28 February, 2006

the china boom

Via Richard, a welcome dose of antidote for China hype from Foreign Policy.:

Western investors hail China’s strong economic fundamentals—notably a high savings rate, huge labor pool, and powerful work ethic—and willingly gloss over its imperfections. Businesspeople talk about China’s being simultaneously the world’s greatest manufacturer and its greatest market. Private equity firms are scouring the Middle Kingdom for acquisitions. Chinese Internet companies are fetching dot-com-era prices on the NASDAQ. Some of the world’s leading financial institutions, including Bank of America, Citibank, and HSBC, have bet billions on the country’s financial future by acquiring minority stakes in China’s state-controlled banks, even though many of them are technically insolvent. Not to be left out, every global automobile giant has built or is planning new facilities in China, despite a flooded market and plunging profit margins.

HindenburgAnd why shouldn’t they believe the hype? The record of China’s growth over the past two decades has proved pessimists wrong and optimists not optimistic enough. But before we all start learning Chinese and marveling at the accomplishments of the Chinese Communist Party, we might want to pause for a moment. Upon close examination, China’s record loses some of its luster. China’s economic performance since 1979, for example, is actually less impressive than that of its East Asian neighbors, such as Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan, during comparable periods of growth. Its banking system, which costs Beijing about 30 percent of annual GDP in bailouts, is saddled with nonperforming loans and is probably the most fragile in Asia. The comparison with India is especially striking. In six major industrial sectors (ranging from autos to telecom), from 1999 to 2003, Indian companies delivered rates of return on investment that were 80 to 200 percent higher than their Chinese counterparts. The often breathless conventional wisdom on China’s economic reform overlooks major flaws that render many predictions about China’s trajectory misleading, if not downright hazardous.

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by @ 11:58 pm. Filed under China, Asia, Coming collapse, East Asia, Northeast Asia

s’pore mrt anagrams

AsiaPundit hadn’t been too enthused by Boing Boing’s transit system anagram series, until he realized that he used to ride the train daily from ‘A Herman Hut’ to ‘japan Gang Rot’:


Full size image here and more station name variations are at Double Yellow,

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by @ 11:36 pm. Filed under Singapore, Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia

thaksin and arroyo


The year of the dog should be interesting for Asia. A little over two months ago, AsiaPundit visited Austin’s site and questioned the possibility of a coup happening in either Thailand or the Philippines, arguing that after a decade of democratic rule it seems unlikely either country would really care for a return of dictatorship (even if elected governments were seen as corrupt or incompetent).

Two months has made quite a difference, and while neither country seems likely to suffer a coup, stability has suffered a double blow. The pace at which the governments of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra have unravelled is impressive.

While it’s quite possible that some sort of people-power backed coup was being planned in the Philippines, its success was not assured, and Arroyo’s declaration of a state of emergency seems extreme. That civic groups are now reproducing literature on what constitutional rights citizens have under military rule is disheartening. Todd Crowell has a good summary of recent events.

The situation in Thailand is more surprising, while Arroyo has been facing increased pressure since the alleged election fraud allegations emerged last summer, the populist Thaksin was simply facing growing rumblings from a relatively weak opposition. The backlash to the sale of his family’s Shin Corp conglomerate to Singapore’s Temasek went far beyond expectations. The Foreigner in Formosa has a good backgrounder.

The Foreigner and Todd, of course, are far removed from the events and have the extra perspective that distance provides. Bloggers on the ground provide a more varied perspective.

From Thailand, Magnoy’s Samsara offers some links to opposition mixed media projects and an outline of the coalescing of Thailand’s opposition.

From the Philippines, a greater multitude of English-language voices is available: MLQ3 has amazing coverage and linkage following the events of Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Torn looks at the restive situation and the legality of 1017. the Unlawyer thinks it’s 1972 all over again. Carlos backs Gloria.

And from the mainstream press, there’s a lot of commentary that would have unimaginable just a couple of years ago including this piece praising the stability and democratic development of Indonesia compared to the neighbors.

