21 February, 2006

d.i.y. subtitles (part 2)

Following up the popular DIY subtitles for Japanese commercials, here’s DIY Bollywood subtitles.:


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by @ 12:06 am. Filed under India, Asia, South Asia, Film

20 February, 2006

brokeback singapore

From Asian Sex Gazette:

Russian Brokeback PiratedvdCinemagoers in Singapore will be allowed to watch gay cowboy romance Brokeback Mountain without censorship from Friday.

The Guardian reported that despite the island’s strict homosexuality laws and definition of gay sex as gross indecency, film fans over 21 will be able to watch the highly acclaimed movie.

Some groups see this as a sign of loosening censorship in the country and a part of Singapore’s efforts to promote itself as an Asian centre for media, culture and arts.

Granted, only over-21s will be able to watch it in cinemas and promotional material will carry a consumer advisory saying "mature theme, sexual scenes", but some are already hailing the move as a sign of loosening censorship in the notoriously tightly controlled city state.

Brokeback Mountain is the favourite for Academy Award success next month with eight nominations in all the major categories.

Homosexuals face a maximum of two years in prison for gay sex in Singapore.

The film has already been banned in China and Malaysia.

Although the state has backtracked on some of the ‘pro-gay‘ policies of former Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong since Mini Lee has taken the reigns, Singapore has not prosecuted anyone for consensual homosexuality in AsiaPundit’s memory. It’s not quite gay-friendly, but hardly repressive.

The move to allow an Oscar-nominated movie is hardly opening up, it is in line with Singapore’s existing ratings system (putting it in the same category as Kill Bill 2).

That Singapore will allow citizens to view the movie in cinemas is only proper - they would have less chance of seeing it elsewhere. Singapore has very strict anti-piracy laws and could not rely on pirated copies as easily as their Chinese and Malaysian neighbors (Brokeback and the banned Geisha are widely available on almost every Shanghai street corner. And, as the above photo illustrates, also Moscow.)

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by @ 11:01 pm. Filed under Singapore, Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia, Film

labor camp cheerleaders

Via Korea Liberator, North Korea has allegedly jailed members of its National Cheerleading Team, possibly for talking about a trip to the South.:

Nkcheerleaders 3

Lee Myeong-ho, a former inmate of the Daeheung concentration camp in South Hamgyeong Province who recently escaped to China, said “21 beautiful women” were detained at the camp since the end of last year. “Later I found out that they were the cheerleading team that had gone to South Korea,” he said.

Lee said since inmates are forbidden to talk to one another, he could not find out for sure what mistake they had made, but the rumor was that they had broken their promise to North Korean security services not to disclose what they had seen in South Korea.

Another defector explained the cheerleaders are picked among university students, propaganda squad members and music school students from good families. Before they were sent to South Korea, they had to sign a pledge bearing their 10 fingerprints that says if they are going to an enemy country — Pyongyang’s epithet for the South — they must fight as soldiers of leader Kim Jong-il and never talk about what they have seen or heard in South Korea once they return. They agree to accept punishment if they break the promise.

(Photo Yonhap via the Foreigner)

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by @ 10:29 pm. Filed under South Korea, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, North Korea

more japanese robots

Puny humans, bow before your robot masters.

Via BoingBoing:

StandrobotHere’s video of a beautiful tabletop "Transformer" robot that reconfigures itself from a car into a walking humanoid. The robot, called WR-07, was built by Nakamura-san at Himeji Soft Works in Japan. Link to Robots Dream page with video, to YouTube page with video.


Digital World Tokyo:

070206 Wakamaru

Mitsubishi’s Wakamaru is one of the robots most commonly seen in the press here (that attention-hog Asimo aside, of course), so it was no surprise to see this story about him standing guard outside an elementary school in Tokyo.

The experiment uses IC cards to allow Wakamaru to i.d. anyone wishing to enter the school, although the ‘bot has little enforcement jurisdiction beyond alerting staff. Interesting though.



NTT Communications and Tmsuk have begun testing the RFID-guided shopping assistant robots at a shoping mall in Fukuoka. The robots read RFID tags embedded in the floor to get information about their location . They also carry your shopping bags and provide related sales information when they arrive at their destination.

Images of the shopping-bots here.

