CTRP Heads to China

by bicyclemark 2 Comments

I love Shanghai by Sam Gao / flickr

Since it started some 14 years ago, this website has been a chronicle of some unforgettable journeys to various corners of the Earth. Being able to share observations and lessons learned has long been one of the pleasures of keeping this place running.

This week, another milestone in the adventure category: I’m off to Shanghai, China.

Shanghai, city of legend, city of the masses, this benchmark for both the past and present, and probably the future too. Biggest city in the world. Economic powerhouse. These are the factoids I read and influence how I approach this journey. I expect crowds. I expect noise. I expect dumplings!

Stay tuned. After a sleepy few months, there are going to be travel stories on CTRP again!

The Opium War Syndrome Continues

by bicyclemark 4 Comments

Writer and historian Amitav Ghosh writes about the Opium Wars of the later part of the 1800’s, a time where not unlike today, the western world had wracked up a great trade deficit with China.  And also just like today, the dominant discourse that was proselytized like the answer to all ills, was what they called free trade.  The benefactors of this trade were some of the largest corporations of that era, the British East India Company and names like that.  They all claimed that free trade was their goal and insisted that empires in the east adopt this practice for the good of the world.  But with this good came a long list of problems, as western traders pushed Opium on Chinese traders, and eventually triggered the Opium Wars.

Opium War MuseumIn the US education system, both primary and higher education, the Opium Wars are hardly mentioned. Children are taught that it was a British problem, a disagreement with the Chinese, and has nothing to do with the United States or these modern times we live in.  But in fact, the opposite is true.  The US played a major role, with relatives of presidents Thomas Jefferson, Calvin Coolidge, and even the Delano (Roosevelt) family being major investors in the Opium trade. And once we again we find ourselves in an era where nations claim free trade will solve the problems of the world, while at the same time pushing, secretly or overtly, monopolies and other “unfree” business tactics.

As people around the United States and throughout the western world occupy and retake public spaces and confront centers of business and trade, I wonder if they know how far back the practices they are raging against go.  The lives we know, for well over a century have been built on top of deep traditions connected to corruption and greed at the expense of massive groups of people. How do you halt or change a system so deeply ingrained in how things function? I think its a good time to revisit the Opium Wars, especially for those of us who don’t know the lessons that were never learned.

crnr1 Weekly News Review

by bicyclemark 8 Comments

Presenting a new program from citizenreporter.org, The Citizen Reporter Weekly News Review, which aims to go over global news stories with the help of guests in different corners of the planet.  This week being our first attempt at it, my guests are Bente Kalsnes in Norway and Atul Chitnis in Bangalore.

We cover:

  • The Earthquake in Haiti
  • Google and China
  • Laws against Homosexuality in Uganda
  • Ukrainian Elections
  • Fast Food tax in Romania
  • Copyright law changes in India
  • Public data portals online in Scandinavia, UK, US and beyond.

Please don’t bother commenting about the audio problems, I’ve listened many times and I know where its bad, Im working on this issue, but its a new program, so this will take time to get right.

bm277 Law & Order, China Style

by bicyclemark 0 Comments

Law and Order China Style.