As China is faced with a WTO complaint alleging that the country is being deliberately lax in enforcing copyright and intellectual property rights, AsiaPundit knew that a crackdown was in the air.
And that was even before there were any noticeable toxic emissions:
China sets fire to pirated goods in latest crackdown
BEIJING (Reuters) - China launched a new nationwide crackdown on pornography and pirated tapes and DVDs on Saturday, setting fire to 42 million offending items, Xinhua news agency said. . .
Of the items destroyed, smuggled and pirated audio/video, software, electronic publications made up 30 million, and pirated and illegally published books and magazines totaled 11 million
If AsiaPundit were still a reporter he may ask: ‘Were any environmental impact studies done on the effect of burning 30 million discs?; ‘How toxic were the fumes for those unprotected officials and laborers in the ?’; ‘How will this adversely impact the achievement of Premier Wen’s emission reduction target?’
Torching 10 million books that could have been recycled is bad enough, but burning CDs is a spectacularly bad idea.
CDs and DVDs are made from mainly plastics and metals, such as aluminum, polycarbonate (a type of plastic made from crude oil and natural gas), lacquer made from acrylic, gold, chemical dyes partially made from petroleum products, and numerous other materials such as water, glass, silver and nickel. When they are manufactured and eventually disposed, they can release chemicals that contribute to global warming and create environmental and health problems.
We suspect that the WTO complaint is a deliberate attempt at making China an even more difficult place to live by simultaneously reducing entertainment options and worsening air quality.
The Colbert Report’s Chinese New Year special report is indeed some of the best television reporting we have seen on China in some time.:
Even though the official Asian launch date for the Apple iPhone is not until 2008, users of China’s Taobao auction site can already buy the ‘revolutionary’ phone. No wonder Taobao could beat eBay in the China market:
Meanwhile, Boing Boing report that those who cannot wait until June for an iPhone can buy an Apple classic model.
Confirming AsiaPundit’s own experience in Shanghai, Andrew Lih reports from Beijing that Mainland China’s international internet access is still exceptionally bad.:
International access to the Internet from Beijing has been poor since January 1, and seems to have gotten worse, likely due to folks returning from vacation and swamping existing links. Some friends mentioned that access to their corporate VPNs routed over the public Internet were virtually unusable from Beijing.
Google Mail is inaccessible half the time, or runs too slow to function. Skype is largely unusable. Downloading podcasts takes half a dozen tries through Apple iTunes, requiring a few different VPNs and SSH tunnels. I feel like I’m in the Internet Gulag.
Performance tends to be better in the early morning. I got a few hours of zippy performance from 4:30 am on, but by 7:00 am, the net was slowing again.
Meanwhile, Gemme finds the situation similar in Shanghai:
The Internet in China is still at snail speed and for some weird reason it gets worse in the evening.
Is everybody trying to play games after 18:00? Is the available bandwidth less in the evening to cut cost for China Telecom’s use of satellite back ups or is there another explanation for this?
The news is that it will take until the end of the month to make the great leap back to 2007 but it wouldn’t surprise me if we may linger a bit longer in 1997.
Our own Shanghai experience differs very little. At the office, access is painfully slow during the day. In the evenings access from home is near impossible. We had initially assumed that was because the corporate subscriber service had higher priority than our residential service. But it could be time-of-day related, as Andrew and Gemme suggest.
Several of the services we find vital at home — including Skype and BBC World Service streaming audio — have been almost completely inaccessible since the December 26 earthquake.
Although we have found office access moderately better, it remains unsatisfactory. Basic research takes far longer than it should and in some cases is impossible. And the economic tally of this must be vast. We know of newswires that have been unable to deliver services, merchants who are cut off from customers and have noticed that advertisements are not displaying on sites that are dependent on them.
Certainly, the Taiwan earthquake was an act of God for which China Telecom cannot be held responsible, However the length of time that it has taken to repair Mainland connectivity reeks of sheer incompetence. Apologies and compensation should be offered.
