30 May, 2006

Beijing Lacks Strap-ons

While China’s domestic and export sex-toy trade are thriving, in terms of variety there are still serious gaps in what is available in the domestic market. Dinah Gartner reports on the difficulty of finding a strap-on in Beijing in the not-safe for work Asian Sex Gazette.:

So it was that one evening last month I found myself trawling US and UK sex toy websites with fellow dyke in despair, an American editor for a local entertainment magazine, and known to some as The Stud of Beijing, in the vein (sic) attempt to fill my virtual shopping basket with a pleasing assortment of silicone and leather. The Stud comes with her credit card; I supply the wine.

But we are butt plugged at every turn. The Babes in Toyland website stubbornly rejects our Chinese address; we try calling the helpline - but the phone card we buy from the local shop is domestic calls only; Skype, which China threatens to block, doesn’t work with my 10 yuan microphone; and a US$20 online IDD phone card requires a confusing array of passcodes and we can’t work it.

The Stud sends the phone card company an angry email. Which, of course, is never answered.

The flaccid state of decent dildo availability in China may just stem from a lack of demand. Perhaps mainland lesbians just aren’t that hot for strap-on sex.

Says Elisabeth Lund Engebretsen, an anthropologist researching lesbians in Beijing: “Few people I met had actually had experience with them - they either did not find them, found them too expensive, or didn’t dare go into a shop to buy them.

“One pure T (stone butch) said she’d never wear one as that would make her realise even more that she is not a man, which she wanted to be.”

She says she felt that while dykes here showed some interest in using sex toys they didn’t make much of an effort into getting their hands on the equipment.

Having never been in the market, AsiaPundit has no idea where to buy strap on appendages. However, for those within China who are interested in large artificial penises, they may find a recent exhibit in Nanjing to be of interest.


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by @ 2:48 pm. Filed under China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia

China’s Great 10

DC Comics is unveiling a new team of Chinese superheros called “the Great 10,” to be written by Grant Morrisson — the eccentric mind behind such heros as Danny the Street.

While the new characters are in the comics to be part of a government-sponsored team, it is not expected that they will please the current government. Two of the team are below:

Mother T
“Mother of Champions, who can give birth to a litter of 25 super-soldiers about every three days.”
(It seems the one-child policy will not apply to super humans.)

“The Socialist Red Guardsman is a character who used his solar powers to carry out the Cultural Revolution.”
(A Red Guard superhero from the cultural revolution? Yikes!)

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by @ 2:48 pm. Filed under China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia

29 May, 2006


Amnesty International have started a new campaign for free expression on the internet, along with a parallel campaign to free imprisoned Chinese journalist Shi Tao. Further details can be found by following the below link.:

by @ 11:06 pm. Filed under Uncategorized

Japan Introducing Robot Commandments

Japan is introducing new regulations that are being compared to Isaac Asimov’s laws of robotics. Technovelgy .:

Dmkiller2Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry is working on a new set of safety guidelines for next-generation robots. This set of regulations would constitute a first attempt at a formal version of the first of Asimov’s science-fictional Laws of Robotics, or at least the portion that states that humans shall not be harmed by robots.

The first law of robotics, as set forth in 1940 by writer Isaac Asimov, states:

A robot may not injure a human being, or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
Japan’s ministry guidelines will require manufacturers to install a sufficient number of sensors to keep robots from running into people. Lighter or softer materials will be preferred, to further prevent injury.

Emergency shut-off buttons will also be required. Science fiction heroes in stories and movies have spent an inordinate amount of time trying to find the shut-off button for various out-of-control machines, so I hope that these buttons will be prominently placed for easy access by concerned humans.

While many may welcome these guidelines, we should be deeply concerned that they may eventually become law. As the above inset illustration shows, rogue states such as Latveria will continue to make evil robots no matter what laws other nations adopt. In light of this, we can be thankful that Pentagon has decided against allowing any gaps to develop in killer robot technologies.

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by @ 10:23 pm. Filed under Japan, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia

I’ve Got Pressure

AsiaPundit is behind the curve on picking up the ‘Bus Uncle’ phenomena. Who is Bus Uncle? He’s the latest accidental internet star — although more in the vein of Dog-poop Girl than Mahir Cagri.

