I have certain amount of respect for both of them. Particularly, I consider Mr. Schell’s understanding of China to be more salient and in depth than most of his colleagues. At the same time, I also commend Mr. Fallows’ understanding of China, as much as he was kind enough to generalize about the positives of China.
Mr. Schell’s comments in the above post was particularly enlightening in its discussion of what Mr. Fallows only generalized as the positive “spirit” in the Chinese People and in the Chinese government, “that, instead of conveying an air of being hemmed-in by an era of limits, conveys the feel of a society hell-bent on building a more prosperous and stronger country”. Mr. Fallows commented that China’s can-do “spirit” was in contrast to the “fatalistic” one in the West. But Mr. Fallows did not go much into the depth of the differences in “spirit”. Mr. Schell, on the other hand, attributed the fatalism of the West, at least indirectly, to propagandization that lead Americans (and perhaps Westerners in general) “to believe that governments are the problem not the solution.”
On May 8, Japan’s government lodged a “strong protest” with the Chinese government over an article that had run in the People’s Daily in which two academics questioned the basis of Japan’s sovereignty over the Lewchew 琉球 (in Japanese, Ryukyu) islands. The Chinese side of course rejected the protest, and opinion columnists the world over have been weighingin. The current press furor has produced exciting developments in Lewchew’s main island of Okinawa, where in May 15 two professors have founded the “Association of Comprehensive Studies for Independence of Lew Chewans”. Already, there exists in Lewchew rising tensions between natives and nationalist Japanese, a latent history of cultural and linguistic abuse of Lewchewans, and a culture of protest upon which independence campaigners can piggyback. The only missing ingredient in this karmic tinderbox of anti-Japanese sentiment is international diplomatic support for Lewchewan separatists, which does not seem to be forthcoming from China. The Wall Street Journal soberly notes that “individual commentaries”, such as those in the People’s Daily, “don’t necessarily reflect the views of top political leaders, and Beijing officials on Wednesday gave little indication that the commentary represents a potential shift in policy.”
Video below was taken about a year ago, then 5-year old Tsung Tsung exhibiting what a piano prodigy he was. This is obviously raw talent and true passion. It would have been a shame for not Tsung Tsung’s parents affording him the piano and the lessons. Tsung Tsung is another example of why I am bullish on China. The hundreds of millions of Chinese finally moving out of the farms, away from playing in the dirt, are finally getting a chance to unleash their potential. That’s all due to stable development. When James Fallows told the Anglophone media that the Chinese have no dream, well, we were the first to tell him: shove it!
Once in a while one runs into articles that seem to fly against convention wisdom, that seem to tear at the veil of world injustice, that seem to open one’s eyes to provide insight into the causes of so many of today’s ills. This article titled Why There is So Much Pro-War Reporting from “the Big Picture” blog is one of them.
In reading this article, I note how the article also parallel a lot of what Norm Chomsky (Manufacturing Consent) and David Swanson (War is a Lie) have written about pro war sentiments. Yet, I still feel that this article is flawed in so many ways. We are only scratching at the surface of, not diving deep into, the problem.
The article points to 5 major reasons why free media is not so free, and why it’s so pro-war. Read more…
With June 4th right around the corner, the Western press will likely try to milk it, though each year with decreasing column space. In anticipation of that, we remind our readers the narrative perpetrated in the West is not the truth. 龙信明 draws from public materials and shows us what the real truth is, in English, “Let’s Talk About Tiananmen Square, 1989,” and in Chinese, “且谈1989年的天安门事件.”
melektaus‘ recent observations about the Chinese people (“What’s wrong with China? Hint: it’s not the government“) has certainly caused a stir. We all should commend him for sharing his thoughts from the bottom of his heart and for his genuine desire to see a better Chinese society. (Some of you might be visiting because James Fallows of The Atlantic has linked to it. As an aside, see our take on why Fallows is so wrong on so many things related to China.) Anyways, I don’t want to derail his thread, so if you wish to add to the conversation, I urge you to continue there. Many of you have offered thoughtful comments, so thank you. I do want to highlight Allen‘s response here, because, as he illustrates clearly, we all have a tendency to judge others based on our standards – and is unfair: Read more…
For some time, I have been on a hiatus from the blog. That does not mean that I was tuned off from what’s going on in the world. Despite my temporary leave of absence, I till end up devoting non-trivial amounts of time to corresponding over emails with friends … and editors on this blog about current events.
