31 January, 2006


That the Chinese love capitalism more than Americans is no surprise. Although the data for the Philippines is eye catching.

YuanThough Mao Tse-tung’s portrait still hangs in Tiananmen Square, a recent poll shows that the Chinese are crazier about capitalism than are Americans. In fact, they top the world-wide rankings in their zeal for free markets. No wonder Mao isn’t smiling.

In a poll conducted for the University of Maryland’s Program on International Policy Attitudes between June and August last year, fully 74% of Chinese citizens said they agreed with the statement "the free enterprise system and free market economy is the best system on which to base the future of the world." The Philippines, at 73%, and the U.S., at 71%, were second and third. The poll, which surveyed 20,791 people in 20 countries, seems like a pretty good snapshot of current sentiment, as such things go.

Remarkable, isn’t it, that residents of the Middle Kingdom have maintained their appreciation of the benefits of free enterprise through six decades of oppression and economic backwardness imposed by their Communist cadres? Then again, for a culture in which common New Year’s greetings include "I wish you happiness and many riches" and "may you make great profits," should we be surprised? Most Hong Kong residents are spending the current Chinese New Year holiday politely distributing packets of crisp new cash to friends and family. They have to earn this gift cash somehow.

(Via East Asia Watch)

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by @ 11:58 pm. Filed under China, Money, Asia, East Asia, Economy, Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, Philippines

AsiaPundit welcomed Congressional hearings on internet censorship in China. While AP does not favor regulation, he hoped that the companies would be more open with Congress than they have with the press and the public.

Unfortunately, that will not be the case.

Microsoft and Cisco Systems have said they will not be attending. Now, Google is also refusing the invitation.

Google Inc. has declined to appear before the Congressional Human Rights Caucus on Wednesday to answer questions about its business in China, including the company’s recent decision to censor search results that the Beijing government considers subversive.

The Mountain View search-engine company declined the request to send a speaker to the briefing, which will probe the pressures China puts on U.S. Internet companies that operate there, according to Ryan Keating, a spokesman for Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, who plans to chair the meeting.

A spokeswoman for Google did not return a telephone call seeking comment.

By skipping the briefing, Google is avoiding what will probably be a very public cacophony of complaints. Several members of Congress, as well as human rights groups, have excoriated Google and other companies for limiting freedom of expression in China by blocking Web sites that discuss the Tiananmen Square massacres and Falun Gong spiritual movement, among other things.

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by @ 10:40 pm. Filed under China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Media, Censorship

dancing kim and mini me



In last January 11th, Dcinside opened “Kim Jong Il Gallery’ in a category of ‘figures and others’. It is getting great interests from netizen so that only in three days, around 200 replies were posted on the bulletin board of the gallery.

In the bulletin board, varied opinions on ‘Kim Jong Il Gallery’ appeared, such as “why made this kind of gallery?” and “Jong Il might visit it, though”.

A manager of Dcinside guaranteed at maximum the opportunity that netizen can show their outspoken opinions, by posting the introduction “please insert only pictures and matters related to Kim Jong Il, otherwise deleted or moved to elsewhere” on the bulletin board.

The Dcinside party stated “we opened it according to the suggestion that as there is a Korean politicians gallery, so how about opening Kim Jong Il gallery?” adding “it reflects that Kim Jong Il is raising as a socially concerned figure”.

Dnkf00000535 2

(Via OneFreeKorea)

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by @ 10:06 pm. Filed under South Korea, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, North Korea

endangered animal snuff

As is typical of most news related to North Korea, this is disturbing. Still, Asiapundit wonders, who would win if a panda and a Bengal tiger got into a fight.:

BengalThe grainy, sometimes out-of-focus film opens with a warning: "This program is something you’ve never seen before. It is about brutal animal fights and it is all real and intensely interesting."  The 52-minute video, which the opening describes as "made in North Korea as a documentary", goes on to show a variety of animals, many endangered species, either tearing one another apart or posturing for an attack.

PandaThis is not your National Geographic documentary about animals in the wild kingdom battling over territorial rights, dominance or a sex partner. It’s not about predators and their prey. Hanjoon Productions’ animals are mostly caged, their battles initiated. Rumors about North Korean films of savage, staged fights involving endangered animals have been around for years. Now, the films are available. The video can be found at some video rental shops in South Korea, but hunting around is required. A handful of Korean online video retailers carry copies, which can be purchased for about 5,000 won (US$5).

