25 August, 2005

thursday links


China will soon be receiving some unusual visitors:

I will be going to China during September to lecture at the Dalian World UFO conference. Apart from covering my research, my new book "Hair of the Alien"
and the Australian UFO experience, my key interest will be examining
the UFO experience in China. In earlier posts (see May 2005 archive) I
described some of the material sent to me by the active Beijing based
UFO researcher Zhang JingpingMeng Zhao Guo.

This is serious, and if anyone is interested they can apply here. The invitation letter states.:

All delegates need to inform the conference regarding their landing time and transportation means before coming to China, the conference will arrange the receiving of delegates.

The Communist Youth League is sponsoring an anti-Japanese video game (Interfax via Bills Due):

TokyowarsShanghai.  August 23.  INTERFAX-CHINA -
PowerNet Technology, a Chinese online gaming firm, has developed a new
online game in cooperation with the China Communist Youth League (CCYL)
named "Anti-Japan War Online," which will begin commercial operation by
the end of 2005, a PowerNet official said Tuesday.
"The game will allow players, especially
younger players, to learn from history. They will get a patriotic
feeling when fighting invaders to safeguard their motherland," a
PowerNet Project Manager, surnamed Liu, told Interfax.
The background for "Anti-Japan War
Online" is the Japanese invasion of China during World War II, from
1937 through 1945. Players are able to play simulations of key battles,
but will only be able to play as the Chinese side. Players will also
not be allowed to kill other players in the game.

Those who are worried that this will enourage anti-Japanese sentiments among the youth need not worry too much. Game play will be limited to three hours (Interfax via CDT):

The Chinese Government unveiled a new system Tuesday to prevent
individuals from playing online games for more than three consecutive
hours, which must be installed for every online game in the country.

"This timing mechanism can prevent young people from becoming
addicted to online games," Kou Xiaowei, Deputy Director of the
Audiovisual and Internet Publication Department of the General
Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP), said during a press

Occasionally, there is something interesting to read in the Shanghai Daily.:

Many Shanghai men are making a highly unusual request: They want
young women wearing halter tops and miniskirts to cover up in the
It’s not that local males aren’t attracted to the opposite sex. The
problem is that they’re too attracted, and their obvious state of, er,
arousal is getting them in trouble in the confines of Shanghai’s
crowded Metro system.
SkirtThe victims of sharp glances and sharp elbows, many guys are telling
city newspapers that they girls should stop showing so much skin, even
though skimpy tops and short skirts are comfortable antidotes to the
sultry weather….
"I’ve tried to maintain a distance from women wearing halter tops,
but it’s difficult to avoid bumping into them in you’re jostled by the
crowd," he said.
"One woman stepped on my foot in retaliation. My intentions were innocent, but she didn’t believe me."
Medical experts agree that Mother Nature is often a difficult force to overcome.
"It might be considered sexual harassment if a man has a certain
reaction while standing close to a sexy girl. But it’s a normal
reaction, especially for young men," said Dr. Qi Guangchong, an expert
on men’s health at Jianqiao Hospital.

Bingfeng brings us news of a new Chinese invention, the love making chair.:


AfrummyboxMeZhongTai has a good write-up on Donald Rumsfeld’s presscon on Taiwan’s debate of arms purchases, and notes that the Defense Secretary has probably again made some trouble for the State Department:

While speaking of the ROC arms purchase that has been languishing in
the Legislative Yuan due to Pan Blue stonewalling, Rumsfeld commented: "I’ve always believed that countriessovereign nations have to do what they decide to do."

Some poor diplomat is going to have to restate the "US supports the ‘one China policy’" spiel again. As my (made in China) talking Rumsfeld doll says, "That’s diplomacy and I don’t do diplomacy."

Lloyd’s is standing by it’s risk rating on the Malacca Strait, as it should:

The Joint War Committe of the Lloyd’s Market Association, an advisory organization for insurance companies, announced last week it will stand by a report drafted by Aegis Defense System, a London-based security consultancy.
had released a report in July with quite a dim outlook on security in
the Malacca Strait, which resulted in insurance companies designating a
"war risk" rating for the trading route crucial to East Asian
economies. In turn, ASEAN countries and shipping companies throughout
East Asia have been riled. With insurance rates going up, shipping
costs have reportedly increased significantly.