As a Mac zealot, AsiaPundit thinks punitive damages should be provided simply for causing us to miss the MacWorld keynote.
One of Asia’s staple food products is a health risk. A commentator for the conservative US site World Net Daily has warned that “a devil food is turning our kids into homosexuals.”:
Soy is feminizing, and commonly leads to a decrease in the size of the penis, sexual confusion and homosexuality. That’s why most of the medical (not socio-spiritual) blame for today’s rise in homosexuality must fall upon the rise in soy formula and other soy products. (Most babies are bottle-fed during some part of their infancy, and one-fourth of them are getting soy milk!) Homosexuals often argue that their homosexuality is inborn because “I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t homosexual.” No, homosexuality is always deviant. But now many of them can truthfully say that they can’t remember a time when excess estrogen wasn’t influencing them.
A comment AP has received from a friend in Canada debunks the article:
There are a host of things wrong with this article. The assumption that being gay is bad, and should be curtailed. The anecdotal presentation of unnamed scientific studies as fact (cite them, darn it, and check literature reviews for other research). The assumption that sexual preference is connected to hormones. (If it makes penises smaller, it must make men gay!) The logical contradiction provided in his conclusion, when he says some soy is okay. The avoidance of contrary evidence - if soy is more prevalent now than in the past, and causes gayness, then one would expect population studies to show this. Where is “today’s rise in homosexuality” that he talks about? Television sitcoms? Same-sex legislation?
AP had already disregarded the validity of the article due to the use of “devil food’ in the headline. As we are of Irish ethnicity, we reject the idea that Soy milk is the devil when another beverage can make a claim that is much more solid. And this site will not speculate about what high soy content in a national diet may mean for penis size (commentors can fire away).
That said, Rutz — to his credit– does note that there is no risk from the consumption of soy sauce or other products that contain fermented soy. With that, readers can rest assured that neither natto nor stinky tofu will cause shrinkage or impotence (although the associated bad breath may limit attractiveness)..
No, China has not yet decided to dump its Treasury bonds… but give it time.
AsiaPundit closely tracks both the Chinese currency and the US dollar. However, we don’t pay nearly as much attention to global prices for base metals. As such, we are a bit late in bringing you details of a global currency meltdown that is so severe that the United States is passing new capital control measures.:
WASHINGTON — People who melt pennies or nickels to profit from the jump in metals prices could face jail time and pay thousands of dollars in fines, according to new rules out Thursday.
Soaring metals prices mean that the value of the metal in pennies and nickels exceeds the face value of the coins. Based on current metals prices, the value of the metal in a nickel is now 6.99 cents, while the penny’s metal is worth 1.12 cents, according to the U.S. Mint.
Under the new rules, it is illegal to melt pennies and nickels. It is also illegal to export the coins for melting. Travelers may legally carry up to $5 in 1- and 5-cent coins out of the USA or ship $100 of the coins abroad “for legitimate coinage and numismatic purposes.”
For those who, like ourselves, are deficient in mathematics that means that a US nickel is worth almost 40 percent more melted down than it based on its denomination. Chinese demand for base metals is generally cited as a prime reason for rising prices.
And it is not just the US. This is indeed a global currency meltdown. As this 2003 article notes China has been seeking European coins for melting. Within Asia, there is massive smuggling of the Philippine peso to buyers in China.:
MANILA : With a face value of less than two US cents the humble Philippine one peso coin may be worth next to nothing at home but in metal-hungry China it spells big bucks.
So much so that smuggling of the coins has become something of a growth industry in the Philippines and a major headache for the central bank.
According to local media reports, the coins are sold in China for 1,000 pesos (US$20) per kilogramme and the metal derived from melting them down is used in the manufacture of electronics goods like mobile phones.
As we have not heard any reports of the melting of the Chinese yuan, we assume that either the nickel-plated steel material is worth more in coin rather than base-metal form or that owners of blast furnaces in China are betting on further appreciation of the local currency.