The foul-mouthed ‘uncle’ unloads on Hong Kong teenager Alvin after being asked to speak more quietly on his cell phone on a Hong Kong bus, causing an even greater interruption for commuters, an arrest and merchandizing:

As can generally be expected, Roland has the best summary of links and multimedia..

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by @ 9:04 pm. Filed under Hong Kong, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia

Java Earthquake Assistance

Jakartass has passed on news that the Indonesia Help site, last active in the aftermath of the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami, has reactivated in the wake of the earthquake that struck Java on Sunday.


As it did following the Tsunami, the site is offering news and information for donations.

by @ 8:29 pm. Filed under Uncategorized

The Myth of the Round Eye

John Padsen, the big nose who runs Sinosplice and the invaluable China Blog List, notes that ’round eye’ is not used as a derogatory term for Westerners.:

We English speakers have at our disposal an astounding variety of racial slurs. I don’t need to give a list here; we all know it to be true. I think one of the most interesting slurs is “round-eye” because it seems to be invented by the very group of people to whom it refers.

RoundeyeIf you’re not familiar with the term, it frequently shows up on racist websites or websites that play up the East/West divide (but not on certain ones—more on this below). It is also used seemingly innocuously at times. It’s supposed to be a term that Asians use for non-Asians.

It may be obvious to many Asians, but as a white American, I didn’t notice anything strange about the way the term is used until after living in China for some time. The truth is, I’ve never heard any Chinese (or Japanese) refer to whites or any non-Asians as “round-eyes,” in Chinese or any other language. At times non-Asians in China might get called hairy, simian, uncivilized, or even evil, but never round-eyed.

The reason for this is simple. While non-Asians often see Asian eyes as “slanted,” Asians do not see themselves that way. If you ask a Chinese person about the difference between Chinese and white people’s eyes, for instance, they will tell you that white people’s eyes are often blue, but Chinese eyes are “black.”

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by @ 8:22 pm. Filed under China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia

Journalists at Risk in Shanghai

On top of having to worry about being thrown in jail for revealing state secrets — as happened to Shi Tao and Zhao Yan – or on charges of ‘espionage as happened to Ching Cheong, journalists in China have to worry about more mundane concerns.

An alarming report, picked up by Shanghaiist, informs us that journalists in Shanghai have the highest risk of dying an early death from job-related health factors.:

Now take a wild guess: Which occupation is the most dangerous in Shanghai? According to this report (in Chinese) by the Shanghai Evening Post, journalists, corporate managers and scientific researchers are the top ones in danger now.

Why? Xiong Sidong, director of Immunology Institute of Fudan University explains Shanghainese are threatened by a variety of physical ailments and karoshi (guolao si 过劳死 or “death from overwork”). And the three occupations listed above are the most stressful on employees in the city.

According to a recent survey, 79 percent of journalists in the city die between 40-60 years old — the average life span is 45.7 years old! — and another survey by the Chinese Academy of Science shows the average life span for scientific researchers to be 52.23. Some 15.6 percent of them die between the ages 35-54. Also, a survey targeting corporate managers interviewed 3,539 people — the result is not much better. Ninety percent of them think the work pressure is huge, 76 percent think they are nervous at work, and worst, a quarter of those surveyed said they had health problems related to work stress.

CleanersWhile AsiaPundit is deeply concerned that his chosen profession is the most dangerous in his city of residence, he is a touch relieved. AP has been periodically concerned by some of the occupational risks he has seen others take in the city. But upon learning that he is in the most risky profession, he will be more relaxed.

For instance, the next time he sees these window cleaners outside of his 39th floor office — supported by seats of untreated wood — he will no longer have the urge to feel any sympathy.

Instead, AP will now feel comfortable in mocking them for having such easy jobs.

AsiaPundit will now also taunt the construction workers he sees arc welding without protective goggles along Xizang Nan Lu.

Dan, who is also a journalist, should also be more relaxed the next time he gets his air conditioner repaired. It’s not like these guys face the stress of us journalists, corporate managers or researchers.

Note that the study is only limited to urban Shanghai, meaning that journalists should not yet be able to claim that they have more dangerous occupations than coal miners.

