5 June, 2006

Asia Blog Awards: Q1 2006-2007

AsiaPundit is pleased to announce the commencement of the new round of Asia Blog Awards. The awards are based on the Japanese financial year, which ends on March 31, and nominations are now open for the April 1-June 30 period, full-year awards are to be based on the quarterly contests.

Details are below, nominations for the below categories can be made on the individual pages linked below until the end of June 16 (Samoan time).

Awards are at present limited to English-language or dual-language sites.

Region/Country Specific Blogs:

Non-region specific awards:

Podcasts, photo and video blogs must be based on original content — which means a site such as Danwei.tv is acceptable but TV in Japan is not (although it is an excellent site).

Some categories may be deleted or combined if they lack a full slate nominations - and some may be added should it be warranted.

Winners will be judged in equal parts on: (a) votes, (b) technorati ranking and (c) judges’ selection.

While judges will naturally have biases, they will hopefully offset imbalances in other areas (such as inevitable cheating in the voting and inflationary blogroll alliances in the Technorati ranks).

The names or sites of the judges will be public.

Judges will be ineligible for nomination. As the awards largely intend on providing exposure to lesser-known sites of merit, we are hopeful that authors of ‘A-list’ sites that tend to dominate such contests will disqualify themselves by being judges.

The contest has been endorsed by previous ABA host Simon who is also serving as a judge (thereby disqualifying Simon World).

Traffic — the most telling and accurate measure of a site’s populatity — may be a consideration in future awards. However, at present, there is no clear or universal way to accurately measure and contrast traffic (sites such as Sitemeter, Statcounter offer results that cannot be compared, while services such as Alexa.com do not work for sites that are not hosted on independent domains).

This is all imperfect and will be tweaked in future events (with transparency, of course).

Most importantly, this is intended to be fun.

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by @ 3:02 pm. Filed under Japan, South Korea, Blogs, Singapore, China, Pakistan, India, Taiwan, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Cambodia, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Myanmar/Burma, Southeast Asia, Philippines, Media, South Asia, Thailand, Web/Tech, Weblogs, North Korea, Mongolia, Nepal, Central Asia, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Tibet

26 April, 2006

major advances in central asia

At the Registran, Nathan provides news that beer consumption is rising in Central Asia.:

CapRFE/RL reports that beer consumption is skyrocketing in Central Asia.

“Clearly, market research in countries like Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, is at a lower level of sophistication than it is in, say, Russia or China,” he says. “But I’ve seen massive volume growth in both Russia and China in terms of the beer market, and all the indications are that in Kazakhstan, in Turkmenistan, in Uzbekistan, beer is on a steady upward growth curve.”

Silvester cites a recent market-research report in Central Asia and the Caucasus carried out by the beer-market consultancy Plato Logic. The report found that, from 2002 to 2005, beer consumption in Turkmenistan grew by a staggering 177 percent. Other Central Asian countries are not far behind. Kyrgyzstan has shown a 112 percent increase, Kazakhstan a 75 percent increase, and Tajikistan a 71 percent rise.

And he adds the even better news that beer quality is increasing.:

I think that the issue of quality is very important, and I am surprised it was not mentioned especially because a Baltika employee is quoted in the story. I picked up some Baltikas at the supermarket the other day for nostalgia’s sake and to see if they were better than last time I’d had them. They were better. In fact, since I first tried Baltika seven years ago in Russia, I have noticed constant improvements in quality, and I know that they are not the only brand to have improved over the years.

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by @ 11:12 pm. Filed under Food and Drink, Asia, Central Asia

13 April, 2006

yurts for the homeless

Hurricane Katrina was the largest crisis to hit the United States last year. But we should remember that the Kyrgyz word for crisis also means opportunity.

Actually AsiaPundit has no idea what the Kyrgyz word for crisis is, but thanks to Democracy in Central Asia, AsiaPundit discovers that  to Kyrgyzstan officials did sense an opportunity.:

YurtAfter Hurricane Katrina destroyed thousands of homes, the good people of Kyrgyzstan saw a business opportunity. So the embassy rented a booth at the Washington Convention Center and got Kyrgyz officials on the program as speakers and hosts of the Homeland and Global Security Summit. This allowed the embassy to erect a yurt, the traditional nomadic tent of Central Asia, and offer it as a housing solution for the Gulf Coast.

"After Katrina, people really need some temporary houses," explained the Kyrgyz Embassy’s Saltanat Tashmatova, at the front door of the yurt. A brochure says the 14-foot-high structure, made from sheep’s wool and "cool in summer," sells for $10,000 — but the floor model can be had for $7,000. Any sales yet? "We just started," Tashmatova said with a shrug.

Picture via this site, where you can buy an authentic Mongolian yurt.

How comfortable would a North American find yurt life? Ask Lars.:

Think of it as a high tech Mongolian teepee. I live in a yurt on an organic farm in the Willamette Valley in Western Oregon. I have lived here since the Fall of 1995. The cabin I had been living in was crumbling and in imminent danger of sliding into the river. I didn’t want to move away from the farm so I needed to provide myself with some temporary living space. After some research, I discovered yurts. I had no idea that the temporary living space would be so wonderful that I would make it permanent.

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by @ 3:08 pm. Filed under Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Mongolia, Central Asia

27 March, 2006

uyghur pop

Now is the time at AsiaPundit when we dance.:

Uyghur Girls UzbekI’ve wanted to bring you examples of Xinjiang’s pop culture for some time, but never got around to setting it up. That’s all in the past, though, now that I’m signed up for Google Video. So… ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, let me introduce to you the group that’s been bringing down the house in Uyghur discos all over Xinjiang, all the way from Uzbekistan, the beautiful girls of [Insert Band Name Here].

by @ 11:50 pm. Filed under China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, South Asia, Music, Central Asia

21 November, 2005

michelle leslie freed

AsiaPundit doesn’t have much sympathy for those who use - and especially those who smuggle - drugs into Southeast Asia. While I have libertarian leanings and favor legalization of most drugs, I have little respect for those who lack the common sense to realize that Southeast Asia is not a good place to be caught with illicit narcotics.

Unless, of course, one of your partying pals in the son of Indonesia’s economics minister.:

Michelle-Lee-06BThe title of this post just about says it all. A young Australian model is arrested in Bali holding two tabs of ecstasy. She is busted going to a party south of Kuta at some theme park centered around giant Garudas. She is spotted in a truck painted with the logo of the Nirwana Bali Resort. Among the passengers is the son of the Minister of Economics with the Indonesian government. He is a major real estate developer in Indonesia and among the important investors of the Nirwana Resort, located right in front of a holy temple. One of Bali’s most controversial real estate developments. Ever.

So. We have Michelle the Australian model with two tabs of ecstasy, the son of the important government bigwig from Jakarta, the truck from fancy property owned by bigwig. She keeps her mouth shut. Her attorney is extremely diplomatic. A trial is held. Michelle is acquitted and can return home to Australia.

What part of this picture are we missing?

IndCoup has a further and not quite worksafe, commentary on the subject.:

MichellelesliehijabSurprise surprise. Aussie model Michelle Leslie’s suffering is over.

Although she was found guilty on Friday of using a prohibited psychotropic drug (ecstasy), those kind judges in Bali unsurprisingly opted to give her only a three-month sentence, which considering that she was arrested almost exactly three months ago, means that she’s now a free woman.

Michelle Leslie won’t have to dig too deeply into her pockets either. Although the judges had recently fined an Indonesian dude over US$1,000 for a similar drugs offence, they only fined Michelle the princely sum of 1,000 rupiah (about 10 cents!!!). How very considerate of them: it really seems that Michelle’s considerable charms won them over in the end!!!