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by @ 11:04 pm. Filed under Indonesia, Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia, Philippines, Thailand

chen cuts budget

While AsiaPundit has been critical of Chen Shui-bian’s economic policies, the Taiwan president’s move to abolish the National Unification Council should be welcome. Chen has just saved the taxpayers of Taiwan 32 bucks per year.:

We got rid of a US$32 budget item, and managed to piss off the two most powerful nations in the world. What do have for it? Anything concrete? Maybe for an encore, Chen can personally call the heads of the Hong Kong triads and tell them their wives are ugly and their children are stupid too.

While AsiaPundit welcomes any attempt to rein in wasteful spending, he opposes Michael’s suggestion about the triads. It would be safe to assume that the gentlemen of Hong Kong’s top crime families have attractive wives and even more attractive girlfriends. Plus, taunting the triads would be a serious provocation.

MeiZhong Tai offers a brief wrap on the issue - which includes Michael’s post. The consensus on the other side of the Strait, generally, does acknowledge that the NUC was an obviously insignificant and outmoded institution.

Taiwan’s Other Side, a resolutely pan-blue blogger, sees has harsh criticism of the move.:

This is a move that has no widespread popular support - the office is yet another harmless idiosyncrasy in the dual identity of the Republic of China on Taiwan. Removing it provides no benefit for the people of Taiwan, at the price of straining relations with not one but TWO of Taiwan’s major trading partners. A bold move to be sure, but why? CSB has, as usual, offered no explanation of how removing the UC will benefit anyone except his own craving for publicity. This is just another publicity stunt that comes at a painfully high price.

Ranc, as well, notes that this will be seen by the Communist Party as a significant provocation that will require a significant counteraction.:

Beijing has to have a big reaction. If Chen could get away with this, there will be no return for the independence movement. The reaction could be a SUBTLE one, unlike the 1996 war exercise, but it has to be BIG and OBVIOUS. The point is to show the COMMITMENT and CAPABILITY of Beijing stopping the independence movement. Expand the military immediately, for example. Or show off a really really powerful weapon that the world has never seen before, if there is such a weapon. In any case, the commitment has to be real for anyone to believe you.

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by @ 8:17 pm. Filed under China, Taiwan, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia

xbox for china

Via Marcus Troiano, news of a business decision that AsiaPundit would welcome, but has not been expecting,:

Xbox360It’s well known that China is one of the largest breeding grounds for piracy of software, DVDs and CDs, and it’s for that reason that video game makers have been wary of entering that market.

Despite these concerns, Microsoft said that it’s currently evaluating China for a possible launch of the Xbox 360 in that market, according to the Associated Press.

Speaking prior to the launch of the next-gen console in South Korea this Friday, Alan Bowman, general manager of entertainment and devices for Asia Pacific and Greater China said, “We’re working with the government pretty actively in trying to understand what it is we need to do. We’re taking a very careful approach in China.”

Upon being pressed further Bowman would not elaborate on any possible timeframe for the launch of the 360 in China. He added, “It’s a very controlled environment. We’re going to make sure that we make the right moves, develop the right content, have the right partnerships in place. It’s not something you want to rush in and do.”

AsiaPundit has spoken with Sony representatives in China who have bluntly admitted that the Playstation 2 has been a "miserable failure." Hardware for game consoles is sold at a discount, and the companies make money in software or services. In China, that means making money for subscriptions to online game services. If Microsoft can pull off a money-making method for the 360 in China, AsiaPundit will be impressed.

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by @ 7:35 pm. Filed under China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia

AsiaPundit was going to link to Imagethief’s posts on how US corporate leaders need to show some more leadership or on how Google may be the victim of a dispositioning campaign in China, but instead AsiaPundit will give this post on topless lemur photos top billing.:

 English 2006-02 27 Xinsrc 5220203271318343984759

So combining live actors and cartoons is a deadly sin, but it’s still OK for the state news agency to publish a photo of a t*pless woman clutching a lemur to her bare chest,

Ya gotta love this country. More Xinhua “Beauties with Animals” here. If you must.

