Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Week 9: The Big Short Test

REVIEW TEST: Choose any three questions. Answer them in a few short sentences. You may use the readings and information from class, and your notes.

1. In The Big Short, the main characters all believe what will happen to the housing market? Why does everyone think they were wrong?

2. Why doesn't the US support Kurdish independence?

3. Looking at the maps for the class, if Iraq breaks up into many countries, which country will probably control the south-eastern corner of Iraq? Why?

4. Why did China and the ROC become interested in the Senkaku/Diaoyutai Islands after 1970?

5. Why did the ROC suddenly become interested in owning the South China Sea islands in the 1930s?

6. Explain briefly how the French and British shaped the modern boundaries of Syria and Iraq.

7. Why do Iran and Turkey oppose Kurdish independence?


Today's reading:

Illegal Factory Problem


1. Why are so many illegal factories renting land zoned for agriculture?

2. Land use has a typical pattern of evolution, according to the article. What is it?

3. Why is there so much unused land in government industrial districts?

4. How can a tax help solve this problem?

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Week 8: The Big Short conclusion and reflection

1. In The Big Short, the main characters all believe what will happen to the housing market? Why does everyone think they were wrong?

2. How did Dr Burry find out about the real state of the housing market? How did Mark Baum?

3. Explain why the housing bonds were bad.

4. What were two criminal acts that big banks did that helped cause the crisis?

5. Why wasn't the crisis stopped by the bond ratings (evaluation) companies or the government?

6. (no points) do you know anyone in your family who lost money in the 2008 financial crisis? What happened to Taiwan's economy?

Friday, October 6, 2017

Week 3: Senkakus/Diaoyutai

Read the link below. Answer the following questions on a piece of paper.

1. What does the author say about how nations get sovereignty over islands?

2. What were the northernmost and easternmost points of Taiwan in the Japanese period?

3. What were the northernmost and easternmost points of Taiwan during the KMT period before 1971?

4. What did the ROC say about the Senkakus before 1971?

5. Why did the ROC and PRC claim the Senkakus in 1971?

6. The author quotes an ancient  text about Taiwan. Who does it say owns the Senkakus?

7. What does the "使琉球錄" say about the Senkakus? According to that text, who did they belong to?

8. The writer says that the "三國通覽圖說(1785)" famous map of 1785, does not make the Senkakus part of the Qing or Taiwan because...?

9. What was the difference between ROC/PRC maps of the Senkakus before and after 1970?

10. What nation had people living on the Senkakus in the first half of the 20th century?

Thursday, September 22, 2016

WEEK 2 The South China Sea

1. Give two reasons China is building islands in the South China Sea.
2. What are the problems for the environment?
3. Which country sued China in international court? What was the result? How did China respond?

Home > Emerging Tech > Showdown in the South China Sea: China’s…


Extending south of China and ringed in by the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, and Malaysia is a 1.35 million-square-mile body of water known as the South China Sea. If it truly is the case that East Asia is the global economy’s center of gravity, then the South China Sea might be its singularity. In 1405, the Chinese admiral Zheng He set sail with a fleet of treasure ships, traveling to neighboring nations and eventually as far as Mombasa, spreading knowledge of China’s wealth. Today, the South China Sea is again a venue for China to display its power — though with a very different fleet.
Although from on high the sea may seem a blue wasteland, punctuated occasionally by specks of uninhabited land, the islands have seen a frenzy of activity in recent years: China has constructed a series of artificial islands throughout the area. These artificial islands are a showcase of Chinese engineering, and this muscle-flexing has provoked strong reactions from China’s neighbors in the region, particularly the Philippines, which brought a suit against China to the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague. On July 12, 2016, the international tribunal ruled against China, however, the superpower refused to acknowledge the decision or even the court’s jurisdiction.
What exactly are China’s artificial islands, and why are they so important? As it turns out, China’s island-building plan sits on a contentious intersection of technology, politics, and the environment.

How do you build an island?

For those wondering what an artificial island is made of, the answer is the same thing most islands are made of: sand. The process for building these islands is remarkably simple, although the technology involved is imposing.
The first requirement for an island is a base to build on. Naturally formed islands don’t float in the water; rather, an island is simply the top, visible part of a land mass that is mostly underwater.
To construct its artificial islands, China builds atop already existing, islands, rocks, and even coral reefs. Building an island that can support airstrips and other military installations requires a lot of sand, however. To gather it, China uses a fleet of dredgers, ships designed to pick up and move materials from the seafloor. These dredgers use large tubes with cutting attachments at the end to grind up material on the seafloor and suck it up. From there, the material is carried through pipes or hoses and dumped on top of reefs, rocks, and other existing formations.
dredgers pouring sand
CSIS Asian Maritime Transparency Initiative/DigitalGlobe
Once the islands are large and stable enough, China can then lay down cement and build structures on them. The extent of the changes can be striking. For example, below is Fiery Cross Reef in 2006.
fiery cross reef 2006
CSIS Asian Maritime Transparency Initiative / DigitalGlobe
Here is Fiery Cross Reef in 2015, after China converted it into an island.
fiery cross reef 2015
CSIS Asian Maritime Transparency Initiative / DigitalGlobe
The new island includes a runway and harbor, as well as numerous other buildings.

What’s the point?

China’s island-building efforts require a heavy investment in engineering and infrastructure, so why is the country going to all this trouble? Perhaps the prime motivation is to reinforce China’s claim over the region. The Spratly Islands and other nearby chains lack indigenous populations. As such, they are claimed by the various neighboring nations. Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, and China all claim portions of the South China Sea, but China’s claim is extraordinary. Dubbed the “nine-dash line,” China’s claim (as presented to the United Nations in 2009) covers most of the sea, extending down to the coast of Malaysia. Naturally, this has proven contentious, prompting the Philippines — located very close to the Spratlys, which China includes in its claims — to bring a case against China in international court.
By transforming reefs and cays into military installations, China is extending its military capabilities in the South China Sea. Airstrips, radar arrays, and all such buildings give China the ability to project force throughout the region.
Why is controlling the South China Sea so important? Although the scattered islands may be unimpressive, the South China Sea is one of the busiest trade routes in the world. According to information gathered by the council on Foreign Relations, more than $5.3 trillion worth of shipping travels through the sea each year; $1.2 trillion of this trade belongs to the United States.
Beyond its importance as a trade route, the South China Sea may also contain bountiful resources beneath the surface. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that there are 11 billion barrels of oil in the South China Sea, as well as 190 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. As East Asia continues to grow in importance, these resources — and who gets to control them — will become more important.
Fuel is not the only resource in abundance in the South China Sea. The region is one of the most important zones in the world for fishing. In fact, 12 percent of the global catch comes from the South China Sea. Astonishing as it may sound, this may be a far bigger point of contention than the fuel reserves. Fishing is a crucial industry for China, which is currently the largest producer of fish in the world. China accounts for 17.4 percent of the world’s marine catch, nearly three times that of runner up Indonesia, according to a report from the Center for Naval Analyses. China is also the world’s biggest exporter of fish products, with nearly $20 billion in exports in 2013.
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lecture notes: