20 December, 2005

malay or chinese

While some in Japan and China have reacted with outrage over Chinese women portraying Japanese women in Geisha, more disturbing is that Malaysians are having a serious debate over whether the woman forced to do ‘nude ear squats’ by Malaysian police in detention was Malay or Chinese. As far as AsiaPundit is concerned, it would not be acceptable in either case.:

Personally I have my doubts that the raw truth of the situation will ever be known given the magnitude of the media and political storm this case has caused.

One of my readers (nick of Weng) posted this in comments.

still in doubt over the identity of the so-called lokap-girl despite ‘positive identification’ by Teresa Kok’s lawyer?

The first time we heard about this woman Teresa Kok told us that the woman was a Chinese woman of Chinese nationality. Weng, if all you have this time is Teresa Kok’s say so that this woman is Malay then I will pass on using that as infallible proof. After all she is either wrong this time or she is wrong the first time.

Which one is it? Other evidence includes that the government says so. So far the government position has been one of trooping out the woman in court (sutiably concealed with a judicial ban on publishing details) like a certain stained matress of all. Whenever the government side of the court room keeps on trooping out tired evidence and the newspapers keep on harping about it, we probably have a red herring they are trying to feed the public. At least this prime minister, unlike the last one, isn’t going to appear on national TV miming the act of masturbation, which is I guess something to be thankful for.

What we should be asking ourselves at this point is whether it matters whether the woman was Chinese or Malay.

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by @ 11:39 pm. Filed under China, Malaysia, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia

the cisco response

After today’s excess of posts on China and internet freedom, In the interest of balance, AsiaPundit presents a response from Cisco. Via Mistrust:

Cisco Statement on Internet Censorship

Cisco does not in any way participate in the censorship of information by governments. Moreover, Cisco complies with all U.S. Government regulations which prohibit sale of our products to certain destinations; or to users who misuse our products or resell them to prohibited users.

Some countries have chosen, as a matter of national policy, to restrict or limit access to information on the Internet to its citizens. The router functionality that may be employed by such nations to restrict this access is the same functionality that libraries and corporate network administrators use to block sites in accordance with policies that they establish. While this functionality can be used for many different purposes, it is the customer, not Cisco, who determines how the capabilities will be specifically used.

Cisco has not specially designed or marketed products for any government, or any regional market, to censor Internet content from citizens. Cisco sells identical products worldwide; the products Cisco sells in countries such as the US, China, India, Pakistan and France are the same products that it sells in other countries.

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by @ 10:34 pm. Filed under China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Censorship

how to suppress a demonstration

Excellent stuff as usual from ESWN, a translation of a China BBS posting on how China’s police could take lessons from Hong Kong’s forces in how to suppress demonstrations:

HkwtoFrom the way how the Hong Kong police put down the street riots, mainland China can really learn a great deal.  For example, how to deal with these mass group activities?  How to permit legal demonstrations while resolutely opposing rioters who try to create disturbances?  The Hong Kong police used pepper spray and water cannons that contained stimulating chemicals, and these can be used to disperse the crowds without causing much physical damage.  When the rioters broke through the police line, the Hong Kong police responded quickly and mobilized a large number of anti-riot police officers to form a blockade.  This shows the brilliance and maturity of the Hong Kong police command.

The Saturday riot permitted a large number of non-working local citizens to watch and make the job of the police more difficult.  The Hong Kong government mobilized and coordinated various departments to cut off vehicular traffic into the demonstration areas as well as the harbor tunnel.  They shut down the MTR station in the demonstration area, and they successfully stopped outside masses from rushing in which would escalate the chaos.

There has not been a single word in the mainland Chinese media about the action of the Hong Kong police to put down the riot.  This is obviously understandable.  Based upon the current social conditions in mainland China, if such scenes appeared in the media, it will inspire social malcontents to imitate the example and therefore affect the overall state of "stability" and "harmony."  But I think that the mainland Chinese police and government departments should pay high attention to the anti-WTO protests in Hong Kong.  Every move made by the Hong Kong police should be live educational materials for us.

Actually, certain cities on the mainland have established anti-riot police squads.  As the social conflicts slowly emerge due to the uneven development of the Chinese economy, these squads will soon face the same sort of situations that the Hong Kong police had to confront.  We can use the experience from the empirical practice of others in order to enhance our own ability to fight riots.  Only if we are prepared would we not lose our composure and become an international laughing stock.

Indeed, a laughing stock or worse.

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by @ 9:18 pm. Filed under China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Riot watch

a year without china

Via Fons and ChinaFile, the Christian Science Monitor runs an essay by a Canadian an American writer who decided to do what so many others call for; she boycotted Chinese goods.

ChinachristmasBATON ROUGE, LA. – Last year, two days after Christmas, we kicked China out of the house. Not the country obviously, but bits of plastic, metal, and wood stamped with the words "Made in China." We kept what we already had, but stopped bringing any more in.

The banishment was no fault of China’s. It had coated our lives with a cheerful veneer of toys, gadgets, and $10 children’s shoes. Sometimes I worried about jobs sent overseas or nasty reports about human rights abuses, but price trumped virtue at our house. We couldn’t resist what China was selling.

But on that dark Monday last year, a creeping unease washed over me as I sat on the sofa and surveyed the gloomy wreckage of the holiday. It wasn’t until then that I noticed an irrefutable fact: China was taking over the place.

It stared back at me from the empty screen of the television. I spied it in the pile of tennis shoes by the door. It glowed in the lights on the Christmas tree and watched me in the eyes of a doll splayed on the floor. I slipped off the couch and did a quick inventory, sorting gifts into two stacks: China and non-China. The count came to China, 25, the world, 14. Christmas, I realized, had become a holiday made by the Chinese. Suddenly I’d had enough. I wanted China out.

AsiaPundit has previously noted that the Chinese had ’stolen’ Christmas and Diwali, and AP doesn’t mind this in the slightest. Investment in China is bringing changes domestically and it’s bringing cheaper goods to those overseas.

But for those who do seek a China boycott, read the whole CSM item and decide if it would be worth the effort.
(note comments for correction on nationality)

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by @ 9:03 pm. Filed under China, Asia, East Asia, Economy, Northeast Asia

ec vp blogs on china and censorship

European Commission Vice President Margot Wallström has a blog and has joined in the criticism of US companies that assist in Chinese internet censorship.:

Margot Wallstrom…I was very disappointed to learn that Microsoft has agreed to block Chinese blog entries that use words like “democracy“, “freedom“, “human rights“ and “demonstration.”

Margot Wallström taking part in an online chat

It seems like Microsoft is not alone in “bad company“. Google has agreed to exclude publications that the Chinese government finds objectionable. And Yahoo has even gone further. They collaborated with the Chinese government and gave up the name of a writer who sent an e-mail that commented on a party decision. Based on this information, the man received a ten-year prison sentence.

According to the organisation Human Rights Watch these companies are hiding behind statements claiming that they “have to ensure that they operate within the laws, regulations and customs of the countries they are based in”.

Words like ethics and corporate social responsibility seems to be deleted from their corporate code of conducts – or they have flexible ethical standards depending on where they operate… I can only recommend these companies to visit the website of the UN Global Compact at www.unglobalcompact.org. And, hope that these companies one day will understand that to endorse democracy and corporate responsibility is a prerequisite for “smart” growth. From now on, this issue is also on my political agenda.

AsiaPundit commends Wallström, EU officials criticizing China is something that is far too rare.

Two points though: first, as a European politician Wallström could have directed her attention somewhere where it would be more effective. As well as Cisco, which is lambasted here daily on the left-hand sidebar, France’s Alactel and Sweden’s Ericsson also provide China with the infrastructure necessary to build the internet. It should be revealed how much the companies modify their products to provide them with Chinese characteristics (specifically the ability to block websites and conduct surveillance on dissidents). The attack on US companies, which are not in EU jurisdiction, reeks of PR and does not show a real commitment to the issue.

A further point is Wallström’s noting of the Global Compact.  AsiaPundit generally has a warm spot for the Global Compact. Although I am a touch skeptical, it is very well intentioned and the participants seem sincere. That said, the UN-sponsored group has no opinion on internet censorship or free-speech issues in relation to technology companies.

Georg Kell, head of the initiative, was recently in China, and I asked him wether the group had any stand on free speech issues (specifically relating to Yahoo!’s complicity in the arrest of journalist Shi Tao and the Boston Common shareholder action on Cisco - both of which he said he was familiar with).

Kell said the UN Global Compact had not yet adopted any principles in regards to behavior of technology companies and how their business affects freedom of information and speech issues, and specifically on US companies such as Cisco Systems and Yahoo! Inc which are facing criticism due to some of their activities in China.

"No (we have no view), we are newcomers in China and we are very careful and we are learning together with foreign and Chinese corporations," Kell said.

