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East Asia

"East Asians have bigger brains than Europeans or A..."



by 4 Jurors

East Asia is the eastern subregion of the Asian continent, which can be defined in either geographical or ethno-cultural terms. Geographically and geopolitically, it covers about 12,000,000 km2 (4,600,000 sq mi), or about 28% of the Asian continent, about 15% bigger than the area of Europe.

More than 1.5 billion people, about 38% of the population of Asia and 22% or over one fifth of all the people in the world, live in East Asia. Although the coastal and rivery areas of the region form one of the world's most populated places, the population in Mongolia and Western China, both landlocked areas, is very sparsely distributed, with Mongolia having the lowest population density of a sovereign state. The overall population density of the region is 133 inhabitants per square kilometre (340/sq mi), about three times the world average of 45/km2 (120/sq mi).

Historically, societies in East Asia have been part of the Chinese cultural sphere, and East Asian vocabulary and scripts are often derived from Classical Chinese and Chinese script. Major religions include Buddhism (mostly Mahayana), Confucianism or Neo-Confucianism, Taoism, Chinese folk religion in China and Taiwan, Shinto in Japan, Shamanism and Christianity in Korea. Shamanism is also prevalent in Mongolia and other indigenous populations of northern East Asia. The Chinese Calendar is the root from which many other East Asian calendars are derived.

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Geopolitics is a method of studying foreign policy to understand, explain and predict international political behavior through geographical variables. These include area studies, climate, topography,...

img Andrew Chen posted a review

Natural selection in East Asian populations has favoured genetic mutations leading to bigger brains, according to a new study by Chinese researchers that did not find a similar preference in Europe or Africa.

The study has shed new light on a controversial issue that has puzzled scientists for decades: why is the average Asian brain bigger than the average European or African one?

The world’s largest survey of brain sizes, conducted by American scientists three decades ago using more than 20,000 modern human skulls from around the globe, found that the average cranial volume among East Asians was 1,415 cubic centimetres, compared with 1,362 for Europeans and 1,268 for Africans.

Subsequent studies have confirmed those results. Among them was a magnetic resonance imaging survey last year which found that East Asians had a higher cranial vault, which allowed their skulls to house a bigger brain.

Researchers proposed a range of hypotheses to explain the differences, with some suggesting that living in a cold climate could lead to a boost in brain size because in such conditions a bigger brain would be better at maintaining a constant temperature at its core, where most thinking took place.

But the climate theory could not fully explain differences in the brain sizes of people living in the same latitudes, such as Chinese and Europeans.

The Chinese researchers said a gene called CASC5 – one of eight regulating human brain size – might provide more clues. Unlike most of the other genes, which also regulated the brain sizes of monkeys or early human species such as Denisovans and Neanderthals, genetic mutations of CASC5 in Homo sapiens are relatively young, only occurring after our species left Africa between 50,000 and 100,000 years ago.

The researchers, led by Professor Su Bing, from the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Kunming Institute of Zoology, compared CASC5 mutations in different populations for the first time.

They found a “high frequency” of four mutations closely related to increased brain size among East Asian populations including Chinese, Japanese and Mongolians. But such mutations rarely occurred in Europe or Africa.

The mystery of yawning: scientists suggest it’s proof of a bigger brain

“At the population level, our results suggest a selection of CASC5 in East Asian populations, which seems to favour a larger grey matter volume of the brain,” the researchers said in a paper published in the journal Human Genetics late last month.

“By contrast, no signal of selection was detected in Europeans and Africans. Precisely why this occurred is not entirely clear,” they added.

Besides climate, other forces that might drive such selection included social structure and cultural preference, Su told the South China Morning Post this week, while adding that such theories were pure speculation at this stage.

“Precise answers require further studies,” he said.

Su said the study in no way suggested that Asians were smarter than other humans.

“Scientific research has found no evidence, none at all, to support the existence of intellectual difference among races,” he said.

However, scientists generally agreed that humans had made significant sacrifices in return for increased brain size, Su said.

The brain consumed lots of energy, and a bigger brain made birth more difficult and drained resources from the rest of the body, resulting in many issues such as decreased physical strength. Europeans were generally bigger and stronger than Asians, Su said, but whether the physical difference was associated with brain size required further investigation.