If I get any Google hits to this page from searches for “lemur+bra” I’m abandoning the Internet forever.

Other interesting reading on lemur bras Google in China see Non Violent Resistance, and Rebecca’s article in the Nation, where she asks:

The question is not whether the Chinese Communist Party will succeed in hanging on to power. The real question is, For how long? A few years? A few decades? Another half-century?

If they can continue to distract the populace with pictures of women wearing lemurs, AsiaPundit would be willing to bet the CCP will be able to stave off the revolution for quite a while.

(Photo stolen from Xinhua, copyright unknown)

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by @ 12:39 am. Filed under China, Cambodia, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Media

trapped transition

AsiaPundit has just returned from a Shanghai Foreign Correspondent’s club event featuring speaker Jerome Cohen. That means light blogging this evening. Cohen spoke of “China’s Impending Crisis of Administrative and Legal Institutions,” arguing that China’s legal reforms, while impressive on paper, have not taken hold in practice.

The government has been educating peasants on their rights and telling them to use the legal system to solve their problems. These could be good things, but as the legal system is biased and does not provide unbiased redress, it only adds extra frustration when cases fail to be heard or addressed in a just manner. To simplify one aspect of a 90-minute talk, China’s legal reforms are in a broad sense leading to more frustration rather than greater justice. Elites, who control the system, have little incentive to reform.

This Financial Times item reproduced by Howard French makes a similar argument but with a different focus. Reforms on state-owned companies have also failed to deliver. A full reading is recommended: ‘China is Stagnating in its Trapped Transition‘:

These two anomalies - faltering institutional reforms and political stagnation - are central to understanding a “trapped transition”, a transformative phase in which half-finished reforms have transferred power to new, affluent elites who know better than their Little Red Book-waving predecessors how to resuscitate moribund communism with crony capitalism. Partial reforms have thus created a hybrid, albeit state-centred, system that allows these elites to perpetuate their privileges. In China, mixing command and control with embryonic market forces enables the Communist party to tap efficiency gains from limited reforms to sustain the unreconstructed core of the old command economy - the economic foundation of its political supremacy.

In a “trapped transition”, the ruling elites have little interest in real reforms. They may pledge reforms, but most such pledges are lip service or tactical adjustments aimed at maintaining the status quo. In economic reform, after making an excellent start in de-collectivising agriculture and privatising small state-owned enterprises, momentum has stalled. The state still owns nearly 60 per cent of fixed assets and dominates vital industrial sectors, from financial services to energy. Today, Beijing’s guiding principle is not to exit these Leninist “commanding heights” but to reinforce them. The private sector remains hobbled by government restrictions and discrimination.

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by @ 12:13 am. Filed under China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia

27 February, 2006


The possible takeover of the management of six US ports by Dubai Ports World (DPW) has created what Asia Cable’s Todd Crowell calls, and AsiaPundit agrees, xenophobia run amok.:

I haven’t noticed that many West Coast lawmakers taking a stand on the ports controversy. Of course, the ports in question are on the East Coast, but I suspect that most of the westerners are praying that the whole controversy blows over before Congress does something really stupid, such as passing some law to ban foreign operations of port terminals. That would cause chaos on the West Coast.

PandoTake for example, the Port of Seattle. Of the three terminals, one is leased to an American stevedoring firm MSS America, one to Hanshin, the South Korean shipping line, and the other to the American President Lines (now APL) which, despite it venerable patriotic name, is actually owned by Singapore.

Port management is an international business that is dominated by foreign interests. That’s not hard to understand since there are obviously close synergies between ships and terminals. And an American merchant marine scarcely exists.

I said last year when the Unocal flap arose that if national security is so important in these issues, then why not nationalize Unocal. Why doesn’t Washington bid for the P&O shares itself? Add a few gild-edge shares to the national portfolio now filled with IOUs to China and Japan.

