AsiaPundit is not alone in noticing a rise in economic nationalism in the US. Hopefully this will all die down after the election cycle plays out.
China’s Lenovo, the owners of IBM’s personal computer division, are facing the ire of Congress after winning a sizable government contract. Mutant Frog comments.:
The New York Times today is reporting that a number of Congressmembers from both parties are in an uproar over an announcement that Chinese-owned Lenovo computers has won a bid to supply 15,000 machines to the US State
The opposition seems to be a combination of misguided economic nationalism, mixed with a vague but real appreciation of possible security concerns. Surprisingly, this article does not mention the security chip Lenovo has been installing on their domestic models. Now, it would of course be trivial to see whether nor not that chip is installed on the machines being purchased by the State Department, but doing a full-blown security audit would probably be enough trouble so that it would become more economical to just go to the next lowest bidder instead.
The real question is this: are the possibly security concerns serious enough to justify the panic? Supporters of the deal point out that the computers will be used only for unclassified work, but honestly that shouldn’t do anything to relieve you. Most of the government’s paperwork is unclassified, but still not public-think of things like personnel records and so on that would be of great usefulness as intelligence.
Meanwhile, ‘China’s’ Hutchison Whampoa is attracting attention for winning a contract to check cargo shipments for radiation. Milton J Madison comments.:
Hutchison Whampoa, a global leader in the ports business is being paid to install and operate their equipment in the Bahamiam port. Rest assured, however, that as indicated by hyper-partisan Chuck Shumer’s remarks [one of my hometown legislators that used to represent a district in central Brooklyn and is now the senior senator from New York State, and judging from comments that he made in the past in his representitive capacity, is amongst one of the most stupidest and most socialist members of US legislative bodies. Additionally, he along with Senator Graham are sponsoring legislation to slap huge tariffs on Chinese exports to the US in pyrrhic and useless push to preserve low paying manufacturing jobs in the US], that the do nothing Democrats will be using this as another wedge against Bush Administration in this election year.
The way that I look at this, is in fighting against terrorism, their is no silver bullet or perfect defense. But one can attempt to cut down the avenues of attack and work towards the ultimate goal of protecting the American homeland. If a foreign entity is hired to assist in this, and there is no American counterpart that is prepared or equipped to do the job, then foreign operated firms must be hired to do these jobs.
Technorati Tags: asia, china, east asia, northeast asia, hong kong, lenovo
David Weber at Japundit investigates the unfortunate disappearance of the Ninja in American pop culture.:
As for the real Ninja, they served as the perfect martial arts foil for any aspiring hero whether they were samurai, shaolin monks, police officers, superheroes, or redneck truck drivers. Ninja were readily available for heroes to test their mettle against. It didn’t take much to find a few ninja back then as they were just about everywhere. A hero could hardly go for a leak without bumping into a pack of them along the way.
Then the butt-kicking would begin.
Despite their years of intensive training and strict discipline, ninja never won a single fight they were in even if they outnumbered their opponents 100 to 1. They appeared to be particularly vulnerable to an old-fashion left hook. The only time ninja were successful in actually killing someone with their skills or their myriad of pointy weapons was when they could manage to kill off the hero’s buddy, girlfriend, or dog. This minor victory was often short-lived and generally backfired on them as the hero would become enraged to the point of slaughtering ninja by the bushel. This would go on until the hero finally tracked down the Head Ninja and in an epic fight-to-the-death match, killed him. The few surviving ninja of the hero’s rampage would find themselves suddenly unemployed while many of them would have to apply for handicap parking decals.
Technorati Tags: asia, east asia, japan, northeast asia, ninjas
Via Google video, a talk on Google China with Rebecca MacKinnon and Tomothy Wu.:
There are no fireworks in the talk and both Rebecca and Tim agree, in the end, that Google did screw up with Google.cn
Chuck Schumer and Lindsey Graham, the two US senators proposing the headline-grabbing 27.5% tariff on all Chinese goods should the country fail to further revalue its currency, have just completed their tour of the mainland. They stopped for a brief press conference and chamber of commerce meeting in Shanghai to cap off the visit.
The two, as noted in an SCMP item linked to by Simon have softened their criticism of the country, but as Simon also notes this is likely a short-lived change.:
The two US senators behind proposed legislation to impose punitive tariffs on Chinese products have shifted from seeing "China as a threat" to a potential "close ally" after meeting top mainland leaders yesterday. New York Democrat Charles Schumer and South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham said they had achieved significant understanding through their "amazing three days" in Beijing.
Bowled over by Wu Yi but still hedging their bets. The senators are doing what politicians do best - changing their message according to the crowd. You can bet as soon as they land back in Washington it will be "I’ve seen the enemy up close" again. And the Chinese have very politely told the Americans to piss off; This WaPo article also points out that the senators’ visit and the bid to impose currency and other reforms is backfiring:
AsiaPundit was at the Shanghai press conference and was moderately impressed by the senators’ change of tone. Graham noted that China would need further structural reforms to its financial system ahead of any changes to the currency regime and Schumer repeatedly noted that he would prefer a government-to-government solution rather than passage of the bill - essentially admitting that it is a tool to pressure China.
Still, AP doubt that the China trip was as much of an eye-opener as the senators claim. Surely they could have learned about the banking system by tapping their assistants for research, or by reading the Economist or the Financial Times.
The tour was more of a publicity stunt than a fact-finding mission. But AsiaPundit will say that the pair managed to withstand a 34-minute press conference with local and foreign financial reporters without saying anything profoundly stupid.
The local journalist behind Non-violent resistance was less impressed with their event yesterday in Beijing.:
It’s one thing to read a thousand times and write at least 15 times in the past year about the Schumer-Graham duo and their notorious bill, but quite another to sit on the press bench and hear them actually talk about it at a press conference in Beijing.
They couldn’t remembe vice premier Wu Yi’s name, whom they had just been meeting half an hour ago, ("one tough lady, she would do well in an American courtroom, I like her a lot" was all they could muster), and two and a half years after raising that sorryass China-bashing bill of theirs, Schumer still couldn’t get his pronunciation right ("yuan" with a Y instead of "won" with a W, Chinese instead of Korean currency, your Senatorial High-ness).
"The jury is still out" my ass. To hear them talk, Schumer in his slick baritone and Graham in his southern drawl, about "the bay-est interest of the Una-ited States of Ame-erica", "buka-uz too many people depending on us to get this right", I was so disgusted I didn’t even raise my hand to ask a question. What’s the point of asking anyway? They’re just here for the show.
AsiaPundit has heard enough Chinese officials mangle English to be more accepting of the duo’s language problems. AP also agreed with Schumer when he said he prefers Shanghai to Beijing. AsiaPundit will also note that Schumer, true to form, mentioned New York at least four times during the Shanghai press conference (or roughly once every 9 minutes).
"I will pay Shanghai at least what I consider the ultimate compliment, ‘you’re a lot like New York.’ Shanghai is much more like New York than Beijing - which was the first city we visited - in a whole lot of ways."
This is not a podcast, as TypePad’s podcast-enabled template doesn’t seem to be working, but the presser is on audio below.
Press Conference Audio File
Technorati Tags: asia, china, east asia, economy, northeast asia
Although he has harbored high hopes for citizen journalism and punditry, AsiaPundit is joining the multitude of voices who are saying that the blogging phenomena is dead. Now that the term has been seized upon by Taiwan property developers, it is essential to find a new name for the medium.
Apologies for the late photo credit (top picture) to Paogao.
Technorati Tags: asia, northeast asia, east asia, taiwan
Via the blogger formerly known as Marmot, China ordered the removal of a recently erected statue of a Korean who assassinated a Japanese leader on Chinese soil.:
The Dong-A Ilbo reports that Chinese authorities ordered the removal of a statue of Korean independence activist (or terrorist, depending on your point of view) Ahn Jung-geun 10 days after it was erected near Harbin Station. Harbin Station, of course, is where Ahn, also known by his Catholic name of Thomas, popped a cap into former Japanese Prime Minister Ito Hirobumi in 1909.
The 4.5-meter-tall statue of Ahn was unveiled on Jan. 16 in a square along Harbin’s central Zhongyang Avenue, some 200~300 meters away from the spot of the assassination. At the foot of the statue is Ahn’s hand-print (minus, of course, a digit), so that the statue could be recognized from long off. The monument was erected by an Ahn Jung-geun remembrance association and a Korean businessman identified by his family name of Lee.
As it would turn out, Lee had gotten permission from the Harbin city authorities to put up the statue in the square, which is in front of a department store in which Lee was investing heavily.
Beijing saw matters differently, however, and not long after the statue was unveiled, the central government ordered that it be covered up and then moved inside the department store. “Statues of foreigners are not permitted,” explained Beijing.
And in Taiwan, Chen Shui-bian has ordered the removal of statutes of Chiang Kai-shek from military bases.:
The graven image of the venerable Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek will no longer greet you as you report for mandatory military service. President Chen has decided that the statues of Chiang which grace all of Taiwan’s military 100+ bases will be brought down and stored at an undisclosed location. According to one KMT Party mouthpiece (i.e., The China Post), this is like the destructive dismantling of traditional cultural icons that took place in China during the Great Proletarian Revolution (1966-76). Just as monuments to Confucius were scrapped, so too will images of Chiang, our "Eternal Leader," be tossed on the fire.
Technorati Tags: asia, china, korea, northeast asia, taiwan, japan
Now is the time at AsiaPundit when we dance.
This somehow reminds AsiaPundit of the Sugarcubes, only that Japanese is a touch more comprehensible than Icelandic.
(Via Panda Passport.)
AsiaPundit had long been aware that many popular cartoons are animated in North Korea. But he thanks Angry Chinese Blogger for the reminder.:
Even North Korea has advanced beyond China in terms animation, having both a strong domestic market and an established Animation ‘finishing’ industry that uses modern techniques and equipment rarely found in China.
Though not widely advertised, North Korea’s SEK Studio produced many of the ‘in between’ cells for Disney’s “The Lion King” and “Pocahontas”. Both of which are believed to have been managed by outsourced companies in Europe/Asia, due to America’s trade sanctions against the communist state,
From a 2002 Asia Times item.:
North Korea never ceases to surprise, even to amaze. Nor is it in all aspects quite so cut off from global trends as we tend to think. True, not a lot that Pyongyang produces is of a quality to be readily salable worldwide. Among the better known exceptions are missiles. Among the less well known are cartoons.
What’s more, you’ve seen them. So cunning is this axis of evil, it’s even infiltrated Hollywood. Yup, we’re talking Disney. Pocahontas? The Lion King? Both of these used North Korean animation skills: presumably on a subcontracting basis, as otherwise they’d fall foul of the Trading with the Enemy Act. Europe has no such restrictions, so French and Italian producers have been getting cartoons made in Pyongyang since the mid-1980s. Recent titles include an Italian Hercules, and France’s Billy the Cat.
Technorati Tags: asia, korea, northeast asia
Andy at the Flying Yangban alerts AsiaPundit to a post condemning South Korean imperialism.:
“Today’s anti-war, anti-occupation demo in Seoul, one of hundreds that were held around the world this weekend, in the biggest show of force from the world’s second superpower(tm) in a long time. The march in Seoul was similar to those around all over the world in calling for an end to occupation and calling for no attack on Iran. More specifically it called for the withdrawal of the so-called Zaytun Division of Korean soldiers stationed near Irbil in northern Iraq. In true Orwellian style the troop division is named with the Arabic word meaning olive - a reference to the olive branch of peace. Surely the Arabic word for imperialism would be more appropriate.”
Kotaji is exactly right, the neofascist Korean warmongers have conquered northern Iraq for their own insidious imperialistic purposes. I have the proof in pictures:
Look closely and you might detect the subtle mark of Korea’s insidious imperialism. This poor girl has become a cog in the Korean war machine.
Technorati Tags: asia, northeast asia, korea, puppy
Via Virtual China, a map of places where you should be careful in Hangzhou:
Chinastic reports on an emerging map of places where pickpockets hang out in the southern Chinese city of Hangzhou. It was originally posted on a site called “My E-City”, (我的E都市) which claims to be the world’s first “online 3D urban simulation.” The site allows users to view, navigate, and add information to online maps of several Chinese cities.
AsiaPundit could have used one of these in Nanjing, where his mobile phone was lifted over the weekend.
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: Hao Wu, asia, china, censorship
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).
In another fine moment for the Lion City’s Finest, Singapore police busted an Australian
man woman in a bear suit for stalking the British Queen:
Shanghai’s infamous Xiangyang Market, which sells an amazing variety of counterfeit goods, is set to be closed this summer. Pacific Epoch reports that the merchants will not be out of business while searching for a new brick-and-mortar locale, instead they have turned to e-commerce:
Shanghai’s famous flea market Xiangyang Market is scheduled to close this summer, but value shoppers can now find the market online. China Telecom’s Shanghai portal Shanghai Online recently opened an online Xiangyang market. The new website is similar to C2C sites Taobao and eBay Eachnet and allows individual sellers to open their own online Xiangyang Market store. The online Xiangyang Market encourages sellers to avoid selling fake goods. Shanghai Online’s website for its Xiangyang Market is available at Xiangyanglu.sh.online.cn. For buyers looking for fake goods, Xiangyang Market has another website at http://www.xymarket.cn/ The website offers a full range of LV bags and Northface jackets priced in USD and accepts payment by Paypal, Paypal China, Alipay, and various domestic bank cards.
AsiaPundit had some harsh words for the BBC last month after the Financial Times reported on the launch of a parallel BBC Chinese website and alleged that the Beeb would be censoring their content.
The BBC denied the allegation and said that the site was not part of its news operations but was part of its language program. Further, it added that while it would mostly be offering British news of a cultural nature, which would unlikely offend the Chinese government, it would not be censoring its service.
The China Digital Times, via Howard French, has run an item from an Indian Financial journal republishing the original allegations, prompting AP to revisit the matter.
While AP was initially harsh on the BBC after reading the allegations in the FT, he would like to note the service was true to its word and did not censor its site.
Nick Wong earlier this month reported that the BBC’s allegedly censored site was briefly blocked on the Mainland after putting a report on its fromt page regarding the Tiananmen Mothers’ Group.
Nick’s site has relocated to here, but a Google cache of the original post is .Tags: bbc, china, censorship, asia, northeast asia
Via We Make Money Not art, a look inside the gold farm.:
When I entered a gold farm for the first time (tietou’s gaming workshop in the preview), I was shocked by the positive spirit there, the farmers are passionate about what they do, and there is indeed a comraderie between them … I do see suffering and exploitation too, but in that place suffering is mixed with play and exploitation is embodied in a gang-like brotherhood and hierarchy. When I talked with the farmers, they rarely complained about their working condition, they only complained about their life in the game world.
Tags: asia, east asia, china, northeast asia
On March 22nd it will be one month since filmmaker and Global Voices Northeast Asia Editor Hao Wu was detained without charge. We appeal to the Chinese government for Hao Wu’s immediate release!
What happened to Hao?
Hao Wu (Chinese name: 吴皓), a Chinese documentary filmmaker who lived in the U.S. between 1992 and 2004, was detained by the Beijing division of China’s State Security Bureau on the afternoon of Wednesday, Febuary 22, 2006. On that afternoon, Hao had met in Beijing with a congregation of a Christian church not recognized by the Chinese government, as part of the filming of his next documentary.
Hao had also been in phone contact with Gao Zhisheng, a lawyer specializing in human rights cases. Gao confirmed to one of Hao’s friends that the two had been in phone contact and planned to meet on Feb. 22, but that their meeting never took place after Gao advised against it. On Friday, Feb. 24, Hao’s editing equipment and several videotapes were removed from the apartment where he had been staying. Hao has been in touch his family since Feb. 22, but judging from the tone of the conversations, he wasn’t able to speak freely. One of Hao’s friends has been interrogated twice since his detention. Beijing’s Public Security Bureau (the police) has confirmed that Hao has been detained, but have declined to specify the charges against him.
The reason for Hao’s detention is unknown. One of the possibilities is that the authorities who detained Hao want to use him and his video footage to prosecute members of
China’s underground Churches. Hao is an extremely principled individual, who his friends and family believe will resist such a plan. Therefore, we are very concerned about his mental and physical well-being.
More about Hao: From Scientist to Computer Guy to Filmmaker.
Hao began his filmmaking career in 2004, when he gave up his job as a senior product manager at Atlanta-based Earthlink Inc. and returned to China to film Beijing or Bust, a collage of interviews with U.S.-born ethnic Chinese who now live in China’s capital city. Before working for Earthlink, Hao worked as a product manager for Internet portal Excite from 2000 to 2001 in Redwood City, CA Before that, Hao had also worked as a strategic planning and product development director for Merchant Internet Group, an intern for American Express Co. and a molecular biologist with UCB Research Inc.
Hao earned an MBA degree from University of Michigan Business School in May 2000 and a Master of Science in molecular and cell biology in July, 1995 from Brandeis University, where he was awarded a full merit-based scholarship. Before studying in the U.S., Hao earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from the China University of Science and Technology in Hefei, Anhui province in June, 1992.
Hao the Blogger.
Hao has also been an active blogger, writing as "Beijing Loafer" on his personal blog, Beijing or Bust, named after his film. Due to Chinese government internet blocking of his blog hosting service Blogger.com, he also has a mirror version of the site on MSN Spaces. In early February Hao began contributing as Northast Asia Editor to Global Voices Online, an international bloggers’ network hosted at Harvard Law School’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society. Writing under the pen name Tian Yi, Hao’s contributions aimed to bring citizens’ online voices from China and the rest of North East Asia to readers in the English-speaking world.
Why didn’t we speak out about his detention earlier?
Hao’s family and friends in China have deflected questions about his detention for the past month, as authorities in contact with people close to Hao have urged them not to publicize the case. There had been hope that his detention was only for a short period of time, in which case publicity would not have been helpful.
For more information…
Hao’s family and friends inside China do not want to be interviewed directly by the media at this time, and thus we will not provide journalists with their contact information. We have set up a website dedicated to Hao’s release at: www.freehaowu.org. It will be updated regularly with new information that emerges about Hao’s situation.
All further queries can be e-mailed to: .
(above notice via Rebecca.)
Technorati Tags: asia, china, northeast asia, Free Hao Wu, censorship
AsiaPundit has been generally ignoring the rest of Asia while covering the NPC in Beijing. Normal updating will be further disrupted for a trip to Nanjing from Thursday for a much cooler event. Along with travel days, AP will be taking a break to spend time with Mrs AsiaPundit and our Infinite Cat Dee Dee. Regular updates will not be resuming until next week. This is regrettable as there is really interesting stuff happening on the rest of the continent.
As a site that aspires to be a pan-Asian tabloid, AP is particularly upset that he hasn’t had the time to keep abreast of events in the Philippines and Thailand. There is serious tabloid fodder in both countries at the moment.
Events in the latter country seem to be now getting much more attention from the Western press. Times of London correspondent notes on the paper’s official Asia blog that he has been flown in from Tokyo to cover the collapse of Thaksin’s government.
As for tabloid fodder - as if nationalism and cronyism were not enough - Richard aptly adds a sexual element into the story.:
I encountered this group of ladies among the anti-Thaksin protesters along Ratchadamnoen Avenue, a few hundred yards from Government House in Bangkok.
They are standing in front of their painted cardboard box, one of dozens painted by demonstrators from various organisations. As it makes clear they are members of the Thailand Sex Workers’ Network.
They were distributing a statement apologising to their fellow Thais for the support which they had formerly given to Thaksin. Since his election in 2001, there has been a clamp down on Thailand’s world famous bars, clubs and massage parlours. The Network also objects to the unannounced on-the-spot urine tests which the police are now empowered to make in their “war” against drugs .
“We are just victims, and this leader despises us, and tramples on our dignity, regarding us as stupid buffalo,” the statement reads.
As for the Philippines, where there are a fantastic number of journalist bloggers,, Ellen Tordesillas reports that evidence of Gloria Arroyo’s alleged electoral fraud has now seemingly been revealed visually as well as on audio tape.:
AsiaPundit generally prefers that governments are removed democratically when the means are available. As both the Philippines and Thailand can remove leaders through the ballot or the courts, it would be unfortunate if either Arroyo or Thaksin were ousted by coup or rebellion.
AsiaPundit is not impressed with either leader, but he is not impressed by their opponents either.
As a Canadian, AP had waited more than 12 years for a reprehensible government to be replaced by a dreary opposition. That’s democracy and AP believes that it works better than any other existing system over a long term.*
(*However, AP is working on a system where governance could be based on voting on plans submitted by investment banks rather than parties or personalities. Choosing between UBS or Morgan Stanley would be better than voting Liberal or Conservative, Republican or Democrat, Arroyo or film star, etc…. AsiaPundit favors corporate governance).
Not only is Panda Diplomacy doing little for cross-strait relations, it now seems that there is some Panda Diplomacy backlash on the Sino-American front.:
Zoos in the United States have told China they cannot afford to keep paying $1 million (£580,000) each year for the loan of Giant Pandas. […] Washington National Zoo spokesman John Gibbons told the BBC: "There is a possibility that there may be a day when there may not be Giant Pandas at the zoo.
"We have had informal discussions with the Chinese and told them that we can’t sustain the current expenditure and we are waiting for a response."
The Washington zoo was the birthplace of "panda diplomacy" in the 1970s when the Chinese Government donated two pandas amid efforts to improve Sino-US relations.[BBC]
It’s not so much the panda as all the other items in the contract… like those the bottomless bowls of M&Ms with all the brown ones removed.
D.C. Panda pic from the Flat Stanley Project.
Technorati Tags: asia, china, northeast asia, pandas, taiwan
Peter Dorsman at Peaktalk notes a proposal from the China’s legislative advisory body, the CPPCC, for a change to the nation’s banknotes that AsiaPundit would welcome.:
At the moment I am reading Mao : The Unknown Story which even after all that we’ve learned about communism and its depraved despots still is a revealing read. The question is how many copies have made it into mainland China and to what extent it will influence a rethink of the Chairman. Well, he may no longer find himself on Chinese banknotes:
Delegates to an advisory body to China’s parliament have proposed that Deng Xiaoping, architect of the nation’s economic reforms, and Sun Yat-sen, father of the revolution that toppled the last emperor in 1911, should grace the new bills, state media reported on Monday.
It may be a small gesture, but it is a siginificant move in the ongoing process of China rewriting its own history.
While AP is in agreement that the addition of Deng and Sun to the country’s banknotes would be good news, he doesn’t really see the proposal as one of great significance.
But more on that in a moment.
On Peter’s other question, AsiaPundit offers his assurances that there are absolutely no copies of the Chang-Halliday book in China.
And if there were they would certainly not be brought to the Great Hall of the People to be read by journalists ahead of boring press conferences.:
And the book would definitely not be brought anywhere near the Forbidden City.:
There is simply no way to get a copy of such a book in China.
Back to the currency matter. Unfortunately, the proposal on the new notes isn’t a proposal that is imminently likely to pass. Jeremy at Danwei notes some other CPPCC pitches that were made.:
See also gay marriage, the one child policy and edible toothpicks.
Technorati Tags: asia, china, economy, northeast asia, money, puppy
AsiaPundit is noticing much oddness with China’s Great Firewall right now. Google in
Shanghai but remains accessible in Beijing and Xiamen.
Even stranger, unproxied access is currently possible for two strictly forbidden FLG sites (http://www.ninecommentaries.com/ and http://english.epochtimes.com).
Are any other China users experincing either problems with Google sites or finding other weirdness, such as blocks being mysteriosuly lifted or imposed?
(Update: Unabrewer says the two FLG sites
and the BBC are available in Haining.)
(Upperdate: GZ Expat says yes to Google but no to the FLG in Guangzhou. And Fons has noted that he had been seeing a change in the way blocks are implemented - with access being denied at the municipal Shanghai level rather than nationally.)
(Uppestdate: AsiaPundit is more puzzled by the accesibility of the FLG sites than the inaccessibility of Google in Shanghai. He can’t think of any reason for the former. The crackdown is still policy.
However perhaps the Google outage is due to an excessively large number of people using the search engine today to find nude Chinese .)
To steal one of the Flea’s lines, now is the time at AsiaPundit when we dance:
No carbombs or trishaws are permitted near the Great Hall of the People while the NPC is in session.
Via the Opposite End of China, the Economist Intelligence Unit looks at political risk in China. And, in spite of the recent stories of rising protests and increasing ‘mass incidents,’ the EIU says the risk of a coming collapse is low to moderate under four different scenarios.:
Mishandling of protests in Hong Kong destabilises the Chinese leadership (Low Risk)
The Chinese government accepted the resignation of Hong Kong’s chief executive, Tung Chee-hwa, in March 2005. Mr Tung’s unsuccessful attempts to force through unpopular national security legislation in 2003 had prompted demonstrations attended by several hundred thousand. The appointment of a new chief executive, Donald Tsang, previously a leading civil servant, eased tensions, and pro-government parties did well in September 2004 elections for the Legislative Council (Legco). However, Mr Tsang’s plans for electoral reform were voted down in December 2005 by pro-democracy parties, who wished to see a faster move towards universal suffrage. The Chinese government has ruled out early moves towards full democracy, and there are fears that clashes between China and Hong Kong politicians over democracy in the territory could have repercussions for political stability in China as China’s leadership struggles to reassert its authority. (image )
Local protests broaden into a wider movement (Moderate Risk)
Local protests will continue to be sparked by a number of issues including lay-offs, failure to pay workers, environmental pollution, corruption and illegal seizures of land. The local government’s failure to properly compensate peasants for seized land was, for example, the cause of recent protests in Shanwei, in Guangdong province, in which several demonstrators were shot dead by police. To date the government has faced down such protests by addressing some of the complaints raised and arresting most of the leaders, but this tactic may not be so successful in the future. The size and number of protests appears to be growing, and the spread of mobile phones has made organisation of demonstrations easier. (image here)
The continuing political transition results in a struggle for power or policy paralysis (Low Risk)
Major shifts in the balance of power are unlikely, and would only occur in the context of a specific controversy (for example, the mishandling of a major health crisis or a collapse in growth could prompt a realignment of power). While most factions within the CCP seem to support the current policy stance, businesses should be aware that the emphasis of policy could change if such a shift occurred. (image via here)
Further disease outbreaks occur, creating public anger and leadership disunity (Moderate Risk)
The growing risk posed by bird flu has been recognised as one of the key threats to China’s strong economic growth rates. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has noted that bird flu appears to be widespread among the country’s poultry population, and outbreaks have occurred in numerous provinces in 2004-05, both among wild birds and among birds raised domestically and commercially. If these outbreaks spread they could devastate the country’s poultry and egg industries, which are among the largest in the world. … This category of risk is also increased by the partisan nature of the press, which can be relied upon to suppress facts deemed unhelpful to the party leadership. Companies should consider establishing contingency plans to cope with a potential health crisis that could render a large proportion of employees ill or disrupt logistics systems. (image via here)
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Mao: The Unknown Story - by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday:
A controversial and damning biography of the Helmsman.
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