23 June, 2005

shark fin, whale, hedgehog balls

SinoEye is a new find, today the author argues that, environmental concerns aside, killing whales or sharks is no worse than killing most of the animals used in Western dishes.:

Killing is an ugly thing. Animals kill and eat each other. Humans unnecessarily kill and eat animals, this happens all over the world. More attention should be paid as to how these foods are processed, and enforcing control to prevent extinction of any species. Chinese and Japanese people have seen the documentaries too - more and more they are becoming aware of the issue. Just like how western people see their McLibel documentaries, some many decide not to eat this stuff anymore, or at least make more informed choices…..
Whaling and shark-finning may be an environmental and animal rights issue, but it should not be used to vilify Asian culture.

I’m a pescetarian (see Dan for the definition of that) so I sympathize with vegetarian arguments. Still, I I have tried weird food in Asia that is non-pescetarian and non-vegetarian simply because I wanted a different experience. Thankfully in Shanghai I can eat really weird stuff without having to touch mammalian meat.:



Img_1466Tomorrow, for instance we will eat these "vegetarian hedgehog hydnum balls." There’s decent Chinese vegetarian food in Shanghai - which is an improvement over both Singapore and Hong Kong. Plus, where else can you find vegetarian hedgehog hydnum balls? I have never seen real  hedgehog hydnum balls offered at a restaurant. If I did I would likely try them just for the sake of experimentation. But now, I’ll be able to resist that temptation because I’ve had mock hedgehog hydnum balls.

It’s amazing what can be done with soy protein. And it’s healthy wonderful stuff too.

Wait… what’s that Japundit?

A fertility expert in London is claiming that consuming too much soya can interfere with human conception.
Has anyone bothered telling China about this?

Crap! Sorry Lisa, no mock hedgehog balls for you.


by @ 11:37 pm. Filed under Culture, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia

question of the day


Here’s a thought: if Taiwan is considered a province of China, renegade or otherwise, why do Taiwanese-owned cars in China have to use black licence plates?
(Black plates are reserved for non-Chinese nationals only.)

Via SerialDeviant

by @ 11:24 pm. Filed under China, Taiwan, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia

chinese blogger slams isaac mao

Bingfeng has written a rebuttal to Isaac Mao’s labeling of Microsoft as Evil.

Bingfeng also rebuts my accusation that he supported the banning of ‘freedom,’ ‘democracy’ and other terms from the titles of blogs on MSN Spaces’ China service. While he didn’t directly say that he did, I think the support of Microsoft’s China business strategy more-or-less amounts to the same thing.

Beyond that, Microsoft is setting a dangerous precedent by going beyond the censorship requirements mandated by the CPC. If one of the world’s largest companies finds it necessary to do that, then what will smaller entrants to the market do? Great job at trailblazing Mr Gates.

Still, I have had this argument in the less authoritarian environment of Singapore. While I take a libertarian view on free speech issues, I will admit that the ‘other side’ has a point.

Bingfeng writes:

let me elaborate my points here - i am not supporting the ban of any nice words on the web (as mr. asiapundit misinterpreted me).
labeling something you don’t like as "evil" is quite easy, how to make
things move and advance requires something more than simplistic
labeling ("evil"), confrontational criticisms (like some media
commentators did) or merely an escape (the levi case), it requires
patience, wisdom and "change-seat perspectives". now you ask me what’s
my point, simple, let MS Spaces compromise and in, to help young people
learn independent and critical thinking, to foster a culture in which
people tolerate and benefit from different voices (in MS Spaces), to
contribute to the local communities and prove MS is a positive power,
not a danger to social stability, to create a virtuous circle and
therefore detoxify the me-you and black-and-white mentality (existing
in both chinese and western sides). all these, and much much more, are
valuable work for MS to do and are important for chinese as well.

by @ 11:10 pm. Filed under Blogs, China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Web/Tech, Weblogs, Censorship

foreign policy tools

According to an article pointed out by China Words, China has decided to move forward with an international television station along the lines of Al-Jazeera, seeing it as a possible foreign-policy tool.:

Among his set of six canvases that were mostly covered with images of Saddam Hussein’s two sons was one entitled Al-Jazeera TV, an abstract work that Wang said represented the role the television channel had played in challenging the dominance of Western networks.
Followed not just by Chinese artists but also by government officials and intellectuals, the Aljazeera story has become a sort of model for China’s own attempts to create a globally recognised television network….
Discarding their original preconceptions during the Iraq war, Chinese officials are now looking at Aljazeera from a different angle. How can a developing country produce an internationally successful television network?

