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 No 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 1 comment

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 15 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…

Alternate View from Xingjiang

September 27th, 2014 1 comment

It seems that every time Xingjiang is in the news it is when something bad has occured. Doesn’t anyone question why there are no good news out of Xingjiang? I will be honest here, I really hated the mainstream western press portrayal of events in that region of China. The general narrative is that China invaded and colonized that region. Today, the native people there faced oppression, discrimination and threat of their religion and culture eliminated. The underlying message is that the Chinese are oppressing these people and they need to be taught a lesson and be kicked out! Read more…

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Killing Chicken Warning Monkey

September 27th, 2014 5 comments

Now with the trial and sentencing of Ilham Tohti over, the expected reverberations and shocks from Western Countries continues. It’s obvious Xinjiang officials and by implication central government in Beijing have decided on iron fist policy and no compromise. It remains to be seen whether it will work. Yet for me it is rather sad and with a sense of deja vu. For it very much reminds me of what’s happening in Israel today, iron fist and no compromise, and yes collective punishment. I always find it counterproductive and inhumane that Israeli’s demolishment of suspects’ family homes, and the confiscation of Mr. Tohti’s property affects his wife and children similarly. And the war in Gaza with civilian casualties, and the report that 40 rioters were killed, obviously orders were shoot to kill rather than wound.

When I was a child Xinjiang to me was a land shrouded in mystery, with beautiful women singing folk songs with angelic voices during national day celebrations. How did it come to pass after 65 years, instead of unity, we come to frequent killings on both sides? With the reaction from the West Chinese media provided video evidence of Mr. Tohti preaching separatism from his class room, yet why was him not fired from his teaching job in Minzo University in 2009? and why was not his web site removed then? I remember during the Democratic primary in 2004, Hillary Clinton was attacked by the liberals for voting yes on the Iraq War, while Obama had the luxury of not holding office and making one speech attacking the Iraq War. I tried to defend her by saying after 9/11, she being a senator from New York, she can’t afford not to vote yes, whatever her original intention. I think similar dynamic is at work here. After the massacre of innocents in Xinjiang, Mr. Tohti lost his protection in Beijing as no one can afford to appear weak in face of challenge.

During the early years of The People’s Republic there were frequent attempts by Mao to mold and change human nature, yet those movements were generally in China proper and bypassed Xinjiang. Due to military and border sensitivity, officials in Xinjiang preferred status quo. With official state religion as atheism, Islam was never challenged there. Large movement of people was forbidden and integration and intermarriage was discouraged. When there were disputes of Uighur peddlers with Han customers in major cities, authorities always have an appeasement policy of favoring Uighurs and paid them off and sent them away. It bred a sense of entitlements and resentments. With the oncoming of economic reform and capitalism of last 30 years, it’s inevitable the clash of cultures resulting violence. For capitalism with profit driven motive, acts as an universal solvent. Those isolated weak cultures crumbles under competition from dominant forces. Reaction in China is no different on push back from Jihadist Islam against modernity around the world. To Islam equal right for women is a threat totally unacceptable. The question is whether using Mr. Tohti as a sacrificial goat to paper over the failure and warning the monkeys will work. I suspect it will have no deterrent effects on the rabid hyena killers.

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The Scotland Referendum and What it might teach us about Democracy

September 19th, 2014 4 comments

Saltire and union flagBy the now, the results are in.  Scotland has just rejected secession from U.K. in a historic referendum.  There have been impassioned” pleas on both sides, but through it all, Scotland will remain a part of the U.K.  If mainstream media is to be trusted, a big sigh of relief is heard around the world.

Personally I have no feeling one way or another although I will admit, the breakup of the U.K. – long the terror for much of the world – does not really bring a distaste to my mouth.  Whichever side you take, what I can’t stand is the suffocating self congratulatory praises that seem to now infuse editorials (see e.g. this piece by Roger Cohen in the NYT) and reader comments (see e.g. comments to this NYT article) about “democracy” and “rule of law.”

Oh … just look how the debates in Scotland (and U.K.) have been so “civil” even if “impassioned.” The U.K. and the West is truly different from others – especially rising powers such as China – because in the free democratic West, important, divisive issues can be settled peacefully, civilly, democratically, and in accordance “the rule of law.”

But is this really about the triumph of “democracy” and “rule of law”?  A little dose of reality might bring some sobriety. Read more…

In Praise of “Yiyun Li (李翊雲)” and ‘Kinder than Solititude”

September 14th, 2014 No comments

Growing up as a baby boomer in U.S. one experienced great changes, from civil rights, music, and now China looming in the horizon. It was a time of idealism, protests against Vietnam War, and environmentalism. Yet it is a disappointment that boomer generation wind up as Yuppies, Reagan democrats, and now Tea Partiers. For a Chinese American like myself any news about China and other overseas Chinese are treasured. I feel a sense of shared glory of success of other Chinese Americans like I M Pei, Maya Lin, and Jeremy Lin. Thus my ear perked up when I heard a radio interview mentioned Yiyun Li. I was further intrigued when she was introduced as a MacArthur genius recipient, and she was praised by Salman Rushdie as a writer. To me Nobel Literature Prize is mostly politics, and MacArthur Award is much more romantic. I decided to read her book.

Within a few pages I was hooked and finished her book in a week. The story started with the funeral of Shaoai, she was poisoned more than 20 years previously around 1989. In flashbacks of 3 teenagers, Boyang, Ruyu, and Moran, then and after. Moran who has a crush on Boyang, and Ruyu who Boying has a crush on both came to U.S.. It would seem to be a simple triangle love story with the infamous poison case as a backdrop. Most reviewers while praising the writing style treated it as such and seem somewhat disappointed it was only peripherally related to events of ’89. Shaoai was about 5 years older than the others and was a college student and was involved in the ’89 protest.

What Yiyun Li excels is her facility in English language. I am surprised that she only came to U.S. for her doctorate in cell biology before switching to writing. Some compare her to Chekov. I would compare her to Dostoyevsky in her use of interior dialects. One reads Dostoyevsky and immediately understand what his vision of Russia, honor, strength, and patriotism. One reads Yiyun Li and her vision of modern China, warps and all shines through.

As she said in one of her interviews readers put their own experiences in interpreting what the writer tries to impart in her writing. To me the story is very much more than the poisoning or triangle love story. The poisoning of Shaoai was very much the metaphor of the events of ’89. It lingered and poisoned the atmosphere for more than 20 years in China, and hopefully her death meant the lifting and coming to terms and liberating from it. She sprinkle the clues in the book most reviewers missed. The books Shaoai read, by Sartre, Camus and other existential writers, her rape of Ruyu, and telling Ruyu she would appreciate and understand it will be good for her. To me it was obvious the forcing of democracy and other values on an unready China. Boyang, Ruyu, and Moran represent different facets of China. Shaoai represents western values unleased by modernization. In the end the author didn’t assign blame on the tragedy as event does have a momentum of its own, and the author hope toward resolution.

The only criticism I would like to mention is her slight to tiger mom. I understand she disagree to Amy Chua’s child rearing philosophy, but slurring her ethnicity was uncalled for.

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Experimenting with New Themes

September 13th, 2014 No comments

I am playing with updating our themes.  Our old theme is no longer supported, has not been updated in over three years, has become not that search friendly … and does not display well on mobile devices (small screens).  Give me a week or so to toy with different things.  If anyone has a wordpress theme they like, please suggest to me below or by private email.  Thanks!

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Enjoy this short scenic video of Xian

September 13th, 2014 No comments

Yuanfan Zhang – CEO and founder at Alibaba – recently shared a video with Overseas Chinese World Affairs Forum on facebook about Xi’an, his hometown, that I found entertaining.  I had visited China’s ancient capital Xi’an in 2008 and found it to be a beautiful city and thought I’d share it here.  Enjoy!

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Why Democrats Can’t Win the House?