The risk of terrorism in the Strait has been something I’ve written about frequently, and the risk has been noted by the International Marine Bureau’s piracy center and numerous international intelligence agencies. Indonesia and Malaysia, which have admitted the risk, have refused repeatedly to allow non-littoral states to participate in anti-piracy patrols. Singapore, the other littoral state, has sought assistance. If increased insurance costs for Malaysia and Indonesia are what’s needed to convince them that safety is more important than national pride than so be it.

I hope that the Homeland Security department doesn’t read Gaurav Sabnis’ blog. If they do my duty-free single malts will probably be repackaged in plastic bottles:

GlemWe are allowed to carry bottles….glass bottles in our cabin baggage.
Doesn’t anybody feel bothered by this? The 9/11 hijackings were carried
out using box cutters. You know what is a more potent weapon than a box
cutter? Anybody who has seen a fight sequence from a Hindi film which
takes place in a college canteen or a restaurant will know the answer.
A glass bottle, broken such that its jagged edges turn it into a weapon.

If my next bottle of duty-free Glenmorangie comes in anything other than a corked glass bottle I’m blaming you Gaurav!
Feedback and links have been very positive for AsiaPundit’s China econonic roundups, so much so that  I’ve considered doing an India economic roundup. I’ve decided against it. If you want an India economic roundup just read the always excellent Indian Economy Blog.

Speaking of Indian economics, 80% of Indian children lead SUCKY lives.:

Though Africa (especially lately) is the continent many of us associate with poverty and desperation, Asia has double the number of “severely deprived” children.  I’m ashamed of my ignorance of this fact.  It’s so easy to focus on Bangalore and Gurgaon, on starbucks-esque “third places”, on “desirable” India.  I heard so much about India’s fabulous new middle class, I forgot that.

I also admit that in ‘world-class’ Shanghai I very rarely consider how many Chinese children live sucky lives.

Further on the Indian economy, does it need a touch of objectivism?:

AtlasNow although I’m one of those Desi dudes who cites Atlas Shrugged as an all-time favorite, I’m far from a Randroid.  I readily recognize that being too literal runs headlong into a more, uh, empirical assessment of the human condition.
But, I’m also more than willing to give Rand credit - especially
writing in the 1940s and 1950s - for being far more right than wrong
and a rather courageous contrarian against the intellectual zeitgeist
of the time.  The example of the License Raj - India’s economic regime
“progressively” enacted a scant few years after Atlas Shrugged was
published (1957) proves her eerily, almost literally prescient.

Oh crap. All of my friends in Singapore are going to be arrested and forced to work in telemarketing.:

I am not sure if many of you realise this, but if you own an iPod or
an MP3 player in Singapore, and you ripped music off your OWN CDs, you
are actually breaking the law in Singapore.

After the papers reported about the 3 guys who got arrested for
illegal filesharing under the new law, there was this FAQ that was
quoted off the IPOS site (Intellectual Property Office of Singapore).

Q. How do I know whether the songs in my computer or MP3 player are legal?
A. If you didn’t buy it from a legal site like Soundbuzz, it
is probably illegal. Plus, when you buy a CD, the rights only apply to
the CD; this means you cannot rip songs out and make them into MP3s for
your player.
Generally, it’s advisable to check the terms and conditions of
use before you make a copy of the songs. — SOURCE: INTELLECTUAL

mr brown’s also tipped me to the cyborg name generator which links nicely with my TypePad profile:

Picture3_3I’m a giant robot built by Sony. My hand went bad, so I cut it off at the wrist. I woo women with my sensuous trombone playing.
I’m a mild-mannered reporter.
I’ve been mistaken for various celebrities, including: Kiefer
Sutherland, Hugo Weaving, Leonardo DeCaprio and Iggy Pop. None of them
look alike, but I live in Asia, so we all look alike.

Cool, Singapore is having a Sex Expo (Sexpo?). Maybe someday it will have free and fair elections.:

Look at the words used to describe Singapore,
’staid’,'tightly-controlled’, ’stuffy’ are just a few. Do these words
refer to the political situation or your right to buy an erotic toy?
The idea that these images can be shaken off by turning to the lowest
common denominator is just cheap….
The staid image is an image of the political
situation. Allowing an erotic toy will not somehow undermine that
image. It will merely cheapen it.