How indeed? Well, for starters, not like this… (Richard Willmsen describes CCTV International)

You have this guy, for example, who preens and stammers his way through some pretend economics programme, accompanied by a Chinese woman whose attempts to pronounce the word ‘aluminium’ brought tears of pity to my eyes - although I hasten to add that he didn’t do much better. There is a young American woman who, during an incisive piece I saw on the important subject of how mobile phones, like, exist?, and how, like, people in China use them?!? changed her clothes no fewer than seven times, which is more costume changes than in an average Kylie Minogue concert. Then there is a fairly geriatric guy who provides the links between the domestic news (propaganda) and the foreign news (footage from international news agencies with all the interesting bits cut out), and whose exclusive qualification for the job seems to be an Australian accent. Also, viewers are treated to the sight of a team of wide-boys in ill-fitting suits who tell us about China’s weather. They do it surprisingly quickly considering the size of the country. They also bounce in a jolly and wide-eyed fashion around the screen, and I could try and think of something nice to say about them but to be absolutely honest what most comes to mind is the word wankers.

by @ 10:20 pm. Filed under Culture, China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Media

munir said thalib

This is a surprise, of sorts, and a moment to be hopeful. A government-appointed fact finding team in Indonesia have concluded that the State Intelligence Agency (BIN) was involved in the assassination of Indonesia’s best known anti-corruption and human-rights activist Munir Said Thalib.

Jakartass has a wrap, which notes that one of the country’s political fixtures, former intelligence chief Henrdopriyono, may be in trouble:

As for BIN’s suggested involvement, it can’t have helped that
former State Intelligence Agency (BIN) chief Hendropriyono and his
former deputy Muchdi Purwopranjono … both … failed to comply with
two summonses for questioning by the fact-finding team investigating
the murder of human rights campaigner Munir.
a staggering display of the scornful arrogance that was prevalent
during the era of former dictator Suharto, Hendropriyono … publicly
mocked the team, accusing it of being completely unprofessional and
seeking only to tarnish his name.
dapper retired four-star lieutenant general, nicknamed ?the Butcher of
Lampung? by his critics over a 1989 massacre of Muslim youths, is now
suing two members of the team for slander. His lawyer has derided the
late Munir and callously questioned why President Susilo Bambang
Yudhoyono felt it necessary to form a special team to investigate the
activist?s death.

by @ 9:48 pm. Filed under Indonesia, Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia

kim’s nuclear gamble

Via the now-banned-in-China Lost Nomad a link that will distract me from blogging this evening, PBS has put their entire Frontline North Korea documentary Kim’s Nuclear Gamble online.

by @ 3:22 pm. Filed under Blogs, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Media, North Korea

laowai’s letter

Laowai 19790204  has written to his Senators:

Dear Senators Gregg and Sununu,
I would like to draw your attention to this post by
TV-reporter-turned-blogger Rebecca Mckinnon:
In it she describes how companies like Microsoft and Cisco Systems are  complicit in providing the architecture for China’s terrorism on free speech and pro-democracy advocates, by selling to them and installing technology that assists in the suppression of freedom of speech on the internet….
…Furthermore, in permitting this activity we are passively allowing China to wage a war of propaganda on its people, a war that has thus far helped to create the phenomenon that we very recently saw:  the riots against Japan.  It is this hatred and malice, this racism that is partly fueled by historical mis-information that we help to create, in allowing Microsoft and Cisco Systems to help China censor its internet content.

Interesting turn to frame the debate in terms of US and Japanese security, rather than simply another ‘internal matter.’ Doing so puts a different spin of suggestions, via ESWN, that encourage "the US government to invest US$100 million to provide unstoppable proxy servers."

I’m not recommending such a thing at present, serious due diligence would be needed before such a proposal is even debated, but I wouldn’t discount it as an option.  It really doesn’t step too far beyond the ideas that were behind the development of Voice of America and BBC WorldService - it just updates them.

by @ 2:41 pm. Filed under Blogs, China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Web/Tech, Weblogs, Censorship

nurse ratched defaced

Chinese hackers have scored a small victory against Nurse Ratched. The China Digital Times picks up on this item from the Straits Times:

Chinese hackers have defaced the website of a police-run security
company leading a new effort to strengthen government control over the

The attack against the website of Beijing General Security Service came amid its drive to recruit a corps of 4,000 ‘Internet security guards’ to monitor the online activities of people in Beijing.

