15 January, 2006

s’pore blogwar: and the winner is…


There’s a war going on in the local blogosphere between Team A (Xiaxue, Sillycelly and Sandra) and Team B (Blinkymummy and Xialanxue). Go read their blogs to find out what happened. Tomorrow has links to some blogs following the story. (Picture and words from IZ)

Young Asian girls, slander, a bikini photo shoot gone bad and catfights. This should be even bigger than the Dawn Yang plastic surgery controversy (if you don’t know, don’t ask).

As AsiaPundit understands, the story is that Asia’s ‘Best’ blogger XiaXue, along with friends Sillycelly and Sandra, were seemingly upset at Blinkymummy, possibly for posts related to a lad mag photo shoot that the three did.

At a restaurant encounter a somewhat drunk Blinkymummy had words with the girls.

Shortly after a Blinkymummy hate site appeared with the author baring the moniker "Xialanxue," the author of an anonymous anti-Xiaxue site.

Allegedly, bloglines screen grabs demonstrated that Xiaxue was impersonating Xialanxue in an effort to slander Blinkymummy. Ironically, one of the incriminating posts was one in which XiaXue was insulting anonymous hate-site owners and fast-food chain mascots,

This was followed a post on the ’scandal’ being put on aggregator site Tomorrow.sg, and then taken down - and then being replaced by a new post. Followed by a deletion of all trackbacks by a Tomorrow editor who may or may not have been XiaXue. Undermining the editorial stance of Tomorrow.

Got it? I didn’t think so.

Thankfully Shaolin Tiger has a generally readable review of the matter. Tomorrow has about 35 linked trackbacks to its post.

Funnily enough, in one of the gazillion comments on this in the S’poreblogosphere it was said that "Blinkymummy started it." That’s a classic schoolyard comment and, with it, AsiaPundit is willing to call this blogwar now.

The winner is… Steven. He wasn’t actually involved but no one else comes out of this looking very good and the whole incident adds immeasurable support for his controversial thesis.

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by @ 10:30 pm. Filed under Blogs, Singapore, Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia, Weblogs

how to dismantle a homemade bomb

Via Jeff Ooi, a Malaysian newspaper juxtaposes photos of bomb squads in Malaysia and China.:


AsiaPundit wouldn’t consider this indicative of the relative strengths of workplace safety in the two countries - not by a long shot - but he does agree with Jeff that the New Straits Times has gotten much better at photo placement.

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by @ 10:22 pm. Filed under China, Malaysia, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia

indibloggie awards 2005


The 2005 results for the indibloggies are out visit the results here. Congratulations to Amit Varma for taking the top spot, and to DesiPundit and all of the other winners.

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by @ 10:10 pm. Filed under Blogs, India, Asia, South Asia

pla strike force

Are the People’s Liberation Army willing to engage in a first strike? Beijing certainly hopes not, they don’t want soldiers striking at all. Mingi links to an LAT item describing the social problems of China’s military modernization:

PlaOver the past two years, the People’s Liberation Army has reportedly slimmed down by 10%, or 230,000, to create a leaner armed forces. However, as the Los Angeles Times reports, those laid off at the expense of a more efficient PLA are taking it to the streets. The LAT article also quotes a correspondent from the Jane’s Defense Weekly, possibly the most well-respected (and most expensive) magazine dealing with military issues. He says, "It’s a bad sign any time the military protests. They really depend on these guys to put down other protests. You can’t have these guys running around protesting with guns."

The article also alludes to a possible disbanding of the elite PLA lychee guarding unit.:

China is also working overtime to lighten many of the army’s ancillary responsibilities, including planting crops, teaching school and running shops. These activities grew out of a tradition dating back to the conflicts with the Japanese and the Nationalists, when fighters were supposed to be self-sufficient.

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by @ 9:59 pm. Filed under China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia

reporters ‘outraged’ over kim visit

AsiaPundit appreciates the work of Reporters sans Frontieres. Seriously, it is an important lobbying group that has been successful at aiding journalists under detention and in peril worldwide. But the latest release is a tad silly.

Reporters Without Borders voiced outrage today at the news blackout imposed by the Chinese authorities on a visit by North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il, which no Chinese news media has mentioned. One official after another at every level has repeatedly denied that any such visit is taking place.

“This is not so much a lack of transparency as an orchestrated state lie to protect the planet’s worst dictator,” the press freedom organisation said. “Are the Chinese authorities ashamed of their troublesome ally.”

Kim arrived in China in his armoured train on 10 January. Today (13 January) he is said to be in southern China visiting the city of Shenzhen, the symbol of Chinese capitalism. The Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported that Kim stayed in the White Swan Hotel in Guangzhou. All other visitors were asked to leave the hotel, which - according to the receptionists - was full.

Outrage is a pretty strong term. AP and other reporters he talked to over here, were actually pretty amused at the whole farce. AP expects that includes other blogging journalists Running Dog and Shenzhen Zen.

A reworked lede could make it a bit more authentic.

Reporters Without Borders laughed immensely today at the news blackout imposed by the Chinese authorities on a visit by North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il, which no Chinese news media has mentioned. Authorities were mocked and derided as one official after another, at every level, made themselves look like total dinks by repeatedly denying that any such visit is taking place.

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by @ 9:32 pm. Filed under China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Media, North Korea

mr gates goes to washington

News that the US Congress is going to hold hearings on corporate involvement in Chinese censorship has prompted some great essays from this side of the Pacific. Two of the best, as can be expected, are from Imagethief and ESWN. AP recommends reading each in full.

