31 August, 2005

wednesday links

After being one of the bloggers who ran with the Reuters item saying that Sister Hibiscus was the target of a crackdown, I’ll hold off on comment on this item in the Telegraph suggesting that the CCP are seeking to ban the Mongolian Cow Sour Yoghurt Super
Girl Contest because it’s too democratic

SupergirlsChina’s propaganda tsars are even less
impressed by the second year of the Mongolian Cow Sour Yoghurt Super
Girl Contest, to give it its full title. One official of the main
broadcasting regulator has said that the show could be taken off the
air if it fails to correct its “worldliness”. Critics from CCTV, the
state-run broadcaster, initially labelled the show vulgar, boorish and
lacking in social responsibility.
Sources said that censors were concerned that the democratic
methods used to select the winner from 120,000 entrants could stir
trouble. For weeks fans have been crowding shopping centres across the
country, carrying posters of their favorite contestants in an attempt
to rally votes for them. On Friday the streets of Changsha, the capital
of Hunan, were swamped with thousands of fans who celebrated until
dawn. Security guards were called in last week at two shopping centres
after Super Girl fans became unruly.

Kim Jong-il’s online public relations site has just received praise from UPI.:

Since it was
launched last summer, North Korea’s Web site to promote the country
with foreigners in mind has taken many by surprise, not least because
of its sleek look and well-organized contents.

There are currently about 30 Web sites backed by Pyongyang, but most are like http://www.uriminzokkiri.com,
which is a site largely devoted to singing the praises of Kim Jong-Il
and his father, as well as the virtues of the hermit nation. In
contrast, Naenara is available not only in Korean, but also seven other
languages, which also include the languages spoken in the five
countries that make up the ongoing six-party talks over the disarming
of North Korea, namely English, Russian, Chinese and Japanese, in
addition to French and German.

I often give UPI a pass over their links to South Korea’s Unification Church (aka, Moonies) but I really must question the agency’s editorial independence from its owner and church head Sun Myung Moon if they consider this to  have a "sleek look and well-organized contents."


Via D J McGuire an item from Taiwan News Online on - among other things - Cisco, Censorship and China:

Gutmann was basing his arguments on those made in his book titled
"Losing the New China - A Story of American Commerce, Desire and
Betrayal," which discusses in detail how American businesses played a
role in restricting freedom of thought in China, in turn betraying the
American values of liberty, democracy, and human rights. Doing business in China could potentially
endanger the national security of Taiwan and the United States as well
as violate democratic values, American scholar-businessman Ethan
Gutmann argued yesterday at a forum held in Taipei.

On a related note, Ian Lamont points to a comprehensive study on China’s Great Firewall.

Warning, the Asia Financial Crisis is coming back! I was going to point to an item in which Andy Xie of Morgan Stanley makes that argument, but I’ll save analysis of Xie for the next China Economic Roundup. Instead, some annecdotal evidence. Why does AsiaPundit sense a crisis? He sees similarities between now and 1997. For instance, we have hot money inflows, overcapacities, and …

this exact same thing happened to me South Korea in 1997 just weeks before the Thai baht crashed!!:

once went to a Baskin Robbins ice cream shop here in Korea and asked
for a chocolate shake. I was told they could only make mocha,
strawberry or melon shakes (not the exact flavors because I can’t
remember the exact ones but it doesn’t really matter). Being that they
do advertise themselves as having "31 Flavors," I politely offered to
pay the same price they charge for those options except I would like
chocolate, please.

The worker freaked out. "It’s not on the menu," I was told.
I know," I responded, "but can you not just make one and charge me the same as any other?"
among co-workers took place, a phone call was made and the manager came
out from the back to tell me that no, a chocolate shake was impossible.

We’re all screwed!!

Speaking of economic bubbles, I had thought that Shanghai’s recent crackdown of was a draconian but understandable measure. I haven’t read up on Seoul’s problems but ouch!:

Mrhousingbubble2On the demand side, the government will raise the capital gains tax
on owners of two houses to 50 percent from the current 9 to 36 percent.
Property holdings tax on apartments and unused land will be raised to 1 percent by 2019 from the current 0.15 percent.
assessment base of the comprehensive real estate tax, a national tax
designed to crack down on real estate speculation, will be raised to
100 percent of the standard price gradually by 2009 from the current 50
And owners of properties worth more than 600 million
won will be subject to a comprehensive real estate tax beginning next
year. Currently, the tax targets people with homes worth more than 900
million won.

And still more bubbling in Hong Kong! We’re all screwed! Blame Baskin Robbins and their inability to make chocolate milkshakes in Pusan.

And on milkshakes, I’m so happy the Brits left Hong Kong with a functional legal system.:

KissselNancy Kissel slept alongside her husband Robert’s body for two nights, therefore she is not guilty
of murder.  He was into black gay porn websites, cocaine-fuelled sodomy
and other normal, healthy investment bankers’ pastimes, therefore she
is not guilty of murder.  She was helping to organize the United Jewish
Congregation annual dinner, therefore she is not guilty of murder.  Her
handling of pre-Dad’s-visit rotting-corpse- disposal issues was a tad
inexpert, therefore she is not guilty of murder.  The Tai Lam Women’s
Prison baseball team are in high spirits today.

The image of Kissel is snatched without attribution from a Yahoo! image search. Curiously, the first result is Phil!



Congrats, Phil. In a few years your mug will show up in a poorly researched true-crime novel.

Warning to Olympians, if you beat out India for the gold then Bollywood will be mean to you.:

Ahmed Al Maktoum, the shooter from Dubai, is that an assassin from Dubai in the film Sarkar
is referred to as an Olympic gold medalist in shooting. Al Maktoum won
an Olympic gold in the double trap last year, beating India’s
Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, and feels it’s a derogatory reference to

More on lingerie model Michelle Leslie’s ‘conversion’ at IndCoup:


Indonesia is an unpredictable place. You should always expect
the unexpected. Maybe it’s something they put in the water. But
whatever it is, the latest news concerning the Aussie model recently
arrested in Bali for drugs possession is simply astonishing to say the
least. Because, right out of the blue, Michelle Leslie, who was only
recently posing in raunchy photoshoots covered in nothing more than
body paint is now donning the full Muslim headdress!

But why? Bali is a Hindu island after all. And what’s more, her
actions have caused such an uproar back in Aus that her family have had
to make a public apology to offended Muslims who quite understandably
think she’s taking the piss.

You can’t judge a book by the cover, but you can usually judge a movie from the trailer; Danny Bloom says Geisha sucks.

Geisha Having recently seen the trailer for Arthur Golden’s Memoirs of a Geisha,
which Hollywood has tried to turn into a movie to hit world movie
screens for Christmas viewing (and Oscar nominations time), I can’t
help but feel this film will be a dud.
Why? Well, I’m not a
New York Times film critic, and I don’t have a Ph.D. in film studies,
but one look at the trailer and it’s obvious that the American
producers erred bigtime by deciding to cast Chinese actresses in the
roles of the Japanese characters in Golden’s book.
For one
thing, the big-name Chinese actresses “look” like Chinese women, from
their faces to their hair to their body language, and they speak
English in the movie with Chinese-accented English. It’s obvious they
are not Japanese. The film becomes a travesty of movie-making.


It’s Blog Day! And no one gave me a present!

Jeff Ooi celebrates with a tour of the Malaysian blogosphere. Kenny Sia celebrates with a tour of the Malaysian babe-o-sphere.


In Singapore, Mr Wang disagrees with the linking policy of metablog Tomorrow.sg, which is - essentially - if you put something in the public domain… it’s PUBLIC!:

At one level, Mr Wang agrees with Tomorrow’s position, for the reasons
that Agagooga has stated. Mr Wang himself regularly links to other
bloggers’ posts without seeking their permission. Although "Did Mr Wang Say So?" is on a much smaller scale than Tomorrow, the same principles ought to apply.
On the other hand, Mr Wang uses his brain when choosing his
hyperlinks. And Mr Wang considers it inappropriate for Tomorrow to take
an overly cavalier approach to this task. It is one thing to say, "Oh,
YOU put your personal story on the Internet yourself, don’t blame US
for publicising it." This kind of excuse, while not entirely invalid,
is a poor excuse for the Tomorrow editors to display bad editorial
taste, to make bad editorial choices and to be lousy human beings.
Tomorrow (or any other blog) is perfectly free to act as a
screaming tabloid if it wants to. It doesn’t necessarily follow that it
is a good thing for Tomorrow (or any other blog) to act as a screaming
tabloid. And the fact that people didn’t stick "Respect My Privacy"
banners or buttons all over their own blogs doesn’t mean that a
Tomorrow editor can’t exercise some good judgment on his own accord to
do what’s right.

AsiaPundit doesn’t mind being a tabloid blog. Asia has a three easily available English-language broadsheets - the AWSJ, IHT and FT all nicely acronymed to increase appeal in Singapore - and it could use a good tabloid. Further, most of the Tomorrow.sg-linked blogs are Blogger hosted. If you want your blog to be private… password protect it. Duh!

But speaking of Tabloid Crap, that’s the category under which :

WhoopieAccording to the JoongAng Ilbo (Korean), Koreans fart a lot.
Hey, don’t blame me for this one — blame the JoongAng. Anyway, the
piece said that while it might be hard to draw a hard and fast
conclusion, one could guess that Koreans break wind particularly often
due to the large amount of gas-producing foods they consume — beans,
veggies, fruits and raw foods. The rising consumption of milk doesn’t
help matters, and those with trouble digesting lactose and the elderly
with weakening digestive power are particularly susceptible to
becoming, in the colorful choice of words by the JoongAng, “gas shells”
(like in the WWI artillery round).

And the JoongAng Ilbo, I recall, is a broadsheet.

Hey, Google solved that East Sea/Sea of Japan problem that was causing all of those DNS attacks across the East Sea Sea of Japan body of water that separates the two countries.:


Oh while today is blog day and the day Malaysia gained independence, tomorrow, September 1st, is the day Tibet lost it.

by @ 9:47 pm. Filed under Culture, Japan, South Korea, Blogs, Singapore, China, India, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Asia, East Asia, Economy, Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, Media, South Asia, Weblogs, North Korea, Film, Australia, Tibet

30 August, 2005

tuesday links

China has declared it will ban tobacco advertising and cigarette machines, things that Imagethief notes, don’t actually exist.:

Chinacig… I’m not really sure of the impact that this treaty will have,
regardless of the vigor of enforcement. In my time in China, I have
seen almost no cigarette advertising that I can recall, and exactly
zero cigarette vending machines. I have, however, seen cigarettes being
sold in every corner store in the country, in every restaurant (just
ask the waitress to bring you a pack) and by a nearly infinite number
of street vendors operating from suitcases, cardboard boxes and
blankets rolled out flat on the sidewalk. So I’m not sure a ban of
cigarette machines will keep the devil-sticks away from the grasping
hands of China’s innocent babes.
A ban of sidewalks and restaurants might have some effect.

While AsiaPundit acknowledges that smoking is harmful, he doesn’t believe that banning tobacco companies from event sponsorship is a good idea. And it’s a shame China doesn’t have any tobacco advertising, the pre-revolutionary stuff was rather keen.


The bans, no matter how useless, may still be a positive step for China’s health. It was not so long ago that Japan was also a nation of smokers. Now, the government is auctioning its 200,000 yen luxury ashtrays.:

AshholesThere once was a time in Japan when tobacco was king, with puffing
considered the norm and non-smokers treated as second-class citizens.
Those days are long gone as smoking is now banned on trains, in
stations, in certain areas of the city, and in other areas where large
groups of people gather.
One of the more comical stories to come out of the no smoking era is the report that officials in Yamagata, Japan are planning to auction off 28 cast metal “luxury ashtrays”
that were once positioned at various locations around municipal
offices. The ashtrays are no longer necessary since smoking is now
banned in government buildings.

At Far Outliers, some reminiscing from a Chinese ‘volunteer’ from the Korean War.

One afternoon during the "airing grievances" session [among Chinese
POWs in Korea], the medic said something almost incredible, though
there must have been some truth to the story. He told us: "When our
former division suffered heavy casualties near Wonsan, we rushed over
to evacuate the wounded men. There were hundreds of them lying on a
hillside. I was naive and just went ahead bandaging those crying for
help. But our director told us to check the insides of the men’s
jackets first. If the insignia of a hammer crossed with a cycle was
there, that man must be shipped back immediately and given all medical
help. So we followed his orders. All those men who had the secret sign
in their jackets were Party members. We left behind lots of ordinary
men like ourselves."

Not many people get to take in the Communist Party retreat at Baidaihe. That’s a shame, it sounds like fun.

The waitresses seemed dainty and neat after the big Russian women of
the night before. Then they disappeared into a side room where a lot of
good-natured shouting and screamimg was going on. Some women were
egging someone on in a drinking contest, Mr Dong explained. I thought
the waitresses had gone in to restore order. But then Mr Dong said "It
is the fuwuyuan who are daring the leaders to drink …" One
red-faced man tried to escape but was physically manhandled back into
the room by these petite butter-wouldn’t-melt-in-ther-mouths girls.
Then after a crescendo of squealing and chanting, three men emerged
looking bedraggled and reeking of baijiu.
"These fuwuyuan
are very naughty," said Mr Dong, grinning. "They use very rude words to
make the men drink, saying they are not men and can’t make their wife
happy …"
As we got up and left the dining room, we passed the side
room and saw one man passed out on the floor. The waitresses were just
"He is one of the Beijing city party leaders," said Mr Dong. "He won the contest."

The Aseanist refers to an Asia Times article on the shifting of alliances in the region.:

RiskIndia and South Korea are sitting on the fence and could go either way
depending on how events play themselves out. For example, Chinese
support for Pakistani aggression could put India on the side of the US
against China, while aggressive and unilateral military action by the
US could solidify an Asian alliance. The current Sino-Indian
rapprochement could also be unraveled by a flare-up over their
territorial disputes in Aksai China and Arunachel Pradesh, energy
competition on the world stage and China’s encroachment into India’s
"sphere of influence" as seen by its improving relations with
Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka, attempts to join the South Asian
Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and growing naval presence
in the Indian Ocean.