‘A security company that cannot even protect its own website can
hardly talk about security,’ the hackers wrote in a notice that
appeared on the site’s news section last week.

by @ 10:45 am. Filed under Blogs, China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Media, Web/Tech, Weblogs, Censorship

blocked site directory

Co-pundit Gordon is building a directory of proxy-linked censored blogs at the Horse’s Mouth.

That’s a good start. And it’s welcome in the interim as it will likely take weeks for John at Sinosplice to insert all the needed proxies into the China Blog List.

by @ 8:38 am. Filed under Blogs, China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Web/Tech, Weblogs, Censorship

typepad blackout

Rebecca McKinnion has confirmed that the blackout on TypePad-hosted blogs is throughout China. As well, it has spread to the ‘blogs.com’ domain.

Rebecca’s site was accessible from Shanghai as late as yesterday afternoon, but it was only accessible via a proxy by Wednesday evening.

Thanks to the other bloggers who are drawing attention to this. I am pessimistic that any change can be imposed on the Communist Party through outside protest. It may also be too late for actions against companies that have helped build the Great Firewall. But I think it is still possible to prevent this from happening elsewhere (for instance Iran).

If Cisco removed itself from the equation in China, I have no doubt that another company would quickly take its place. Still, I would like an accounting of just how far US and European companies have collaborated with China in censoring the net and I would like to see them prevented from acting against freedom in the future. At the very least, it should be mandated that they disclose their actions.

Rebecca has information on the Internet Freedom Act, and asks:

Why doesn’t the Global Internet Freedom Act address corporate complicity at all? If you’re American, write your congressperson and demand that it should.

by @ 8:21 am. Filed under Blogs, China, Asia, East Asia, Economy, Northeast Asia, Web/Tech, Weblogs, Censorship

Japanese Men Fight Back!

Fellow Tokyo resident and budding legal scholar Joe and I have
previously discussed the legality of women-only train cars in Japan.
See Joe’s take on the issue here,
or see my own prior posts here and here.

Some background information for those of you new to the subject.  In
Japan, trains and subways are packed during rush hour.  The Tokyo
Police Department reported that the number of groping cases rose from
778 in 1996 to 2,201 in 2004.  Are Japanese men just that hornier eight
years later?  Probably not — more likely, women have finally found the
courage to speak up (a major concern in the comments section of the
previous posts), and technology has paved the way.  Cell phones that
can send email and take pictures, are excellent tools for proving the
charges, finding the culprit, and promptly reporting the offense.  21st
century Japanese women have decided that they ain’t gonna take it.
This is all welcome news. 

But the official threefold increase has motivated the authorities to do
something.  Forty years ago Japan had women-only cars.  Osaka
reintroduced them a few years ago, and now some subway and train lines
in Tokyo have followed suit.  Now, during rush hours, there are train
cars for women only, also known in Tokyo as "pink cars."  For many,
this is a royal pain — the subways are cramped enough as it is.  Now
the men get shoved in even harder.  Plus, isn’t it sexist?  Would this
survive a discrimination suit in the US?  Does its implementation
violate Japan’s constitution? 

It isn’t just us star students of jurisprudence getting all pissy about
this.  Take Takahito Yamao — civil rights hero — who started an
organization to oppose women-only train cars and organize protests to
take on this sexist garbage.  So far, his group has 46 members. 

"This system is discriminating against men… We pay
the same fare and yet are labeled as evil persons. Not all men are
gropers. This is insulting."

Preach it, brother!

Yamao and his group make some good points: excluding men from some cars
doesn’t eradicate the problem of molestors; trains are packed at times
outside of rush hour.  Yamao suggests train companies install security
cameras inside each car, increase the number of guards on platforms,
and give discount tickets during the off-peak hours.  Until then, he’s
taking his protests to the front lines and defiantly riding
the pink car!
Rosa Parks, step aside!

So, are the police rushing to arrest him?  Not at all: it turns out all the fuss we made over the legality of these things was for naught.  Cooperation is voluntary.  The pink signs, the broadcasts over the intercom informing commuters of the women-only cars, the entire thing is a charade!  Men can ride the pink car as long as they don’t mind ignoring the repeated polite requests from women to leave. 

