On the eastern side of the Pacific, two election campaigns and one very weird week on Wall Street have taken up most of the attention. That is unfortunate (though understandable) because the bigger long-term news may have come from the western side of the ocean.
In short, it was not a good weekend for the Chinese Communist Party. The melamine-milk fiasco zoomed past 50,000 victims over the weekend, with over 13,000 still hospitalized (BBC). The cadres cut loose their first high-profile scapegoat - the head of food safety (BBC and CNN). To make matters worse, other consumer items are coming up with poisons, too (Epoch Times). Talk of closing borders is already working its way through the blogosphere (Small Dead Animals).
Of course, the cadres still have their Korean colony, with which they can manipulate the free world (BBC), but that game became much tougher to play now, for Japan has a new Prime Minister - Taro Aso (BBC, CNN, and the Washington Post). Aso has been one of the leading anti-Communists in Japan's Liberal Democratic Party, and his election as PM means the accommodating era of Yasuo Fukuda is over.
For the first time is decades, both Japan and South Korea have leaders suspicious of Beijing and Pyongyang at the helm - meaning the next American president will find limitations in his "engagement" efforts (should he choose to make any). It also means that the twin tyrannies will no longer be able to play America and her allies against one another to isolate the "hard-liners" (as happened with Japan prior to Fukada's ascension and South Korea upon the election of Lee Myung-bak).
By itself, Aso's ascension to PM is hardly earth-shattering, but when combined with the melamine debacle, more reports of repression (BBC, Between Heaven and Earth, CNN, and the Epoch Times), and more counterfeit finds (Epoch Times), it capped off what was a very bad weekend for the cadres.
More importantly, Aso and Lee are now in a position to ensure the CCP's geopolitical isolation, so long as North American leaders are willing to follow suit. We'll find that out soon enough. IN the meantime, one of the Beijing regime's largest advancements in the region - a friendly government in Tokyo, just vanished.