What is Legitimacy?

March 26th, 2015 4 comments

Recently, I heard an exchange on a Canadian radio show.  An interviewee criticized a new Canadian government effort to pass an anti-Muslim law.  The radio host let slip a “standard” excuse /justification:  “The Canadian legislators are legitimate representatives duly elected by the people.”  The interviewee replied interestingly, “That doesn’t mean their actions are legitimate.”

Thus, it hit the nail on the head for the issue that we have been dancing around the ideologies for decades and centuries:  What is legitimacy in politics?

In honor of passing of the Singaporean leader, I ponder this question.

Read more…

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Lee Kuan Yew’s Passing is a Loss for the World

March 23rd, 2015 9 comments

Lee Kuan Yew passed away yesterday (March 23, 2015).  It is a sad day for Singapore, for Chinese everywhere, as well as for the world.  Under Lee’s leadership, Singapore became not only an economic and technological Mecca, but has also developed a unique multicultural melting pot that help it escape the many racial and religious violence that have gripped its earlier history and has continued to grip other parts of Asia and the world.

One of our contributors here passed along a commemorative issue from The Strait Times.  I thought it’s fitting to link and archive a copy here.

 

lky cover

The Tussle over AIIB – So Much ado about Influence?

March 20th, 2015 2 comments

The news about China the last few days is about how it is scoring a diplomatic coup d’état against the U.S. vis-a-vis Europe.  On March 12, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne announced that the U.K. had applied to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) as a founding member. If accepted, Britain would have been the first major Western country to become a member.

A few days later, however, Germany, France and Italy also announced that they too would join.  South Korea and Australia soon also switched their stance and are now on the verge of joining.

Japan appears to be the odd-power out in Asia now.  Given its history of deference to the U.S. (e.g. Plaza Accord) and its current diplomatic row with China, my money is on Japan not joining at this stage.  But even nationalistic and deferential Japan has not has not ruled out the possibility of joining at the founding stage.

The editorial board of the NYT today penned an editorial titled “U.S. Allies, Lured by China’s Bank.” The notion that China is “luring” U.S. allies seems to me funny – even laughable.  Read more…

Tis a Puzzlement

March 11th, 2015 1 comment

I was driving last night and tuned onto WNYC of “On Point” program about “Xi Jinping and his Anticorruption Campaign”. The introduction was about the Wall Street Journal article by David Shambaugh about the coming crackup of China. The usual format with 3 professors or China experts exponding on the topic. The 3 experts and the listener callers generally agree with David Shambaugh with some reservations that the anticorruption campaign is doomed to fail, that it’s a factional jockeying for power, and we better be prepared for the coming collapse.

Since the founding of People’s Republic of China in 1949, there were innumerable books about the coming collapse of China. Every few years the thesis reared its ugly head and proved wrong. I am sure CIA spent millions consulting those China experts regularly and issued dire warnings to no avail. Today, with China on the verge if not already surpassed U.S. in total GDP (Price parity), the threat of China and concomitant theme of coming collapse is gaining currency to the chattering classes. One of the experts, a professor from San Diego State, expressed puzzlement why Xi, being himself suffered from Cultural Revolution, and his father also suffered and purged, still seem to admire Mao and want to continue his policies in culture and art. She said that Deng has to give lip service to Mao because he has to appease Chen Yun, but Xi has no apparent foe to pull to the left. To me the answer is obvious yet it seem to be beyond her understanding.

U.S. bills herself as a Christian nation. Yet as some said if Jesus is born today he’ll either be ignored as a crackpot, jailed as a subversive, or lock up in a mental institution. The real god in Capitalism is money/profit. The tenets of Capitalism a priori  assume competing philosophies as false gods. To the good professor factional struggle is about money, fame, and power. She doesn’t ask what’s the purpose of power? She assumes self interest. She can’t imagine that Xi’s fond memory of flea and mosquito bites in Yan’an in his youth as genuine. It must be theatre and propaganda. Xi’s speech can’t possibly be genuine. I beg to differ. I remember the week I spent in 1958 when my 7th grade school moved in mass to the countryside. We spent 1 week harvesting soybeans, picking cottons, and eating 2 meals of soybeans. Some students never suffered the attack of mosquitoes in the city now showed bites all over their head. and laughed at each other. I am sure that we did more damage and ate up the surplus value at the commune than our labors generated, but it was the happiest week during my childhood. Xi is a Marxist, he believes China will be a moderately prosperous country soon, and working to make it true. He personifies China Dream.

In science, a theory is postulated to explain some facts, the theory is tested by its predictive power. If the predictions don’t fit the facts it must be modified or abandoned. Yet those so called China experts continuously predicted the demise of China and find a receptive market for their chatters. It’s a puzzlement.

 

 

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“Under the Dome” by Chai Jing

March 2nd, 2015 7 comments

“Under the Dome” originally was a novel by Stephen King about a community in Maine enclosed by an alien force field and the how the people reacted under the stress. CBS adopted it later for a TV drama series. Chai Jing was a reporter for CCTV. She resigned after she got married and became pregnant. Recently she made a documentary about smog and pollution, using her own money, and it went viral and caused quite a stir in China.
In the documentary Chai Jing, using the format like TED talk, on a stage with a projection screen showing pictures, statistics, and interviews with experts showed how pollution affects hundreds of millions of Chinese people. The blanket of smog makes people like living under a dome of cancer causing pollutants. As a former reporter she knows how to communicate effectively in simple language to common people, using personal anecdotes about her new born baby, some basic science, and experts combined to pull the heart strings of viewers. The response has been tremendous with some comparing her to Rachel Carson and “Silent Spring”. The minister of environmental protection was forced to comment on the documentary and praised it. The overwhelming response on the web is positive with some inevitable sniping about her being a former smoker causing her baby’s benign tumor rather than smog and possible effect on jobs and economy. One funny result was the stock prices of all the companies involve in pollution controls in China jumped the day after the showing of the documentary.
China has agreed with US in capping the CO2 emissions and are investing heavily in green technologies. Local officials now can be fired for failing pollution standards. The documentary is in Chinese, I do hope it will be translated to English or with English subtitles. It can be viewed at Todou or Yukou.

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Reply to Verna Yu and NYT

February 20th, 2015 9 comments

Verna Yu is supposedly a free lance writer and published an opinion page column in New York Times on Feb 18, 2015 titled “Giving Up on Hong Kong”, which I think deserve a rebuttal here. New York Times has been on a propaganda offensive against China since being barred from China a few years ago. A few days ago they even published a puff piece on India overtaking China in economic growth which is laughable and full of holes. As comments already showed the laughable analysis it was I would not bother to rebut it here, but this article really got me angry.
Ms. Yu’s grandfather was a professor fleeing Guangzhou in 1947 to Hong Kong from Chinese civil war. some of her family fled Hong Kong after TAM in 89 and before the handover to China in 1997, some returned later after the panic receded, she has a British passport and British university education, and now she’s hinting she might leave again. her grievances can be summed up as following:

1. Usual bromide about inequality and soaring property prices.

2. Hong Kong can no longer be insulated from Chinese politics, and becoming just another Chinese city.

3. Democracy, freedom of speech, rule of law, etc.

I would like to rebut her point by point here.

1. Ms. Yu like most of the OC crowd belong to not the bottom 50% or the top 1%, but mostly from the 1-20%, so any bromide about inequality is probably insincere. They aspire to be the 1%, certainly not for more taxes on themselves to provide for more social services for the bottom. They do worry about their off springs being remain on top, and ready to fly away to London or Vancouver at any scent of disorder. They are mainly the beneficiaries of the soaring property prices, enabling them to sell at the top and buy houses in places like Vancouver or Long Island where locals there are grumbling about the Chinese driving real estate prices beyond their earning power.

2. Well, too bad, the goal of 1 country-2 systems is suppose to gradually change to 1 country-1 system. Who are you to feel superior to other Chinese. I would be in favor of Hong Kong gradually introduce patriotic education courses to suppress the colonial outlook.

3. The usual complains of liberals against authoritarian China. Where has Ms. Yu been? Horror of horrors, pepper spray, tear gas? Did Hong Kong lost freedom of speech? Has she ever heard of Ferguson, Missouri? Has she heard of Charlie Hebdo? Ms. Yu must be living at Fukuyama’s end of history.

I was born in 1947, the year Varna Yu’s grandfather left for Hong Kong. My father was a merchant seaman who was stranded in U.S. with the end of Chinese civil war. I was reunited with him when China granted my mother and me exit visas for humanitarian family reunification in 1959. We were from the bottom 50%. To me income inequality is real and widening in U.S., while in China they are making real efforts to bridge it and move hundreds of millions out of poverty. That is human right in reality, not a throw away catch phrase for Varna Yu.

 

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Behind the Great Western Firewall Is the Ugly Truth

February 15th, 2015 1 comment

I came across this article on the Vineyard of the Saker blog, which I think is worth reading (both the article and the blog in general). I don’t know what fellow Hidden Harmonies bloggers think of other works by Jeff Brown (especially those related to China), but his description of information control methods in the West seems to be pretty spot on.

By the way, my fellow bloggers should be proud of the fact that Hidden Harmonies is listed as a source of good alternative media, in the same mention as Asia Times and CounterPunch no less.

I choose not to copy and paste this essay in its entirety, given that there are multiple hyperlinks in it, which are necessary components that enrich the narrative. While I’m sure there are some automated ways to copy over these hyperlinks, I figured an extra click wouldn’t be too hard. :)

Behind the Great Western Firewall Is the Ugly Truth

Eddie Huang, FOB, Time Warner Condos, and Gold Coast Houses.

February 9th, 2015 21 comments

With the launching Of the sit-com “Fresh off the Boat” on ABC, there were a flurry of articles on Eddie Huang and the TV series. There was a profile of him in New York Times beside the review of the show, and Arthur Chu wrote about the importance of the show for Asian Americans in Salon.com. I watched the first 2 episodes and have mixed feelings as it triggered my own memory when I was in High School in New York. Eddie Huang was born in 82 of immigrant Taiwanese parents. He graduated with law degree and passed bar exam first time, worked for NYC law firm for 2 years, got layoff, worked as a standup comic and marijuana dealer, opened a restaurant called Baohus and got great review from NYT, opened a second one and closed it. He wrote an autobiography called “Fresh off the Boat”, and now turned to a TV series. Eddie talked about growing up around the age of 9 when his family moved from Washington D.C. to Orlando suburbs to open a steak-house restaurant, the resulting clash of cultures, race, and being bullied in school. Because of the format being sit-com, it inevitably stereotypes certain situations to generate laughs, the tiger-mom, model minority emphasis on grades, his own rebellion by embracing hip hop and basketball, and some minor swipes at suburban life style. I remember myself in early 60s, being the only Chinese in a high school of 3,000, got in my only fight in school with a Puerto Rican student when he started to bully me by using the F word of my mother. I was rescued in the principal’s office by my music teacher who vouched for me. Unlike Eddie who was born here I was very conscious of my poor English pronunciations and has only 2 Ukrainian fellow students from the neighborhood as friends during morning train rides. When the word Chink was used by neighborhood kids I knew better than to engage them by just ignoring them and walked fast past them. I sublimed my anger by what Lu Hsun called Ah-Q method, clutching my NYT newspaper and mumbling to myself that they are nothing but jail baits as I knew the proportion of African Americans in jail from reading the papers. I think that Eddie Huang may not like the way the show was portrayed and deviated from his vision, but if he wants the show to succeed, unlike his second restaurant then the compromises are inevitable.

NYT this weekend also have 3 articles on real estate. One on a Malaysian Chinese as a go between for the son of Prime Minister there in purchasing real estate in U.S.. One on the Time Warner center condos and the shell companies used by foreigners, some of them being Chinese nationals. Third being the Gold Coast, northern coast of Long Island suburbs where Chinese have been buying up expensive mansions with cash like hot cakes. The descriptions being nouveau-riche, uncouth, possibly corrupt Chinese driving genteel WASP or Jews out and pricing out natives from the housing market and crowding the schools there. The fact of low profile of Chinese were used against them as they don’t spread wealth around like Great Gatsby did. NYT is good at channeling the outrages and backlashes to the comments as they publish one commenter probably more than 10 times ( Susan from Seattle), from 10 years visa to immigration, berating Chinese for taking over the local housing, schools, and country. Previous week I wrote a comment when Thomas Friedman criticizes Israeli Prime Minister for the coming speech to joint session of Congress, I wrote saying it was an insult to Obama and Presidency, if the Democrats have balls they should boycott the speech, of course it was not published. Three days later on the paper it said Vice President will not attend the speech, and there were talks by Jewish democrats about boycotting the speech. So much for free speech, while those racial attacks and attacks on China being authoritarian were published multiple times. When I read the article I pretty much anticipated the backlashes. For buying those houses costing from a few to over $10 million, one has to be not even from 1%, by more like 0.1%. I doubt most Americans can dream of owning one, but human nature being what it is, Chinese are easy scape goats. For most Chinese Americans here not from the 0.1%, from those illegal ones working to pay off their debts to smugglers to Silicon Valley IT workers, expect the backlashes. I just hope no baseball bat attacks this time.

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政治局新年首次集体学习辩证唯物主义 (Politburo together studied Dialectic Materialism)

January 25th, 2015 2 comments

Have lived in U.S. for over 50 years, yet because of my Chinese root, I am always attuned to what happens in China. I avidly read all books about China and Chinese history. From Edgar Snow, William Hinton, to various China experts. From People’s Daily to New York Times about recent events. I consider my schooling up to 8th grade in Shanghai during the 50s as inoculation against biases against China. Last month in one of the comments Ray recommended guancha.cn for better sourcing about China. I have been reading it everyday since and suddenly I am awakened like the character in the “Body Snatcher” movies that I have been consciously or subconsciously blinded to what’s happening. Unlike Borg in the “Star Trek” TV series, Capitalism doesn’t act immediately by just touching you, yet it acts slowly and inexorably with the same motto, “Resistance is futile, you will be assimilated.”.
Reading guancha.cn I realize left is very much alive in China, there are a diversity of opinions and views fiercely debating on the direction of the country. That Eric Li gave a speech in Tsinghua University on meritocracy and there were critiques from both right and left, that a French Chinese gave a question and answer session at Jinan Art Institute where students asked questions about events in 89 and Occupy Central, that those students are not ignoramus or totally censored as NYT led you to believe. That Xi and politburo met to study dialectic materialism to counter corruption. Hell. they even have Paul Krugman gave a speech in Shanghai recycling his view Chinese economy will crash and rebuttals. And the comments are much better informed and wittier than the comments in NYT. One comment on the politburo article recommended they restudy “Communist Manifesto”.

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Abe’s Japan going backwards on the Comfort Women Issue

January 18th, 2015 4 comments

It seems inevitable that Japan would start whitewashing its textbooks  its WWII atrocities.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/01/09/national/tokyo-based-textbook-publisher-to-delete-depictions-of-comfort-women/#.VLw_T0fF8pA

Now the word “comfort Women” has been removed from High School textbooks and instead replaced by South Korean “individuals victimized by Japan during the war seeking to file lawsuits in Japanese courts to seek apology and damages.” like these people are a bunch of money grubbers.  Not to mention that Japan want to portray themselves as liberators in Asia from American, European, French and Dutch colonialism.

What’s surprising is that Japan not only seeks to dilute the issue of the atrocities during WWII, but they want to do it to American textbooks as well.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jan/15/japan-urges-us-publisher-delete-references-comfort-women

Rather a surprising move: “Japan’s foreign ministry requested that McGraw-Hill delete a passage containing a reference to comfort women from a text on world history used by high schools in California. The passage says that Japan’s imperial army “forcibly recruited, conscripted and dragooned as many as 200,000 women aged 14 to 20” to serve in military brothels.”

Also Japan goes after its own citizens who want to publish truths about comfort women issue.

http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/japan-reporter-files-lawsuit-comfort-women-stories-28103776

Even its own citizens are targeted when trying to write about the ‘controversial’ comfort women issue.  A Japanese journalist is being sued for defamation and personally threatened because he has written articles about Comfort women.

In an effort to rearm themselves and want to remove article 9 out of its constitution, Japan want to relive its ‘glory days’ as Imperial Japan and remove any references of atrocities during the last World War is dangerous indeed.

The Myth of a Chinese takeover in Siberia – Continued

January 16th, 2015 18 comments

As an avid follower and enthusiast of modern trends in Sino-Russian relations (and media coverage thereof), I saw this “jewel” of an op-ed in the New York Times earlier this week, titled “Why China will Reclaim Siberia“. This type of Sinophobic fear-mongering is nothing new in the western media. With amusement, I read through it with the slight hope of finding some new, compelling arguments other than the same old rhetoric of “there are so many Chinese and so few Russians”. Unsurprisingly, there were none. I have written on this subject previously, and demonstrated why the so-called “invasion by mass migration” from China into the Russian Far East is a myth. Ethnic Chinese consists of 3% of the Russian Far East regional population, and most of that 3% are seasonal migrants with no intention of long-term settlement. Another noteworthy nuance is that these ethnic Chinese are concentrated largely in Russian urban centers where they have no chance of attaining a numerical majority. Reality aside, I understand that in the realm of propaganda and misinformation, facts and data-driven logic are optional conveniences.

Nevertheless, I will pose another question that few, if anyone, has asked in the discourse over this topic – is it actually in China’s strategic interests to seize sovereign control of the Russian Far East (RFE) or any part of Siberia? It seems like few, if anyone, has done any basic, high-level cost-benefit analysis from a Chinese strategic perspective. When we put forth even a casual effort to weigh the costs and benefits, the answer becomes quickly apparent – NO, it’s not. As usual, for those who do not want to read too much, the bolded text provides an adequate summary. Read more…

Why did China ban Google? And why do the West try to shut down the Confucian Institute?