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by @ 8:50 pm. Filed under Japan, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia


Google’s challenge to PayPal, the expected GBuy service, will not be as controversial as its China portal - except perhaps in Singapore.:

CheebuyInstead of a techincal review of another Web 2.0 service, here’s a socio-cultural review about Google’s latest venture… made the first reference to it, and now MrBrown followed suit. Google’s might get more attention than the search company ever hoped for, now that Singaporeans have come to realize that it sounds pretty raunchy in Chinese (esp. in Hokkien dialect).

Before I take all the fun away, here are some sample conversations to give you an idea of what it means…

TinkerTailor’s examples:

“Chao GBuy!!” (when things go wrong)

“Orh, so you use GBuy to make money har?”

“You want the money isit? I’ll shove it up your GBuy!”

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by @ 8:03 pm. Filed under Singapore, Asia, Southeast Asia

19 February, 2006

wen got a gun

Thank you Roland! As an Asia-focused blog this site has been one of the few sites in the ’sphere’ not to have had fun with the Dick Cheney hunting accident. However, AsiaPundit now asks, how many lawyers has Wen Jiabao shot?

CheneyQ1. If Chinese premier Wen Jiabao shot someone, we would never hear about it. It never happened. If someone committed the indiscretion of disclosing the fact, there would be complete denial and then the entire state apparatus would be turned on the leaker of state secrets. Nothing will show up in the Chinese press. All Internet forums and blogs will be censored, so there will be no GPS coordinate analyses. Everything that appears in the foreign media will be denounced as propaganda by hostile forces.

Q2. The Chinese government officials have no sense of humor. There would be no jokes in the manner of Scott McClellan. But the Chinese people have a great sense of humor, because they don’t have much else left. Humor in such cases is bad, because the whole thing turned ugly and obscene the moment that the news came about the heart attack episode. Every comedian should feel some sense of remorse.

AsiaPundit is not aware of China’s premier shooting any lawyers, although quite a few property and human-rights lawyers have been jailed. Still, AsiaPundit does not anticipate any humorous Aerosmith songs to be ever written about Wen Jiabao. (link Cheney’s got a Gun)

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by @ 9:43 pm. Filed under China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Media, Censorship

kristof on the ‘gang of four’

Via Peking Duck, who has helpfully republished an un-linkble New York Times item, Nicholas Kristof weighs in on the four best-known companies that are assisting in the censorship of the internet in China, who are now unfortunately being referred to as the ‘Gang of Four.’

YahooYahoo sold its soul and is a national disgrace. It is still dissembling, and nobody should touch Yahoo until it provides financially for the families of the three men (ed: Three!?! AsiaPundit was still counting two.) it helped lock up and establishes annual fellowships in their names to bring Web journalists to America on study programs.

MsnMicrosoft has also been cowardly, but nothing like Yahoo. Microsoft responded to a Chinese request by recently shutting down the outspoken blog of Michael Anti (who now works for the New York Times Beijing bureau). Microsoft also censors sensitive words in the Chinese version of its blog-hosting software; the blogger Rebecca MacKinnon found that it rejected as "prohibited language" the title "I Love Freedom of Speech, Human Rights and Democracy."

CiscoCisco sells equipment to China that is used to maintain censorship controls, but as far as I can tell similar equipment is widely available, including from Chinese companies like Huawei. Cisco also enthusiastically peddles its equipment to the Chinese police. In short, Cisco in China is a bit sleazy but nothing like Yahoo.

GoolagGoogle strikes me as innocent of wrongdoing. True, Google has offered a censored version of its Chinese search engine, which will turn out the kind of results that the Communist Party would like (and thus will not be slowed down by filters and other impediments that now make it unattractive to Chinese users). But Google also kept its unexpurgated (and thus frustratingly slow) Chinese-language search engine available, so in effect its decision gave Chinese Web users more choices rather than fewer.

Kristof is very close to AsiaPundit’s own thinking on this. Google’s move into the China market has received the most attention - in no small part due to the "don’t be evil" target it has tattooed on its forehead. But its actions were the least objectionable. In the context of moves by its predecessors, Google could even be seen as progressive.

Google’s main portal does not redirect to the censored China service and it is more transparent than anyone else in the market about the fact that it censors its China site. Google did not damage freedom of speech or information in China - all it did was damage its brand.