However, if anyone knows differently please comment — AP may yet consider requesting that our employer pay us in coins.
If you are going to crack down on graft and abuse of public funds, what better way to illustrate that you are serious than by renting out an entire mansion… where deluxe suites cost US$905 per night. Via the CSM:
SHANGHAI, CHINA – With its rooftop turrets and fancy brickwork, the Moller Villa is a throwback to the Roaring ’20s, when the treaty port of Shanghai, China, was a byword for speculative excess. Built by an Englishman, the Norwegian-style hotel now rents luxury suites to foreign bankers lured by the promise of China’s new bull market.
But since August, when it abruptly closed its doors to the public for “refurbishment,” a different kind of drama has unfolded behind its high walls. Investigators from the Communist Party’s disciplinary committee have turned the hotel into their temporary headquarters as they probe a blossoming financial scandal that has already snared Shanghai’s political boss and some of his closest business allies.
Room rates are here.
We were tempted to link to Despair Inc’s Motivational Poster Generator in our daily links, but decided against it as it was not really Asian content.
We hope the below posters rectify that problem.
AsiaPundit has been accused of having too much of a China focus since all co-pundits were sacked last year. This is a scurrilous accusation that we deny. Our analytics show that this site has a strong regular readership among Asian states outside of the Middle Kingdom. That would not be the case if this were solely a China-oriented site.
However, we were alerted to some great news for our Chinese readership this morning – for the Kingdom of Thailand. This will certainly lower airfares just ahead of China’s week-long Autumn Festival/National Day holiday. It may also free up seats as some of those who have already booked seats will certainly cancel.
However, this isn’t all good news. As from shows there is still something incredibly unappealing on the streets of Bangkok.
That’s right, it’s raining.
As well, amid the euphoria about the inevitable seat sales, we should also pause for a moment to consider the shattering of democracy in a Southeast Asian state that has a lively press and civil society. AsiaPundit does not generally advocate boycotts. However — given that AP have volunteered to work in the Shanghai office over the holidays — this site is recommending that potential travelers avoid the country until an elected leader is returned to power and all restrictions on domestic media are lifted.
Instead, try visiting neighboring press-repressing dictatorships in Laos, Vietnam or even Singapore.
Austin was also live blogging the coup at his site. Global Voices has other links. For background on the political situation in Thailand ahead of the coup, the Far Eastern Economic Review’s Colum Murphy has one of the better summaries. Written ahead of the coup, but for this month’s issue, the following line stands out:
To be sure, a military intervention to oust Mr. Thaksin is always a possibility, although some—but not all—analysts agree that this seems unlikely at this point. Those with less sanguine views predict that there will be no compromise between the two (the prime minister and king), and say that this game will produce only one winner and one loser. If this turns out to be the case, then the next weeks and months could see bloody confrontation on the streets of Bangkok and throughout the kingdom.
There is a debate on whether or not the Lonely Planet China and Taiwan editions of the popular travel guide are banned from the mainland. Bingfeng notes that he has several LP editions that were purchased in China.
AsiaPundit will note that the state-owned bookstore that is across from his office does sell the Lonely Planet Shanghai city guide, and several other editions of the guide for other Asian locations. However, there are no editions for Taiwan, China or Greater China.
Marc Van der Chij’s, in an item linked to here earlier, noted a conversation he had with a clerk at Shanghai’s best English-language bookstore.:
I could not find the China guide, so I assumed it was sold out. Then I looked for the Beijing guide, and did not find it either. The Tibet guide maybe, as as preparation for next year’s bike trip? No luck. I asked the shop assistant, and he explained to me that in China it is not allowed to sell the Lonely Planet guides for China, Beijing and Tibet.
Fons describes the ban as an “urban myth.” AsiaPundit does not believe that to be the case. Mainland authorities are very sensitive to maps that depict Taiwan as a separate state, and there is a general ban on maps that do so. This is old news.