(via Nomad)

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by @ 9:54 pm. Filed under South Korea, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, North Korea

betel nut girls: deadly

Michael notes a report that Taiwan’s betel nut girls cause both cancer and auto accidents.:

Charm2.ThumbThe so-called betel-nut beauties, who are unique to Taiwan, peddle the island’s second-largest crop to 17.5 percent of the adult male population, according to government estimates.

Chewing addictive betel nuts, the seed of the betel palm, increases the risk of mouth cancer, according to Taiwan’s Department of Health. Officials are encouraging farmers to plant alternatives to the $359 million annual crop, urging about 1.6 million users to quit….

Sellers are coming under pressure, too. The police are stepping up inspections of betel-nut beauties for moral and safety reasons, said Patricia Huang, a spokeswoman at the Ministry of the Interior.

"Their revealing clothing may distract drivers and cause car accidents, as well as prompt male clients to harass or even sexually assault them,'’ Huang said.

County officials are helping, closing down booths if they judge sellers’ clothing to be too revealing, said Wang Yun-tsen, deputy director of economic development in Taoyuan, which is home to the country’s largest international airport.

(Photo stolen from here)

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by @ 7:56 pm. Filed under Taiwan, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia

asian desserts

At Marginal Revolution, Tyler Cowen asks a question that has long perplexed AsiaPundit: "Why don’t Asian restaurants have good desserts?":

IcekachangI’ll let you all bicker as to whether the stylized fact is true only in the USA, or across the world.  I don’t know if the following explanation is true, but finally I have heard an explanation which might plausibly be true:

    …many traditional desserts require a great deal of work to make, at least when compared to stir-frying some shreds of this and that together.  Most restaurateurs are simply unwilling to go to the trouble, particularly since the profit margin on desserts is generally smaller than that on the main dishes.  The same phenomenon occurs in other ethnic restaurants.  In the old country, desserts and snack foods are made in specialized shops where the volume keeps labor costs down [TC: and freshness up…btw, the emphasis is added].

That is from A. Zee’s Swallowing Clouds: A Playful Journey Through Chinese Culture, Language, and Culture.  The author also suggests that the Chinese prefer to eat desserts apart from regular mealtimes; for some reason this is supposed to lower the quality of restaurant-based desserts.  I prefer the first explanation.  Indian sweet shops are fantastic, but U.S.-based Indian restaurants have only so-so desserts.  Comments are open, I am eager to hear your opinions…

(Image via here)

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by @ 7:19 pm. Filed under Food and Drink, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia

the new people’s liberation army

AsiaPundit has been noticing a steady rise in the number of silly looking photos of the People’s Liberation Army. He suspects this is part of a coordinated campaign to soften its image.

Via Jing, Don’t ask, don’t tell.:

Via Riding Sun: Caption this:
Another caption contest via Outside the Beltway.


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by @ 6:31 pm. Filed under China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia

feeling lucky?


(via Geek Culture)


(Boing Boing)

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by @ 5:22 pm. Filed under China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Web/Tech, Censorship

30 January, 2006

malaysia bans ‘black metal’

AsiaPundit is no fan of ‘black metal,’ a ridiculous heavy-metal subgenre featuring men in leather and heavy makeup often singing in falsetto. However, AP objects to Malaysia’s move to ban all things black metal.

GorgorothBlack Metal culture has been declared as a deviation from Islamic teachings and those found practising it could be penalised under syariah law. The National Fatwa Council ruled that Black Metal culture was totally against the syariat (Islamic principles) and could lead its followers to being murtad (apostate). The council issued the decree after deliberating on the matter at its bi-monthly meeting yesterday.

“We discussed the issue at length to understand what Black Metal is all about and its effect on our culture,” council chairman Prof Datuk Shukor Husin told newsmen after the meeting. “It has been established that Black Metal practices are way against the syariat and every effort must be taken to stop its spread.”

First they came for the headbangers, and I didn’t speak up,: because I wasn’t a headbanger…

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by @ 9:38 pm. Filed under Malaysia, Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia

s’pore election blogging

Election cycles are generally the most active periods for bloggers in the West. In Singapore, the most Western country in Asia, expect something different.:

SingaporelectionMy guess is that most bloggers do not know that certain laws restricting what can be said over the internet kick in once a parliamentary election is called. Some bloggers will be surprised that some of the things they say about Singapore politics may expose them to prosecution.

The last time there was a parliamentary election (also called a general election) in Singapore, which was on 3 Nov 2001, blogging was not yet a household word. Some of today’s most prolific bloggers were probably not yet out of school.

In 2001, websites offering political content were relatively few, and news about the amendments to the Parliamentary Elections Act, amendments which specifically dealt with internet communications, were still fresh in webmasters’ minds, having been passed only in August of the same year.