The maker of political film Singapore Rebel has surrendered his camera and tapes to the police.:

A Singaporean film maker who could be jailed for making a documentary
on an opposition politician has surrendered his video camera and tapes
to police investigators.
Martyn See told AFP the equipment and
six existing tapes of "Singapore Rebel," a documentary about Chee Soon
Juan, secretary-general of the Singapore Democratic Party, were handed
over on Monday evening.
He was told to surrender the tapes,
including two master copies, and the digital video camera after police
questioned him a second time last week about the documentary.
have no idea when they will return or even if they will return at all,"
See said. "They just said they need the camera and tapes to investigate
my case which was violating the Films Act."
Singapore’s Films
Act bans political advertising using films or videos, as well as movies
directed towards any political end such as promoting political parties.

Singapore’s People’s Action Party controls all of the press, which do nothing but positive coverage of the party. You’d think someone would try to get Channel News Asia’s stuff seized by the cops.:

CnaMr Yap Keng Ho aka Uncle Yap, an activist in Singapore, made a police report today against CNA. Uncle Yap is asking the police to look into two programmes by the state-controlled local broadcaster ChannelNewsAsia or CNA, Success Stories and Up Close. These programmes can also be considered "party political films" under the Films Act.

Why get a spy satellite when you could use Google Earth?:

South Korea is discussing with the United States measures to ban
private American companies from showing satellite photos of South
Korea’s presidential office Cheong Wa Dae, the Defense Security Command
(DSC) and other facilities related to national security on the Internet.
National Security Council is discussing the matter with the U.S. side,"
Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Kim Man-soo said. "At the moment, we have no
way under current laws to prevent U.S. companies from taking satellite
photos (of Korean security facilities) and releasing them publicly as
part of commercial activities."
Kim was responding to a report in
the daily Segye Times that said search portal Google has a service
called Google Earth that makes available images of South Korea’s
presidential office, the DSC and naval and air force bases.

Cool! Look, it’s President Rho’s house!


Google Earth is currently not available on Mac, but I would be interested in seeing if anyone can get me aerial of Zhongnanhai.

Visit OneFreeKorea for the Carnival of Revolutions and the North Korea news update.

Also from Korea:

No judge, no jury, no trial, oh by the way, your father is a Japanese collaborator and a traitor to Korea.

Aussie lingerie model Michelle Leslie, under arrest for drug possession in Indonesia, has changed her faith, the Swanker notes.:

MichelleleslieMichellelesliehijabSo Michelle Leslie has gone from this… to this.

Quite the contrast.  It seems Michelle has found God:

"Michelle as a Muslim made the decision to wear the hijab
(head-covering) to find solace with God, not for any other purpose,"
family spokesman Sean Mulcahy said yesterday.

This is just a hunch, but AsiaPundit suspects Michelle wasn’t wearing a hijab when she was nabbed with the ecstasy tablets.

AsiaPundit was going to link to at least one post from new group blog Paris Indonesia today, but they were all so good he couldn’t decide. Read the whole thing.

From Angry Chinese Blogger, 101 ways to tell you live in China.:

Spittoons are
considered a foreign contrivance that has no place in Asian society. As
are cheese and non-smoking sections in maternity hospitals.
get into the back of a Taxi cab and find that it has no safety belts,
but that the seats are still in the plastic wrappers that they were
delivered in.
You can go to prison for trying to hold an election, but not for rigging one….

Cambodian strongman Hun Sen is not someone I usually agree with, and I’m sure his comment here has a touch of xenophobia, but I heard enough tales about international aid workers in Cambodia and East Timor to understand his point. Via Cambodia Morning:

(Kyodo) _ Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said Monday the foreign aid given to Cambodia every year is spent mostly on .
In the year 2002 alone, he said, some $115 million was spent on technical assistance.
Sen told a gathering of government officials that much of that money is
spent on first-class air tickets and five-star hotels for foreign
experts, who sometimes come to Cambodia only to polish the results of
hard work done by Cambodians.

Two great Taiwan blogs, Jujuflop and View from Taiwan, have something to say about an AP article on the alleged dwindling support for independence.   

Western journalists do not have the most basic understanding of Taiwan,
or they think it is too complex to explain to their readers. That is my
conclusion after having read the latest article about Taiwan which
fails completely to dig beneath the surface and get any more nuanced
than describing a battle between absolute independence and absolute

AsiaPundit has posted a few items about healthcare in China recently, from Marginal Revolution, Amit Varma and Sepia Mutiny, a disturbing NYT item on an Indian maternity ward.:

BabyJust as the painful ordeal of childbirth finally ended and Nesam
Velankanni waited for a nurse to lay her squalling newborn on her
chest, the maternity hospital’s ritual of extortion began.
she even glimpsed her baby, she said, a nurse whisked the infant away
and an attendant demanded a bribe. If you want to see your child,
families are told, the price is $12 for a boy and $7 for a girl, a lot
of money for slum dwellers scraping by on a dollar a day. The practice
is common here in the city, surveys confirm.
Mrs. Velankanni was
penniless, and her mother-in-law had to pawn gold earrings that had
been a precious marriage gift so she could give the money to the
attendant, or ayah. Mrs. Velankanni, a migrant to Bangalore who had
been unprepared for the demand, wept in frustration.

Another Malaysian politician has joined the blogosphere.

Perhaps the collapse of the CCP won’t be brought about by laid-off SOE employees or aggrieved farmers. No, perhaps the future belongs to the young.:

NightelfChinese players of the "World of Warcraft" online game have begun an Internet signature campaign protesting Chinese government plans to limit the country’s online gamers to three hours of consecutive playtime.

"These restrictions violate the rights of online game players," one
Chinese player wrote on the petition. "Trying to prevent young players
from being addicted is good, but this new system will be a total

As of August 29, more than 1,000 Chinese gamers had signed the petition opposing implementation of the new time limits.

by @ 9:39 pm. Filed under Culture, Japan, South Korea, Blogs, China, India, Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, Weblogs, North Korea, Australia

29 August, 2005

monday links

Red Herring reports that the crackdown on Sister Hibiscus is less than promised.:

there’s been pressure on Sister Hibiscus from on high, it comes as news
to Bokee.com (formerly BlogChina.com), which hosts her blog. A
spokesman for Bokee.com flatly denied that any such instructions had
been handed down. “No one from the government has said anything to us
about Sister Hibiscus,” said Mai Tian, director of Bokee.com’s
Interactivity Center.
Mai noted that her blog, at furongjiejie.bokee.com, is still being
updated several times a day and remains, by far, one of Bokee’s most
visited blogs.
A Beijing Youth Daily
reporter who covers society, Internet, and entertainment also said she
had heard nothing about a government pronouncement on Sister Hibiscus.
Jeremy Goldkorn, Beijing-based publisher of Danwei.org, a web site devoted to media in China, compares
Sister Hibiscus to Gary Brolsma, the Saddle Brook, New Jersey man who
rode to unwelcome fame when a self-shot video of his lip-sync and dance
routine to Romanian dance-pop tune “Numa Numa” hit the web.
“That kid is conspicuously absent from Hollywood and the American news media today, and that certainly isn’t because of
some clampdown,” said Mr. Goldkorn. “The whole idea of a Furong Jiejie
clampdown is absurd.”

Rebecca McKinnion has some words for the sister.

Now the important thing to understand about Sister H., who is plain and
not very talented, is that her stardom was basically the result of
bloggers and chatroom denizens making fun of her - a situation which in
her egotism and lack of sophistication she herself failed to
understand.  The plot only thickens from there.

And also for Reuters:

Usually, when somebody claims to have been cracked down upon, a
responsible journalist will make the effort to get at least
off-the-record confirmation from official Chinese contacts (even if
indirectly via friends of Chinese officials or people who work in
Chinese media organizations who tend to know about crackdowns) that
such a crackdown has in fact occurred. When I worked as a journalist in
China, I myself ran across situations in which artists and writers
claimed to have been censored when the reality was they just weren’t
very talented - but were trying to salvage their careers by claiming
political victimhood and getting buzz with Western journalists. The
tactic works surprisingly often, I’m afraid.

In other Asian fraud news, Jeff Ooi has outed a photographer who wasn’t what he claimed to be:

Natgeo_evan250There is a far bigger question to the fraudulent claims made by Natgeo photographer wannabe.
The integrity of photography website PhotoMalaysia.com,
which allows the fraudster prominent visibility in its online space and
on-ground activities distinctively related to it, is now severely in
is a live story of how a popular web forum has been found to condone a
fraud, and despite the fact that its administrators have been notified
of questionable claims made in their website, had chosen to endorse the

You know your blog is influential when state media plagiarizes it:

China Economic Net, which is is a website under the state-owned Economic Daily (经济日报), has pirate-published a Danwei article verbatim:
China Economic Net: The final week of super voice girls
Danwei: The final week of TV sensation Super Voice Girls
Socialism is the best!

Big news in Malaysia, Dr Mahathir has returned his Protons, the national car that was part of his legacy.:

ProtonIn a move that shocked many, Dr. Mahathir Mohamad
has returned all his official vehicles belonging to Proton, in what
seems to be his latest show of displeasure. It is by far the loudest
show of protest that the Proton advisor has undertaken.
In a story so hot that Wong Chun Wai penned it for
The Star, where he reported sources as saying that Dr. Mahathir has
taken to using his personal vehicle to get to work, adding that he was
‘deeply hurt’ with the recent developments within Proton.

From Virginia Postrel, signs that China’s legal system is improving.:

The WaPost’s Philip Pan reports
on an extraordinary development in China: a class-action suit by rural
villagers forced into abortions and sterilizations. The key argument in
the case, which was organized by Chen Guangcheng, a self-taught legal
activist, is that these coercive measures violate a 2002 law
guaranteeing Chinese citizens "informed choice" in reproductive
matters. The country’s population-control policies are now supposed to
rely on financial incentives, not physical threats and coercion.
The lawsuit is not just a human-rights crusade. It’s a crucial test
of China’s commitment to the rule of law–a commitment that matters
greatly to the country’s economic development as well as its civil
society. Pan’s reporting suggests that central-government officials are
at least saying the right things. Toward the end of the piece, which is
well worth reading in its entirety, he interviews a central-government population-control honcho:

Yu Xuejin, a senior official with the national family planning
commission in Beijing, said his office had received complaints about
abuses in Linyi and asked provincial authorities to investigate. He
said the practices described by the farmers, including forced
sterilization and abortion, were "definitely illegal."

Lucia has some questions for the HR department running Malaysia’s space program.:

Astronautahh… so malaysia is now in the process of selecting the right person to become the country’s first astronaut.
854 people applied for the post! didn’t know there were so many people
that interested in going to the moon. however, it is not that easy to
get selected. there will be a series of rigorous tests going on to
short list the applicants….
well, malaysia’s vision - destination moon by 2020.
but what i don’t quite understand is the applicants are mostly in late
20s or 30s. let’s say a 32 years old is selected, and malaysia only
hope they’ll be able to send their first man as astronaut in 2020, this
means another 15 years time… by that time the 32 years old will be 48!
*blur blur*

Thailand’s government is regressing.:

Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has extended his offensive
against journalists to his own press conferences, using a hand-held
buzzer to ridicule (and refuse to answer) questions he deems
"destructive." This undignified behavior has aroused considerable anger
in the international journalistic community. Combine this with the
bizarre cabinet meeting last week where Mr. Thaksin grilled his
ministers on which of them had a penis-enlargement operation, and it
looks like the Thai government is regressing back toward infancy.


More Here!

A test on the Great Firewall.

Monday’s gratuitous shots of the female body comes to us via Japundit.:


In case you missed it, Saturday was Samba day in Tokyo.
Samba dancers from Japan and other countries gathered for the Asakusa Samba Carnival parade where they strutted their stuff to drums and whistles before hundreds of thousands of spectators.

From the Marginal Revolution a China Fact.:

…in China, where government regulations severely limit distribution
and piracy is common, Hollywood studios took in a grand total of $1.5
million (slightly more than one-tenth of a penny per capita) from
theaters in the first quarter of 2005.

In spite of that, as noted at Keywords, Hollywood sees the Chinese market as a potential cash cow.:

Writing in the Asia Times, Zafar Anjum explores why China’s film industry has netted so much love from Hollywood, while India hasn’t produced a single art-house hit since Lagaan
won the best foreign language film Oscar in 2001. Part of his answer is
that the Indian film industry is content to live off of its loyal

India’s bright directors at home don’t
give a damn about the global entertainment market. For them, netting in
the desis (natives) everywhere generates enough moolah.

Gateway Pundit informs us of the passing of a Bishop in China.

Chinesemartyrs1Bishop Xie was arrested for "loyalty and obedience to the Pope."
This painting commemorates the 120 Chinese Martyrs canonized in the year 2000 by John Paul II.
An elderly Chinese Catholic Bishop who had been jailed for 28 years because of his faith has died of leukemia in China:
Xie Shiguang, the bishop of Mingdong, died of leukemia on Thursday.
Xie, 88, was first arrested in 1955 by Chinese authorities "because of
his loyalty and obedience to the pope," and released a year later,
Vatican radio reported late Saturday.
He was arrested
again in 1958 and jailed until 1980, Vatican Radio said. Xie was also
imprisoned from 1984-1987, and finally for two years starting in 1990,
and was kept under surveillance by authorities until his death, the
radio report said.

North Korea may or may not return to the six-party talks. Via the Marmot, an argument from Cato that stopping getting North Korea from getting nukes :

Ch1605The most recent round of six-party talks (involving China, Russia,
Japan, South Korea, North Korea and the United States) made, at best,
incremental progress toward a solution to the crisis. Throughout the
negotiations, the U.S. goal has remained the same: a complete,
verifiable and irreversible end to North Korea’s nuclear program.
growing number of influential Americans are dissatisfied with such a
“narrow” agenda, however. Republican Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas,
Michael O’Hanlon of the Brookings Institution and Michael Horowitz of
the Hudson Institute are among those who demand that the United States
add North Korea’s human rights practices and the issue of regime
“transformation” to the list of topics the next round of six-party
talks must address. Congressional passage of the North Korean Human
Rights Act last year points to a similar strategy.
That approach would be a profound mistake.