If there is an urban myth, it is the myth that that the CPC Censorship Machine is efficient.
There are massive gaps in the Great Firewall of China through which ’sensitive’ information is available on the internet (even without the use of proxy servers). AsiaPundit has picked up locally published expat magazines that have addressed the ‘question of Tibet.’ We expect that more than 90 percent of satellite receivers are illegal. And, of course, none of those pirated DVDs that can be picked up at the neighborhood shops or street-stall vendors are state-approved (though some may be made by state-owned enterprises).
Most of this, it should be said, happens in the margins and in the black-market economy. But even in the heavily regulated world of state-run bookstores things will get through. The state-run SBT Bookstore near AsiaPundit global headquarters, and various other outlets throughout the city, are still selling copies of Jung Chang’s Wild Swans.
China does ban maps that display an independent Taiwan. And if the Lonely Planet does display such maps it would be included under such a ban. However, the CPC Censorship Machine is a rickety and incompetent beast and it misses more material than it catches.
We are incredibly thankful for this.
This was a day to truly be remembered, as I got to meet an interesting girl and very likely model for the site, if she agrees. This post will need to be full of some feedback, if you please.
If only because there aren’t any known competitors.
Photo and text from here.
AsiaPundit has been known to criticize the reform of China’s banking sector. For instance, many of the bad assets held by state banks have been shifted to state-held asset management companies (AMCs) and still remain liabilities for the central government. Still, even in our criticism, we have been guilty of paying too much attention to the major state lenders and AMCs.
Occasionally, we are reminded that problems are even worse for the rural banking sector.:
BEIJING: A village cashier in west China lost 12,500 US dollars of public money after it was eaten by goats.
The incident occurred last May, when the village cashier surnamed Zhang and his wife in Linjiawan village in West China’s Shaanxi province were stunned by the scene when they saw their ten goats chewing the money, the state media reported on Wednesday.
The couple immediately slaughtered the goats and put together the cash debris taken out from the animal’s stomach, saving 297 pieces of notes worth 12.5 US dollars each, reported the Xi’an Daily on Tuesday.
“We are considering exchanging more damaged cash for Zhang and will treat it as a special case after reporting the incident to superiors, in view of reducing farmers’ economic burden,” director of the currency issuance section of the apex bank, People’s Bank of China, Hengshan County branch, Li Shengyang said.
Question: What was a “village cashier” doing hiding money by burying it in a goat pen? Does this strike anyone else as suspicious behavior? If I was thiking about secure places to store public money I don’t think “goat pen” would be the location that leaps to mind. I might consider “banks”, or “enormous steel safe” or even “locked trunk guarded by my shotgun-toting henchman, ah qiang and a brace of rottweilers”. But probably not “goat pen”.
Per “banks” as an option, that seems particularly useful to me. If Hengshan county has a branch of the People’s Bank of China, they probably have retail baking too. Could banks in Shaanxi be so hopelessly corrupt that they can’t even be trusted with deposits? If so, China’s banking system has further to go than I thought.
While this an incident of concern, we do note with relief that the PBoC does seem to have some deposit insurance in place. This should help prevent a full-blown systemic crisis should any individual animal pen be declared insolvent.
(Above image of 2003 goat coins stolen from here.)
Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong mentioned mr brown, and the government’s role in his termination from the Today newspaper, in the recent National Day address. A Singapore Angle has the transcript, with the below passage:
So I give you the example of Mr Brown’s column in Today. Some of you may have read it, some of you may not. But it hit out wildly at the government and in a very mocking and dismissive sort of tone. So MICA [Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts] replied. How can you not reply? And some Singaporeans feel we were too harsh, we should have been gentler, or maybe just even accepted it, it is just niceness, he didn’t mean us any harm.
