Blogs by Rep Bob Lynn

Blog site of Representative Bob Lynn, Alaska House of Representatives,District 31 Anchorage, Alaska. Blogs consist of public comments during legislative sessions, speeches, political commentary, as well as personal observations, and some journal type entries. Comments are invited.

Location: Anchorage, Alaska, United States

Member of the Alaska State House of Represeentatives since 2003. US Air Force, Retired; military bandsman; F94C interceptor pilot; Vietnam service as radar controller (Monkey Mountain), radar site commander(Pleiku); Government Contract Management; Public school Teacher, Retired. Married 55 years to Marlene Wagner Lynn, 6 children, 20 grandchildren, 1 great-grandchild. Member St. Elizabeth Ann Seaton Church. Former Tucson Arizona policeman, Ambulance Driver and Mortician's Assistant, Realtor (currently on referral status).

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


I visited Shanghai on a World Trade Center mission two years ago. On my second visit to Shanghai this month, as part of the Special Olympics Team Alaska delegation, the great city continues to be the same economic and cultural dynamo as before - except more so. Two visits to this vast and complex nation do not an expert make me. Winston Churchill once described the former Soviet Union as “a puzzle wrapped inside an enigma.” He would likely say the same of China. Nonetheless, I know more than before about China.

After my first trip to China in October 2005 I posted a blog entitled “Dancing with a Schizophrenic Dragon” ( I think one of my better Blogs ). I could write the same Blog today. I still maintain that the marriage of hard line communism to extravagant capitalism, is politically and economically schizophrenic. I asked one of the few cab drivers who could speak English about that (cabbies, bartenders, barbers, and kids are experts on everything, and should be running the world). He told me the Communist leaders and politicians are”flexible.” I’ve met a few flexible politicians in Alaska, so I understand that.

Speaking of taxicabs, the rate of traffic accidents in China is, including fatal accidents, is according to US Embassy, among the highest in the world. It’s like the co-mingling of bikes, scooters, pedestrians, and careening cabs is one Chinese variety of population control. It’s amazing religion isn’t burgeoning in China’s cities, as riding in a typical taxicab is truly a “conversion experience.” But I digress.

Whatever, China is a force to be reckoned with. Ancient China was one of the earliest centers of human civilization. Today, with well over 1.3 billion citizens (I think most of them inhabit Shanghai’s highways and byways), China is the world's most populous country – even with it’s outrageous “one child” policy - and the third largest country in the world in terms of territory. India and the United States are second and third most populous. According to John D. Negroponte, US Deputy Secretary of State, “China's rise as a global economic power is one of the major events of our time . . . China's economic strength has come with increased political and diplomatic influence within and beyond the Asia Pacific region.” I agree.

America (and its economy and workers) suffers a glut of “Made in China” merchandise.
Wal*Mart, Starbucks, McDonald, KFC, have invaded China, and are visible all over Shanghai – but these are service industries. What’s surprising to me in China, are the expensive world famous (Gucci, etc.) high-end label stores. Even more surprising are the luxury car dealers, like a Masarett store. Shanghai is surely the last place in the world I’d venture out in the street with a shiny new Masaretti.

Just this week I received this quarter’s Anchorage Economic Development Corporate (AEDC) Newsletter, with news that a business delegation from China has signed Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) with the Municipality of Anchorage on increasing the export of Alaska seafood to China, as well as promotion of tourism, and direct passenger flights between Anchorage and Beijing. That’s encouraging news. Alaska's location puts it at the crossroads between the East and the West.

Considering its place on the world stage, there’s a paucity of public school education on China, as well as the rest of Asia – especially as it pertains to far eastern history and culture that underlies Asian thought and action. America is a product of the Judeo-Christian culture, also known as western civilization. It’s both critical and essential to national interests, as the intercourse between east and west increases – and it will - that tomorrow’s leaders understand and appreciate the similarities and dissimilarities between the western and eastern worlds. Currently, Chinese youth are far better educated about the United States (not including democratic and religious ideals) and other western nations, than vice versa. Beware. He who is educated has the inherent advantage.

China has inherent problems. One is that China contains at least fifty-five diverse ethic entities or “nationalities” numbering over 105 million people, in addition to the 91% majority Han Chinese. There are huge language differences, not just regional dialects such between Georgia and Massachusetts. There’s also a huge disparity between upscale Chinese urban populations and poor rural populations, both in terms of economics and national assimilation. China must not be an easy place to govern and administer.

Alarmingly, China maintains one of the largest militaries in the world. In 2000, the total estimated personnel strength of the Chinese military is 2.5 million. However, there’s a paucity of hard information on China's military power and plans. However, it’s no secret that China is a nuclear power and, in then long run, could be more dangerous (but perhaps more predictable) than Iran. In the year 2002, according to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the size of the Chinese nuclear arsenal was about 400 warheads. Moreover, The Bulletin estimated that 20 nuclear-armed missiles are deployed in the intercontinental role, and another 230 nuclear weapons on deployed (or can be deployed) on aircraft, missiles, and submarines. That was seven years ago. I’d bet my housecat China’s nuclear arsenal is much larger in 2007.

Just this week, China launched a lunar probe into space that's expected to beam images of the moon back to planet earth in November. China has already launched astronauts into space, plans on a lunar rover five years from now, and has knocked one of their aged weather satallites out of space with a rocket interceptor (which means they could knock down one of our surveillance satellites, if they choose to do so). According to our National Aeronautical and Space Administration (NASA), the odds are China will soon put a man back on the moon before the United States repeats its manned moon landings between 1969 and 1972. Ergo, China possess nuclear weapons and has increasing ability to rocket them to anyplace on earth. As an US Air Force retiree with much of my military career in air defense, I'm concerned.

Of especial concern in today’s scary world is China being a key supplier of weapons
technology, particularly missile or chemical technology to folks like Iran, North Korea,
and Pakistan that our State Department say (and I believe) support terrorism.

There’s been longstanding conflict between the People’s Republic of China (Communist Mainland China) and the Republic of China on the Island of Taiwan (Democratic). Each “China” claims the other “China” as their own, and only the narrow Strait of Formosa separates the nations. China has consistently threatened to take military action if Taiwan declares independence from the mainland or indefinitely prolongs the unification process.

It’s disturbing too that China has refused to renounce the use of force against Taiwan. If China ever attempts to invade (not soon likely), or blockade Taiwan’s ports, the United States would find itself in a sticky situation. Would corporate America succumb to potential profits in Communist China’s booming economy, and desert Taiwan? Would Congress and an American president stand by a friend, and get between Taiwan and China’s military multitudes, or what? We have the technology, but China has the manpower – and would have no moral qualms in sacrificing it to achieve its goals.

Any visit to Shanghai is an eye opening experience. It surely was to our Team Alaska Special Olympic athletes. There must be more cops in Shanghai than there are people in Alaska. The Chinese Army is there - but discrete. Churches are “safeguarded” as “protected monuments,” and freedom of the press and freedom communication is not ready for prime time (an understatement). Construction is booming. There must be a contest between architects on who can build the most bizarre skyscrapers. The people are warm and friendly - not just the hotel people who cater to well heeled tourists – but also common folks just walking down the street. All the young people are jabbering on cell phones that seem to be permanently attached to their ears. One interesting thing is that most models appearing on billboards seem to be Caucasian. Major shopping areas, such as Nanjing Pedestrian Road, are lit up like Las Vegas on steroids. As an avid amateur photographer, there’s a picture everyplace I turned camera (but one has to be careful what one photographs; in fact, one Special Olympian (not from Alaska) got hauled down to a police station for taking a photo of the wrong thing at the wrong time. Shanghai is exciting, China is amazing (both the good and the bad), and I hope to return.


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