gosh, while the graying Japanese population will kamikaze below the kiddie crowds of the Philippines and Vietnam. Especially noteworthy, however, are the fecund Pakistanis, who seems particularly adept at straining their resource base.
Of course, United Nations statistics are suspect because they are based upon linear projections. History and nature have ways of altering the projections (and fecundity) of humans, so coming decades unvisited by catastrophic comets probably will see the advent of silent biowars and runamok nanobotsor something equally unanticipated, but capable of pruning populations.
Evidently the future will be just like the past, only more so.
Pacrim Jim needs an aspirin...or a beer.
For reference, the population of the United States is expected to increase from 283,230,000 (2000) to 397,063,000 (2050).
Because of its uncertain future status, Taiwan was left out of the computations. However, its population is expected to increase from 22,270,000 (2000) to 25,188,000 (2050).
|6/2002||Asian Nation Mindshare
When not pondering the future, PacRim Jim is busy inventing it.
Consider, for example, the Pacster’s latest brainstorm: the Asian Nation Mindshare Index.
Based on statistics available from the de facto arbiter of world culture, Amazon.comÔ, the ANMI measures the relative space each Asian nation occupies along the analog lanes of North American brains. However unscientific his method, PRJ believes that Amazon.com’s variety of books about a particular Asian nation is a valid, if nonrigorous, measure of that country’s North American mindshare. Not to put too fine a point on it, the ANMI is a measure of each Asian nation’s contribution to world culture, and as such is a measure of the country’s relative importance, at least up here in the moderate northern latitudes of the Brand-Spanking New World.
That said, what the heck did the Pacmeister find?
The results of PacRim Jim’s desultory search of Amazon.com’s inventory are tabulated below, and, despite the data’s ho-hum layout, surprises abound.
Though India is practically absent from North American popular culture, Amazon.com carries more books about that subcontinent than about the Big Two, China and Japan. That Vietnam ranks fifth is no doubt attributable to that rancorous altercation of a previous generation. Amazingly, Korea and Malaysia tied, awaiting an as-yet unpublished, though probably forgettable, tiebreaker to salvage the national honor.
|11/2001||Mexico, sí. China, no.
In 2001, American citizens will send China approximately $70 billionthat's $70,000 million in hard currency. Such is the size of America's bilateral trade deficit with China.
In other words, Americans buy more from China than Chinese buy from the U.S., at the rate of approximately $133,180 a minute or $2,220 a second. This cash hemorrhage is approaching $1 per day per American! And this deficit is expected to increase into the indefinite future.
One would expect China to at least feign gratitude for the windfall from this one-sided trade relationship, or at the very least to moderate their behavior vis-a-vis the U.S. This expectation has proved naive, however. China has stolen American nuclear secrets, detained American tourists and subjected them to show trials, hijacked an American military plane in international waters and ransacked it, materially assisted terrorist states (e.g., Sudan, Iraq), threatened Taiwan with nuclear war, threatened Japan, threatened to nuke Los Angeles, and more.
Simply put, China behaves as if does not value its profitable trade relationship with the U.San ingenuous posture since most of this mountain of American money is used to upgrade the Chinese military, in preparation for what China itself foresees as its upcoming war with the U.S.
What, then, is one to think of Americans who thus finance their own destruction? Are they moth-stupid, hell-bent for the flame? Or are they kept ignorant by self-serving business and political leaders?
In any event, PacRim Jim has a proposal that is guaranteed to enhance American security on not one but two fronts.
Consider: Instead of buying knickknacks made in China (including Hong Kong), why not buy them from Mexico? This would entail the construction of thousands of plants and the training of millions of Mexican (and Central American) workers. Prices might be expected to rise a bit, since Mexican workers are higher paid than their Chinese counterparts. Once transportation costs are figured in, however, the disparity would be much less. In fact, America would save money, because less taxpayer money would be diverted to counter the diminished Chinese threat.
Imagine a $70 billion non-oil trade deficit with Mexico.
The numerous benefits to the U.S. and Mexico would be relationship-transforming: Millions of jobs would be created south of the border, where workers could afford to remain, instead of desperately flooding into the U.S. Mexicans would have billions of dollars to spend on U.S. products. Mexico would be able to clean up its environment. Mexican children would be better educated. Equally important, China would have much less money for arming their military, thereby diminishing its threat both regionally and globally. Then China would have to earn America's trust to qualify for any future trade. Imagine that.
Unconvinced? Then consider this: That son of yours now playing on the floor with Chinese-made action figures might be among those called to fight a future nuclear war with China.
To foresee war but fail to forestall it is to merit oblivion.
Succumbs to the Internet
Your obedient servant had a hunch that the Internet was exploding over Asia like an old bottle of kimchi. As usual, I was right...and not so right.
Such was the conclusion that patiently awaited my discovery after I queried a major search engine to determine the number of Web pages in various Asian top-level domains (see Note). As is evident from the Web-pages-per-person ratios in the following tables, part of Asia has succumbed to Netmania. Overall, however, Asia remains less addicted than is the West.
So, while the Internet promises to be the American invention most widely adopted in Asia, PacRim Jim postdicts that this will occur only to the extent that Asian countries have some degree of political and economic freedom as well as the wealth that results therefrom.