There was also similar uproar about the Hutchison Whampoa’s takeover of the Panama Canal, with critics alleging that Hutchison’s Li Ka-Shing was ‘too close’ to the Communist Chinese. That may be true from some perspectives - AsiaPundit doesn’t imagine that Hutchison has any desire to reform Hong Kong’s LegCo along more democratic lines. But suggesting that Li would put US security at risk is risible.

While Li has inarguably been enriched by the Hong Kong cartel system and Li’s cozy relationship with governments, British as well as Chinese, his shipping conglomerate was enriched by Hong Kong’s ability to function as a free port. The Panama Canal pursuit was based on nothing more than that.

Similarly, Dubai - more than anywhere else in the Middle East - has benefitted from running its own free port. The Emirate is not energy-rich compared to its neighbors and has gained its wealth by modeling itself after Singapore and Hong Kong. The investment by DPW should be no more feared than the investment by Hutchison, or any investment by Singapore’s PSA.

When it comes to keeping its ports operational, a bigger concern for US authorities should be the country’s own labor unions - who regularly tie up container traffic and resist automation that would help detect terrorists threats.

AsiaPundit would like to see America be a bastion of free trade and investment. If the country is to insist on liberalization abroad, it should practice it at home.

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by @ 11:45 pm. Filed under Singapore, Hong Kong, Asia, East Asia, Economy

24 February, 2006

yellow fever

Jeff in Korea is hosting a hilarious US-produced video explaining why Asian women dig white guys:


And Chinese viewers should appreciate how Indian guys have it worse.

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by @ 8:57 pm. Filed under South Korea, China, India, Asia, Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, Film

pr0n in public

China’s internet police are so scary they can cause a grown man to faint.:

FaintIn Chongqing, China, the police inspection team entered an Internet bar in the morning.  About seven or eight students were present.  One student was concentrating hard on pornographic websites and was totally unaware of the police officers behind him.  The officers stood there for a miute and then they asked him to cooperate.  The student stood up, his body wavered and he passed out.  The police gave him some water and he came to a few minutes later.  He said, "I was scared."  The student was brought back to the station when he apologized and was let off with a lecture and a warning.

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by @ 8:04 pm. Filed under China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Web/Tech, Censorship

in praise of mopeds and mobiles

Two of the most ubiquitous and derided devices in much of developing Asia are the cell phone and the moped.  The former due to a lack of etiquette and the latter because they tend to be driven on pedestrian thoroughfares. While AsiaPundit will be forever annoyed by people who stare at their phones instead of answering them, and at the scooters that always honk at him on the sidewalks of Shanghai, he will agree with Neelakantan that the two have empowered millions of new entrepreneurs.: 

Moped2The moped is a much derided vehicle, at least on Indian roads. It is slow on the highways, a pain in traffic because it runs circles around other vehicles far more than a bike or a scooter and an irritation when it breaks down at signals. Some of these contraptions also have a pedal option, which is used by its owners to get out a signal at 3 km/h, when their contraption fails to start. But, it also has a role to play in our economy. Down South, where TVS motor rules the roost, the moped is popular. It is not popular with college students (guys prefer bikes, girls prefer variomatics), but it popular with another segment. The milk delivery man, postmen, the newspaper delivery men, even the scrap traders (as pictured above) who I call micro entrepreneurs. These were the guys who used a bicycle once upon a time and have now upgraded to mopeds.

Mopeds are dirt cheap and give amazing value for money for a litre of petrol. (A 100 cc bike gives upwards of 80 km to a litre, these 50 and 70 something cc vehicles can give much more. It is not uncommon some of these things being filled with petrol for 25 rupees (half a litre) or less. I have seen a moped being filled for 10 rupees. These things are not fast, but they are rugged and remove the dependence on public transport for their owners. The moped is as functional a vehicle as it can get, since their owners really dont care for how a moped looks.

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by @ 7:47 pm. Filed under India, Asia, East Asia, Economy, South Asia

philippines in ’state of emergency’

Saying that a coup was being plotted against her government, Gloria Arroyo has declared that the Philippines is now in a "state of emergency."

