5 January, 2006

thursday PR blog: advice for msn

Apologies to Will for the post title. But Richard asked in the comments whether AP was being sarcastic in his evaluation of Microsoft’s statement on the shutting of blogs in China. The official MS response to journalists was.:

As a multi-national business, Microsoft operates in countries around the world. In line with Microsoft practices in global markets, MSN is committed to ensuring that products and services comply with global and local laws, norms, and industry practices. Most countries have laws and practices that require companies providing online services to make the Internet safe for local users. Occasionally, as in China, local laws and practices require consideration of unique elements.

AsiaPundit does not believe that this was a proper response. This is, as Fons describes, "an excellent example of corporate bullshit." How does shutting a blog that was protesting a purge of editorial staff at a noted anti-corruption newspaper "make the Internet safe for local users."? That makes it seem that Microsoft was suggesting that Anti was a danger akin to child porn distributors.

How should Microsoft have handled this? Shutting down a pro-free press blogger in China is pretty much impossible to spin positively. Instead MS should have issued something that defends its position and adds to the debate on whether or not it is the correct one. Basically, show some thought leadership.

As a publicly-listed business with billions of dollars invested in China, Microsoft first and foremost has a responsibility to its shareholders. While the company regrets the shutting of Michael Anti’s blog, the terms of service on the MSN Spaces China site clearly states: “We may cancel or suspend your Service at any time. Our cancellation or suspension may be without cause and/or without notice.” We can therefore assure shareholders that no liability was incurred.

Most countries have laws and practices that require companies providing online services to restrict Internet usage for local users - whether it is laws restricting child pornography or, as in Germany and France, restricting access to sites that promote Nazism. Nevertheless, Microsoft believes that the company’s services, even in strict regulatory environments, enables users of our services to build upon social and professional networks and enrich themselves and build civil society. At its core MSN Spaces believes in helping young people learn independent and critical thinking and fostering a culture in which people tolerate and benefit from different voices. And as Michael Anti himself stated, within China new Internet technologies are giving hope and inspiration people to people who feel they have lost their voices. Microsoft is proud to be within China in to help the country advance, give its people and their voices a place in a global dialogue and build a harmonious global society.

And besides, it’s not like we’re Yahoo! or anything. Those pricks got Shi Tao thrown in jail! All that happened to Anti was that he had to move back to blog-city. So bugger off and leave Bill alone. He’s busy trying to cure malaria and doesn’t have time for your petty bourgeois whining. Don’t you wankers care at all about Africa? Get your priorities straight, piss off and go pick on Jerry Wang.

Likely the final paragraph in the Chinese version of the press statement would have included a lot more references to "building a harmonious society" and none to Shi Tao.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,

by @ 11:44 pm. Filed under Blogs, China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Weblogs, Censorship

newsflash: rising wealth causes starvation

Via Marginal Revolution:

Hundreds of millions of Chinese have been lifted out of abject poverty in the last several decades but trust Lester Brown to see the downside (Brown, of course, is sadly joined by Paul Krugman and neo-cons itching for another cold-war).  In his latest book, Brown argues that the Chinese will soon be eating little children.  Well, not exactly, but he does think that Chinese eating will cause little children to die.  Writing in the Washington Post, Bill McKibben summarizes the Brown argument (which he endorses):

    The Chinese, in particular, are constantly converting farmland to factory sites (even as they learn to eat more meat), and they have plenty of American cash stored up to pay for any shortfall. But if they do so, the first casualties will be the world’s really poor nations, already reeling from increases in the price of fuel.

Of course this is an old story for Lester Brown who in 1973 said:

    The soaring demand for food, spurred by continued population growth and rising affluence, has begun to outrun the productive capacity of the world’s farmers and fishermen.  The result has been declining food reserves, skyrocketing food prices, food rationing in three of the world’s most populous countries, intense international competition for exportable food supplies, and export controls on major foodstuffs by the world’s principal food supplier.

Isn’t it amazing how rising affluence leads directly to mass starvation?  Some people just can’t be happy. 

As AsiaPundit noted yesterday "on rural China, one point that is often missed is that agrarian lifestyles will only produce rural-sized incomes….  The longer-term solution (for China’s rural poverty) is allowing the urbanization and retraining of rural populations. "

It can be further noted that China’s rural peoples, like most globally, are heavily dependent on agricultural prices for their incomes. This creates a situation where, a touch bizarrely, rural poverty and malnutrition are often worsened by falling food prices. There is not too little food, there are too many farmers.

An economist AsiaPundit had been speaking with this week during his day job, admittedly one of the outliers on the growth prospects for Chinese consumer spending,  was expecting a slowing in consumer retail spending. In 2005 it was driven by higher rural incomes that were based on strong agriculture prices. Food prices are now falling.

Lower food prices mean that those in rural areas will need to sell more of their crops in order to make more money. In spite of Brown’s argument, rural people’s needs extend well beyond food. Cash is needed for healthcare, education, shelter, retirement and other necessities. As a wise man once said, perhaps Lincoln, "man does not live on bread alone." It’s not like China is some sort of communist utopia.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

by @ 10:43 pm. Filed under China, Asia, East Asia, Economy, Northeast Asia

taiwan’s economic freedom/pro-communism

One of the reasons that AsiaPundit objects to calling the Kuomintang pro-communist is that they are far less interventionist economically than the governing DPP. Sun Bin notes the island’s economic freedoms have deteriorated under the Chen Shui-Bian administration:

According to the Heritage Foundation, the economic freedom of Taiwan drops from #26 last year to #37 this year.

Meanwhile, HK stayed at #1, 8 years after reverted to PRC rule. China still ranked low, but its score has improved steadily (note high value in score means unfree).


Taiwan’s score has been in the decline since Chen Shui Bian started to rule the island (score=2.03 in 2000). The only year of improvement was right before the 2004 election (improved slightly from 2.48 to 2.34). It seems safe to expect the decline until 2008 election.

The DDP’s instincts, similar to their opponents across the Strait, have been to meddle rather than further free Taiwan’s economy. The KMT, whatever questions there may be about their foreign cross-Strait policies, are economically further removed from their Beijing counterparts. Calling them pro-communist because they hold dialogue sessions with the CCP isn’t appropriate - no more than it would be to call the Bush administration pro-communist because it dialogues with the Chinese leadership.

That said, the Foreigner has opened a debate on what the Communists should be called:

AsiaPundit favorably reviewed my previous post, but had a small quibble with my referring to Taiwan’s adversaries on the other side of the Strait as "communists".  In truth, I’m not entirely happy with this description myself.  AsiaPundit is right to point out that they ceased to be real communists the day they abandoned the economic model calling for state ownership of the means of production.  One could refer simply to "Beijing" or "the Chinese leadership", but that glosses over the moral nature of the regime.  So what word then, better designates their beliefs and policies?

"Fascist" seems too harsh, because the government in Beijing is not interested in the rigid state control over the economy that the fascists were enamored with.  On the other hand, "authoritarian" is too mild, because the Chinese authorities work very hard to suppress the organizations of civil society (ie: religions) that many authoritarians are content to leave unmolested *.

For China’s CCP to continue to call themselves ‘communist’ is indeed a great a misnomer. But so is the initial adjective in the ‘Democratic’ People’s Republic of Korea. If you call the KMT ‘pro-communist’ because it has dialogue with the CCP, for consistency you would have to call the CCP ‘democratic’ because it supports North Korea.

In terms of cross-Strait politics, calling the CCP ‘pro-nationalist’ would be a better description as it more neatly sums up their own ideology and their fawning over the KMT. Mainland state media has recently taken to praising both the anti-Japanese activities of the CCP and the KMT, so it would be less of a stretch.

That said, AsiaPundit is actually not adverse to fascist. As P.J O’Rourke noted in a late 1990s visit to Shanghai:

I don’t want to disparage private enterprise. The world has political, religious, and intellectual leaders for that. But when a totalitarian government gets cozy with large financial and manufacturing concerns, it rings a 20th century historical bell. I’m thinking how a certain ‘people’s car’-ein Volkswagen-got its start. I’m thinking, ‘Made the trains run on time.’ I’m thinking, ‘Greater Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere.’ There’s a technical name for this political ideology.

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

by @ 9:39 pm. Filed under China, Taiwan, Asia, East Asia, Economy, Northeast Asia

stalinist photoshopping

AsiaPundit loves the art of Stalinist photoshopping. This originated with ESWN, but AsiaPundit links to Roland almost every second day, so instead a link to Diacritic, who expands marvelously on the original post, in which Chinese media indicate a photo from a Caracas riot is from the recent WTO protests in Hong Kong.:

Hongkong Caracas

That we cannot fully trust the photograph is not suprising. The visual manipulation of history and current events continues.

ESWN, who apparently posseses a picture perfect memory, shares a recent photographic trespass by Chinese media. The event: The WTO protests in Hong Kong. No need to explain here, the two pictures speak for themselves.

Yet somewhere deep inside, we cannot resist the temptation to trust the image. Seeing is believing.

As a blast from the past, more Chinese photoshopping in the Stalinist tradition. This work of art took place in state media ahead of Hu Jintao’s takeover from Jiang Zemin:


Technorati Tags: , , ,

by @ 12:10 am. Filed under China, Hong Kong, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Media

[powered by WordPress.]

Free Hao Wu
Keep on Blogging!

Support Bloggers' Rights!
Support Bloggers' Rights!

Search Blog


January 2006
« Dec   Feb »
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 29




Hong Kong

The Koreas


India & South Asia

Global & Regional

Meta Data

Listed on BlogShares Ecosystem Details


Design By: Apothegm Designs


AsiaPundit Friends



Mr. China - by Tim Clissold:

How to lose $400 million in the world's biggest market.

Imelda - Power, Myth, Illusion:
A documentary on the former Philippine first lady that is damning, sympathetic and incredibly funny.

Yat Kha - Re Covers:
Siberian throat-singing punk band searches for its roots's - Bomb the Twist:
Three Japanese women play 1950's-inspired punk.

Gigantor Box Set Volume 1:
The original giant Japanese robot

Mao: The Unknown Story - by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday:
A controversial and damning biography of the Helmsman.

Recent Posts

recent comments

  • Falen: Michael, Are you trolling from one website to the next? How dare you to call Blues "anti-democratic"! I think...
  • Michael Turton: Both those commentors above are incorrect. Taiwan must have weapons to guarantee its own security,...
  • mahathir_fan: The source of the anger is probably because the Stephen YOung the unofficial "ambassador" to Taipei...
  • mahathir_fan: I want to applaud legislator Li Ao for his outspokenness on the arms procurement issue and for debating...
  • mahathir_fan: "A widening Chinese anti-corruption inquiry has targeted Beijing’s party leaders, in a sign that...


Your Ad Here






More from China

27 queries. 1.026 seconds