For starters, Will at Imagethief seems to have spent his entire weekend writing a thorough essay on what hearings could mean, and how they could be counterproductive.:

LogosWe westerners seem to be conflicted in how we feel about China. We have an idealistic conviction that the simple flow of our ideas and culture and the relentless march of technology will somehow precipitate change, yet we can’t resist an interventionist desire to actively impose our values. At the same time we mythologize China into something unknowable and impenetrable. The result is that no matter what we do we risk patronizing the Chinese Internet users we want to help, and driving them further away.

Imposing foreign activism on China has a pretty dismal record of failure. In a country where nationalist sentiment runs high and is easily provoked, it is liable to backfire. Imagine for a moment that American Internet firms are drummed out of China by legislation or activism. My guess is that Chinese youth would not swell with admiration for courageous, highly-principled foreign companies. Rather, they would likely seethe with nationalist contempt for companies that don’t "get" China and for foreign governments that are trying to dictate what is good for China. That won’t do wonders for dialogue. I can tell you who would be happy though: Bokee (who launched a devastatingly self-interested attack on MSN prior to Anti’s removal, as reported here by ESWN) and other Chinese blogging engines who would be pleased to see off foreign competition.

Not that they need to at the moment. Most Western Internet companies in China are not doing very well. In the grand scheme of forces affecting China, the inclination of American (as opposed to Chinese) Internet companies to toe the censorship line is so far down the list as to be nearly beneath concern. The free operation of China’s domestic mainstream media ranks substantially higher. Although the two issues are tangentially connected via the Shi Tao case, US Internet companies and American interventionism are probably not the key to freeing Chinese media.

Roland at ESWN also argues that legislation could be a mistake, a key passage is his translation of a post by Michael Anti (the blogger who was shut down by MSN):

As for what the US Congress Representatives want to legislate, this is totally the business of the American people.  I don’t feel that the freedom of speech of the Chinese people can be protected by the US Congress.  If the freedom of speech of the citizens of a great country has to be protected by the legislature of another country, this shows how distant the country is from the greatness that we longed for.  Opposing the shutting down of my blog and my defense of my freedom of speech should not be based upon relevant legislation by the US Congress.

To state it more clearly, we want legislation from China’s Congress.  We want the Chinese to defend the freedom of speech by the Chinese.  Maybe not today, but it will be possible tomorrow.  This is the only glory and dream for continuing to live on. …

Furthermore, at a time when globalization and politics are mixed up, I do not think that we can treat everything in black-and-white terms as being for or against the improvement of freedom and rights for the people of China.  On one hand, Microsoft shut down a blog to interfere with the freedom of speech in China.  On the other hand, MSN Spaces has truly improved the ability and will of the Chinese people to use blogs to speak out and MSN Messenger also affected the communication method over the Internet.  This is two sides of the practical consequences when capital pursues the market.  How the Americans judge this problem and mete out punishment is a problem for the Americans.  If they totally prevent any compromised company from entering the Chinese market, then the Chinese netizens will not be freer at least in the short term.  Besides, we must distinguish between the sellout by Yahoo and the compromise by Microsoft, because they are completely different matters.

Roland concludes: "it will be a net loss for freedom and democracy if MSN Spaces were to depart from China.  In fact, given the circumstances, the best thing is to allow MSN Spaces to grow as rapidly as possible in China.  For example, if they can get 50 million users, who is going to block them?"

It’s regrettable, but these are much better defenses of the actions of US corporates in China than the companies have  themselves offered.

That’s part of the reason AsiaPundit is welcoming hearings. AP hopes that they will force the companies involved to provide more information on their activities. Microsoft, Yahoo!, and other firms stonewall the press when asked for information on their China activities - they are less likely to do that to requests from Congress. AP’s hope is that the additional pressure would encourage those involved to adopt a code of conduct and to state - bluntly - what they consider acceptable or unacceptable.

That said, AP questions the desirability of legislation. Partly, that’s because AP swings libertarian and always questions the need for legislation. but on top of that Congress tends to go overboard on issues related to China. This was shown with the proposed 27.5 percent tariffs for alleged currency manipulation and the bipartisan intervention in the Unocal/CNOOC matter.

One of AP’s first reactions to news of the hearings - after thinking "good" - was to envision a McCarthy-esque spectacle. This is an issue that will almost certainly lead to overblown rhetoric and could lead to legislative overreach. Quite simply, there’s lots of room for both the left and right to engage in the populist bashing of both China and evil corporations. Plus, Congressmen would surely welcome a chance to paint themselves as defenders of free speech.

As for the RSF petition, again AP welcomes the fact that groups like RSF and CPJ see this as an issue - not only because of the awareness of the issue, but also because the organizations are considering issues affecting their unpaid brethren in the blogosphere.

That said, AsiaPundit is a bit ticked that the Paris-based RSF decided to focus on US corporates and ignore those from the Continent. While Cisco has faced scrutiny for its business in China many of its main competitors here are European. Whatever questions are put to Cisco could also be directed at Alcatel, Siemens, Ericsson and others.

Also see Danwei, Rebecca and Howard French.

UPDATE: Roland has adjusted his position:

The responses on the US Congressional Hearings seemed to be far too homogeneous around here: RConversation, ESWN, Imagethief, Danwei, AsiaPundit.  This is the whole problem about Group
Polarization on the Blogosphere

in which like-minded people in a group talk to each other in the same
way.  So it will do here to bring up a dissenting opinion: "I
absolutely support the action taken by American congresses and senates.
Those opposed to these such measure are dirty, unethical and ummoral
liberal who want to support the communist regime under the name of
mulitculturalism."  Take that!


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by @ 9:14 pm. Filed under Blogs, China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Media, Web/Tech, Weblogs, Censorship

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