Arroyo-055-06I Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, President of the Republic of the Philippines and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, by virtue of the powers vested upon me by Section 18, Article 7 of the Philippine Constitution which states that: “ The President…whenever it becomes necessary,…may call out (the) armed forces to prevent or suppress…rebellion…, “ and in my capacity as their Commander-in-Chief, do hereby command the Armed Forces of the Philippines, to maintain law and order throughout the Philippines, prevent or suppress all forms of lawless violence as well any act of insurrection or rebellion and to enforce obedience to all the laws and to all decrees, orders and regulations promulgated by me personally or upon my direction; and as provided in Section 17, Article 12 of the Constitution do hereby declare a State of National Emergency.

The above is from the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism blog - which is currently providing far too many articles to link to individually. Go read the site.

Torn and Frayed also have live updates from a Manila anti-Arroyo march.

Image stolen from here.

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by @ 7:26 pm. Filed under Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia, Philippines

who censored roger rabbit?

Who censored Roger Rabbit? The Communist Party of China!

Rogerrabbit 02China’s ancient culture has outlasted famine, Mongol hordes, the British Empire, opium wars and Japanese militarism.

So why is Beijing scared of Tinky Wink?

That’s the member of U.K. kids’ favorite Teletubbies, which aroused the ire of televangelist Jerry Falwell. Now the animated gang has fallen afoul of Communist China–although not for the preacher’s reasons.

See, Teletubbies is a mixed media show, in that it blends cartoons with live action. And that melange is now officially banned by Beijing.

The People’s Republic of China has declared verboten TV shows and movies that blend hand or computer drawings with breathing human actors, in a drive to nurture home-grown animators–and perhaps wean the nation off of foreign cartoons.

AsiaPundit doesn’t care about Tinky Wink - but surely a regime is most wretched if it bans Jessica Rabbit.

This is what AsiaPundit means when he says content-related businesses in China are at risk from political and regulatory whims.

AP was out for dinner and drinks with some fellow hacks last weekend and the Google issue was discussed. AsiaPundit mentioned that he would question any attempt to set up a content business here, noting how poorly News Corp had fared in spite of abiding by requests from authorities that it censor the BBC and not publish a biography by former Hong Kong governor Chris Patten.

A colleague agreed and said: "that’s China!

For more on the cartoon ban, Imagethief has some comments on the banning of ""so-called cartoons."

GZ expat notes some of the toons’ that will be banned.
Simon reveals the real reason for the ban.

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by @ 6:48 pm. Filed under China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Censorship, Film


AsiaPundit is concerned about the size of this feline.:


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by @ 12:20 pm. Filed under China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia

23 February, 2006

evil television

Television has just become more evil.:

HkdevilaniSanrio, creator of Hello Kitty, has announced that The Cute One will soon be appearing in her own TV show with a number of her furry friends in more than 15 countries of Asia, Europe, and North America..

The name of the program is Hello Kitty, Stamp Village, a 26-part series about the adventures of Kitty and her companions in a forest.

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by @ 10:53 pm. Filed under Japan, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Hello Kitty watch

when (fake) animals attack!



Tokyo’s Ueno Zoo held a training exercise this week, the aim being to practice capturing animals that may escape during a major earthquake; an Elephant near the Emperor’s Palace or a Giraffe in Ginza probably being the last thing that rescue teams would want to deal with.

Presumably being disorientated and afraid, any roaming beasts would be both dangerous and unpredictable, so this year’s exercise was made as authentic as possible – the latest advancements in make-up and synthetic material allowing officials to effortlessly achieve this. A tactic that proved hugely successful, as despite knowing that underneath the ultra-realistic gorilla suit was Suzuki-san from sales, the fear amongst the staff is practically palpable.

It can be assumed that the man in the monkey suit was paid for his trouble. With that, AsiaPundit notes that he would love to dress up as a gorilla and attack tourists and zoo staff. The next time the Ueno Zoo does this, it has a volunteer.

