There is only one decent English-language bookstore in Shanghai. It’s backed by Hong Kong money. There are numerous state-owned places but these have selections that are limited to language-training materials, photography books, travel guides and a handful of paperbacks. These are usually avoided by your correspondent.
Nevertheless, a lapsed subscription to the Economist prompted AsiaPundit to seek the newest issue from his local little-red bookshop. Upon entry to the small red-brick store on Hongqiao Lu, AP was shocked by what he discovered.
As shown in the bottom-left corner, Jung Chang’s Wild Swans was on prominent display at the bookstore. By prominent, we imply that it was face up and there were multiple copies (staff are not really trained at promotion, so that’s about as prominent as you will get for a state-owned bookstore).
Why the shock? Here’s a passage from Jung Chang’s introduction to the book itself (pages xxiv-xxv):
…Wild Swans is not allowed to be published in Mainland China. The regime seems to regard the book as a threat to the Communist party’s power. Wild Swans is a personal story but it reflects the history of twentieth-century China from which the party does not come out well. To justify its rule, the party has dictated an official version of history, but Wild Swans does not toe that line. In particular, Wild Swans shows Mao to have criminally misruled the Chinese people, rather than being basically a good and great leader, as Peking decrees.
. . .
That is why publication of Wild Swans is banned in China. So is any mention of the book of me in the media. Although over the years many Chinese journalists have interviewed me or written about Wild Swans, all write-ups except a couple have bitten the dust as few editors dare to break the ban. The ban is particularly deterring because the toughly worded, top-secret injunction was co-signed by the Foreign Ministry, which, for a book, is most unusual, if not unique.
As noted, AsiaPundit would not have wandered into the Little Red Bookshop were it not for an expired Economist subscription. That’s mildly ironic, given that the two magazines subscribed to by AP both had issues banned in China simply because they contained reviews of Chang’s most-recent work.
A Chinese blogger recently overtook Boing Boing for the number one place in Technorati. AsiaPundit believes that was is only the first event in China’s comming domination of the medium. As well as arguably bigger numbers, China’s bloggers have more aesthetic appeal.
For instance, high-profile bloggers in the US have been disparaged for being a bunch of guys in pajamas. In China the popularity contests are being won by hot semi-nude women.:
A recent ‘beauty contest’ for female bloggers has attracted huge attention and aroused fierce controversy in China.
The contest has been criticised as “sexist” and “immoral” after some contestants posted nude photographs on their blogs.
In the first stage of BlogChina’s Beautiful Blogger contest, which was held earlier this month, several million Chinese web users voted for female bloggers whose online diaries are hosted on the BlogChina site.
The 20 highest scoring finalists were brought to Beijing to compete in a more traditional beauty contest, for which BlogChina provided free hair styling, make up and beauty treatments.
As well as physical appearance, the contestants were ranked on a variety of other criteria, including the quality of their blog postings and the popularity of their blogs.
The winner, who blogs under the name Yi Lan, is a business student from Beijing. She received a $2,500 prize.
Additional prizes of $1,250 each were awarded in four runner-up categories including ‘most talented blogger’ and ’sexiest blogger’.
BlogChina announced that more than two million people voted to choose the finalists. However, the contest attracted harsh criticism in some quarters, with accusations of sexism and sensationalism from the media and other bloggers.
One finalist, blogging under the unlikely name ‘Hedgehog Mumu’, posted several semi-nude photographs of herself on her blog. She received the most votes in the public voting, but won none of the prizes in the finals.
AsiaPundit regrets to note that Hedgehog MuMu’s site is currently inaccessible — although this may be due to bandwidth pressures rather than censorship. In lieu further story related photos, AsiaPundit will again present pictures of the other MuMu.:
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.
One of the advantages of being an anonymous blogger is that it enables you to circulate rumors that would, if published without attribution, could get you in a world of trouble. From an anonymous journalist/blogger an update on the situation in Jiliin, the site where the Songhua river chemical spill originated.
The violence and reported deaths in Dongzhou have attracted many foreign media’s top priority southward. But the eerie silence of domestic media on the deputy mayor’s suicide in Jilin and the deeper, still evolving story behind it underscore the fact that the drama is far from over in the northeast.