Well, my view is like this: Mr Brown is very talented man (in fact he is Mr Lee Kim Mun). If you listen to his podcasts, they are hilarious. And he is entitled to his views, and entitled to express them. But when he takes on the government and makes serious accusations, as he did in this case because he said the government suppressed information before the elections which was awkward and only let it out afterwards, then the government has to respond, firstly to set the record straight, and secondly to signal that this is really not the way to carry on a public debate on national issues and especially not in the mainstream media.
As noted earlier, and as explained by mr brown this week, the government’s right of response is not a concern. The concern is the silencing of dissent, through the sacking of mr brown from Today and the refusal of the newspaper to print any further replies in defense of mr brown. This is said here by mr brown.:
I believe the Government has every right to respond to my Humour column. I may disagree with what they say but it is their right to respond.
I also believe in responding in turn to what the Government said in their letter, but my Humour column was suspended immediately after their letter was printed. Perhaps Mediacorp/TODAY did not stand by what they published?
I understand that many people did respond on the matter by writing in to the mainstream press, but none of their letters were published by mainstream media. Not a single one. Some people who wrote to TODAY about the column’s suspension received a templated response to write to MICA instead, even though TODAY were the ones who suspended the column. Strange.
An equally controversial element of the National Day speech was Lee’s comment that he orders his noodles without cockles. While AsiaPundit has not found the moment in the transcript, mr brown has captured the controversial utterance in his latest podcast.
Xenoboy explains the significance:
When PM Lee in his Rally Speech delivers the ultimate punchline to lay the bak chor mee to rest, to signal Government’s engagement with the Digital Age Singaporean, those dreaming of somewhere else, he utters the phrase “Mee Siam Mai Hum”.
This becomes an instant classic of dis-connect….
Read the whole thing. The disconnect is explained in this passage:
Mee Siam has never had cockles as an ingredient. Two other distinctly Singapore dishes use cockles. Laksa and Fried Kway Teow Noodles. Most Singaporeans know this. Its a fact of life.
To put it simply, most Singaporeans will NOT make this mistake. Its like ordering bak kut teh, another classic Singapore dish, without the soup. Ordering pizza and telling the chef to hold the dough. No, actually its worse. Its like ordering pizza and telling the chef to hold the spaghetti. In short, the phrase “Mee Siam Mai Hum” is an oxymoron. Its like one of those chain e-mail wordplay jokes “military intelligence”.
From what I understand, our esteemed national newspaper, the Straits Times, “heard” and interpreted the crucial phrase as “Mee Siam Mai Hiam”; which means hold the chilli. If this “hearing” is correct, than the phrase is meaningless as a direct riposte against the bak chor mee podcast. I guess the ST is not being honest again. Its “hearing” certainly connects with PM Lee but it means all the rest of Singaporeans “heard” wrongly, very dis-connected.
Image taken from Sei-ji Rakugaki’s Sketchbook, a full size and legible version is here.
AsiaPundit is pleased to report that government-blocked websites such as the BBC’s news portal and HRI China can be accessed on mobile devices in China with the installation of the Opera Mini browser.
While phones with WAP capabilities have built-in browsers, these have to go through the same firewalls that plague China’s conventional internet. The Opera Mini, however, “uses a remote server to pre-process Web pages before sending them to your phone.”
From the Opera Mini Wikipedia entry:
Unlike normal web browsers, Opera Mini fetches all content through a proxy that runs the layout engine of the Opera desktop browser. The engine on the proxy server reformats webpages into a width that is suitable for small screens using Opera’s Small Screen Rendering. The content is compressed, then delivered to the phone in a markup language called OBML (Opera Binary Markup Language). When the content reaches the phone it has been reduced in size by typically 70-90%.
This was designed to improve loading speed and rendering of content for the small screen. However, the end effect is the same as what can be achieved using proxy servers or web-based services such as Anonymouse and Virtual-Browser. Unlike the Anonymouse service, which is disabled by the Great Firewall’s keyword filtering, the Opera Mini was able to load one particular banned website without any time-out errors.