Today, blogging has exploded, and unlike webmasters in the early days of the internet, most bloggers are writing without looking over their shoulders at Big Brother. While the Sedition Act is no doubt well known among bloggers due to the publicity about the 3 guys recently charged and sentenced, their offences related to foul language stirring up race and religious hate, not political news or commentary.

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by @ 9:19 pm. Filed under Blogs, Singapore, Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia

foreign models in thailand

Jack at Thai Blogs tracks the migratory patterns of foreign models.:

ModelsnightThis is just a snapshot of the life and times of a Foreign Model in Thailand. Of course there are always exceptions, and we are not accounting for half-Thais and other Asians in the industry, though they can (and do) move seamlessly through these circles.

Their migration habits vary, but the majority of Foreign Models come to Thailand for up to three months at a time, as this is the length of time dictated by their visas. The Foreign Model hails from Canada, Brazil, and former Eastern bloc nations, where their “Mother Agency” at home takes note of their vaguely Asian looks and send them abroad. While they are here, they are obstensibly looking for work, on the catwalk and in commercials. A fortunate few arrive as a result of a direct booking, where they are cast remotely and come to Thailand for a guaranteed job, usually shooting a television commercial (TVC).

Herds of Foreign Models can be seen zipping around Bangkok during the day–usually on the Skytrain–portfolio of past jobs (or “Book”) in hand, headed for castings and modelling jobs. Bookers with each agency direct them to these appointments, often going to as many as five in one day. At each TVC casting, the models have make-up applied, their hair styled, pictures and measurements taken, and a short video made, introducing themselves (name, age, height, weight) and performing a short audition. It’s not unusual for a casting to take two or three hours, most of the time spent waiting: chatting with other models, flipping through Thai fashion magazines they cannot decipher, or simply staring off into space. It’s a rough life.

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by @ 9:09 pm. Filed under Culture, Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia, Thailand

29 January, 2006

it begins…

Happy New Year! Full disclosure, AsiaPundit is a metal dog!


of the Dog

years of the dogs are: 1922, 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, (and
every 12 years on). Ones who are born in the Year of the dog possess the best traits of human
nature; because they’re honest, have deep sense of loyalty, and have inspired
other people’s confidence because they know how to keep secrets. But
sometimes, ones who are born in the Year of the Dog can be selfish, really
stubborn, and eccentric (weird). They don’t seem to care much about money, but
they seem to have a lot of money. Sometimes they can be cold (emotionally) and
distant at parties. But they do make good leaders. They’re most compatible
with ones who are born in the Year of Horse, Tiger, and Rabbit.

by @ 12:39 am. Filed under Uncategorized

28 January, 2006

beer bots



Japanese beer maker Asahi plans to give away 5000 personal bartending bots, each of which can store up to six cans of beer in a refrigerated compartment within its belly. At the push of a button the simple robots will open a can and pour the chilled contents into a glass for a thirsty owner.

To win one of the beer-bots, in a promotion for the company’s new low malt beer, contestants must collect 36 tokens found on the specially marked beers. But the competition, starting in February, is only open to those in Japan.

Some robotics experts see the promotion as a fun way to promote a wider interest in robotics. Others, however, say it is a gimmick that distracts from genuine robot research.

(Via Boing Boing)

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by @ 1:04 pm. Filed under Food and Drink, Japan, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia

search and repress



(Via CDT)

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by @ 11:52 am. Filed under China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Web/Tech, Weblogs, Censorship

miss sing in china

Miss Singapore recently paid a visit to the People’s Republic. Like everyone else in Singapore, she blogs. Her photo album is here.


This is one of the few photos without the sash.

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by @ 10:58 am. Filed under Blogs, Singapore, China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia

AsiaPundit is critical of Google’s decision to launch a censored China portal, though not predominantly because of the censorship issue. As long as the company continues to provide access to its uncensored site and simplified Chinese searches, it really isn’t that big a deal that it has launched an emasculated Chinese version.

However, Google has made a joke of both its mission statement and its corporate motto. It has undermined its highly valuable brand to enter a market that simply isn’t worth that much money.

They probably could have done this a year ago without causing much of a fuss, but the company has seriously misread the current zeitgeist. After the Yahoo! and MSN incidents, and the upcoming congressional hearings, Google should have run a few dozen more focus groups to see how this would be seen in the US.

Instead, they’ve left themselves open for this.:


(Via Glutter)

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by @ 12:17 am. Filed under China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Web/Tech, Censorship

27 January, 2006

’action’ figures

AsiaPundit makes his usual disclaimer, this is not porn… This is Art.:

InterlockingsexfigurinFrom the land of Japan, comes the interlocking sex figurines. The best thing about these figurines is that they can be rearranged into a variety of positions. Click , and for the figurines in action.

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by @ 11:32 pm. Filed under Japan, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia

thai braces

Austin reports on Thailand’s newest fashion craze.:

BracesBraces are now the new teenage fad for the jet set in Siam Square in Bangkok and seemingly throughout Thailand. Why we can only speculate. But I have to say that at my local bank every single clerk has purple braces to match their outfits - very attentive to detail that bunch!

All this makes me recall a conversation I had with the Creative Director of Bed Supper Club in BKK, probably the most famous destination in the city. He told me in front of the Playground! store (another incredibly trendy store that will probably close very very soon) that he could not believe that his “designer toy” store had plummeting sales. And proceeded to follow that comment with a disparaging “Oh the Thais never get past their trends”. I wonder where they get inspiration?

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by @ 11:14 pm. Filed under Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia, Thailand

I take it back. :

made a more thorough comparison between the three US search engines Google, Yahoo and Microsoft.

    Google’s new China search engine not only censors many Web sites that question the Chinese government, but it goes further than similar services from Microsoft and Yahoo by targeting teen pregnancy, homosexuality, dating, beer and jokes.



Censoring politics is bad enough, but censoring results about beer is unacceptable!

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by @ 10:22 pm. Filed under China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Media, Web/Tech, Censorship

quit complaining about your day job

Some people have it worse.:


by @ 12:04 am. Filed under Uncategorized

26 January, 2006

tiara lestari on playboy indonesia

Tiara Lestari, the Indonesian woman who set off a storm of controversy by appearing in a European edition of Playboy, has said that she will no longer be doing nude photos. She also offers her opinion on Playboy launching an Indonesian edition.:

I appeared on the cover of Playboy, Spain  edition last August. I think everyone and their mothers know about that if you live in Indonesia . Lets just get that fact out in the open. Now, I have this blog for a reason and one of them is to be a medium for my voice for matters that concern me most. This is one of those moments.

I have been asked by a large number of Indonesian media about two things:

1. How do you feel about Playboy being published in Indonesia ?

2. How do you feel about potentially appearing as the first cover of Playboy Indonesia ?

I respect Playboy as an internationally known publication. Everyone from legendary Marilyn Monroe to Pamela Anderson to Madonna to Cindy Crawford have benefited from their professional relationships with the magazine. I have made a personal decision as a model to also follow that route last year. This decision certainly wasn’t popular in my own country. Heck, it was a huge disappointment for my parents too. I regret that part of it. For that, I am sorry.

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by @ 11:03 pm. Filed under Indonesia, Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia, Media

In most criticisms of Google’s decision to censor its newly launched China portal, it’s assumed that the company is sacrificing its ethics for the huge China market. That’s not quite true, it is sacrificing them for the potential of China’s market.

Bill Bishop crunches the numbers.:

I am guessing that Google will be happy if they can generate $30M in revenue in China in 2006. Baidu, the market leader, is projected to generate somewhere between $65-70M in revenue in 2006. I believe Google is expected to generate over $8B in revenue worldwide in 2006. If my math is anywhere in the ballpark, China will account for LESS THAN 2 DAYS of Google’s 2006 revenue. And given the economics of the keyword value chain in China, that revenue should be significantly lower margin revenue than is US revenue. So if the China business went away, would investors care?

No question there is value in setting up an R&D center in China; China has some of the best engineers in the world, and Google can probably hire anyone they set their sights on.

But does the China business really matter for Google, and will it ever? And is it worth the potential damage they may be doing to their brand, deserved or not (I believe not), over their decisions regarding Google.cn?

As long as access to the US-hosted site is maintained in China, the fact that Google has a portal on this side of the Pacific is of little relevance. China-based users can opt to select the non-censored site. Google is not redirecting China users to Google.cn. Jeremy’s view at Danwei is worth reading.

Still, I fear the establishment of the China site could prove to be an immensely boneheaded move by the company.


In spite of being hosted outside of China, Google was consistently highly rated by local internet users. Barring being blocked by authorities, It would have likely continued to be. Remember, Google was previously blocked in China, and the block was removed in part because users objected.

Google could have gained market share in the country simply by doing what it does well - offering great search functions and developing new ones. Instead, it’s facing calls for a boycott, the dumping of stock, the certainty of increased Congressional scrutiny and possibly regulation.

Richard at Peking Duck notes this theme occurring in two separate news items. From :

And filtering in general would also hurt Google more than its competitors. The Google brand is built on the notion that the engine gives users the clearest picture of the Web, without playing favorites. Restricting content in any way could hurt Google’s carefully burnished image, its 60% market share for search queries and its share price.