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by @ 11:36 am. Filed under China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Media

26 May, 2006


Dili-gence, a newly discovered site that is well worth reading, brings updates on the situation on Timor Leste. From today’s entry international intervention arrives.:

Although the first of the Hercules planes touched down late yesterday afternoon followed soon after by an Australian frigate, last night remained a difficult night.

It is purely a logistical thing. Until the vehicles hit the ground and all the accommodation stuff, it is difficult for the boys to go far in safety. Hence the first points to protect were the airport and OZ embassy.

This morning, planes were cutting the air for the the first hour or two after dawn. I didn’t hear much until the first reports came in after lunch about the death of a mother and 5 children in a rather gruesome fashion. Those reports had hit the web sites within 2 hours of the bodies being confirmed by 2 Kiwi defence guys. I knew the press were now going to be onto anything that smelt of a story.

I have heard anecdotal evidence that there is probably a fair bit more of this sort of stuff. The Taibesse/Becora area has been the scene of gunfights almost continually for a couple of days. And I heard yesterday that Tibar may have a few problems but with no-one there to report it.

I didn’t know when would be a good time to get out and about again, but I was assured tonight that OZ troops were indeed patroling in central Dili. I playfully thought that they would also protect the supermarkets and a few key bars around town. So yes, I will be getting out tomorrow during daylight, but central Dili only and well clear of the UN Obrigado Barracks.

(Via E)

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by @ 11:33 pm. Filed under Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia

Cell Phones and Teen Depression

The Los Angeles Times seems to have it in for South Korea this month, first an expose on the carcinogenic nature of kimchi, now Kushibo points to a report noting a correlation between cell phone use and depression among Korean teens.:

 Blogger 1903 115 1600 Kim-Tae-Hee-Has-High-Self-EsteemThe teen obsession with yakking, text messaging and ring-tone swapping on cellphones might mean more than a whopping phone bill. For the most crazed, it’s a sign of unhappiness and anxiety, according to a new medical study.

A survey of 575 South Korean high school students found that the top third of users — students who used their phones more than 90 times a day — frequently did so because they were unhappy or bored. They scored significantly higher on tests measuring depression and anxiety than students who used their phones a more sedate 70 times daily.

The study, presented Tuesday at a meeting of the American Psychiatric Assn. in Toronto, was among the first to explore the emotional significance of teens’ cellphone habits as the device becomes more entrenched in today’s youth culture.

Lower in the article it notes that high cell phone use is not likely a cause of depression but rather a means of dealing with anxiety.:

Dr. Jee Hyan Ha, lead author of the latest report, said heavy cellphone users involved in his study weren’t clinically depressed. Rather, he said, the students probably had some serious cases of teen angst.

The youths may have been unhappy because of a problem in their lives or anxious about their social status. “They are trying to make themselves feel better by reaching out to others,” he said.

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by @ 10:08 pm. Filed under South Korea, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia

Hedgehog MuMu vs Pajamas Media

A Chinese blogger recently overtook Boing Boing for the number one place in Technorati. AsiaPundit believes that was is only the first event in China’s comming domination of the medium. As well as arguably bigger numbers, China’s bloggers have more aesthetic appeal.

For instance, high-profile bloggers in the US have been disparaged for being a bunch of guys in pajamas. In China the popularity contests are being won by hot semi-nude women.:

A recent ‘beauty contest’ for female bloggers has attracted huge attention and aroused fierce controversy in China.

The contest has been criticised as “sexist” and “immoral” after some contestants posted nude photographs on their blogs.

MediumIn the first stage of BlogChina’s Beautiful Blogger contest, which was held earlier this month, several million Chinese web users voted for female bloggers whose online diaries are hosted on the BlogChina site.

The 20 highest scoring finalists were brought to Beijing to compete in a more traditional beauty contest, for which BlogChina provided free hair styling, make up and beauty treatments.

As well as physical appearance, the contestants were ranked on a variety of other criteria, including the quality of their blog postings and the popularity of their blogs.

The winner, who blogs under the name Yi Lan, is a business student from Beijing. She received a $2,500 prize.

Additional prizes of $1,250 each were awarded in four runner-up categories including ‘most talented blogger’ and ’sexiest blogger’.

BlogChina announced that more than two million people voted to choose the finalists. However, the contest attracted harsh criticism in some quarters, with accusations of sexism and sensationalism from the media and other bloggers.

One finalist, blogging under the unlikely name ‘Hedgehog Mumu’, posted several semi-nude photographs of herself on her blog. She received the most votes in the public voting, but won none of the prizes in the finals.

AsiaPundit regrets to note that Hedgehog MuMu’s site is currently inaccessible — although this may be due to bandwidth pressures rather than censorship. In lieu further story related photos, AsiaPundit will again present pictures of the other MuMu.:


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by @ 2:33 pm. Filed under China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Weblogs, Books

China Bans Voodoo

Newsweek reports the Beijing has outlawed Voodoo Dolls, concerned that they promote feudalism and feudal beliefs.:

Not content with jailing subversive reporters and restricting access to prodemocracy Web sites, the Chinese government has turned its attentions to a new destabilizing influence: voodoo dolls. Central government authorities are so bothered by the political implications of the dolls that they banned them entirely from Beijing’s retail stores in April.

VoodooThe dolls have become increasingly popular among the Middle Kingdom’s misanthropes and trend-conscious teens. Customers purchase a doll (pin included), attach a piece of paper bearing the name of their enemy to the doll and then stab away. Voodoo Dolls Online offers a wide range of dolls in assorted colors. “Do you want to make your enemy feel as if someone is always stalking him behind his back?” reads the caption next to a doll clad in black. ” ‘The Magic Shadow Killer’ will thoroughly destroy his spirit.” Another popular item is the “Little Angel,” which purportedly brings good luck and helps its owner find true love.

Authorities at Beijing’s Industrial and Commercial Management Department claim the dolls encourage superstition and “promote feudalism and feudal beliefs.” When officials first cracked down on the import of dolls from Thailand two months ago, Chinese entrepreneurs filled the growing demand by making the toys themselves, wrapping colorful yarn around wire skeletons and adorning each with a crude felt heart. The toys were a marvel of marketing: told that one doll could not be used to harm multiple enemies, the youths who bought them kept coming back for new ones as their hit lists grew in length. Moreover, some stores offered protective dolls that could ward off attacks from other would-be witch doctors.

The above image is taken from the Virtual Voodoo Doll, which is not yet banned in China. Story tip via China Challenges.

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by @ 12:01 am. Filed under China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia

25 May, 2006

Anti-Porn Law Threatens Indonesia Democracy

The SCMP argues, in an editorial reprinted by Asia Media, that Indonesia’s proposed anti-porn law is a threat to the country’s democracy.:

Playboy-IndonesiaIndonesia’s secular identity is under threat from a proposed, Islamic-inspired anti-pornography law that would satisfy increasingly militant Muslims but begin curtailing the rights of the majority moderate followers of the faith. There is no room for such legislation in a country fighting to maintain the democratic freedoms it won so boldly by forcing dictator Suharto’s resignation eight years ago.

The overwhelmingly Muslim-majority nation of 210 million already has laws curtailing pornography; implementation is difficult, though — the rule of law is weak due to corrupt judges and police used to the ways of autocrats rather than democrats.

For conservative Indonesians, the result is the exploitation of women and children and the everyday prospect of being exposed to offensive images on news-stands and through the media.

But the bill before parliament goes much further than the law that exists, banning kissing in public and erotica of all forms. Be it erotic dancing or poetry, it would be illegal if the new law was passed.

There is no universal measure of standards of decency; each society has its own customs, traditions and beliefs. The Muslim faith is conservative by nature, but not all Indonesians follow the religion — the country has significant populations of Christians, Hindus and Buddhists.

(Image stolen from the Telegraph)

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by @ 11:34 pm. Filed under Indonesia, Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia, Media

Animal Farm and Burmese Banknotes

Via Far Outliers, a anecdote on the parallels between the leadership of Burma/Myanmar and the cast of Orwell’s Animal Farm — plus an interesting explanation for the odd denominations for Burma’s banknotes.:

Animal Farm was unpopular in Burma when it was first published there in the 1950s. Many of the leading intellectuals at the time had leftist leanings and read it as a criticism of the socialism they admired. When the US Embassy printed excerpts as anti-Communist propaganda, the book’s fate was sealed. The society which had sponsored the translation had to give away remaindered copies. But years later, when people began to reread it, they saw similarities to their own history. I met one university lecturer who told me she had tried to put Animal Farm on the syllabus for English-literature students, but the authorities had warned her off: the text was just too similar to what was going on in Burma. A few years ago Animal Farm was serialized on the BBC’s Burmese radio service. For weeks afterwards, Tun Lin told me, Mandalay tea shops were abuzz with attempts to match the animal characters to Burma’s own leaders. Could you compare ‘the Lady’, as democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi is known, to the exiled porcine revolutionary Snowball? And which pig was General Ne Win? Was he Major, the imperious old pig with a vision who died so suddenly? (Hopefully.) Or was he Napoleon, the grotesque ruler who grew stronger and more deranged each day? (Probably.)
456KhatNe Win was perhaps a bit of both. He was a famously reclusive leader, known for his foul mouth, many marriages and obsessive superstition. It was his dabblings with numerology that had the most dramatic consequences for Burma. In 1987 Ne Win demonetized certain banknotes, replacing them with new notes with denominations of 45 kyat and 90 kyat – each value neatly divisible by nine (an astrologically auspicious number, and the general’s favourite). People’s already paltry savings were wiped out overnight and, with little to lose, a year later they took to the streets in the 1988 uprising.

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by @ 11:06 pm. Filed under Asia, Myanmar/Burma, Southeast Asia

Bush Buggered in Beijing?

AsiaPundit does not in any way endorse the below Open Source Intelligence report, provided via China Matters, but as this site has tabloid aspirations it would be irresponsible not to repeat this.:

OSS Note: A major European intelligence service is absolutely convinced that when George Bush was a drunken teen-ager in Beijing with his father the Ambassador, the Chinese were able to arrange extraordinarily compromising photographs, including homosexual photographs with his Chinese male tennis teacher (the boy may have been so drunk he had no idea was what happending) (sic).

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by @ 10:50 pm. Filed under China, East Asia, Northeast Asia

Asia’s Most Annoying Busker

Although Singapore has restriction on street performers, during AsiaPundit’s 2000-2005 residence in the Lion City he on several occasions had the misfortune to run across Asia’s most annoying busker. How he ever received a license to ‘perform’ in the city state still amazes.


AP first sited this amazingly annoying man in an underground tunnel at the Orchard Road MRT stop, scaring small children and accosting pedestrians. In early 2005, he was again sited at the eastern station of Tampines. Singaporeans can be thankful that the lunatic finally made it all the way to Changi Airport…

As AP plans on making a brief return to Singapore, he is pleased to discover that this talentless freak is no longer in the country and is now haunting Taipei’s trendy Ximending shopping district. Via Anarchy in Taiwan, a video and comment:

Ok, I have to start this by saying that I am trying to keep an open mind about performance art and abstract art, but has anyone else seen this guy at Ximending with the moose hat? He is a foreign guy and kind of appears homeless, so I’m trying not to be harsh. BUT, he is either crazy or just plain the weirdest man I have ever seen trying to pan for a few dollars.

He puts on his moosehat, covers his face a bit, and has a couple of cat dolls around his hands. He proceeds to meow and fudgeall that I know through a microphone. Just animal noises and crap. I honestly can say I don’t get it, but it looks plenty retarded, so perhaps I’m not supposed to get it. Literally he just goes…..meow, meow..mea , meo, meeee, meows for hours!!!!

The above clip doesn’t quite capture the true nature of the man. Firstly, he has either lost the ’squeaking’ bunny slippers or the sound isn’t coming through on video, Secondly, he isn’t deliberately terrorizing small children — possibly due to the time of day, but it was something he used to do regularly.

AP has assumed that this lunatic was distinctly Singaporean, but is now suspecting that he may actually be raising enough cash from his ‘art’ to travel the region. Has his madman appeared elsewhere in the region?