The Beijing News had a story. 21st Century Business Herald had a story. Caijing Magazine had a story. None ran it. Word in town is, several of this country’s top leaders have contributed their share of opinion on this and put an abrupt end to all the buzz. The deputy mayor’s suicide seems to be the cause. An new, more powerful investigation taskforce put together by the central government that was scheduled to arrive in Jilin last week was put on hold after the suicide. Is Beijing afraid of more suicides?
Another, much more vicious piece of rumor has surfaced in Jilin, which, if verified, could easily explain all the weird developments. The 100-ton-or-so benzene and nitrobenzene in the Songhua, according to government sources there, was not accidently flushed down the sewer but DELIBERATELY LEAKED. Again, no guarantee for the authenticity of this information but in the absence of true, open news coverage rumor would have to do, for here and for now.
AsiaPundit as well does not guarantee the integrity of this information.
Every year at this time, a selection of 14 of Asia’s most intellectual and erudite bloggers are selected to as nominees in WizBang’s Weblog Awards. This year, AsiaPundit is proud to stand alongside the Sassy Lawyer, Marmot’s Hole, Hemlock’s Diary, Sinosplice, ESWN, the shaky kaiser, mrbrown, Hongkie Town, Shanghai Diaries, Our Man In Hanoi, Frog in a Well, Simon World and Mr. Miyagi as a nominee for Best Asian Blog.
And every year the nominees are humiliated by the sheer strength of the readership of Xiaxue, one of Asia’s least intellectual and erudite (aka: cheem) bloggers. With advanced congratulations to Wendy, AsiaPundit encourages you to vote AsiaPundit for Best Asian Blog (he doesn’t want the defeat to be too embarrassing).
I’m tagging this under the China category as the below post is from the Frog in the Well Chinese history blog, but should be a boon to students and researchers throughout Asia. As a result, I expect it to soon be blocked in China.
Google print, which is scanning thousands of books in major research libraries, is useful when you want to scan across many English language books for terms. It only offers you a few pages, but will show you all the hits for words in given books, the pages they are on, and what pages surround them. Many books are not yet available, and you will find that some important books on East Asian history, both old and new are frustratingly missing will less common works are there. However, instead of going to the index of books you own, if it is on Google Print we have an increasingly quick alternative to consulting indexes.
For example, didn’t Poshek Fu’s book on collaboration in wartime Shanghai mention an organization called the Shanghai Association of the Theatrical Circle for National Salvation? Ah yes, Google Print tells me that it is mentioned on page 74, and in a footnote on page 188. I can then login to my google account and view that page, and in many cases a few pages surrounding it.
Ayn Rand’s Fountainhead is set to debut in China.
Ayn Rand’s more tolerable tome, The Fountainhead, hits Chinese bookstores in November. 700 pages, 800,000 characters, the story of Howard Roark’s individualist triumph over the forces of collectivism will arrive in cities whose architecture he would probably have had difficulty preventing himself from dynamiting.
Why is The Fountainhead getting translated? Numbers, for one thing. Most early reviews note Rand’s vast audience, with Atlas Shrugged selling second only to the Bible. It’s certainly not because of any literary value. The Beijing News, in a review casting it as a work of utopian fiction, calls it “long, dull, and unbalanced, with no sense of rhythm,” but says that as a work of philosophy, “we really shouldn’t use the standards of literature to evaluate it.”
Writing in The Economic Observer Review of Books, reviewer Shi Tao pinpoints why this book might appeal to today’s Chinese readers:
In Rand’s view, you need not abase yourself to pursue wealth, but you should be ashamed of yourself if you lack creativity. The IT elite who came along later highly praised this ideal.
Or it could just be that the “virtue of selfishness” is just the philosophy China’s rich need to explain away such unpleasantries as the wealth gap and social duties.
This sounds like an unpleasant way to lose one’s virginity.:
Ms. Wang, a 38 year old woman who says she is a virgin, goes to Cathay
General Hospital with her mother, where Dr. Lin Hui-lin, a minor
celebrity herself, gives Ms. Wang a pelvic exam without getting Ms.
Wang’s permission first.
During the examination Ms. Wang’s hymen
was ruptured. Ms. Wang then filed a complaint with the Consumer
Foundation. After mediation by the Consumer Foundation, Cathay General
Hospital said that it would repair Ms. Wang’s hymen free of charge or
give her NT$100,000.