September 7th, 2014 No comments

I read the Sunday column by Nate Cohen in NYT with interest. Although it’s not directly related to China, but in a way it’s related with the question of democracy raised by Chinese dissidents about Hong Kong. Mr. Cohen says that Republicans has essentially a lock in the House for years to come , not only because of gerrymandering, but because of demographic and urban/ rural divide. he sees the gridlock continues in U.S. in fore-seeable future. Most of the comments agree with him and complain about U.S. not a real democracy of 1 man, 1 vote.

As a Chinese -American I have voted in every election. Yet I can see the futility of it in deteriorating infra-structures. In 50 years the interstate highway system, used to be the marvel and envy of the world, now has not enough money from the highway trust fund to pay for its repairs. The gasoline tax for the fund has not been raised and not likely to be raised despite inflation. Looking at the high speed rail system and new highways in China, despite all the corruption one can’t help but question those who idealize and idolize democracy.

Lyndon Johnson knew when he forced through the Civil Rights Act that Democrats will lose the South, and Nixon exploited the Southern Strategy. The African-Americans sued for more equal representation in Congress, and the Republicans happily obliged to gerrymander 90+% black districts to guaranteed their elections, but did that affirmative action better their lots? I don’t think so. Did Clarence Thomas replacing Thurgood Marshall, so they retain a black seat in Supreme Court do them any favors? With the United Citizens decision of $1, 1 vote, and the fact almost half the electorate didn’t bother to vote in presidential election, not to mention off year and local elections I don’t see much future of democracy in U.S.. Some would say my argument is irrelevant as they want to make their own mistakes. I wonder those dead in Syria and Libya would agree.

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Hong Kong and Democracy

September 1st, 2014 7 comments

Calling it a “sad day for Hong Kong” one of the world’s prominent democracy scholars decried Beijing’s new restrictions on Hong Kong’s upcoming elections, saying they would fail to meet international standards for universal suffrage and could invite a public boycott.

This seems to be about the worst outcome imaginable. No progress toward democracy, not even a timetable toward democracy, and frankly, not even an effort to gesture toward democracy

Professor Larry Diamond

“This is a sad day for Hong Kong, and for democracy,” Professor Larry Diamond, senior fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, said in an email interview. “This seems to be about the worst outcome imaginable. No progress toward democracy, not even a timetable toward democracy, and frankly, not even an effort to gesture toward democracy.”

Above quote was the first paragraph from South China Morning Post. Far for me to disagree with Professor Diamond, but he is from Hoover Institute, the noted conservative nest from Southern California, so I would take it with a grain of salt. As a Chinese American who lived in U.S. for over 50 years I think I have as much right as Professor Diamond to talk about democracy and Hong Kong. (I did lived in Hong Kong for 2 years and still have relatives there.)

Let’s review the history of Hong Kong. Cede to Britain after the First Opium War in 1842, Kowloon in 1860, and New Territories in 1898 for 100 years lease. Hong Kong was returned to China in 1997 when the lease expired and after negotiation as the island itself was untenable without the New Territories. Note U.S. is still holding Guantanamo due to colonial conquest as they called rule of law or more like rule of gun. Over the years Hong Kong has been transformed from manufacturing center for low cost items to a service economy of finance and tourism. It is inextricably tied to China in everything. China agreed to the 50 years transition period and has been essentially left Hong Kong alone. Now it’s more than 1/3 over the 50 years, the disparity in living standards between Hong Kong and mainland has been decreasing, yet because over the years many of China’s political exiles has been sent to Hong Kong, it does generate a noisy democracy movement.

U.S.A., cradle of democracy, 2008, Obama, Hope and Change. Today, not much change and even less hope. Ferguson, Missouri, I understand 12% of African-Americans voted in the local elections there, with white mayor, city councilors, and police force. Voter ID laws everywhere to cut down minority votes. I am sure professor Diamond approves those laws as legitimate voice of the people. Neocons want Hong Kong to be the next Ukraine on the doorstep of China. It will not happen.

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