Summing up the court’s verdict, Judge I Gusti Ngurah Astawa said that Michelle was given a light sentence because she had been “honest, polite and remorseful during trial”.

“The defendant is still young and has no prior criminal record, has been well behaved and conveyed her regret in front of court,” he explained.

Whether Michelle will keep her mouth shut after returning to Oz, or will cave to checkbook journalism, remains to be seen. A safer wager would be on whether the lingerie model will shed the hijab she donned for the trial.

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by @ 2:13 pm. Filed under Indonesia, Asia, Southeast Asia, Central Asia

13 November, 2005

anonymous blogging guide

Via the Committee to Bloggers, Spirit of America is now vetting its anonymous blogging guides and is welcoming public comment. Also needed are Chinese and other translators.:

Spirit of America’s Anonymous Blogging Campaign has opened up their five anonymous blogging guides to public comment. If you are a blogger in one of the following areas, a specialist in the countries involved, or just a clear-thinking blogger, the ABC asks that you take a look and leave a comment if there is something you believe needs to be changed, added, subtracted or expanded upon.

The drafts are in English. The ABC has secured translation help for the Arabic document; the Malaysian and Zimbabwean will remain in English. They are still seeking Chinese and Persian translators.

Here are the guides:

China (with possible application for Chinese-speaking bloggers in countries such as Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia)


Saudi Arabia (with possible application for bloggers in Bahrain, Egypt, Tunisia and elsewhere in the Arabic-speaking world)

Malaysia (with possible application for bloggers in Singapore and Indonesia)

Zimbabwe (with possible application for English-speaking bloggers elsewhere in Africa)

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by @ 10:05 pm. Filed under Blogs, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, Weblogs, Censorship, Central Asia

3 November, 2005

typhoid-mary fighting cocks

In a move that should make Peta happy, Thailand is cracking down on cock fighting. But it’s not because of animal rights issues. No, the government has discovered that the resilient fighting machines have a higher-risk of being bird-flu carriers,:

Cockfight1The government has imposed strict measures to try to curb the spread of bird flu, including restricting movements of fighting cocks and eliminating a traditional way of raising ducks by moving large flocks around.

Fighting cocks and ducks were more resilient to the virus than farmed chickens and could pass on the disease without showing symptoms, Yukol said.

The government had set a March, 2005 deadline for halting the large-scale movement of 3,700 flocks of ducks that owners moved around to new feeding grounds, but extended it to December after owners protested and might extend it again, officials said.

Meanwhile, in neighboring Malaysia, the government is having difficulty in preventing the trafficking of the fighting cocks of Indonesia. (Mainichi Daily via H5N1):

Cockfight2Malaysian villagers on Borneo island are smuggling pet birds and fighting cocks from neighboring Indonesia, despite a government ban meant to keep the country free of bird flu, a news report said Wednesday.

Veterinary authorities in Malaysia’s eastern Sarawak state — which shares an extensive land border with Indonesia’s Kalimantan province — will cull smuggled birds and any local poultry that had contact with them, Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister George Chan told The Star newspaper.

“Pet birds and fighting cocks are being smuggled across the border at illegal entry points,” Chan said. “We have already given a lot of advice to the people near the border, but the dangers of disregarding the ban do not seem to matter to some of them.”

Images stolen from a great photo essay site of a cock fight in Uzbekistan, discovered via (warning, make sure you have safe search on when searching for “cock fight” on Google images).

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by @ 9:02 pm. Filed under Malaysia, Indonesia, Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia, Thailand, Central Asia

26 October, 2005

blog quake day

Due to the relocation of Global Headquarters, AsiaPundit was remiss in not blogging the quake in South and Central Asia. But I would be doubly remiss if we didn’t mention Blog Quake Day. Buy a T-Shirt.

Aid-GlobeWhen first graders are going to canvas their ‘hoods for charity, when victims of the South Asian Tsunami are giving after losing almost everything, when nearly every person who is reading this can afford to do even more than the two groups I just mentioned in this sentence, then yes, we have no excuse.

I wrote that accusatory sentence a few days ago, as I posted about those selfless Tsunami-survivors. I asked, “What if we could do good?”, specifically in the context of our blogging, since we had all come together in a breath-taking, powerful way to stand up for truth, freedom and justice. Could we also unite to fight apathy? Disaster fatigue? Inertia?

I think we can.

Thankfully, people with more energy than me seized my flicker of an idea and ran with it. They heard the tentative call I put out after a fold. And they are doing good.

DesiPundit, predictably, is at the center of this movement. Sepoy at Chapathi Mystery was a pioneer when it came to quake relief. Even Instapundit, the big, bad, brand-name blog I quoted, along with TTLB, picked up on Blog Quake Day.

Now, it is our turn and after you read this, it is your turn. Today is Blog Quake Day. Do something. Give. Write. Post. Comment. Link. Give some more. Think. Do. Tag (“Blog Quake Day”).

Now, it is our turn and after you read this, it is your turn. Today is Blog Quake Day. Do something. Give. Write. Post. Comment. Link. Give some more. Think. Do. Tag (“Blog Quake Day”).

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by @ 9:47 pm. Filed under Pakistan, India, Asia, South Asia, Central Asia

20 October, 2005

2005 corruption index

Most of Asia still retains poor rankings in the Transparency International (TI) annual corruption index.

Singapore, Hong Kong retain solid low-corruption rankings and of the 159 states surveyed they are the only Asian states among the top-20 least corrupt nations. Japan almost makes the top-20, but shares 21st place due to a tie with Chile. Taiwan and Malaysia are the only remaining nations to score above the mid-way point for corruption while South Korea hits the median five points.

The results largely correspond with wealth of each country, with the developed states performing better than the developing states - and with high-growth China being seen as less corrupt than India, despite the latter’s more-developed justice system and democratic institutions.

Still, TI notes that wealth is not a prerequisite for control of corruption, singling out my native Canada for some targeted criticism.:

Worldmap 38Kb

Wealth is not a prerequisite for successful control of corruption. New long-term analysis of the CPI carried out by Prof. Dr. Johann Graf Lambsdorff shows that the perception of corruption has decreased significantly in lower-income countries such as Estonia, Colombia and Bulgaria over the past decade.

In the case of higher-income countries such as Canada and Ireland, however, there has been a marked increase in the perception of corruption over the past ten years, showing that even wealthy, high-scoring countries must work to maintain a climate of integrity.