I’ve said before that no one in Washington should be losing any sleep over the Sino-Russian wargames the same can’t be said for Pyongyang.:

Yellow_seaUnless this isn’t a “War game”, but the preparation for staging for a lightning invasion of North Korea.
Not by us, but by the Communist Chinese and the Russians, who both
share a border and an unfortunate history with the Hermit Kingdom.
There are only three routes out of North Korea into China. The
Chinese have spent the last 4 years building elaborate fences to
control those three exits. The very last thing the Chinese want is
millions of famine suffering refugees streaming into China, and the
same goes for Russia.
And the very last thing either of these countries wants is one more
place where the United States has allies sharing a border with their
country. One way or another, North Korea is going to fall, its just a
question of will it be a “controlled fall” or a total catastrophe. If
nothing is done, catastrophe is assured, therefore, something must be
done, but the question is “by whom”. China has a great interest in
seeing that it’s a “controlled fall”, and so does Russia, and they both
have an interest in seeing that we stay out of it.

For more, check out Martyn’s latest post at the Peking Duck.

Finally, Mr Miyagi has new digs and his very own niamod!


by @ 9:50 pm. Filed under Culture, Japan, South Korea, Blogs, China, India, Taiwan, Malaysia, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, Media, South Asia, Weblogs, Censorship, North Korea, Film

china economic roundup (xi)

AsiaPundit must give a tip of his akubra to CSR Asia for introducing me to Brian Schawarz’s blog
and to this article by Schwarz in The American Thinker.

In recent months
the mainstream media has been overflowing with articles discussing the
economic threat that China poses to the global economy in industries
ranging from textiles to autos. In response to these anxieties and
fears, many politicians on both the left and right are pressing for
ill-conceived tariffs on Chinese exports and limitations on Chinese
investment into key industries.
While it is true
many Americans and Europeans face the possibility of layoffs and lower
wages caused by intense Chinese competition, I have watched this
growing backlash against China with a mixture concern and dismay.  As
an American instructor of business management in Beijing and Shanghai
for the last five years, I’m becoming increasing convinced that the
Chinese economy in the years ahead will not be as strong as many
so-called Western experts would like readers to believe.
Westerners get carried away with irrational exuberance about the number
of new Shanghai skyscrapers going up or the millions of new cars
clogging the streets of Beijing, foreigners would do well to gain a
greater understanding of the massive economic challenges its Communist
leaders need to tackle in the next few years.

I’ve long argued that the hype about China’s promise - as well as the hype on the China threat - is all overdone. Schwarz has a good round up on why. On a similar theme, another must read is this MacLean’s article reproduced by Shanghai’s NYT bureau chief Howard French.:

At its apex, Japan’s economy crumbled like a house of cards. The yen,
which had been kept weak to promote exports, was engineered upward to
rein in fast growth, igniting a speculative real estate bubble. When it
burst, the banks, which had lent money to companies based on their real
estate equity, were left virtually bankrupt. Trillions in personal and
corporate wealth disappeared overnight. The implosion revealed
structural rot beneath the economy’s seemingly ironclad exterior. The
upshot was 15 years of stagnation that Japan is only just now emerging
China is, in many ways, following in the footsteps of Japan’s early
success. Nobel prize-winning economist Robert Mundell recently compared
China’s ramp-up to Japan’s beginnings as a low cost manufacturer in the
1950s and ’60s. And now, like Japan was in the 1980s, China is focused
on expanding into international markets and on developing its own
technology for sale to the world.
But other similarities are more disturbing. Andy Xie, chief Asia
economist with U.S. investment bank Morgan Stanley, points to the
US$350 billion in speculative “hot money” that has poured into China in
recent years on the expectation that its currency, the renminbi (or
yuan), would appreciate. Much of that money has been parked in real
estate as the recently privatized housing market goes through an
unprecedented boom. In Shanghai, prices skyrocketed by 28 per cent last
year, with sleek condo towers, office high-rises, hotels and malls
being thrown up at a breakneck pace. The vacancy rate officially stands
at 2.7 per cent, but anecdotal evidence suggests up to 40 per cent of
the new space sits empty.

And with those cheerful thoughts in mind, this week’s comment from Morgan Stanley’s Stephen Roach has left me feeling a bit more bearish than usual.:

Non-Japan Asia… which accounts for fully 28% of world GDP as
measured on a purchasing power parity basis — is likely to be hit
especially hard by the combined impacts of its inefficient energy
consumption technology as well as its excessive dependence on the
American consumer.
is the most obvious case in point.  Its oil consumption per unit of GDP
was double that of the developed-world average in 2004.  China, like
many Asian countries, tends to subsidize the price of retail energy
products. While that means the cost of higher oil prices is deflected
away from
Chinese consumers, the impact falls more acutely on its government
finances.  At the same time, in the face of
soaring energy costs, China’s subsidy structure has already caused
serious disruptions to retail supply — resulting in long petrol lines
that are strikingly reminiscent of those experienced in the 1970s.
Moreover, about a third of China’s total exports go to the  United States.
That means one of China’s largest and most dynamic sectors — exports
currently account for more than 35% of Chinese GDP and were still
surging at close to a 30% y-o-y rate through July — is very much a
levered play on the staying power of the overly-extended American
consumer.  That’s a tough place to be for any economy in an energy shock — even China.
With the possible exception of Japan and India, the rest of Asia may not be in much better shape.

Also oil-related, Ben Muse looks at China’s energy security, and exposes part of the reason why it’s looking at Central Asia and nearby sources. Currently, about 80 percent of China’s oil has to travel through the Malacca Straits, if Canada’s oil sands become viable they’ll have to pass through an area that’s free of pirates, but closer to the US military.:

Grt_circ_rte_2_2Because the earth is round, the shortest route from Canada’s west coast
to East Asia passes  across the Gulf of Alaska and through the
Aleutians into the Bering Sea at Unimak Pass, returning to the North
Pacific through the far western Aleutians.  Once past the Aleutians,
shipping would still have to pass around or between the Japanese
Islands, and between Japan and Korea.
It’s hard to imagine the U.S., Japan, or Korea interfering with the
rights of innocent passage through these waters.  But the Chinese can’t
be entirely comfortable about this source and route.   Canadian oil
would certainly be vulnerable in the event of a conflict over Taiwan.

AsiaPundit earlier agreed with Bingfeng’s analysis that the problems with healthcare in China are not caused my the growing privatization of services, but that market-oriented services are still developing. Sun Bin has further evidence.:

Shanghaihospital"When Gao Qiang, China’s health minister, responded to scathing
criticism of his country’s health system this month he turned his ire
on local hospitals, saying they had put profits ahead patients. Mr Gao
raged that patients were being billed for drugs to cover the cost of
everything from wages to building maintenance, leaving an increasing
number of citizens unable to afford to see a doctor.
From the hospital’s perspective, however, the picture is very
different. A squeeze on government funding and strict price controls on
most services mean they are forced to rely on drug sales for up to 70
per cent of their budgets.
"The problem with hospitals centres on the draconian capping of
doctors’ fees and in-patient beds," said a foreign pharmaceuticals
executive. "The result is that they run these services at a loss and
have to make up the money elsewhere." The cost of a bed in China’s
hospitals, even in large cities, can be as little as Dollars 1 a day.
Prices are kept low in the name of maintaining what the government
calls "social stability".

Peking Duck guest blogger Martyn really should have his own site. The latest offering takes a look at China’s swelling foreign exchange reserves.:

Some Chinese officials argue that the money would be better spent
recapitalizing the state banks or to import oil and build up strategic
reserves, of which it has none. Others say the money should be used to
fund overseas acquisitions by Chinese firms.Conservatives want to keep
the money in financial instruments. They say, quite rightly, that the
inflow of hot money is only a temporary phenomenon and point to the
billions of dollars of liabilities in bad loans held by the state
banks, pension and welfare liabilities and debts owed by securities
firms.There is also the possibility of trade disputes or a trade war
with the US or the EU, which would sharply reduce the trade surplus, or
a financial crisis at home or in Asia.

Further on China’s reserves, Brad Setser points to some useful posts on the end of Bretton Woods II.

It seems like some in Asia are a bit worried that so much of the
world’s wealth is denominated in the currency of the world’s largest
debtor. Cynic’s Delight highlights their concerns well in a recent

"Chalongphob Sussangkarn, president of the Thailand
Development Research Institute, a Bangkok based think-tank, said, "It
is quite hard to understand why the world’s largest debtor (the United
States) is the one that controls the world’s financial system. We (East
Asia) always monitor what the US Federal Reserve says about interest
rate movements. (East Asian) creditors should be the ones who determine
the world’s fate."
Frankly, the United States’ Asian
creditors should be worried.  The Fed has made it clear that its
preferred solution to the US trade deficit is a big dollar
depreciation.  And the required depreciation could be large indeed.
See Rogoff and Obstfeld.


Yu Yongding is always worth listening
to as well
- and while his voice is only one of many that matter in
China, the fact that he think China already has too many reserves is

The New Economist points to a Bank of Japan paper on China’s revaluation, which endorses the PBoC’s cautious approach.:

YuanWe analyze the impact of Japan’s exit from its peg
on exports and investment.  The results point to sizeable effects of
the yen’s revaluation on both variables, especially investment.  While
our analysis suggests that a rapidly-growing, export-oriented economy
can operate a heavily managed float despite the presence of capital
controls and the absence of sophisticated foreign currency forward
markets, it underscores the importance of managing the exchange rate
with domestic conditions in mind and avoiding the kind of large real
appreciation that would sharply compress profits and damage investment.

For China this suggests starting with a modest band widening and
a limited increase in flexibility, and not with a large step
revaluation which could have a sharp negative impact on investment and
growth.  Our results thus provide support for the kind of measures
taken at the end of July

The Economists View and the Globalization Institute both point to a WaPo item on China’s stock market reforms.:

Prosper Analysts emphasized that the plan should not be construed as an
indication that the government has embraced wholesale privatization.
The majority of the companies that trade on the Shanghai and Shenzhen
exchanges are small arms of giant firms that remain wholly controlled
by the state, or inconsequential and poorly managed firms … The
government’s decision to put more of these shares into private hands
does not signal an intent to relinquish control over the largest and
most strategically important state-owned firms, which still dominate
key sectors of the Chinese economy such as steel, auto-making,
telecommunications and commercial aviation. "This is basically a
mechanism to get the stock market to function, which it has not done in
four years," said Arthur Kroeber, managing editor of the China Economic
Quarterly. "This is the state privatizing junk that it’s not interested
in but retaining control over the core companies.

Also of interest: Tyler Rooker looks at China’s GDP and purchasing power parity; Danwar ponders a link between China’s bank bailouts and the revaluation; and Logan Wright examines recent statements from the People’s Bank of China, and tries to weigh how much the central bank is intervening in the currency market.:

by @ 1:32 pm. Filed under China, Money, Asia, Coming collapse, East Asia, Economy, North Korea, Economic roundup

philippines monday roundup

The bombing of a ferry in Basilan  results in the government pushing anew for an an ant-terrorism law, and suggestions there are terrorists on the loose.

The comedy of errors concerning today’s quasi-holiday aside (sarcastically commented on by Peter Wallace), the weekend has been spent by the contending forces marshaling their strength for this week’s confrontations in the House. The Socialist opposition has been busy using pets for political propaganda; last Saturday the de la Salle community held another forum and meeting (no word yet on the consensus, if any, that emerged from that exercise: former NEDA chief Cielito Habito, Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel, myself and Prof. July Teehangkee were the speakers); the group I belong to, Citizens for TRUTH held a candle-lighting ceremony at the foot of the Ninoy Aquino Monument in Makati City (JB Baylon has an account of the activity);  civil society has sent out yet another call for people to go to the House on Tuesday; and former DSWD Sec. Dinky Soliman and Friends (the "Hyatt 10") will be holding a press conference at the Metropolitan Club near Rockwell from 10 am to noon pm on Tuesday, to begin unburdening themselves of some of the wrongdoings they observed as members of the cabinet. The Palace, too, has to contend with bad press: Newsbreak today unveils the means by which the manipulation of election-related documents allegedly took place in the premises of the House of Representatives. PCIJ publishes an expose on how agriculture funds were diverted for election-related purposes (there’s also a story on the gift that keeps on giving: Xerox machines, and one on how some army officers helped the President in the elections). There’s also this article, which gives a hint or two about the sort of information the Hyatt 10 has up its sleeves.

The idea of all these activities (which the bad press won’t hurt) are that they’re meant to derail the perceived Palace-determined schedule for throwing out the impeachment complaint.

Newsstand has blogged on why he’s not surprised the opposition seems to be playing perpetual catch-up; the opposition is rushing to clinch the deal, and scuttlebutt is the Nacionalista Party is waiting in the wings, hoping it will achieve the distinction of being the group that made the difference (it can then glory in being more effective than the divided Liberal Party was). I can’t quite explain it, but it seems to me dangerous for the opposition to go hell-for-leather in so obvious a manner (as the Inquirer editorial clearly explains), and with the risk of so obviously failing, at this point. It would be better for the opposition to keep things in committee at least for the duration of the recess, when a political commentator I talked to suggests the opposition (of whatever stripe) could focus on building momentum in the streets and in the provinces, and thereby have better chances for a real slam-bang of a showdown after Congress resumes its session in October. The President and her people might start feeling the pinch by then, and the usual suspects who can dole out informal cash might begin to tire (or run out of money) to keep financing efforts to retain the loyalty of congressmen.

