8 January, 2006

bokee cuts one-third of staff

While blogging is taking off in China, it still isn’t making money. Unsurprisingly then, Wang Jianshuo notes that top independent blog service provider Bokee has cut one-third of its staff.:

Bokeelogo1As a blog service provider, I believe 20 - 30 people at most is the reasonable number. Later, they added a lot of content editors and then technical people. Maybe many of the people are neccessary to support the business. However, when the number exceeded 50, I was worried about the company. Later, during a meetup in Shanghai, Fang told us they have 200+ employees. I was so shocked, and asked how could you support so many people? At that time, there was no clear business model yet.

Later, the number raise to 300. I know something must be wrong. Either Fang or me, one must be completely wrong about the staffing plan….

It was said (please note: This information is based on what I heard, and may be misleading, or different from the fact), that more than 100 people was informed to be laid off on the Thusday afternoon around X’mas. The order was effective immediately, which meant the employee need to leave the company the same time they received the information. The life of more than 100 people were affected.

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by @ 11:47 pm. Filed under Blogs, China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia

malaysia’s bigfoot

Malaysia’s bigfoot has been captured on film with pencil and paper (Via Boing Boing).:

MalaysiabfThe sketch appears to illustrate the more distinctive Malaysian unknown hairy hominid, which technically is a more humanlike cryptid, and very different that the classic, stocky Pacific Northwest USA’s Bigfoot or Sasquatch. I have previously discussed in my and Patrick Huyghe’s field guide, as has Mark A. Hall in his books, how the Malaysian unknown hairy hominoid reports divide into two quite separate types: those of the True Giant and the accounts of the more humanoid, Erectus Hominid variety.

This drawing, if it actually does originate from eyewitness sightings in Malaysia - and there’s no guarantee that this is the case - clearly shows one of the latter. If this is an image that we are to definitely now associate with the new wave of Malaysian encounters, it does reinforce the diversity of unknown hairy hominoids, and adds weight to calling this something other than "Bigfoot."

Grrr, arrrgh.

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by @ 10:48 pm. Filed under Malaysia, Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia

award season

It’s blog award season, with the Asia Blog of the Year (ABOTY) to be decided today. ABOTY is a strange site that claims to have received 9,000 nominations but has only one Technorati link - but if the $100 prize money is real, AP is pleased to be nominated.

As well, the Indibloggies are open - venture onward to discover new India blogs.

Plus, the 2006 Bloggies are accepting nominations.

While AsiaPundit would appreciate nominations, and thanks Lonnie for offering one without solicitation, there is something more important than AP’s own status in the blogosphere.

For far too long international blog awards have been pigeonholing Asian blog into a single category, limiting them from showing their true stature in the global blogosphere. One Asian blogger in particular has suffered because of this huge injustice.

XiaXue received 14,716 votes for Best Asian Blog, while the winner of the best blog received a mere 7,373 for the main category. That’s less than half of Wendy’s total and it is an outrage that the hosts of these awards have not yet allowed Wendy to compete for the top prize.

With that, AsiaPundit endorses XiaXue for Blog of the Year. He has already nominated Wendy and suggests all readers do so as well.


Just, please, please, please keep her out of the Best Asian Blog category. She doesn’t just have a fan base, it’s a cult!

And remember, just because you nominate XiaXue doesn’t mean you have to drink the Kool Aid. When AP nominated her, he was enjoying a fine shiraz.

Simon’s Asia Blog Awards are still under preparation.

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by @ 9:59 pm. Filed under Blogs, Asia

ching cheong to be prosecuted

Further on press freedom in China:

ChingcheongAfter a couple of unexplained extensions of detention without charge, Straits Times reporter/Hong Kong resident Ching Cheong’s case has been handed to mainland prosecutors.

    Ching’s support group says mainland officials notified his wife, through the S-A-R government, that the case was transferred to the Beijing prosecutors’ office on December 30. The Straits Times reporter was accused of spying for Taiwan and has been held on the mainland since April, but has not been formally charged.

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by @ 9:27 pm. Filed under Singapore, China, Hong Kong, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, Media, Censorship

microsoft: keeping state secrets secure

China’s constitution assures us that the country does have free speech. To maintain this illusion, the Party believe it essential to make the ad-hoc edicts that ban particular issues from discussion a ’state secret.’ Because of this twisted logic, AsiaPundit does not expect to hear much more from Microsoft on the reasons Michael Anti’s blog was shut down.

Microsoft is likely not just acting as a proxy for the ministry of propaganda by shutting Anti, by not saying why it shut Anti it is keeping ’state secrets’ of behalf of China.

ShitaoAsiaPundit has been bothered by the shutdown of Michael Anti’s site, plus the complicity of Yahoo! in the jailing of Shi Tao, not just because these are large technology companies aiding in the shuttering of free speech online. More disturbing is how these self-proclaimed ‘new media’ companies have helped undermine China’s emerging critical press.

Shi Tao was arrested because he provided details on what Chinese media were ordered not to report, Anti was likely shut down because he was offering moral support to journalists and editors at the Beijing News tabloid.

As ESWN’s Roland noted, and as AsiaPundit has heard from well-placed staff at the company, Yahoo! did not likely know what data it was providing the state when it handed over details on Shi Tao. But Microsoft knew exactly what it was doing.

Working backward, from information in the press and on ‘the Internet,’ a likely chain-of-events that led to the censoring of Anti begins to form.

The New York Times reported that Microsoft spokeswoman Brooke Richardson gave the paper considerably more detail than the one-paragragh waste of bandwidth that it e-mailed other reporters:

A spokeswoman for Microsoft said the company had blocked "many sites" in China. The MSN Spaces sites are maintained on computer servers in the United States.

Ms. Richardson of Microsoft said Mr. Zhou’s site was taken down after Chinese authorities made a request through a Shanghai-based affiliate of the company.

The company did not give details on what the contents on the request were. It shouldn’t be a surprise, but it is almost certainly a ’state secret’. Roland cited on Thursday:

"…according to a Bejing News editor, the Beijing City Government News Office issued this notice on December 30, 2005: "1. Effectively immediately, all websites shall treat the words ‘Bejing News’ as a keyword to filter at all forums, news comments and blogs.

The NYT notes that Anti’s blog was the first to report on the purge at the Beijing News (having the story days before the actual sackings). But Anti’s blog was not the first one to be silenced on this, as noted at Danwei, leading portal Sina had shut the blog of an editor at Beijing news two days earlier.:

An editor at The Beijing News named Wang Xiaoshan responded to the hostile takeover on his blog with a post in large highlighted characters:

    There’s no way to retreat, so we won’t retreat. The butcher’s knife is already raised… We’re going to die so let’s make it a beautiful death.

The post was copied as an image by Massage Milk (reproduced above, links to Massage Milk below). But Wang Xiaoshan’s blog is hosted on Sina.com’s blogging service; less than 24 hours after he published his battle cry, Sina’s censors deleted it from his blog, together with all comments that readers had made to the post.

As mentioned in this Salon article reproduced by Howard French, Sina is also a portal and news provider. Because of this the company - along with Yahoo! - is privy to direct briefings from the Beijing’s Information Office, which passes on information on what to cannot be reported and what must be censored. MSN Spaces is just a blog host, one of more than 600, so it possibly didn’t get the memo until a bit later than Sina.

Still, Microsoft’s Shanghai joint-venture did eventually receive either a direct order to shut Anti’s blog specifically or a more general order to shut all blogs discussing Beijing News. As disclosing the content of such orders is revealing a ’state secret,’ I expect no comment from Microsoft on the matter at this end.

There are a couple of things to consider on this. As all MSN Spaces blogs are hosted in the US, would the company be obliged by Chinese law to shut down a site discussing the Beijing News walkout were it put on MSN Spaces by a blogger outside of China? Hypothetically, If the Dalai Lama were a blogger, would MSN shut his site upon receiving a request from Beijing? Or if MSN’s Tehran office received a request from the government, would it shut Salman Rushdie’s blog? (and would it issue a statement: "MSN is committed to ensuring that products and services comply with global and local laws, norms, and fatwas"). 

As a test, AsiaPundit has set up an MSN Spaces site with a collection of Anti’s posts taken from ESWN and Google’s cache of the now deleted site, 


This was done using a Singapore-registered MSN account and was not done through a Chinese IP address. The site is currently available within China. If MSN deletes it, then it should be assumed that Microsoft will accept the CCP’s orders in regards to sites that are neither hosted in or registered in China.

Like all Chinese blog service providers, Microsoft’s MSN Spaces have been shutting sites on behalf of the state since it established a presence in the country. What happened to Anti isn’t new - although it most certainly is of a higher profile.

AsiaPundit has been accused of making too much of a fuss of China’s censorship. There are bigger concerns to worry about, such as the elimination of poverty and corruption, critics say. That’s certainly true, but in AP’s view the censorship of papers like the Beijing News and bloggers like Anti allows the state to cover up corruption and the problems of rural peoples (including beatings by government authorities).

Again, while it may be only a handful of residents who are affected by a block on a single website, the control of information in China promotes ignorance, retards democratic and economic development and prevents the building of an educated civil society.

Further on the Beijing News and journalism in China, Running Dog offers his invaluable insights:

BirdsBeing a journalist in China is never simple. Some westerners dismiss all Chinese reporters as Xinhua lackeys and lickspittles, as cynical hacks in the pay of the Party, and the only time they are given any praise at all is usually after they have been arrested by the government and sanctified by Reporters sans frontieres. Such critics rarely take time to question how they would behave under similar working conditions. The prison system is littered with reporters who strayed too far from the Party line, and Running Dog is often astonished by the talent, tenacity and courage shown by many of our Chinese counterparts. Since last week’s sackings, several journalists were still submitting coruscating accounts of the fiasco to the Xici journalist forum, and even as the moderators were deleting the threads, the reporters continued to defy them and post their pieces anew.

They are acutely aware of the risks. The 21st Century Global Herald was forced to close in 2003 after an interview with Mao Zedong’s secretary, Li Rui, who called for free elections. The Worker’s Daily spin-off, Beijing New Times, was also shut down in the same year after printing a provocative article that included the National People’s Congress in a list of the country’s ’seven disgusting things’. Since then, the authorities have decapitated the Southern Metropolis Daily and sentenced its chief editor to prison, while the ostensibly well-protected China Youth Daily was also subject to regime change last year.

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by @ 9:04 pm. Filed under Blogs, China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Media, Web/Tech, Weblogs, Censorship

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