In fact, business has boomed in recent years, says the 53-year-old Lai, so much so that the temple now employs three full-time scribes, who record and transmit to the gods more than 100 petitions per day. That's double or triple the number just a few years ago, when Lai was a one-man show.A second article at the China Brief attempts to show that fears about China's "String of Pearls" strategy in the Indian Ocean may be overblown:
Taiwan may have rapidly modernized and boosted educational levels in the past few decades, and its flagship high-tech industries embrace scientific rationalism. Yet many centuries-old, Chinese folk beliefs and practices show no signs of dying out.
Some practices have merely taken new, urban forms as Taiwan's old rural ways fade. Others — like underworld petitions — have survived into the 21st century intact, and might even be more prevalent than before. Such appeals can also be made by the dead against the living, says Paul Katz, an expert on Chinese religious and judicial traditions at Taiwan's Academia Sinica, at a recent talk in Taipei.
This theory, a creation of a 2004 U.S. Department of Defense contractor study entitled Energy Futures in Asia, is now accepted as fact by many in official and unofficial circles . While the study contains some useful arguments, certain elements of it have been selectively quoted as singular evidence of Beijing’s strategic intent in this region. In spite of the lack of evidentiary proof supporting the assertion that China intends to turn these facilities into military bases, claims regarding future bases in these locations for the Chinese Navy continue to this day, particularly in the United States and India . This is somewhat ironic given that in past six months, Sri Lanka’s president and Bangladesh’s foreign minister stated publicly that China’s investments in port facilities in their nations are strictly commercial while over the past year the Maldives under the leadership of a new pro-Indian president reached out to New Delhi, not Beijing, to assist with maritime security for the island archipelago (The Times of India, June 28; BBC News, May 17; IndianExpress.com, August 13, 2009).Read on and enjoy!
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