17 August, 2005

the firewall expands

Gordon at the Horse’s Mouth has just asked me if I can still access his blog-city site from Shanghai. I can’t. Nor can I access other Blog City sites such as Kevin in Pudong or  Middle Kingdom Stories.

I ran a trace route and it seems that all of the sites are blocked at the Great Firewall of China.


by @ 9:20 pm. Filed under Blogs, China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Media, Web/Tech, Weblogs, Censorship

short wednesday links

Globe_gay7764113696093240Danwei reports that it’s now officially OK to be gay in China, with Shanghai’s Fudan University launching a gay studies course and state-owned Xinhua’s biweekly Globe.running a feature article on the troubles of China’s homosexuals. Bingfeng reports that it’s also Ok to be lesbian.

Nitin ponder’s the difference between Manmohan Singh and Junichiro Koizumi.

Amit Varma points to an editorial concerned with the competition between India and China - but in diplomatic and not economic spheres.

We in India are not paying enough attention to the steady accrual of Chinese soft power. There is a complacent view that this is an area where India is stronger and will continue to be so for a long time. India is banking on its open society, its lead in higher education, and its relative advantage in English. We are profoundly mistaken if we think that this will keep us ahead of China. Already, in an intellectual field that we thought we had a comfortable lead in, namely International Relations, we have fallen behind.

As Amit notes elsewhere, India and China seem to be able to come to terms with each other in economic cooperation.:

Indian and Chinese oil firms will sign agreements aimed at bidding jointly for foreign oil and gas projects and reducing cut-throat competition, a top Indian official told Reuters on Tuesday.
The energy-hungry Asian giants, which have stretched global supplies and contributed to the record rise in oil prices, are competing for stakes in foreign oil and gas projects to secure supplies.

Also at the Indian Economist, Reuben Abraham notes that India is making major progress in the pharmaceutical industry, securing the second-highest number of patents after the US.

Blogs are becoming a business in China, soon your blog may be outsourced!

I lived in Singapore for five years. It usually passes for a normal country. But it has its quirks. One is that the state media is occasionally as blatant as the North Korean Central News Agency in its obsequiousness. For example, here is Channel News Asia’s apprasial of the presidential ‘election’ where the People’s Action Party disqualified all but one candidate.

But this time around, Mr Nathan will emerge an even stronger winner backed by a sterling six-year track record, where he served with distinction and won the hearts and support of Singaporeans from all walks of life.

Jacob at Omeka Na Huria has other thoughts.

Imagethief has a message for the China Daily: Cell phones do not attract lightning! (see bottom paragraph of this Snopes item).

Tokyo is having a property bubble.

Kenny Sia has set up an app for translating websites into Benglish.

Malaysian plantation owners are denying any complicity in causing the haze.

OneFreeKorea has a roundup of Liberation Day, a date that will live in irony.


by @ 7:41 pm. Filed under Japan, South Korea, Blogs, Singapore, China, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, Current Affairs, South Asia, Web/Tech, Weblogs

over 100 bombs

Over 100 small explosives have been reported detonated across Bangladesh, Channel News Asia is reporting.:

A total of 111 explosions occurred near bus and train stations, courts and administrative buildings, various police officials said, adding they appear to have been caused by small, homemade devices.
Police in some affected cities said leaflets - apparently from a recently banned Islamic extremist group calling for the implementation of Islamic law - were found near the scene of the blasts.
Some were written in Arabic and others in Bangla.
"There are bomb blasts all over the country. We have reports of some injuries but no fatalities yet," said Abdul Kaiyum, Bangladesh’s Inspector General of Police.
In addition to Dhaka and Chittagong, police reported nine explosions in the southern town of Barisal and at least six in the southwestern town of Khulna.
Police chiefs in 11 other towns and districts reported a further 61 blasts.

The report does not mention any casualties.

UPDATE: Rezwan has more.

by @ 7:19 pm. Filed under Asia, South Asia, Terrorism, Bangladesh

china economic roundup (vi)

The Big Yuan points to a profile on China’s central bank Governor Zhou Xiaochuan, noting the increased influence of the People’s Bank of China and how the governor is being groomed for higher office.

