24 October, 2005

air kitty

The mouthless one from Sanrio continues the expansion of her evil empire.:


Apparently the Hello Kitschy sightseeing bus was not enough!

Taiwan airline Eva Air has painted one of its Airbus A300-200 with the big-headed cat and her family members. The plane will fly daily between Taipei and Fukuoka.

The plane’s interior features Hello Kitty-related items as well, ranging from boarding passes, baggage tags, dining utensils, and lavatory papers to flight attendant uniforms.

From MSN-Mainichi. Press Release.

Given Hello Kitty’s record with violence and mayhem, I putting the chances of a crash within the next two years at about 40 pct. The odds would be much worse if it were an Air China plane.

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by @ 10:49 pm. Filed under Japan, Taiwan, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Hello Kitty watch

bad money chasing out good

Reforming China’s currency is not a new problem, Alex Baumler at group history blog Frog in a Well posts a poem from the 1350s.:

The Great Yuan—how grave and dignified,

Its authority by the crafty and duplicitous monopolized.

‘Repairing’ the Yellow River dikes [1351],
‘reforming’ the
paper currency [1350],

These calamities set off the Red Turbans by the host.

Too many laws, punishments too harsh
that’s incited
the people’s wrath.

People eating people, cheap money buying out dear
Nothing like this seen in former years.

Bandits in office, officials in gangs;
Alas! What a pity,

Muddling together the worthy and the dumb.

While AsiaPundit will not pretend to be a long-time student of Chinese history, the history of money is something that I’ve long had more than a passing interest in. Baumler notes the application of Gresham’s Law and how Chinese views on monetarism and the use of coin as a store of value differ from contemporary thinking.:

ChinacoinThe thing that really struck me about this one was the fairly clear statement of Gresham’s Law in the fourth line from the end. Actually, a bit of googling quickly showed that Gresham’s law (Bad money drives out good) is older in the West than I had thought. More interestingly, this does not really seem to be Gresham’s Law, or at least it was not understood that way by the Chinese authors who wrote about it. According to wikipedia Gresham applies when two forms of money are available, one (bad money) with a larger spread between the face value and the commodity value. This was not how Chinese economic thinkers looked at it, however. According to von Glahn Fountain of Fortune: Money and Monetary Policy in China, 1000-1700 California U.P. 1996 Chinese monetary theory usually assumed that “the purchasing power of the medium of exchange was solely a result of its quantity, in the form of money, in relationship to the supply of all other commodities.”(p.33) That paper money had no intrinsic value was not a problem, since Chinese money was usually seen as fiat. This explains why the Chinese started using paper money so much earlier than anyone else.

There were strains of metalism, the idea that the value of money was based on the metal in it, in Chinese thought, and apparently especially among the commoners. Keeping the volume of money appropriate and making paper convertible to coin were the mainstays of policy when the paper currency was functioning well. I get the impression that convertibility was seen as more of a sop to the commoners, who favored coin as a better store of value, a use of money that the state was not as concerned with. So yes, the currency was collapsing, and yes the quote seems to be Gresham’s Law, but the understanding of money is completely different.

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by @ 2:07 pm. Filed under China, Money, Asia, East Asia, Economy, Northeast Asia

papua new guinea blog

Via Friskodude comes news of a new blog providing coverage of a previously untreaded part of the Asian blogosphere, with the PNG Life blog. Author JCD notes that the Island nation will soon be getting some regular attention from US network television.:

Survivor-1The post-courier reports today that there is a two man team from the popular American show, Survivor, scouting the coasts of Madang and New Ireland provinces for uninhabited islands to use for a new version of the show.

Good news for PNG, bit of extra exposure in the world. People outside of Australia may actually learn where the place is (although a lot of Australians could do with a touch up as well).

But come on, using another island for the show, is a soft mans Survivor. They have done the island to death. Most of the shows, apart from Survivor: The Outback, have been on islands and it is now a given, you can survive on a bloody island. Coconuts, bananas, etc - easy life.

If they want to make a Survivor: PNG, let the contestants do it hard. Stick them in a patch of the highlands between two warring tribes and see how they go when they come in with their machine guns. Make them catch and kill wild pigs and cuscuses to eat. Get them to plant kau kau and carry bilums full of garden food on their heads up mountains. Let them walk for days to get to the nearest aid post when they get injured.

Now that is trying to survive! … oh wait, there are over a million people in this country doing that every day, day in and out, already. I guess this has been done to death too.

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by @ 1:52 pm. Filed under Blogs, Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia, Media, Weblogs

china blog list

John at Sinosplice has launched the new and much improved China Blog List, including a new filtering feature and other welcome enhancements:

Picture 1Having a very specific location for each blog is useful because the location filter is hierarchical. A blog listed as based in San Francisco, for example, will show up in the listings for (1) All locations, (2) Outside China, (3) USA, (4) California, and (5) San Francisco. A blog listed as based in Hangzhou will show up in the listings for (1) All locations, (2) Greater China, (3) mainland China, (4) Zhejiang, and (5) Hangzhou. Including the specific location of each blog is to that blog’s benefit.

John provides greater detail on the site’s revisions here.

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by @ 1:40 pm. Filed under Blogs, China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Weblogs

lee blasts prc as “slave state”

Former Taiwanese President Lee ripped apart the Mainland’s Communist government in Los Angeles, his last stop on his American trip, as reported by the Taipei Times:

In an explosive speech in Los Angeles on the last leg of a 13-day US tour that has infuriated Beijing, Lee called for capitalist nations to shun investment in China, which he likened to the 1930s appeasement policy towards German dictator Adolf Hitler and later Soviet leader Joseph Stalin.

"As long as the capital from free countries continues to pour into China, China’s already oppressive practices will become more entrenched and the ensuing and ever-expanding militarism will make the likelihood of transition to a peaceful country ever more unlikely," he said.

Lee is known for being hypercritical of the mainland government, and when I read this I was preparing a moderate defense of the CCP, noting recent reforms and changes of rhetoric in favor of democracy.  Then I came across some commentary over at Shanghailist on a recent white paper, "Building of Political Democracy in China," (full English text here) which suggests that rhetoric may be a new way for the CCP to legitimize its own authoritarian power.  A Financial Times editorial lays out the best analysis I’ve found:

The 74-page government policy paper entitled "The Building of Political Democracy" seeks to justify autocratic Communist party rule in much the same way that Asian dictators have defended their regimes since the 1950s.

Genuine democratic demands are portrayed as "anarchic", in contrast to the party’s paternalistic guidance of the people towards prosperity and harmony. Echoing the "Asian values" popular with authoritarians in the 1990s, the paper says "China’s socialist political democracy has vivid Chinese characteristics". It shamelessly defines democratic government as the Communist party ruling on behalf of citizens with a view to perfecting "the people’s democratic dictatorship".

The fact of publication - this is the first such paper on this subject to be issued by the Chinese government - is of greater significance than the rather predictable contents. One theory is that the report was, like previous white papers, a response to foreign criticism and an attempt to explain China’s position to the outside world; the theory was lent weight by the coincidental presence in Beijing this week of Donald Rumsfeld, the US defence secretary.

Seems to me that Lee is right that democratic reforms are not imminent on the Mainland, at least in the short term.

For some more background, see this NY Times summary piece.  A Taiwanese take is here.

by @ 12:36 am. Filed under China, Taiwan, East Asia

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