But then again I think Ricky Carandang’s observations two weeks ago about the Speaker’s problems, remains valid: my column today, The Speaker’s Position, I addresses precisely that question. If the Speaker’s sole concern is what will help him establish parliamentary government, I suggest he’s better off letting the impeachment proceed to trial at the Senate.

Of course enough time has passed to influence the senate. The President needs only eight votes to keep her job. The resignation of SBMA Chairman Francisco Licuanan III is being touted as a the result of a deal between the President and Senator Richard Gordon (which Gordon denies, but which Max Soliven thinks might have some truth to it). Whatever the truth, the President may have the numbers: Angara, Recto, Gordon, Enrile, Santiago, Lapid, Revilla are often confidently named as the ones who can be expected to vote to acquit (that only leaves one more needed). As it is, the Speaker is sending mixed signals. Sec. Rigoberto Tiglao, however, argues that impeachment, even if it reaches the trial stage, doesn’t have a leg to stand on as far as the charges are concerned.

In the blogosphere, there are some new blogs worth noticing. First is Prof. July Teehangkee’s spanking new blog, in which he discusses "a continuing crisis of legitimation." The second is the first authentically pro-administration blog of note, ever: Rational Views (naughty comments about the great Sassy Lawyer to the contrary notwithstanding). As an aside, Edwin Lacierda (who guests today at 10 am on Karmina Konstantino’s morning show at ANC) pointed it out to people: Newsstand credits Lacierda with lighting a light bulb over the administration’s head; in an e-mail, Lacierda says I was the one to point out the curious absence of a pro-administration blog; perhaps it’s all serendipity! The third is one found by way of New Economist, the blog of a London-based macroeconomist, who noticed and pointed out Go Figure, the blog of Filipino economist Roehlano Briones.

Also, there’s Big Mango with part three of his series on Understanding Nation Building; and Howie Severino on why local government officials like the President.

In the cultural sphere, too see & log has reproduced a paper by Prof. Jaime Veneracion on Rizal’s Madrid: The Roots of the Ilustrado Concept of Autonomy which makes for an interesting read, indeed; Adel Gabot isn’t amused by AXN channel turning a TV show with black humor into slapstick comedy in its ads; Cogito Ergo Sam writes on Fado music.

The punditocracy has Randy David takes an optimistic look at young politicians; Fr. Joaquin Bernas explaining his views on impeachment (one can detect increasing frustration and even irritation, on his part, with the House); Jojo Robles has a bone to pick with Imee Marcos; Jose Sison examines the curious refusal of the Armed Forces to explain why they accompanied a police raid; Marichu Villanueva examines diplomatic posts being traded for political support; and Iraqis Should Draft Constitution Without US Interference was my Arab News column for last week.

by @ 12:38 am. Filed under Culture, Blogs, Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia, Philippines, Weblogs, Terrorism

28 August, 2005

short sunday links

Singapore has started the world’s first toilet college, via CSR Asia.:

Loo cleaning will reach new heights in Singapore with the setting up of
the world’s first Toilet College, organizers said Sunday.
Funded partly by government agencies, the classes starting in October aim to change the perception of toilet cleaning as a menial job accompanied by
poor morale and pay to one with expanded responsibilities, higher salaries and possibilities of travel for those concerned about sanitation elsewhere.
Jack Sim, president of the World Toilet Organization headquartered here, is behind the college to be set up at the Republic Polytechnic, where courses will teach cleaners to use new equipment and techniques from Japan.

Tokyo Times takes a further look at Japan’s developing market for upscale latex sex dolls:

However perhaps not surprisingly, this demand for dolls has resulted in
the opening of a downtown establishment for silicon sex seekers. The
difference being that rather than having the dolls shipped out to
customers, LaLa rents out private rooms that are furnished with a bath,
toilet, and most importantly, a latex lover.



In an attempt to get the low-down on this burgeoning business, Dacapo
magazine sent two intrepid students to try out the service. First up,
so to speak, was 21-year-old Hiroshi. Opting to watch a racy video
beforehand to get himself in the mood, he was disappointed to find
that, “After I undressed her, I was upset to see that her head hadn’t
been properly screwed on.”

Actually, I had can recall having at least one flesh-and-blood partner who also didn’t have her head properly screwed on.

The Bharateeya Blog Mela is at Ashish’s Niti.

As Abhi notes, this is sick.:

Q: So how does a terrorist make money these days to fund his activities?
A: Porn.  BBC News reports (thanks for the tip Srinath):

Rebels in India’s north-eastern state of Tripura are making
pornographic films to raise money for their separatist campaign,
officials say.
The information has come from surrendered guerrillas of the National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT), according to police.
They say the rebels are forcing captured tribal women, and some men, to take part in the films.
The films are then dubbed to be sold in India and neighbouring countries.

Come on.  It’s one thing if porn is between “willing” participants,
but to force helpless tribal people into it, and then dubbing over
their voices is just sick!

More evil from the mouthless one from Sanrio… reckless driving:


Super Girl, the Chinese version of American Idol, has concluded. The show attracted 300 million viewers, making it a major cultural phenomena. The weirdest part of the phenomena? China had a massive outbreak of voting. ESWN translates some analysis, here the China Daily notes that democracy doesn’t always produce the best results.:

SupergirlBut a more fundamental question
is: How come an imitation of a democratic system ends up selecting the
singer who has the least ability to carry a tune?
Li Yuchun, the androgynous girl with the weakest voice of the top five,
has been leading in popular votes by a huge margin throughout the

HK Dave notes that China has passed another law that won’t be enforced.:

StorychinaprostituteafpAccording to Xinhua, a new law is to take effect March 2006 penalizing offences against public order.
From that date, there will be fines for pimps or for streetwalkers
soliciting for sex. They can be held for up to 5 days or fined up to
500 yuan if they do so in a public place.
While there are laws also against prostitution, it seems this may be
an attempt by the hidebound Chinese Communist Party to draw a line
under what it regards as acceptable bounds of morality in 21st century
China. For a quarter century, the gulf has grown between the utopian
idealism of old Marxist regulations and the public reality. Perhaps the
CCP has realized that its statute books have to better reflect the
situation as it really is, if they also want people to respect the
important laws that really matter!

Kim Jong-il’s connection with the Film Actors’ Guild in Team America wasn’t just an idle invention by the lads from South Park. The Dear Leader has long been attracted to Hollywood (Korea Times via NK Zone):

KjiAccording to an apocryphal but
perhaps true story, it was during
the “studio” meeting of the Politburo
that the then 25 year-old
Kim Jong-il volunteered to take
control of the cinema industry.
Whatever his intentions, this
decision saved many people in
the industry from humiliation
and death. Kim Jong-il staged
large-scale self-criticism sessions,
but more serious punishments
were rare.
In fact, Kim Jong-il protected
his beloved cinema world during
the turbulent years of the
“Kapsan purge,” which was
probably the last large-scale
purge of top leaders and their
associates in North Korean history.
After 1970, purges were
largely isolated albeit frequent
events, not large-scale campaigns
as before.
Under Kim Jong-il’s guidance,
the movie studios were refurbished.
He arranged the best
equipment to be imported from
overseas. This sounds fine until
one remembers that this meant
the re-allocation of scarce hard
currency reserves, which could
be used for buying anything else,
from medical supplies to new
battle tanks. However, the crown
prince loved cinema, and nobody
dared question his demands.
After all, new movie cameras are
much cheaper than missile


by @ 10:41 pm. Filed under Culture, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, Media, South Asia, North Korea, Hello Kitty watch

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

26 August, 2005

friday philippines roundup

It seems almost like Monty Python. Recall their Spanish Inquisition sketch:

Chapman:   *I* don’t know - Mr Wentworth just told me to come in here and say
that there was trouble at the mill, that’s all - I didn’t expect a
kind of Spanish Inquisition.


(The door flies open and Cardinal Ximinez of Spain (Palin) enters, flanked by
two junior cardinals.  Cardinal Biggles (Jones) has goggles pushed over his
forehead.  Cardinal Fang (Gilliam) is just Cardinal Fang)

Ximinez: NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition!  Our chief weapon is
suprise…surprise and fear…fear and surprise….  Our two
weapons are fear and surprise…and ruthless efficiency….  Our

         *three* weapons are fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency…and an
almost fanatical devotion to the Pope….  Our *four*…no…
*Amongst* our weapons….  Amongst our weaponry…are such elements as

         fear, surprise….  I’ll come in again.  (Exit and exeunt)

Think of a similar scenario with the announced Philippine Energy Police. "No one expects the Energy Police!"

In other news: it’s springtime, politically, that is, for Senator Juan Ponce Enrile: Newsstand points out what a key player he’s been, and remains. Former senator Ernesto Maceda thinks Enrile, his old chum, is still with the opposition; he also suggests that the withdrawal of Rep. Eulogio Magsaysay was due to the politically-powerful Iglesia ni Cristo. Columnist Armando Doronila takes a more sober look at what the recent actions of the two (Enrile and Magsaysay) really indicate, politically. The Philippine Daily Inquirer simply calls it shenanigans in its editorial.

In the punditocracy, Jarius Bondoc, who has been a strong supporter of the President, now asks, is it all worth it? He points out that,

[Referring to the President’s announcement in 2003 not to run again for office, because she was a cause for division] Arroyo read right. Not only is the nation deeply divided. So are her own allies, who now are fighting over who should get bigger slabs of pork or more protégés appointed. In the end, they will not fight for her but for themselves. She will be all alone.
Is the Presidency worth all this? Anybody in Arroyo’s shoes would be well advised to contemplate St. Mark’s evangelization: "For what shall it profit a man, though he win the world, if he lose his soul?"

What accounts for Bondoc’s publicly faltering faith?

Patricio Diaz thinks that the President’s creation of a commission to study and propose constitutional changes is actually a thinly-disguised attempt to draft a new charter according to her own wishes, because she doesn’t trust Congress. Australian policy wonk and columnist Peter Wallace pleads for Filipinos to embrace globalism.

The blogosphere has the lawyers all abuzz. Punzi recounts a lunch in which he and some friends bewailed the nitpicking on rules going on in the House. Edwin Lacierda looks at what his fellow lawyers have been saying on TV, and debates some of their points. Other bloggers range from political venting, too -in the case of Gari, against the country’s bloated debt- to more sociological observations, such as Sassy Lawyer’s noticing that cheap DVD player sales are up. Leon Kilat has an update on the gerrymandering attempts in Cebu province (which I wrote about some time ago).

Random Thoughts has a clever idea: the Salen-ga Awards, which he says, are

In honor of Prof. Edgardo E. Escultura, I am proposing the establishment of the Salen-ga awards. The Salen-ga awards will be given to that exemplary Filipino who has contributed to the development of Filipino’s interest in science through the propagation of their crackpot theories…. I propose that the award be given every 5th of May to commemorate the day when the Manila Times reported that Prof. EEE had disproven Andrew Wiles proof regarding Fermat’s Last theorem.

The Jason Journals reports the blogger’s experience not once, but twice, with Succubi.

by @ 2:00 pm. Filed under Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia, Philippines

china economic roundup (x)

Peter Mandelson "Protectionist of the Month" August 2005


Peter Mandelson went to Brussels riding a wave of goodwill for a new liberalising agenda, promising an era of "free and fair" trade
as EU trade commissioner. Less than a year later he has managed to land
Europe in a protectionist mess. A continent of 450 million people is
permitted to import only 105 million pairs of trousers from China.
As one wit put it, "a shortage of trousers and a surplus of wine is a great strategy for a party, but a crazy way to run Europe’s economy".
Mandelson’s plan for clothes rationing means that domestic producers,
who had 10 years to prepare for the opening of the textiles trade to
international competition, will be able to continue to charge Europe’s
consumers high prices for products.

The fact that western businesses and bureaucrats had a decade to prepare for the end of the quota regime is a point that’s worth making. Many businesses did prepare, mostly by moving their production and sourcing operations to China, and the quotas are now punishing them for it while rewarding those who lacked long-term strategic planning skills.

On which, Sun Bin has excellent observations on how the EU still has no long-term, or even immediate-term, vision:

The problem EU encountered today is a direct result of lacking
a clear and longer term rule. How can you impose quota all at a sudden,
leaving no time for merchants to plan? They need to at least waive
quota for all those who have already signed the contract prior the
quota implementation.
I thought this is common sense for any
policy setter, apparently not for the EU bureaucrats. Prior this year
exporters need to "buy" quota before they could ship out the
merchandise, and the buyers are clearly aware of and prepared for that.
Now all of a sudden the quota is set at the EU border and no one knows
when it is filled. Importers just continue with their orders. Perhaps
the Chinese negotiators already saw through this a couple months ago
but they just kept quiet.

In spite of strict capital controls, or more properly because of them, China has a problem with money laundering.

MoneylaunderWe’ve heard many stories, told second and third hand, usually over a
cocktail or two (or three), of outrageous sums of Chinese cash,
laundered transationally. The "invoice trick,"
a common and ancient method, involves a domestic company purchasing
overpriced product sold by an overseas "seller." The outflow of cash
over and above the instrinsic value of the product, being, of course,
the laundered sum. Taiwanese authorities in the 1980s became rather
expert at spotting these value discrepancies.
Of greater concern are the major cases — and in China there have
been an extraordinary number. Take the train shipments case as an
example. Originating at the Luo Wu station in Shenzhen, cardboard boxes
filled with RMB 8 Million (US$ 1 million) were transported daily to a
Hong Kong bank for nearly a year. A cool million a day for a year. One
can hear the clinking of the glasses and shouts of "A toast to China Rail!"

Via CDT, Robert Shiller looks at whether the Chinese economy is overheating and gives high praise to regulators.:

Pudong… maybe the word “overheated” is misleading. It might be more accurate
to say that public attention is over-focused on some recent price
changes, or over-accepting of some high market values. Whatever one
calls it, it is a problem.
Fortunately, people also tend to
trust their national leaders. For this reason, it is all the more
important that the leaders not remain silent when a climate of
speculation develops. Silence can be presumed to be tacit acceptance
that rapid increases in long-term asset price are warranted. National
leaders must speak out, and they must match their words with concrete
actions, to help signal to the public that the speculative bubble
cannot be expected to continue.
That is what the Chinese
government has begun to do. The real-estate boom appears to be cooling.
If the government continues to pursue this policy, the salutary effects
in terms of public trust in the country’s businesses and institutions
will help ensure stable, sustainable economic growth for years to come.

