Monday’s big news - that North Korea was giving up its nuclear program - was, as I expected, a premature April Fool’s joke.:
Having agreed to relinquish all nuclear weaponry and programs less than a day ago, North Korea is already back to its extortionist routine (via The Lost Nomad):
North Korea said Tuesday it will return to an
international non-proliferation regime and allow inspections by the
U.N. nuclear watchdog only after receiving a light-water reactor from the United States…
statement went on to say that the U.S. should not dream that the North
will scrap its nuclear deterrent without provision of a light-water
reactor, a basis of mutual trust [boldface mine].
Since the US position has been crystal clear that the demand for a
light-water reactor is a "non-starter," one wonders exactly what was
achieved by the "breakthrough agreement" yesterday.
Do you Yahoo!? Well stop! They’re evil. Rebecca McKinnion does a test on China’s internet filters and discovers that Google is the lesser of two evils.
What do these screenshots illustrate? They show that Yahoo! actively
filters politically sensitive terms from within its own service. Even
if a Chinese user finds a way to access Yahoo from outside China or via
a foreign proxy server, they will still get filtered search results on
politically sensitive terms. By contrast, Google does not actively
filter. The filtering of Google search results is done only by the
Chinese ISP… although Google helps hide this process from Chinese
users by choosing not to show results that the Chinese user would be
unable to access.
And after helping have a journalist jailed, Yahoo! has decided to build its own news team (IHT via Howard French).:
HONG KONG Journalists beware. Hot on the heels of news that Yahoo
provided the information that helped China’s state security apparatus
to track down and jail a reporter comes the same company’s announcement
that it is to hire a journalist to provide its own coverage of major
The first item is troubling enough. The Chinese reporter, Shi Tao, who
worked for a Chinese newspaper, was given 10 years in jail for
providing "state secrets to foreign entities" - the "secrets" being new
censorship impositions that he passed on to two overseas prodemocracy
The juxtaposition of the second is alarming. It is hard not to draw the
conclusion that Yahoo’s news gathering will be driven by the same
profits-at-all- cost mentality behind its cooperation with China’s
suppressors of news providers and whistle blowers.
For more on Yahoo!’s China activities visit the highly dedicated, English and Chinese, Yahoo Privacy Blog.
But to be fair to Yahoo!, no company would give up a chance on doing business in China because of ethical considerations…. What’s that? Time Warner quit China over censorship requests? Woah!
According to Chief Executive Officer Parsons, it was
AOL-Time Warner who pulled out of the partnership with Legend in 2001
after authorities in Beijing made a series of unreasonable demands on
the company in regards its joint Internet venture with Legend; leading
AOL-Time Warner executives to pull out of their partnership over
ethical concerns, and the fear that acquiescence to Beijing’s demands
would seriously damage the company’s standing with consumers in the US.
“[We were concerned about] what we would look like here in the U.S. if we agreed to a governmentally imposed regime where words like democracy had to be blocked'’
Richard Parsons, Chief Executive, Time Warner
among the reasons cited by Chief Executive Parson, as being behind the
ending of the partnership, was the insistence by Beijing that
Government agencies be allow to intercept, modify and retain data being
sent to and from the online subscribers; a move that would have enabled
Chinese security forces to eavesdrop on anybody in China who used AOL’s
software or servers to access the Internet, and to block any or all
content as they saw fit.
This doesn’t mean that AOL doesn’t suck, but merely that they suck less than Yahoo!.
Unlike China Doll, AsiaPundit .:
BEIJING (AFP) - A condom maker in southern China’s Guangdong province
is marketing its products under "Clinton" and "Lewinsky" brands and has
registered the names as trademarks, state press said.
The Guangzhou Haojian Bio-science Co is selling its wares under the
Chinese spelling of the names that read "Kelintun" and "Laiwensiji,"
the New Express reported.
The names in China are easily recognizable as former US president Bill Clinton and his one time lover, Monica Lewinsky.
The Clinton brand is set to be the company’s top product selling for
some 30 yuan (3.7 dollars) for a pack of 12, while the Lewinsky brand
was expected to fetch 18 yuan.