Taiwan doesn’t just make laptops and iPods. It makes creepy wheelchairs.:

Changeling_cd_front_1 bet there’s another thing you didn’t know. Those wheelchairs you saw in the 1980 horror opus The Changeling–do
you know where they came from? That’s right! Taiwan. I say
wheelchair"s" because even back in 1980 Hollywood saw Taiwan’s
Innovalue and commissioned them to make a series of wheelchairs for the
film, which starred George C. Scott. One for stunts, one to look old in
the attic scenes, one for the flashbacks, etc., etc. And they did it
all for half the price of what it would cost in the States, just like
many big U.S. electronic companies are finding when it comes to R&D.

Also at Wandering to Tamshui, channeling the Who and the Pistols , the Kids are Allright… and they don’t care.:


If you’re in Laos, your body belongs to the state.:


"Sexual interaction with a Lao citizen who is not your lawful spouse is prohibited; breach of this law carries a $500 fine."

Okay, after you stopped laughing, let’s look at this thing a bit closer. It seems that Lao citizens lent their rights over their own bodies to the government, no? I guess the Lao PDR tries to maintain a "pure" Lao blood, minimizing the entry of the "inferior" Thai genes only to relationships that carry the government-approved piece of paper. Maybe they would do away with that too, if they could. For now, this law effectively turned nearly all Lao women and men to the likes of pricey prostitutes.

HK Dave at Simon World has a post about Chinese and Indian models.:

China_model_1Indoan_modelNo, no, not the type that pose in swimsuits and lingerie - I speak of
their models of development. Before you close this browser window
though, consider that the relative success or failure of these two
great Asian nations may very well determine the course of the 21st

I closed the window.

But I bookmarked to read tomorrow. Click through and read it all and you’ll be a day ahead of me.


by @ 8:32 pm. Filed under Culture, South Korea, Singapore, China, India, Asia, East Asia, Economy, Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, North Korea

china economic roundup (ix)

Brad Setser asks if Alan Greenspan is promoting moral hazard… in China.:

Listen to one Chinese fund manager in this morning’s Wall
Street Journal

Mr. Zhu (who helps manage US dollar investments for the
Bank of China) expresses confidence in the US dollar and the health of the US
home market.  Housing is so vital to the US
economy, Mr. Zhu and some of his counterparts at other Chinese banks reason,
that US authorities will prevent a bust."

Sounds like Chinese fund managers believe in the Greenspan
(Hubbard? Lindsey? Bernanke?) put


I also suspect Mr. Zhu would be on to something.  If
interest rates ever were really to rise, I
would not be surprised if (some) homeowners - if one can call folks
with big
debt and little equity homeowners - started to demand, loudly,
protection from
higher rates.   And i suspect politicians here in the US
would take notice.  Florida likes to flip condos — and it is a
swing state.

There are more China-related posts from Setser this week on the durability of Bretton Woods II and the CNPC bid for PetroKazakhstan.


If you haven’t already seen it, Martyn at the Peking Duck has a great post on China’s fuel subsidies.:

SinopecThat’s the ‘how’ of it, as to the ‘why’, we need only to glance at the
balance sheets of the mainland’s oil refiners. Together they lost 4.19
billion yuan in the first half of this year. Compare that to a profit
of 16.38 billion yuan for the same period last year (figures from the
China Petroleum and Chemical Industry Association). No wonder there are
few happy bunnies among the executives at Sinopec and PetroChina. Their
crude oil refining companies have been sacrificed for the greater good
of society, i.e. to bear the losses incurred in providing cheap
subsidized oil. Technically, China’s domestic crude and refined oil
prices are linked to the international benchmarks but, in reality,
domestic price increases have only been applied to crude, domestic
refined oil prices have not closely followed those of the international
market and have therefore fallen way behind in the last couple of years
as international prices have sky-rocketed.