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by @ 10:00 pm. Filed under Singapore, Taiwan, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia

Associated Press Pyongyang

This is an intriguing experiment, but to suggest that a highly controlled Pyongyang bureau will make the Associated Press the envy of other news organizations is very much overstating things.:

NkflagAPTN, the television arm of the Associated Press news agency, has become the first western media organisation to open a bureau in Pyongyang.

This is a remarkable coup and will make AP the envy of other international news organisations which have been trying without success to open an office in North Korea, which generally bans journalists from the country, especially Americans.

APTN’s director of marketing, Toby Hartwell, told NK Zone that the bureau will be manned by three local North Koreans who “will adhere to the AP’s reporting standards.”

Negotiations had taken four or five years, and the AP had received guarantees from North Korean officials that they would allow regular visits by their journalists and news executives.

“We will be robust in what kind of cover we expect” from the three North Korean staff, a producer, a cameraman and an office assistant, said Hartwell.

Opening the bureau was “a first step, but a significant one,” he added.

If AsiaPundit’s memory serves him correctly, the only two foreign news organizations permitted to have bureaus in North Korea have been China’s Xinhua and Russia’s Tass. Both are state news agencies, and don’t stray too far from their own state positions. But they are staffed by Chinese and Russian journalists who would unlikely face much in the way of reprisals from North Korea itself.

It will be interesting to see what sort of copy the local staff will produce for AP. But as this is a country that jails cheerleaders, AsiaPundit is not expecting it to be be of much news value.

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by @ 12:17 am. Filed under Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Media, North Korea

24 May, 2006

Mahathir turns to Malasiakini

After 22-years of strong-arming the press as prime minister of Malaysia, former prime minister Mahathir Mohammad is finding it hard to get any attention. Moreover, he is being denied access to the state-censored press is is now turning to the online news outlet that has long been the subject of scorn from himself and the ruling IMNO party.:

Mahathir muzzled? Malaysian ex-PM vents on the Web

(Reuters) - Former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, never the warmest friend of a free press, has suddenly found a use for it now that he is out of power.

In an irony that escaped no one in Malaysia’s pro-government mainstream media, Mahathir turned to a small independent Web site, Malaysiakini.com, to criticise the government on Tuesday.

“He’s been complaining about being isolated from the mainstream media,” Malaysiakini.com boss Premesh Chandran told Reuters, explaining that the major dailies that once hung on Mahathir’s every word now didn’t have much time for him.

That might be because he recently accused the administration of his successor, Abdullah Ahmad Badawai, of selling out sovereignty and lacking “guts” over its recent decision to scrap a project to build a bridge to neighbouring Singapore.

Jeff Ooi speaks with the editor of Malaysiakini who conducted the interview.:

 Drm MkiniMalaysiakini editor Steven Gan who led his team of journalists to interview Dr Mahathir on May 16, a request denied for six long years and postponed three times after a consent was given in March this year, came home with two unmistaken conclusions.

One, it was a reluctant interview, and Mahathir has not changed his view of Malaysiakini. In fact, says Steven, Mahathir had strongly hinted that he made a mistake in granting Malaysiakini the interview. Mahathir, apparently, has been persuaded to do so by one of his advisors.

Two, the interview confirmed something many had long known, that Mahathir is not someone who would accept his shortcomings easily. He remains “combative, sarcastic, and at times, bellicose” when asked about the mistakes he had made in his 22 years in power.

After 22 years of Mahathir, we should use Steven’s quotation on our leaders of the present and the future all the same.

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by @ 11:09 pm. Filed under Malaysia, Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia, Media

China’s Trade Surplus

Today come two views on China’s trade surplus, and the US deficit, that are worth paying attention to. One arguing that there may be a serious problem with China’s statistics (surprise) and the other suggesting that China’s surplus is a positive thing for America.

Standard Chartered economist Steven Green, one of the best China hands at any investment bank, offers a rather frightening essay in Businessweek suggesting that the majority of China’s 2005 trade surplus was, essentially, hot money.:

The export of fake goods out of China is commonplace whether you are talking about designer bags, blockbuster movie DVDs, or “Mont Blanc” pens. Many European and U.S. holidaymakers take these knock-offs home with them — some of them knowing they’re counterfeit; others are unaware. Underground Chinese firms spirit such goods out of the mainland on a much larger scale.

