7 July, 2005


My eyes are not on Asia tonight and my heart and prayers are elsewhere.


by @ 9:44 pm. Filed under Terrorism

de soto and mongolia

Mongolia has been making great strides in democratization, and it looks ready to embark on a bold experience in land privatization. I’m a big fan of Hernando de Soto, so this strikes me as marvelous news. Nabetz at New Mongols isn’t as optimistic.:

The question of land-privatization is not a new one in Mongolia. David Sneath addressed the question from a historical perspective in a draft paper called "Notions of Rights over Land and the History of Mongolian Pastoralism" (2000). In this paper, Sneath speaks of historic and traditional Mongolian ideas of land ownership and their development and points out how land reform in the form of privatization has historically been met with strenuous opposition from herders. The emphasis of his article eventually becomes Inner Mongolia. Eventually, he concludes that the story of private ownership in Inner Mongolia (China) should warn us that market liberalism and land privatization (1) does not square with Mongolian sentiments with regard to land and (2) will ultimately cause environmental degradation (case in point, Inner Mongolia) because of the constraints that it places on traditional herding and grazing practices.

by @ 7:33 pm. Filed under Asia, East Asia, Weblogs, Mongolia

10 things china does better

Canadian journalist, author and ex-red guard Jan Wong offers a list of "10 things China does better than we do." I’ll concur that (coastal) China does beat Canada in many of the points she mentions - banking hours and cell phones particularly - but as someone who has lived in Singapore for half a decade, it should be noted that many of the items on the list are done far, far better in the city state and elsewhere in Asia.

1. Cellphones
By any standard you can think of — coverage, price, ubiquity — China’s cellphone practices beat ours. You can use them in elevators, subways and parking garages. They work in Tibet, at the Great Wall, in remotest rural China, which is more than you can say for Ontario cottage country. Patients, doctors, nurses and visitors use them in hospitals, too, with no apparent ill effects. …

by @ 3:15 pm. Filed under China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia


From Kevin in Pudong, translation of an item from a Chinese academic who argues that it is racist NOT to criticize China:

   According to a Xinhua report from Washington, “data from the US Bureau of Justice Statistics shows that there are over 2 million people serving prison and jail sentences in the United States. According to documents prepared by the British gov—ment, this exceeded the amount of prisoners in all other countries, including Russia, ranking first in the world.”
   By the time I got to this part of the report, I started feeling a little suspicious: what does “all other countries, including Russia” mean? What about China, who accounts for half of the executions in the world one year after another? We Chinese citizens aren’t even qualified to be included amongst “other countries”? Wouldn’t you say this is a form of discrimination?

by @ 3:00 pm. Filed under Culture, China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Media

pitching a tent

Who says blogs can’t be revenue generating? Via the Mainichi Daily:

Inviting her classmate Mai along for the ride, so to speak, Masami posted a notice on a blog and immediately got 30 responses, despite her fairly steep charge of 50,000 yen a head.
Jitsuwa Knuckles supplies photos of Masami accompanied by young Jun Hashimoto, 20, an underclassman at the same school who got the nod when he admitted to the campfire girls that he was still completely uninitiated in the ways sex.
"Really? How sweet," she crooned, eager to deprive him of his virginity.
Two other guys, Naoki and Masaru, joined in for the fun and games. The group left the train station set off the sticks like five perfectly innocent hikers. When they arrived at the camp site, darkness was fast approaching. While one of the guys pitched the tents and laid out the sleeping accommodations, another got the briquettes going on the barbie.

by @ 2:51 pm. Filed under Culture, Japan, Blogs, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Web/Tech, Weblogs

cnooc/unocal roundup (ii)

There’s lots of great blogging on the CNOOC bid for Unocal. That’s not suprising given the blogosphere’s unfailing ability to denounce the actions of grandstanding politicians. Yesterday we noted Billmon’s fine screed on the US Congressional vote against the proposed takeover. Today, Beijing PR flack Imagethief today lambasts the typically ham-fisted CPC reaction:

Honestly, there may be a brilliant PR slagfest going on behind the scenes, but publicly the rhetoric on both sides is pure cold war. I really think China, as a state, is PR deficient. They don’t seem to understand how to make public statements that don’t sound utterly provocative:

"We demand that the U.S. Congress correct its mistaken ways of politicizing economic and trade issues and stop interfering in the normal commercial exchanges between enterprises of the two countries," the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement released Tuesday.

I can’t find the whole statement on MOFA’s English website; possibly this is an inflammatory translation of a perfectly reasonable written Chinese statement (this was, apparently, a written statement and not from one of MOFA’s regular press conferences). But if it has been reported as written, honestly, it seems dim. If I were writing a statement calculated to harden the position of the US Congress, it would look pretty much like this. And even if it is an inflammatory translation, that’s probably something MOFA ought to take account of in its statements. That is, if it doesn’t want to see US congressmen burning Chinese flags

Glenzo, a HK-based CNOOC shareholder also cringed at the MOFA statement, he much prefers the level argument put forth by CNOOC chairman Fu Chengyu (via WSJ):

The majority of Unocal’s Asian reserves are gas. Its proven reserves are mostly committed to long-term contracts in the region, notably for domestic gas markets in Thailand and Bangladesh. Unocal also has very substantial gas resources–or unbooked reserves–particularly offshore East Kalimantan, Indonesia, which will be developed for the production of liquefied natural gas (LNG). Although CNOOC will have no direct influence over the marketing of the LNG, since this is conducted by Indonesian state-owned entities, it is expected that the clean-burning LNG will be sold primarily into Asian markets.

Brad Setser looks at another WSJ piece on the bid and muses that the proposed deal can be seen as an asset swap:

Consequently, it is fair to say that China financed the purchase of Unocal out of its trade surplus. But it equally could be said — given that China is attracting 60 or 70 billion dollars of FDI a year — that in some broad sense the purchase of Unocal is an asset swap. China gets Unocal, and in particular its Asian gas fields and in exchange US and other firms get manufacturing facilities in China. Rather than using the dollars associated with inward FDI flows to purchaser even more Treasuries and Agencies for China’s reserves, in some sense CNOOC plans to draw on the broad pool of dollars coming into China to purchase a US firm.

At China Matters, an argument that the US left has latched on to the bid as a way to compensate for its otherwise dovish foreign policy.:

Much of the opposition stems from a visceral distaste for the CCP regime and awareness of the human rights horrors it has perpetrated over the last eighty years, culminating in the Tian An Men incident.
But some of it looks like a calculated attempt to stake out some defendable political turf for the left on national security and foreign affairs.
Americans are becoming increasingly aware that the U.S.A. is an empire, with burdens and opportunities well beyond those of ordinary nation-states. And Americans recognize that the right wing has an ideology matching this power—kick-ass unilateralism in the service of U.S. hegemony.
The Democrats and, especially the left, are having a hard time coming up with an electable package that combines traditional—and admirable—concern with human rights and social justice with a strategy that defines and manages American power in a crowd-pleasingly pro-active and hairy-chested way.

by @ 2:46 pm. Filed under Money, Asia, East Asia, Economy, Northeast Asia, North Korea

more asian internet filtering

The Great Firewall of China continues to expand beyond the mainland’s borders, with distressing news coming from Japan and Nepal.

First, from the ‘tiny archipelago’ Gaijin Biker reports:

Hot on the heels of recent news that Japan will discourage people from using the Internet anonymously comes another disturbing announcement. Kyodo News reports:

The government said Thursday it will promote the use of filtering software against what it judges to be harmful information over the Internet, in a bid to prevent such incidents as group suicides and production of explosives via use of the Internet.

The government will map out procedures and criteria for police to ask Internet service providers to disclose information on the senders of messages on planned suicides. It will also try to educate people about the dangers of "harmful online information," and enhance consultation services about it, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda said.

Japan’s proposed censorship would be limited
to ‘DIY sucicide,’ bomb-making and generally reprehensible sites. Still, as Gaijin biker notes in the full post, there is a slippery

And ICE reports:

Reports suggest that the websites www.insn.org and www.samudaya.org are being filtered in Nepal. Recall that Nepal actually severed its connection to the Internet itself after the royal coup.

Nepal’s censorship seems limited to items critical of the ruling monarch. Or, in extreme circumstances, everything that hasn’t been state-approved. Yes, there is a slippery slope: Nepal is close to the bottom

by @ 12:46 am. Filed under Japan, Blogs, China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Media, Web/Tech, Weblogs, Censorship, Nepal

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