15 May, 2006

Chinese Domestic Consumption Rising

While AsiaPundit has been a bear on China he will admit that there have been some encouraging signs that domestic consumption is picking up. As earlier reported, Chinese consumers are now buying the cheap sex toys that the country produces. Now it seems that China is moving upscale in illicit drug consumption.:

CokeChinese and U.S. agents seized more than 300 pounds of cocaine smuggled from Colombia — the country’s largest ever cocaine bust — and arrested nine people involved in a drug ring in southern China, authorities said today.

The case illustrates how South American drug gangs are aggressively moving into Asia to exploit new markets and expand their global distribution chains, said William Fiebig, a Beijing-based agent with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

“It’s a market, a huge market,” he said.

The seizure and arrests were made in March following a two-month investigation that was aided by key intelligence from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, said Liu Guangping, spokesman for the Customs General Administration of China. It was the first time Chinese and U.S. authorities had worked together on a drug investigation.

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

Ka De Club

The Shanghaiist asks:

“Does anyone else find it odd that Shanghai’s most famous/notorious bootleg DVD shop is advertising in Shanghai’s most famous/notorious state-run English-language newspaper? What does it say about Shanghai’s “war on piracy” when Ka De Club, routinely raided by police, has the balls to take out an ad — and that Shanghai Daily, which reports on those raids, runs the ad?”

 Attachments Shang Dan Kadeclubshanghaidaily

The Ka Dae Club was last raided ahead of an intellectual property conference. A pure coincidence we assure you. The Shanghai government is very serious about cracking down on piracy.

Still, as for the Shanghaiist’s question, AsiaPundit is hardly shocked that state-owned Shanghai Daily is accepting ads for the illegal DVD shop coffee shop that doesn’t sell coffee. The paper regularly runs ads for prostitutes escort and massage services. It has even been skirting rules prohibiting foreign investment through a deal with Australia’s Seven Network. The latter deal has remarkably improved the readability of the paper over the past year.
Rule-breaking is a good thing for the paper. And given that its expatriate target audience are the biggest patrons of Ka De, AP would have recommended running the ad as a public service.

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by @ 11:13 pm. Filed under China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Media

Shanghai Cinema

Although Shanghai has been attracting scores of Western filmmakers, the city is unlikely to become the Hollywood of the East, due in part to overly sensitive authorities.
Danwei notes that Tom Cruise’s latest may not hit the screens in China after it offended Shanghai’s sensibilities by showing commonplace things such as drying laundry.:

The much-anticipated film “Mission: Impossible III” may be kept out of China for “tarnishing the image of Shanghai,” Shanghai-based newspaper Xinmin Evening News reported over the weekend.
With 20 percent of its scenes shot in China, the action-thriller starring Tom Cruise has been expected to achieve box office success here.
Cruise shot part of the film in Shanghai last year, and his Shanghai press conference attracted nearly 100 reporters from different media.
The film could well have offended the Shanghai authorities. In the film, when Cruise stepped into the metropolis, he saw rags and underwear drying outdoors in side streets, rather than views of Shanghai’s shining skyscrapers. Shanghai’s image was further tarnished by the film’s awkward and slow-moving “Shanghai police,” according to the Xinmin Evening News.
Industry insiders told the Xinmin Evening News the authorities were yet to make a decision on allowing the film into the mainland. The film’s import has been delayed indefinitely, industry insiders said, adding that the ban was probably caused by the “negative Shanghai image.”

In other Shanghai movie news, AsiaPundit picked up the new DVD of a film shot largely in the city: UltraViolet, starring Milla Jovovich. If you can stop staring at Ms Jovovich’s midriff, you will note the Pearl Tower and Jinmao Building in the background.:


In spite of the generally hot Jovovich, the film was thoroughly unwatchable. This review at IMBD sums up the film quite well.:

I had hopes for this movie based on the trailer, but it turned out to be one of the worst I’ve ever seen.
The special effects range from mediocre to kinda cool, but the plot is too sketchy and absurd to justify their existence. Milla Jovovich’s hair and jacket change colors for no discernible reason throughout the film. I think the pretty colors are supposed to distract us from the incoherent script, but it doesn’t work…
If you appreciate Milla Jovovich’s body, it might be possible to enjoy this film by renting the DVD and watching it with the sound off and your techno MP3 collection blaring in the background while you do something productive, like picking the gunk out from beneath your toenails. Or you could spare yourself the pain and just get The Fifth Element instead.

Shanghai’s architecture, in spite of the city being “Ground Zero in the Blood War being waged between humans and her kind in what’s left of Shanghai,” looked good. That would please authorities.

Still, we can be thankful that the film will likely offend local sensibilities enough that Mainland residents will never have to endure it on the silver screen. The film is set in the future where apparently Shanghai is ruled by Laowai, something that would surely upset the CCP. As well, the only Chinese in the film are a group of hybrid vampire gangsters called the Blood Chinois - all of whom are killed by the protagonist.

AsiaPundit recommends avoiding UltraViolet at any cost. Although the ‘Shanghai-curbside Special Edition DVD‘ does offer some interesting subtitles that actually improve the dialogue.




UPDATE: A reader has informed us that the leader of the Blood Chinois was played by Vietnamese American actor Duc Luu — which means that there were no major roles by Chinese actors or nationals. Given the wretchedness of the film, that shouldn’t upset them.

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by @ 10:16 pm. Filed under China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Censorship, Film

Sergey Attacks Yahoo!

While redirecting criticism toward a competitor is usually a poor way to deal with probing questions, AsiaPundit thinks Google co-founder Sergey Brin did properly address a protest from Amnesty International at the company’s annual general meeting.:

EnemyA wide range of investors, including retirees and Wall Street professionals, attended the meeting at Google’s Mountain View campus. They peppered the two founders and Chief Executive Eric Schmidt with questions about everything from new products to sluggish e-mail to competition with Microsoft and Yahoo.

A member of Amnesty International who was representing the shares of a New York pension fund took a turn at the microphone to criticize Google’s decision to launch a separate search engine in China and comply with that government’s censorship policies.

But the protest got derailed when Brin asked the man, Anthony Cruz, what search engine he was recommending as an alternative to Google.

“I use Yahoo,'’ Cruz responded.

“You mean the one that has been censoring since the ’90s and recently caused a number of journalists to go to prison?'’ Brin asked in amazement.

Via Searchnewz, where David comments “Maybe Amnesty International USA should take down its front page attack on Google and replace it with Yahoo instead, perhaps?”

AsiaPundit still uses all Google, Microsoft and Yahoo services - though he may search for a new photo service when his Flickr pro account expires. However, for those who want to avoid all three companies, Amazon’s A9 search engine is pretty good.

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

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