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It’ll be a cold day in Burma

A Cold Day In Burma

By Russell Imrie

February 9, 2018

A few days ago the 2018 Winter Olympics took off great with ceremony at PyongChang, Republic of Korea (“South Korea”). That a very unlikely competing country, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (“North Korea”) marched in the opening festivities is amazing, given that the two sovereign states have been locked in an unresolved conflict since 1953 when an uneasy armistice began following a short, intense war.

That a prosperous and democratic South Korea even thinks of accommodating the North says a lot about the South’s confidence and progressive outlook—and the pariah North’s need for respect and global credibility as a nation.

This astonishing turn of events is one more step in South Korea’s historic path to establishing itself as a modern, dynamic Pacific nation with a vibrant economy and a place as regional power.

Myanmar’s (Burma) story now lies in strong contrast to South Korea’s narrative. At the end of the 1950-53 war, Korea was in utter ruins and had scant natural resources. Things looked bleak. Burma, another Asian country (now known as Myanmar), was in a similar condition but had rich mineral, forest, and agricultural advantages like fertile land, water, and a favorable climate. The steps each took to evolve their economies in the coming decades have led to vastly different outcomes. SE Asia expert and advisor Dr. David Steinberg, in “Myanmar and South Korea Expert Discusses the Reasons Why the Two Countries Upended Their Development Expectations, September 18, 2017” states that the strikingly contrasting conditions are primarily the result of two contrasting polities.

Myanmar is a country of abundant natural resources, and yet is still one of Asia’s poorest countries. This situation is in part due to recent political turmoil.

Myanmar’s economy, with large deposits of ores to support it, should have lifted the nation to a thriving economic giant and lifted the welfare of its people. Instead, authoritarian regimes controlled by a corrupt military and cronies have hobbled the nation and rejected foreign ideas and management expertise. Its economy and politics, despite the recent relaxing of junta-like control, are more than ever in desperate shape. Religious conflict and ethnic cleansing sees hundreds of thousands of Muslims fleeing to Bangladesh, itself struggling with its own challenges.

Korea’s post-conflict military regime though, exercised intelligient discipline by encouraging a free economy and foreign expertise. The ravaged mountains and cities were populated by an energetic population that could build ventures and were open to imaginative products.

The “my country first” economic model re-emerging as a populist meme ignores this fundamental lesson of national development: “It will be a cold day in Myanmar when the chains of authoritarianism will bless its peoples with freedom and prosperity.”

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Size Matters as US Hegemon Fumes

By Russ Imrie from San Francisco, February 17, 2017. 

Over 700 million Chinese are online today and that Internet market has room to grow; in technical development and global influence—a lot of room to grow.  

Meanwhile the United States, with a total population of a mere 340 million or so struggles and tries to uphold its Internet primacy. 

Yes, the Internet emerged in the US but control of standards, managerial values, and culture of users’ social values is slipping away, eroding as Oroville Dam’s emergency spillway was chewed up as unprecedented volumes of water flowed over a backup that had never been needed in 48 years. 

The sheer mass of China’s user base enables a robust divergence from the ebbing paradigm, another “Spillway” if you will. This extends to politics, national security issues, and social issues such as crime, climate change, water, etc. etc. China’s dealings with these is often problematic for the US, as they are in China ‘s self interest and less and less under US control. 

An example of these huge global issues is the near-extinction of wild Rhinoceros [to the disgust of the West] herds by poachers supplying the horns for their so-called medicinal powers to the Chinese market. Huge influence there but the slaughter goes on. China’s “Great Firewall” blocking offshore Internet, and a murky regulatory environment awash in corruption and crony collusion are components of a western mindset of China as well; sort of ugly. 

On another note though, the outsized sway of Chinese markets is breaking ground on another nasty problem. Controls have been laid on carfentanil, a synthetic drug that is fueling a deadly epidemic in  China and  the US. Struggling law enforcement has been hapless in stopping the rash of overdoses and criminal marketing of opioids. 

http://m.sfgate.com/news/science/article/China-makes-deadly-opioid-carfentanil-a-10935986.php

So size does matter, enhanced with Rhino horn or not as the world changes and China edges into the “good guy” circle.