It might come as a surprise to casual observers that the city of Detroit is filing for bankruptcy. To those seasoned industry watchers, it is an event waiting to happen. Detroit has a prominent place in US history because it is considered “a metonym for the American automobile industry and an important source of popular music legacies celebrated by the city’s two familiar nicknames, the Motor City and Motown.” Read more…
Western propaganda has become an art-form, and for the unsuspecting audience, it is invisible. If you decide to be critical though, you will immediately see how thinly-veiled the propaganda is. Some of you might have heard about the recent high-speed rail crash in Spain, killing 69 people according to the latest count. The weird coincidence is that China’s Wenzhou crash was exactly 2 years ago. Below are two articles from CNN reporting on the crashes. On the right column is of China’s crash two years ago and on the left column is a recent coverage for Spain’s. Notice how the Spain article is about the accident while the article on China is a condemnation of China’s HRS and governance. CNN can find tons of criticism and dissatisfaction on Spain’s Internet too if it wants. Yes, right now. CNN can find critical things to write about the Spanish government: for example, Spain woefully under-funds its infrastructure. These are CNN’s explicit choices to make. See the glaring difference in the articles as a result of the choices CNN made. Welcome to “free” press.
On Sunday, Abe and his party secured a victory to win landslide victories. According to Foreign Policy,
Riding a wave of stimulus money to the voting urns, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Liberal Democratic Party secured a majority in both of the country’s legislative houses, delivering a stamp of approval for his economic policies and possibly setting up Japan for its most significant constitutional revision since World War II.
A man with deeply nationalist roots, Abe has embarked on a twin project of national renewal, launching an aggressive stimulus program – better known as “Abenomics” and which has injected a measure of dynamism to the sluggish Japanese economy – while also floating the idea of revising the country’s pacifist constitution. Abe’s military initiative comes in response to what many in Japan see as the danger of a rising China to the country’s west and the need for Japan not just to have a self defense force but a bona fide military to counter that threat. On Monday, Abe linked those two projects. “Economics is the source of national power. Without a strong economy, we cannot have diplomatic influence or dependable social security,” he said. “I want to make Japan’s presence felt in the world.” Read more…
I’m getting sick of this “debate” on the rule of law (or laws in general). It’s a recurring theme marred in confusion. So I will try to make this as simple as possible. Just let this “debate” die in this thread because it is distracting, boring and I’m just goddamn sick of it.
In the field of media criticism, it pays to be picky about language. Around touchy issues of sovereignty and legitimacy, journalists frequently navigate intractable disputes where no term is truly “objective”. A wise man once said, if you want to create social change, then it is of paramount importance to identify “who are [your] enemies [and] who are [your] friends?” But there’s the risk of being so hypercritical and without humility as to impart devious significance to routine, apolitical phrases. In the English-language Tibetan studies circuit, which leans almost entirely pro-separatist, one phrase regularly trotted out for criticism is “China’s Tibet”. This blogpost at High Peaks Pure Earth is representative in its mocking tone, if not for the most academic exposition of the idea. “There must be a psychological condition that describes an anxiety so acute that there is an overwhelming need to constantly state and re-state that something belongs to you… China’s rather childish and possessive nature!”
As Snowden considers asylum offers from Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Bolivia, and perhaps mulls a second application to Russia (Putin had earlier said if Snowden wanted to apply asylum there, he’d have to stop releasing NSA leaks), should China Consider Giving Snowden Asylum?
By the answers, I am hoping to gauge people’s attitude toward Snowden. For me, I am neutral. I personally have nothing against government “snooping.” I have nothing to hide in general. As long as they don’t pick on me for little trivial things (I trust governments generally enough that they wouldn’t), I have nothing against government tapping, government cameras, government sucking of emails, etc. So what Snowden has revealed does not hit me in the stomach on that level.