“The Darwinian selection may still be going on today, but I think the brain size difference among races will eventually disappear due to the widespread genetic exchange occurring around the world today,” he said.

An anthropologist based in Beijing said the study tackled an important but sensitive issue in human evolution.

“The findings may fuel racist debate,” said the anthropologist, who requested anonymity.

Data in the study also showed a high frequency of genetic mutations occurring in South Asian populations, who lived in a warmer climate, and the anthropologist said it would be interesting to investigate whether Darwinian positive selection favouring bigger brains had also occurred there.

If so, it might suggest that brains grew bigger as humans spread further from Africa.

on January 31, 2017

Geopolitics is a method of studying foreign policy to understand, explain and predict international political behavior through geographical variables. These include area studies, climate, topography,...

img Anonymous posted a review

Rex Tillerson, Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of state, has set the stage for a potential clash with China, saying it should be barred from artificial islands it has built in the South China Sea.

Tillerson said China’s control and construction of artificial islands in waters claimed by neighbouring countries was “akin to Russia’s taking of Crimea”.

China claims sovereignty over almost the entire South China Sea, building seven artificial islands on reefs and rocks and outfitting them with military-length airstrips and anti-aircraft guns.

“We’re going to have to send China a clear signal that, first, the island-building stops and, second, your access to those islands also is not going to be allowed,” Tillerson said during his confirmation hearing to become America’s top diplomat. “They are taking territory or control or declaring control of territories that are not rightfully China’s.”

The statements are sure to worry China, which has taken an extremely rigid stance on challenges to its sovereignty claims. Last year, an international tribunal ruled much of China’s territorial claims were invalid, but had little effect and the Chinese government ignored the verdict.

“[Chinese president] Xi Jinping will not be seen as weak and soft in the face of pressure from the United States, so I really do worry about an early crisis with China,” said Bonnie Glaser senior adviser for Asia at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “China is not going to allow the United States to deny it access to what it sees as its own territory.”

Nevertheless, in its first response to Tillerson’s comments, China’s foreign ministry stressed the importance of mutual respect and cooperation with the US. China-US relations are based on “non-confrontation, non-conflict, mutual benefit and win-win cooperation,” spokesman Lu Kang Lu said at a daily briefing.

The “situation has cooled down [in the South China Sea], and we hope non-regional countries can respect this consensus that is in the fundamental interest of the whole world,” Lu said.

His comments presented China’s control over the area as a forgone conclusion, and indeed it would be difficult for the US to change the facts on the ground without a military confrontation. Experts say China is waiting until Trump assumes the presidency and begins shaping policy before reacting too forcefully.

“China has been restrained in the face of all the tweets and rhetoric because they hope they can put the US-China relationship on an even keel,” Glaser said. “The Chinese have not given up on that, but at some point Xi Jinping may have to because being seen as weak would damage his ability to consolidate power.”

This year is crucial for Xi as his first term winds down. A critical Communist party meeting at the end of the year will involve a cabinet shuffle and will likely determine who succeeds Xi, with leaders locked in a power struggle to appoint their allies.

While Tillerson did not elaborate on how the US would bar China from islands in the South China Sea, experts agreed it would have to involve some form of military deployment.

“Blocking China’s access, presumably with US warships, would precipitate a crisis, a military clash,” said Ashley Townshend, a fellow at the University of Sydney’s United States studies centre.

“It is also illegal under the same rules the US is conducting all of its current policy in the South China Sea.”

Under Barack Obama, the US maintained a neutral stance on sovereignty claims, not recognising any ownership and often sailing warships through the South China Sea in what it called freedom of navigation exercises.

“Tillerson, like Trump, is shaping up to taking a much more hawkish stance with China on the South China Sea and indeed more broadly,” Townshend added.

But a more assertive stance on what China sees as its territorial integrity is likely to cause more tension, with Xi saying in a speech last year: “No foreign country should expect us to swallow the bitter fruit of damage to our sovereignty, security and development interests.”

Tillerson also slammed China for failing to reign in North Korea’s nuclear program, describing China as having “complete control over what sustains the government of North Korea.”