Now we may we have identified another fake: the supposedly gargantuan global trade surplus China enjoys with the rest of the world. Much of China’s trade surplus in 2005 was not trade at all, we think, but rather capital inflows (perhaps as much as $67 billion) disguised as trade. If so, this has major implications for China’s trade policies, the yuan, and the way the U.S. deals with China.

Also worthwhile is P.J. O’Rourke’s latest offering, in which he provides his typically acerbic musing on the surplus and other aspects of his recent three-week visit to China.:

There is no such thing as a trade deficit. It doesn’t matter if America imports all of its goods from China and exports nothing but pieces of paper. The Americans want the computer monitor, and the Chinese want handsome portraits of Benjamin Franklin. No coercion is involved. Nobody is making Americans buy Chinese goods. It’s not like the Opium Wars when the British forced the Chinese to accept shipments of, shall we say, pharmaceutical imports. Maybe the Chinese will fight a war with America–the Consumer Electronics War of 2007, with Chinese gunboats cruising the fountains in America’s malls. But it hasn’t happened yet.

I look around my house, and everything except the kids and dogs was made in China. And I’m not sure about the kids. They have brown eyes and small noses. All the Chinese got in return were those pieces of paper and an occasional 747 and some Microsoft software. Even if the software is illegally copied 1.3 billion times–and it was, I saw it on sale–China is getting the short end of the stick. This is another economic principle that America’s policymakers can’t get through their lumpy, bruised skulls. Imports are good. Exports are bad. Imports are Christmas morning. Exports are January’s Visa Card bill.

AP very briefly met O’Rourke on his trip and he did offer an improved view of Shanghai — which he described in his 1989 text Eat the Rich as the “worst of both worlds.”

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by @ 9:32 pm. Filed under China, Asia, East Asia, Economy, Northeast Asia

Congress vs the Cylon Menace

Just a year after preventing China from buying fungible resources, the US Congress has won another victory against the Red Chinese menace. The State Department will no longer be able to use IBM-branded computers on its networked systems.

In the face of pressure from Congress, Foggy Bottom decided that the state-linked Lenovo is too much of a security threat to be used. The Shanghaiist, using citations from the NY Times, sees this an example of idiotic xenophobia.:

Red IbmFears and concerns that exist only in the minds of a deluded few (or many?) on Capitol Hill, as most industry watchers agree that the placement of any malicious hardware/software is extremely unlikely. But, that didn’t stop House members from patting each other on the back.

“Frank R. Wolf, the chairman of the House subcommittee that oversees the budget appropriations for the State Department, Commerce Department and Justice Department said the security concerns about the State Department’s use of Lenovo computers had been brought to his attention by two members of the United States-China Economic and Security Review Commission, a bipartisan group appointed by Congress. “They deserve the credit for this.”"

Credit for what? For showing zero faith in the State Department’s IT security staff in detecting possible implanted “mal-ware”. Or was it for further cementing America’s reputation abroad as an overly paranoid, increasingly xenophobic and completely out of touch nation in disarray? If so, thanks guys! A job well done indeed!

China is the final assembly point for a wide number of laptops and electronic devices, including AsiaPundit’s iBook. AP recommends that Congress consider all of these devices an equivalent security threat and removes all networked devices assembled in China or with major components made in China. This may not help with real world security concerns, but it should protect the country from the Cylon menace.

in Beijing’s tech corridor of Zhongguancun, Tyler Rooker notes that making a PC these days is like making a TV, and sees how China may have cause to revisit its desire to ditch Microsoft.:

The reason the State Department chose Lenovo in the first place is that there is a competitive bid process, and Lenovo’s computers were the cheapest, the fastest, and the best value. In times of budget deficit and current account deficit (not to mention trade deficit), the State Department should be commended. But it is being condemned.
Back to China. Why would the government fund its own Linux-based operating system and programs? Among many reasons, one is that there are existing fears about Microsoft and Dell, both American companies, that their software code and computers, respectively, contain secret code and hardware that will email secrets to Washington. What a far-fetched, feckless fear, I used to think.

by @ 1:20 am. Filed under Uncategorized, China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia

Who Cares about Dokdo?