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by @ 8:14 am. Filed under Japan, South Korea, Singapore, China, Money, India, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Asia, East Asia, Economy, Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, Central Asia

22 September, 2005

thursday links

ESWN makes a good argument in defense of Yahoo!’s co-operation with Chinese state security, and says he expects stone silence to his post. Because of that, it gets top of the page in today’s roundup.:

Yahoo2The police came quickly, assessed the situation
and decided that there was a chance of a bomb.  Hong Kong is one place that
takes possible explosives very seriously on account of the 1967
disturbances.  All pedestrian and vehicular traffic along Nathan Road was
stopped, and all shoppers and workers were evacuated.  This led to massive
traffic backups in one of the busiest part of the city.  At around 930pm, the
explosive disposal squad was in place to defuse the bomb.  A robot was sent
up and used a water gun to break open the box.  Fortunately, there was no
bomb inside, just two bricks.
The investigators then looked at the piece of
cardboard.  It read like a note from a disgruntled ex-employee of
PCCW.  There was an email address: .
Based on this and other information (note: there was a web page URL that is
blurred out in the magazine photo), the man was arrested.  He has been
tried and found guilty of threatening behavior.  The judge said: "In
the 21st century of our times, there are numerious incidents of violence,
attacks and bombing in the world.  To make the people of Hong Kong live in
a state of constant fear is a serious crime."  The man has not yet
been sentenced. . .
Yahoo1If several hundred requests come into Yahoo!
every day, how would they know which is which?  As Jerry Yang said,
"We do not know why they want that information.  We’re not told what
they look for."  So in order to tell which is which, Yahoo! will have
an in-house Chief Privacy Officer, who will demand the law enforcement agency to
produce the full evidence, explain the purpose of the inquiry and then he/she
will play God/Supreme Court Justice and render a decision in his/her infinite
wisdom.  Routinely, this CPO will have to make several hundred potentially
life-and-death decisions every day.  Now who wants that Chief Privacy
Officer job, with all the pressures and the legal and moral liabilities?. . .
In the case of Shi Tao, the law enforcement
will simply say the subject is suspected of having sent a state secret document
overseas via the Yahoo! email account on a specific date.  There is no
personal identification because the purpose of the request for the IP
information was precisely to detect the unknown subject.  Would you think
that the CPO will then demand to read the state secret document before deciding?
Is the CPO a good judge?  And does the CPO know how to deal with a genuine
national secret (such as the date and detailed plans of the invasion of Taiwan)?
I submit to you that Option 3 is not a good idea and corporate employees should
not be making these types of decisions.
As I said before, I expect stone silence to
this post, because the world is enjoying Yahoo!-bashing too much.

We now return to our regularly scheduled Yahoo! bashing.

Essential reading for cyber-dissidents, Reporters Without Borders has issued its guide for bloggers (pdf). Rebecca reviews it here.:

BlogguideThe Handbook for Bloggers is useful for beginners and veteran
bloggers alike. It starts out with several introductory chapters,
explaining how blogs differ from other kinds of websites, blogging
terminology, how to select a blogging tool and web-host, and how to get
started.  The middle chapters focus on tips that even veteran bloggers
will find useful. Journalist, blogger and We the Media author Dan GillmorMark Glaser
offers tips on how to "make your blog shine." I learned a lot from the
chapter on how to get your blog picked up by search engines, written by
internet consultant Olivier Andrieu.

A while back, I posted an Atanu Dey item praising Singapore over India. Today, via Amit Varma, an item that argues Singapore’s northern neighbor also has some lessons for India.:

MalaysiaMy wife and I are in Malaysia now on a short term assignment for our
company, and every time we step out of our house in Penang, we feel the
amazing effects of a liberal economic policy. This small, densely
populated island off the coast of Malaysia (Penang) is a big
electronics manufacturing base (thanks to a Free Trade Zone, and a port
that was formerly duty free) and it is easy to see what this has done
to the local economy.
There is a booming free-spending middle
class, and almost no poverty. Everyone who wants to work seems to be
able to find a job, and they are doing well enough to import labor from
Indonesia for low-paying jobs. There are signs of development
everywhere - new roads, new bridges, new high-rises. And from what I’ve
heard, Penang reflects what is going on around the rest of the country.
to say Malaysia doesn’t have its problems, but economically, they seem
to have found the secret to growth. We see all this, and naturally, the
next thing we think is, "When will this happen to India?"
We are
doing it backwards, it seems - Malaysia had manufacturing move over
here first, and that brought in a support engineering force which
slowly grew into a full fledged "high-tech economy." We got some
"low-tech" engineering activities first, and are hoping for the trickle
down from this to help our economy in other areas.

Far Outliers links to a study on the divergence of opinions in China and Canada on separatism.:

TaiwanWhereas Canada has acclimatised to living next to its superpower
neighbour, absorbed the values of a virtual state and discarded the
traditional expectations of the importance of territory, China is a
rising power with an acute sense of grievance from the way it has been
treated historically, or at least the way it perceives it has been
treated. This strong inferiority complex has stimulated an intense
desire to do something about what many Chinese believe is their
misfortune, to occupy an international position that conforms to
traditional power politics and emphasises the value of territory.
QuebecCanada’s attitude is reinforced by its commitment to democracy and
interdependence, and to the granting of the wishes of the people of
Quebec, whatever they may be. The Chinese, on the contrary, lacking
both a commitment to democracy and self-determination or the status of
a developed state, view Taiwan not as an area containing a population
that should have some say in how they are governed, but as a
geopolitical object to be manipulated to maximise the glories of a
greater China.

Richard brings a troubling tale from the NY Times on police brutality and injustice in China.:

For three days and three nights, the police wrenched Qin Yanhong’s arms
high above his back, jammed his knees into a sharp metal frame, and
kicked his gut whenever he fell asleep. The pain was so intense that he
watched sweat pour off his face and form puddles on the floor.
On the fourth day, he broke down. "What color were her pants?" they
demanded. "Black," he gasped, and felt a whack on the back of his head.
"Red," he cried, and got another punch. "Blue," he ventured. The
beating stopped.
This is how Mr. Qin, a 35-year-old steel mill worker in Henan
Province in central China, recalled groping in the darkness of a
interrogation room to deduce the "correct" details of a rape and
murder, end his torture and give the police the confession they
required to close a nettlesome case.
On the strength of his coerced confession alone, prosecutors
indicted Mr. Qin. A panel of judges then convicted him and sentenced
him to death. He is alive today only because of a rare twist
of fate that proved his innocence and forced the authorities to let him
go, though not before a final push to have him executed anyway

In light of the bird flu scare in neighboring Indonesia (which authorities there are calling an epidemic) Malaysia is cracking down on chicken smugglers (surely there are more lucrative illegal trades).:

ChickenI mean real chickens, the ones we have on our table for dinner. Yes,
it seems Malaysia actually has a shortage of chickens, hence a window
of opportunity opens itself for more dubious characters to actually
make a living smuggling them from neighbouring countries.
Now I know why a friend of mine who was an accountant quit his job
to open a chicken farm. The ‘rumour’ that McDonalds Malaysia created
quite a few ‘chicken’ millionaires might be true then.
From a Reuters report,

Malaysia said on Wednesday it was boosting precautions
against bird flu, and considering fines or jail terms for smugglers of
poultry from neighbours such as Indonesia, now battling the disease.

Seven-years to the day following his jailing, as Lone notes, former Malaysian PM Anwar Ibrahim announced he plans to sue former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad for defamation.:

AnwarMahathirFormer Malaysian deputy premier Anwar Ibrahim said Tuesday he will
launch a lawsuit against one-time prime minister Mahathir Mohamad for
accusing him of being a homosexual.
Mahathir said earlier this
month that he was forced to sack Anwar in 1998 to prevent mainly-Muslim
Malaysia from having a homosexual leader. Anwar was jailed for sodomy
after his sacking but the conviction was overturned last year.
cannot have a person who is like that in my cabinet who may succeed and
become the prime minister. Imagine having a gay prime minister. Nobody
would be safe," Mahathir told reporters.
Anwar said he was
"shocked" to hear of Mahathir’s "defamatory" remarks, particularly
after a court last month awarded him 1.2 million dollars in damages
over a book that aired the sodomy allegations.
"I will not
allow this lie and slander to continue. Thus I have instructed my
counsel to initiative legal action against Tun (honorific) Mahathir,"
he said in a statement.