Viewing web pages through a WAP connection is a slow and expensive process, so this will not bring freedom of information to the masses. The government could also mandate a block on Opera’s server should use of the service become widespread enough to be considered a problem.
Still, AsiaPundit expects that in a few short years more Chinese will be accessing the internet through mobile devices than through PCs (the organic evolution of mobile technologies is a more important revolution than the $100 PC). With that, the discovery of a small chink in the armor should be welcome.
Singapore’s government has issued strict regulations on high-profile foreign publications seeking distribution in the city state. Having its local press on a tight rein and having threatened local netizens, the People’s Action Party is attempting to ensure that major overseas media do not print anything that goes against their ‘enlightened’ rule.
RSF has issued a condemnation:
Reporters Without Borders today condemned the Singapore government for putting pressure on on the Far Eastern Economic Review and four other foreign publications to censor themselves.
“The authorities are looking for effective ways, including fear of prosecution and heavy fines, to intimidate these publications into censoring themselves,” the worldwide press freedom organisation said. “This is the latest threat against the foreign media, which are the only means of reporting independently on political and economic events in the country since the local press is controlled by the government.”
The information, communications and arts ministry gave the monthly Far Eastern Economic Review until 11 September to comply with section 23 of the Newspapers and Printing Presses Act. The magazine has been registered as a foreign publication since it criticised the government’s domestic policy in 1987 but had an exemption from some legal requirements which has now been cancelled. It must have a legal representative in the country by the ministry’s deadline and pay a deposit of 200,000 Singapore dollars (100,000 euros). For other foreign publications, the International Herald Tribune, Time magazine, the Financial Times and Newsweek, have been ordered to do the same when their licences come up for renewal.
This crackdown follows an interview in the Far Eastern Economic Review with opposition leader Chee Soon Juan, who the magazine called a national “martyr” because of the many lawsuits against him.
Mr Wang, a Singapore lawyer, notes the legal implications for FEER and the other publications for having ‘a legal representative‘:
The interesting bit is the MICA requirement that FEER “must have a legal representative in the country”. This probably means that FEER is required to appoint what lawyers call a “process agent” in Singapore.
What’s the significance of having a process agent in Singapore? Well, it’s one of those rather technical legal/ procedural matters. The basic idea is that it enables the Singapore government to sue FEER …. in the Singapore courts….
…The foreign newspaper has to consider whether the Singapore courts would regard the article as “defamatory” of the Singapore government.
Not what you or me or the man in the street would regard as “defamatory” … not what a Hong Kong judge or an English judge or a Thai judge would regard as “defamatory” …. but what the Singapore courts would regard as “defamatory” of the Singapore government. There are some potentially scary implications here, because we can expect the chilling effect to kick in once again.
AsiaPundit has grown slightly tired of commenting on the slow erosion on liberty in Singapore under Lee Hsien Loong. On this occasion, he will leave the commentary to Imagethief.:
We, the audience, are left to wonder if the tightened regulations are really due to a “changing media landscape” or to a combination of a relatively poor election showing (by Singapore standards) for the PAP, anxiety about the ability of the somewhat charisma-challenged Lee Hsien Loong to carry his father’s mantle, and a feeling that people are beginning to sense the shadow of mortality hovering over the revered and still politically active elder Lee and wondering over the inevitable consequences.
Construction of Cambodia’s Angkor Wat required the resources of an empire, including legions of slaves. Thankfully, for those who lack the resources of King Suryavarman II, another option is now available.:
INSTRUCTIONS: Print only 1 single page on your printer. You can make larger by using a photocopier to enlarge.
(Link via IZ)
Last week was the anniversary of the US lunar landing. While nothing in the subsequent 37 years has come close to capturing our coollective imagination as much as Neil Armstrong’s immortal words, mankind continues to look to the stars.
And space no longer just the domain of the US and Russia.