I was just about to send another email when I realized that instead of not blogging, and just emailing, perhaps I can do some short posts (taking less than 20 minutes each, say) and share my thoughts here and there. It’s not the way I usually blog, but maybe I can do a few of those before I get time to get back to the way I used to blog.
After living here for more than 9 months, I have come to a most repugnant conclusion. It pains me to even think about it for I am a Chinese person who has often defended the traditions, institutions, values and dignity of the Children of Heaven. But the truth is often painful at first. I realize now that much of the problems in Chinese society, and a plethora of problems there are, are not from the Chinese government (not a surprise to me since I am a long time China watcher suspicious of the anti government rhetoric of the west). What is surprising is that the myriad problems within Chinese society comes from the behavior, values and the beliefs of its people, a people that with all their traditions of wisdom behave in the most atrocious, despicable manner towards each other today. In a sense, I’d always expected this but were perhaps too proud to admit it and needed first hand experience for verification. Now I cannot escape that basic truth.
STUPIDITY, a formidable globalised trend, is gaining momentum. Living in Hong Kong, I can feel its pressure wave on my face each morning I wake up. This 21st century bliss seems a Darwinian mystery at first.
Idiot genes don’t serve any obvious evolutionary purpose, yet are present in prodigious abundance. How did that happen, I wonder? Perhaps people supported imbeciles because they’re cute, or pathetic enough for charity? After all, plenty of garbage DNA, such as those that make pooches, are bred for their adorably lack of intelligence.
Unfortunately, both conjectures don’t stand up to observation. Read more…
A civilization of 1.3 billion and having a continuous history of thousands of years can only mean one thing: it’s language and culture should have both amazing breath and depth. One of my hobbies is to rediscover this richness that’s accorded me through my heritage. I want people around me to relish in what Chinese culture has to offer. Recently, I discovered Suzhou Pingtan (苏州评弹), an interesting oral artform accompanied usually by musical instruments or props to tell a story. Its roots are Suzhou and Jiangsu (江苏) in the 1600′s. The performance below is done by a large group, a modern rendition I suppose, though I think two or three performers are the norm. I lament my Chinese language is poor, because the prose and the stories are often delivered in amazing eloquence (Chinese language can be extremely compact while character combinations provide context enabling further reduction in number of characters needed).
Recently I had a chance to speak with Boi Boi Huong (mp3, audio play link below). Her family emigrated to Holland from Vietnam when she was young. While in college, she took a stronger interest in China, and in fact completing her thesis on the Great Leap Forward. The timing of her work was interesting, because this had been just couple of years following 1989. Western academia and press at that time were especially hostile to China and China’s political system. The Great Leap Forward has always being used in the Western press and academia to vilify Mao Zedong and his policies, especially with the millions of deaths coinciding that period. Once Huong found out a bit about the circumstances of that period, she was able to quickly figure out the dominant narratives in the West were flawed. (Make sure to also read Ray‘s excellent post, “Another Look at the Great Leap Forward” and Allen‘s robust analysis of the death numbers, “Did Millions Die in the Great Leap Forward: A Quick Note on the Underlying Statistics.”)
As many Hidden Harmonies readers who are of Chinese descent likely could identify, having everything related to ‘China’, be it culture, history, people, ideas, companies, government, or whatever constantly cast in negative light really represses a bit of who we are. We may be citizens of whichever country we live in, but we should be allowed to feel proud about our heritage just like everyone else. To the Chinese, Mao was a symbol of modern China. Under his leadership, ordinary Chinese were finally freed from imperialism, invasions, and centuries of miserable life. Mao is more than the mere mistakes he has committed. Nor is he any of that exaggerated sins pinned against him in the West.
Click on the play button or right-click on the link to save the podcast for local listening: link. Please bear in mind English is not Huong’s primary language.
Latest number from China Daily’s coverage shows death toll has risen to 200+ for the Yan’an (雅安) earthquake which occurred yesterday. The epicenter is not too far from the 5.12 quake that hit Sichuan back in 2008. Rescue operations is paramount during the first 72-hour window following the quake. China has already mobilized 8,000 troops with more on standby. This was a 7.0 magnitude quake, and though comparatively weaker than the 8.1 few years ago but still massive. For the 1.5 million people affected in Sichuan, and especially in Yan’an (雅安), we stand by you. 雅安我们和你在一起!
