22 March, 2006

Free Hao Wu (2)


Bloggers are recalling personal observations of Hao Wu, the blogger and  filmmaker who was detained - without charge - by Beijing authorities. Yan at Glutter posts a partial transcript of her recent BBC appearance with Hao and writes.:

On Valentine’s Day UK time. I went on the BBC World Service Radio show "Have Your Say," to discuss Censorship in China. One of the participant named "Tian" was from China. He owns the blog "Beijing or Bust," He is also one of the Editors in the Harvard based Global Voices. His real name is Hao Wu. He was arrested a week later. On the show he said he was interviewing political dissidents, and that is why RSF thinks he was arrested.
I am totally in shock at the moment, so very upset. I thought he was very intelligent, and articulate. I even mused on the blog, that he might not be saying everything he believed in because he might not want the authorities after him… I think he was being careful already, he never said he believed in free speech, he didn’t say anything that was anti the communist government, but he did say something about the project he was working on. Which goes to show, under a totalitarian regime, you never know what one says may interest the authorities.
Please help him. Put up the banner. Write it on the blog. Just let people know.

Lisa at Paper Tiger Tale writes.:

I met Hao Wu a few years ago. At the time he was an aspiring screenwriter working for an internet company. From Sichuan via Beijing, Hao had been in the US for over a decade. He had a screenplay, his first, and needed a collaborator to reshape it into a more commercial structure.

Our collaboration didn’t last all that long. In spite of his inexperience at that time, already it was clear that Hao is a guy with his own vision and a unique way of looking at the world. My only real advice to him was, rather than trying to write something commercial, he should follow his passion, tell a personal story, something true and close to his heart. Mostly, he should keep writing. I was really impressed by the quality of his prose and his insights.

Hao followed his dream in spades. He decided to return to China, to Beijing, to see what had happened to the city he’d once known and experience China’s changes first-hand. He took a month long trip along the Silk Road and sent back regular dispatches. Then he produced his first film, Beijing Or Bust, a documentary about the lives of Chinese Americans trying to navigate contemporary Beijing. He then started a blog by the same title, in which he writes about his own navigations through today’s Beijing. There are some truly wonderful essays: evocative, original and informative, covering aspects of contemporary China that you will rarely find elsewhere….

t’s hard for me to know what to say, except that Hao is a great person, with talent and heart and vision, and that for the Chinese government to detain him is yet another sign of how the CCP still squanders the talent of its own people, how it is destroying China’s future in the name of "social harmony," which more than anything else seems to be a figleaf of ideological cover for the exercise of raw power and untrammeled authority. Hao never challenged the CCP. The only way in which his work could be considered "political" is that he does not censor his own observations, that he thinks freely and isn’t afraid to say what he thinks.

If these are the kinds of characteristics that the Chinese authorities find so threatening that they respond with detentions and repression, then I really do fear for China’s future.Tags: , , ,

by @ 10:15 pm. Filed under Blogs, China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Weblogs, Censorship

expensive goods = higher savings

Morgan Stanley’s Stephen Roach has just finished a three-day tour of Beijing, meeting, separately, with senior Communist party leaders and three touring US Senators, two of whom are sponsors of a bipartisan bill that would put 27.5%.tariffs on Chinese goods if the country does not further revalue its currency by a similar amount.

Roach’s observations are both astute and chilling.


Chuck Schumer is a very smart and savvy man. He is using the bully pulpit of a prominent politician to put so much pressure on China that it will have no choice other than to give. Nor does he have much doubt that this approach will work. "This is exactly what I did in Japan in 1986," he said - apparently the last time he was in Asia. "It worked in Japan and it will work in China." Senator Schumer is not Reed Smoot - Utah’s protectionist senator who co-sponsored the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930 that led to the Great Depression. In the end, Schumer doesn’t want tariffs - he wants to go down in history as the man who made China blink. But he is perfectly prepared to play high-stakes political poker in order to achieve this objective. So is the rest of the US Congress. The big risk is that China calls Washington’s bluff and the two parties start to stumble down the very  slippery slope of trade frictions and protectionism.


While the senators claimed they were there to listen and learn, my guess is that this was a classic window-dressing sojourn. As I probed them on the issues, they had all the answers down pat - their minds were made up. Schumer actually conceded the point on the structural macro linkage between the trade deficit and the national saving problem - a first for a major China basher. This, of course, has been a major leg of my own macro stool for longer than I care to remember. "I agree with you," he said, "America doesn’t save enough and we consume too much." Fine to that point, but then he turned the logic inside out: "I care deeply about the loss of US manufacturing jobs to China. If I am successful in cutting our trade deficit with the Chinese, not only will those jobs come back home but I will have succeeded in boosting US saving and cutting excess consumption. My bill can do all that and more." I am rarely speechless, but at that point, I started to choke on a huge bite of watermelon. "Let me get this straight," I gasped, "tariffs will boost saving?" Too late - he was already off to face the ever-present battery of cameras and microphones.


In a short span of 24 hours, I had heard it all on both sides of the China debate. The Chinese leadership was amazingly transparent in expressing their own hopes and concerns at a critical juncture on the nation’s extraordinary journey. And then the Washington crowd blitzed into Beijing with an agenda of its own. What was missing was a willingness to bend - for both sides to come together in the best interests of the collective whole. The great paradox of globalization never seemed more vivid - our economies may be global but our politics remain decidedly local. Unless we resolve that paradox, I am afraid the win-win dreams of globalization advocates could remain fleeting.

Given the tale Roach recounts, AsiaPundit would also have been more impressed with the CCP leaders than the senators. However, it is also worth noting that the CCP are very keen to impress investment bankers and would be very well coached on what to say and what not to utter.

Similarly, the senators are playing for a domestic audience. One would hope that Schumer doesn’t really think that raising prices on Chinese goods would boost US savings or bring labor-intensive factories back from China (although it could benefit textile and footwear makers in places such as Vietnam and Bangladesh).

Tags: , , ,

by @ 9:35 pm. Filed under China, Asia, East Asia, Economy, Northeast Asia

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