Zhou has an engineering degree from Beijing Chemical Engineering Institute and a doctorate in economic engineering from Tsinghua University in Beijing, according to the central bank’s Web site. He speaks fluent English and is the first central bank chief with a doctorate degree.
Zhou began advocating step-by-step changes toward a fully convertible yuan as a means to promote economic growth, says Guan, the lawyer. In academic journals in 1995, he wrote that the first move should be to give trading companies and "weak" industries like steel making greater access to foreign exchange, Guan says.
"Many people felt the yuan should be free-floated but disagreed on how it was to be done," Guan says. "Zhou’s voice was a pioneer in the debate back then."

Further illustrating the governor’s rise, Simon points to a Jamestown Foundation brief on China’s bank bailout, which notes that the PBoC - and thereby Zhou - is now running the show.:

With the formation of Huijin, however, the PBOC stands to regain substantial clout in the appointment arena. Huijin itself is directly answerable to the Central Leading Group on Reforming State-Owned Commercial Bank, and the person running the daily affairs of the Leading Group is none other than Zhou Xiaochuan, the governor of the PBOC. Moreover, most of Huijin’s management comes from the PBOC/SAFE bureaucracy and dares not anger Zhou Xiaochuan. As Huijin becomes a majority shareholder of an increasing number of financial institutions, it can weaken if not deprive altogether the appointment power of rival agencies.

Not everyone is pleased about the PBoC’s increasing influence, as the Jamestown brief author notes on his blog, the National Development & Reform Commission isn’t happy. Logan Wright has more.

Survived Sars also points to a People’s Daily item on China’s potentially slowing export growth.:

Second, export growth is likely to see a remarkable slowdown in the
second half year, which will impose heavy pressure on the economic
growth in the short term. It will be seen in two aspects: first,
industrial growth to be pulled down, leading to falling employment
growth and slowed GDP growth; second, slowed growth of the production
of export goods combined with accelerated release of the output
capacity of products in excessive supply constitute greater pressure of
deflation. These will not impose a big impact on China’s economy in the
long run. Favorably, slowed export growth will force domestic
enterprises to improve the quality of their products for export and
their performance.

Software piracy isn’t really hurting Microsoft in China, Tyler Rooker argues, because it is preventing the emergence of domestic competition.:

…from one point of view, is that by continuing piracy, Microsoft is able to sustain its monopoly in China. There are no Chinese operating systems. There are none even in the works. Why? Because they will be pirated as well. Piracy undercuts Microsoft but it also undercuts would-be Chinese entrepreneurs who could (undoubtably) create a Chinese proprietary operating system that could sell for 200 yuan ($25). That is the threshold price that would keep Chinese entrepreneurs profitable and return their investment costs. But why doesn’t Kingsoft, the Microsoft of China, attempt it? Piracy.
Piracy, in the case of China, does take profit from Microsoft. But I would argue that Microsoft also benefits, and even profits (as the proverb predicts) from piracy. Without piracy, 100 operating systems, like Chairman Mao’s flowers, would bloom. They would undercut and eventually end Microsoft’s monopoly over the operating systems.

At the Globalization Institute blog, a reports that European retailers are being punished by the EU’s protectionism.

The Wall Street Journal today reports that some European retailers are being left stranded without clothes they have paid for thanks to EU quotas on textiles:

In June, countries with large textile industries, led by Italy, pressed for and got a quota to restrain the impact of a huge surge in imports that followed the removal of global trade barriers on textiles in January. However, the quota for trousers and sweaters already was filled by August, leaving some European retailers without clothing they had paid for. Since then, nations in northern Europe with large retailers have protested.

The European Commission has no business interfering with the textiles trade. In a year supposed to be about making poverty history, it seems odd that the EU should protecting Italian and French special interests at the expense of the world’s poor - and at the expense of European consumers, too.

Brad DeLong posts a review of a book on economic change in pre-Communist China (1900-1950).

Finally, the World Bank has joined the growing consensus that the Chinese economy will see a slowdown in 2006 (Bloomberg, Xinhua via CDT). The full report can be accessed here.

by @ 1:30 pm. Filed under China, Money, Asia, East Asia, Economy, Northeast Asia, Economic roundup

early wednesday links

Picture3_1Ben Muse notes that 80% of China’s oil has to travel from the Malacca Strait. Noting that the nation would be at risk from a conflict with India or an incident in the Straits would be a problem. This should be an area of mutual concern for the US and China. The former has long been arguing with Malaysia and Indonesia that Straits security is a global concern. Only Singapore has agreed to allow non-littoral states to engage in anti-piracy patrols.