The company unveiled the product on Monday. General manager Liu Wenhua
expressed confidence the names would not get him into trouble since
they are only "trademarks of two foreign surnames and can’t be seen as
a violation of rights," the report said.
I visited Arms Control Wonk for details on Monday’s statement on North Korea’s nuclear program, and ACW does have great stuff on that, but also of interest was this creepy item.:
The advertisement (right) is not science fiction.
Blue Heron Biotechnology of Bothell, Washington “can synthesize any gene regardless of sequence, complexity, or size …”
synthesis is a revolutionary technology, which offers the prospect of
making life better for millions of people around the world. The ability
to order the exact gene would revolutionize the production of vaccines
and the creation of tiny bio-machines.
But what if you wanted to cook up some synthetic polio in the lab?
You can do that, too.
A group of researchers from SUNY Stoney Brook synthesized polio over the course of three years. Blue Heron claims it can perform a similar size job in a little under 12 weeks.
Terrified yet? In 2003, a CIA Report entitled The Darker Bioweapons Future warned that advances in biotechnology “could be used to create the worlds most frightening weapons.”
Blue Heron has refused orders that seem suspicious;for example, Blue Heron turned down
an order from Saudi Arabia for a variola gene related to smallpox—but
not all manufacturers of synthetic genetic material screen purchases.
Following in the footsteps of his father, Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni has launched a website. We hope a blog will follow. (via Cambodia Morning):
The ruler will keep his subjects up to date on the new internet site.
website is divided into five sections - news, biography, social
activities, correspondence and video - and will be written in three
languages, English, Khmer and French.
Before launching the new web page, the king used the internet site run by his father, former King Norodom Sihanouk.
Is the Korea Wave over? In Korea, it’s hip to be Japanese.:
Today’s Yahoo messenger cultural lesson was in regards to the word "san" which I have always thought meant "mountain" in Korean.
But lately, I have noticed that Koreans are starting to address each other like this: Bae-san, Kim-san, Park-san, etc.
I asked Jeff what was up with that. Surely they weren’t referring to each other as Mount Bae, Kim Mountain or Park’s Peak.
All of it seemed very reminiscent to
me of The Karate Kid and (what was his name, the guy who caught flies
in his chopsticks…Mr. Yagi?) the whole "Daniel-san" thing.
Jeff then told me that the Koreans are using "san" these days not as in the word mountain, but as in the honorific title used in the Japanese language just like Yagi did in The Karate Kid with Daniel-san.
The day job and technical problems have restricted blogging in recent days. Part of that will soon be solved.
It’s been a busy two weeks and this is a very short Thursday roundup, AsiaPundit hopes to return to its usual state next week. New contributors are still welcome ( email: asiapundit @ gmail.com )
An update on the Singapore sedition trial, where a blogger and a BBS poster have been charged, I should link to Elia Diodati, but Kevin Lim gets the honor because he has such a keen visual.:
Two men suspected of expressing Anti-Muslim opinions online in June this year were charged yesterday under the Sedition Act.
Two men suspected of expressing Anti-Muslim opinions online in June this year were charged yesterday under the Sedition Act. You, Nicholas.
Songfa faces three counts of the charges, indicating that on on the
evenings of June 12th, 15th and 17th, he expressed anti-Malay and
anti-Islamic sentiments on his blog “Phoenyx Chronicles”, which was
hosted on the website www.upsaid.com.
[Court documents] show
that Xu Songfa used insulting terms to address and describe Malay
people, taunting their customs and religion, and made disrespectful
jokes about Allah , the deity of Islam.
Lin You faces two
counts [of the charge]: in the early mornings of June 16th and 17th, he
wrote anti-Muslim sentiments on an online forum on the dog lover’s
website www.doggiesite.com, in response to a Malay lady’s letter in the
Straits Times Forum.
More on the Lion City via the Peking Duck, Tom Friedman praises Singapore and bashes the Bush administration.:
There is something tremblingly self-indulgent and slothful about
America today - something that Katrina highlighted and that people who
live in countries where the laws of gravity still apply really noticed.
It has rattled them - like watching a parent melt down.