While Yahoo may have been unaware of the implications of its co-operation with Chinese authorities, after Shi Tao and Li Zhi ‘incidents’ it can no longer defend itself by claiming ignorance. It can properly claim that it has no legal liability when future incidents occur due to Alibaba’s ownership of its China operations. As distasteful as that may seem, that is as things should be. Opening a minority shareholder to legal actions would set a dangerous precedent.
But morally, as Yahoo does have a 40 percent holding in Alibaba, in AsiaPundit’s view Yahoo will be 40 percent complicit should journalists or dissidents be jailed in the future.

Michael Anti, translation via ESWN, pens a critique of Congress and defense of Microsoft and Google. However, he does save some venom for Yahoo.:

At the end of my statement, I must state once again that I have mentioned only Microsoft and Google as the American companies, but it is definitely not Yahoo!  A company such as Yahoo! which gives up information is unforgivable.  It would be for the good of the Chinese netizens if such a company could be shut down or get out of China forever.

(images via Boing Boing)

(UPDATE: Would China better off without the censored Google? For a hint read Google vs Baidu. AsiaPundit thinks  ‘Would Google be better off without China?’ is a better question.)

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by @ 8:08 pm. Filed under Blogs, China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Weblogs, Censorship

17 February, 2006

the bunny marches east

As well as the toned-down, nudity free, editions of Playboy that are set for launch in India and Indonesia, plus a contest to select Korean playmates, China Stock Blog notes that the publisher has not yet abandoned its plans for a .:

Analyst - Melissa Otto

I would like to get a little bit more color on the clubs they are rolling out for next year. You talked about The Palms. What is going on with the club in Shanghai?

CFO - Linda Havard

At this time, we are working through the permitting process so I don’t know what the date will be. But you will remember that the estimate we gave of $5 million annual incremental royalty benefit to the company from the two projects was 80% from Las Vegas so that is obviously the larger of the opportunities and that will be open this year.

Chairman and CEO - Christie Hefner

We are also increasing our lines of higher priced point products including a new upscale lingerie line which will be sold in Henri Bendel’s in New York, Harvey Nichols in the UK, SoGo in Hong Kong, and Das Lou in Brazil among other retail outlets.

(Image of Korean Playmate Lee Sabi stolen from a Google cache of the Marmot’s blog, now called From the Nakdong to the Yalu.)

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by @ 12:04 am. Filed under China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia

16 February, 2006

shanghai’s trash democracy

The Peking Duck received an e-mail that provides information on the trashy democracy that has started to develop in Shanghai.:


Last night I saw this article (below), in the Shanghai Daily. In a nutshell, Shanghainese can vote online for the colors of the city’s new garbage trucks. I thought this was amusing because on PD we have discussed how some Chinese leaders maintain that the Chinese people are “not ready” for democracy, meanwhile nothing is ever done to make them more “ready”.

Well, first we had voting for the Super Yoghurt Girl. Now we have voting for the color of Shanghai’s garbage trucks! I say elections of national leadership can’t be far off! ;-)

Personally, I’m hoping Shanghainese readers will place their vote for the dark blue color scheme, which would add a dignified splash of color to the city. However, if the voters choose the day-glo lime green, I just may join those declaring that Chinese are “not ready” for voting.

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by @ 11:22 pm. Filed under China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia

Rebecca has posted the draft of the "Global Online Freedom Act" (GOFA) and has great coverage of yesterday’s hearings. One part of GOFA that struck AsiaPundit as interesting was the below section.:

UNITED STATES BUSINESS.—The term ‘‘United States business’’ means—

(A) any corporation, partnership, association, joint-stock company, business trust, unincorporated organization, or sole proprietorship that—

(i) has its principal place of business in the United States; or

(ii) is organized under the laws of a State of the United States or a territory,possession, or commonwealth of the United States;

(B) every issuer of a security registered pursuant to section 12 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (emphasis added) (15 U.S.C. 78l)

Part ‘B’ is of interest as that the proposed legislation would not only cover Google but also the Nasdaq-listed Baidu, Google’s largest rival in the Chinese market. The fines that are suggested for non-compliance with the legislation range from $10,000-$2 million, which would be peanuts for Google, Microsoft or Yahoo - but more painful for Baidu and for  portals Sina and Sohu.

That’s still fairly inconsequential for all of the companies. The biggest damage, if such a bill passed, could come from the provision that would allow a user who is  "aggrieved" by a company failing to protect their user data to sue the company in a US court. Although the proposed fines imposed by the state could be tolerated by US companies and their Chinese counterparts, punitive damages can be crippling. Such damages exist simply to ‘teach companies a lesson’ and ’set an example’ for others. These damages can run in the tens of millions or higher. A US jury would surely consider aiding the imprisonment of a pro-democracy activist as something that would be deserving of a serious ‘lesson.’

