- Somebody forgot to tell Bloomberg that Koreans are automatons who lack creativity:
South Korea ranked first in Bloomberg’s Global Innovation Index.
Lovely photo on the “Methodology” slide, too.
Financial Times’ Seoul correspondent tweets that “many in S Korea would dispute this finding.” The ensuring Twitter conversation is worth reading, especially TK’s comments. For what it’s worth, while I agree that “many in S Korea would dispute this finding,” including many Koreans themselves, I myself am not really surprised Korea placed so high.
Anyway, this is going to make President Park Geun-hye very happy—she can’t get through a speech without mentioning “the creative economy.”
- Once again, Koreans are overreacting to a perceived historical slight, with the Korean ambassador to the United States threatening business ties with a US state.
The government of Japan urged Democrat Terry McAuliffe in late December to oppose an obscure bill in the Virginia legislature about textbooks or risk damaging the economic relationship between the two governments, according to a letter obtained Thursday by The Washington Post.
In the letter to McAuliffe before his gubernatorial inauguration, Japanese Ambassador Kenichiro Sasae urged him to oppose a measure that would require future Virginia textbooks that mention the Sea of Japan to note that it is also known as the East Sea — the name preferred by Koreans.
In his letter, Sasae said: “I worry that Japanese affinity towards Virginia could be hampered” if the measure is enacted. He noted the $1 billion in direct investment that Japan has made in Virginia in five years, the 250 Japanese companies with investments in the state and the multimillion-dollar export market in Japan for products from Virginia.
“[I] fear . . . that the positive cooperation and strong economic ties between Japan and Virginia may be damaged,” he wrote.
Look on the bright side, Japan—sure, that’s some seriously ham-fistedness, but it’s not quite as bad as offering to plant cherry trees in a city that’s largely Korean. And look at how far your diplomacy has come since the Twenty-One Demands!
- Meanwhile, in Davos, the Chinese and Japanese (admittedly, more the former than the latter) are giving us plenty of reason to be afraid, be very afraid. Read the respective rants by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on your own—I’ll just reprint this chilling conclusion by The Telegraph’s Ambrose Evans-Pritchard:
As readers know, I have been writing about this parallel for a long time. China is exploiting incidents to test the willingness of the United States to stand behind its treaty alliance with Japan, just as Kaiser Wilhelm provoked spats to test England’s willingness to stand behind its entente with France. It was a self-reinforcing process before 1914, and it is self-reinforcing now. All it takes to produce a catalyst is some “damn fool thing in the Balkans” to borrow a term.
Listening to the raw passion in the voices of Shinzo Abe and Wang Yi over the last 24 hours, I think there is an astonishing level complacency about the world’s most dangerous fault-line.
As for the “damn fool thing in the Balkans” thing, “an influential Chinese professional” at Davos reportedly silenced a room by openly talking about igniting World War III:
But then he said that many in China believe that China can accomplish its goals — smacking down Japan, demonstrating its military superiority in the region, and establishing full control over the symbolic islands — with a surgical invasion.
In other words, by sending troops onto the islands and planting the flag.
The Chinese professional suggested that this limited strike could be effected without provoking a broader conflict. The strike would have great symbolic value, demonstrating to China, Japan, and the rest of the world who was boss. But it would not be so egregious a move that it would force America and Japan to respond militarily and thus lead to a major war.
Well, when the Chinese professional finished speaking, there was stunned silence around the table.
Stock up on Pepto-Bismol, folks.
(HT to Joshua Trevino)