“We cannot continue to accept empty promises, like the ones China has made made to pressure North Korea to reform only to shy away from enforcement,” Tillerson said. “Looking the other way when trust is broken only encourages more bad behavior. It must end.”

The boisterous language on both the South China Sea and North Korea is unlikely to force China to act, and may even hamper efforts of Trump’s administration to encourage cooperation in other areas.

“I can’t think of a solution to the North Korean nuclear issue that doesn’t involve China and the US working together,” Townshend said. “But publicly calling out China is not the best strategy if you are trying to induce them to cooperate.”

on January 12, 2017

Geopolitics is a method of studying foreign policy to understand, explain and predict international political behavior through geographical variables. These include area studies, climate, topography,...

img Gerald Wilson posted a review

BEIJING — Donald Trump is talking about Taiwan again — and so is China in angry and mocking comments Monday that questioned whether the president-elect grasps a core element of relations between the world’s top economic powers.

In an interview broadcast Sunday, Trump said the United States would not necessarily be bound by the One China policy — the diplomatic understanding that underpins ties between Washington and Beijing, and leaves China’s rival Taiwan on the diplomatic sidelines with the United States.

Trump suggested the policy could be revisited unless America could “make a deal,” potentially on trade between the two countries.

Trump’s latest foray into East Asian affairs came when he was asked by “Fox News Sunday” about the planning for the Dec. 2 call. He said he learned about the call “an hour or two” before it took place but said he understood the stakes.

“I fully understand the One China policy, but I don’t know why we have to be bound by a One China policy unless we make a deal with China having to do with other things, including trade,” he said.

“I mean, look,” he continued, “we’re being hurt very badly by China with devaluation; with taxing us heavy at the borders when we don’t tax them; with building a massive fortress in the middle of the South China Sea, which they shouldn’t be doing; and, frankly, with not helping us at all with North Korea.”

“I don’t want China dictating to me,” he said.

The remark elicited a sharp response from Beijing, with the Foreign Ministry expressing “serious concern” and a party-controlled newspaper calling the president-elect “as ignorant as a child.” By appearing to treat Taiwan as just a bargaining chip for trade deals, he may also have irked Taipei, experts said.

The comment came less than two weeks after the president-elect made headlines by taking a phone call from Taiwan’s leader, Tsai Ing-wen, a surprise move that was interpreted by some as a high-stakes slip-up and by others as an overdue show of support for a democratic friend.

A Monday editorial in the Global Times, a state-controlled newspaper known for its strident nationalism, suggested Trump ought to read some books on U.S.-China ties. It also warned that if the United States abandoned the One China policy, Beijing would have no reason to “put peace above using force to take back Taiwan.”

“China needs to launch a resolute struggle with him,” the editorial said. “Only after he’s hit some obstacles and truly understands that China and the rest of the world are not to be bullied will he gain some perception.

“Many people might be surprised at how the new U.S. leader is truly a ‘businessman’ through and through,” the paper said. “But in the field of diplomacy, he is as ignorant as a child.”

Su Hao, director of the Center for Asia-Pacific Studies at China Foreign Affairs University, in Beijing, said Trump’s comment was a “careless and irresponsible” act that could “shake the foundation of the bilateral relationship.”

The stance on Taiwan, he said, is not open for negotiation. “International politics is not business. Not everything is on the table for trade.”

Taiwan might actually agree — but for different reasons.

Many in Taipei hailed the call between Trump and Tsai as a breakthrough — a sign that the thriving democracy might finally get the U.S. backing it says it deserves.

They did not see the call as a slip-up or a diplomatic gaffe but rather as the product of a Republican-led recalibration of U.S. foreign policy that has been years in the making.

William Stanton, a career diplomat who served as de facto U.S. ambassador to Taiwan from 2009 to 2012 and now heads the Center for Asia Policy at Taiwan’s National Tsing Hua University, said Trump’s comment Sunday seemed to throw that idea into question by treating Taiwan’s status as just an element of trade negotiations.

“Either he doesn’t know what he is talking about, or he is endangering the status that Taiwan has always had in U.S. policy,” he said. “Having done a good thing, from my point of view, Trump has undone it.”

Wu Jieh-min, an associate research fellow at Taipei’s Academia Sinica, said the United States should not use Taiwan as a means to an end.