If the case of Li Zhi were to be repeated, and such legislation were in place, the risk would likely be greatest for local portal Sina.com rather than Yahoo. Roland notes that both were implicated in the case.

Yahoo Inc would likely in the future be shielded from direct actions in US courts as its China operations are 60 percent owned by Chinese e-commerce firm Alibaba, Sina, however, would be exposed to court actions through its Nasdaq listing. Note that the legislation would not be retroactive so Li Zhi could not seek redress, the above is just an example.

Google has not yet located any servers in China and it has said it will not offer any e-mail or blogging services in the country. In that sense, it is much more insulated from penalties than US rival Microsoft.

Baidu, as well, is facing trouble in the US due to its popular MP3 search function, which accounts for more than 20 percent of searches.

AsiaPundit suggests readers take a moment to appreciate the irony. In China, conventional wisdom is that the internet is a major regulatory grey area where foreign companies must tread cautiously. The internet is governed by over a dozen ministries and authorities and an investment could be easily put at risk by a number of them.

In the US, the market is developed, has relatively clear regulations and is predictable. Yet, Chinese internet companies are now facing risk due to what could be called a ‘political whim.’

It seems that the legislation that Chris Smith is proposing, though targeted at US companies, could have the most adverse impact on their Chinese rivals.

For further reading read RConversation (link to February 2006 archive, hearings were held on the 15th) and follow the links at Boing Boing.

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by @ 9:49 pm. Filed under China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Media, Censorship

kimchi air-conditioner

While AsiaPundit does not yet trust the ’science’ behind this, it is brilliant marketing by LG. AsiaPundit wonders, however, ‘is the kimchi air conditioner odorless?‘:

LG Electronics, the world’s leading air conditioner maker, said on Thursday that it will start selling air conditioners that prevent avian influenza with a special filter coated with a substance extracted from a fermented kimchi. The new air conditioners target Southeast Asian countries affected by bird flu and will be marketed this year.


The new products, nicknamed “Anti-A.I. Aircon,'’ have a filter covered with an anti-bacterial substance extracted from kimchi, South Korea’s spicy fermented cabbage dish, the company said in a press conference. …

There have been a few reports that indicate kimchi and other fermented dishes could be effective in treating avian influenza on birds, as a Seoul National University team reported last year. However, there hasn’t been no evidence of its effect on humans so far and there is no commercially available vaccine to protect humans against the bird flu yet.

(via Boing Boing)

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by @ 7:20 pm. Filed under Food and Drink, South Korea, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia

15 February, 2006

stop the hearings!

Call off the Congress! Cease the formation of the Internet Freedom Task Force. China’s internet censorship is completely in line with global norms.:

China has responded to international criticism of its internet regulations by saying its rules are “fully in line” with the rest of the world.

Government official Liu Zhengrong said western criticism of China’s internet censorship smacked of double standards.

He also said no one had been arrested just for writing online content.

According to a BBC correspondent in Beijing, Rupert Wingfield-Hayes, these assertions contrast sharply with a number of recent cases.

Several people are reported to have been jailed in recent years for posting information on the internet deemed subversive.


“After studying internet legislation in the West, I’ve found we basically have identical legislative objectives and principles,” Mr Liu was quoted as telling the state-run China Daily newspaper on Tuesday.

“It is unfair and smacks of double standards when (foreigners) criticise China for deleting illegal and harmful messages, while it is legal for US websites to do so,” he said.

He also said that only a “very few” foreign websites were blocked, and that was mostly because they contained pornography or terrorist information.

The BBC News website continues to be blocked in China.

And he insisted that “no one in China has been arrested simply because he or she said something on the internet”.

The above story is from the UK’s BBC, which is blocked in China. A version is also available in the China Daily which doesn’t have any of those snarky comments about jailed dissidents or blocked websites. AsiaPundit would have linked to the story on official state news agency Xinhua, but the as he visited the xinhuanet site he was distracted by the pictorial of “flat-chested beauties.”

Picture 2

It’s quite a good spread, although a little tame for Skinhua. Xinhua isn’t porn by any means - they usually digitize any naughty bits that show up in their pictorials (which generally seem to be reproduced without copyright). However, it still runs far racier photos than anything the BBC has on its website.