I’m not as convinced and think the slowing property market may be arriving after the damage is done. I lean toward the Andy Xie point of view that the cooling property market, and over investment and overcapacities in materials production, will help tip the country into a corrective slowdown .

Further on property, the Big Picture picks up on yesterday’s top item, Asian buying into the US property bubble, and notes:

Front page story in yesterday’s WSJ, titled "
Housing-Bubble Talk Doesn’t Scare Off Foreigners
Funny thing is, foreigners are notorious for their bad timing in buying both equities and real estate in the U.S.
Examples:  Rockefeller Center purchased by the Japanese at
the top of the 1980s Real Estate run; Foreigners dumped U.S. equities
in the summer of 2002, after piling into them in 1999.

An interesting post at the Oil Drum argues that China has bought into the peak oil theory, or at least has decided that oil isn’t fungible.:

OilAt that point China may well get what it needs, only if it has the
rights to the oil through the companies that it controls.  And that may
become an issue.  Countries such as Indonesia are already having
problems because "their" oil is leaving, and they can’t afford to buy
it back.   This may lead to different national policies.  After all, in
the past, a number of countries took over the oil from foreign
operators, and there is nothing to say that existing arrangements
cannot be changed, by state fiat in many cases.

AsiaPundit doesn’t buy the peak oil theory, or at least not yet. I had the pleasure of living in Kuwait when prices crashed in the late 1990s and I see conditions for another crash around the corner. For the second time in a post, I’m in agreement with Andy Xie.:

China’s total oil imports eased 1.2 percent in the first five
months of 2005, Xie said, and they could fall further next year as new
power plants help prevent the electricity outages that inflated demand
for diesel and fuel oil in 2004.
Last year’s fall in the U.S.
dollar was often cited as a factor behind higher oil prices, since it
makes fuel less expensive in non-dollar economies and as it wooed
investment from speculative hedge funds. But with the greenback near an
eight-month high versus the euro, that too has faded.
As all
these factors gather pace, the market may ultimately be doomed to crash
by the growing dependence of financial institutions on oil trading
profits, Xie writes.
"As oil has worked for so long, the
financial community is hanging on to this position," he says.
Speculative funds have been increasingly active in commodity markets
over the past two years and are often blamed by OPEC for keeping prices
"They will likely keep prices up until an oil market
collapse. That day is not too far away, I believe… What is occurring
now is probably the final frenzy, in my view.

by @ 1:48 pm. Filed under China, Money, Asia, East Asia, Economy, Northeast Asia, Economic roundup

25 August, 2005

thursday links


China will soon be receiving some unusual visitors:

I will be going to China during September to lecture at the Dalian World UFO conference. Apart from covering my research, my new book "Hair of the Alien"
and the Australian UFO experience, my key interest will be examining
the UFO experience in China. In earlier posts (see May 2005 archive) I
described some of the material sent to me by the active Beijing based
UFO researcher Zhang JingpingMeng Zhao Guo.

This is serious, and if anyone is interested they can apply here. The invitation letter states.:

All delegates need to inform the conference regarding their landing time and transportation means before coming to China, the conference will arrange the receiving of delegates.

The Communist Youth League is sponsoring an anti-Japanese video game (Interfax via Bills Due):

TokyowarsShanghai.  August 23.  INTERFAX-CHINA -
PowerNet Technology, a Chinese online gaming firm, has developed a new
online game in cooperation with the China Communist Youth League (CCYL)
named "Anti-Japan War Online," which will begin commercial operation by
the end of 2005, a PowerNet official said Tuesday.
"The game will allow players, especially
younger players, to learn from history. They will get a patriotic
feeling when fighting invaders to safeguard their motherland," a
PowerNet Project Manager, surnamed Liu, told Interfax.
The background for "Anti-Japan War
Online" is the Japanese invasion of China during World War II, from
1937 through 1945. Players are able to play simulations of key battles,
but will only be able to play as the Chinese side. Players will also
not be allowed to kill other players in the game.

Those who are worried that this will enourage anti-Japanese sentiments among the youth need not worry too much. Game play will be limited to three hours (Interfax via CDT):

The Chinese Government unveiled a new system Tuesday to prevent
individuals from playing online games for more than three consecutive
hours, which must be installed for every online game in the country.

"This timing mechanism can prevent young people from becoming
addicted to online games," Kou Xiaowei, Deputy Director of the
Audiovisual and Internet Publication Department of the General
Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP), said during a press

Occasionally, there is something interesting to read in the Shanghai Daily.:

Many Shanghai men are making a highly unusual request: They want
young women wearing halter tops and miniskirts to cover up in the
It’s not that local males aren’t attracted to the opposite sex. The
problem is that they’re too attracted, and their obvious state of, er,
arousal is getting them in trouble in the confines of Shanghai’s
crowded Metro system.
SkirtThe victims of sharp glances and sharp elbows, many guys are telling
city newspapers that they girls should stop showing so much skin, even
though skimpy tops and short skirts are comfortable antidotes to the
sultry weather….
"I’ve tried to maintain a distance from women wearing halter tops,
but it’s difficult to avoid bumping into them in you’re jostled by the
crowd," he said.
"One woman stepped on my foot in retaliation. My intentions were innocent, but she didn’t believe me."
Medical experts agree that Mother Nature is often a difficult force to overcome.
"It might be considered sexual harassment if a man has a certain
reaction while standing close to a sexy girl. But it’s a normal
reaction, especially for young men," said Dr. Qi Guangchong, an expert
on men’s health at Jianqiao Hospital.

Bingfeng brings us news of a new Chinese invention, the love making chair.:


AfrummyboxMeZhongTai has a good write-up on Donald Rumsfeld’s presscon on Taiwan’s debate of arms purchases, and notes that the Defense Secretary has probably again made some trouble for the State Department:

While speaking of the ROC arms purchase that has been languishing in
the Legislative Yuan due to Pan Blue stonewalling, Rumsfeld commented: "I’ve always believed that countriessovereign nations have to do what they decide to do."

Some poor diplomat is going to have to restate the "US supports the ‘one China policy’" spiel again. As my (made in China) talking Rumsfeld doll says, "That’s diplomacy and I don’t do diplomacy."

Lloyd’s is standing by it’s risk rating on the Malacca Strait, as it should:

The Joint War Committe of the Lloyd’s Market Association, an advisory organization for insurance companies, announced last week it will stand by a report drafted by Aegis Defense System, a London-based security consultancy.
had released a report in July with quite a dim outlook on security in
the Malacca Strait, which resulted in insurance companies designating a
"war risk" rating for the trading route crucial to East Asian
economies. In turn, ASEAN countries and shipping companies throughout
East Asia have been riled. With insurance rates going up, shipping
costs have reportedly increased significantly.

The risk of terrorism in the Strait has been something I’ve written about frequently, and the risk has been noted by the International Marine Bureau’s piracy center and numerous international intelligence agencies. Indonesia and Malaysia, which have admitted the risk, have refused repeatedly to allow non-littoral states to participate in anti-piracy patrols. Singapore, the other littoral state, has sought assistance. If increased insurance costs for Malaysia and Indonesia are what’s needed to convince them that safety is more important than national pride than so be it.

I hope that the Homeland Security department doesn’t read Gaurav Sabnis’ blog. If they do my duty-free single malts will probably be repackaged in plastic bottles:

GlemWe are allowed to carry bottles….glass bottles in our cabin baggage.
Doesn’t anybody feel bothered by this? The 9/11 hijackings were carried
out using box cutters. You know what is a more potent weapon than a box
cutter? Anybody who has seen a fight sequence from a Hindi film which
takes place in a college canteen or a restaurant will know the answer.
A glass bottle, broken such that its jagged edges turn it into a weapon.

If my next bottle of duty-free Glenmorangie comes in anything other than a corked glass bottle I’m blaming you Gaurav!
Feedback and links have been very positive for AsiaPundit’s China econonic roundups, so much so that  I’ve considered doing an India economic roundup. I’ve decided against it. If you want an India economic roundup just read the always excellent Indian Economy Blog.

Speaking of Indian economics, 80% of Indian children lead SUCKY lives.:

Though Africa (especially lately) is the continent many of us associate with poverty and desperation, Asia has double the number of “severely deprived” children.  I’m ashamed of my ignorance of this fact.  It’s so easy to focus on Bangalore and Gurgaon, on starbucks-esque “third places”, on “desirable” India.  I heard so much about India’s fabulous new middle class, I forgot that.

I also admit that in ‘world-class’ Shanghai I very rarely consider how many Chinese children live sucky lives.

Further on the Indian economy, does it need a touch of objectivism?:

AtlasNow although I’m one of those Desi dudes who cites Atlas Shrugged as an all-time favorite, I’m far from a Randroid.  I readily recognize that being too literal runs headlong into a more, uh, empirical assessment of the human condition.
But, I’m also more than willing to give Rand credit - especially
writing in the 1940s and 1950s - for being far more right than wrong
and a rather courageous contrarian against the intellectual zeitgeist
of the time.  The example of the License Raj - India’s economic regime
“progressively” enacted a scant few years after Atlas Shrugged was
published (1957) proves her eerily, almost literally prescient.

Oh crap. All of my friends in Singapore are going to be arrested and forced to work in telemarketing.:

I am not sure if many of you realise this, but if you own an iPod or
an MP3 player in Singapore, and you ripped music off your OWN CDs, you
are actually breaking the law in Singapore.

After the papers reported about the 3 guys who got arrested for
illegal filesharing under the new law, there was this FAQ that was
quoted off the IPOS site (Intellectual Property Office of Singapore).

Q. How do I know whether the songs in my computer or MP3 player are legal?
A. If you didn’t buy it from a legal site like Soundbuzz, it
is probably illegal. Plus, when you buy a CD, the rights only apply to
the CD; this means you cannot rip songs out and make them into MP3s for
your player.
Generally, it’s advisable to check the terms and conditions of
use before you make a copy of the songs. — SOURCE: INTELLECTUAL

mr brown’s also tipped me to the cyborg name generator which links nicely with my TypePad profile:

Picture3_3I’m a giant robot built by Sony. My hand went bad, so I cut it off at the wrist. I woo women with my sensuous trombone playing.
I’m a mild-mannered reporter.
I’ve been mistaken for various celebrities, including: Kiefer
Sutherland, Hugo Weaving, Leonardo DeCaprio and Iggy Pop. None of them
look alike, but I live in Asia, so we all look alike.

Cool, Singapore is having a Sex Expo (Sexpo?). Maybe someday it will have free and fair elections.:

Look at the words used to describe Singapore,
’staid’,'tightly-controlled’, ’stuffy’ are just a few. Do these words
refer to the political situation or your right to buy an erotic toy?
The idea that these images can be shaken off by turning to the lowest
common denominator is just cheap….
The staid image is an image of the political
situation. Allowing an erotic toy will not somehow undermine that
image. It will merely cheapen it.

Taiwan doesn’t just make laptops and iPods. It makes creepy wheelchairs.:

Changeling_cd_front_1 bet there’s another thing you didn’t know. Those wheelchairs you saw in the 1980 horror opus The Changeling–do
you know where they came from? That’s right! Taiwan. I say
wheelchair"s" because even back in 1980 Hollywood saw Taiwan’s
Innovalue and commissioned them to make a series of wheelchairs for the
film, which starred George C. Scott. One for stunts, one to look old in
the attic scenes, one for the flashbacks, etc., etc. And they did it
all for half the price of what it would cost in the States, just like
many big U.S. electronic companies are finding when it comes to R&D.

Also at Wandering to Tamshui, channeling the Who and the Pistols , the Kids are Allright… and they don’t care.:


If you’re in Laos, your body belongs to the state.:


"Sexual interaction with a Lao citizen who is not your lawful spouse is prohibited; breach of this law carries a $500 fine."

Okay, after you stopped laughing, let’s look at this thing a bit closer. It seems that Lao citizens lent their rights over their own bodies to the government, no? I guess the Lao PDR tries to maintain a "pure" Lao blood, minimizing the entry of the "inferior" Thai genes only to relationships that carry the government-approved piece of paper. Maybe they would do away with that too, if they could. For now, this law effectively turned nearly all Lao women and men to the likes of pricey prostitutes.

HK Dave at Simon World has a post about Chinese and Indian models.:

China_model_1Indoan_modelNo, no, not the type that pose in swimsuits and lingerie - I speak of
their models of development. Before you close this browser window
though, consider that the relative success or failure of these two
great Asian nations may very well determine the course of the 21st

I closed the window.

But I bookmarked to read tomorrow. Click through and read it all and you’ll be a day ahead of me.


by @ 8:32 pm. Filed under Culture, South Korea, Singapore, China, India, Asia, East Asia, Economy, Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, North Korea

china economic roundup (ix)

Brad Setser asks if Alan Greenspan is promoting moral hazard… in China.:

Listen to one Chinese fund manager in this morning’s Wall
Street Journal

Mr. Zhu (who helps manage US dollar investments for the
Bank of China) expresses confidence in the US dollar and the health of the US
home market.  Housing is so vital to the US
economy, Mr. Zhu and some of his counterparts at other Chinese banks reason,
that US authorities will prevent a bust."

Sounds like Chinese fund managers believe in the Greenspan
(Hubbard? Lindsey? Bernanke?) put


I also suspect Mr. Zhu would be on to something.  If
interest rates ever were really to rise, I
would not be surprised if (some) homeowners - if one can call folks
with big
debt and little equity homeowners - started to demand, loudly,
protection from
higher rates.   And i suspect politicians here in the US
would take notice.  Florida likes to flip condos — and it is a
swing state.