Do you care about the status of the islands known as Dokdo. If you don’t you likely belong to the 99.994 percent of the world’s population that is not South Korean. GI Korea tested searches for the islands on Google trends:


I have been playing around with and it is an interesting tool to see who from what countries are searching for certain terms. After playing around with this for a while I thought what a great tool to use to once and for all see if anyone else in the world gives a crap about the Dokdo Islands controversy. Judging from the results you will see that .

AsiaPundit was intrigued by the findings, but thought to be fair that a test should account for language barriers. The Japanese name for the disputed set of rocks is Takeshima, However — and surprisingly — a test for that search term :

Picture 6

Oddly, Koreans are not only the most likely to care about Dokdo, they are also the only ones searching for Takeshima.

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by @ 12:33 am. Filed under Japan, South Korea, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia

23 May, 2006

ESWN and Danwei TV

Two of the best China-focused blogs combine for the newest episode of Danwei TV.:

JeremyandrolandThis installment of the Hard Hat Show features Roland Soong of ESWN, guiding us on a short literary quest in Hong Kong.
We are looking for real places that feature in Eileen Chang’s (张爱铃) novella Love in a Fallen City (顷城之恋) which is set in Hong Kong. We find one of them in a rather surprising part of the island.
This is quite a tricky tale to tell in video: it’s about literature and writing, but conveyed with the superficiality of the the moving image. Any mistakes or problems are Danwei’s: Roland was an excellent guide.

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by @ 11:51 pm. Filed under Hong Kong, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Weblogs

Saddam’s Novel hits Japan

Former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein has just been published in Japan.:

SaddampaperThe book, believed to have been written on the eve of the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and titled “Devil’s Dance” in its Japanese translation, hit stores around the nation Friday.

Jordan banned the book on the grounds it could damage ties with Iraq, but pirated copies of the tale of an Arab tribesman who defeats foreign invaders became a bestseller in Amman.

The original manuscript was smuggled out of Iraq by one of Saddam Hussein’s daughters, Raghad, and a copy given to Japanese journalist and translator Itsuko Hirata.

“The novel is dated to the times of ancient tribal society but the tribal warfare depicted in the novel is strikingly similar to what happened and is happening in the Iraqi war—totally,” Hirata told Reuters before the book’s release.

“He (Saddam) knew he was heading into a war he couldn’t win, so I think with this book he was trying to make his position clear and send a message to the Iraqi people.”

The book jacket, Mutantfrog notes, says “Worldwide first edition! This is an indictment, and a warning. That Hussein wrote a novel.”

That the dictator is a novelist should not surprise. He was fond of paper. Image and caption stolen from here.

by @ 2:35 pm. Filed under Japan, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia

Kimchi Kills

After years of reports that Korean national dish kimchi prevents regular consumers from contracting avian flu and SARS, a study has indicated that the spicy fermented cabbage dish may be linked to ‘the most common cancer among Koreans.”:

Kimchihealthfood-1The researchers, all South Korean, report that kimchi and other spicy and fermented foods could be linked to the most common cancer among Koreans. Rates of gastric cancer among Koreans and Japanese are 10 times higher than in the United States.

“We found that if you were a very, very heavy eater of kimchi, you had a 50% higher risk of getting stomach cancer,” said Kim Heon of the department of preventive medicine at Chungbuk National University and one of the authors. “It is not that kimchi is not a healthy food — it is a healthy food, but in excessive quantities there are risk factors.”

Kim said he tried to publicize the study but a friend who is a science reporter, told him, “This will never be published in Korea.”

Other studies have suggested that the heavy concentration of salt in some kimchi and the fish sauce used for flavoring could be problematic, but they too have received comparatively little attention.

Even the most ardent proponents say that at times, kimchi might be too much of a good thing.

Nutritionist Park, who in addition to the Kimchi Research Institute heads the Korea Kimchi Assn. and the Korean Society for Cancer Prevention, said that traditionally, kimchi contained a great deal of salt, which could combine with red pepper to form a carcinogen.

As a regular kimchi consumer AsiaPundit is deeply concerned about this report. Moreover, given how much Korean men smoke, he is shocked that gastric cancer is the most common form of the disease.

(Via Japundit)

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by @ 12:57 am. Filed under Food and Drink, South Korea, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia

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