That said, Kudos to Wallström for raising the topic and for blogging, especially as she hasn’t - as most politicians’ ‘blogs’ do -disabled comments and trackbacks.

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by @ 8:43 pm. Filed under Blogs, China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Web/Tech, Weblogs, Censorship

csm, cisco and china

The Christian Science Monitor has, about one month late on this admittedly,  joined in on exposing US corporate involvement in internet censorship in China and elsewhere.:

CiscoWhen Chinese authorities crack down on Internet use by dissidents, or the Burmese government prevents its people from access to e-mail, they have something in common with more than 20 other nations: They rely on technology, usually from corporations in the United States, to help them police the Web.

Without products from Cisco Systems, Secure Computing, and other US firms, regimes from Uzbekistan to Saudi Arabia would apparently be unable to manage what their citizens find or write when they surf the Internet. Reports of that reality are now inspiring investors to push for corporate human rights policies that support an open Internet, even if that means saying no to demands from certain governments.

Twenty-seven institutions - mostly American-based mutual funds - with more than $21 billion in assets under management signed a statement last month urging Internet businesses to adopt codes to uphold freedom of expression and to make public what each is doing "to ensure that its products and services are not being used to commit human rights violations."

"The universal declaration of human rights laid down in 1948 the basic freedoms that all people should enjoy, including freedom of opinion [and] freedom of expression," says Dawn Wolfe, social research and advocacy analyst for Boston Common Asset Management, the money management firm that launched the Joint Investor Statement on Freedom of Expression and the Internet.

(Via CDT)

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by @ 3:06 pm. Filed under China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Media, Censorship

intel slapped by nurse ratched

China has resumed its crusade against ‘unregistered’ domestically hosted websites, shutting down the sites of major investors such as Intel China Top Blog reports.:

Many Chinese web sites have been closed since December 19. According a law enforced in Feburary this year, every sites hosted in mainland China, have to be registered in Ministry of Information Industry (MII). Any breach of this law would be punished severely. Even the Chinese mirror site of Intel (www.intel.com.cn) was closed for several hours (). ISPs in China warned their clients, if they don’t register now, a permanent closure of their sites and RMB10,000($1,200) fine will be enforced in near future.

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by @ 3:03 pm. Filed under China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Web/Tech, Censorship

reduce dollar accumulation

A lot of government and SOE officials in China always seems to fear us Western media folk. Some of the higher-ups (and even the lower-downs) fear we are out to overthrow the government or at the very least misrepresent the country.

Does AsiaPundit want to see a downfall of the Chinese Communist Party? I won’t answer that question directly but I will say that there are more than a few parts of the government that are worth keeping. For instance, some of those guys at the People’s Bank of China are pretty bright.

Member of the PBoC’s monetary policy committee in an undated interview says that China, and East Asia, must reduce its dollar and treasury holdings.:

Yongding…in the first stage we must reduce accumulation, then later we should reduce our reserves….[China and Asian countries] don’t need that large an amount- more than $2 trillion- of foreign exchange reserves…. This is a very big problem and I think the Chinese government should take some action to reduce the growth rate of the accumulation of foreign exchange reserves as we’re still facing the possibility of a big devaluation of the US dollar, so the capital losses will be huge. If that happens, it will be tremendous hit to the Chinese economy."

This is hardly the statement of a gentleman with a benign view toward the US dollar’s valuation. It is instead a gentleman, in a position of authority, with a great deal of concern. He went on: "The trouble is, with such a huge amount of foreign exchange reserves, that there is no way to spend it very quickly and there’s no plan to sell it of course– otherwise that inflicts damage on ourselves. You don’t want to dump shares when the stock market has not collapsed yet and you are the biggest shareholder." Then, he said "all east Asian countries have tremendous foreign exchange reserves and they all want to get rid of them, but if you do this then you cause competitive devaluation, not of their own currencies, but of the US dollar. So we should do this in an orderly fashion. If Asian countries moved too fast, everyone would lose… It would be utterly unfortunate if Japan sells a proportion [of their reserves, for] that causes problems. Then China panics and China sells a proportion — it would be very damaging."

The "nicest possibility" for China, Japan and the US to escape this problem was for further "tightening of US monetary policy so that further dramatic devaluation of the US dollar can be stopped. Then, because of the slowdown in the economy, the US current account deficit would reduce and in this way will create conditions for East Asian countries to get off the hook."

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by @ 12:12 am. Filed under China, Money, Asia, East Asia, Economy, Northeast Asia

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