AsiaPundit wonders what it is that the Beeb has done to get banned in China. It certainly isn’t porn. It must be because of “terrorist information!” AsiaPundit is shocked.

AsiaPundit is completely against terrorism and when he is in Beijing next month he will track down Rupert Wingfield-Hayes and will head-butt that stinkin’ limey terrorist enabler.

For more: Imagethief, Danwei, Rebecca.

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by @ 10:37 pm. Filed under China, Asia, Northeast Asia, Media, Weblogs, Censorship

14 February, 2006

the ‘new’ yahoo

Before appearing in front of a Congressional hearing, Yahoo has decided to issue guidelines on how it is an ethical internet company. Rebecca gives Yahoo’s newest document a review and finds the company’s ethical guidelines vague and hollow.:


So. Let’s see. The second bullet point would be the one pertaining to hand-over of dissident information to the police. Yahoo! will probably claim that since its Chinese partner Alibaba now runs its Chinese e-mail service, there is nothing it can do… However such an argument would be a cop-out. Yahoo.com.cn is still a Yahoo-branded product. What happens to user data is being done under an American company’s name and that company is certainly morally responsible. User trust in their brand will be damaged no less than if Yahoo.com.cn were 100% run by American Yahoo! employees. Yahoo! really has two choices with its e-mail service: move it out of Chinese jurisdiction and thus most likely management, or make it MUCH more clear and obvious to the user (beyond the dense terms of service and user agreement that nobody reads) that their personal data is no more secure on Yahoo! than it is on any of the Chinese e-mail service providers.

AsiaPundit is particularly puzzled by the statement’s claim that Yahoo will strive to be as transparent as possible: “We will strive to achieve maximum transparency to the user.”

Yahoo China does not disclose that search results are censored, which Google.cn did at launch and as Microsoft has started to do with MSN Spaces. Yahoo/Alibaba’s “maximum transparency” is less than the bare minimums offered by Google and MSN.

Yahoo fails in transparency in other areas. It will not reveal the number of warrants it has received from the Chinese government - surely if such things are just a normal legal procedure they would be documented. It will not say where its servers were located when it handed over user data that was used to prosecute dissidents. It will try to direct questions about a 2003 incident on its China partner - with which it did not join until 2005.

Yahoo deliberately tries to be as opaque as possible.

Logo stolen from Boing Boing, which also has links to an NPR item on the company’s latest China scandal.

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by @ 11:08 pm. Filed under China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Media, Censorship

boom or bubble?

China Confidential suggests that Western journalists tend to report on China’s miracle economy while the Japanese tend to see China as a bubble economy that’s ready to burst.

While Western news media still use words like miracle and boom to describe China’s fast-growing economy–the world’s fastest–Japanese newspapers are increasingly inclined to see it as a bubble bound to burst. An opinion article “Could China’s Red-Hot Economy Collapse?” in the Feb 11 Asahi Shimbun is an interesting example. The article, attributed to Professor Lim Hua Sing at Waseda University’s Graduate School of Asia-Pacific Studies, draws parallels between the current overheated, asset-based Chinese economy and Japan’s fatal boom of 15 years ago. Excerpts appear below.

The Chinese economy has been steaming ahead for several years, fueled mainly by a construction boom and rapid growth in the auto industry. A lot of momentum is also coming from strong exports (especially to the United States) and two big upcoming national events: the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and the world exposition in Shanghai in 2010.

Observers have been warning for some time about the overheating of investment in the construction and auto sectors. Many point out that Chinese industry is awash in excess capacity, causing a large output gap between actual and potential production. The Chinese steel industry, for instance, produced 350 million tons of steel in 2005 but has the capacity to produce 470 million tons annually. When new plants currently under construction go online, production capacity will top 600 million tons.

Being somewhat of a bear, AsiaPundit does not agree with the assessment that the Western press unilaterally view China as a miracle. While State-side reporters may overplay both the China promise and threat, other China hands would consider the notion of China’s booming marketplace as risible.