However, I believe what Snowden has revealed is important in a geopolitical context. Previously, we thought of the Internet as “free” – run by innovative Stalwart companies devoted to freedom, free from government interference. Now we know the vastness of what we consider to be “free internet” is merely a very nationalized network space that is compatible with one specific set of values and that is at the core of 21st century geopolitical competition.
That’s an important insight for humanity to know.
So – should China…?
[Editor's Note: clarification added 2013-07-09]: From the above write-up about “geopolitical context,” one might misunderstand me as saying that what Snowden has to say has no relevance to Americans and relevance only to the rest of the world. That’s not what I meant. To the extent Americans are world citizens, they should care. They should understand so they understand why the information they get online in the so-called free internet (and also why the information they get in the so-called free media, why their very perspective about the world, about history) may be so biased and American (or Western)-centric. And then perhaps they may understand why so many things they had taken to be Universal may just be American (or Western)-centric. What Snowden revealed, and he may not even understand it, is to change the paradigm by which we view the world by revealing a blindspot we had universally taken for granted. Others have noted the dangers of relying on “google” for all information on the net – because that essentially allows one entity – which is not beholden to the “people” per se – to define our knowledge, our worldview, our identity… It is equally dangerous to rely on the falsehood of a universal, free internet for our information because there is no such thing as a universal internet. Language and cultural barriers would have fragmented it fr0m the start – though now we see politics from the U.S. already set it up to fragment from the very beginning, too.
Have you ever wondered how a map would look like if it showed Internet freedom versus the NSA dragnet recently revealed by Edward Snowden? Well, it would look like the following map. Click to have a look first and then come back to this post.
Eric X. Li, whom both YinYang and I know personally, recently gave this TED presentation on the ideological worship of two political systems – communism … and electoral democracies. As usual, I find Li’s perspective insightful and interesting. It certainly takes guts to stand up and speak against the predominant religion in the world! Now I appreciate even more how Galileo must have felt in confronting the Catholic Church!
I do want to make a quick note about one of the two questions the host at Ted asked of Li at the end of the talk. The host asked about how a non-elected government can legitimately set the agenda without feedback in the form of contested elections. Li talked about how the Chinese government – at all levels – takes surveys of the people on all types of issues, from what people think of the garbage collection at a local level to what people think about the direction of the nation on a national level.
This exchange reminded me of the adversarial vs. inquisitorial approach to resolving legal controversies. Read more…
Everyone in Hong Kong is Celebrating the Triumph of Rule of Law In the Snowden Case – But Is This Really a Celebration of Law, or Politics under the Cult of Rule of Law?
For the last week or so, Hong Kong has been (very publicly) celebrating the “rule of law” that it claims it has exhibited in letting Snowden leave the country despite strong U.S. pressure to arrest and extradite him. The Hong Kong government made this official statement after Snowden left Hong Kong.
The US Government earlier on made a request to the HKSAR Government for the issue of a provisional warrant of arrest against Mr Snowden. Since the documents provided by the US Government did not fully comply with the legal requirements under Hong Kong law, the HKSAR Government has requested the US Government to provide additional information so that the Department of Justice could consider whether the US Government’s request can meet the relevant legal conditions. As the HKSAR Government has yet to have sufficient information to process the request for provisional warrant of arrest, there is no legal basis to restrict Mr Snowden from leaving Hong Kong.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying later cited the government’s action as “a good example to illustrate the rule of law and the procedural justice that we uphold.” The people of Hong Kong for the most part do back Leung’s sentiments. Even those who suspects illicit political motives seem to concede that Hong Kong did right following its laws, protocols and procedures.