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by @ 10:46 pm. Filed under Japan, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia

blogwar: boing boing vs mutant frog

Two of AsiaPundit’s daily reads are having a blogwar* over whether or not Japan is set to ban the sale of used electronic equipment.
Cory of Boing Boing notes:

CoryAs of April 2006, it will be illegal to sell used electronics that are 5 years old or older in Japan. Akihabara News says that this is part of a pattern of restriction of the sale of used goods that prevails in Japan, where manufacturers have been able to convince the government to sweeten their profit-lines by banning re-sale of goods.

Mutantfrog retorts:

MutantfrogSo foreign sales will not be restricted at all. This is no surprise, considering how common sales of used Japanese vehicles are overseas. For example, in the Philippines all of the buses seem to be bought used from Japan. The very first bus I rode as I stepped out of the airport had a plate mounted above the windshield saying that it had been a Kyoto city bus that was refurbished by the Keihan Bus Company in around 1980. Second, companies can use what seems to amount to fake leases to get around the sales restrictions.

But there is more to it. Domestic non-lease sales are not being flat-out banned anyway, they are simply requiring an inspection.

Corey deflects:

Cory-1Lots of you have written in to point out this site, which purports to debunk this article. However, if you read it, you’ll see that in the guise of "protecting consumers," this Japanese law will limit the resale of used goods to giant retailers that presently make all their money from new goods, while shutting out user-to-user sales of electronics, pawn shops, market stalls, charity shops, etc. In other words: the sale of used goods will be at the discretion of the companies that stand to lose the most from the sale of used goods.

(*n.b. blogwar is an acceptable term for anything from a vicious flamewar to a polite debate.)

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by @ 9:56 pm. Filed under Japan, Blogs, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia

s’pore sex scandal: blame the bloggers

Singapore’s blogger emeritus mr brown takes notice of how a sex ’scandal’ involving a Nanyang Polytechnic student is being blamed on bloggers.:

Poly student in homemade sex video gets counselling

Teachers in other schools say many teens use phones to capture made photos, sex clips

One of the boy’s girlfriends, also a student at the (secondary) school, was not ashamed of her (nude) photos being circulated.

“She was proud of it. She said it was artistic.”

Veteran youth counseller Carol Ballhetchet said: “The new technology makes it all very easy and with celebrity bloggers revealing it all, it has become acceptable, even cool.”

While AsiaPundit would be pleased if Miss Izzy had helped it become acceptable and cool for Singaporeans to take their clothes off, he suspects that isn’t the case. As mr brown says of Ballhetchet’s comments:.

Give. Me. A. Freakin. Break.

Sure, before bloggers took their clothes off on their blogs, people were all conservative and there were no other places where young people could be influenced by the glamorization and normalization of this exhibitionist behaviour.

For more details on the MMS ’sex scandal,’ Miyagi has a fine roundup and IZ has the merchandise.:

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by @ 9:26 pm. Filed under Singapore, Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia

22 February, 2006

the big-mac wage index

The Big Mac index for currencies is a well known feature of the Economist newspaper, but the Big Mac wage index has never really taken hold. AsiaPundit expects that this alternative index is of less value than the currency index; the latter is not a serious study and the Economist admits it’s mostly in jest. The wage-related index should be enjoyed with equal grains of salt (as would be done with a tequila shot).

Wages are harder to empirically measure than prices or input costs. There are additional variables. 

AsiaPundit has lived in Kuwait - where McDonald’s employees are low-paid migrant labor; in Singapore - where McD’s employees often are retirees or the disabled; and in Canada, where the employees are mostly teenagers holding their first jobs. In each country the wage would be close to the bottom of the scale.

However, in China the McDonald’s wages - where in major coastal centers English-speaking staff are also employed - the average wage is likely well above the average rural income.

So, like the currency index, this is something is interesting - but it doesn’t necessarily disclose much that is useful.:

BigmacAshenfelter devises inventive real-world tests to illuminate labor economics, by Eric Quiñones, Princeton Weekly Bulletin: To address the current debate about whether China’s and India’s growing economies will soon rival that of the United States, Princeton economist Orley Ashenfelter poses a simple question: What is the going rate for flipping burgers?