I think American men would see "voluntary" pink cars and ride them just to spite the system.  In Japan, such antagonists are few and far between — but at least all 46 of them now have a support group to help them cope with their rebellion against the system.

by @ 6:42 am. Filed under Japan

fewer beggars equal less crime

The Indian state of Uttar Pradesh (U.P) has come up with a plan to fight the rising crime-wave by providing all beggars in the state with jobs. The state cabinet approved a plan to have a "beggar census" throughout the state and the "physically fit" ones will given employment with state’s construction agencies. The government terms beggars as "potential human resource" going waste.

      The Indian Express reports:

After the cabinet discussed the issue at length, orders went out to district magistrates in charge of all major towns, asking them to start a census of beggars in their areas. Once identified, those who are found physically fit to work will be engaged as ‘unskilled labourers’ with government construction agencies. Those who are physically challenged would first be given aides to make their lives easy before they are trained in different vocations.    
      On being asked how the government had made this connection and reached the conclusion that they needed to be roped in for work, Neera Yadav, U.P Chief Secretary said, ‘‘Since they are not a part of the mainstream of society, it is understood that they indulge in anti-social activities.’’ Yadav admitted that government agencies like Rajkiya Nirman Nigam were facing shortage of manpower. So, the beggars who were physically fit could be taken in as unskilled labourers for construction work.

U.P is the most populous state in the Indian Union, with over 140 million people. However, it remains one of the most under-developed regions in the country with high rates of illiteracy and poverty. It is one the last regions in the world still inflicted with Polio. The state is ridden with corruption and a rising crime-graph. But, due to its size it becomes the "make or break" state during national elections. The crime-wave in the state is mostly due to corruption at all levels of government, with more criminal politicians than anywhere else in India. Therefore, it is highly moronic to blame beggars for the crime wave in the state. Hopefully, the government would actually go through with this plan, if not to cut down crime, but help the most destitute who turn towards begging to make a living.

by @ 6:15 am. Filed under India, Asia, South Asia, Jatin Varma


(Tuesday afternoon) It seems AsiaPundit, Glutter, BillsDue and a number of other sites are presently not directly accessible from Shanghai or Chengdu. I’m not sure if this is temporary or not, although my initial impression is that the ban on TypePad-hosted sites may have been restored.

Simon World can still be read from Shanghai, although not in Chengdu. (UPDATE: Simon is live in Chengdu, see comments)

I’d appreciate it if China-based visitors who can access would comment on whether this site is blocked in your region.


by @ 12:59 am. Filed under Blogs, China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Web/Tech, Weblogs, Censorship

chloe vs chloe

I have had a lot of traffic from XiaXue over the past two days. Some have littered the comments section with items noting my impotence, small penis size and my love of porn. All of that is true, of course, but I’m wondering how they knew.

However, most have been civilized visitors. With that I will step up to the defense of Chloe XiaXue whose reputation has been endangered by improperly placed captions in Singapore’s Wanbao newspaper.

MistakenspgChloe XiaXue, you see, is described in the caption on the left (click to enlarge) as being the Sarong Party Girl (SPG).

SPG is the blogger who ’shocked’ Singapore by posting a relatively artful black-and-white nude photo of herself on her blog. Why Singapore is ’shocked’ by this but legally permits 17 year olds to be prostitutes confuses me. Nevertheless, Singapore was ’shocked.’

While I had a sense of schadenfreude amusement over that incident, I am more sympathetic to XiaXue’s current plight; after getting an apology from Wanabo two Malaysian papers have made the same error.:

I am defamed across South East Asia. My photo is splashed across the Malaysian papers as the nude blogger who goes for regular Aids check-ups and took off my clothes for money.
Here: One stupid paper, and another stupid paper.
Even worse, for both papers it is ONLY my photo used. Happy lor, Chloe. Somebody else is paying time for your crime - your face is not even shown. Can someone tell me why I am suffering for some f**king editor’s f**king CARELESS MISTAKE?!
It will affect my career because I am only blogging now, and no brand would want to be associated with me after this. The potential damage is really not little.

I’m also concerned that SPG’s chances of a modeling gig or book deal may be damaged by this.

An item similar to the Wanabo item on SPG has been translated and reprinted at Asian Sex Gazette (not safe for work, but not seriously pornographic).

by @ 12:26 am. Filed under Culture, Blogs, Singapore, Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia

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