That is certainly the sense I
got after observing the Katrina debacle from half a world away here in
Singapore - a city-state that, if it believes in anything, believes in
good governance. It may roll up the sidewalks pretty early here, and it
may even fine you if you spit out your gum, but if you had to choose
anywhere in Asia you would want to be caught in a typhoon, it would be
Singapore. Trust me, the head of Civil Defense here is not simply
someone’s college roommate.
Indeed, Singapore believes so
strongly that you have to get the best-qualified and least-corruptible
people you can into senior positions in the government, judiciary and
civil service that its pays its prime minister a salary of $1.1 million
a year. It pays its cabinet ministers and Supreme Court justices just
under $1 million a year, and pays judges and senior civil servants
handsomely down the line.
Friedman is right that the Singapore civil service is generally top-notch, and that the city-state is probably better prepared for disasters than any government in Asia and perhaps the world. It’s state of preparedness is freaky. For instance, private homes - by law - must have bomb shelters. And as far as I know, the Lee family’s college roommates are not guaranteed government jobs. Members of the opposition definitely aren’t. Members of the Lee family, however, have a pretty good chance of a high-level government job or position at a government-linked company.
Still, high salaries for Singapore public servants did helped
eliminate corruption among the civil service. The Philippines could
probably follow the example. Madame Chiang notes:
Office workers - overworked, underpaid, frequently
commuting appalling distances through abominable traffic to get to
their jobs - are the proletariat who help keep the economy afloat. The
most common expression for their condition describes how a chicken
eats: isang kayod isang tuka - "one scratch of the ground, one bite".
In other words: hand-to-mouth. They survive through sariling sikap, or
self-initiative: taking extra jobs, working long hours and buying and
selling things. There was the famous story of public school teachers so
hard up they sold female underwear and dried fish to their students.
They probably could have got better prices for the underwear if they were per-worn and sold on Yahoo!’s Japan auction site.
Speaking of Japan, Tokyo Times reports that Japan Tobacco is offering 150 lottery winners the chance to
see a preview of the film Sin City in a restriction-free and
smoke-friendly cinema. The one condition being that the applicant is a
smoker – preferably a heavy one. Personally, when I watched Sin City I really wanted a fag (and a lap dance from Jessica Alba).:
Did I mention North Korean Cheerleaders yesterday? No. My apologies.:
According to the Japanese weekly magazine FLASH, this marked the third
time that Pyongyang dispatched its bevy of beauties, and each time
woman have become progressively younger and more beautiful. FLASH
reports that this time around the oldest of the 124 members of the NORK
cheering squad are second year university students. Reportedly, this is
the first time that attendance at the Asian Athletics Championship hit
130,000, and organizers are admitting that it is the Pyongyang pretties
that made the difference.
The really cute Marie Mitsuki Mockett has found the square watermelon,:
AsiaPundit trumps with the Gojira egg and Watermelon Bomb!
Translated Cambodian comic books available online, no super-heroes, unfortunately.
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.
I won’t explain the title for people who don’t get the cultural reference (hint: he was in the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen film although he was never a character in the comic). Nevertheless, it seems that Richard Willmsen has completed the final chapter of the Da Shan Dynasty. I recommend reading the whole thing, but I’m linking to Part Seven.:
Don’t call me sir. My name’s Richard. What’s your name again?
"Jamily, sir. Er, Mr. Richard."
Jamily? Your name is Jamily?!? What’s your question, Jamily?
"Well, sir, it’s just that…I was thinking about that story you made us read, sir, Mr. Richard. The one about the picture. By that guy, er, Oswald Wo-’
Oscar Wilde, Jamily. What about it?
Don’t say ‘what, sir?’ It’s … oh it doesn’t matter. What’s your point, Jamily?
"Well, I was thinking, because, you know, Da Shan came to China in 1988, sir, and that other guy, the one you asked about yesterday? I did some research, and I found out that he was locked up under house arrest, sir, Mr.Richard, in 1989, so I thought-"
Are you suggesting that Zhao Ziyang was like the picture in the attic, while Da Shan is like the-
"Yes, sir, exactly, Mr. Richard, sir! And Da Shan is like the guy who couldn’t, I mean doesn’t, get any uglier!"
Cheem, but funny.
Bingfeng Teahouse has written a provocative article in support of Microsoft’s unilateral decision to prohibit words such as "freedom" and "democracy" from the titles of blogs hosted on the MSN Spaces China service.