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by @ 9:29 pm. Filed under Uncategorized

china unloved

Foreign Policy reports that global opinions on whether China influence in the world is positive or negative took a sharp turn last year, with opinions of the country sliding in just about every country surveyed.:

Russia and China both revealed their harsher sides in 2005, and they seem to have paid a price in popularity. China’s hard-line anti-secession law targeting Taiwan, its fueling of anti-Japan sentiments, and an internal crackdown on civil society are likely to have contributed to its drop in the polls. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s growing authoritarianism at home and opposition to democracy movements in Russia’s “near abroad” sent its popularity sharply downward. The good news? Russians and Chinese are still quite fond of themselves


(via China Challenges)


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by @ 9:28 pm. Filed under China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia

13 February, 2006

korea liberator

A promising new group blog has been founded:


From the authors of The Asianist, Guns and Butter, DPRK Studies, and OneFreeKorea.

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by @ 7:08 pm. Filed under South Korea, Blogs, China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Weblogs, North Korea

evil greets you

In Japan, Reuters reports that the evil mouthless one from Sanrio is set to put receptionists out of a job.:


Need temporary help on your company’s reception desk? One Japanese employment agency is suggesting you try recruiting a robot.I

For just under 50,000 yen ($430) a month, a fraction of the cost of a human temp, the PeopleStaff agency will dispatch Hello Kitty Robo, a robotic receptionist capable of sensing a visitor’s presence, greeting him or her and holding simple conversations.

The Nagoya-based agency is also offering the services of Ifbot, an elderly-care robot that chats and poses riddles and arithmetical problems to train the brain and help avoid dementia. Spaceman-like Ifbot, which also quizzes people about their health, is aimed at hospitals and old peoples’ homes.

A spokeswoman for PeopleStaff said it would cost more than 300,000 yen a month to employ a person for this type of work, but warned that the robots were not capable of doing everything human employees can do.

(via Mad Minerva)

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by @ 10:52 am. Filed under Japan, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Hello Kitty watch

12 February, 2006

the great firewall takes off

Air China is planning to offer broadband internet service on international flights:

Airchina    BEIJING, Feb. 12 (Xinhuanet) — Air China, the flagship international air carrier in China, and Connexion by Boeing, a business unit of the Boeing Company, announced a preliminary agreement they have reached to provide real-time, high-speed connectivity to air travelers traveling to and from China.

    The announcement in Beijing included as many as 15 firm and optional retrofit installations on Air China’s Boeing 747-400 aircraft, and other long-haul aircraft models to be determined at a later date.

    Aircraft installations are expected to begin in Oct. 2006 and, once completed, the Connexion by Boeing service will provide Air China passengers with in-flight access to the Internet, real-time email, instant messaging, corporate intranet access, including virtual private network capability, and the ability to stay in touch with friends, family and colleagues while enroute to their destination.

It is unlikely that the firewall will be airborne. On top of the logistic problems of linking aircraft to China’s constrictive system of filters, AsiaPundit assumes international travelers will not appreciate the Great Firewall. Still, if an Air China plane operates a firewall-free flight, wouldn’t that be in violation of Chinese Internet regulations?

by @ 11:51 pm. Filed under China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Web/Tech, Censorship

sarawak tribune shuttered

While the behavior of Malaysia Muslim’s has been exemplary throughout the crisis over the Mohammad cartoons, Malaysia’s government has shown that it retains its authoritarian view of press freedoms. Although milder means of censure were available, the state has decided to shut down the Sarawak Tribune for reprinting one of the controversial cartoons.:

Indefinite suspension for 61-year-old Sarawak Tribune

SarawakKUCHING: The 61-year-old Sarawak Tribune may not hit the streets anymore even after the suspension order has been rescinded, said the newspaper’s editorial advisor Senator Datuk Idris Buang.

He said the daily’s board of directors had decided to self-impose an indefinite suspension on publication at their meeting in Sibu yesterday morning, before the Government issued the suspension order.

“There may not be a Sarawak Tribune anymore,” he told a press conference at the newspaper’s office in Jalan Abell last night.

Idris said the board fully supported the Federal Government’s stand to suspend the licence of the Sarawak Tribune.

“We fully uphold the views and sentiments expressed by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi,” he said.

“We are extremely ashamed of the damage and hurt caused to all Malaysians and the country due to the gross insensitivity and lack of responsibility on the part of whosoever involved among the staff in question, particularly the editor-on-duty.

“We join all Malaysians in condemning this act (reproduction of the caricatures of Prophet Muhammad),” he added.

Lucia responds:

300 people out of job….

