28 June, 2005

socio-political critique before blogging

Here is a fascinating story from The Boston Globe–a kind of story that I don’t see much of in contemporary newspapers. It tells of one Ma Zumei and the revival of the artform of which she is a master–storytelling:

Zumei, a traditional Chinese storyteller, performs in the pingshu style
common in China’s northern provinces, where the storyteller’s stylized,
high-pitched voice, accompanied by folk instruments, alternates between
passages of prose and rhymed metrical verse. As Zumei whispers her
first words, accompanied by a young man playing a three-stringed
instrument called the san xian, giggles burst from the younger people
and foreigners in the audience. Her shrill voice, cascading tones, and
exaggerated gestures are a far cry from the saccharine smoothness of
modern popular music. But before long, the audience is laughing and
applauding enthusiastically.

As the correspondent suggests, storytelling was a traditional and popular artform in China, and in other parts of the world–a world before the days of the internet, Hollywood, television, radio, etc.  It also served as a means of socio-political critique, among other things:


by @ 11:45 pm. Filed under Culture, China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Media, Eli Alberts

贪污地共产党=Chinese Coprophagist Party’s colonic-irrigation’

I pleased that
Tze Ming Mok has joined Asiapundt as a junior author. While China’s war on blogs has beem covered extensively elsewhere, the best and funniest summary so far is this post at Yellow Peril.:

In solidarity with censored Chinese bloggers, this special post will replace the offensive and banned English words for 贪污地共产党, 民主, 西藏, 妓女, 法轮工, and 自由, with ‘the Chinese Coprophagist Party’s colonic-irrigation’, ‘demography’, ‘Titfest’, ‘wholesome’, ‘Feel-my Dong’ and ‘fucktown’.

by @ 8:01 pm. Filed under Culture, China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Web/Tech, Weblogs

great moments in chinese journalism (ii)

Once again, the title of this post is without sarcasm (via the China Herald).

In an unprecedented protest, almost 2,500 Chinese journalists have written to the Guangdong High People’s Court to voice opposition against the detention of their colleagues at the Guangdong Metropolis News, reports the China Digital Times.
"We are journalists from the Southern Metropolis News, Beijing News, First Financial Daily, Evening News, Shanghai Youth Daily, Sina.com and Sohu.com… we believe this is an unjust case…"

I had lunch with a reporter from one of Shanghai’s business papers today. Amid various points of conversation, she mentioned that she would never consider working for the state press: "There’s  not enough freedom."

China’s critical independent press has been developing for a while, especially in financial media. But an "organized" and upset independent press seems new.

by @ 7:43 pm. Filed under China, Asia, Coming collapse, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Censorship

xinhua plagarizes xiaxue

Did Xinhua just plagiarize Asia’s most popular blogger XiaXue? Not really, but close enough.

Danwei reports that China’s state news news agency has just run an item on how to measure a penis. XiaXue already posted her method for that ages ago.

I’m surprised the lads at Danwei missed the connection - they’re usually quite on-the-ball about plagiarism in China’s press.

by @ 7:01 pm. Filed under Culture, Blogs, China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Weblogs

nationalism and the state press

The other day, Ian at Harvard Extended was considering a thesis comparing how Chinese nationalism is displayed in its Chinese domestic state news service as opposed to its English-language service. He mused:

The copy that Xinhua produces for Chinese newspapers and broadcast
media has a propoganda mission. The Xinhua foreign language services
try to let foreigners understand China, promote China’s progress and
the struggles it faces, and, when it comes to foreign news, to uphold
China’s national independence, territorial integrity, and sovereignty.
Therefore, the mix of stories that are aimed at these two audiences
should be different. The gatekeepers for the English service — the
editors, translators, and reporters — may dump a lot of the
nationalism-themed stories, because they think it will not appeal to
the audience they are targeting.

For an example of this at play, Kevin in Pudong has translated coverage of the Pew popularity poll by China’s state press:

Recently in France, the media has been reporting a number of stories about things like “Chinese counterfeit money” and “Chinese textile dumping,” which had an effect on the population’s assessment of China. However, from a historical perspective, any French person with the slightest understanding of China will know that China is an ancient country with deep historical and cultural traditions….
One Danish college student said: “Chinese food is good, Chinese people are good. America is a big country, and everything is big there. But China is big too. And China is much more culturally-developed than America. So I like China.”
Regarding America’s poor image in the world, a number of media pointed out that following the Iraq War, America has strived to improve its image in the eyes of the people of the world, but the image of America as a hegemonic power has already been firmly planted in people’s minds.


by @ 1:20 pm. Filed under Culture, China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Media

current affairs for chinese kids

Via Danwei:

Jdm050627currents_1Is there something in the water at the Beijing Youth Daily headquarters? Here’s George Bush as an anti-terrorism superhero who, along with the King of Terrorists and a Henan version of Condoleezza Rice, appears in Current Affairs, a new monthly newsmagazine for kids.
The magazine’s Chinese title, 《时事魔镜》, reads "Current Affairs Magic Mirror"; magic is apparently necessary to turn international affairs into something of interest to kids.

Joel reviews the content and concludes:

This bastard child of the Xinhua News Agency and Mad Magazine certainly has the potential to fail utterly while trying to be too hip to today’s youth, but if it succeeds, it just might be brilliant.