Ashenfelter is conducting a study of McDonald’s employees’ wages in many countries to illustrate the relative strength of their economies, and early results indicate that developing nations still have a long climb. While the average hourly “McWage” is around $6 in the United States and other western nations, the same job in China, India and other developing countries pays less than 50 cents.

“A Big Mac is the same everywhere. The job is the same,” Ashenfelter said. “What makes a country wealthy is the wage rate that the market can guarantee for someone who wants to work. To most people in the developed world, a $6 job would seem to not be much of an accomplishment — in fact, it is a huge accomplishment that most of the world cannot yet even aspire to.” …

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by @ 11:59 pm. Filed under China, Asia, East Asia, Economy

21 February, 2006

spaceport s’pore

While Malaysia and China are sinking millions of yuan and ringgit into space programs, in Singapore plans are afoot for a privately developed spaceport:

Main-SpaceportsgSingapore may not have a space program like neighbour Malaysia but very soon it will have an integrated spaceport that will offer suborbital spaceflights, as well as operate astronaut training facilities and a public education and interactive visitor center. Spaceport Singapore will be developed by Space Adventures, a company that has launched private explorers to space and a group of Singapore companies.

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by @ 10:47 pm. Filed under Singapore, Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia

keitai girl, wet wet kid, nude skater, dayak tattoos

AsiaPundit has has a long day and is too tired to write. In lieu of words, AP is pleased to present images.

Via ‘We Make Money Not Art,’ links to Almond Chu’s Wet Wet Kid Cosplay Generation:


Almond Chu photo exhibition at the Shanghai Street Artspace.

And Keitai Girl:

Ya Kg2

In Keitai Girl (2003), Yamaguchi Noriko wears a body suit crafted from cell phone keypads, large headphones and is draped from head to toe with wires. Certain guests are given the phone number of her body suit and can dial her up from their own cell phones and talk with her during her performances. This suit—a full-body prosthetic that turns her into a walking and talking cellular device—to investigate the future development of the human body and its interaction with technology.

Via 3Yen, a nude Chinese ice skater on Japanese television (usual disclaimer: this is not porn, this is an international incident):

Zang Full

The Torino Olympics have been a total failure for the Japanese teams for far …so the Japanese have broadcast a naked Chinese iceskater to cheer things up.

Right now Japanese broadcasters have given up on promoting the Olympics. Low TV ratings have given the Japanese broadcasters a nasty hangover because the public is angry and bored with the worst Japanese showing in 30 years—Japan has yet to win any Winter Olympic medals.

Watch the video here on furl.com.

Via Indcoup, Dayak Tattoos:


… tattoos and death are inextricably bound in Dayak beliefs. When the soul (beruwa) leaves its human host, it journeys through the murky depths of the afterlife in search of heaven - the land of ancestors. Dayak souls encounter many obstacles on their supernatural flight: The River of Death the most formidable.

According to tradition, only the souls of tattooed women who provided generously for their families and headhunters who possessed hand tattoos - a token of their success - were able to cross the log bridge that spanned these dangerous waters.

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by @ 10:29 pm. Filed under Japan, China, Indonesia, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia

brother no. 2

At Cambodia Morning, a partial reproduction of a Tribune item on Pol Pot’s brother.:

D10BPAILIN, Cambodia - Brother No. 2 sees few visitors at his home in the jungle. He is old now, and something in his chest whistles when he laughs at the word "genocide."

Nuon Chea is the most senior surviving leader of the Khmer Rouge, the Cambodian utopian movement that swept to power in 1975 behind revolutionary Pol Pot, known as Brother No. 1, and led one of the 20th Century’s most extreme and enigmatic frenzies of bloodletting.

For years, the question of why it happened - and how it might be prevented from happening again - has met only silence or denials from the few who hold the answers. But the world is about to find out whether these secretive former leaders will unravel the mystery of why Cambodia killed nearly a quarter of its population.