China is planning to put a red flag on the red planet.:
China will start planning Mars probes in 5 years, state media reported. “China will, on the basis of its moon probes, plan deep-space exploration, focusing on lunar and Martian exploration,” said Sun Laiyan, chief of the China National Space Administration.
A senior scientist at the Chinese Academy of Engineering said Chinese rockets are capable of sending a satellite to orbit Mars, adding that if the government made up its mind to start planning now, a Martian probe could be sent in three to five years. The Chang’e 1 probe will be launched in 2007 with plans for it to orbit the moon for a year. Plans are also for China to send a vehicle to “soft land” on the moon and explore the surface around 2012.
(image stolen from NASA.)
BEIJING, July 22 (Xinhua) — A newly-developed space cookie made of silkworm pupa powder is set to add more taste to astronauts’ diet.
Masamichi Yamashita, a researcher with Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), released a recipe for the pupa cookies during the 36th scientific assembly of the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR).
The recipe comprises three to six grams of silkworm pupa powder,200 grams of rice powder, 50 grams of soy powder and 300 cubic centimeters of soymilk, with soy sauce and salt.
All these ingredients will be available in space as soybeans and wheat have been grown successfully in simulated space chambers and methods of raising silkworms in space are under development, said Yamashita.
Astronauts may blend these materials with water and divide the mixture into small pieces. “They will be flavor some cookies after being fried for 15 minutes in a 600-watt inductive heating machine,” Naomi Katayama, a renowned Japanese nutritionist and member of Yamashita’s group, told Xinhua.
(Silkworm image stolen from Ron Morris.)
The first three categories are open for public voting for Q1 Asia Blog Awards.
Polling for these three categories closes on 31 July. E-mail registration is required to vote and you may only vote once per category.
First-quarter finalists in the remaining categories will be anounced in the coming days. Thanks for your patience.
AsiaPundit carefully monitors China’s state news agencies. However, the China Daily and Xinhua only contain a partial view of the thoughts of the Communist Party.
For instance, those who are reliant on the official media will not have received the notice that the Communist Youth League considers USB-powered interactive sex toys as “one sided” devices that do “not consider the welfare of the majority”
You would have to read the not-worksafe Asian-Sirens to know that.:
Where was I when they held the Sexual Culture Fair here in Guangzhou, China last year and designated this cyber-toy as an AIDS prevention product?
The rage of the show, these are sets of latex organs that can be plugged into a USB port and controlled remotely by your partner at the other end of the firewall. Interactive gaming just got interesting. It was intended for couples separated geographically by work or circumstance. Right!
The National Sex Studies Institute loved this item, but the The Communist Youth League (who also has it in for Voodoo dolls) considers the gizmo “one-sided” (I am not sure they measured the impact of that phrase,) and says it “does not consider the welfare of the majority” (Imagine that!) and that it is a “betrayal of thousands of years of traditional Chinese morality.”
While Western states are evacuating civilians from Lebanon, Asian domestic workers are, as usual, trapped. Ellen Tordesillas says 34,000 Filipino’s are in the country.:
It’s ironic that the Filipinos in Lebanon, who now are scampering for safety amidst the Israeli bombing of Hezbollah places in the war-torn country, went there because they were escaping poverty in the Philippines.
The Department of Foreign Affairs places the number of Filipinos in Lebanon at 34,000. Majority, some 25,000, are domestic helpers while the rest are employees in hotels, UN organizations or married to Lebanese nationals.
Other countries, mainly the Americans,Australians, and Europeans are evacuating their nationals. Yet Philippine officials are still talking of moving Filipinos to “pre-designated safe areas.” It’s pathetic.
At Sepia Mutiny, it is noted that 93,000 Sri Lankans, including 86,000 domestic workers, are similarly stranded.:
… the case that stands out is Sri Lanka, with an estimated 93,000 nationals in Lebanon of whom 86,000 are women employed as domestic labor.