Personally, I’d buy it just for the ultra-cute Condi rendition.:


The style and color scheme is off though. Ms Rice tends to go for power suits and, overall, has much better fashion sense.

by @ 8:20 am. Filed under China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Media

’yellow peril’ scorecard

Imagethief sums up US paranoia over Cnooc’s recent bid … just about everything China does.:

Current “yellow peril” scorecard:

  • Currency manipulators
  • Textile dumpers/WTO flouters
  • Growing militarists (from Rumsfeld’s recent address in Singapore, an odd criticism from the United States, which accounts for something like half of planetary defense spending)
  • Resource appropriators
  • IPR violators (this one is probably deserved, but it adds to the din)
  • Potential (not actual) US Treasury bond dumpers
  • Etc.

He adds a number of solutions.:

  • Stop driving all those Cadillac Escalades and be just a tad more fuel efficient
  • Convince Americans to start saving, even just a little, and slow down the debt-financed consumer binge that is powering the trade deficit
  • Spend less money on misguided foreign military adventures and ill-conceived weapons and more on the public schools which appear to be failing to train our next generation of technologists

I’m not in agreement with point three, but I will add a fourth point:

I welcome further additions…

by @ 7:59 am. Filed under China, Money, Asia, East Asia, Economy, Northeast Asia

nixon should have tried this

Helloooo? McFly, Anybody home?

MANILA Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, president of the Philippines, apologized to her countrymen on Monday, saying her telephone call to an election official, in which she allegedly discussed how to cheat in national elections last year, was "a lapse in judgment." 
On national television Monday evening, a somber-looking Arroyo said that her call to Virgilio Garcillano, a commissioner at the Commission on Elections, was not meant to influence the outcome of the election and that she was merely anxious to protect her votes. 
"I recognize that making any such call was a lapse in judgment," the president said. "I am sorry." She added that she took "full responsibility for my actions."

(IHT via Horse’s Mouth)

by @ 7:47 am. Filed under Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia, Philippines

sorkin on the ‘chinese challenge’

The NYT also offers a less conspiratorial view of the Cnooc bid for Unocal and other deals, from Andrew Ross Sorkin (via China Digital Times):

Many deals with Chinese companies - and, by extension, the Chinese government - may actually help the United States economy, just as China has helped prop up the nation by buying Treasury bonds en masse.
Indeed, so far, the businesses in which China has taken an interest could be categorized as "least likely to succeed." And the Chinese may eventually revive them.
Look at Maytag. That struggling company is a business that no other strategic rival in the world - yes, the entire world - was prepared to bid on. Before Haier expressed interest, the only potential buyer was a consortium of private equity players led by Ripplewood Holdings of New York. And what do you think they would likely have done with the company? The Maytag repairman would almost certainly have lost his job, along with dozens if not hundreds of others until the private equity group trimmed enough costs that it could take some cash out by flipping the business to another private equity team. This hot-potato game might have gone on for a decade or two until the company was milked of its very last dollar.
Haier, on the other hand, wants Maytag for its brand and its managers’ experience, so it can have some help building the business. While Haier is also likely to cut jobs, pink slips will probably come much slower in the United States. And the Maytag brand, its culture and legacy will probably live on much longer.


by @ 7:37 am. Filed under China, Asia, East Asia, Economy, Northeast Asia

krugman on the chinese challenge

Paul Krugman has an interesting op-ed today on recent attempts by Chinese companies/the Chinese government to acquire American companies.  He calls it, "The Chinese Challenge."  He also compares recent Chinese actions with "Fifteen years ago, when Japanese companies were busily buying up chunks of corporate America."  Back then, Krugman was not concerned, but now he is.  Why?

…judging from early indications, the Chinese won’t squander their money as badly as the Japanese did.
The Japanese, back in the day, tended to go for prestige investments - Rockefeller Center, movie studios - that transferred lots of money to the American sellers, but never generated much return for the buyers. The result was, in effect, a subsidy to the United States.
The Chinese seem shrewder than that. Although Maytag is a piece of American business history, it isn’t a prestige buy for Haier, the Chinese appliance manufacturer. Instead, it’s a reasonable way to acquire a brand name and a distribution network to serve Haier’s growing manufacturing capability.

But the second reason is perhaps more the more crucial one for Krugman; it is moves by the Chinese government to be a major player in "the Great Game" over resources in Central Asia:


by @ 2:30 am. Filed under Japan, China, Asia, East Asia, Economy, Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, Media, Central Asia, Eli Alberts

microsoft and the year that never happened

The blogosphere has been somewhat abuzz as of late over Microsoft’s unilateral decision to ban words and phrases such as ‘freedom,’ ‘liberty,’ and ‘democracy’ from its China blog service as a way to kowtow to the Chinese government.

A conversation with a friend of mine from Shanghai who is studying in America, brought the silliness of these measures home.  She has an MSN blog that she registered while still in China.  She recently tried to add the year 1989 in her profile (I still haven’t figured out why), which she soon discovered was impossible.  So, even in Philadelphia, 1989 never happened?!

by @ 2:09 am. Filed under Blogs, China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Web/Tech, Weblogs, Censorship, Eli Alberts

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