30 June, 2005

john howard’s balls

LOST: One set of cajones.:

The U.S. is suggesting that the Australian Government is being too timid on the issue of human rights with China. All because Australia refused to attend a summit, the subject of which is how to deal with a "rising China".
The summit will be attended by the U.S., Canada, Japan, and New Zealand. Australia will instead be briefed on the meeting afterwards. Interestingly, New Zealand is also taking a pragmatic approach when dealing with China, that is while voicing human rights "concerns" they are still willing to pursue closer ties with China. I wonder if NZ would think of backing out of this summit too?
Of course, there is the whole political asylum seeking issue in Australia. The Aussies won’t want to offend China too much by then basically attending a "how to contain China" (at least that is how the Chinese would see it, I assume) meeting?

by @ 11:37 pm. Filed under China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Australia

the coming collapse of china’s newspapers

Fons has a great look into the looming shakeout in China’s newspaper industry. While, as the Asia Times notes, China is the largest single global newspaper market in non-adjusted terms, Fons argues that many of the recently launched newspapers simply don’t have an audience and exaggerate (or invent) circulation data. Read the China Herald for more, including this rather bold prophecy.:

TV media are still far away from such a shake-out, since they are able to generate more revenue and are more important for the government to get their message out. But the dilemmas of the print media are not limited to them.
In the US statistical evidence shows that by April 2014 the last news paper reader will disappear, unless something is being done. In China that might happen much faster.

by @ 11:25 pm. Filed under China, Asia, East Asia, Economy, Northeast Asia, Media

negative and corrupt phenomena

The possibly-banned in China Running Dog offers an assessment of Hu Jintao’s language on bridging the urban-rural wealth gap and promoting ‘democracy’ opposing negative phenomena:

…grizzled readers of the propaganda statements issued by China’s leadership cannot fail to detect a change in tone over the last few years. In what appears to be a direct response to the mayhem that seems to have descended upon China’s shit-poor hinterlands, Hu Jintao is calling for the construction of the ‘harmonious society’, ‘consisting of democracy, the rule of law, equality, justice, sincerity, friendship and vitality.’
Ominously, Hu also draws attention to the fact that a new spate of ‘independent thinking’ is also ‘posing further challenges to China’s policy makers’. ‘Negative and corrupt phenomena and more and more rampant crimes in the society will also jeopardize social stability and harmony,’ he said.
And so, what Hu giveth, Hu taketh away. Democracy works best, of course, without independent thinking, and if ‘negative phenomena’ are banned, the masses will have no choice but to just grin and bear it.

by @ 10:26 pm. Filed under China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Censorship

cnooc roundup

Simon World offers a great roundup of blog opinion on CNOOC’s bid for Unocal. The top-spot goes to this item from Hemlock.:

From Chevron’s point of view, it’s not fair. But
assuming CNOOC’s bid passes muster with regulatory and legal
authorities, that’s too bad. Chevron has ‘lost’ one potential
opportunity but still has its money and the possibilities it offers.
Unocal’s owners are clear winners, getting a juicy price for their
asset. We CNOOC owners gain an overpriced acquisition at subsidized
financing costs – let’s say it nets out. So does that leave the Chinese
taxpayer as the main possible loser? Or are the sneaky commie hordes
the ultimate winners?

by @ 9:24 pm. Filed under Blogs, China, Money, Asia, East Asia, Economy, North Korea

more blogs blocked

Rebecca McKinnion reports that sites hosted at Blogs.us have been blocked in China. TypePad has confirmed the blocking of its service as well, although it should be noted that the initial TypePad block seems to have been scaled back. Some TypePad sites, including this one, can be seen in China (or at least here in Shanghai plus in Chengdu and Beijing).