…Bingfeng dismissed the accusation that Microsoft’s behavior harms Chinese bloggers as simplistic and naive. Bingfeng told us his story with the Microsoft Groups, in which he was actively involoved into a movie fan club and later the fan club evolved into a virtual self-governing organization, with club chairman, CTO, CFO (for off-line activities), etc. are all elected by club members. This story, Bingfeng says, shows how important to offer such places to young people in China instead of chanting for several nice words to appear on the web. On-line communities offer the Chinese youngsters a golden opportunity to learn the skills that are critical to building a civil society in China. Given the current circumstances and constraints, Microsoft did something good to Chinese bloggers, not the opposite.
I’ve heard similar arguments from mr brown, vis-a-vis Singapore blogging, and they are worth debating. Still, I doubt mr brown would defend the banning of specific words.
Nor, for that matter does the Communist Party require it. Microsoft is going well beyond what the CPC demands in terms of censorship.
Does it make business sense? Maybe, there is the mythical ‘China market’ to consider. Microsoft has to always keep in mind that there are 1.3 billion people over here in need of a single copy of Windows XP to pirate.
But given that Microsoft’s biggest market is in the US, I think the company made a disastrous slip with this. Sure, Cisco has been supporting China’s censorship for years - but they never banned ‘freedom’
Americans are ‘a bit sensitive’ about such things. I doubt many will find this excusable.
I certainly don’t.
(Full disclosure: I use a Mac, I browse with Firefox, I do own an xbox but I think I’ll switch to playstation rather than upgrade with the 360.)
A blog by China nationals studying in Australia has voluntary shut itself down after Australian Senator Andrew Bartlett criticized commentary on the site calling for the murder of Chinese defector Chen Yonglin. He became aware of the site via the Peking Duck.
Bartlett has his reactions here. Mine are below.
Hi, I’m the new kid on the block.. err.. blog. Yes, I’m also blogging here. Now, now, stop crying there, it wouldn’t be that bad. But if ever, for some quirky reason or the other, you decide you love my writing, do drop by my own blog. I’ll stop whoring my blog now.
I’m not a Bush backer, swelling deficits bother me and I dislike the conservative elements of Republicanism (although there is more of that in Congress than in the administration). Still, I admire Donald Rumsfeld. A large part of the reason for that is because he doesn’t do diplomacy.
China Confidential notes that Rummy has again likely upset someone.:
Less than 24 hours after criticizing China for its military buildup and lack of democracy (scroll down for the story), US Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld escalated his rhetoric, telling a regional security conference in Singapore on Saturday that the Pentagon’s soon-to-be-released annual assessment of China’s military capabilities shows that the country is spending more than its leaders acknowledge, expanding its missile capabilities and developing advanced military technology.
"China appears to be expanding its missile forces, allowing them to reach targets in many areas of the world, not just the Pacific region, while also expanding its missile capabilities within this region. China also is improving its ability to project power, and developing advanced systems of military technology.
"Since no nation threatens China, one must wonder: Why this growing investment? Why these continuing large and expanding arms purchases? Why these continuing robust deployments?
"Though China’s economic growth has kept pace with its military spending, it is to be noted that a growth in political freedom has not yet followed suit. With a system that encouraged enterprise and free expression, China would appear more a welcome partner and provide even greater economic opportunities for the Chinese people.
I was going to post this in the comments section of Peking Duck, but it’s slightly more off-tangent than most of the comments. So, I’m bringing it here. Question, is China a police state?
China is a police state. It is an authoritarian state, although it could be described in other terms:
… when a totalitarian government gets cozy with large financial and manufacturing concerns, it rings a twentieth century historical bell. I’m thinking how a certain "peoples’ car" - ein Volkswagen - got to start…." PJ O’Rourke (1998).
Jail and torture can be expected for dissidents - in the US they can expect tenure or food stamps.
That China is a ‘police state’ isn’t an issue for me. It’s simply a statement of fact.
The issue is how China should be engaged. It’s not a North Korea or Burma, but it’s not yet a Singapore or Malaysia.
As a pro-engagement person, I think in a decade or two - should all go well - it could be among the latter ’soft’ police states. But it’s not there yet.