Lucia Lai notes that some concerns are being voiced over Dr M being allowed to participate in a human rights conference.:

The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) marked its 6th
anniversary and Human Rights Day in Malaysia recently by holding a
hypocrisy party in the capital city, with former premier Dr Mahathir
Mohamad giving the opening address.
A group of 30
non-governmental organisations (NGOs) had initially written an open
letter to Suhakam urging it to "close the door" on Dr M for a simple
reason that he had committed a host of "human wrongs" with regard to
human rights at home.
They had provided Suhakam a list of human
rights abuses in Bolehland by Dr M and pointed out that it would be
wrong to invite "a leader who perpetrated extensive human rights
violations" during his 22-year political reign."

AsiaPundit has earlier noted South Korean concerns about how Google Earth allows users to view the South Korean presidential compound and military bases, Pyong’yang, and the secretive Communist Party of China compound of Zhongnanhai. Politics 101 Malaysia is now noting that the spy satellite for the masses is .:

After recent my recent comments on Google Earth and ,  the fear continues.
A United Press International report on
Tuesday says terrorists and “rogue state” intelligence agencies could
be making use of free internet satellite images that leave sensitive
British military facilities exposed.
Yet again I ask, will our parliament address this issue during this session?

Tokyo Times reports on the 2005 video game show, some of it’s good… but some of it is frightening.:

Booth_babeCosplay_freakAs far as video games go, the 2005 Tokyo Game Show
was something of a let down. Microsoft to its credit had the Xbox 360
up and running, yet the playable games on offer hardly sent the pulse
racing. Sony on the other hand managed to do nothing but frustrate,
showing only videos of future PlayStation 3 software, the majority of
which contained very little (if any) in-game footage.Thankfully
the ubiquitous booth babes saved the day, the scantily clad young
ladies more than making up for the lack of quality games on offer….
Yet amazingly, this bevy of beauties was upstaged by the event’s
massive cosplay contingent. ..
However despite the coy smiles and tasteful wigs, I think it was the
shapely legs and green leotard of the group’s feminine leader that
grabbed most people’s attention.

A Taiwanese in China creates a blog dedicated almost entirely to toilets (seriously).:

Toilet1This one is the same as last one. Toilet in tibet temple. These walls
are higher than those in 1st picture. So, you can not play cards with
your friends who go to toilet next to you. :)
Toilet2This toilet is more "modern". This one was taken in
a famous tibet temple in yovnan. The small metal spot on the wall is
the button for you to clean your "waste".
you know how to go? Yes, face out. No door, of course. But, in this
toilet, there is water. You can push the button on the wall. Yes, that
very small metal spot in the picture. So, in this kind of toilet, no
shit smell. It’s clearier. There is also another kind of toilet in the
very courtryside place. I did not take pictures. CAUSE, I CAN NOT GO
INTO THAT KIND OF TOILET. Shit everwhere near the door of that kind
toilet. How can I go? It’s really very strange. How do local people go?…
this kind of very local & old toilet are in very small viliages.
"public toilet", mm, maybe. So, next time when you have a chance to
drive along a road in small countries in mainland China, remember to
find "public toilet". Then you can see this very localized toilet in

Monty Python needs to reform and do a skit on Taiwan politics, like the WUFI, the People’s Front of Judea are also Splitters/Splittists.:

In case you were wondering the ‘World United Formosans for Independence’ and the ‘Taiwan Defence Alliance’ should not be confused with pro-formal independence political parties like the Taiwan Solidarity Union (which regularly polls between 5-10% in national elections), the ‘Taiwan Independence Party’ (which gained 0.3% of the vote in the last election), the ‘Peasant Party’ (0.4%) or the ‘Taiwan Number One Party’ (didn’t bother standing).

Someone will not be getting another invite to speak at Beijing University.:

Prominent Taiwanese commentator/legislator/raconteur Li Ao delivered one mother of a speech
at Beijing University yesterday. In front of a stunned audience, with
several high-ranking mainland government officials openly squirming on
stage, Li .
He openly criticized China’s censorship, saying that went against
what even Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai would have wanted. Quoting the
Collected Writings of Mao Zedong, he said,
"凡是歷史上發生的東西,都要在歷史上消滅。因此,共產黨總有一天要消滅…,S’s" i.e. "Every
historical figure that has risen has also been destroyed. One day the
Chinese Communist Party will also be destroyed by history…our mission
is to bring about its destruction a little more quickly." He made
not-so-subtle references to the Tiananmen massacre, saying that all
governments are bastards who are willing to open fire on their own
people. He even got in plenty of digs against the
charismatically-challenged former KMT chairman Lian Zhan and the
charismatically-gifted but politcally-challenged current KMT chairman
Ma Yingjiu.

Mr Wang notes Jacob’s run in with the authorities because his number was saved on Singapore Rebel director Martyn See’s cellphone. Mr Wang says the Singapore police really should exercise some restraint, at least for PR reasons.

…please bear in mind that Martyn See is blogging about every stage of
your investigations. This is a highly sensitive case. All kinds of
media organisations, international and local, are closely following
Martyn See’s blog for updates. So Mr Wang advises you to take extra
care in how you conduct your investigations. If you do any silly things
like Haul Anyone and Everyone Who Is Found in Martyn See’s Handphone
Down to the Police Station For Interviews, Martyn will blog about it
and the whole world will read his blog and think the Singapore police
is really acting silly.

Japundit reminds us why Engrish.com should be a regular surf stop.:


by @ 10:59 pm. Filed under Culture, Japan, Blogs, Singapore, China, India, Taiwan, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, Media, South Asia, Weblogs, Central Asia

27 August, 2005

saturday links

Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra is seeking answers from his cabinet!


There are some politicians that I’ve grown to like since they’ve left office, I’m adding another to that very short list:

Influential Muslim cleric Abdurrahman Wahid (aka Gus Dur) and one of Indonesia’s most respected public figures (and its fourth President) has made a stand against the anti-Christian activities of violent Muslim group Front Pembela Islam (Islamic Defenders’ Front):

GusdurWahid on Tuesday (23/8/05) demanded that President Susilo Bambang
Yudhoyono take action against the Islamic Defenders’ Front (FPI), which
is notorious for its attacks on religious minorities and nightlife
He warned that Banser, the security task force of the
nation’s largest Muslim group Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), would be mobilized
against FPI if the government fails to stop the radical group from
attacking churches. Wahid is the former leader of NU.

HK Dave at Simon World brings us a bit of interesting history.

NukeThe New York Times ran a story today about how 1963 tapes reveal that the United States was preparing to drop The Bomb on China
in the event that China invaded India again. President Kennedy and his
advisors, discussing the possibility of another invasion, strongly
believed, given his pro-India stance, that the United States should
support India against China. One of his advisors, Robert McNamara, is
heard on tape as saying that instead of introducing large numbers of
American troops, that nuclear bombs should be dropped on China instead.

From the article:

On the tapes, Robert S. McNamara, who was President Kennedy’s
defense secretary, is heard to say: "Before any substantial commitment
to defend India against China is given, we should recognize that in
order to carry out that commitment against any substantial Chinese
attack, we would have to use nuclear weapons. Any large Chinese
Communist attack on any part of that area would require the use of
nuclear weapons by the U.S., and this is to be preferred over the
introduction of large numbers of U.S. soldiers."
Mr. McNamara
said in a telephone interview on Thursday that he could not remember
the conversation, "but it is probably correct."

Via Boing Boing, a look at Japanese sex toys and other sundries (nsfw):

First, though, there’s plenty of pervasive material available right out
on the street, before you even make it into a porno store. For example,
these delicious-looking treats I found at a market - "Yokohama Bust


 I like how, the way the packages are set up, the girl on the right
appears to be scowling at the girl on the left, as if jealous of her
younger, perkier pudding breasts.