While I am proud of Hong Kong in standing up to U.S. in the Snowden affairs, I urge caution that this is a triumph for rule of law. Rule of law connotates an absence of arbitrariness, an objectivity that is devoid of human whim and of politics. But if the public thinks the Snowden case resulted from an objective, fair and impartial application of rules, I urge them to think twice. Read more…
At this point, the dominant narrative in the American media on Edward Snowden is undoubtedly him being a traitor. The reason for a turn for the ‘worse’ is Snowden revealing to the world, especially to China and Hong Kong, how the United States hack their universities, public officials, and tapping into Pacnet, the major backbone of the Internet for the whole Asia region and stealing SMS and other communications. Kurt Eichenwald argued recently on that point, and major American reporters on Twitter are lauding that line of thinking as “cogent” and a “must read.” The idea there is that NSA’s ability to spy and hack the Chinese (and Russians and other countries the United States may get into conflict with) is severely compromised. If Snowden had kept to whistle-blowing only on the surveillance of Americans, the debate about whether he is a traitor would have continued. Since he divulged American spying and hacking capabilities to potential enemies, he has become a traitor. I buy that argument. Read more…
Peter Lee wrote an interesting piece at Asia Times titled “India places its Asian bet on Japan” today regarding his take of India’s recent rapprochement with Japan. Before reading this piece, I had regarded Singh’s recent trip to Japan as nothing much more than two second-rate power trying to form a second-rate alliance against a perceived first-rate power. But perhaps there is something more…
Here is an excerpt of Lee’s article:
In a dismaying week for the People’s Republic of China (PRC), India turned away from it, and gave further signals that it is ready to move beyond the narrative of Japanese World War II aggression that has informed China’s Asian diplomacy and anchored the US presence in Asia for over half a century in favor of a view of Japan as a leading and laudable security actor in East Asia.
I don’t know if there is a term in the diplomatic lexicon for “deep tongue kiss accompanied by groans of mutual fulfillment”, but if there is, it seems it would be illustrated by the encounter between Indian President Manmohan Singh and Japanese PM Abe Shinzo in Tokyo on May 27-29, 2013. Read more…
This weekend, I went to see “Free China: The Courage to Believe“. This hourlong movie by Michael Perlman, who previously directed “Tibet: Beyond Fear”, boasts a few awards from some small indie, human rights, and “awareness” festivals. Like the similarly propagandistic but much less affordable Shen Yun dance performance, Falun Gong foot soldiers had plastered posters and postcards for the film in Chinese restaurants, on storefront windows, and on public information boards. Yet despite the heavy-handed advertising, it’s not often that a movie covering the broad subject of China comes to English-speaking audiences. Could this film be something other than a rehashed collection of dehumanizing stereotypes about the Chinese government? I set out to find out. Read more…
The Chinese blogsphere is rife with indignation on how Michelle Obama pulled a Political Snub On Peng Liyuan. Apparently, Michelle decided to attend her daughter’s 12th birthday party in Washington instead of be in California to host Liyuan for the pivotal bilateral meeting between presidents’ Obama and Xi.
Here is a report from Sky News, with quotes from Chinese netizens.
Michelle Obama ‘Snubs’ China’s Peng Liyuan
Michelle Obama’s decision to attend her daughter’s birthday party rather than meet China’s First Lady may be a missed opportunity.
In the world of international diplomacy, the relationship between leaders’ wives can be just as important as the relationship between the leaders themselves. Read more…
I’ve noticed a trend among some commentators and bloggers at HH. As you know, some of my past posts have been at odds some of your views regarding things such as some modern characteristics of Chinese people. While I believe it’s often quite uncivilized and harmful (and I think you’d be surprised at how many Chinese in China will affirm what I have said because it is so obvious to anyone who has been here for a long time), some comments suggested that “outsiders” such as myself can’t judge them because different cultural values are incommensurable and judgments using one set of values can’t be applied to judge another set of values.
North Korea is the most vilified nation in the world. But in truth, it should be considered the shining city on top of a hill as far as human spirit is concerned. HOW???
You wouldn’t think that by what you typically read in the international news (dominated by Western media). Oh, the people in North Korea are so wretched. They eat dirt, have no freedom, live in a police state (I’ve argued it is the U.S. that is the reigning police state), and are constantly bombarded with suffocating, stale state propaganda. Poor North Koreans. Look to the South – see how free, how happy, how prosperous they are! Read more…
Hashimoto’s “Comfort Women” Statement – Is it Really So Bad? A Comment about Why Japan Needs to Give a Real Apology.
Recently, Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto, a prominent Japanese politician, raised a storm in Asia when he pronounced that the “comfort women” Japan enslaved during WWII as “necessary.” According to this BBC report, Hashimoto said:
In the circumstances in which bullets are flying like rain and wind, the soldiers are running around at the risk of losing their lives…. If you want them to have a rest in such a situation, a comfort women system is necessary. Anyone can understand that.
The report continued: Read more…
Opinion: Why There Is So Much Pro-War Reporting in the West? A Comment on Bloggers, Tyranny, and the Fourth Estate
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…
There is an interesting phenomenon known to psychologists as projection. I quote at length from wiki’s entry on the topic.
Psychological projection was first conceptualized by Sigmund Freud as a defence mechanism in which a person unconsciously rejects his or her own unacceptable attributes by ascribing them to objects or persons in the outside world instead. Thus, projection involves projecting[clarification needed negative qualities onto others, and is a common psychological process. Theoretically, projection and the related projective identification reduces anxiety by allowing the unconscious expression of the unwanted unconscious impulses or desires through displacement.
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.”
For new visitors to Hidden Harmonies, I highly recommend a visit to our “Featured Posts” section (the right third of the blog main screen). There you will find featured articles addressing key topics these last few years by this blog. For example, Ray examines the international political climate surrounding the lead up to the Great Leap Forward (“Another Look at the Great Leap Forward“). melektaus discusses how the Western media collectively defames China (“Collective Defamation“). Allen addresses what Democracy means (“Understanding Democracy.”) Black Phoenix debates other American lawyers about the status of Tibet (“2008 ‘Olympic Debate’ over Tibet on American Bar Association China Law Committee.”)
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.
For today, I will share with you this link: http://www.factmonster.com/ipka/A0001779.html, a page about the “principal rivers of the world,” instead of just writing privately to the editors of this blog about it. Read more…
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…
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…
Apple’s Tim Cook formally apologized to Chinese customers today in response to media criticisms within China for unfair warranty and customer service related issues. China’s Consumer Association have also demanded Apple making a formal apology. While U.S. media in unison came to Apple’s defense before today’s apology, making light of Chinese consumer grievances, I think there is a bigger issue at stake. As I examined how ridiculous the U.S. media and some U.S. politicians are against Huawei back in August 2012, it’s a matter of time the Chinese government retaliates:
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…
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.
CNN and Financial Times spin news of China topping U.S. in importing oil as shake up to geopolitics of natural resources
CNN recently repeated an article from Financial Times on the news China has temporarily overtaken the United States as the world’s largest net oil importer. In spinning this news, their narrative went as follows:
“China has overtaken the US as the world’s largest net importer of oil, in a generational shift that will shake up the geopolitics of natural resources.”
First of all, China offers a lesson to the world, and especially to the NATO countries. You can become the world’s #1 net importer of oil without invading and occupying countries. You simply trade. China just did it. And, the last time I checked, it doesn’t appear China is upsetting any geopolitics. Is China kicking out American bases anywhere for oil? Nope. America may withdraw some ships from the region because America is becoming less dependent on Middle East oil, but that is on America’s own accord. So, all we have here is CNN and Financial Times agitating fear within the American public; corporate media and military industrial complex on display.
Answer: With Knowledge, both Lies and Truths. Every lie has some element of truth. Every truth has some bias of lie. Great lies appear more true than obvious lies. Great truths appear more false than some lies.
A computer hack is a lie to a computer, disguised as a truthful command. All lies, great or small, told to human beings, are designed to hack their brain in essence.
By that logic, we are all hackers. We hack each other’s brains, sometimes with lies that others spread to us, to influence each other, for power, for personal gains. Sometimes the truth hacks back. Thus, knowledge and information simultaneously enlighten us and threaten us.
But in this philosophical turn of rhymes, it doesn’t matter whether one is told a truth or a lie. One realizes that one is being hacked by information delivered by someone else. It’s someone else’s truth or lie, designed to influence us.