Also at the Duck, Lisa notes a report on China’s widening urban-rural income gap, as usual for the site, the comments are worth reading, commenter Dylan notes that a lack of labor mobility is a major part of the problem:

..there is no unified labour market because people are not free to become
permanent residents wherever they please. Rather a system of residency
permits and exclusions from social services and rights operates to
systematically disadvantage those born in rural communities. That is
why farmers working in urban areas are referred to as a floating
population - they have no rights to permanent residence in the city.
This is no accident. Urban Chinese fear few things more than an
"invasion" of "rude peasants" seeking jobs, housing, social services,
and political power.

China Confidential offers a brief look at a planned tax cut.:

China plans to eliminate income taxes for low-income workers. But
experts say the measure will mainly benefit poor people in the cities
rather than the majority of China’s poor in the countryside–a
reflection, perhaps, of increasing concern that the urban underclass
could represent a more serious threat to social stability than the
left-behind rural poor, despite recent violent protests in the
The government plans to help some of the country’s poorest by nearly doubling the threshold for paying personal income tax.
media reported on Tuesday that China’s parliament agreed to raise the
lowest taxable income to $185 a month, from the current $99.

The Globalization Institute blog looks at EU hypocrisy and the damage caused by textile quotas.

first it was the butter mountains and the wine lakes; then the food
dumped on developing countries; now 54m Chinese-made sweaters and 14m
pairs of trousers are sitting in warehouses, banned from the shops,
because of the latest idiotic policy from the European Union (EU).
These garments will soon be joined by millions of bras and blouses,
Chinese imports that have been paid for by European clothing retailers
but cannot be sold.
In June, after most of these items had already been ordered, the
European trade commissioner, Peter Mandelson, went native and agreed to
quotas on Chinese textiles - in other words, rules limiting the number
of Chinese garments that can be imported. These quotas, which went into
effect on 12 July, have started to be met, leaving retailers unable to
sell their autumn product ranges until next year.
The EU’s stance is perverse and immoral and will hit the weakest and
poorest hardest, both in Europe and in China; it shows that Brussels’
supposed commitment to economic development and solving world poverty
is utterly worthless. In theory, since 1 January, the world has enjoyed
free trade in textiles, a welcome development. But the EU is still
allowed to impose anti-Chinese quotas until the end of 2008 as part of
the Textile Specific Safeguard Clause which China agreed to as part of
its ascension to the World Trade Organisation.

Should Chery Motors survive the intellectual property lawsuit brought on by General Motors, how would the car fare in western markets? The Stalwart takes a look.:

Chevy_1Sub-$4,000 Chery cars might just, excuse the bad joke, wevolutionize the
auto industry. Just the fact that a car can be so easily copied, with a
level of quality which competes with the world’s biggest brands, this
should set of alarm bells at the automakers. The Chery QQ is using many
of the same parts as GM’s Spark since these are becoming more
standardized, and available due to the fact that their manufacture is
increasingly outsourced to third-parties.

Is Taiwan investment in China slowing or surging? Michael Turton takes a look, and admits that it’s hard to get a good answer:

While year on year figures for June double, YOY figures for July
fall. The difference is $410 million to $371 million, so the real
difference is between the figures for last year, it looks like.
However, good numbers are hard to obtain, as this 2002 article points out:

estimates, however, have always put actual investment much higher given
that many Taiwan companies circumvent government supervision by
investing in China through a subsidiary in a third country, in
particular tax havens such as the Bahamas and the Virgin Islands.

Imagine Taiwanese circumventing the authorities. That just never happens….

by @ 2:21 pm. Filed under China, Money, Asia, Coming collapse, East Asia, Economy, Northeast Asia, Economic roundup

Philippines round-up

The majority in the House rejoiced over Rep. Eulogio Magsaysay finally learning how to read (a skill learned not a moment too soon for someone who represents teachers). The minority of course, is officially unhappy but perhaps relieved to be rid of an ally of such obvious low-wattage. The PCIJ, not usually known for the humor of its articles, couldn'’t help but cover the goings-on in the House, and conclude with this observation:

In his press conference, Magsaysay read from a statement that was prepared for him by his chief-of-staff, who told the congressman to just read its pertinent portions. Appearing clueless, or probably lacking sleep, Magsaysay even had to ask his staff which were the pertinent parts in the statement that he should read.