At Peking Duck, something Gordon G Chang didn’t mention: "The Coming Collapse of (apartment buildings in) China"

Recently, a friend of mine was enjoying a quiet Sunday afternoon in his
expensive Guangzhou apartment when suddenly the entire living room
ceiling collapsed. Fortunately, the only damage came from his
girlfriend who, amazingly, took great exception to the fact that he
took more interest in his new plasma television than he did of her.
Trying to diffuse matters by reminding her much it cost was a mistake I
think. Following this incident the neighbours informed the couple that
similar incidents had been occurring all over the estate. As well as
bits of the building literally falling apart, the electrical wiring in
several apartments had also packed in. Not good for an 18-month old
building of ‘executive’ apartments.

Poor workmanship is a common problem for rapidly developing economies - due to a lack of skills, corruption, evolving regulations and a plethora or other reasons. On my first overseas posting in South Korea, I was often asked: "Aren’t you worried about the North invading?" My reply was: "No, but I am worried about a shopping mall collapsing on me."


Anti-globalization protesters are having trouble finding accommodation, I thought they enjoyed camping out al fresco.:

Not unsurprisingly, WTO protester organizations are having difficulty securing hotel rooms for the weekend of the big meeting.

Hong Kong People’s Alliance on WTO, which says it’s helping about 3,000
overseas protesters find accommodation, said it has heard of at least
three cases in which hotels and travel agents refused to serve

Why should hotels want to serve people that
have been violent in the past? And also, the government probably
doesn’t want these clowns running around throwing rocks and clashing
with police either. It would be an embarrassment to both Hong Kong and

Though I am pro-globalization, I support the right to protest. If anti-WTO crowd can’t find real hotels, I suggest they try looking for some of the free locations reviewed here.

"The 24 hour MacDonald’s on Peking Road in Tsim Sha Tsui (the Kowloon
      side of Hong Kong) (two blocks west of Nathan Road, the TST MTR stop and the infamously nasty "Chungking Mansions") lets people crash out in the booths at night. On any given night there are a couple backpackers and at least a dozen "locals" snoozing on the tables. (Sorry, MacPillow is NOT on the menu.) It might not be comfortable and it is noisy, but it’s doable! To top it off, they wake you in the morning with a cup of coffee to get you out of there! "

Asiapundit is a pet owner and an animal lover. I will keep this site free of petblogging and stick to politics, economics and salatious tabloidism - I have other places to do my own petblogging. But I was touched by some petblogging in the Asiasphere this week.:

The good news, Jodi is a mother, and her son is a cutie:


The bad news, HK Macs has lost one of the family.:


Seeing a huge cost differential on dialysis treatment in Singapore and Malaysia, Mr Wang spots an opportunity:

The ever-entrepreneurial and creative Mr Wang thinks that
there is a potential business idea here. Singapore bus companies can
diversify into Malaysian health tourism, arranging for Singaporean
kidney patients to get treatment in Malaysia and also providing regular
transport direct from Singapore to the relevant Malaysian medical
centre, and back again.

Amit Varma sums up some of my thoughts on why AsiaPundit calls himself an libertarian. Though in my case I would add it’s because my prefered term, liberal, has been so abused that it is useless.

Indeed, why should we trust Musharraf?

As much as I will complain about Putin and the CPC, they woud probably run North Korea far better than Kim Jong-il and his clique.:

The truth is out. The joint war games on northern Chinese beaches, part
of a military exercise between China and Russia, are not designed to
send warning messages to the United States about the limits of its
global unilateralism.
It’s really all about China and Russia practicing for a joint
occupation of North Korea, or so the Russian media will have us

Two blogs that I don’t link to enough that you should be reading are The Aseanist and Friskodude.

Via the Flea, AsiaPundit presents art:


I’m not sure if this indicates a growing tolerance of homosexuality in Japan, of if it just further indicates that Japanese television is weird.:

Hard Gay it would appear struts the streets of Tokyo; performing acts
of ‘social improvement’, shouting “Wooooo!” and “Hard Gay!” a lot, and
interspersing all this with liberal doses of hip thrusting – his
trademark movement.


by @ 7:50 pm. Filed under Culture, Japan, South Korea, Blogs, Singapore, China, Pakistan, India, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Asean, Southeast Asia, Philippines, South Asia, Thailand, North Korea, Central Asia

22 August, 2005

monday links

As if the arrest and imprisonment of buxom Shapelle Corby wasn’t enough to strain Australian-Indonesian relations, police in Bali have busted a Aussie lingerie model.

MleebodypaintSYDNEY - Australian lingerie model Michelle Leslie could face up
to 10 years in jail after getting busted on the Indonesian resort of
Bali for allegedly possessing ecstasy tablets, officials said.

The 24-year-old, who has modelled for sassy lingerie line Antz
Pantz and works under the name Michelle Lee, was arrested at a party
near Bali’s popular Kuta beach at the weekend, they said.

The Swanker says:

If you’re one of those people who think the Australian media got into a
big tizz over Schapelle Corby solely because of her looks, wait til
they get a load of Michelle.

In other celebrity news, Other Lisa is horrified that ‘The Donald’ intends to bring the Apprentice to China.

Communist mainland China will soon have its own version of "The Apprentice" — Donald Trump’s reality TV tribute to capitalism.
Trump will be the executive producer of the Chinese show, which
will be hosted by Beijing property mogul Pan Shiyi, the South China
Morning Post newspaper reported Sunday.
The newspaper said China’s version would closely follow the U.S.
original, in which contestants compete for a job with Trump. Details of
the deal are under negotiation.

I wouldn’t worry too much about Trump crossing the Pacific. On top of tightening regulations on joint Sino-foreign productions, Vincent Lo of Hong Kong’s Shui On Group has already commenced a rival project.:

But "Wise Man Takes All" will not feature cut-throat
competition or Trump’s catch-phrase, "You’re fired!"
The show symbolises China’s embrace of market economics
after decades of strict state planning. Entrepreneurs are now
eligible for "model and advanced worker" status, an honour once
reserved for the likes of bus conductors, miners and other
employees of the Communist state sector.
"We are trying to sharpen the entrepreneurial spirit in
young people," Vincent Lo Hongshui, chairman of Hong Kong
property developer Shui On Land, a major sponsor of the show,
was quoted as saying.
Reality television is relatively new but catching on quickly
in China. Millions of people have been tuning in to watch the
late rounds of "Super Girl", a singing showdown that clearly
takes a page from "American Idol" and reaches it finale on

Lo’s project may not be as edgy as Trump’s, but it has a better chance of getting off the ground. In grey areas such as the entertainment media, it helps to have guanxi. And, as the Economist has noted, Lo is the "King of Guanxi."

Cyber War! Cyber War! Cyber War!

Japanese netizens are attacking a South Korean website:

The website of the Voluntary Agency Network Korea (VANK)has been hacked and its message board flooded by messages-
in what’s thought to be a retaliation by angry Japanese netizens (can I
call Japanese internet users netizens too?) over Google Earth changing
the name of the body of water between Korea and Japan from Sea of Japan
to East Sea after VANK lobbied Google Earth.