If one allows the information to hack one’s brain, then one becomes a victim, a slave to someone else’s influence.
One’s ONLY defense is a security feature, a filter called Reason. With Reason, we filter, decrypt, digest, break down the information into OUR own truths or lies. Then, we have some control, we can choose to be UNSWAYED or UNINFLUENCED by the information bombarding us.
The ONLY achievable means of our own security in our own reason, is to be stubbornly refused to be swayed or influenced. That is the ONLY true individuality.
***With that, I now apply my reasons on my latest refusal to be swayed or influenced.
How Many Chinese Hackers Can Dance In A Cyber Espionage Report?
Apparently, the answer is inevitably, a lot, because otherwise, who would bother to write a report about them?
If that sounds familiar, it is because you can apply that to just about any answer that’s begging for a pointless question.
That is to say, if you believe that there is a massive number of angels capable of dancing on the head of a pin, you don’t need any proofs. Every thing will confirm your beliefs.
So, the same logic serves the report recently released by Mandiant. http://intelreport.mandiant.
Granted, all governments are researching cyber warfare. And so are many private individuals. Some for noble causes, others for mercenary reasons. But by the same logic, one’s reaction ONLY demonstrates one’s own basic belief in human nature.
Critics of the Mandiant Report argue similar general points. http://www.voanews.com/content/china-russia-israel-france-iran-cyber-threat/1608419.html
I do not care to venture into what Mandiant’s report writers believes, but let us talk about some of their basic errors in their conclusions: (And this may take a few days)
This is a followup on a previous post titled Did Millions Die in the Great Leap Forward: A Quick Note on the Underlying Statistics. In that post, I pointed out that the only systematic data available from the time (the census of 1953 and 1964) were such that they could neither support nor refute the hypothesis that millions upon millions died during the Great Leap Forward. The claim that 15 or 30 or even 45 million people died simply is not testable with margin of errors inherent with the 1953 and 1964 census figures.
In a comment, long-time commentator jxie referenced some of the so-called “newer” research involving non-contemporaneous data that I want to quickly address in this post. One thing I failed to address in my prior post is that since the mid 80′s – with the release of data such as the Cancer Epidemiology Survey in 1976, the fertility survey of 1982 giving fertility rates dating back to 1940, and the re-release of the 1953 and 1964 census in 1982 where the population figures are broken down by age and gender groups (“cohorts”) - many researchers have claimed that they are able to prove how many millions actually died during the Great Leap Forward. Various reputable scholars 1 estimated the death count to be anywhere between 20 to more than 45 million. I want to address such studies, focusing in particular on Banister’s 1987 study that jxie cited.
Banister’s 30 Million Dead Hypothesis
Judith Banister is one of the most respected and prominent demographer in the West on China. In what has become a classic book published in 1987, Banister estimated that some 30 million died during the Great Leap Forward (p. 118, Banister). Read more…
- For a discussion how it is a mistake to defer the study of politically charged subjects to “scholars,” see Joseph Ball’s article titled “Did Mao Really Kill Millions in the Great Leap Forward?” which I have linked in the previous post ↩
[This is part I or a 2 part series on the underlying statistics of the Great Leap Forward. Part II can be found here]
Recently, Ray wrote a great post – and readers added valuable comments – that provided some contexts surrounding the Great Leap Forward. When people discuss the Great Leap Forward (1958-1961), the starting point is almost always the millions killed. I want ask: how fair is that starting point? 1
In this post, I want to briefly focus on specific issue of the underlying statistics – and the often-made claim that millions and millions (I have heard upward of 70+ million!) died in the Great Leap Forward.
According to official Chinese data released in 1983, some 16 million died during the years of the Great Leap Forward (1958 to 1961). But how good is this number (or any other number)? Read more…
- For resources that raise doubt, see, e.g., this piece by Joseph Ball, or this interesting piece from “Set the Record Straight” ↩