Muscatine, Iowa: The hole in fortress America
Americans have been suspicious about Chinese influence in their politics since Anson Burlingame peddled influence among Republicans back in 1868. So it’s surprising that the alarm bells haven’t been sounded on the news that Xi Jinping, China’s president-in-waiting, may still have a key to the town of Muscatine, Iowa which was given to him in 1985. This is an unprecedented security loophole, potentially giving him access to free drinks at Jody’s Bar (corner of 3rd and Walnut) or tamper with the upcoming vote on pythons in the city. Of course, Muscatine city officials no doubt feel smug that while Germany’s Angela Merkel must go to Beijing to ask for money “lobby for trust,” Chinese officials come to them. Admittedly, some trust-building exercises could be in order for Xi in the US, where the FBI has fallen out of love with reverse merger advisories. A few fall-backwards-and-I-catch-you exercises are also scheduled for Sudan, where Chinese companies have discovered to their shock and dismay that while countries in the Middle East and North Africa might have a lot of oil, some of them have… issues. Sure, critics can charge that China has its own problems. But Sudan doesn’t have the key to Muscatine, Iowa.
Putzes among us
Dangers are everywhere in our modern world, and it is the job of hard-hitting journalists to expose them. Kudos, then, to the Chinese media, which rose to the challenge this week by exposing the great Western conspiracy that lurks in the remote outposts of Tibet. Western evangelists just can’t seem to leave China alone. First, it was those dastardly Beastie Boys inciting trouble in Wukan, then Richard Gere readying his invasion of China from the belly of a Vale mega-ship. (You might think he wants you, Shanghai, but what he really wants is to supplant your position in the iron ore market.) Then HSBC reported a PMI figure of 48.8 for January, far below that of China's official PMI at 50.5. Analysts said the discrepancy was due to the presence of more small businesses on the HSBC index, but we're chalking it up to a conspiracy. Bottom line, foreign devils are tricky; case in point, that Germans were able to convince Sany Heavy Industry to pay US$500 million to acquire a brand name that would appeal to Westerners. “The Putzmeister brand will give Sany an appeal that it doesn’t have at the moment to customers in developed countries,” said Liu Rong, an analyst with China Merchants Securities. "Hang on," he said a few minutes later. "What does that name mean in Yiddish?"