The Wangs, however, were not satisfied. Ms.
Wang’s father, one Wang Xian-ji, held a news conference where,
brandishing his daughter’s bloody panties (the print version of the
Apple Daily story actually had a picture of this), he demanded NT$5
million in compensation and an apology from Dr. Lin or he would take
her to court for medical malpractice. In the China Times version of
the story Mr. Wang said that although his daughter had had boyfriends,
she had protected her virginity like a treasure. Now her ill-fated
doctor’s visit had destroyed a woman’s most valuable possession-her
I recommend full compensation for Ms Wang, plus punitive damages and a trip to this clinic in Manila.:
Meanwhile in Bangkok.
Kittiwat Unarrom, a Thai baker’s son, was trained as a fine artist, but
has switched to baking realistic putrefying human body parts and organs
out of bread and other ingredients, and has become a trendy sensation: Along
with edible human heads crafted from dough, chocolate, raisins and
cashews, Kittiwat makes human arms, feet, and chicken and pig parts. He
uses anatomy books and his vivid memories of visiting a forensics
museum to create the human parts.
Today’s gratuitous image of the female body comes from Fons at the China Herald.:
A funny description by blogger Chinawhite,
a foreigner living in Shanghai, as he was invited for an evening out
with starlet Mimi. Mimi confesses she is looking for a nice foreign
boyfriend - I might have heard that before. Chinawhite did not seem to
have made the test, nor did Mimi.
Danwei points to a BBS post that ponders, "what if Super Girl were run by CCTV?":
The competition starts. Hosts Zhu Jun and Zhou Tao come onstage.
Zhu Jun: The spring breeze of reform blows throughout the
land, and happiness descends from the heavens in waves. Viewers,
through the great attention of leaders at all levels, the cooperation
of local television stations across the country, and with the generous
support of our sponsors, we bring you the CCTV - #6 Pharmaceutical
Power Pill Super Girl Competition!
Zhou Tao: The land is filled with reform’s spring breeze, and
super girls must test their wills. Viewers, the Super Girls competing
in today’s competition have been selected by local TV stations across
the country. Passing through stringent political investigations, they
are red-rooted and upright, they are actively moving forward, they work
hard to closely organize, they are both red and professional, and they
can be completely trusted.
Michael Turton notes that China has allowed Taiwan airlines to use its airspace, and offers a warning.:
largest airline said yesterday it will become the island’s first
airline to fly through rival China’s airspace in more than five decades.
China Airlines Ltd. said Beijing has approved its application to use
the mainland’s airspace, a month after Taiwanese Premier Frank Hsieh
(謝長廷) said he would allow the island’s airlines to fly over Chinese
China’s aviation authorities yesterday approved
applications from four Taiwanese airlines to fly over its airspace
after Taipei urged the permission amid rising oil prices.
Hmmm….given the regularity with which China Airlines’ airplanes fall out of the sky, I’m not sure I’d permit them to fly over my territory….
Also be sure to visit Michael Turton’s weekly Taiwan blog roundup.
In reaction to high fuel prices, Seoul is trying to curb the number of cars on its roads and, for a country known for sporatic crackdowns, it’s impressively doing it through incentives.:
Gas prices are through the roof and as they threaten to get higher and
higher, this could put a crimp on the Korean economy, the world’s
fourth-largest buyer of crude oil and a nation that depends entirely on
imports for its oil needs. According to a Bank of Korea estimate, "a
one-percent rise in oil prices would trim 0.02 percentage point off the
nation’s economic growth."
For that reason, Seoul is reported to be
to give motorists tax and other incentives to prod them to drive less.
As part of the move, the government is revamping efforts to get people
to leave their cars home at least one business day per week (you may
have noticed the round, colored stickers with one day of the week
printed on them).
Meanwhile, North Korea has its own energy-saving plan.:
It is eight o’clock on a Saturday night and darkness envelopes
virtually all of Pyongyang, serving as a vivid reminder of communist
North Korea’s pressing energy needs.
World leaders such as U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice have
talked of satellite pictures of the Korean peninsula taken at night
that show a brightly illuminated South and the North in total darkness.
Malaysia has started to crackdown on mobile phone porn and will be randomly checking cell phones:
First of all the checking of phones randomly is an invasion of privacy.
