13 June, 2005

not worrying about bird flu

OK Fine!! I’ll stop shooting the pigeons. (NYT via Red Star News).

The New York Times has an article about the new Asian flu outbreaks in (China’s) Qinghai (province). Rumors that more than hundred people have already died could not be verified:

For the last two weeks, rumors circulated on some Web sites tracking infectious diseases that more than 120 people, including six tourists, had died of avian flu in Qinghai, and that hundreds had been quarantined.
However, they all proved traceable to a site run by antigovernment dissidents, which said it could not verify information members had posted anonymously. Pictures on the site purporting to show hundreds of dead birds were grainy, and allegations that the site’s “reporters” had been arrested were unconfirmed.
“We’re now more skeptical of the sourcing than we were,” said Bruce Klinger, an analyst for the Eurasia Group, a consulting firm that drew attention to the reports and then contacted American diplomats in China in an effort to confirm them.

by @ 9:49 pm. Filed under China, Northeast Asia

the sky is falling

And out come the wolves bears. After bearish forecasts  on China’s economy from CLSA, Morgan Stanley, and others - Tim Condon of ING Bank has joined the bears. Maybe…

China Digital Times linked to a Bloomberg item in the Financial Express of India, with the quote on the CDT site from Condon and the headline at CDT reading "Bloomberg: Boom time over for China!"

I expect that the headline was simply rewritten by an over-zealous editor in India and that the actual line from Bloomberg was more similar to this item: "China Drew 0.8% Less Foreign Investment 1st 5 Months," So, attributing the headline to "Bloomberg" is likely wrong.

Still, it sounds better than "India Financial Express Subeditor: Boom times are over for China."

That said, the boom is probably over. I know this because I’m here!

by @ 9:39 pm. Filed under China, Economy, Northeast Asia

windows and opium

I’m really enjoying Milton J Madison’s blog, I’m not always in agreement but he can lay out some keen analogies, for instance, his argument that Microsoft China business strategy is based on the opium trade.:

Estimates are that Microsoft Windows piracy rate is as high as 90% in China. This study says that software piracy in the Asia region is not as prevalent as in Eastern Europe but that 3 of the top four countries with the highest piracy rates are in Asia…
So, why does Microsoft take such a soft approach to both piracy in China and the rest of Asia and pander to the absurd needs of the Chinese propaganda machine by banning content and restricting the usage of certain words?
My theory is that Microsoft probably knows that the fight against piracy is futile. But if they get China and the rest of Asia addicted to the operating system, like the British use of opium to subdue China in the middle of the 19th century, they will have much more leverage in the future.

Also, note the post on whether the Chinese government is purging investment bankers.

by @ 8:38 pm. Filed under China, Economy, Northeast Asia, Censorship

a fisk of steyn

Mark Steyn is one of my favorite columnists, but his latest column did deserve a mild fisking. Simon delivers.:

Here’s where Steyn comes off the rails:

hasn’t invented or discovered anything of significance in half a
millennium, but the careless assumption that intellectual property is
something to be stolen rather than protected shows why.

one hell of a statement. Besides being unprovable it is also
meaningless. For the past 500 years China was mostly a relatively poor
country that wasn’t accused of intellectual property theft until the
last few years as it has rapidly developed. Steyn’s point is a valid
one - China’s advance will eventually rely as much as its capacity for
creativity and intellectual value-add as manufacturing. But in
aggregate that day is not here, yet.

by @ 8:29 pm. Filed under Blogs, China, Economy, Northeast Asia

the indian-malaysian identity

Malaysian blogger Adam provokes some thoughts into the subject:

Do Punjabis (an ethnic group of people who originate from the Punjab region of the Indian sub-continent) come under the “Indian” category or under the “others” category.

I once asked this question and provoked a small heated discussion among my friends.