300 people, including the toilet cleaner, the office boy, the security guard, the general cleaner, the accounts clerk… who would have nothing to do with the cartoons caricatures…

… these 300 people who are… er… were staff of the sarawak tribune, where the cabinet had made its decision to suspend it’s publication permit.

the information minister, abdul kadir had said that the absence of sarawak tribune in sarawak did not man there would be less news in the state because the public could obtain news from the other newspapers, radio and teleivsion.

yeah right… why highlight such a trivial matter? what does it matter anyway? what about the absence of sarawak tribune means 300 people would be out of job? obviously they (cabinet) didn’t realise that. obviously they were not sensitive enough to realise through their action, innocent people suffered.

well if sarawak tribune had been suspended for a week or two only, at least the staff would have hope of working again but i doubt it. the suspension might be over a very long period

UPDATE: Kenny Sia’s take is worth reading.


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by @ 7:44 pm. Filed under Malaysia, Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia, Media, Censorship

sashimi and nationalism

Via Mutant Frog, Kuomintang Chairman Ma Ying Jiu has denied that the party is contributing to anti-Japanese nationalism, saying that he loves sashimi.:

SashimiReports that the KMT walks lockstep with the mainland (China) in their anti-Japan campaign do not reflect my real feelings. I even love sashimi!” On the 10th Ma Ying Jiu (mayor of Taipei), chairman of the KMT[Chinese Nationalist Party], Taiwan’s largest opposition party, assembled Japanese reporters resident in Taipei and issued a denial of the viewpoint that he was himself a believer in anti-Japan ideology.

There are indications that the KMT has been intensifying their anti-Japan tendencies, such as stressing their own role in the Sino/Japanese war. “We criticize even the white terror (of KMT despotic rule) and (China’s) Tainanmen incident from the same basis of human rights and constutituional government. There’s no reason to make an issue out of only Japan,” Chairman Ma Ying Jiu said.

However, “I do not approve of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s Yasukuni Shrine visits,” he said, not forgetting that stab in the neck. Ma Ying Jiu is currently considered the favorite to win in Taiwan’s next presidential election.

As someone who lives in China and has has lived in Korea, AsiaPundit will note that it is entirely possible to like sashimi and harbor ill will toward the Japanese. It’s also possible to wear Levi’s jeans and Nike sneakers and be anti-American.

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by @ 5:55 pm. Filed under Food and Drink, Japan, South Korea, China, Taiwan, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia

dewi sukarno

Who will be the first model to be featured in Playboy Indonesia? Tiara Lestari* has said that she doesn’t want the honor. Perhaps the US publication could go with a historical pictorial, featuring former Indonesian first lady Ratna Sari Dewi Sukarno. That link is mildly not safe for work but this not porn, it’s history:


Not too many Indonesian celebrities are willing to undress for the cameras.

But Dewi Sukarno, former first lady of Indonesia, was.

Born Naoko Nemoto, she was working days in an insurance company and nights as a hostess at the Kokusai Club in Akasaka, a place for foreign VIPs. It was there that a fateful meeting with a powerful world leader changed her life. In 1962, at the tender age of 19, she left Japan to become the third of the nine wives of Achmed Sukarno, the president of The Republic of Indonesia. Her full married name was Ratna Sari Dewi Sukarno.

Many years later, in 1993, at the ripe old age of 53 she published a book of photos, many of them nude. The book was slammed in the mostly Islamic Indonesia for "violating eastern norms and insulting Indonesia’s dignity" and was banned by the Attorney-General’s office. Several years later, an Indonesian magazine published some photos from the book without permission.

Today the book is out of print and a highly valued collectors’ item.

*AsiaPundit would also congratulate Tiara on passing the 100,000 visitor mark. This site also crossed that threshold this weekend (although by another Statcounter, AsiaPundit had 100,000 visitors as of mid-December).

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by @ 5:38 pm. Filed under Indonesia, Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia, Media

korean coin sex

The usual disclaimer applies. This is not porn, this is numismatics.:


Many coins showing sexual positions similar to the Koryo copper mirror can be found in the Chosun era, which was ostensibly very conservative about sex. They look like real coins but were not circulated (06). Later in the era, the representations are mostly in the nature of pornography. Documents of the time tell us that pornographic pictures from 18th and 19th century Japan or late Ming-Dynasty China made their way to Korea, and homemade pornography appears in the 19th century. Some of the pictures bear the seals of prominent painters Kim Hong-do or Shin Yoon-bok, though we cannot be sure whether they are authentic (07).

It seems that this passionate side to the Korean psyche, though often suppressed, has always found expression in one way or another, in all its forms and among people of all ages.

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by @ 4:37 pm. Filed under South Korea, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia

indonesia: how not to protest



Apparently some people don’t want Playboy coming to Jakarta. And this fellow is eating a Playboy DVD.

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by @ 3:59 pm. Filed under Indonesia, Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia, Media, Censorship

chinese net censorship: out come the wolves

Next week, AsiaPundit hopes to see some frank disclosure about US internet and technology companies activities in China, with the four most-discussed companies being brought before Congressional hearings. AsiaPundit is naturally expecting much bombast and hyperbole as well. The WSJ item below mentions two suggestions from lawmakers: one is reactionary and hopefully a non-starter, but the other is more measured and could have some interesting implications.:

The hearing will likely produce more embarrassing publicity for the companies, and it may drive legislative momentum among lawmakers concerned about China’s influence on the U.S. economy. Congressional aides are expecting a standing-room-only crowd, and the reception from politicians may be chilly.

"I was asked the question the other day, do U.S. corporations have the obligation to promote democracy? That’s the wrong question," says Rep. Chris Smith, the New Jersey Republican and chairman of the House human-rights subcommittee that is holding the hearing. "It would be great if they would promote democracy. But they do have a moral imperative and a duty not to promote dictatorship."

Mr. Smith plans to introduce legislation next week that would impose restrictions on Internet companies seeking to expand into China but also provide some legal protection from Chinese demands.

The bill would require U.S. Internet companies to keep email servers used for Chinese traffic offshore. That would help prevent the Chinese government from compelling the release of Internet user data. The bill also calls for creation of an office inside the State Department that would make an annual determination about which countries are restricting Internet use. It would provide a framework for users to pursue legal action against U.S. Internet companies over privacy violations.

The disclosures about Internet companies cooperating with the Chinese government are having a wider political impact. Last week, Sens. Lindsey Graham, (R., S.C.) and Byron Dorgan (D., N.D.) cited Internet companies’ efforts to help the Chinese government monitor citizens’ online activity as a reason to permanently revoke China’s most-favored-nation trading status.

A removal of China’s trading status, also known as "normal trade relations," is unlikely to happen. And it shouldn’t. China is making progress in meeting most of its WTO commitments and is opening up faster than anticipated in other areas such as financial services. There is a push internally to accelerate opening and sanctions would clearly hurt reformers in China.

Graham  - along with Democrat Charles Schumer - has been pushing to put a 27.5% tariff on Chinese goods over charges that the country is a "currency manipulator." There is little doubt that China’s censorship regime concerns Graham, it concerns most people from free countries, but he will take any opportunity to bash China’s MFN status. The latest outburst shouldn’t yet be taken too seriously.

More interesting are Smith’s proposals. AsiaPundit is withholding full judgement on them for now, but based on the one-paragraph description above they seem relatively non-interventionist. Requiring that servers that contain users’ data be kept offshore would indeed directly limit what US companies could do in China. However, this seems to be the route that is now being taken by the companies themselves. Google is not offering Blogger or Gmail for due to privacy concerns and Microsoft’s altered blog-hosting policy is now attempting a compromise solution. After the highly publicized cases of Shi Tao and Li Zhi, Yahoo most certainly regrets establishing its Chinese e-mail service.

The idea of allowing users to pursue legal action against U.S. Internet companies over privacy violations is far more interesting.

On top of providing some measure of redress for those wrongfully jailed, AsiaPundit also assumes such legislation would extend to Chinese companies with US listings. Roland noted that the Nasdaq-listed  Sina provided information in the Li case.

US trials are expensive, and verdicts - particularly those delivered by juries - can be crippling. There are a number of Chinese internet companies already listed in the US and others, such as blog service provider Bokee, that are known to be seeking listings.

Things to consider: Could such a law scare some new listings away from US markets? Also, would its implementation force some interesting disclosures from Sina and others? If providing user information to authorities created significant financial risks, US-listed Chinese companies would surely be required to inform shareholders. This could move things beyond the realm of tech companies and NGOs and into the realm of trial lawyers and investment banks (hence the title of the this post).

Expect much chest thumping from Congress, defensiveness from the search engines and lobbying from everyone.

Related reading:
Silicon Hutong: Time for a Solution
ESWN: The Third Way for Yahoo

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by @ 3:43 pm. Filed under China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Media, Web/Tech, Weblogs, Censorship

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