For those doing a tally, blocked services include Blogger, sections of TypePad, Blogsome and Blogspirit. Those who are on any of these providers are welcome to use the below advertisement.:


by @ 3:52 pm. Filed under Blogs, China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Web/Tech, Weblogs, Censorship

walking monster

A serial rapist was caught with the help of close-captioned surveillance in Kuala Lumpur, raping at least five people. He also serves as proof that it isn’t the woman’s fault that someone rapes her - an unfortunately common theory here among some conservative Muslims - after all, his victims ranged from a 43-year-old Irish woman to a 10-year-old Kuwaiti boy.

by @ 1:24 pm. Filed under Malaysia, Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia

censored by cisco

Rebecca McKinnion has posted a must-read item at YaleGlobal Online on how foreign technologies are being used to censor the internet in China.:

Are US companies responsible when the Chinese government deploys their technology to stifle free speech on the internet? If the internet is going to change China in the long run anyway, how much does their complicity really matter?

According to ONI, it is difficult to believe that Cisco, Nortel Networks, Sun Microsystems, Juniper, and 3COM do not know how their products will be used by certain customers. There needs to be greater public examination of exactly how US technology companies are conducting their business. What do they know, and when do they know it? There should be consequences for companies found to be deliberately aiding censorship and political repression.

by @ 12:37 pm. Filed under Blogs, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Media, Web/Tech, Weblogs, Censorship

connections and management styles

BusinessPundit links to a Harvard Business School item that offers a wide (though not unfamiliar) discussion on the differences between US and Asian corporate leadership.:

To a significant degree, large American firms are at
a later stage of development than many Asian firms—they have passed
from founders’ family leadership to professional management and to
capital obtained from the capital markets (rather than obtained from
government—directly or indirectly—or from family fortunes). In this
transition they have adopted particular styles of leadership responsive
to boards (often led by outside directors) and to Wall Street.
It is possible, but not certain, that Asian firms will follow this
evolutionary path. The political connections so important for top
business leaders in Asia, whether in democracies or one-party states,
are not unknown but are much less important in America. It is a
characteristic of Asian top executives that they have such connections
that are important to their businesses. In America, the chief executive
officers of very large firms often have virtually no direct connections
to top politicians—the government is treated at arm’s length and
business is done by business people.

It’s an interesting read, but nothing that would be a surprise for anyone who has spent significant time in Asia. I would be more interested in turning the issue on its head: how important are ‘connections’ for expatriate executives who work within Asia. In China, it would seem to be high - almost every foreign-business press conference or event has a government component. In Singapore, conversely, the PAP only seems to come out for major infrastructure projects or pet projects (i.e., biochem developments). Expat managers have far less need to build government contacts.

Also, it would be interesting to note how much management styles and business practices differ within countries.

by @ 10:46 am. Filed under Culture, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia

the korean wave

When I lived in Taiwan from 1996-98, it seemed as if Japanese popular culture was making the biggest impact on East Asia, but now South Korea looks to be stepping in as the driving force of the entertainment industries of not only Northeast Asian countries, but also in Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Mongolia, and Uzbekistan:

South Korea, historically more worried about fending off cultural
domination by China and Japan than spreading its own culture abroad, is
emerging as the pop culture leader of Asia.
From well-packaged television dramas to slick movies, from pop music to
online games, South Korean companies and stars are increasingly
defining what the disparate people in East Asia watch, listen to and

by @ 1:15 am. Filed under South Korea, China, Taiwan, Asia, East Asia, Economy, Southeast Asia, Media, Thailand, Mongolia, Television, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Eli Alberts

somewhere between china and rome

This AP story via The Taipei Times points to the complicated situation of being Catholic in contemporary China.  Whose authority does one recognize?

Hundreds of Catholics packed Shanghai’s cathedral yesterday for the
consecration of a new bishop who leaders of the official
government-backed church hope will help ease a rift with Rome. Joseph Xing Wenzhi (邢文之), 42, was made auxiliary bishop in a ceremony led by Shanghai Bishop Aloysius Jin Luxian (金魯賢), the representative of the government church who at age 89 is giving up many of his administrative duties.
China’s government has no formal relations with Rome and rejects the pope’s authority to pick bishops.
However, Jin said in an interview earlier this month that both Rome and
Beijing authorities have tacitly agreed to Xing’s appointment as his
top aid and successor.
Many Chinese Catholics reject the authority of Jin and others in the
official Church, preferring to worship in underground congregations
with their own clergy. They regard another elderly priest, Joseph Fan
Zhongliang (范忠良), as Shanghai’s true bishop.
Fan, who reportedly suffers from Alzheimer’s
disease, has been under virtual house arrest for the past five years.

by @ 12:41 am. Filed under China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Religion, Eli Alberts

29 June, 2005

big fish taken down in malaysia?

A few days ago, Malaysia’s dominant party within the ruling National Front suspended one of its deputy presidents, Mohd Isa Abdul Samad for bribery, or in UMNO-speak, “money politics”. Would there be any more big fishes? No more, apparently.Would UMNO hand over the file to the Anti Corruption Agency after Isa exhausted his 14-day appeal? Time will tell.

by @ 11:05 pm. Filed under Malaysia

root causes

Tom Vamvanij in Thailand takes a look at the root causes of terrorism in Southern Thailand.:

Terrorism in Thailand’s Deep South is rooted in economic neglect:

Two Muslim villagers were shot dead and two others wounded in separate attacks in Pattani and Narathiwat provinces yesterday.
All three of the victims worked as employees of the 23rd task force’s job creation project.

And cultural insensitivity:

In the same province, another Muslim resident was shot dead after returning from his nightly prayers at a mosque in Bacho district.

Which brings us to the third cause that editorial pages editor Anuraj Manibhandu so aptly demonstrated in the very same issue of the Bangkok Post…

by @ 6:10 pm. Filed under Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia, Media, Thailand, Terrorism

mapping 101

Yahoo! news reports from the AFP making note of Japanese school books being seized by Chinese authorities for depicting a map of China and Taiwan in different colors.

Customs officials in northeast China’s Dalian city have seized books sent to a Japanese school because they depicted Taiwan as a separate entity from the mainland, a Japanese embassy spokesman said.

"As far as we know from the concerned people, the issue was over maps which depicted China and Taiwan in different colours," Keiji Ide told AFP.

…The school, an elementary and middle school for children of Japanese businessmen, had to pay a small fine, he said.

by @ 12:43 pm. Filed under Japan, China, Taiwan, Asia, East Asia, Censorship, North Korea, Gordon

japan gets another downgrade

Not by a ratings agency, but by the Christian Science Monitor, notes Japundit.

in the very first paragraph of the article (which has been reprinted in over 200 newspapers worldwide), Goodale refers to Japan as a “small island nation.”

While a grown man reading a comic book might seem unusual in other parts of the world, in this small island nation Mr. Nozawa is only one of millions of consumers of anime (as animation is known here). “I’ve been an anime fan since I was a child,” says Nozawa with a laugh as he navigates the busy midday traffic. “So is everyone I know.”

Since when is 125 million people a small island nation?
Japan is NOT a small island nation anymore! From the northern coast of Hokkaido to the southern islands of Okinawa, Japan can hardly be considered to be a Small Island Nation (SIN).

Well noted, again demonstrating Japundit’s excellent critical eye on news reports covering the tiny archipelago.

by @ 8:08 am. Filed under Japan, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Media

blogsome blocked

Via the still banned-in-China RConversation, China has blocked free Wordpress service blogsome:

Blogsome, the free Wordpress blog hosting service based in Ireland, is now blocked in China, according to Chinese blogger Maomy, writing on the Chinese group blog, CNBlog.
Maomy - who himself blogs on Blogsome - says the free open source service has become increasingly popular among Chinese bloggers, but that he hadn’t expected it would be blocked so quickly. Despite the wishful thinking of some, he doesn’t believe Blogsome’s inaccessibility is likely to be an innocent "technical problem."
Other Chinese bloggers I’ve been communicating with tend to believe this is all part of a tightening-up in the run-up to the June 30th deadline for website registration.

Also note Rebecca’s look at China’s use of internet filtering technology and US corporate complicity plus reporting on gamer reaction to Microsoft’s China policy.

by @ 7:52 am. Filed under China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Web/Tech, Weblogs, Censorship

renminbi revaluation

Brad Setser offers a neat dissection of an Asia Times item on the possible effects of a renminbi revaluation.:

This article struck me as confused, even for an article that tries to summarize a range of different views on the RMB.

I just don’t see how a RMB revaluation can both:
1. Have a limited impact on the US bilateral trade deficit with China….
2. Decimate Chinese exports….

by @ 7:41 am. Filed under China, Money, Asia, East Asia, Economy, Northeast Asia

unocal and free trade

The Neo-Libertarian looks at complaints over the Cnooc bid for Unocal and notes a real threat… that of the further erosion of the United State’s free-trading credentials:

The argument about the Chinese trying to buy Unocal
provokes hesitance and opposition over the deal from many different
people. The argument from people otherwise disposed to free trade and
open markets is that oil is a strategic asset and China is
untrustworthy or hostile.
Last things first, China isn’t a good country, nor is it a particularly friendly country.  But it’s not a major threat….
Second, if oil is a strategic asset that we shouldn’t be
letting other countries control, then why do we buy over half of ours
from other countries? More to the point, why should those other
countries sell to us? If we try to hoard all the "strategic assets" to
ourselves then so will other countries. If we don’t trust the
international market that we’ve tried to spread around the world, then
why should other countries? We’re not perfect in free trade by any
means, but other countries have needed prodding to get as far as they

by @ 7:13 am. Filed under China, Asia, East Asia, Economy, Northeast Asia

canada and the ‘china syndrome’

The Toronto Star has a reasonably balanced article on the emerging trade war between the U.S. and China, and Canada’s place in averting it.

Call it the new China Syndrome. Canadian Finance Minister Ralph Goodale has been wrestling with it. So has U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan. And if something isn’t done about it, some policy makers fear the resulting impact could destabilize the global economy. Their
dilemma is this: Many of China’s trade partners — and especially the
United States — are saying cheap Chinese goods are flowing into North
America, flooding their markets and destroying jobs.

by @ 3:35 am. Filed under China, Money, Asia, East Asia, Economy, Northeast Asia, Current Affairs, Eli Alberts

nepalese maoists raid indian town

Late last week, Madhuban, a town on the Indian side (Bihar State) of the Indo-Nepal border was raided by Maoists from the Nepalese side. Local residents report of an attack with military like precision, the raid supposedly lasted only a few minutes. However, the bands of Maoists were successful in raiding banks, offices and even homes. The raid ended with a high number of casualties as a result of an encounter with the local police. Via the Indian Express:

The attack on Madhuban was the first of its kind—attacking multiple targets in broad daylight. Usually, Naxals attack one target, that too under the cover of darkness.‘‘Their planning had military precision, they started the offensive at 1.15 pm and ended it at 1.25 pm,’’ said Vinay Kumar. Bands of 20-25, many of them women, attacked each target while other groups cordoned off the town.
Eyewitnesses claimed many among the attackers seemed to be Nepalis and Intelligence officials are not ruling out the possibility of Madhuban being a joint operation of Indian and Nepalese Maoists. Though Nepal’s Maoists have denied their involvement in the attack, officials are not so sure. ‘‘They could be wary of the fallout, perhaps why they don’t want to admit to such an operation,’’ says an IB official.To officials, it’s clear that Left wing extremism has made the Nepal border its new turf and there are signs of increasing cooperation between Maoists on both sides.

The Indian state of Bihar, where the attack took place has been a hotbed of Naxalite/Maoist/Left Wing violence for years and a connection between the groups in the two countries has long been suspected. But, this daring raid is a very dangerous precedent of how the Nepalese civil war might spill across the border. Maoists or Left wing groups have long been active in India, having a stronghold across India stretching from the Northern state of Uttar Pradesh to the South till Andhra Pradesh. The unfortunate situation here being that this attack just adds on to the violence in the already troubled region of Bihar

by @ 2:14 am. Filed under India, Asia, South Asia, Nepal, Jatin Varma

28 June, 2005

socio-political critique before blogging

Here is a fascinating story from The Boston Globe–a kind of story that I don’t see much of in contemporary newspapers. It tells of one Ma Zumei and the revival of the artform of which she is a master–storytelling:

Zumei, a traditional Chinese storyteller, performs in the pingshu style
common in China’s northern provinces, where the storyteller’s stylized,
high-pitched voice, accompanied by folk instruments, alternates between
passages of prose and rhymed metrical verse. As Zumei whispers her
first words, accompanied by a young man playing a three-stringed
instrument called the san xian, giggles burst from the younger people
and foreigners in the audience. Her shrill voice, cascading tones, and
exaggerated gestures are a far cry from the saccharine smoothness of
modern popular music. But before long, the audience is laughing and
applauding enthusiastically.

As the correspondent suggests, storytelling was a traditional and popular artform in China, and in other parts of the world–a world before the days of the internet, Hollywood, television, radio, etc.  It also served as a means of socio-political critique, among other things:


by @ 11:45 pm. Filed under Culture, China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Media, Eli Alberts

贪污地共产党=Chinese Coprophagist Party’s colonic-irrigation’

I pleased that
Tze Ming Mok has joined Asiapundt as a junior author. While China’s war on blogs has beem covered extensively elsewhere, the best and funniest summary so far is this post at Yellow Peril.:

In solidarity with censored Chinese bloggers, this special post will replace the offensive and banned English words for 贪污地共产党, 民主, 西藏, 妓女, 法轮工, and 自由, with ‘the Chinese Coprophagist Party’s colonic-irrigation’, ‘demography’, ‘Titfest’, ‘wholesome’, ‘Feel-my Dong’ and ‘fucktown’.

by @ 8:01 pm. Filed under Culture, China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Web/Tech, Weblogs

great moments in chinese journalism (ii)

Once again, the title of this post is without sarcasm (via the China Herald).

In an unprecedented protest, almost 2,500 Chinese journalists have written to the Guangdong High People’s Court to voice opposition against the detention of their colleagues at the Guangdong Metropolis News, reports the China Digital Times.
"We are journalists from the Southern Metropolis News, Beijing News, First Financial Daily, Evening News, Shanghai Youth Daily, Sina.com and Sohu.com… we believe this is an unjust case…"

I had lunch with a reporter from one of Shanghai’s business papers today. Amid various points of conversation, she mentioned that she would never consider working for the state press: "There’s  not enough freedom."

China’s critical independent press has been developing for a while, especially in financial media. But an "organized" and upset independent press seems new.

by @ 7:43 pm. Filed under China, Asia, Coming collapse, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Censorship

xinhua plagarizes xiaxue

Did Xinhua just plagiarize Asia’s most popular blogger XiaXue? Not really, but close enough.

Danwei reports that China’s state news news agency has just run an item on how to measure a penis. XiaXue already posted her method for that ages ago.

I’m surprised the lads at Danwei missed the connection - they’re usually quite on-the-ball about plagiarism in China’s press.

by @ 7:01 pm. Filed under Culture, Blogs, China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Weblogs

nationalism and the state press

The other day, Ian at Harvard Extended was considering a thesis comparing how Chinese nationalism is displayed in its Chinese domestic state news service as opposed to its English-language service. He mused:

The copy that Xinhua produces for Chinese newspapers and broadcast
media has a propoganda mission. The Xinhua foreign language services
try to let foreigners understand China, promote China’s progress and
the struggles it faces, and, when it comes to foreign news, to uphold
China’s national independence, territorial integrity, and sovereignty.
Therefore, the mix of stories that are aimed at these two audiences
should be different. The gatekeepers for the English service — the
editors, translators, and reporters — may dump a lot of the
nationalism-themed stories, because they think it will not appeal to
the audience they are targeting.

For an example of this at play, Kevin in Pudong has translated coverage of the Pew popularity poll by China’s state press:

Recently in France, the media has been reporting a number of stories about things like “Chinese counterfeit money” and “Chinese textile dumping,” which had an effect on the population’s assessment of China. However, from a historical perspective, any French person with the slightest understanding of China will know that China is an ancient country with deep historical and cultural traditions….
One Danish college student said: “Chinese food is good, Chinese people are good. America is a big country, and everything is big there. But China is big too. And China is much more culturally-developed than America. So I like China.”
Regarding America’s poor image in the world, a number of media pointed out that following the Iraq War, America has strived to improve its image in the eyes of the people of the world, but the image of America as a hegemonic power has already been firmly planted in people’s minds.


by @ 1:20 pm. Filed under Culture, China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Media

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