The South Korean government is setting up safeguards to prevent it from being caught in the crossfire as Chinese netizens attack Japan.:

“We don’t know whether cyber warfare will indeed happen between China
and Japan, but to prevent any fallout, we have devised countermeasures
jointly with universities and Internet service providers,” a ministry
official said.
Hong Kong daily reported recently that the Association of China’s Red
Hackers, one of the world’s five hacking groups, plans to launch
formidable attacks on the anti-Chinese websites in Japan between July
and September.

Rebecca McKinnion will soon be arriving to mediate moderate:

I’m thrilled to have been asked to moderate a panel at this years first inaugural Chinese Bloggers’ Conference in Shanghai, November 5-6….
One thing I hope we’ll talk about is how we can do more to foster constructive dialogue online between bloggers in China and Japan.

A constructive dialogue would be nice. Though I’d even consider fostering a hostile dialogue progress, so long as it meant a reduction in hacking and ‘DNS atacks.’

In Japan, it’s hip to be square.:

819otakuThough Torii may not know it, he’s the type of guy who’s apparently all
the rage among Japanese women nowadays. Much of the media is currently
smitten with the country’s booming otaku culture. This has, in turn,
led to widespread claims that the geeks, freaks, weirdoes and fatties
who, like Torii, are collectively referred to as otaku, a group once
largely shunned by women, are now being seen as the country’s hottest
hunks. Apparently, their appeal lies in the belief that the otaku are
up for a purer form of love and are the obsessive types likely to
become devoted to the one gal once they’ve found her.

MassgamesIt’s tourist season in Pyong’yang. Seriously, to mark the 60th anniversary of Allied Victory in World War Two’s Pacific Front Kim Il-sung’s almost single-handed defeat of Japanese fascist armies and the birth of the juche state, the country is holding three-month long Mass Games. We’ve been assured that these will offer some of the best acrobatics, gymnastics and xenophobia that Northeast Asia has to offer. As NK Zone notes, the Financial Times is offering some free coverage.

It’s been argued that governments are not doing enough to prevent the Avian Flu from becoming a pandemic. Thankfully, we now have "An Investor’s Guide to the Avian Flu," so even if millions do die, at least some of us can profit. (FWIW: CLSA issued a similar report several months ago, they just weren’t as gauche when selecting a title.)

Nepal9Michael Manoochehri says that Nepal’s border guards are much nicer than the Chinese ones. Both Chinese and Nepalese babies are cute though.

It’s easy to understand why the Chinese border guards were grumpier. The Tibetan region has security problems while Nepal has… err Maoist insurgents and student rioters.

Global Voices offers another fine roundup on the blasts in Bangladesh.

When MasaMania posted his spread of Tokyo street-racing photos today, I was struck by this older link that showed up in my RSS reader today. I thought that a possible reason for the "Korea Wave," and the waning influence of Japan on Asian fashion trends, is that the trends coming out of Japan are just a little bit too freaky for the rest of the continent.


The fashion trends coming out of South Korea, meanwhile, are much safer… even if some of them are copies of trends that originated in Japan.



by @ 9:33 pm. Filed under Culture, Japan, South Korea, Blogs, China, Indonesia, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, Weblogs, North Korea, Nepal, Central Asia, Australia, Bangladesh, Tibet

19 August, 2005

friday links

Ian Lamont, who is doing content research on Xinhua at Harvard, is excited by a discovery of an online depositary of almost a decade’s worth of North Korean propaganda.:

This is awesome! Someone in California has taken North Korean propaganda from the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) from 1996 to the present, and dumped it into a searchable database with a Web interface.

Asiapundit is also impressed, particularly with the random insult generator.:


In the wake of the blog-city ban, Imagethief has developed some possible surveys for Xinhua.:

Which lickspittle, Anti-China foreign hate-site should be banned next?
A) The Peking Duck
B) The Horse’s Mouth
C) Angry Chinese Blogger
D) Imagethief
E) Ban ‘em all, and have the authors beaten with rubber hoses! In fact, ban all media.

Unfortunately, they’ve all been banned except for Richard. Speaking of which, I haven’t been missing his absence from the Duck. Other Lisa and Martyn are doing an excellent job as guest bloggers. Lisa delivers an opus on China’s internet censorship. Martyn brings us a must-read on the China no one talks about.:

While China’s surge certainly may continue, it’s also possible that the
awakening giant may stumble badly, a notion not on enough radar screens
in Washington. And a failed China could damage American interests to a
greater extent than a strong China. That’s hardly the conventional
wisdom, but it’s worth examining.

While Korea may have missed out on the iPod craze, Jason at Wandering to Tamshui notes that there is another Northeast Asian economy where Apple still shines.:

IpodtaiwanYet another reason to buy an iPod: they play a huge role in Taiwan’s tech economy.
no secret that most of the world’s notebook computers come from Taiwan,
but not a lot of attention is paid to the fact that most of the guts
found in the ubiquitous iPod are made by Taiwanese companies (some of which have production facilities in China).

Kudos to Mr Wang, the Library of Congress has approved his blog as an official electronic resource.:

Isn’t this amazing? The US Library of Congress cites me as an electronic resource on politics in Singapore.
I’d be really flattered, except that (1) I personally wouldn’t trust
myself very much as a library resource, and (2) looking at the list of
cited Singapore blogs, I really don’t get the impression that the list
was carefully chosen.

This is a true rarity, "good news about governance in the Philippines."

This is another rarity, the Onion is again becoming worth reading. India blog Chapati Mystery points to this:

Calcutta Fire Marshal: Many Indian Homes Lack Bride Extinguisher

CALCUTTA, INDIA—Failure to own or use a bride extinguisher results in
millions of rupees of property damage in India annually, Calcutta fire
marshal Prasad Chandra said in a press conference Monday. "This tragedy
occurs far too often when well-meaning husbands, attempting to collect
on a dowry, ignite their brides indoors. The damage is often compounded
when a burning bride attempts to escape and spreads the flames to other
homes," Chandra said. "If you absolutely must burn your bride, avoid
additional destruction with an affordable bride extinguisher. And, if
possible, confine the burning to your backyard bride pit."

And Younghusband at Coming Anarchy spots an item on the newest member of the nuclear club.:

NukehavistanWASHINGTON, DC—A report released Monday
by the Defense Intelligence Agency suggests that there is reason to
believe that the former Soviet republic of Nukehavistan may be
manufacturing nuclear weapons.
"New intelligence indicates that the likelihood of Nukehavistan
possessing nuclear weapons is moderate to strong," said DIA Director
Vice Adm. Lowell Jacoby in a press conference Monday.

In the US, two things are inevitable: death and taxes. In India, things work differently.:

If you are a tax-paying Indian, you will no doubt be delighted to know that some of your money is every month by the government in Delhi to dead people. Yes, dead people. About 10,000 of them.

I try to find at least one gratuitous image of the female body for each set of daily links. We can thank Manish at Sepia Mutiny for bringing us today’s model.

Kingfisher Beer has put its ‘swimsuit’ calendar
online. It’s just like the CNN site which annoys me daily (‘we
interrupt you with breaking news: Model of the Day!’), but with lotus
pads: zen cheesecake, if you will. There are so many floating flowers in the frame, you’d think it was pitching feminine products instead of beer.


Miss August.

Snopes reports an enduring urban legend from Thailand.

Anwar Ibrahim has been having lots of good fortune since moonbat Mahathir Mohamad retired as Malaysia’s Prime Minister. Now he has a real fortune.:

Yesterday, he won another court victory and claims "I’m Completely Vindicated". For his libel suit against Datuk Abdul Khalid @ Khalid Jafri Bakar Shah, the author of the book 50 Dalil Mengapa Anwar Tidak Boleh Jadi PM
(50 Reasons Why Anwar Cannot Become PM), Justice Mohd Hishamudin
awarded AnwarnRM4.5 million, RM4.0 million for defamation, RM500,000
for "conspiracy to injure", plus all legal costs.

If the Russia-China wargames are a sign of an emerging alliance of interests, Justin at the Moderate Voice ponders what the Russia-India games are a sign of.:

For Russia this is basically a middle finger to Beijing for its wish to
utilize the current ongoing war games with Moscow as a very direct
threat to Taiwan and its American backer. India’s obviously no friend
of China, so Russia’s very visible military cooperation with New Delhi
can be considered a reminder of its true, Russo-centric intentions.
Also, such cooperation will, at least in Putin’s mind, increase Indian
dependence on Russian military tech and help bring the country over
into Russia’s sphere of influence sometime down the line. If China is
the impetus for such an alliance, then so be it for Putin — India’s a
rival power, but its sights are not directly set on the former Soviet
Republics of Central Asia as China’s are.

Have a fun weekend. I’m off to spend an evening with the stars.:


More at the Shanghaiist.

by @ 8:18 pm. Filed under Culture, Blogs, Singapore, China, India, Taiwan, Malaysia, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Philippines, South Asia, Thailand, North Korea, Television, Central Asia

5 August, 2005

jet-lagged linkfest

I’m back from vacation and now happily married. Thanks to all co-pundits for keeping the site active for the past three weeks.

While I was away…

China continued to strengthen its regime of open markets but closed culture. The NY Times has an item here and China Confidential notes:

China’s media regulators, including the Propaganda Department and Ministry of Culture, revealed an array of new regulations designed to stop additional foreign satellite channels from entering the Chinese market, while strictly controlling and seriously limiting the influx of foreign television programs, films, books, newspapers, magazines, Internet sites, video games, cartoons, and performing acts, including theatrical performances.

Meanwhile across the Strait, Taiwan regulators effectively shut down seven TV broadcasters. A situation JuJuflop doesn’t think is too terrible.

But Taipei isn’t just shutting down media organizations, Wandering to Tamshui notes that the Taiwan Daily is being kept afloat with the assistance of state-owned enterprises.

In lovely Singapore, it’s not enough to execute marijuana traffickers, police insist on banning  photographic displays noting that the trafficker ever existed.

Sister_fKenny Sia rips into the Sister Furong phenomena while Fons discovers a Brother Furong.

China’s wooing of despots justly gets unfavorable coverage at Traveler’s Tales and The Horse’s Mouth. But Glenzo notes that Mugabe didn’t get everything he wanted.

Jove Francisco has a roundup of the action at the Philippine mini bloggers summit.

Laowiseass is bugged about something.

There’s a nice description of one of my most remembered South Korean street stall dishes at Pharyngula, live octopus tentacle, Including a link to a (currently inaccessible) . On a related note, Preetam has an audiofile of the Bundgie Experience.

The Economist’s View offers an argument on why you should support your third-world sweatshop.

From Japan - the country that gave us the vibrating video game controller vibrator - now comes vibrating cinema seats.

Deeshaa points to a great article on India’s impending rise.

China and the US agree on something, though India and Japan won’t be happy about it.

As the Six-Party talks continue, barbarian envoy brings us a long and informative item from the Atlantic Monthly noting some terrifying scenarios on a conflict on the peninsula.

Japundit has a great two-part series on Koizumi’s post office reform here and here.

Cambodians are rapidly adapting to the mobile phone, although to spread pornography. Some are calling for a crackdown.

NurseThe Polish tourism board has developed an ad campaign in which a sexy nurse attempts to woo Japanese tourists. Personally I think this will be effective at wooing other nationals as well.

Jeff explains why you should never go to Busan Beach to relax.

Over at the Big Yuan concerns that China’s failure to secure Unocal will force it to increase its dealings with odious regimes to gain resources. As well, while Big Yuan is somewhat relieved by the deal’s collapse, the jingoism displayed in the US is a greater worry.

Meanwhile, the avidly anti-CPP D.J. McGuire of China-e lobby smells blood and is encouraged to make China an election issue.:

Rather than risk a political tangle that could last long enough for the anti-Communist right and the anti-Communist left to form a lasting alliance - and that is the one thing in the American political arena that scares Zhongnanhai more than anything else - they will pull back and let everything die down.

The Radioactive Chef thinks the ditching of the bid is to prevent the US from getting too riled up ahead of a Chinese move against Taiwan.

Thomas Barnett meanwhile brings us some sober reflection from Ben Stein.

by @ 1:31 pm. Filed under Culture, Food and Drink, Japan, South Korea, Blogs, Singapore, China, India, Taiwan, Malaysia, Cambodia, Asia, East Asia, Economy, Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, Philippines, Media, South Asia, Weblogs, Censorship, North Korea, Central Asia

6 July, 2005

thanks to china, bipartisanship lives

Here is an excerpt from Billmon’s post today on the China syndrome:

But there really are some things that money can’t buy, and a group
of congressmen in the grips of a xenophobic frenzy is one of them. When
the House passed a nonbinding resolution last Thursday accusing Cnooc
of being a front for the evil Dr. Fu Manchu (well, not in so many
words, but that was the gist) it was by a vote of 398 to 15 — proving
that when it comes to pandering to fear and paranoia, bipartisanship
still lives.

Regular readers know I’m no fan of the state capitalists
in power in Beijing. But the anti-Chinese rhetoric now filling the
Capitol dome with hot air doesn’t have anything to do with anything
that matters — at least, not to anyone who isn’t a Chevron or Unocal

The number of American jobs conceivably at risk in the Unocal deal
is trivial. Blocking it wouldn’t stop the flood of sweatshop and/or
slaveshop goods entering the United States. It wouldn’t free Tibet, or
force Beijing to lift a finger to respect the U.N. Declaration of Human
Rights. And it wouldn’t do squat to resolve the huge and growing
financial imbalances created by China’s stubborn insistence on pegging
its currency to the dollar. It could even make them more dangerous — as we shall see.

It’s completely insane (or utterly craven, or both) to obsess over
the $18.5 billion purchase of a second-tier oil company, when China is
buying up roughly that same amount in U.S. Treasury and agency
securities every quarter. China’s stockpile
of Treasuries ($235 billion at the end of April) already equals almost
12% of all U.S. debt in foreign hands, and is growing nearly twice as
fast as the global total. And that’s using the Treasury’s own figures, which probably undercount.
Add in securities held through third parties, such as offshore banks,
and China could easily be holding close to $300 billion in America’s
national debt — second only to Japan. And unlike Japan, nearly all of
China’s Treasury holdings are in the hands of the Chinese government.

If the dipsticks in Congress really had national security
threats on their minds, they’d probably be worrying about that one –
not the risk that ownership of Unocal might allow China to tamper with
the U.S. oil supply in time of war. If that nightmarish scenario ever
were to unfold, the problem of seizing and securing Unocal’s
energy-producing assets would be trivial compared to the havoc that war
would create in the global financial markets and the U.S. economy.

Go read the whole thing.

by @ 4:45 am. Filed under China, Asia, East Asia, Economy, Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, Central Asia, Eli Alberts

2 July, 2005

support the registran

I can’t find a direct link to this on the registran.net site, so here is the news from Siberian Light.:

Nathan, webmaster extra-ordinaire of registan.net has has just had to quit his job after his workplace was taken over by eulogising Scientologists (I kid you not).  As a consequence he’s opened up a tip-jar for donations to help him balance the books over the next couple of months.

Rather than recount the whole tale, the past couple months have been extremely uncomfortable. They have included a vicious and nasty verbal attack on me from a Hubbard management consultant, plummetting morale amongst coworkers (many have left), having my concerns dismissed by my boss, and much more. What really brought it to a head was my boss acting like the staff’s unhappiness and the concerns I brought to her about WISE and ABLE make her a victim of religious persecution. Let’s repeat that. Disagreement equals persecution.

Registan.net is a wonderful source of information and insightful analysis on Central Asia - a real labour of love for which Nathan has never charged a cent.  As Nathan says, he’s "not quite in the poorhouse," but the time and effort he puts into maintaining the site and the great information we all get from reading it are certainly worth a few dollars, especially when times are tough for its webmaster.

by @ 12:31 pm. Filed under Blogs, Asia, Media, Weblogs, Central Asia

28 June, 2005

krugman on the chinese challenge

Paul Krugman has an interesting op-ed today on recent attempts by Chinese companies/the Chinese government to acquire American companies.  He calls it, "The Chinese Challenge."  He also compares recent Chinese actions with "Fifteen years ago, when Japanese companies were busily buying up chunks of corporate America."  Back then, Krugman was not concerned, but now he is.  Why?

…judging from early indications, the Chinese won’t squander their money as badly as the Japanese did.
The Japanese, back in the day, tended to go for prestige investments - Rockefeller Center, movie studios - that transferred lots of money to the American sellers, but never generated much return for the buyers. The result was, in effect, a subsidy to the United States.
The Chinese seem shrewder than that. Although Maytag is a piece of American business history, it isn’t a prestige buy for Haier, the Chinese appliance manufacturer. Instead, it’s a reasonable way to acquire a brand name and a distribution network to serve Haier’s growing manufacturing capability.

But the second reason is perhaps more the more crucial one for Krugman; it is moves by the Chinese government to be a major player in "the Great Game" over resources in Central Asia:


by @ 2:30 am. Filed under Japan, China, Asia, East Asia, Economy, Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, Media, Central Asia, Eli Alberts

25 June, 2005

late saturday links

It was a busy week, here are some items of interest that Asiapundit missed from yesterday and last week:

Daniel Drezner asks whether the liberal paradigm - that markets bring democracy - is failing in China.

At Diacritic, a look at how Vietnamese language press - both domestic and overseas - covered Prime Minister Phan Van Khai’s US visit.

Brad Setser has a good analysis on CNOOC’s bid for UNOCAL (one key point: "China’s oil firms have cash and customers but not enough oil: their current interest in stretching their wings abroad makes a certain amount of commercial sense.")

The Ordinary Gweillo points to an Economist item that explains last week’s shoe incident.

Ian Lamont also weighs in on Microsoft’s banning of democracy and other words on sections of its China blog portal - also keep checking Ian’s other blog a site on his developing thesis based on content analysis of China’s state-run news agency Xinhua.

Via China Digital Times a the Guardian spins a tale of two massacres. Plus a long piece from the Online Journalism Review on blogging in China.

Spirited discussion on China’s ‘new left’ continues at Simon World.

A roundup of yesterday’s news at China-e-lobby.

ESWN ponders the reliability of reports on bird-flu deaths in China.

Disappointment. After only recently discovering one of the best essayist blogs in China, Richard Willmsen announces he’s leaving China.

Taipei is taking the ‘love hotel’ and moving it upmarket.

China’s Nurse Ratchet may sometimes be acting in the people’s interest. CSR Asia notes authorities are shutting how-to suicide sites. Also, a good number of questions raised on China’s suicide statistics.

The FEER’s Traveller’s Tales blog informs us that the June issue of the Far Eastern Economic Review has been banned in Beijing "because of the content on pages 44 and 55-59." My copy arrived Thursday, page 44 is an item on poaching with a similar thesis to this one. Pages 55-59 contain content similar to what got the Economist banned a earlier this month. Btw Hugo, when do I get my password for archive access?

China may be viewed in a better light than the US globally, but lets forget about ‘Old Europe’s’ opinions and be thankful that the US is held in high regard in Asia’s other rising economy. (via the Acorn)

The Swanker starts on Rebecca’s request with a post on the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami. Malaysia’s LoneStar and Lucia Lai also oblige. As does Alan in Canada. And Roger L Simon.

Nicholas in Canada alerts us to addictive Malaysian curries.

Sepia Mutiny brings news that Australia’s Handi Ghandi has bowed to pressure and changed its logo: "their solution is to make Gandhi a Punjabi rapper. Apparently they felt that was the polar opposite of a nonviolent vegetarian."

Maobi points to a report saying that Malaysia is terror free (translation, not on-guard).

New Mongols alerts us to a new Central Asia blog. Also at New Mongols, a look at Taiwan’s changing view of Mongolia.

Lost Nomad helps us realize that South Korea’s riot police look a lot less threatening out of uniform.

Via NK Zone, in spite of a looming return of famine, Pyongyang’s range of restaurants is growing.

Kenny Sia’s new quiz: Which Malaysian blogger are you?

Cowboy Caleb alerts us to a Singapore Press Holdings reporter who is having an ethical dilemma about blogging and privacy. My view, anything that isn’t password protected is public.

Singapore’s mr brown brings us news that Mr Miyagi has joined him as a Today newspaper columnist.

The Singapore government may try to stop the use of Singlish in the city state’s media, but the People’s Action party has no power over DC Comics.

Over at XiaXue, Wendy has decided to post the private e-mail addresses from her critics. She knows, of course, that they will now be bombed by hate mail from her readers, making her appeal for sympathy seem more like a quest for revenge. Very bad form Wendy.

Tom Vamvanij has noted some creative translating by Thailand’s (usually respectable) Nation Media Group.

Reacting to China’s latest blocking of blogs, Instapundit says boycott Chinese goods. CSR Asia responds.

Naming a child something like this almost makes me want to call welfare services.

Finally, despite having too much on my plate already, I have accepted Dan’s invitation to become a contributor to the Shanghaiist. While he has literally offered to pay me in peanuts, even in ‘beta’ form the site is attractive enough to make me want to join. Still, Dan may want to consider James Goldsmith’s proverb.

by @ 10:39 am. Filed under Culture, Japan, Blogs, Singapore, China, India, Taiwan, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Asia, East Asia, Economy, Northeast Asia, Asean, Southeast Asia, Media, South Asia, Weblogs, Censorship, Terrorism, North Korea, Mongolia, Central Asia, Uzbekistan, Vietnam

20 June, 2005

should armageddon be capitalized?

Via the Avian Flu Blog, FuturePundit offers a deluxe to-do list on how to prepare for the Avian flu pandemic.:

UPDATE: I won’t be posting much new linkage for a short while due to the TypePad blackout. But on the bird flu, Thank you CCP.

by @ 10:22 pm. Filed under Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, Global/grober, Central Asia

18 June, 2005

it’s all about oil

I never post on Central Asia, it’s an area I know very little about. Besides the Registran’s coverage is so good it would be futile to compete. Read the whole site, regularly, but today also note the debunking of a widely held fallacy.:

Uzbekistan does not have “huge oil reserves.” Unless, you know, you consider Italy and 52 other countries with bigger reserves oil giants.
Sorry to be a bitch, but it’s my least favorite and most repeated Uzbekistan mistake (part of the Saddam=Karimov comparison that drives me so batty–I mean, come on, it’s like saying these are the same thing as Shetlands).

by @ 11:11 am. Filed under Asia, Economy, Central Asia, Uzbekistan

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