Lu Lingzi (吕令子) was among those killed at the Boston Marathon bombing.
Our condolences to the victims and families of the Boston Marathon bombing. Among the three deaths is Lu Lingzi (吕令子), a Chinese national, who is studying at the Boston University in applied mathematics. Following is a translated letter from her parents (source: BU) to Bostonian’s, encouraging them to move forward as a way to remember Lu.
We are grieving and at a loss for words to describe the pain and sadness we are experiencing following the sudden passing of our dear daughter, Lingzi. She was the joy of our lives. She was a bright and wonderful child. We were thrilled to watch her grow into an intelligent and beautiful young woman. She was a positive role model for many others. Read more…
Western narrative likes to pit Chinese against China’s government censorship. In accepting the director of the year award, Feng Xiaogang (冯小刚) publicly lamented the difficulties he faced in complying with Chinese censors. What Feng and the 10,000-some people who retweeted him on weibo (sizable, but not that big a deal given the 500 million+ users) need to realize is that Hollywood will never make blockbusters about innocent Iraqi’s or Afghani’s and other innocent civilians killed in America’s drone strikes. Hollywood will never do a lot of things. All Feng needs to do is to ask his Hollywood friends to make a list, then he will understand perhaps what he has to put up with is not all that bad. Don’t get me wrong. All societies practice censorship. The simple truth is really just that some societies simply have thick skin like the fattest pig and feel no embarrassment wagging fingers at others.
If a made a comment in the last 12 hours or so – more specifically after 10:50 pm 4/16/13 and before 2:00 pm 4/17/2013, Pacific Time, your comment may have been deleted. Posts are not effected.
I was doing some tweaking with the system and made a rookie mistake, so the most recent comments (before our next back up kicks in) were lost accidentally. I am very sorry about this and promise this will not happen again.
On a related note, I have been on a hiatus of sorts. I just want to affirm that I am not leaving, but need some time off to catch up on several projects I have ongoing. Also having a new born and a 2 year old at home have a way of sucking away my free time…
In any case, I will be back to writing and commenting soon.
Around 1997, I stumbled upon and joined an online forum, now somewhat infamously known as “FreeRepublic.com”. This was in the early days of online communities. My initial fascination with FreeRepublic (I was a “Freeper”, but I never called myself that), and my subsequent departure from it, marked my first of life long lesson in the self-contradiction that is “Freedom of Speech,” along with other lessons drawn from other online communities.
If you were ask to give a short narrative for those two very important historical figure, what words were to come into your mind?
Abraham Lincoln was consistently voted by US scholars as the greatest US president. He was even immortalized in the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. However, don’t the ill informed Americans know he is the greatest mass murderer in US history? During his term of presidency, the US fought the most destructive and bloodiest war ever, WWII caused less destruction than the US Civil War. 3% of US population died in combat, starvation or even mistreatment in prisoner of war camps. Lincoln exercised his authority to suspend habeas corpus, arresting and temporarily detaining thousands of suspected secessionists without trial. Read more…
Sipping sangria in a tapas bar at Hong Kong’s Soho District, looking out the window, one could spend hours watching cosmopolitan humans spewing out one of the world’s longest elevator systems. Next to it, a street sign reads “Elgin Street.” Hardly anybody knows who Elgin was, or what he had done to deserve a street named after him. If not because of a recent deliberation with a quaint academic about Hong Kong’s early colonial days, I would not have bothered to research about him either. By reading up on the history which embroiled the life of this forgotten character, however, I’ve discovered the justice in history. Read more…
(It’s worth noting that Gady Epstein of The Economist calls this video, “remarkable propaganda document.” If you think about it, that’s a wholesale rejection of the Chinese point of view. This is politics. But, then, don’t forget that The Economist and other Western media self-proclaim to be “free.” According to their definition, Western journalism is supposed to be about presenting differing perspectives. That’s rubbish. As regular readers of Hidden Harmonies know, Western media is every bit about propaganda as much as anything else.)
Huawei might need the Chinese media’s help in doing some defamation against Cisco before that American protectionism truly drops. It’s hard to imagine any other way. Huawei’s Chen Lifan is asking for ideas!