There are more China-related posts from Setser this week on the durability of Bretton Woods II and the CNPC bid for PetroKazakhstan.


If you haven’t already seen it, Martyn at the Peking Duck has a great post on China’s fuel subsidies.:

SinopecThat’s the ‘how’ of it, as to the ‘why’, we need only to glance at the
balance sheets of the mainland’s oil refiners. Together they lost 4.19
billion yuan in the first half of this year. Compare that to a profit
of 16.38 billion yuan for the same period last year (figures from the
China Petroleum and Chemical Industry Association). No wonder there are
few happy bunnies among the executives at Sinopec and PetroChina. Their
crude oil refining companies have been sacrificed for the greater good
of society, i.e. to bear the losses incurred in providing cheap
subsidized oil. Technically, China’s domestic crude and refined oil
prices are linked to the international benchmarks but, in reality,
domestic price increases have only been applied to crude, domestic
refined oil prices have not closely followed those of the international
market and have therefore fallen way behind in the last couple of years
as international prices have sky-rocketed.

Also at the Duck, Lisa notes a report on China’s widening urban-rural income gap, as usual for the site, the comments are worth reading, commenter Dylan notes that a lack of labor mobility is a major part of the problem:

..there is no unified labour market because people are not free to become
permanent residents wherever they please. Rather a system of residency
permits and exclusions from social services and rights operates to
systematically disadvantage those born in rural communities. That is
why farmers working in urban areas are referred to as a floating
population - they have no rights to permanent residence in the city.
This is no accident. Urban Chinese fear few things more than an
"invasion" of "rude peasants" seeking jobs, housing, social services,
and political power.

China Confidential offers a brief look at a planned tax cut.:

China plans to eliminate income taxes for low-income workers. But
experts say the measure will mainly benefit poor people in the cities
rather than the majority of China’s poor in the countryside–a
reflection, perhaps, of increasing concern that the urban underclass
could represent a more serious threat to social stability than the
left-behind rural poor, despite recent violent protests in the
The government plans to help some of the country’s poorest by nearly doubling the threshold for paying personal income tax.
media reported on Tuesday that China’s parliament agreed to raise the
lowest taxable income to $185 a month, from the current $99.

The Globalization Institute blog looks at EU hypocrisy and the damage caused by textile quotas.

first it was the butter mountains and the wine lakes; then the food
dumped on developing countries; now 54m Chinese-made sweaters and 14m
pairs of trousers are sitting in warehouses, banned from the shops,
because of the latest idiotic policy from the European Union (EU).
These garments will soon be joined by millions of bras and blouses,
Chinese imports that have been paid for by European clothing retailers
but cannot be sold.
In June, after most of these items had already been ordered, the
European trade commissioner, Peter Mandelson, went native and agreed to
quotas on Chinese textiles - in other words, rules limiting the number
of Chinese garments that can be imported. These quotas, which went into
effect on 12 July, have started to be met, leaving retailers unable to
sell their autumn product ranges until next year.
The EU’s stance is perverse and immoral and will hit the weakest and
poorest hardest, both in Europe and in China; it shows that Brussels’
supposed commitment to economic development and solving world poverty
is utterly worthless. In theory, since 1 January, the world has enjoyed
free trade in textiles, a welcome development. But the EU is still
allowed to impose anti-Chinese quotas until the end of 2008 as part of
the Textile Specific Safeguard Clause which China agreed to as part of
its ascension to the World Trade Organisation.

Should Chery Motors survive the intellectual property lawsuit brought on by General Motors, how would the car fare in western markets? The Stalwart takes a look.:

Chevy_1Sub-$4,000 Chery cars might just, excuse the bad joke, wevolutionize the
auto industry. Just the fact that a car can be so easily copied, with a
level of quality which competes with the world’s biggest brands, this
should set of alarm bells at the automakers. The Chery QQ is using many
of the same parts as GM’s Spark since these are becoming more
standardized, and available due to the fact that their manufacture is
increasingly outsourced to third-parties.

Is Taiwan investment in China slowing or surging? Michael Turton takes a look, and admits that it’s hard to get a good answer:

While year on year figures for June double, YOY figures for July
fall. The difference is $410 million to $371 million, so the real
difference is between the figures for last year, it looks like.
However, good numbers are hard to obtain, as this 2002 article points out:

estimates, however, have always put actual investment much higher given
that many Taiwan companies circumvent government supervision by
investing in China through a subsidiary in a third country, in
particular tax havens such as the Bahamas and the Virgin Islands.

Imagine Taiwanese circumventing the authorities. That just never happens….

by @ 2:21 pm. Filed under China, Money, Asia, Coming collapse, East Asia, Economy, Northeast Asia, Economic roundup

Philippines round-up

The majority in the House rejoiced over Rep. Eulogio Magsaysay finally learning how to read (a skill learned not a moment too soon for someone who represents teachers). The minority of course, is officially unhappy but perhaps relieved to be rid of an ally of such obvious low-wattage. The PCIJ, not usually known for the humor of its articles, couldn'’t help but cover the goings-on in the House, and conclude with this observation:

In his press conference, Magsaysay read from a statement that was prepared for him by his chief-of-staff, who told the congressman to just read its pertinent portions. Appearing clueless, or probably lacking sleep, Magsaysay even had to ask his staff which were the pertinent parts in the statement that he should read.

The goings-on continue to provoke comment from among the punditocracy and the blogosphere. Newsstand makes some observations, including the senile behavior of Rep. Datumanong; the observation made by Earl Parreno on TV that the addition of five signatures to the impeachment complaint seems curiously timed; and that Alan Peter Cayetano, the most obviously God-fearing (or at least, God name-dropping) representative of all, seems to have made a self-fulfilling prophecy. Edwin Lacierda observes that the opposition should rely less on making speeches on TV, and more on networking (something earlier observed by Newsstand, quoting Sen. Joker Arroyo). Paeng is simply beginning to tune out. Punzi is alarmed by Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita saying on radio that they are prepared to impose martial law, if people get upset over the killing of the impeachment complaints. (Speaking of martial law, the Marcoses say they’re prepared to roll out the red carpet for the President on September 11 -but it seems she has other plans, see next paragraph).

The President is poised to make a hegira to Saudi Arabia (on September 11, bad, bad mojo!) on her way to New York; in the meantime, she’s finally sent the budget to Congress: supposedly no money for charter change, but a third of the budget is devoted to debt payments. Jove focuses on the budget, notes that Budget Secretary Romulo Neri seems preternaturally chirpy,  and ends with two words: Emilia Boncodin.

In other news, how will Juan Ponce Enrile’s shifting to the senate majority help or hinder the President? Who knows. But Enrile does seem set, along with Miriam Defensor Santiago, on attacking Armando Doronila, who has accepted an appointment as ambassador to Belgium and the E.U. Some senators object to Doronila’s age (he’s 77). I wonder if they know how old Enrile is.

Today’s pundit round-up has Julius Fortuna quoting Ernesto Maceda, who says impeachment is as good as dead. Dong Puno doesn’t agree, he thinks the haggling is just getting bolder:

The point is that at this critical stage of the impeachment proceedings, where it seems evident that the majority’s marching orders are to kill the complaints as early as possible, even before the investigation phase in the House Committee on Justice is reached, the majority congressmen think they have enormous new leverage which they can assert and, more importantly the President cannot refuse.

A clear indication of this was what I consider a particularly low point in yesterday’s Justice Committee session when one administration congressman brought up the controversy on the release of infrastructure funds, allegedly only to some but not to all House members.

…But the real point of his outburst emerged when he said that if he did not get his rightful share, he would vote for impeachment.

Alex Magno, on the other hand, has a scathingly low opinion of Mike Velarde and his reconciliation efforts:

He overstepped his role. He overplayed his card. In so doing, he undermined his own role in a discreet game of political flirtation.

A go-between brokering a potential affair between two lovers is not expected to give both parties lessons on the Kama Sutra.

Fel Maragay also looks into reconcilation moves, viewing it as a curious obsession of the President’s; Connie Veneracion is puzzled by the President’s insistence on reconciliation, since to her mind, the impeachment complaint is fatally flawed: perhaps the President is inclined to political suicide? Tony Abaya suggestes the President think out of "the trapo box" and go for gold:

She should call for 90-day continuous trials for high-profile corruption cases languishing in the Sandiganbayan. This means continuous trial for Joseph Estrada who has been detained since 2001, continuous trials for members of the Marcos family whose more than 100 cases have been pending in the courts since 1987, and continuous trials for Gen. Carlos F. Garcia, Gen. Jacinto Ligot and Col. George Rabusa, who have been charged with plunder by lawyer Frank Chavez in 2005….

But if she is indeed prepared to step down in 2006, as revealed by Defensor and suggested earlier by Fidel Ramos, that fear should not now cripple her. She should be fighting to leave an honorable legacy, and continuous trials for high-profile corruption cases would be one of the most dramatic ways to do it.
In this way, she could even hope to win back the leaderless middle class (who are running around like headless chickens with white ribbons attached to their claws), the business and professional communities, the militant Churches and the idealist factions of the military (who are now plotting her overthrow).
This is an endgame that she can win. This is the survival of the fittest, the fittest being those who adopt to new situations and use their skills and brains to overcome their predators, not those who offer the effete hand of reconciliation while they are being eaten alive.

Abaya presumes, of course, that an endgame is either desirable or being considered.

Juan Mercado pulls no punches and says Cebu City mayor Tomas Osmeña is linked to death squads roaming the city. Patricio Diaz has a bone to pick with Rigoberto Tiglao.

by @ 12:23 pm. Filed under Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia, Philippines

24 August, 2005

delayed links (i)

With the connectivity problem resolved, we return to daily linking.

Kelvin at Plum Blossoms takes a look at the controversy surrounding Miss Hong Kong and plastic surgery.

Tracy_ip_profilethumbWhatever the truth may be (my guess is that no, she hasn’t been under
the knife for cosmetic purposes), I’ve become quite tolerant of Asian
actresses getting cosmetic surgery. Mainly because it’s so hard to
tell. Take, for example, Niki Chow,
who also faces similar rumours. Personally, I distinctively remember
thinking that she’s not all that hot when she first appeared on the
scene. Now I think she looks great. It appears that perhaps it’s not my
taste that’s been changing.

As Kelvin notes, diet and exercise can change a lot. With that we can expect some positive change to come out of Malaysia’s National Slimming Service Program.:

SlimmingThe biggest joke of all is that the Malaysian National Service isn’t
providing any military training at all. Heck, the trainees aren’t even
given the chance to handle weapons! All that pretty army uniforms and
they don’t even get to hold a gun. What the hell, right? I wonder why
the Ministry of Defence is running the program ‘cos all these "racial
integration" and "character building" exercises seem more like the
Education Ministry’s job.
There are military drills. Its just that at most, the
trainees are taught to climb ropes, do monkey bars, and run. But geez,
what are these kids gonna do if Malaysia came under attack? Throw
sticks at them?

As well as self improvement for humans, AsiaPundit is also interested in the betterment of our robotic friends. Boing Boing brings us news that the Japanese have built a robot that has a serious advantage over the average Dalek.

DaneelR Daneel, a humanoid robot, can stand up after falling over by kicking
up its legs and rocking onto its feet. Developed at the University of
Tokyo, the 60kg robot was named after an Isaac Asimov character.

But in spite of robotic advances, we are not even close to obtaining Terminator-style killer robots. As the Flea notes, this robotic assault on Junichiro Koizumi is pretty lame.

While there is competition brewing between China and India, it’s worth noting that the two emerging powers have many areas where they can cooperate: resource development, seeking calm in Nepal, and covering up bird flu outbreaks.

Further in the spirit of regional co-operation, the Barbarian Envoy has a great roundup of opinion on the ongoing Sino-Russian wargames. In other military non-military news, the PLA’s aircaft carrier floating casino is getting a paint job.

The Lost Nomad brings us this happy story about a Korean airline’s safety procedures.

SojubabyLast January, aboard a flight from Sydney to
Incheon, a 36 year old housewife who suffered from depression hanged
herself in one of the bathrooms at the rear of the plane. The crew
quickly discovered the body and did everything they could to avoid any
commotion or disturbance among the other passengers.
But two months later, when the same aircraft touched down in
Washington D.C., the smoke detector in that bathroom went off. Crew
went to check but found no one there. Some of the crew recalled the
suicide two months earlier and were scared stiff. Another two months on
the crew was assigned to the same plane once again, and they decided to
bring some soju — traditional Korean liquor — and sprinkle it in the
bathroom to appease the vengeful spirit.

Soju appeases vengeful spirits?  See, you can learn something new every day.

Silly Nomad, you’ve been in Korea long enough to know that soju does not appease evil spirits. Soju is an evil spirit. I’ve had lots of the stuff and dealt with hangovers so bad they required exorcisms.

Aside from missile-related exports, how does North Korea earn hard currency? Sometimes they just print it.:

Authorities said they seized $4.4 million in high-quality fake $100 bills,
more than 1 billion counterfeit cigarettes worth $42 million, and
ecstasy, methamphetamine and Viagra worth hundreds of thousands of
dollars. Some of the cigarettes were made in China, said acting
assistant Attorney General John Richter.

Singapore’s talk radio is still limited what is allowed on government-regulated stations, and interviews with opposition leaders - unsurprisingly - do not feature prominently. But they haven’t yet regulated online talk show Pilot n’ Jo.

A look at a work-based prison rehabilitation program in Singapore. Mr Wang is impressed, but Stephen wants to know if the prisoners are getting paid. Personally I think being put to work in a call center qualifies as cruel and unusual punishment.

Female inmates at a Singapore prison are working 12-hour shifts
as telephone call-center operators and telemarketers in a state
campaign to rehabilitate lawbreakers, an official said on Wednesday.

In what seems to be an annual event, a coup in Myanmar.

A Japanese bureaucrat protests "I’m a woman in a man’s body." The police retort, "you are a man in a woman’s changing room."

Whilst taking a day off work last week, a 41-year-old government
official in konan, Shiga Prefecture, was arrested for trespassing in a
women’s changing room at a local leisure facility.
Kameda was dressed as a woman when he was apprehended, but in his
defence he told the police, “I know I am a man, but I want to live as a
woman.” How this information will affect the bureaucrat’s case is
unknown, but Kameda-san may well have gotten away with his changing
room misdemeanour had he managed to curtail his cross-dressing
activities a little more.
It turns out that before his capture,
the 41-year-old had been for a swim. Yet as innocuous as such an
activity may sound, rather surprisingly Kameda chose to wear a
decidedly un-government like bikini.

by @ 6:55 pm. Filed under Culture, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, China, India, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, Web/Tech, North Korea

23 August, 2005

mind the gap

Admin note: An internet-related problem in Shanghai is preventing posting of Tuesday’s daily links. Should this be resolved, an extended roundup will be provided on Wednesday.

by @ 9:54 pm. Filed under Uncategorized

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

china economic roundup (viii)


It’s all smiles and handshakes when Wen Jiabao and Manmohan Singh meet, but the two emerging powers are competing for influence in South Asia - both diplomatic and economic. Via CDT, Japan Focus has a very in-depth article on the trade and economic ties between China, India and the region.:

  India, as the resident power of South Asia, considers the region its "near
  abroad," and does not want Beijing to intrude on to its turf. What unnerves
  India most is China’s eye on South Asia’s biggest prize: the Indian Ocean. While
  India would like to prevent China’s advance into its sphere of influence, it
  lacks the regional or international clout, diplomatically, militarily or economically,
  to stem Beijing’s march on South Asia or the Indian Ocean.
  China, however, has sought to calm Delhi. Prime Minister Wen Jiabao’s four-day
  visit to India on April 9-12 attests to growing efforts to woo Delhi. China’s major goal is to keep India from forging military and strategic alliances with the U.S. that might undermine Beijing’s goal of reunification of Taiwan. Well aware of India’s historic concerns for its territorial integrity, China deftly plays on India’s nationalist instincts and its visceral aversion to domination by foreign powers. China’s deft diplomacy is facilitated by the current U.P.A. (United Progressive Alliance) government of India that rests on a liberal-left coalition, many of whose members are more suspicious of western powers than of Beijing.

The Oil Drum notes that China’s south has received oil deliveries, and further evidence emerges that (as was widely noted last week) the shortage was caused by price controls, and ’solved’ by government intervention.:

Global prices have risen by about 30 per cent
this year but Chinese prices by about half that, leaving local refiners
such as Sinopec suffering large losses on sales of imported fuel.
Sinopec official in Beijing, speaking on condition of anonymity, said
Wednesday the company had been forced by the government to order its
refiners to produce fuel for the local market, even though it was not

Simon picks up on this theme from another article, noting that the big refiners’ refusal to supply the market at a loss may have much bigger ramifications.:

One other interesting part of the article that is mentioned in passing but has greater significance:

Sinopec and PetroChina have listed many of their business operations in
overseas securities markets, they are increasingly able to cite
"shareholder interests'’ as an excuse to defy government orders.

market economics can triumph over Communism after all? The writer is
implying that Sinopec and PetroChina are using shareholder interests as
a fig leaf to ignore orders. What if, perhaps, they actually believe in
creating shareholder value and subverting Government orders is a means
to that end?

Indeed, one of the most frequent dreams/fears I hear from economists and analysts is that much of China’s semi-state sector is increasingly behaving according to market rationale not because of government pressure — but because the top-management has desire to do so.

While this doesn’t mean much while China continues to boom, a day may soon come when Chinese banks start to call in loans made to insolvent SOEs and refuse to endorse policy loans. If that happens, there could be a real shakeout with the next downturn.

This loosening of state control is hinted at in an article reproduced by Mark Thoma: a Business Week interview with economist Fan Gang.:

There has been some progress in the banking sector. There still is
political interference, but control of the banks has been centralized
[away from local governments]. As a result, the whole system is more
independent of the local politicians. The managements of local branches
aren’t appointed by local governments any more.
The reform has started — but maybe too late. The government
has injected money into the banks to float shares. To improve the
capital market, 20% to 30% of their shares have to be sold to the
public. But [more state injections are likely].

Also at the New Economist, another Business Week item on the costs of China’s energy subsidies on the environment. Mark Thoma notes.:

ChinapollutionAccording to the World Bank, six of the world’s ten most polluted
cities are in China.  It is also a very inefficient user of energy
requiring 4.7 times as much energy to produce a unit of GDP than in the
U.S., a consequence of subsidized fuel in China leaving little
incentive to implement energy saving technology and lax environmental
regulation.  The energy subsidies and the lack of environmental
regulation contribute to the cost advantage enjoyed by Chinese
producers. And, according to BusinessWeek, China is becoming even less efficient in its energy usage.

As well as environmental concerns, but something that isn’t too distantly related, Martyn at the Peking Duck looks at a damning report on China’s healthcare system. Bingfeng notes that China is coming under pressure - from the public, media and branches of government - to rollback healthcare privatization. Bingfeng’s solution, one which I agree with, is to stay the course.:

The problems of the marketization, such as overcharge, unevenness,
etc. are the same ones of any industry going privatized, and they will
diminish over time as the industry has more money and players in and
services become more competitive. even health care sector has its
uniqueness, the therapy for the misplaced reform is to further advance
the marketization but not to halt it.
the public, mostly don’t
have that knowledge and vision, are proposing to draw back to the safe
and cozy position of government-take-care-of-all, and with the help of
mass media, their voices are without doubt reach the ears of top
policy-makers. in my view, the public opinons are an indispensable part
of the policy-making process but they are just counter-productive in
the health care reform.

On currency and central bank matters, Sun Bin offers a look into the composition of the yuan’s guidance basket.:

The fact that RMB is still so highly correlated to USD is still puzzling. Maybe PBC is smoothing out the transition, by adjusting the USD basket weight slowly from 100% down to the the target weight
of 50% or 43%. In other words, in July, USD might have still been the
sole content inside the basket, or RMB continued to peg to USD alone
for a few more days, until the peg is slowly loosened. If Jen’s implied
weight at 85% is correct (the average over the period), USD weight
might have decreased from 100% down to around 70-80% now.

Logan Wright, meanwhile, offers some sobering comments to those who put too much faith in People’s Bank of China governor Zhou Xiaochaun.:

I understand that all bureaucracies are beset by compromises, with
various agencies seeking out turf in conflicts that often produce
decisions that are essentially "satisficing" results that are "good
enough" but not utility-maximizing for all parties involved.
My argument in this debate is that China’s economic bureaucratic
institutions effectively lack autonomy, because there is no single
institution capable of fomulating its own goals regarding China’s
position and stance toward the international financial markets.
Instead, policymaking becomes concentrated in the State Council, and
political compromises emerge that essentially convey mixed messages to
the global marketplace….
PBOC, in contrast, has to respond to directions from the State Council,
even while attempting to win more turf for its own bureaucratic
empire.  The result, I believe, is that international economic policy
effectively loses credibility. 


by @ 1:11 pm. Filed under China, India, Asia, East Asia, Economy, Northeast Asia, South Asia, Bangladesh, Economic roundup

21 August, 2005

sunday links


ESWN has a translation of a Chinese state-run paper’s view on internet censorship and the real name campaign. If you are a CCP member, there is reason to be optimistic.:

With the continual cleaning up
  of the Internet, time and again, there is hope that every corner of the
  Chinese Internet will be mopped up cleanly.

Above cartoon from Seattle PI via Mei Zhong Tai.

Harry notes that working as a Chef for Kim Jong-il can be hazardous. Among the many things to fear… shaved gonads!:

In 1989, Mr Fujimoto married one of the Group for Pleasure dancers,
with the Dear Leader playing a prominent, but bizarre, part in his
"My wedding was held on the second floor of the number eight banquet
hall. Many executives from the North Korean Labour Party came to the
wedding and told me to drink a lot. I drank one and half bottles of
"The next morning, Kim Jong Il came to me and asked me whether I had
pubic hair," Mr Fujimoto continued. "I answered, ‘Yes’ but he said to
me, ‘Let’s go to the bathroom to check’. We went to the bathroom and
checked, but it was all gone."When I was intoxicated with cognac, someone seemed to have removed
it. Kim Jong Il said, ‘That’s how we celebrate weddings’ and smiled.

That odd tidbit is from the Scotsman, for more serious information on Kim, read a book.

Sometimes in China, protests work. The China Youth Daily has scrapped a plan to have bonuses linked with pleasing the party. Don’t worry too much about the reporters missing out on the extra cash, there are still other ways for journalists to make money.

The Economist a few weeks back ran a leader arguing that video and online games did not lead to increased levels of deviancy or violence. There is no evidence to believe it does. Still, as virtual weapons and property becomes more valuable, we can probably expect more online theft.:

StickupA man has been arrested in Japan on suspicion carrying out a virtual mugging spree
by using software “bots” to beat up and rob characters in the online
computer game Lineage II. The stolen virtual possessions were then
exchanged for real cash. . .
“There’s an ongoing war between
people who make bots and games companies,” he [Ren Reynolds, a UK-based
computer games consultant and an editor of the gaming research site
Terra Nova] told New Scientist. “And making real money out of virtual
worlds is getting bigger.”. . .

Via Imagethief, the Taiwanese are Kiwis, and - power shortage or not - the Bund must be spectacular.


(image stolen from here)

PuffyamiGravely disturbing headline at Boing Boing: "Puffy AmiYumi Bukkake": 

… not exactly what the headline promises: Link

I’m sure the imagery isn’t intentional, although it’s slightly bothersome that a group so dedicated to children’s entertainment would be so careless about its image. Speaking of which: "Disney sweatshop report: Part VI."

At East Asia Affairs, a damning commentary on South Korea’s progressives:

I fear I was
wrong about democratization in South Korea. At least some of those who
fought against dictatorship weren’t, and aren’t, true democrats. What
they hated was the generals’ right-wing politics, not authoritarianism
per se.
Such self-styled "progressives", who rule the roost in the new South
Korea, seem to me merely to have turned the old values inside out,
rather than made true progress. I sometimes think Koreans don’t do
shades of gray, but prefer gestalt conversions: a total switch of world
view. They flip.

Singabloodypore has a report on internet filtering in the city state, from my view (as a former long-term Singapore resident now in China), it’s not that bad in comparison.:

In our testing, the OpenNet Initiative (ONI)found extremely minimal
filtering of Internet content in Singapore, as only eight sites of
1,632 tested (.49%) were blocked: www.cannabis.com, www.chick.com,
www.formatureaudiencesonly.com, www.penthouse.com,
www.persiankitty.com, www.playboy.com, www.playgirl.com, and
www.sex.com. The limited blocking that our testing revealed focuses on
a few pornographic URLs and one site each in the categories of illegal
drugs and fanatical religion. Similar content is readily available at
other sites on the Internet that are not blocked in Singapore. Thus,
Singapore’s Internet content regulation depends primarily on access
controls (such as requiring political sites to register for a license)
and legal pressures (such as defamation lawsuits and the threat of
imprisonment) to prevent people from posting objectionable content
rather than technological methods to block it. Compared to other
countries that implement mandatory filtering regimes that ONI has
studied closely, Singapore’s technical filtering system is one of the
most limited.

It forgets to mention that the Sarong Party Girl cannot be accessed from government offices.

Japundit has great analysis on Japan’s election. High Noon in Tokyo #2.

The Philippines is getting tough on corruption? I won’t hold my breath, but if this case is any indication of things to come… ouch.

It is encouraging that the Sandiganbayan (corruption court) is starting
to really clamp down on corruption, though last Friday’s sentencing of
a 71-year-old former mayor to 64 years’ imprisonment for employing his cousins seems, er, a tiny bit disproportionate.

Rezwan has a fantastic roundup of blog coverage of last week’s blasts in Bangladesh. And also great commentary.

Finally, a Great China blog roundup at Global Voices.

by @ 8:40 pm. Filed under Japan, South Korea, Singapore, China, Asia, East Asia, Economy, Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, Media, South Asia, Web/Tech, Weblogs, Books, Censorship, Terrorism, North Korea, Bangladesh

20 August, 2005

korea ponders “asian euro”

The sagging US dollar and the recent reevaluation of the Chinese Yuan has caused Korean economists to propose the creation of a pan-Asian currency:

“Asian nations have continued raking in U.S. treasuries _ they depend too much on the U.S. export market and no financial markets able to absorb the current account surplus exist,’’ Choi said.

“If this trend continues, Asian nations will face a growing financial risk caused by a sharp fall in dollar values, thus increasing instability in the global financial system,’’ he added.

Yoon stressed that the key to solving this problem is to create a regional currency, the so-called Asian Currency Unit (ACU), seen as a basket of intra-regional currencies, which he says is the approach taken by Europe.

I cannot envision this idea happening in northeast Asia any time soon.  The way China, the two Koreas, Taiwan, and Japan argue and create political crisis’s out of everything from history textbooks, disputed islands, the name of a body of water (Sea of Japan/East Sea), apologies for World War II, Taiwan as a renegade province, and a host of other grievances between everyone involved; how could they ever iron out an agreement to use a single currency?  Who’s face would they put on the currency?  Mao Zedong, Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il, Chang Kaishek, or General Hideki Tojo?  If it was decided to use landmarks that too would cause controversy because Korea would want the disputed Dokto Islands on the currency. 

Yes, I think Asia is a long ways from creating a common currency, but that may not be a bad thing judging by the up and down performance of the European Euro.


by @ 12:44 pm. Filed under Japan, South Korea, China, Money, Asia, East Asia, Economy, Northeast Asia

19 August, 2005

more evil from sanrio

oHong Kongers remain under the spell of the mouthless one from Sanrio. Simon cites an SCMP item on a promotional event that went sour.:

The opening of an art exhibition of Japan’s most famous cartoon
character degenerated into farce at the Arts Centre yesterday as more
than 1,000 outraged fans complained about unfair arrangements
preventing them from getting a limited edition Hello Kitty toy. After
hours of heated discussion, manufacturers Sanrio Hong Kong vowed to
produce another set of the toys to calm the crowd.
Exhibition organisers and Sanrio hoped to bring Hong Kong fans an
artistically inspiring and nostalgic experience to celebrate Hello
Kitty’s 30th birthday. But fans who had queued since 11pm on Wednesday
night had just one goal - to buy one of 300 "detective-style" Hello
Kittys made especially for the exhibition. The exhibition opened at
10.30am and the 300 toys, plus other limited edition items such as
umbrellas, went on sale when the doors opened. Only 70 fans were
allowed into the hall at a time.
By noon, however, more than 1,000 were queuing outside.

Unlike earlier such Kitty-related mobs, no injuries were mentioned.

Japundit reports on a tour bus based on a Hello Kitty theme. As nothing good ever comes from the mouthless one, I expect we shall soon be hearing of a horrific bus accident.

This evil must be stopped.


by @ 8:37 pm. Filed under Japan, Hong Kong, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Hello Kitty watch

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

china economic roundup (vii)

OilqueueWelcome to the oil edition. A larger picture of the side picture - a queue at a petrol station in Dongguan, China’s Guangdong province - as well as others can be found at Bingfeng Teahouse. China is facing an energy shortage. Imagethief posts an Asian Wall Street Journal article that has useful background on the situation in the South.

It isn’t just high international prices that’s causing China’s energy shortage, Mark Thoma at the Economist’s View points to two NY Times items explaining how the shortages relate to China’s transition to an overregulated market economy from an overregulated command economy.

The diesel and power shortages have one thing in common: they are
largely the result of the clash between China’s Communist past and its
increasingly capitalist present. The government has set retail prices
too low for diesel and electricity. So businesses, facing high world
oil prices, are supplying less of both.

Simon, with his always excellent Daily Linklets, covers much of the discussion, saving Asiapundit the trouble.

The oil shortage in China is getting global attention: Brad DeLong reproduces a NYT article, Gateway Pundit (via Instapundit, who is taking more of an interest in China these days…part of China’s rise?) and Bingfeng have photos, Economists View talks about China’s oil price controls, Barcepundit dregs up a 1998 article on a sex/oil swap in Ningxia.  As I noted in yesterday’s linklets, the SCMP puts
some of the blame on supply bottlenecks as well as the price control
system. Article below the jump.

(UPDATE 18:34) Sun Bin, as always, has worthwhile insights.:

  1. The phenomenon in Guangdong showed that the oil oligarchs,
    although state owned, are rebelling by hoarding the gasoline. This is
    good evidence to rebuff China bashers in the CNOOC/Unocal incidence.
    Yes, the GM is indirectly appointed by the government, but P&L is
    definitely becoming a higher priority. This will likely set precedence as one of the crucial baby steps for the SOEs (state owned enterprises) to break free from state control.
  2. Chinese gov’t will eventually have to give in to market force, by liberating gas price soon. Can’t think of other option
  3. Well,
    there is a bad solution to the current mess. It could work in short
    term, provided oil price moves down in the international market. Not a
    good option. Anyway, this is the bad solution: subsidize the oil
    companies on a per-liter-sold base (sort of a negative sales tax). This
    is bad because it is easy to circumvent. And when it comes to finding
    loopholes against unsound policies, Chinese are genetically adapted and
    practically trained. e.g. a) parallel export /smuggling oil out of
    China (HK trucks have always been filling as much as they could before
    return to the border - now the risk is for regions outside HK and in a
    more organized scale); b) oil oligarchs can fraud higher sales # for
    more rebate from government; to name but a few. I am sure they are more
    creative than me
  4. The better and easiest option is, of cource, let RMB appreciate a bit more (thanks Brad for
    reminding me the obvious). There are pros and cons, the oil price has
    risen by a percentage much larger than any feasible RMB appreciation
    could counter, but by feeding all numbers into a formula, there must be
    a solution as to what is the best percentage RMB should appreciate vs
    subsidy needed.

Mark Thoma also looks at alternative measures of growth and an article that questions China’s record of human development.:

Better news comes from the economies of China and most of the OECD
(Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries: they
have grown in terms of both GDP per capita and wealth per capita. … It
would seem, therefore, that during the past three decades the rich
world has enjoyed sustainable development, while development in the
poor world (barring China) has been unsustainable. One can argue,
however, that the above estimates of wealth movements are biased. Among
the many types of natural capital whose depreciation do not appear in
the World Bank figures are freshwater, soil, ocean fisheries, forests
and wetlands as providers of ecosystem services, as well as the
atmosphere, which serves as a sink for particulates and nitrogen and
sulfur oxides. Moreover, the prices the World Bank has estimated to
value the natural assets on its list are based on assumptions that
ignore the limited capacity of natural systems to recover from
disturbances. If both sets of biases were removed, we could well
discover that the growth in wealth in China and the world’s wealthy
nations has also been negative.

At the Shanghaiist, Dan Washburn talks trade, investment and takes a piece out of Senator Charles Schumer.:

foreign investors’ complaints have almost always been related to
restrictions on the size of investments allowed — percentage of foreign
ownership — when it comes to Chinese companies and joint ventures. We
have heard of deals going awry with Chinese partners running off,
illegally, with intellectual property. (China also has a history of
obtaining, illegally and legally, and subsequently squandering
technology, never actually building upon this know-how to develop its
own advanced technology.) But we can’t imagine that any American
companies in industries involving technology would ever come to China
if giving up all of their trade secrets was required to do business
here … especially not companies in the aviation industry where
sensitive technology could have implications for China’s own military

The New Economist notes that, for some, Europe’s textile quotas are economic suicide.:

As an armada of Chinese cardigans and trousers
lies stranded in European ports (by some estimates, around 60 million
items), some European politicians are finally starting to oppose this
madness. This morning’s Financial Times (subscribers only) features an article by Swedish, Dutch, Finnish and Danish ministers attacking the import ban.
Karien van Gennip, Bendt Bendtsen, Thomas Östros and Paula Lehtomäki
argue that the import quotas "were introduced, without proper regard
for the realities of modern commerce." The ministers don’t pull many
punches; these quotas will cost jobs.

(18:43) Logan Wright compares the strategic investment plans of foreign banks in China.

To close as we began, with a look at China’s energy situation, National Geographic (via Boing Boing) has a short item on power shortages in rural China.:


August 16, 2005—Speeding from the scene of the crime, a
Chinese boy tows a floating plastic bag of stolen natural gas last
week. Flouting a government ban, farmers around the central Chinese
town of Pucheng frequently filch gas from the local oil field.

by @ 2:41 pm. Filed under China, Asia, Coming collapse, East Asia, Economy, Northeast Asia, Economic roundup

18 August, 2005

how the firewall hurts china

I live in Shanghai, China’s international financial capital. Today at the office I needed to visit the Morgan Stanley Capital International (MSCI) website, one of the leading international stock indicies.

Picture3_2Picture2_4I couldn’t access it. So I ran a test from a Shanghai-based virtual trace route site. The results are contained on the image on the left. A trace on this site, which is accessible in China, is on the right (click either image to enlarge).

For MSCI, the connection failed at the ChinaNet backbone server. This is the same result that you get when you enter the URL for banned blogs, such as RConversation, or blocked news sites, such as the BBC. Right now, I’m assuming that MSCI is blocked in Shanghai.

I can’t say whether this is a deliberate blockage or an accident, but I will say that this is a frequent event in China. Sites that ‘the party’ would likely find innocuous are often inaccessible - either due to the Great Firewall or related stresses that the filtering system puts on connectivity.

I’m in China’s financial capital and I cannot access a relatively important financial website without using a proxy.

There are people who argue that Shanghai will soon overtake Hong Kong. It may eventually do so. But it won’t be anytime soon. Censorship - of publications as well as the Internet - is part of the reason why.

Mainland China lacks the openess and transparency that a real financial center needs. So long as the CPP remains fearful of freedom, Hong Kong’s future is secure.

by @ 10:41 pm. Filed under Blogs, China, Hong Kong, Asia, Coming collapse, East Asia, Economy, Northeast Asia, Web/Tech, Weblogs

thursday links

As a Good Beer Blogger, I consider this Fantastic News (via India Uncut);

BeerTipplers can now get some kick as well as some vitamins out of a new beer, which is supposed to protect the liver from harmful effects of alcohol.
Lady Bird Bio Beer, which was launched in the Kerala markets on Wednesday, increases bio-availability of vitamins, according to its inventor B Srinivas Amarnath of Advaith Biotech Pvt Ltd.
He said the beer contained aloe vera extracts, in addition to the regular barley malt and carbondioxide hops.
"The results of human clinical trials have shown aloe vera increases the bioavailability of vitamins like B1, B6, B12, C and E," said C B Jagannatha Rao, senior vice president, Khoday Group of Industries, which has tied up with Advaith Biotech in the venture.
Years of research have also proved that with the long-term use of the beverage, there was no ulceration, gastric trouble or other harmful effects from drinking it, Amarnath claimed.

Do not sell the sexual services of your co-workers without their consent… it’s illegal.:

Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency on Wednesday arrested a 36 year-old man identified as Kim for hawking the sexual services of colleagues online without their knowledge.
Police say Kim is charged with secretly taking digital photos up the skirts of three of his female colleagues at the Gangnam office of a cosmetics firm in Seoul and uploading the pictures some 30 times from an Internet cafe to an Internet auction site, where he offered to sell his coworkers as sexual partners for W150,000 (US$150).

There is some speculation that South Korea’s recent blockage of TypePad and Blogspot blogs was to prevent bloggers from offending a visiting North Korean delegation. It’s amazing how far Roh Moo-hyun’s administration will go to prevent offending Kim Jong-il’s regime:

Park Chan-sung, who chairs the Citizens Coalition to Stop the Nuclear Development of North Korea, said two-man police teams kept a tight watch on six or seven of the group’s leaders, conducted body searches and confiscated pamphlets and picket signs. He said police confined some to their homes, and on Monday police cars blocked both alley entrances to the group’s office.

The Flea ponders whether Asians are more brand conscious than Westerners, noting an item from Korea’s Chosun Ilbo.:

Japanese writer Usagi Nakamura details her devotion to labels in her book, "I Like Name Brands." She once went into a Chanel shop to buy an umbrella, but the store clerk told her not to use it when it rained a lot. He said it was OK to use the umbrella when it sort of drizzled, but he worried that it would leak in a downpour since it wasn’t waterproof. After giving it a little thought, she bought the umbrella, saying, "I’m not buying an umbrella, I’m buying Chanel."

U2 must visit Tianjin, Where the Streets have no Drains.:


During a “normal” rainfall in Tianjin the streets will fill with large puddles and only a small amount of water will actually make its way into drains. This is because road engineers don’t install gutters or otherwise apply sloping on the roads to make the water run off like it should. Instead, following each rain, work cadre groups made up of middle-aged men or middle-aged women deploy en masse with brooms to sweep the water away.

China’s floating casino is closer to becoming operational. In other military news, Andy at Siberian Light takes a good look at Russian-Chinese war games. First the charitable view:

Several humanitarian assistance operations have required robust military action in recent years, including on occasion actually landing marines on a beach (remember the fanfare as US marines stormed ashore in Somalia in the 1990s?) or potentially invading a country (a huge amount of planning was put in place for a potential invasion of Yugoslavia to protect Kosovo, for example).
And Russia and China both have on their doorsteps a number of basket-case countries that could potentially require a robust intervention.  The most obvious candidate is North Korea which, if it collapses dramatically, may require a speedy response to secure a number of key military and nuclear sites - not to mention the rapid response that would be required to prevent a humanitarian disaster if refugees attempt to flee across the Chinese and Russian borders.  It’s fair to say that, if Russia and/or China needed to launch a military mission into North Korea, it would likely involve operations by both marines and paratroopers.

Read the rest for a fuller analysis.

In India, justice can be slow. From Amit Varma 54 years and one rupee:

The first figure: how long Machang Lalung of Assam spent in prison without a trial.
The second figure: the amount of money he paid to get released.

In Indonesia justice can be non-existent:

Al Qaeda (ed: Jemaah Islamiah ) leader Abu Bakar Bashir has been given a sentence reduction. Well done.
that they don’t say that his status as guilty has changed one whit.
They are just saying he deserves less punishment for what he has been
found guilty of.

Rebecca McKinnion, one of AsiaPundit’s favourite bloggers, is back. She also notes that co-Global Voices blogger, the excellent Paul Frankenstein has finished his internship with GV. Egad! Global Voices can afford an intern? No wonder it’s always better than this blog.

Fellow Canadian and Red Ensign blogger Andrew is looking for the real China.


Picture1_4The Taipei Kid reports that love motels are moving upmarket.

by @ 9:38 pm. Filed under Culture, Food and Drink, South Korea, Blogs, China, India, Taiwan, Indonesia, Asia, East Asia, Economy, Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, Weblogs, North Korea

blog-city block

Frank Dai at Global Voices has a solid roundup on the CCP’s blockage of blog-city.

Now Chinese Bloggers are facing a serious problem of where to blog, especially those who want to speak freely. More and more foreign BSPs are being blocked, such as Blogsome, Typepad and Blogspot. Almost all the BSPs in Mainland China have a rigid system of censoring “bad words” which are considered to be politically or pornographically sensitive. If hosted on independent domain server, the blogger need to register their personal information. For bloggers who want to blog freely and securely, they can resort to “Adoptablog” program.

Gordon of the now-blocked Horse’s Mouth has set up a mirror site. He has also discovered a partial work-around solution that enables text-only posting (no hyperlinks) to blog-city sites from China. Should this be a permanent block, effected bloggers should at the very least be able to use it to post URLs to mirror sites.

Bloggers who want to access the work-around can leave comments here and I’ll pass on the information to Gordon.

by @ 2:05 pm. Filed under Blogs, China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Web/Tech, Weblogs, Censorship

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