January 1st, 2015 18 comments

The common western narrative is that China’s government is oppressive and fear that its citizens would discover freedom and democracy through those websites. On the social-economic level, they imply that China’s leadership lack confidence when dealing with the western world. The underlying message is that that those rich multi-billion corporations are somehow purveyor of freedom and democracy. Google even used “Don’t be evil” as its formal corporate motto. Read more…

汉武帝还是唐太宗 习近平陷入保守主义?/On History

December 31st, 2014 8 comments

Upon reading the article at dwnews.com on 12/31/2014, it triggered memory over 2 years ago when I was in Lhasa, after visiting Potala Palace, recovering from altitude sickness, and watching CCTV 10, about Taoism and analysis of history. For those who can’t read Chinese, the articles analyze the two dynasties when China was at her zenith, Han and Tang and the two great emperors, one used Confucianism as governing principle and downgraded other schools of thought, the other followed the principle of Taoism, which allows multiple paths of enlightenment. it obliquely criticizing Xi for following the Han emperor in censoring Gmail, questioning the conservative trend in whether it betrays a sense of inferiority complex or/and overconfidence. It questioned whether the attempt at isolating China from internet with Great Fire Wall be counterproductive.
I was excited in Lhasa because the TV program in Taoism was a real fresh air at the jointure of leadership changes. In China, history is more than history, it reflects on present as much as it’s about history. After all Cultural Revolution started with criticism of a historical play, the dismissal on an honest official (General Peng) by emperor (Mao). It mentioned Han Wudi, the great Han emperor, the year before he died he issued an edict apologizing to the nation on his own failures, which was unprecedented before or since in world history. Tang Taizong faced an invading army from west in front of the gate of his capital, signed a humiliating compromise treaty, yet within a few years absorbed the tribes that attacked. I was thinking of Mao, on his failure to change human nature. When he compared himself against great historical figures in his poetry, what China would have been, if he has the humility of Han Wudi to confess his own failures, and Tang Taizong’s foresight and not enter the Korea War.
History being what it is, those musings of alternate histories are for science fiction. I do agree with Xi in reigning in the excesses of Capitalism, of corruption, and yes, censorship. For even in the West, where profit reign supreme, there are still boundaries such as child pornography and terrorism. I do hope the revivals of Confucianism is tempered with Taoism, on live with nature in harmony, a greener future.

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Sony: the great propagandizer in the middle of its hacking scandal

December 25th, 2014 13 comments

Sony has a tumultuous month with its hacking scandal involving the embarrassing leaked emails, ncluding: Angela Jolie, Barack Obama, and Leaked Salaries.

Sony being sued because of the leaked data is not the worst part, but the potential loss of its business because Hollywood can no longer trust Sony is probably even worse. So at Sony’s darkest hour, Sony decides to deflect from its hacking scandal to North Korea. Western Propaganda ate this whole thing up: From FBI blames North Korea, Obama vows response, to North Korea Internet down.

Besides deflecting the criticism towards the North Korea, Sony seem to kill 2 birds with one stone and will get free publicity towards “The Interview” movie anyways as the movie is released in digital media and movie theaters in its Christmas Day release. It makes Americans as a ‘patriotic’ thing to do as a thumbs down against ‘censorship’ and North Korea to watch this otherwise mediocre movie.

The only problem is that alot of Security experts doubt that North Korea actually did the hack. There are plenty of articles that like this, this, and that.  I would like to add in my 2 cents.

First it is the type of data being stolen. Most of the “normal” hacking incidents is usually logins, passwords, addresses, credit card #’s which can be obtained from a compromised e-tailer’s web server like Home Depot and Target. However, the type of data being stolen in this hacking incidents are emails, computer inventory spreadsheets, and data that could not get stolen in an web server. The only incidents where this type of data was in the Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden, where a former insider was able to retrieve this kind of data.

Second it is amount of data data being stolen. yet how can 100 TB of data be stolen under the noses of the security engineers of Sony? Let’s face it, North Korea’s internet infrastructure won’t handle this much data and the speculation of some North Korea’s elite unit operating in Shenyang is just ludicrous.

Third it is the intent. the original intent from hackers was to extort money from Sony for not releasing the embarrassing emails, and not to stop the release “The Interview.”  An article from Wired best summarize this:

Nation-state attacks aren’t generally as noisy, or announce themselves with an image of a blazing skeleton posted to infected computers, as occurred in the Sony hack. Nor do they use a catchy nom-de-hack like Guardians of Peace to identify themselves. Nation-state attackers also generally don’t chastise their victims for having poor security, as purported members of GOP have done in media interviews. Nor do such attacks involve posts of stolen data to Pastebin—the unofficial cloud repository of hackers—where sensitive company files belonging to Sony have been leaked. These are all hallmarks of hacktivists—groups like Anonymous and LulzSec, who thrive on targeting large corporations for ideological reasons or just the lulz, or by hackers sympathetic to a political cause.

The only plausible explanation of this hack is from a current or former disgruntled employee with backdoor access was able to steal more than 100 TB worth of data under Sony’s nose.  Instead Sony being in turmoil, it seems to be able to save its own skin by blaming North Korea.

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Xi Jinping’s fight against Corruption

December 23rd, 2014 4 comments

We in the West generally are cynical about corruption. We think it’s a natural product of Capitalism, of profit motive, and part of human nature. Yet the scale revealed of hundreds of millions of dollars involved does shock us. We can’t just excuse them as cavalier as Deng’s saying somebody has get to rich first. When Xi said that fight against corruption is life and death fight for the soul of communist party, he’s not exaggerating. For if the generals of PLA are selling promotions for profit, then the ripple effect can’t be understated. Not only it will affect the morale of honest officers, but those who paid the bribes will generally be corrupt also. When money controls the gun and not the party, then the party will really be in danger.

When I visited China 2 years ago, there were a general dissatisfaction about corruption. People maybe richer, yet they felt nostalgic about the time of Mao, they don’t have to worry about the mortgage for housing when rents were a few yuans per month. Despite what the West said about Cultural Revolution and Mao, most people do have warm feelings for Mao and yearn for honest officials. The recent moves on demoting naked officials, fight against waste, and transparency on budgets are quite popular. Two recent news stories caught my attention and illustrate the drain of money out of China due to corruption. One is the sale notice of the Villa in France belonging to the wife of Bo Xilai, China is trying to recover the money under the tangled web of ownership of the villa. The other is the downfall of Ling Jihua, former director of the General Office of the CPC Central Committee. He is the father of rumored Ferrari crash victim a few years back in Beijing that derailed his career. I understand there was an attempted cover up of the crash, the police changed the name of the victim, the 2 Tibetan girls injured in the crash, 1 died later, their families were paid off, and the father didn’t even attend his son’s funeral. Yet to no avail he’s now under investigation for serious disciplinary violations.

For those who feel that is irrelevant to their lives I would disagree. The fight against corruption now seriously impacted Macau, the jewel of casinos in Asia, their revenues are down. One of the major player there is Las Vegas Sand, majority owner being family of Sheldon Adelson, a major contributors in Republican politics in U.S.. The hit taking by Las Vegas Sand, on the year when stock markets were way up is about 1/3. I think Mr. Adelson has $10 billion fewer to affect U.S. politics where money is speech.

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The True Face of “Occupy Central With Peace And Love” Western Media Self-Censored

December 20th, 2014 3 comments

Besides the romantic, simplified “freedom” Official Narrative that framed the biblical David against Goliath story onto the Occupy Central protesters, seemingly for the purpose of indoctrinating media consumers in the West – is anything being left out?

Here, not so elegantly, are some raw YouTube clips – Occupy Central’s “peace and love” our supposedly free and objective media has choose to self-censor.

(Note: if youtube doesn’t work for you, scroll down to the bottom of post to get the videos we hosted here).

Foul-mouthed protester threatening people who disagrees:

Read more…

On China’s 9-Dashed Line and Why the Arbitrational Tribunal in Hague Should Dismiss Philippine’s Case Against China

December 16th, 2014 8 comments

December 15 was the deadline the Arbitration Tribunal for Philippine’s “arbitration” of its S. China Sea disputes with China had set for China to respond to Philippine’s claims under the UNCLOS.  According to this VOA report:

Monday is the deadline for China to submit a counter-argument in the Philippines arbitration case that questions China’s sweeping claims in the South China Sea. But China shuns arbitration and will not respond, while challenges to its position continue to mount.

Just days before the December 15 deadline, Vietnam Foreign Ministry spokesman Le Hai Bin said his government told the Permanent Court of Arbitration that Vietnam fully rejected “China’s claim over the Hoang Sa [Paracel] and Truong Sa [Spratly] archipelagoes and the adjacent waters.”

In a statement, the Philippines called Vietnam’s position “helpful in terms of promoting the rule of law and in finding peaceful and nonviolent solutions to the South China Sea claims.”

But China’s Foreign Ministry urged Vietnam “to earnestly respect China’s territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests.” The ministry reiterated China’s position that the tribunal does not have jurisdiction over the case.

In a paper Beijing released a week ago, China argued the Philippines was essentially taking a territorial dispute to the tribunal and that the question of territorial sovereignty was not something addressed by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Philippine Foreign Affairs Spokesman Charles Jose said his government has “taken note” of the position paper.

I had done some research and written an article on the subject earlier this year.  The plan was to publish it somewhere with Eric’s help, and through Guancha’s affiliates. However, by the time I finished, in mid-late August, the S. China Sea issue had drifted from the main media attention and Eric thought it was best to wait.

As it turned out, the “news” would not focus on S. China Sea again this year (fortunately), as the West attention seems to be focused now on ISIS, Ukraine, Russia, and Japan and Europe’s continuing economic problems…

If the news flare up again, I will see about writing something pertinent to that occasion.  But for now, I think it’s too much of a waste to just let my research this year lie dormant.  So below is my paper.   It might seem long and dense because it’s meant to address all the major legal arguments I hear Philippines officials and Western anti-China “legalists” publicly making.  I hope it’s educational for all here. If people have any feedback, I welcome them.  They will only make our position – and my future articles (if they are needed) – that much stronger.

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Second Enlightenment – Debunking Democracy

December 9th, 2014 4 comments

More people (even Professor Francis Fukuyama) seem to be waking up to the fact that populist democracy controlled by money (let’s call it Democracy with a big dee) is a political cul-de-sac. However, just as otherwise enlightened individuals such as Galileo and Newton dare not deny the existence of God, modern-day Democracy skeptics are hesitant to challenge its sanctity. Without God, one’s doomed. Without Democracy, life’s unthinkable. That’s the mantra since childhood. Don’t ask why.

Democracy bears many resemblances to its religious predecessor. It’s also upheld by faith rather than reason, analysis, or benchmarked assessment — virtually a replacement of God in most of ex-Christendom. Consistent definition is not necessary. Politics in the USA, France, Italy, Greece, Japan, India, Switzerland, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya etc. differ in form, substance, and spirit. Even buddies like the US and UK have markedly different political structures. But as long as they hoist the Democracy banner, all is fine. Like God, Democracy’s good by tautology. Details are unimportant.
Read more…

Jeremy Lin

December 8th, 2014 4 comments

For those who are not into basketball, Jeremy Lin is a Chinese American who set the basketball world on fire 3 years ago. when on the verge of being cut, he helped to direct New York Knicks, with injuries on stars, and in desperation move by coach, starts a winning streak and coined the word “Linsanity”. His history was chronicled in a documentary called “Linsanity”. I am sure the director of the movie probably is accumulating additional footages for a new documentary. I hope this time he’ll examine Lin’s travails since with an eye on the question of race, model minority, and capitalism.
National Basketball Association, the major league of basketball in U.S. is a big business. Recently the Los Angeles Clippers, whose owner got into trouble with racial comments was sold for $2 billion. Star players get paid for over $100 million for 4 years contracts. With a new TV contract the salaries are expected to increase substantially due to revenue sharing. Lin is presently playing the last year of his 3 years, $25 million contract. Basketball is ostensibly a team sport, with coaches trying to manage egos of star players for team success. The most successful coaches like Phil Jackson or Greg Popovich can manage the tension between individual and team success. NBA, due various large and small markets, runs essentially as a socialistic entity, with limits of spending power to equalize the competition. NBA is also interested in expanding the market to China and the rest of the world.
As a lone Chinese American in NBA, Lin has many avid followers in internet discussion groups. They discuss his statistics and travails in subsuming his own game to appease the star of the team and coach. He is a humble and religious man and the perfect model minority. He manages to carved out a place due to his efforts and skills. Yet despite his attempt to fit in he’s been marginalize in his latest team, Los Angeles Lakers, and its aging star Kobe Bryan. He’s been relegated to the backup because he sometimes outshines Kobe despite the effort of the coach to limit his time on the court. He’s bewildered and some of his fans are turning against him, for not speaking out and stand his ground. When he was in Houston his teammate Asik asked to be traded when they sign a new star, broke their promise of he starting. And his new teammate Boozer walk out of the after game press conference when he was demoted to second team. Some of his fans deride him as weak, lack of spine, of not asserting himself, in other words as too perfect model minority. Lin is in a difficult position, and the mental strain is affecting his physical game. NBA is dominated by skill players of African Americans, with China being blamed for job losses here, Lin’s entrance to NBA is bother welcomed by Asia American community and viewed with suspicion by others. When China refused visa request by British Parliamentarians to investigate Hong Kong agreement, China was essentially telling them to f— off, and that was priceless that China can stand her ground. I wonder whether Lin can.

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Taiwan’s Recent Local Elections

December 6th, 2014 3 comments

The Taiwan elections last week may have many in the West – and some perhaps on the Mainland – thinking if politics in Taiwan is yet turning another corner with its independence movement mounting a comeback?

The following comment by a Taiwanese reader on guancha caught our attention.

作為一個贊成統一的台灣人,針對這次選舉結果,想跟觀察網的朋友做如下分享:

1. 這次選舉雖然國民黨潰敗,民進黨大勝,並不意味著多數台灣人趨向支持獨立;根本影響這次選情的原因是:一、馬英九當選總統六年以來的執政無方,政策傾向財團與既得利益階級,根本罔顧台灣多數中產階級與基層民眾的需求與感受。二、連戰所代表的國民黨政商既得利益階層推出自己的兒子連勝文出來競選台北市長,更是加深台灣民眾對國民黨壟斷瓜分兩岸和平紅利的印象,一般老百姓根本無法從中得利,但卻看到這些遊走兩岸的政商人物每個都賺得肥油油的,自然會反彈不願意將票再投給國民黨,這也是為何國民黨連在居絕對優勢的台北市都會選輸的原因!

2. 北京需要重新檢討對台政策,特別是調整目前透過國民黨及富商階層作為對台政策代理人的做法。我之前有建議過,今晚還是要在這邊呼籲,希望中央能考慮是否直接在台灣發展基層組織,聯合台灣左統派,發展在台灣的統一力量!

3. 如果民進黨不能在兩岸關係上給台灣民眾一個放心穩妥的答案,2016的台灣總統選舉綠營未必就能再次獲勝,泛藍勢力也會在島內安定的訴求下,再次集結整合,台灣走向獨立的可能性微乎其微。

4. 在台灣島內,多數人民的首要矛盾問題是經濟與民生問題,但這6年來國民黨在馬英九的領導下完全無能無所作為;統獨問題作為次要矛盾問題,在我的認識,許多台灣人都抱持著鴕鳥心態 — 既或是傾向獨立的綠營支持者,很多人心底也都知道或默認,統一是遲早與無法抗拒的,只能持著消極抵制心態應對。而對大陸人來說,在台灣問題上,統獨是首要矛盾問題,台灣的經濟與民生問題是次要問題。而當台灣人因為自己的首要矛盾問題票投綠營時,會讓許多大陸人認為台灣走向獨立之路,或是刻意想與大陸對抗,這是許多大陸人不了解台灣社會實際情況所產生的誤解與誤讀,希望觀察網的朋友對此點有重新的認識。

Here is my quick translation: Read more…

Obama vs Xi Jinping

November 23rd, 2014 8 comments

With the mid-term election over, Democrats in disarray, Obama attempted to rally with carbon agreement with China and continued veiled attempt at containing China with Japan and Australia abroad, domestically, his pending immigration executive order and signature achievement in Obama-care face total Republican opposition and financial blockade as House controls the budget, the next 2 years will be interesting to see the once messiah of the liberals falling apart.

When Xi came to power we have a bunch of articles about Red Princelings, as if it’s a crime being off springs of revolutionaries, while nobody bat an eye of the Bushes, Kennedys, or Rockefellers in U.S., nepotism doesn’t exist in so called democracy. Now with the APEC over, Xi is being portrayed as a statesman, while memoirs of former cabinet officials described Obama as aloof, poor manager, if not totally incompetent. We have narrative of the rise of Xi, his more than 30 years working from village to city, to province, and national office.

Being a minority in U.S. you have 2 ways to rise to the top, one is sellout your race and join the conservative movement, denounce affirmative action while being the token minority in the Republican Party, you can rise high by helicopter as Clarence Thomas did, but that path is crowded nowadays as more opportunists, blacks, Indian Americans, women, and Latinos join in the easy path. The other way is work your way up the ladder in Democratic party, that way is also crowded, but if luck is on you as it did Obama with corruption, indictment, an open House seat, ambition clashed, Obama’s patroness Alice Palmer trying reach higher by not seeking re-election on her state senate seat, and left an opening for Obama. With his autobiography attracting interest in Wall street backing, more corruption opening Illinois senate seat, charismatic speech in 2004 democratic convention, and the race card Obama got the presidency. When during the primary, I read that Obama consider Reagan as his model not FDR, I knew Democratic Party would be in trouble. We got Hope and Change, Nobel peace prize,  and now lame duck.

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The Soft-power of Hong Kong Protesters – Freedoms not enjoy by American, Britain, Canadian and Australian

November 5th, 2014 6 comments

Hong Kong protest images not shown by Western media

Above Picture: Images of so-called “pro-democracy” protesters in Hong Kong ignored by the Western media

In a recent international human rights forum at Oslo where Julian Assange, Edward Snowden, Bradley Manning and other jailed Occupy Wall Street protesters such as Cecily McMillan were not invited,  BBC report (21 Oct. 2014) revealed that, “it is an open secret at this meeting … that plans were hatched for the demonstrations (in Hong Kong) nearly two years ago … perhaps more than 1,000 of them have been given specific training to help make the campaign as effective as possible.”  The forum is filled exclusively by well funded non-western “dissidents” demonstrating no interest in echoing the voices of the 5,500 anti-US military protesters in Okinawa;  or the suffering of the victims of U.S. nuclear tests in the Pacific without compensation; or the extrajudicial killing of almost a thousand unarmed civilians and children within five years by U.S. drones operation in Pakistan alone.  The protesters in Hong Kong enjoyed an overwhelming support from the Oslo Freedom Forum, while  the death of 5,000 civilians across America since 9/11 by the brutal and trigger happy U.S. police forces were ignored.    Read more…

Channeling Arthur Chu

November 3rd, 2014 No comments

With the ongoing protest movement in Hong Kong, it’s inevitable the Western press would anoint some 18 year old student as the future of China just as they did during the 89 TAM event. NYT not only featured him prominently they also have him wrote a column on democracy. Reading his naïve platitudes one can’t but be reminded of those old students now working on Wall Street with a different dream.

Living in U.S. for a long time not only concerned with events in China, but also what’s happening in the Chinese community here, I am encouraged with diverse achievements of Chinese Americans today. I would like to talk about Arthur Chu here. As some of you probably aware, he was a Jeopardy champion last year and caused some stir with his unconventional strategy and brassy talks. He leveraged his interviews and 15 minutes of fame to a column with “Daily Beast”. Recently I read his column in Salon.com on Gamergate, and then Google his old columns in Daily Beast and found them fascinating with resonance for me and maybe others. He personifies the stereotype of Chinese American male, being excellent A student, or a nerd, with limited social skills, a loner with few friends, with hobby in video games and science fictions, inarticulate with the oppose sex, yet adore those beautiful heroines in Japanese anime. He managed to overcame his rages and loneliness and achieved some success and balance. I do hope others can learn from his experiences.

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My Take on HK’s Occupy Movement

October 26th, 2014 9 comments

This is actually a respond to Plutocrats Against Democracy but I got carried away and wrote this article.

What LCY want to say about the pitfall of 1 person 1 vote is that the majority would vote HK into a welfare state as there is a sizable of not too well off people in HK. This is actually the biggest fear of China’s top leadership, in their view this is hurting the so-called western democracies economic recovery. They don’t fear democracy per se but rather what it would do to the social economic structure of China. It is not that they feel welfare is bad but China simply couldn’t afford it. To be honest how many states in the world can really afford the lavish welfare of Switzerland, Norway, Germany etc? The minimum welfare of states like UK, France, Italy, Spain etc is already bankrupting those nations. The US which has even less social welfare protection is also mired in deep debt! Read more…

Plutocrats Against Democracy

October 24th, 2014 4 comments

On today’s New York Times, Paul Krugman has a column on democracy in Hong Kong.

“It’s always good when leaders tell the truth, especially if that wasn’t their intention. So we should be grateful to Leung Chun-ying, the Beijing-backed leader of Hong Kong, for blurting out the real reason pro-democracy demonstrators can’t get what they want: With open voting, “You would be talking to half of the people in Hong Kong who earn less than $1,800 a month. Then you would end up with that kind of politics and policies” — policies, presumably, that would make the rich less rich and provide more aid to those with lower incomes.”

I want to correct that Leung was Beijing backed leader. If my recollection is correct, there were 2 candidates for the chief executive, and Beijing backed the losing candidates Tang, and Leung was the candidate of the plutocrats and won. I also differ on the implied nature of “Occupy Central” is for the poor. Looking at the backers of OC, their platform is not more progressive tax and more service for the poor, but more independence from China, more pro U.S.. I suspect the OC leaders are now more worried about losing control as younger students may veer farther left and question the whole foundation of society.

As for China, with 1 country, 2 systems in place, with 50 years horizon and problems in governing the whole nation, Hong Kong was ignored. Even with some minor education reform to be more patriotic was shouted down 2 years ago. Now with the protests I think Beijing will take more interest and direct role. Resignation of Leung may be beneficial to both sides, and I expect Beijing to beef up popular support for more progressive tax system, invest in more education and low cost schools for the poor and curriculum emphasis on China. Hong Kong may be a good place to start experimenting without affecting stability of the whole nation. One concession maybe to lower the nomination committee to 20-25% rather than 50% for more candidates of chief executive.

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The Mantra of “One Man, One Vote.”

October 12th, 2014 3 comments

It seems to be so reactionary to be against democracy, a noble concept. Yet for someone like me who has been living in U.S. for so long, a cynic, maybe jaded, the slogan of Hong Kong students of real democracy, or the Western media’s championing of human rights provoke mirth and bitter laugh in me.

First let us look at the world at large, U.N. where annually at New York votes are taken in General Assembly, but essentially meaningless if it infringes on U.S. and her freedom to action in any way as a veto in Security Council is assured. When U.S. wanted to invade Iraq, she presented the fictional weapons of mass destruction and got her way, or bombed Yugoslavia to submission, or just bombed Libya without U.N. sanction at all. Genocide in Rwanda? Sorry, no oil or money in it. International Court of Justice in Hague may be useful for tin pot dictators in Africa, but does not apply to U.S..

Looking at U.S., shining example of democracy, torch holds high by Miss Liberty. A few billions spent on the last presidential election, with barely over 50% eligible voters bother to vote, where millions of ex-convicts are not eligible to vote in most states, and millions of poor didn’t bother to vote. Democrats out polled Republicans by millions of votes and they remain a minority in House of Representative due to gerrymandering and other quirks. Where money is free speech. Or Singapore where many Hong Konger aspire to be compare to, where some subversive communists still rotted in jail or being let out in their 80s as no longer a threat, and mainland bus drivers deported for daring to ask for equal pay and treatment.

I am sure the some Hong Konger will reply that all these are irrelevant as they want “One Man, One Vote”. Well, is Hong Kong not part of China? Does 1.3 billion Chinese have no say of the future of Hong Kong? Does Hong Konger want to look down on mainland Chinese as superior, as colonial servants take the side of their masters and look down on their fellow compatriots as locusts? Do they want de facto separation? Do they want Tibet and Xinjiang not be part of China as well? Do they wish they are not Chinese? I am sure they will deny it and say they hope China will be as free as them at the end of 50 years transition period.

My advices to Hong Kong students is to go home, take out your I-pads and download some books on the history of Hong Kong, How did Hong Kong come to being? The history of Opium Wars. Maybe be kind to your Philippine maid and start doing your own laundry. Would a new chief executive after millions spending on campaigning by promising hope and change as Obama did really change Hong Kong? And as Xi Jinping asked for mainland students, study your history and philosophy, be more humble and knowledgeable, and you may yet be able to change the tax structure be more progressive and take a bite from the tycoons in Hong Kong.

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Umbrella Revolution and Authoritarianism with Chinese Characteristics

October 10th, 2014 8 comments

Hong Kong’s Umbrella Freedom Fighters can’t possibly be fighting for “freedom” in one of the most indulging communities on earth; it’d be like fish keep asking for more salt in the ocean. If succeeded, it’d turn them into anchovies.

A popular reason cited by supporters is that China’s an authoritarian state, therefore to be loathed unconditionally. Anyone who reads mainstream newspapers would know that much. If this fear is indeed the real cause, I’d like to take this opportunity to examine China’s authoritarianism by reviewing some known facts:

1) In 1949, when the Communist Party took over, average life expectancy in China was about thirty-five, illiteracy was 80%, and GDP was lower than Qing Dynasty’s. After a century of pillage and plunder by colonial powers, the country was struggling to recover from near-fatal wounds inflicted by opium, corruption, barbaric invasions and civil wars. Sixty-five years on, it’s the world’s second largest economy. In the past thirty years, the miraculous transformation (GDP growth, productivity, urbanisation of population etc.) of this continent-sized country is comparable to (relatively tiny) Britain’s evolution after the industrial revolution, which took about 200 years. Martin Jacques’ book contains a lot of hard data for comparison, in plain English (<a href="http://www.martinjacques.com/books/when-china-rules-the-world/"). However, economic development isn’t everything. It shouldn’t be.
Read more…

Western Media’s Pervasive Bias Against China Today

October 4th, 2014 7 comments

Zack recently pointed out in the open thread the following article by Stephen Harner that accurately – though not necessarily exhaustively – hit on so many points on what is wrong with the Western press, which I quote in full:

Dealing With the Scourge of “Schadenfreude” in Foreign Reporting on China
Stephen Harner, Former US State Department Official
October 3, 2014

Stephen-HarnerWhy are we so often disturbed by Western media reporting and analysis of China? Why does reading commentary of China’s economy, foreign relations, politics, and society leave us feeling emotionally abused, injured, or even angry and resentful?
I believe our reactions are a response to the pervasive, ugly, and malevolent, but largely unnoticed element of schadenfreude in this commentary.  It is our natural revulsion to writing and thinking that is anti-humanistic, hostile, and harmful.

Schadenfreude is a German-origin term defined by the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary as  “a feeling of pleasure at the bad things that happen to other people.”  Schadenfreude is rarely expressed plainly, or in relation to a specific event or situation.  Rather, it is an attitude and bias that disparages achievements, discredits sincerity, and hopes for failure.

We see this vile sentiment often in Western media coverage of news events, in reporting on Chinese business, and particularly in analysis and commentary on policies, plans, and initiatives of the government and the Communist Party.

Read more…

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Are the Occupy Protesters really about “Democracy”?

September 30th, 2014 21 comments

false_godsAs the Occupy protests continue in Hong Kong, articles, editorials and op-eds in the Western press continue to characterize the conflict as one between those in Hong Kong demanding “real democracy” and Beijing reneging on its promise of “universal suffrage” under “one country two systems.” Western media and leaders – including the New York Times Editorial Board and President Obama, for example – have all but argued that “universal suffrage” in Hong Kong means that Beijing should have no say in determining which candidates are eligible to run for elections … that the system China has proposed is but a “charade” of democracy.

But does this narrative hold any water?

A quick glance at history and Article 45 of the Hong Kong’s Basic Law is revealing. Read more…

What is Your Take on Hong Kong Police Breaking Up Protesters Occupying Government Buildings and Public Spaces?

September 28th, 2014 23 comments

The news of Hong Kong Police using tear gas to disperse crowds aimed at occupying government buildings and public spaces to protest against Beijing rules on how Hong Kong residents vote for its next leaders are plastered on the first page of all the major news site today.

The Wall Street Journal, for example, has this story.

HONG KONG—In the harshest response against protesters in Hong Kong in nearly a decade, police used pepper spray and several rounds of teargas to disperse pro-democracy crowds blocking traffic on some of the city’s busiest streets.

An effort by police to keep protesters away from government buildings appeared to backfire on Sunday. As police converged on the scene and protesters spread out from its center, the conflict spread across three of Hong Kong’s most important commercial neighborhoods.

When police started lobbing tear gas at the crowd, protesters dispersed but quickly regrouped and retook some ground. They ignored police signs telling them to leave and used metal barricades to prevent officers from moving them away.

Late Sunday evening, thousands of protesters were still spread through downtown Hong Kong, and police continued to pour into the area. But the Hong Kong Federation of Students around 10:10 p.m. started urging protesters to leave, citing a fear that police would start using tactics such as firing rubber bullets. Read more…