It’s terrible and infringes personal liberty. Is it worse that we are
not free within our own country or is it worse that some teenagers
trade naughty pictures and texts?
Secondly by deleting these
records do you actually stop anyone from having the impluses to trade
naughty pictures? No you just drive them deeper underground.
I’ve suggested elsewhere, the US and Australia would get better results in terrorism-related trials in Indonesia if they called off the high-profile statements and resorted to more traditional methods. It seems someone on Michelle Leslie’s legal team understands this.:
That didn’t take long. Today it was reported in the Australian media
that somebody claiming connection with the Balinese police could
intervene in the drug case of Michelle Leslie (aka "Michelle the
Muslim") for a monetary donation. Might just be some jokester, but also
might be just the tip of the iceberg.
At least it’s reassuring
that the investigation into the possible bribe solicitation will be
conducted by………the Indonesian police. That should clear up
matters fairly quickly. Sort of like the Indonesian human rights
activist who was poisoned on his flight to Europe. The pilot is now on
It seems that Hu Jintao is sensitive to charges that he has been taking China backwards, and has decided to rehabilitate another Hu to help polish his own image.:
The Chinese government has not publicly commemorated the birth or
death of Hu Ya0bang since he died on April 15, 1989, lest publicity
reignite the democratic spark snuffed out on J*ne 4 that year when the
army crushed the student-led dem0nstrations. State media rarely mention
Hu Jintao decided recently that the party would officially mark the
90th anniversary of Hu Ya0bang’s birth on November 20 at the Great Hall
of the People, said a source close to the family and a second source
with knowledge of the commemorations.
One of the sources reports that that some of the current Politburo
Standing Committee will attend the commemoration and that Hu Jintao
wishes to play the Hu Ya0bang card to inherit his political resources
and work on improving his ‘reformer’ image after a number of crackdowns
on liberal intellectuals, the media, the Internet and non-governmental
organisations and further restrictions on basic freedoms.
La idler suggested I should add some beefcake for female readers. It’s not really my area of expertise, but Jodi thinks these guys are eye candy. Nomad thinks the guy in front needs to better accessorize.
I’m always fascinated by anything that looks at the economy of North Korea, OneFreeKorea picks up on an FT item noting the rise of the ice cream man.
The Chosun Ilbo has printed a summary of a Financial Times story
that may change your model of the North Korean economy, but not much.
The story suggests that changes in economic policy in 2002 have in fact
launched a limited number of small private businesses, and that those
businesses are substantially enriching the people who run them.
The World Food Program’s North
Korea director Richard Ragan told the paper the wealthy are
concentrated in five cities, including Pyongyang. They are the group
that can be seen going to work on their bicycles, which cost triple the
average monthly salary in North Korea. The newly affluent work mostly
in retail and service industries and include tailors, ice cream sellers
and bike repairmen who make money in general markets, which have
multiplied to some 300 since 2002. Some farmers selling surplus produce
are also part of what passes for a wealthy class in North Korea.
How long can an economy base
itself on an ice cream vending industry? For explanations by smarter
people than myself, I recommend Marcus Noland’s Korea After Kim Jong-Il and Nicholas Eberstadt’s The End of North Korea
(Eberstadt admits that he failed to predict the success of North
Korea’s aid-seeking strategy, but his analysis of the North Korean
economy itself is sound). An economy that fully participates in the
greater global economy can prosper as a service economy if its services
generate sufficient income to allow it to import the goods it needs.
North Korea will not mirror the experience of, say, Singapore because
it lacks the means to produce goods for its own use or for trade, the
connectivity to participate in the global economy, and the foreign
exchange to purchase what it needs from abroad.
Japan, a country where even the worst television is better than CCTV.
This March, we had a post on the five worst television programs in Japan as selected by the weekly magazine Shukan Gendai. The fifth in the series was Mizugi Shojo (Swimsuit Girls)
broadcast at 3:10 a.m., Thursdays on TV Tokyo. The premise of the show
is to dress some young, busty models in bathing suits and have them
engage in goofy games and repartee.
One of the games is Tongue Golf.
This game is played with one girl acting as the golf course, with her
navel as the hole. Another girl plays golf on her body with a ping pong
ball, using her tongue as the club.
