19 January, 2006

interviews: japundit and hanzi smatter

Blogger interviews to note: Japundit was ‘intraviewed’ by Kokuryu. As well, Tian of Hanzi Smatter was interviewed by NPR.


AsiaPundit has not yet been interviewed. Although AP has been this week picked up by a Dutch newspaper and a very good - and authorized - Times of London blog by Richard Lloyd Parry: Asia Exile.
(AP has also appared in CNet and BusinessWeek blogs, plus a BBC magazine. No bribes were exchanged.)

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

william pesek jr: boycott microsoft

AsiaPundit honestly did not expect the shutdown of Michael Anti’s blog to cause as much of a global outrage as it did. Blogs are deleted regularly in China. Papers are censored. Magazines are pulled off the shelves. Satellite television signals are blocked. Journalists are arrested, detained and jailed. This is all quite normal. (There’s nothing new to see here, move along.)

The outrage from Reporters Without Borders could be expected. It’s also normal for the New York Times and Washington Post to run outraged editorials. But it’s fairly new to see a top columnist for business newswire Bloomberg call for a boycott:

PesekWould a Hong Kong-based economist publishing a report suggesting China understates GDP be committing a crime against the state? How about a journalist or a blogger getting leaked information about a politician or a company doing dodgy things? No one knows for sure.

Censorship is a sign of weakness, not strength. It’s also a reminder that China lacks a key economic ingredient: self- confidence.

Along with being one of the world’s oldest civilizations, China is the most populous nation and remains the fastest-growing major economy. And yet China expends so much energy controlling what’s said about it.

Technology companies claim they need to follow local laws where they operate and they’re in a tough spot in China. Western companies need to bend over backward to get a foothold in capitalism’s latest frontier. Yet in their giddiness over future profits, they can go too far. Corporate America may be doing just that in China.

Let’s Boycott

Why, with all his wealth and global prestige, isn’t Microsoft founder Bill Gates standing up to Beijing? Why isn’t Google taking that $467 share price out for a spin and challenging China? Why is a global household name like Yahoo bowing to a repressive regime? Companies seem to think their mere presence will help open China. That’s just bunk.

“Microsoft, Yahoo and others are helping to institutionalize and legitimize the integration of censorship into the global IT business model,'’ said Rebecca MacKinnon, a former Beijing bureau chief for CNN now specializing in Web censorship.

It’s all futile, though. China will find it harder and harder to police fast-changing technologies and fast-learning bloggers. All Chinese consumers may remember years from now is how the biggest names in technology once helped keep them down. Along with a Chinese firewall, they may be creating barriers between themselves and future users.

I’d like to see the country’s consumers boycott Yahoo, Google, Microsoft and others. It’s just not clear that the message would reach many in China.

Pesek’s views, as the Bloomberg site states, are his own.

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

not dumb; maybe crazy and evil

Curzon at Coming Anarchy produces an item by Stratfor arguing that leaders of large countries generally cannot get there by being insane or morons.:


One of the ways to avoid thinking seriously about foreign policy is to dismiss anyone who does not behave as you would. Such a person is unpredictable, scary, and cannot be controlled. You are therefore relieved of the burden of doing anything about him. In foreign policy, it is sometimes useful to appear to be insane or stupid. Insanity is a great tool of unpredictability, and the less predictable you are, the more power you have. Stupidity lulls opponents into falsely believing that they can deal with you at any time they like. Thus some leaders deliberately cultivate an aura of insanity or stupidity to their own advantage.

    However, people who climb to the leadership of nations containing many millions of people must be highly disciplined, with insight into others and the ability to plan carefully. Lunatics rarely have those characteristics. Certainly, there have been sociopaths—like Hitler—but at the same time, he was a very able, insightful, meticulous man. He might have been crazy, but dismissing him because he was crazy—as many did—was a massive mistake.

Stratfor has noted on several occasions that the above description applies to a number of politicians, namely President Bush, Kim Jong Il, and President Ahmadinejad. In truth, all these men rose to power through a complex process by which they were vetted by a number of different powerful interests and groups. All three men must answer to a number of backers, many with differing if not competing interests. And none got to where they are by being dumb or nuts. Labeling them as such might feel good, it is neither helpful nor clarifying.

AsiaPundit would argue that none of the three is dumb, though he would say that "evil" and "crazy" can be applied to at least one of the above leaders. Crazy does not have to imply that someone is incompetent - as Stratfor notes, Hitler was a sociopath. This is not to suggest that we should dismiss the man because he is crazy; AP would suggest that he should be taken as a more serious threat because of that fact.

Kim actually fits the archetype of the evil genius or mad scientist quite well.

Here we have a reclusive tyrant with a massive cult of personality, lording over a land of peasants while engaging in criminal activities and spending most of the land’s resources on building advanced weaponry.


That said, AsiaPundit thinks living conditions in Latveria would still exceed those in North Korea.

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by @ 1:36 pm. Filed under Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, North Korea

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