Note: The top-level domain of a domain name is the two- or three-character identifier following the last period. A two-character TLD is the national TLD (nTLD, such as .jp for Japan). A three-character TLD is the generic TLD (gTLD, such as .edu for a educational institution). Keep in mind that companies and organizations in many other countries often use a gTLDparticularly .comrather than their nTLD.)
|8/2000||Land of the Setting Sun?
Late in the 20th century, the Japanese economy grew rapidly to the second largest in the world, and even threatened to overtake the largest economy, that of the United States.
For this and other reasons, such as America's military ties with Japan and the strong Japanese-American lobby, Japan remained the ally of the U.S. in the Far East.
This will soon change.
Despite—or perhaps because of—the increasing economic and military rivalry between the U.S. and China, the U.S. will find it in its national interest to consider China the voice of the Far East.
Consider the following trends:
• Many predict that because China has four times the population of the U.S. (and ten times that of Japan), its economy will rival and eventually surpass that of the U.S. in the 21st century.
• China is building ships, rockets, and thermonuclear weapons to better project power abroad, while Japanese "Self-Defense Forces" languish.
• The influence of the Chinese lobby in the U.S. already has surpassed that of the Japanese lobby. There are more than 1.6 million Chinese-Americans, compared with 850,000 Japanese-Americans. Each year over 40,000 Chinese immigrate into the U.S., while only 6,000 Japanese choose to do so. Moreover, the aggregate family income of Chinese-Americans has far surpassed that of Japanese-Americans. Obviously, the Overseas Chinese will prove to be a source of strength to the Middle Kingdom.
Therefore, although Japan could count on the military support of its U.S. trump card in the 20th century, in this century the Land of the Rising Sun would be unwise to do so.
Diaspora strengthens. Insularity weakens.
After a brief respite from the Cold War, humanity now is experiencing the Asian version of brinksmanship.
Today China threatens Taiwan with thermonuclear holocaust. Can anyone doubt that tomorrow it will be Japan, as China seeks to weaken U.S. influence in the region?
What is Japan to do? Article 9 of its Constitution will be of precious little help against belligerent China.
An important part of Japan's 21st-century geostrategy will come from a just-in-time source: the Internet (and World Wide Web).
America developed the Internet in order to distribute its network servers throughout the U.S., thereby making them less inviting targets and ensuring the robustness of its communications network. One benefit therefrom has been the distribution of U.S. technical assets throughout the world, although they remain overly concentrated in Silicon Valley.
With its Technopolis strategy, Japan has adopted a similar strategy of dispersing human and equipment assets, by locating miniature Silicon Valleys throughout Japan instead of concentrating them in the vulnerable metropolises of Tokyo and Osaka. Indeed Japan has dispersed assets worldwide, both physically and via the World Wide Web, partly in order to ensure their survival and minimize the number of potentially crippling targets.
No doubt Japan also will prepare for retaliation via the World Wide Web using computer viruses, intelligent agents, etc., via both wired and wireless links.
The important point is that by making all of Japan the target, there is no target.
After all, one cannot attack fog.
|1/2000||Japan's Two Futures
Having avoided destruction at the hands of Godzilla, foreign imports, and the Y2K gremlin, 125 million Japanese are now safely into the 21st century.
However, with an aging population and an increasingly pugnacious China within missile-lobbing range, Japan would seem to have only two possible near-term futures: It could abide by Article 9 of its constitution, which limits rearmament, and become a de facto Chinese province. Or Japan could leverage its world-class technology and manufacturing expertise to equip itself with a thermonuclear bodyguard.
Because Japan has no illusion about U.S. willingness to sacrifice Los Angeles to protect Osaka, Japan's only choice seems to be the latter, in which case Japan would no longer need the putative American umbrella.
Japan will have time to rearm because, after digesting Taiwan, China will not turn its attention east to Japan. Instead, the 1.2 billion inhabitants of the Middle Kingdom will look north to the endless lebensraum of Siberia.
This will give Japan time to develop the offense and defense required to deter even the most adventurous neighbor, perhaps in cooperation with a nervous Russia.
|11/1999||China Helps Japan Obtain MIRV
Unthinkable? After all, they have been bitter enemies for 10% of this millennium.
It should happen, but not like you think. Let me explain.
Thanks to treachery at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, Beijing is now the proud, if silent, possessor of U.S. MIRV technology.
What is MIRV technology?
MIRV stands for "multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles." This means that each Chinese missile would function like a bus. After launch, approximately 10 thermonuclear warheadseach at least five times as powerful as those used on Hiroshima and Nagasakiwould leave the "bus" and steer independent trajectories to their targets. These would allow a single missile fired from China to obliterate 10 cities. For example, Kyoto, Nara, Kobe, Osaka, Sakai, Wakayama, Himeji, Akashi, Takamatsu, and Tokushima. Or San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland, Sacramento, Silicon Valley, Santa Cruz, Monterey, Berkeley, Stockton, and Vallejo. Gone, gone, gone, gone, gone, gone, gone, gone, gone, and gone.
Although it's too late to prevent the loss of this technology, there remains the problem of how to deter the theft of possibly even more destructive technology.
The answer is simple: Counterterror.
In the case of China, the U.S. could publicly give Japan the same technology that was stolen. More generally, when the U.S. determines that a country has stolen information potentially damaging to itself or its allies, it should give the technology to the traditional enemy of the thieving country.
Potential spies would then know that their actions would reduce the security of their own country.