After slamming into Taiwan early Sunday morning before pounding the coastal province of Fujian, China the same night, the philandering typhoon Longwang has finally shrunk to a tropical depression. Initially courting Taiwan with a reputation as a Super Typhoon, Longwang apparently shriveled while crossing the cold central mountains and failed to recover its potent punch before its anticlimactic encounter with southeastern China. After hoping for a windfall of world attention, Chinese authorities are disappointed to report only 5,000 homes destroyed and 31,000 acres of crops wiped out. "We expected a lot more out of Longwang, especially after all the hype," Chinese authorities said today.
It quickly became apparent that Longwang was no match for Katrina in terms staying power in the news. As opposed to Katrina's continued dominance in the media, Longwang has quietly limped out of the world's headlines, much to the chagrin of China. Hoping to draw as much attention to Longwang as the U.S. enjoyed with Katrina's international exposure, China now finds itself on the short-end of the stick in terms of global sympathy. "No one is interested in hearing about China's Longwang when the U.S. is still showing pictures of Katrina's wild swing through New Orleans," said a journalist for China's main newspaper. Some suspect that China hoped to parlay any wide-spread typhoon damage into an international aid scheme and have been disappointed by Longwang's poor performance. Plus, predictions of snow in Beijing next week are reputedly making economists in China uneasy.
John Snow, the Secretary of Treasury and outgoing Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan are expected to attend the G20 meeting outside Beijing on Oct. 15 and 16. Snow plans to pressure China to make its Yuan more flexible and allow market forces to determine its value. "A flexible Yuan won't hurt anybody," said Snow, snickering behind his sleeve. U.S. manufacturers claim that China's smaller Yuan being pegged to the more robust dollar undervalues Chinese-made imports and gives China an unfair competitive advantage, allowing it greater product penetration in tight global markets. And Beijing risks being labeled a currency manipulator if the U.S. Treasury decides the China hasn't allowed its Yuan rise appropriately. China denies manipulating its Yuan, saying doing such would be "highly inappropriate."
Hopefully, these hard issues will be buffed out in the G20 meeting, along with China's consternation with lower media exposure given to China's natural disasters. "Why should the U.S. storms enjoy a greater global attention than China's?" asked a Chinese delegate, who declined to be identified. Many Chinese observers note that typhoon Longwang was not initially given the same attention as Category 5 storms Katrina and Rita, even in the world of satire. Then again, they have no idea how hard it is to work "Longwang" into a Bush joke.