Speaking of Asian television, Gordon notes that the CCTV’s coverage of the disaster in New Orleans leaves much to be desired.:
The wife and I were watching news on one of the CCTV channels this
evening and they were showing footage of the devastation that has
rocked most of the south. They followed that with clips of various
stars trying to raise money for the relief efforts and to my shock they
showed one of Mike Myers (Austin Powers) standing next to a black man
who blurted out "George Bush hates black people and instead of sending
aid, he has sent soldiers with orders to shoot us."
damn near fell off my stool. There’s a lot of blame to go around in
regards to this disaster, but calling the President a racist is
completely ignorant. unfortunate though, 1.3 billion Chinese are
probably going to buy into that notion.
That is complete lunacy
and I can not believe that a broadcasting network would allow such
blatant ignorance to be aired like that.
I have very mixed feelings about this…..
realise that the world is horrified by what has happened, what is still
ongoing and what is still to come in the southern States, I realise
that the world is trying to now do its part and help the ‘Friendly
Giant’ that comes to the aid of others so willingly, I realise that the
Philippines has a strong tie to the US and as such I can see it wants
to do its part to help….I applaud the reaction of sending aid
However, I cannot help but feel that the $25,000
would be of much greater use at home in The Philippines…..is that
callous or small minded and am I missing a bigger picture here?
And from Bangladesh, Rezwan asks:
… is it fair to compare Bangladesh to the chaos & destruction
United States is facing? Natural calamities are always a tragedy and an
act of God. The humans can only be well prepared and coordinated to
minimize the destruction. Bangladesh faces this kinds of tragedy every
year and still it is a developing not a stagnant country. The media do
not propagate the courage and efforts many Bangladeshis show each year
to start their life all over. If the calamities would not only be the
central idiom of the media, the world could have learnt many tips for tackling these kind of calamities.
Daniel Brett writes a striking post "What America can learn from Bangladesh":
"Last year Bangladesh faced a natural disaster
which was an altogether larger disaster than Hurricane Katrina and the
casualty figures were probably lower than the casualties sustained in
the New Orleans disaster. But the disaster was contained due to the
survival instincts of the Bangladeshi people, their ingenuity in the
face of adversity and their culture of hard work. Rather than shoot and
loot, Bangladesh immediately used its modest resources to limit the
impact of the floods before international aid arrived.
ESWN has a translation of a Chinese state-run paper’s view on internet censorship and the real name campaign. If you are a CCP member, there is reason to be optimistic.:
With the continual cleaning up
of the Internet, time and again, there is hope that every corner of the
Chinese Internet will be mopped up cleanly.
Above cartoon from Seattle PI via Mei Zhong Tai.
In 1989, Mr Fujimoto married one of the Group for Pleasure dancers,
with the Dear Leader playing a prominent, but bizarre, part in his
"My wedding was held on the second floor of the number eight banquet
hall. Many executives from the North Korean Labour Party came to the
wedding and told me to drink a lot. I drank one and half bottles of
"The next morning, Kim Jong Il came to me and asked me whether I had
pubic hair," Mr Fujimoto continued. "I answered, ‘Yes’ but he said to
me, ‘Let’s go to the bathroom to check’. We went to the bathroom and
checked, but it was all gone."When I was intoxicated with cognac, someone seemed to have removed
it. Kim Jong Il said, ‘That’s how we celebrate weddings’ and smiled.
That odd tidbit is from the Scotsman, for more serious information on Kim, read a book.
Sometimes in China, protests work. The China Youth Daily has scrapped a plan to have bonuses linked with pleasing the party. Don’t worry too much about the reporters missing out on the extra cash, there are still other ways for journalists to make money.
The Economist a few weeks back ran a leader arguing that video and online games did not lead to increased levels of deviancy or violence. There is no evidence to believe it does. Still, as virtual weapons and property becomes more valuable, we can probably expect more online theft.:
A man has been arrested in Japan on suspicion carrying out a virtual mugging spree
by using software “bots” to beat up and rob characters in the online
computer game Lineage II. The stolen virtual possessions were then
exchanged for real cash. . .
“There’s an ongoing war between
people who make bots and games companies,” he [Ren Reynolds, a UK-based
computer games consultant and an editor of the gaming research site
Terra Nova] told New Scientist. “And making real money out of virtual
worlds is getting bigger.”. . .
Via Imagethief, the Taiwanese are Kiwis, and - power shortage or not - the Bund must be spectacular.
Gravely disturbing headline at Boing Boing: "Puffy AmiYumi Bukkake":
… not exactly what the headline promises: Link
I’m sure the imagery isn’t intentional, although it’s slightly bothersome that a group so dedicated to children’s entertainment would be so careless about its image. Speaking of which: "Disney sweatshop report: Part VI."
At East Asia Affairs, a damning commentary on South Korea’s progressives:
I fear I was
wrong about democratization in South Korea. At least some of those who
fought against dictatorship weren’t, and aren’t, true democrats. What
they hated was the generals’ right-wing politics, not authoritarianism
Such self-styled "progressives", who rule the roost in the new South
Korea, seem to me merely to have turned the old values inside out,
rather than made true progress. I sometimes think Koreans don’t do
shades of gray, but prefer gestalt conversions: a total switch of world
view. They flip.
Singabloodypore has a report on internet filtering in the city state, from my view (as a former long-term Singapore resident now in China), it’s not that bad in comparison.:
In our testing, the OpenNet Initiative (ONI)found extremely minimal
filtering of Internet content in Singapore, as only eight sites of
1,632 tested (.49%) were blocked: www.cannabis.com, www.chick.com,
www.persiankitty.com, www.playboy.com, www.playgirl.com, and
www.sex.com. The limited blocking that our testing revealed focuses on
a few pornographic URLs and one site each in the categories of illegal
drugs and fanatical religion. Similar content is readily available at
other sites on the Internet that are not blocked in Singapore. Thus,
Singapore’s Internet content regulation depends primarily on access
controls (such as requiring political sites to register for a license)
and legal pressures (such as defamation lawsuits and the threat of
imprisonment) to prevent people from posting objectionable content
rather than technological methods to block it. Compared to other
countries that implement mandatory filtering regimes that ONI has
studied closely, Singapore’s technical filtering system is one of the
It forgets to mention that the Sarong Party Girl cannot be accessed from government offices.
Japundit has great analysis on Japan’s election. High Noon in Tokyo #2.
The Philippines is getting tough on corruption? I won’t hold my breath, but if this case is any indication of things to come… ouch.
It is encouraging that the Sandiganbayan (corruption court) is starting
to really clamp down on corruption, though last Friday’s sentencing of
a 71-year-old former mayor to 64 years’ imprisonment for employing his cousins seems, er, a tiny bit disproportionate.
Finally, a Great China blog roundup at Global Voices.
Rebecca McKinnion has a more thorough listing of blog hosting services that have been blocked by the Great Firewall of China.
I received an email from a Chinese blogger today, reporting that the following international blog-hosting services are blocked:
Those are in addition to the blogs hosted by TypePad, Blogger/Blogspot and Blogs.us. Users of those services are welcome to use the below graphic or others that can be obtained by clicking on it.
Art-whore Supernaut fumes at Mao-inspired fashion and welcomes a new biography as a welcome bit of reality:
No one argues any more that even though Hitler, Stalin, or Pol Pot did terrible things, they were, somehow, "great". The unchanged view of Mao is partly the fault of the Chinese Communist Party’s leaders, who claim to be his heirs and hang his portrait in the emotional centre of the capital. But even elsewhere in the world Mao is often praised, after his brutality has been acknowledged, as a visionary, poet, calligrapher, guerrilla chieftain, military genius, unifier, and even - as Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger claimed - charmer.
Not any more. In their decisive biography, Mao: the Unknown Story, Jung Chang and Jon Halliday leave Mao for dead. By that I mean that Mao’s reputation as a "great man," unless one includes Hitler and Stalin too, is finished.
She reproduces a review of the book by Jonathan Mirsky, approvingly.
Meanwhile, Red Star News, disapprovingly, reproduces sections of a review by the Guardian’s Will Hutton that is much kinder on the Chairman.
Anyway, what I really don’t like about the articles are pieces like this:
the Great Leap Forward and the disaster of the Cultural Revolution are
famed exercises in futility, personal delusion and inhumanity,
brilliantly documented by Chang and Halliday, don’t forget that between
one and the other Chinese growth averaged 15 per cent per annum, never
achieved before in a single year in China’s long history.
but Hutton forgot to mention that the years in between the country was
governed not by Mao but by Liu Shaoqi and that this economical success
was one cause for Mao to launch the CR.
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