The goings-on continue to provoke comment from among the punditocracy and the blogosphere. Newsstand makes some observations, including the senile behavior of Rep. Datumanong; the observation made by Earl Parreno on TV that the addition of five signatures to the impeachment complaint seems curiously timed; and that Alan Peter Cayetano, the most obviously God-fearing (or at least, God name-dropping) representative of all, seems to have made a self-fulfilling prophecy. Edwin Lacierda observes that the opposition should rely less on making speeches on TV, and more on networking (something earlier observed by Newsstand, quoting Sen. Joker Arroyo). Paeng is simply beginning to tune out. Punzi is alarmed by Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita saying on radio that they are prepared to impose martial law, if people get upset over the killing of the impeachment complaints. (Speaking of martial law, the Marcoses say they’re prepared to roll out the red carpet for the President on September 11 -but it seems she has other plans, see next paragraph).

The President is poised to make a hegira to Saudi Arabia (on September 11, bad, bad mojo!) on her way to New York; in the meantime, she’s finally sent the budget to Congress: supposedly no money for charter change, but a third of the budget is devoted to debt payments. Jove focuses on the budget, notes that Budget Secretary Romulo Neri seems preternaturally chirpy,  and ends with two words: Emilia Boncodin.

In other news, how will Juan Ponce Enrile’s shifting to the senate majority help or hinder the President? Who knows. But Enrile does seem set, along with Miriam Defensor Santiago, on attacking Armando Doronila, who has accepted an appointment as ambassador to Belgium and the E.U. Some senators object to Doronila’s age (he’s 77). I wonder if they know how old Enrile is.

Today’s pundit round-up has Julius Fortuna quoting Ernesto Maceda, who says impeachment is as good as dead. Dong Puno doesn’t agree, he thinks the haggling is just getting bolder:

The point is that at this critical stage of the impeachment proceedings, where it seems evident that the majority’s marching orders are to kill the complaints as early as possible, even before the investigation phase in the House Committee on Justice is reached, the majority congressmen think they have enormous new leverage which they can assert and, more importantly the President cannot refuse.

A clear indication of this was what I consider a particularly low point in yesterday’s Justice Committee session when one administration congressman brought up the controversy on the release of infrastructure funds, allegedly only to some but not to all House members.

…But the real point of his outburst emerged when he said that if he did not get his rightful share, he would vote for impeachment.

Alex Magno, on the other hand, has a scathingly low opinion of Mike Velarde and his reconciliation efforts:

He overstepped his role. He overplayed his card. In so doing, he undermined his own role in a discreet game of political flirtation.

A go-between brokering a potential affair between two lovers is not expected to give both parties lessons on the Kama Sutra.

Fel Maragay also looks into reconcilation moves, viewing it as a curious obsession of the President’s; Connie Veneracion is puzzled by the President’s insistence on reconciliation, since to her mind, the impeachment complaint is fatally flawed: perhaps the President is inclined to political suicide? Tony Abaya suggestes the President think out of "the trapo box" and go for gold:

She should call for 90-day continuous trials for high-profile corruption cases languishing in the Sandiganbayan. This means continuous trial for Joseph Estrada who has been detained since 2001, continuous trials for members of the Marcos family whose more than 100 cases have been pending in the courts since 1987, and continuous trials for Gen. Carlos F. Garcia, Gen. Jacinto Ligot and Col. George Rabusa, who have been charged with plunder by lawyer Frank Chavez in 2005….

But if she is indeed prepared to step down in 2006, as revealed by Defensor and suggested earlier by Fidel Ramos, that fear should not now cripple her. She should be fighting to leave an honorable legacy, and continuous trials for high-profile corruption cases would be one of the most dramatic ways to do it.
In this way, she could even hope to win back the leaderless middle class (who are running around like headless chickens with white ribbons attached to their claws), the business and professional communities, the militant Churches and the idealist factions of the military (who are now plotting her overthrow).
This is an endgame that she can win. This is the survival of the fittest, the fittest being those who adopt to new situations and use their skills and brains to overcome their predators, not those who offer the effete hand of reconciliation while they are being eaten alive.

Abaya presumes, of course, that an endgame is either desirable or being considered.

Juan Mercado pulls no punches and says Cebu City mayor Tomas Osmeña is linked to death squads roaming the city. Patricio Diaz has a bone to pick with Rigoberto Tiglao.

by @ 12:23 pm. Filed under Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia, Philippines

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