According to some of them, Tamils, Malyalees and Telegu (based on the Indian languages they speak) fall under the Indian category while otheres like the Punjabis (majority Sikhs), Gujaratis, Ceylonese (Sri Lankans), come under the “other” category. Others disagreed and said that everyone from the Indian sub-continent is an Indian. To this day I am not sure what’s correct.


by @ 3:24 pm. Filed under Malaysia

cpc & flg

Richard at the Peking Duck points to an item of interest. While I could never see the Communist Party of China making peace with the FLG sect, it’s worth noting that some  are realizing what a tremendous waste of resources the state has been using to persecute them.:

July 22 will mark the sixth anniversary of former president Jiang Zemin’s decision to outlaw the movement in 1999. It was accused of causing its followers to commit murder and suicide, and of mounting the most serious threat to the central government since the 1989 student protests.
However, more mainland academics and officials have questioned the wisdom of using so many government resources and so much money to target the movement, which mixes meditation with Buddhism, Chinese mysticism and exercise.
They have urged the government to relax the crackdown and direct attention and resources to more urgent issues, such as law and order, and the fight against terrorism.

by @ 2:07 pm. Filed under Culture, China, Northeast Asia

declining standards of english education

Le Mason makes a spirited defense of Sarong Party Girl’s decision to bare all, and in doing so makes a disturbing comment.:

… someone like Xiaxue is deemed as doing her country proud and letting the rest of the world know about life in Singapore, while a very much better writer like Sarong Party Girl is typecasted as someone who’s shamed the nation. Hello, in case you haven’t noticed, one is a god-damned ah lian who peppers her distastefully pink blog with foul language and talks as
if she’s the only person who deserves to live on Earth. And writes bad grammar. And makes eye-soring spelling errors too.
On the other hand, we have another Singaporean who writes very well– so well her standard and command of English puts some of your own writers and reporters to shame– and all you focus on are two tiny photos that show exposed nipples and nothing more. Have you made any comments on how well she writes? To be frank with you, if I was teaching a class of mature students, I’d recommend they read SPG’s blog because of how well-written the entries are. And yet, I hear some schools are getting
their students to learn how to blog like Xiaxue.
(emp, link added)

Dear lord no! Alert the gahmen immediately - we need a "blog good English" campaign.

For what it’s worth, given that Singapore is a country that only recently allowed racy material such as Cosmopolitan, it’s not a surprise that this is being picked up as a news item. It’s a shame that reporters are acting ’scandalized’ by the matter, but SPG runs a high-traffic site and she knows what she is doing. (At the risk of sounding like Wonkette, I sense a "book deal.")

I’m more scandalized that Singapore schools would teach students how to write like XiaXue. If that’s actually true, I’m horrified.

Kenny Sia also weighs in (nsfw).

by @ 1:46 pm. Filed under Culture, Blogs, Singapore, Southeast Asia

fine dining in pyongyang

The Other Lisa points to some useful information for any gourmands traveling to Pyongyang.:

In July 2003, UN workers Sofia Malmqvist, Olof Nunez and Roberto Christen put out a guide to Pyongyang restaurants. Printed privately and distributed to friends and colleagues, the guide rates 50 restaurants in Pyongyang according to price and quality.

It is the first such attempt to introduce foreigners to the secrets of eating out in a city where visitors rarely wander around unescorted. The guide provides much useful advice. Foreigners are not common, for instance, at the city’s one bowling alley, but you might be able to hang out with the locals if you praise the restaurant’s stews. American-style pancakes are available at the Pyongyang Information Center’s second-floor restaurant. The Chongchun 1 restaurant attracts families and children and, according to the guide, is "a definite ‘dine with the proletariat’ experience!"

Beyond the bizarre notion of hamburgers and sushi in Pyongyang, there are many larger implications of a flourishing restaurant business in North Korea, including the erosion of a centrally controlled economy and the growing influence of outside investors. Read the whole article for further insight.

by @ 8:02 am. Filed under Culture, Northeast Asia, North Korea

china’s submarines

China’s naval buildup is a serious threat, although at present the threat is mostly towards Chinese submariners (Strategy Pages via Thinking Towards Ourselves).:

Chinese boats are either bad copies of Russian designs, or even worse attempts to build Chinese designs. But the Chinese know that just having submarine crews is not enough, you have to get these guys to sea, as much as possible. Under the old Soviet system, the sub crews spent most of their time living in barracks, and getting lectured in classrooms, or doing dry runs while their sub was dockside, motionless. When Soviet subs did go to sea, it was for a day, and then back to port and the barracks. By the end of the Cold War, the Russians and the Chinese were convinced that the Western approach (keep the boats at sea as much as possible) was ancient wisdom that still applied, and worked.
The Chinese submariners have to work for their higher pay. Keeping their creaky boats at sea means a lot more maintenance and repair work in port, and a lot more alertness and tension at sea. There are more accidents as these boats are pushed beyond what they were designed for.

by @ 7:56 am. Filed under China, Taiwan, Northeast Asia

world record watch (i)

La Idler has alerted us to Singapore’s two newest attempts at greatness, involving towers of dumplings and the world’s largest balloon-hat festival.:

Someone bring out the bubbly! We are at it again — the Guinness World Records that is. Once again, we have defied impossibility and gravity by building the tallest tower of dumplings imaginable.

With some patience, and lots of sticky fingers, a whopping 14,038 dumplings were finally made.
The dumplings were then neatly stacked on a custom-made wooden structure.
The final tally beat the current Guiness World Record of 13,192 hands down.

Heh. I wouldn’t be surprised if the previous record were made by us, seeing that we love to beat records in the most trivial ways!

by @ 7:37 am. Filed under Culture, Singapore, Southeast Asia, World record watch

beijing underground

From the China Blog List at Sinosplice, a new and welcome blog on Beijing’s underground music scene.

by @ 7:27 am. Filed under Culture, Blogs, China, Northeast Asia

steyn on the ‘coming collapse’

The Telegraph’s Mark Steyn, less than two weeks after saying his money is on China, has refined his view, making sure that his assessment this time cannot be mistaken for something positive.:

I said a while back that China was a better bet for the future than Russia or the European Union. Which is damning with faint praise: trapped in a demographic death spiral, Russia and Europe have no future at all. But that doesn’t mean China will bestride the scene as a geopolitical colossus. When European analysts coo about a "Chinese century", all they mean is "Oh, God, please, anything other than a second American century". But wishing won’t make it so.


by @ 7:22 am. Filed under China, Asia, Coming collapse, Northeast Asia, Censorship

china internet update

Rebecca McKinnion continues coverage of China’s registration drive for independent websites at Global Voices. Also included, a little clarity on Microsoft’s banning of freedom and democracy.:

Microsoft has launched a Chinese-language version of it’s Spaces blog hosting service, and guess what? Users are banned from using the word “democracy” and other politically sensitive words to label their blogs - although it does appear possible to use those words within blog posts, for now. (As noted in my interview with Isaac Mao, people who set up blogs under this service don’t have to register with the authorities because MSN is already obliging the government by policing their content.) But then, MSN is already in the censorship game even in the U.S., as Boing Boing discovered soon after the service’s launch.

by @ 7:10 am. Filed under Blogs, China, Northeast Asia, Censorship

chibikuro sambo

A children’s book, once banned for alleged racism, has been put back on the shelves in Japan (NYT via Howard French).:

TOKYO — A writer’s death can do wonders for pushing that back catalog. Less drastically, a few books acquire cachet by being banned.
Which may help explain why a reissue of “Little Black Sambo,” a turn-of-the-20th century illustrated children’s book attacked as being racist, is on the bestseller lists in Japan this spring.

The publisher, if I’m reading this correctly, has attempted to avoid criticism by remodeling Sambo as a Labrador.

Intrigued by the controversy, Mori conducted academic experiments involving readers that he said showed the Japanese take nothing racist away from reading "Little Black Sambo."
He offered a group of kindergarteners and another of senior citizens a look at two versions of the story: one with the Dobias’ drawings, another with the central character drawn as a black Labrador puppy. The test groups found both illustrated versions equally amusing.
Ergo, no racism, Mori concluded.
He then fine-tuned the drawings of the puppy, found himself a publisher, and in 1997 released a "nonracist" version of the tale, titled "Chikiburo Sampo."

Next, the return of Darkie toothpaste.

by @ 6:58 am. Filed under Culture, Japan, Northeast Asia

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