“Trump’s call with President Tsai may signal a possible readjustment of the U.S. policy toward Taiwan and China respectively,” he said.

“But from the perspective of the Taiwanese people,” he said, “the legitimate principle should be that Taiwan should not be used as something for trade between the great powers.”

on December 13, 2016

Geopolitics is a method of studying foreign policy to understand, explain and predict international political behavior through geographical variables. These include area studies, climate, topography,...

img Dave Blank posted a review

President-elect Donald Trump spoke by phone Friday with Tsai Ying-wen, the president of Taiwan. The call was the first in more than 30 years between an American president-elect and a leader of the semi-autonomous island.

According to a readout of the call from the Trump transition team, Tsai congratulated Trump on his victory, and the two discussed “the close economic, political, and security ties exists between Taiwan and the United States.”

But the Trump team’s description of the call belies the fact that the conversation has the potential to upset three decades of relations between the United States and its most important global trading partner.

China, the United States and most of the international community consider Taiwan to be a Chinese territory. But Taiwan, with its own elected government, constitution and military, considers itself an independent nation.

In recognition of China’s claim to sovereignty over Taiwan, the U.S. cut diplomatic relations with Taiwan in 1979. Trump’s call will likely enrage Beijing, and stands to damage U.S. relations with China before Trump even takes office.

“The Chinese leadership will see this as a highly provocative action, of historic proportions,” Evan Medeiros, a former Asia director at the White House national security council, told the Financial Times, which first reported the call Friday afternoon.

“Regardless if it was deliberate or accidental, this phone call will fundamentally change China’s perceptions of Trump’s strategic intentions for the negative. With this kind of move, Trump is setting a foundation of enduring mistrust and strategic competition for US-China relations,” Medeiros said.

The call with Tsai is the latest in a string of conversations between Trump and foreign leaders that have left foreign policy experts and career diplomats shocked and concerned.

Earlier this week, Trump spoke with Pakistani president Nawaz Sharif and said he looked forward to visiting the country as president ― something President Barack Obama has deliberately avoided doing because of the complex, and sometimes duplicitous, security and intelligence relationship between the two countries. Trump also spoke with President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan, a despot and international pariah who has ruled the former Soviet republic since 1989.

On Friday, Trump also spoke to Rodrigo Duterte, the newly elected president of the Philippines. Since taking office, Duterte has encouraged the extra-judicial murder of hundreds of people accused of dealing drugs, and he has suggested that journalists deserve to be assassinated.

In response to the alarm raised by Trump’s phone calls, White House press secretary Josh Earnest on Thursday delicately urged Trump to seek out advice from career diplomats at the State Department. “President Obama benefited enormously from the advice and expertise that’s been shared by those who serve at the State Department,” he told reporters at the daily press briefing.

“I’m confident that as President-elect Trump takes office, those same State Department employees will stand ready to offer him advice as he conducts the business of the United States overseas. Hopefully he’ll take it.”

Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy (Conn.) was more direct with his criticism. “What has happened in the last 48 hours is not a shift. These are major pivots in foreign policy w/out any plan. That’s how wars start,” Murphy tweeted on Friday. “And if they aren’t pivots - just radical temporary deviations - allies will walk if they have no clue what we stand for. Just as bad. It’s probably time we get a Secretary of State nominee on board. Preferably w experience. Like, really really soon.”

on December 3, 2016

Geopolitics is a method of studying foreign policy to understand, explain and predict international political behavior through geographical variables. These include area studies, climate, topography,...

img Dave Blank submitted a post

I'm afraid most western analysts don't understand one simple fact, that is China has little hold over North Korea, nor is North Korea a "puppet state" of China. Hard for the U.S. which has puppet states all over the world to believe, but China does not believe in interference. In fact, China has a stern "non-interference" policy even when it comes to "close allies" and "traditional friends".

Knowing this, the first thing Washingston should NOT do is to go tough on China. China didn't NOT rein in North Korea because it doesn't want to, but because she can't. Going tough on China will only push the two countries closer together.

However, from what I gather reading what American foreign policy think tanks have been saying, they really are oblivious to this fact.

on September 19, 2016
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East Asians have bigger brains than Europeans or Africans
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