Via BoingBoing, Piracy kills creativity.

In China, even cats know kung fu.


An editor at the China Youth Daily has written an open letter blasting new appraisal regulations that erode editorial freedom. ESWN translates. That an 26-year veteran editor of a Communist Youth League-owned paper should be openly criticising moves to create a more dogmatic paper is impressive. But Ian Lamont at Harvard Extended  notes that the desire for press freedom by Chinese journalists isn’t new.:

Kelly Haggart, on Chinese journalists during and after Tiananmen:
"There is pride among Beijing journalists about those few days of press freedom. For one thing, it showed the potential of Chinese journalists. For the first time they were allowed to act like real reporters and they did no worse at covering the story than their more experienced foreign counterparts. … For almost all city people, no matter what they thought of the students and their hunger strike, that week of relative press freedom brought home to them the importance of more open, more enterprising media. Freedom of the press was no longer a complete abstraction." [page 50]


54_sudokuscreenThe Eclectic Econoclast points to a site offering Suduko-generating software. Wikipedia notes that the Japanese number puzzle has this year gained global popularity.

If Shappell Corby, the Aussie tourist  sentenced to 20 years in a Balinese prison for drug smuggling, is released on appeal… she could be in the money.:

4754schapelle_corbyMen’s magazines will rush to sign-up Schapelle Corby for a raunchy photo shoot if she is freed. And the convicted drug smuggler could earn up to $500,000 for a sexy bikini shoot, according to reports.
FHM magazine has revealed Corby polled strongly in its 100 hottest women vote but editors decided against including the former beauty student, fearing a public backlash.
"At the time she was on trial and potentially could have been executed . . . so it may have been in slightly poor taste," FHM editor John Bastick was quoted as saying in The Courier Mail.

Brand New Malaysian points to the hazards of overplanning photo sessions.:

How corny does that look? At best, it shows the over-enthusiasm of this senior academic to portray, perhaps how attached and devoted he is to Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, as to put the book on a pedestal.
At worst, he comes off looking like a brown-nosing hypocrite that set up the placement of the book for the photography session.

BeachJapan isn’t just importing cheap manufactured goods from China, Japundit notes that New Tokyo has imported a beach.

The Marmot doesn’t trust a new poll that finds South Koreans would overwhelmingly side with the North .

The survey by Gallup Korea of 833 individuals born between 1980 and 1989 also found a marked shift in attitude to North Korea and the South’s traditional ally, the U.S. Some 65.9 percent responded they would take North Korea’s side if it was at war with the U.S., while 21.8 percent said South Korea must stand with the U.S. and the rest were undecided.

Singaporean scientists have invented a device that could help solve China’s chronic power shortages. With 1.3 billion people here there is a lot of urine that could power this device.

Taiwan’s first iPod-related crime almost sparks a diplomatic incident.:

A 12-year-old girl tried to threaten her friend to get her iPod back, but accidentally dialed the Swaziland ambassador. The kind ambassador has decided to forgive the twerp who called her up in the middle of the night. Lucky for that girl it was the Swaziland ambassador she accidentally called, and not the ambassador from a certain Central American nation that bitched me out in front of everyone at a Far Eastern Hotel cocktail reception once.

Taiwan_noteA look at representations of aboriginals in Taiwanese baseball, and the origins of the image on the 500 Taiwan dollar note.

Arms Control Wonk notes that reports of the number of Chinese-government front companies operating in the US are consistently overestimated.

The existence of “3,000 Chinese front companies” is one the most persistent claims about China floating around. The number is often attributed to the FBI, but as far as I can tell that’s wrong too. Or it used to be.

Averagekorean_1Finally, scientists have determined what an average Korean looks like.

ThaRum has an excellent post on Cambodia’s emerging blogosphere.

by @ 8:17 am. Filed under Culture, Japan, South Korea, Blogs, Singapore, China, Money, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia, Asia, East Asia, Economy, Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, Media, South Asia, Weblogs, North Korea, Australia, Sports

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