And from the Guardian.:

Whether Google might have done better in the long run commercially by keeping to the high moral ground at a time of rapid change in China will now not be known. It has an approach that is more ethical than most, but the multitude of enthusiasts will find it hard to reconcile its mission to provide all information to everyone when there are exceptions for words such as "democracy". It is easy to see why Google is doing this. This does not alter the fact that, sadly and in a significant way, it is not the same company today that it was yesterday.

UPDATE: It seems about the launch of Google’s "special" China service (as Xinhua had described it). So, the low-key launch of the China service has caused a backlash not only in the US, but also in China. Smooth move.
Worse, as Rebecca notes by translating a post, the rumor is that Google will start redirecting traffic to Google.cn. If that happens, my conclusion about the company may shift from ‘Dumb-Ass’ to ‘Evil.’

But I have heard some terrible news, which I cannot verify:
In the future, for mainland users, only the Eunuch version will be
available. If you type in www.google.com, the system will automatically
switch you to www.google.cn

That will be terrible. If Google does this, it will be dammed. This
company that self-claims "don’t do evil" will become the son of Satan
completely. It will not only be condemned by global users, but will
also be marginalized in China.

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by @ 8:17 pm. Filed under China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Web/Tech, Censorship

freezing point

When Western companies are criticized for cooperation with Chinese authorities in suppressing information, it’s important to consider that there is a much broader context. We must remember that China is modernizing and it continues to move towards an open society.

BEIJING, Jan. 24 — China’s ruling Communist Party on Tuesday suspended one of the premier publications in Chinese journalism, escalating a campaign to rein in the state media, part of the government’s toughest crackdown on freedom of expression here in more than a decade.

The decision to shut down Freezing Point, a four-page weekly feature section of the state-run China Youth Daily that often tested the censors and challenged the party line, came less than a month after the authorities replaced the top editors of another daring newspaper, the Beijing News.

The decision to close Freezing Point was seen as evidence of President Hu Jintao’s personal support for tightening controls on the media.

The China Youth Daily is the official newspaper of the Communist Youth League, a power base for President Hu Jintao. Because any move to punish it would almost certainly require his approval, the decision to close Freezing Point was seen as further evidence of Hu’s personal support for a tightening of controls on the media that began two years ago, about a year after Hu took office.

Party officials summoned the senior editors of the China Youth Daily and ordered Freezing Point closed a day after distributing a five-page document that accused the section of “viciously attacking the socialist system” and condemned a recent article in it that criticized the history textbooks used in Chinese middle schools.

Propaganda authorities issued an order barring all media from reporting the suspension, all reporters from participating in any news conference about it and all Web sites from carrying any discussion about it, journalists said.

The chief editor of Freezing Point, Li Datong, confirmed the suspension in a message on his blog before censors deleted the page. “My colleagues and I just finished the full-page proof of tomorrow’s Freezing Point, but it looks like it can’t come out,” he wrote. “Freezing Point tenaciously survived for 11 years, and it has finally died.”

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by @ 8:10 pm. Filed under China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Media

25 January, 2006

great chinese inventions: skiing

Reuters reports that China invented cross-country skiing:

BEIJING (Reuters) - Cliff paintings of hunters in rugged remote northwestern China appear to prove that Chinese were adept skiers in the Old Stone Age, Xinhua news agency said on Monday.

The paintings in Altay, in Xinjiang Autonomous Region, "have been verified as human hunting while skiing and, therefore, archaeologists prove the Altay region to be a place of skiing some 100 to 200 centuries ago", the news agency said.

Wang Bo, a noted researcher with the Xinjiang Autonomous Regional Museum, said he had seen a picture of four people chasing cattle and horses, three of them on a long rectangular board with poles in their hands.

"Hence, he held these instruments are skis and ski poles," Xinhua said.

"(Experts) held that cliff paintings in Altay were the earliest archaeological evidence to show how humans had skied in the early days and suggest skiing had originated in Altay."

Nathan has doubts:

One wonders if the Chinese scientific community will one day discover a long lost “original” copy of the Old Testament in China that begins, “In the beginning the Chinese created the heaven and the earth.” It makes about as much sense as the claim that a 10,000+ year old cave painting proves that a state that didn’t exist for another 8,000 years or an ethnic group that wasn’t a majority in that neck of the woods until very recently can claim to have invented skiing.

AsiaPundit would concur. But while China may not have invented skiing, they are perfecting it.:


by @ 8:35 pm. Filed under China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia

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