Instead of Cisco, Apple is an ideal target. For one, its user base is much larger than Cisco’s. Samsung’s phones with Android are better in my personal opinion, so iPhones are not indispensable. Apple’s customer service is probably above average in China relative to all the other companies. Certainly, there are legitimate grievances, but I wouldn’t consider them egregious. Also, remember, the Chinese media criticisms were targeting a basket of foreign firms. China is merely playing catch-up in this protectionism game others have been playing these last few years. In this kind of ugliness, everyone should remember who started first.
In light of President Xi’s latest visit to Russia, it would be appropriate to provide a nuanced perspective to the current state of Sino-Russian relations. It is understandably difficult for the western media to deliver this kind of nuance; this difficulty stems not only from western biases against both Russia and China that obstructs objective analysis, but also the complications inherent in bilateral relations. For the sake of brevity, I will make just two observations which is inadequately emphasized in modern-day discourse on the Sino-Russian bilateral relationship – incentives for cooperation and Russia’s true value as a “comprehensive” strategic partner. Read more…
Yes, the image below is of Sports Illustrated swimsuit model, Anne V, on a bamboo raft on the Li River in Guilin with a cormorant fisherman. You wouldn’t be alone if you thought the image was photo-shopped. Well, it is not. Sports Illustrated has actually gone to all seven continents and found local cultures as backdrops for their swimsuit photo-shoots. Their China landing page is here.
Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Anne V in Guilin
Once upon a time, there was a Chinese Ph.D. student named “Ginger Wave”, (Bo Jiang) 姜波, who upon graduation got a nice job working for a NASA contractor.
How did he get a job with a NASA contractor, even when he was a Chinese citizen? Who knows, but Ginger Wave didn’t lie, Ginger Wave didn’t care. The US government knew about him, there was no lie to tell, Ginger Wave did nothing wrong.
By now, the Cyprus government is still haggling with EU (and its banks) over how to save Cyprus economy, without anyone paying for it.
But just a few days ago, they almost managed to get away with a “deal” to pay for it by “taxing” 10% of all bank accounts in Cyprus. This didn’t have much of a shock value in the West, except for perhaps in Cyprus, where the populous protested and forced their representatives to vote “no” on the “deal”.
It should come though as no surprise for the pessimists, because Western Democracies have had a string of such “deals”, which gives new means to the lack of accountability.
Instead of a proper review, this is more like a sketch of the thoughts which struck me while reading Henry Kissinger’s On China.
In the past, writers were often individuals who saw things differently. Being different helped them to highlight alternative perspectives and popular social ills. Once in a while, they turned out to be right, and even listened to; and their visions delivered impact. Nowadays, books are written for a mass market. Guided by publishing preferences, more and more writers build their positions on opinion polls and market surveys. It is therefore refreshing to read Kissinger who, at nearly 90, has neither the time nor incentive to appease popularised prejudice. Read more…
I first came across the following image at weninchina.com. The difference in 20 years is indeed amazing. Pudong in 1990 vs 2010. As a point of reference, the two large arrows point to the same building. China now needs to work hard to make those white clouds come back more frequently.
One might as well call it “the Pink Powdery Pixie Dust of Hippie Magic,” because it is really quite a made-up concept that doesn’t make sense relative to its own applications.
Joseph Nye first defined and popularized the notion of “soft power” as the ability to attract and influence others. But somewhere down the path of popularity, such a general idea became shrouded in numbers and PR. Now, it is no longer enough to merely “attract”, no longer enough to be “soft”. ”Power” and “Influence twisted the essence of the notion until “soft power” became a plan of attack, like a soft drink overloaded with caffeine and sugar and double spiked with rum and turned into a 12 hour Energy Drink.
Mr. Nye may have defined “soft power”, but he certainly did not create it. He merely sought to coin a word and define what he thinks was missing from Western traditional exercise of “hard power”. But that means, Mr. Nye may himself be wrong in what he perceived, and he cannot give all the answers.
Worst of all, it is now being used to PR against China to prove rhetorically silly media lines like “China doesn’t have Soft Power Afterall.” Well, I don’t think any one can say China has lost that Pixie Dust of Magic, because I don’t think China ever claimed that it had it in the first place!
We have completely lost to the old man who is seeking to change the world using his prayers and smile, and have given up critical thinking in front of him. If we look carefully at the history of Tibet under the rule of the Dalai Lama, we will find that Tibet was still a society of serfdom back then. Tibet's serfdom was not abolished until the middle of the 1950s. If we see only the Dalai Lama's smile, it will mean that we care only about the symbolic meaning of the Tibet issue instead of Tibet itself. (German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt