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Where China is investing

The Heritage Foundation has pulled together a fascinating study of Chinese investment -- showing (with really nice charts and maps!) just where all of those yuan are heading overseas.

A few things to note, plus one question....

  • Sub-Saharan Africa is the biggest single region for investment for the Chinese. (Plus, $36.4 billion is a lot of investment in a region whose total GDP is $744 billion.)
  • China spends the most money in Africa in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The resource-rich country is one of the very few on Earth whose economy has actually shrunk in the past 20 years (due to a brutal civil war). 
  • For every dollar of U.S. investment, China spends 51 cents in Iran.  
  • China invests nearly twice as much in west Asia as in east Asia -- a testament to its need for resources, more so than products.
  • China spends more in Australia than any other single country.
  • Why is China spending so much in Greece? Shipping?

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China's ethnic theme parks

News items about minority issues in China typically focus on the often contentious relationship between the authorities and  members of China's 56 recognized ethnic groups. But there's another dynmaic of race relations in China: what the majority Han population think of these minority groups.

In today's New York Times, Edward Wong reports on the growing number of ethnic theme parks in China, attracting foreign and Han Chinese tourists alike:

"The Dai [minority theme] park, with its wooden stilt homes, groomed palm trees and elephant statues, is part of an increasingly popular form of entertainment in China — the ethnic theme playground, where middle-class Han come to experience what they consider the most exotic elements of their vast nation. There is no comprehensive count of these Disneyland-like parks, but people in the industry say the number is growing, as are visitors."

Most often, the attitudes of Han Chinese toward minority groups such as the Dai are characterized by a mix of curiosity, condescension, and simple lack of knowledge. The indigenous peoples and customs of West China seem nearly as exotic to Beijingers as to Bostonians.

Wong compares the wealthy Han tourists drawn to an annual festival celebrated by the Dai people to America's Mardi Gras. But I think a better comparison might be 19th century Europeans fascinated by (and obviously woefully ignorant about) the peoples they saw as the "noble savages" of the Americas.

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