Some collected readings from the last few days.

China from a Russian perspective: China got special economic zones right, it learns from and adapts from experiences elsewhere in the world (the rule is to act gradually)  The Chinese retain a strong sense of citizenship when abroad. Importantly, the rest of the world helped China reintegrate after the cold war. Current instabilities are in social tensions (see the leadership battles between status quo and a-bit-more-democracy) and the need to move beyond copycat industries to true technological innovators (as a vague example of these issues, read about Sina Weibo, China’s Twitter).

From a US perspective: there are some people who cannot believe that China’s “rise” can be peaceful and that it should be contained. The writer argues that it is not possible and not necessary.

America may turn its eyes to Asia now that its engagement in the middle east is winding down. This could create a tension between China (often seen as bullying by its neighbours) and America (which is more experienced at exerting soft power). (NB the idea in this article that China is starting to expand beyond being a regional power is several decades out of date).

The greying of culture: a fascinating article about life in an Indian call centre. Clear stereotyping of cultures and a wonderful breakdown of the type of caller they are likely to encounter. More importantly, will the homogenisation required of these “process” workers have an impact on their lives outside work and the culture they live in?

While we don’t see the whole sweep on the news much, the current towards new political structures in the Arab world remains strong.

Independent diplomats: bringing diplomatic skills to countries and organisations that don’t have the experience of the major powers. Essentially consulting (and very deliberately not lobbying), but helping to coach people how to inject themselves into the major world processes like world trade talks and the like. Very interesting development, especially as Digital Diplomacy takes off.

And finally, a great US flag story from AliBlahBlah. I don’t understand: it feels like a cult or religion of the flag to me, but what do I know?