Oh. I can’t bear it!
Through a very circuitous route, I have learned that a 2010 editorial I wrote for the on-line English edition of the Asahi was used in the English portion of an entrance examination. Wow, is that karmic retribution for the impure thoughts I have been thinking about supplementary education?
In the 2012 entrance examination for Aichi Education (!) University (愛知教育大学), my editorial shows up. It doesn’t have a title, nor an author or attribution listed and I will have to find out why that is, but it then includes the typical exam question strategy of fill-in-the-blank for the appropriate proposition (“Continued opposition […] the existence of the juku system has been one of the few areas of policy where the Japanese Teachers Union (Nikkyoso) finds itself in agreement […] education ministry officials.”)
Some sentences have been selected to be translated by the exam sitters.
you will have noted that
a) I’ve been slacking off in writing, and
b) Jukupedia now has a new look.
It’s summer time and while juku are always on my mind, the mind-to-keyboard connection is a bit slower in the summer.
The main purpose of the switch to a different theme was to make it easier for readers to comment. In the previous theme, I don’t think anyone actually noticed that they could comment, so please take the more obvious “Leave a Comment” link seriously and do leave some comments.
The other day, I expanded upon an Asia Pacific Memo I co-authored with Jargalsaikhan Mendee (a student in our MA Asia Pacific Policy Studies) and Dalaibuyan Byambajav (PhD program, Sociology, Hokkaido University, Japan). In this memo we argued that conflicts in Inner Mongolia (and in Mongolia itself) seem to be primarily erupting about livelihood disagreements rather than along ethnic lines.
A post by Mu Chushan in the “China Power” blog of The Diplomat. The post is relatively brief and argues that the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region (IMAR) is a particularly important test case for the CPC’s strategy and argument for ethnic harmony based on economic growth. Of the potential “trouble spots”, the IMAR has shown the strongest economic growth.
This post didn’t speak to another issue that I also have been thinking about beyond my expansion on the memo on this blog last week: geography.
While the IMAR is often portrayed as quite remote in Chinese conversations, some parts of it are actually quite close to the big cities of the Chinese coast. Xilin Hot – the centre of recent protests – is less than 500km away from Beijing. Even the furthest reaches of the IMAR are only about 1,600 km to the West (close to where Gansu provinces, the IMAR, and Xinjiang don’t quite meet) and about 1,500 km to the Northeast where Heilongjiang, the IMAR and the Russian Far East meet. Of the major IMAR cities, Baotou is further West, but less than 600 km from Beijing.
Contrast this with Lhasa which is approx. 2,500 km from Beijing as is Urumqi.
I cite all these differences here to illustrate that the IMAR is not remote from a Beijing perspective. This relative proximity is an element in the relative prosperity of the IMAR compared to other seemingly remote regions of China. Among Chinese provinces the IMAR thus has the 6th-highest per capita GDP, ahead of powerhouse Guandong, for example.
The IMAR’s geographic location along with the factors I wrote about the other day, all contribute to the importance of the IMAR that was highlighted in The Diplomat. Perhaps this explains the swift reaction by Chinese authorities in the sentencing of the perpetrator of the death of Mergen, as well as the prompt discussion and revision of some elements in mining policy in the IMAR.
Yes, this is an off-(supplementary education)-topic post, but it focuses on a subject matter that is a frequent distraction for me, Mongolia.
Together with two Mongolian graduate students, Jargalsaikhan Mendee (a student in our MA Asia Pacific Policy Studies) and Dalaibuyan Byambajav (PhD program, Sociology, Hokkaido University, Japan) I wrote an Asia Pacific Memo on “Livelihood Clashes in Inner Mongolia and Mongolia“.
In the memo we are arguing that recent clashes in Inner Mongolia as well as an incident last year are widely being portrayed as ethnic conflict but are rooted more in differences in livelihoods, i.e. pastoral herding vs. mining.
If we didn’t restrict ourselves to the very short length of the Asia Pacific Memo, I would have liked to write a bit more about some of the following related topics:
- the lack of real information about the current clashes in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region (China). All the information seems to be coming from the Southern Mongolia Human Rights Information Center, a U.S.-based human rights group. News agencies and Beijing-based reporters are then relying on the SMHRIC reports to write updates. While I have nothing against the SMHRIC and appreciate their work on behalf of Mongolians in the PRC, I sure would be eager to hear about the conflict from other sources as well, and I don’t mean Chinese state sources either.
- given my interest in Mongolia, I have an obvious side-interest in Inner Mongolia. The photo that appears alongside the Asia Pacific Memo (note that I’m the one wearing the hat) was actually taken in Mongolia on a trip right after I visited Inner Mongolia with my colleague, Pitman Potter. I have not been back to the IMAR since then, but found this trip very interesting. Mongolia-IMAR relations are clearly fascinating. Mongolians in China are the only major ethnic minority that has a viable patron state dominated by co-ethnics. By contrast Tibetans count on the support of their exiled leadership in India, and Uyghurs are making primarily a historical claim related to East Turkestan. Ethnic Koreans in China may be the other group that can look to a potential patron state. However, out of respect for China, Mongolia does not really act as a patron state to Mongolians in the PRC. For example, there is no special provision for ethnic Mongolians from China to acquire Mongolian citizenship. Nor do they receive preferential treatment in asylum cases.
- the relationship with China and the situation of Mongolians in China is fast fodder for populist claims by Mongolian politicians. According to Mendee and Byamba, there is a lively debate in the Mongolian blogosphere regarding the stance that the Mongolian government should take vis-a-vis the clashes in the IMAR. Mendee is writing his MA thesis on anti-Chinese sentiment in Mongolia, so this is an area where he is very knowledgeable.
- mobilization around mining-herding clashes is a subject that the brief memo couldn’t really do justice. This is Byamba’s area of expertise as he’s writing his dissertation on the development of civil society and is focused on environmental NGOs in particular in one chapter of the dissertation. Some of the current discussions in Mongolia seem to be focusing on the fact that protests have been relatively rare in Mongolia itself, even compared with the much more repressed situation that Mongolians in China find themselves in. We hinted at the fact of greater urbanization and concentration of infrastructure in the IMAR compared to Mongolia in our memo, but that clearly is not a satisfactory explanation in and of itself.