According to a recent article in Middle East Report, Sri Lankan domestic workers have become ubiquitous in Lebanon. You won’t be surprised to learn that the employment process is shady and the workers often mistreated.
Given the number of people involved, the conditions on the ground, the fact that many workers don’t have papers, and the expected resistance of employers to allow their domestics to leave, it’s likely that more than a few young Sri Lankan women will become “collateral damage” of the Israel-Hezbollah war.
The Korea Liberator (TKL) offers a sympathetic interview with Gordon G Chang, author of Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes on the World and The Coming Collapse of China. Naturally, TKL focuses on events relating to the peninsula, although Chang also briefly reaffirms his belief that the Chinese Communist Party is collapsing.:
Chang: Or all of the above [laughter].
I don’t believe that the communist party will be ruling China very much longer. I think it will fall from power by the end of this decade. But my crystal ball is not clear enough to provide a specific answer as to what happens next. Over the long term, China will develop representative institutions and a free economy, but perhaps not in the time frame you mention.
I don’t think China will fragment, but I do see Taiwan becoming recognized as the independent state that it actually is today. But apart from that, China won’t fragment. There will be a great period of uncertainty and turbulence in China, but 10 years are not enough to produce a democracy and the free market.
AsiaPundit has both of Chang’s books and would recommend them. While AP does not fully subscribe to to Chang’s view that the CCP will collapse — particularly in such a short timeframe — a deep economic correction would not be a surprise. Although there is hyperbole, even six years after publication Chang’s text still well illustrates the fragility of the modern Chinese state and, moreover, offers a welcome antidote to China hype.
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.
The successful US cartoon the Powerpuff Girls was in equal parts a homage and parody of anime and Japan’s obsession with cuteness. Japan’s Toei Animation, seemingly missing this point, has reversed engineered the cartoon for a domestic audience.
They were supercute but now…it is kind of sexy. Before: their legs were lumpy psuedopods. After: shapely young woman’s legs. This is exciting! This is disturbing! Disturbing and exciting? No! It is DEMASHITAA! POWERPUFF GIRLS Z, the latest incarnation of the Powerpuff Girls…now in 3-D anime and on Japanese TV. There is Mojo Jojo…but he looks like real monkey.
While Grady of the Kaiju Shakedown is disturbed by the girl’s new shapely legs, AsiaPundit is even more by bothered the decision to give Ms Sara Bellum more realistic proportions.:
AsiaPundit can assure readers that the character of Sara Bellum was intended as an inspiration for young girls who watched the program and was not a Jessica Rabbit-style attempt to garner male viewers through titillation. Note that the character’s name is a pun on ‘cerebellum.’
For those interested in further useless Powerpuff trivia, Ms Bellum’s address in Townsville was given as 69 Yodelinda Valley Lane.
Shao Xiaoshan, a Chinese woman who claims to have done nude scenes for Zhang Ziyi in the upcoming martial arts Hamlet adaption ‘the Banquet,’ has uncloaked herself.:
Shao Xiaoshan says that she was one of three Zhang Ziyi stand-ins and that her job was to do Zhang’s nude scenes. She’s miffed that she has received no credit in the movie and, further, that her work is going unnoticed. Speaking on her blog:
“I gave my body to the audience. I don’t care whether my name is on the credits but I just want to tell the public that I did the nude scenes.”
The Chongqing Evening News said that someone from the Huayi Brothers production company called Shao and threatened her after her statement went public and told her she had to tell people she wasn’t Zhang’s body double. But the chairman of the Huayi Brothers denies the phone call and says that Shao is promoting herself on the back of the movie and how could she know she’s not in the credits anyways since the movie hasn’t been shown to the public?
The reports do not state how well-matched the bodies of the three stand-ins are to Zhang, who has a very renowned figure on the mainland. The state-controlled Xinhua news agency has noted that the Oscar-nominated actress is well known for her flat bosom and fat bottom,
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