"I acknowledge there was killing," Nuon Chea said at his two-room wood house beside the heavily mined border with Thailand. "But who controlled it?"

(Image stolen from this 2002 PBS item)

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by @ 10:13 pm. Filed under Cambodia, Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia

more malaysian bigfoots

Via Boing Boing, Malaysia’s Bigfoot seems to be a variety of at least three Bigfeets Bigfoots:

MaalaybfLoren Coleman reports that the Bigfoot-type creatures reportedly spotted by locals in the Endau-Rompin National Park, Malaysia, seem to represent several kinds of hairy hominids. (The news media here and abroad have been all over this story. Link, Link, and Link.) At Cryptomundo, Loren puts the various reports in context and lays out the three "sizes" of giants that are thought by some to be running around in the Malaysian forest. (Ilustration of a "Typical True Giant" by Harry Trumbore.)

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by @ 9:44 pm. Filed under Malaysia, Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia

Google was accused by the Beijing News of having .:

Google.cn, launched during the Spring Festival, and is sharing an ICP license with Ganji.com, a Chinese information Website, the Beijing News reported today.

The matter has aroused "concerns" from the Ministry of Information Industry. The regulator who will be probing the issue, the newspaper said.

The search engine operator told the newspaper that their practice is not the first of its kind in China. Yahoo in China is also using the same ICP license as 3721.com.

However, the News said, citing an unnamed source in the ministry, Yahoo and Google are different entities. Yahoo wholly owns 3721.com, but Ganji.com is not one of Google’s partners in China.

According to China’s rules, to operate an internet service without an ICP license is illegal. A foreign company must hand over its operation in China to a Chinese partner, or set up a China-based subsidiary to run the business. 

Google has said that it is doing nothing abnormal and is that its China operations are legal.

BEIJING (AFX) - Google Inc has rejected news reports that it is operating without a valid Internet content provider (ICP) license in China, saying its partnership with a Chinese information website means it has gone through the proper channels.

‘Google has a partnership with Ganji.com, through which we have the required license to operate the Google.cn service in China,’ said a Google spokeswoman who asked to remain unnamed.

Instead of its own ICP license, Google.cn is using the same one as that of Ganji.com, it said.

Regulations covering the internet and media in China are formed by more than a dozen ministries and regulators. It’s entirely possible that Google is in violation of one ministry’s rule and fully approved by another. It’s common to launch a service prior to receiving full approval from all official regulators - this holds true for a number of industries. Google is possibly following the normal process and has received necessary regulatory approval, but it could still be in violation of a law or regulation - which would likely be one that its competitors also violated without anyone noticing.

PayPal China was not fully licensed at launch, and even brick-and-mortar ventures such as auto finance companies operate under conflicting regulations. Waiting for regulatory clarity in China can mean never entering the market (which may not be a bad thing for some companies).

It’s also worth noting that the servers for Google.cn are still in Mountain View, California. So, Google could be operating the China portal without a license but is doing it from the US. How that could that be in violation of Chinese law escapes me.

Bill Bishop : "It is quite possible (the Beijing News item) is a hatchet job planted by one of Google’s competitors. News reports in many publications, even some very well-known ones, are fairly easy and cheap to buy in China."

Bill also points to a venomous article in the China Business Times, , accusing Google of being a rude party crasher.:

"But the China Business Times, a business paper with a sometimes nationalist slant, blasted Google for even telling users that links are censored.

"Does a business operating in China need to constantly tell customers that it’s abiding by the laws of the land?" it said, adding that Google had "incited" a debate about censorship.

The paper likened Google to "an uninvited guest" telling a dinner host "the dishes don’t suit his taste, but he’s willing to eat them as a show of respect to the host.""

Damn that Google, how dare it come to China and incite debate!

As amusing as that article is, after the treatment Google has received in recent weeks from the Western press, Congress and Wall Street, the company surely can’t be enjoying the prospect of the Chinese press joining in the chorus (no matter how different the perspective).

Slightly better news for Google, Becker and have joined the company’s defenders.

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by @ 9:27 pm. Filed under China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Censorship

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