19 April, 2006

enjoy your new kidney

AsiaPundit did not write about recent allegations from the FLG that the Chinese government was maintaing a 6,000 person death camp/organ donation farm in Sujiatun. The reports originated from the Epoch Times and  AP is generally skeptical about anything that is in that paper.

That’s especially true when reports allege such things as 100,000-person concentration camps and mystery night trains for prisoner transport.  AP did, however, briefly join in a discussion on the report at the excellent Korea Liberator site.

The Epoch Times report was debunked by US consular staff.  While that confirmed AP’s original suspicions that the reports were exaggerated, it is not the end of the story. The British Transplantation Society is today alleging that China is killing prisoners so that organs are available on a just-in-time (JIT) basis.:

KidneyThe British Transplantation Society says an accumulating weight of evidence suggests the organs of thousands of executed prisoners in China are being removed for transplants without consent.

Professor Stephen Wigmore, who chairs the society’s ethics committee, told the BBC that the speed of matching donors and patients, sometimes as little as a week, implied prisoners were being selected before execution.

Chinese officials deny the allegations.

Just last week a Chinese health official said publicly that organs from executed prisoners were sometimes used, but only with prior permission and in a very few cases. But widespread allegations have persisted for several years - including from international human rights groups.

AP takes these allegations more seriously than the ones in the Epoch Times. They are from a professional (and presumably apolitical) organization. The organization avoids the wild claims made by the FLG and, most importantly, the photo of the kidney container in the above-linked BBC report looks suspiciously like a Chinese take-away box. That’s really creepy given the context.


AP will not, for the moment comment further on the reliability of the Epoch Times and will instead defer to Holidarity, who offers an excellent post on how many journalists view the group.:

They want us to pick up on their stories, but not ask too much about how and where they get them. While no one else in the world has bloody photos of massacres like Shanwei, they do. And their sources for these stories must be so delicate that extreme secrecy can be understood. But not absolute secrecy - because in the end that is only propaganda. And I think with something as big as this alleged organ harvesting in Shenyang, outside confirmation is the only thing that will make people believe it - and believe them. In a lot of ways, the Epoch Times’ credibility is on the line with this one.

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by @ 11:07 pm. Filed under China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia

carrefour vs louis vuitton

AsiaPundit is disturbed by this item, if only because he expects that the wine he regularly buys at Carrefour is made with 100% grape and he expects better quality control.:

LvSuppose you would want to buy a Louis Vuitton bag in Shanghai. You could go to the Xiangyang Market where you can buy a fake one for less than RMB 100. But if you want to buy a real product you’d better go to an international chain store, to make sure you get the real thing. Carrefour for example. And what does the bag cost there? Only RMB 49.90 (less than EUR 5) as employees of LV found out! Because the retail price is normally around RMB 9000 this did not smell right. And indeed, the bags were as fake as they could be.

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by @ 11:02 pm. Filed under China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia

msn spaces and the firewall

Bill Gates and Chinese President Hu Jintao had a lovely dinner yesterday. And China has pledged to help combat the piracy of the firms products. AsiaPundit wonders, however, what China is doing for the company’s on-line ventures — especially the popular MSN Spaces.

The service, at the moment, is largely inaccessible in Shanghai and Beijing. Trace route tests from Shanghai indicate that access is being lost at the level of the Great Firewall. (click for larger image).

Shanghai Test

Tests on the Beijing side, however,indicate that the loss of data is occurring at the Microsoft side.:

Beijing Test

As well as trace route and ‘ping’ testing, attempts to access through browsers in Beijing and Shanghai — including one by Microsoft’s China spokesman — failed. Access also seems to be unavailable in Haining, said the Unabrewer.

However, AsiaPundit was just told that Microsoft’s engineers could access the site at the China headquarters. If so, this would unlikely be a state-ordered block. If it was, the irony would have been rich.

Hu Jintao and Bill Gates just had a lovely dinner together on Tuesday and apparently struck an amicable friendship.:

While expressing admiration for what Gates has achieved at Microsoft, Hu also added jovially that, “Because you, Mr. Bill Gates, are a friend of China, I’m a friend of Microsoft," according to The Seattle Times.

As well as the friendship with Hu, MSN China is a joint venture between Microsoft and Shanghai Alliance Entertainment, a firm owned by a son of former Chinese President Jiang Zemin. On the face of it, one would think that Microsoft is too well connected to be the target of a Firewall-level block.

Besides, Microsoft will block websites as requested, so there really wouldn’t be a need for any state action against the MSN Spaces service. 

AsiaPundit has been told that the company’s technicians are looking into the problem, although clear answers will not likely be available until people start waking up in Redmond. Accidental blocks often occur when website changes are made by content providers, as had happened with the New York Times recently. Sites are also accidently unblocked when changes are made, as happened to TypePad when it changed servers last year.

For now, AP is inclined to believe that the MSN Spaces problem is of a technical nature. That’s a shame. While a Firewall-level block would no doubt be a great disappointment to local users of MSN Spaces, it would also have been a great news story.

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by @ 8:03 pm. Filed under Blogs, China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Web/Tech, Weblogs, Censorship

asia, sex and happiness

According to a study by the University of Chicago, Asians - and Asian women in particular - are not as happy as Westerners with their sex lives.:

The survey published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior looked at how they viewed their sex lives, their health, and their happiness.

It found that a greater proportion of people in Europe, North America, and Australia, where men and women have more or less equal relations, enjoyed sex physically and emotionally, Laumann said.

A smaller percentage of people reported satisfying sex lives in male-dominated cultures in poorer countries, the research showed.

But the gender gap persisted around the world.

“There’s a systematic disparity between men and women, where men are on the average substantially — or about 10 points — higher in their levels of satisfaction as women in that country,” he said.

Most of those surveyed at random were married, though there was an obvious bias toward participants who were willing to talk about sex, and toward urban populations in less-developed nations.

“Pleasure is not part of the story” in sexually conservative cultures in the Far East — China, Indonesia, Japan, Taiwan, and Thailand, Laumann said. “Procreation is the rationale for sex. Many women … characterize sex as dirty, as a duty, something they endure” — and often stop having it after age 50…..

In Japan, by contrast, just 18 percent of the men and 10 percent of the women answered positively about their sex lives. And in Taiwan, only 7 percent of the women said sex was very important in their lives.

There is likely a great deal of untruthful answers in a survey like this, given the taboo nature of the subject, but it is almost certainly more reliable than the Durex survey,

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by @ 1:17 pm. Filed under Japan, China, Taiwan, Indonesia, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, Thailand

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