Simon muses about the approach news organizations take when reporters are jailed by the Chinese government and whether any approach can persuade the CPC to change.
I understand that papers are put in difficult positions when reporters are arrested. On one hand it is news-worthy, but on the other the reporting of the arrest would likely further imperil the reporter. The New York Times and Washington Post manage to report such arrests of their staff. It’s an interesting contrast with the Straits Times approach.
Especially since neither approach has worked.
He also has a brief round-up of blogger posts on the jailing of the Straits Times reporter Ching Cheong.
Glutter also has a view:
There are a lot of pro-china people out there that tells us that we should trust China, that Hong Kong people should not be afraid of losing our freedoms, and every so often we are reminded that no matter how much China "opens" information is not part of the package. And of course there are people who will say that the journalist deserves to be placed in jail because he "knows,’ that what he is doing is illegal, and that’s just asking for trouble. Which really is the tenants of self censorship. Not to test the line, never do anything offensive and stick to the easy news. Being a journalist is not about telling the truth, it’s just a job. And if you try to break that comfortable self censored line, you end up in jail.
As the mother of a victim, there is no way for me to forget these boys and girls and men and women, including my own son, who died in pools of blood. I want the people of the world to know that they once lived in this world, that this world once belonged to them, and why and how they disappeared from it.
Look for detailed roundups elsewhere, but here are a few reactions to Schapelle Corby’s 20-year sentence for smuggling drugs into Indonesia, via faves Blair, Swanker, Jakartass and others from tecnorati (ap’s advice, some of you should take it down a few notches, much of the blog commentary on the Corby case is ugly.):
Oz uberblogger Tim Blair is impressed with her defense team.
Jakartass is not related to SillyAsses.
The Swanker asks: "Has Oz gone mad?"
Intellectual Poison says Corby got a "crappy" deal or "got off easy."
Drakk says she probably deserved it.
Shaneybaby severely overreacts: "I say we bomb them and leave them back at square one after the tsunami and walk away."
Alan Singer says he is not boycotting Indonesia but would not "contemplate travelling to that place whilst their legal system is
capable of the travesty of justice that is Schapelle Corby."
tauri is pissed, and will be active in freeing Corby, but won’t advocate a boycott of Bali.
‘Me’ says the Corby affair has "highlighted how much of Australia is made up of ignorant rednecks."
SINGAPORE: Sometime last year, the People’s Action Party tossed about the idea of making a film to mark its 50th anniversary.
But the organisers tossed it out soon enough when they realised it
could contravene a law on “party political films,” a piece of
legislation that PAP MPs backed in 1998.
The law is the Films Act, which bans the making and showing of “party political” films.
It essentially bars political parties from producing films or videos to advertise themselves.
But it also restricts people not involved in politics from making any films “directed toward any political end” in Singapore.
This means that the film content cannot contain any matter intended
or likely to affect voting in any election or national referendum
Neither can the film include partisan or biased comments on any political matter.
While this is an extreme restriction of free speech, it’s a shame that they didn’t extend the ban on promotional political media to print and broadcast. Indeed, it would probably be a good thing if TCS-5, Channel News Later and the Straits Times had to stop running PAP promotional pieces.
Imprisoned blogger goes on hunger-strike
Without Borders today called on bloggers throughout the world to post
messages in support of Iranian blogger Mojtaba Saminejad, who has been
in prison since 12 February and who began a hunger-strike on 14 May.
life of this young blogger is in danger as he is being held in a prison
where several detainees have died or have been injured in violence
between inmates," the press freedom organization said.
talk about him on the Web and in the media in order to put pressure on
the Iranian authorities," the organization said, adding, "all bloggers
must feel concerned about his fate and that of his two colleagues who
are also imprisoned."
His successor seems likely to establish a different legacy:
Vatican ready to sacrifice Taiwan for China
The Vatican is moving quickly to improve relations with Communist China, which has not recognised the Holy See since Chairman Mao drove out the papal nuncio more than half a century ago.
A former senior Vatican diplomat suggested ties could be renewed. "If they give us the possibility, we’re ready tomorrow," Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran said.
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Mao: The Unknown Story - by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday:
A controversial and damning biography of the Helmsman.
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