Archive for August, 2008

Understanding Democracy

August 30th, 2008 163 comments

For all the talk about democracy leading up to the Olympics, perhaps it is time – in the wake of the Olympics – to take a step back and ponder about what democracy really is.

An interesting article appeared in the New Yorker earlier this month about the process of politics. Digging under the hood of democratic politics, it tries to explore two strains of forces that in real life can be di-opposed: rough and tumble democracy v. good governance and social policy.

Read more…

(Letter) Yang Peiyi and Lin Miaoke inside the Bird’s Nest

August 29th, 2008 No comments

Here’s a photo of the two girls inside the Bird’s Nest, which makes Times UK’s “banned” reporting less reliable:

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An Imperfect Perfection – Follow up

August 29th, 2008 52 comments

A few weeks ago, accusations and charges of fakery in the Opening Ceremony flew in the Western media like hotcakes when it was discovered that two Chinese girls had participated in performance of the “Hymn to the Motherland” in the Opening Ceremony.  We had a discussion here a few weeks ago.

Well – a few days ago, it was found out that the Australians also faked – not just one signer – but the entire orchestra!  I thought this would make for an entertaining read.

We don’t need to get into the politics again…  but I just wanted to follow up in case some of you missed the story…

(Letter) One of the things we love about living in China: our neighbours

August 29th, 2008 5 comments

This is a happy China story that also happens to have some fun cultural elements in it.

When we moved into this neighbourhood a year and a half ago, we’d just begun language school and could hardly communicate at all (now we’re fluent in Chinglish). We picked this neighbourhood because it has a great outdoor community atmosphere and it seemed to be average (economically) for Tianjin: not the poorest hutong (some of which recently got bulldozed) but also not a newer development. It’s mostly danwei apartments. Read more…

Beijing Welcomed You … so did you remember its song?

August 28th, 2008 27 comments

The Olympics are over (except for the Paralympics, that is) and people have trickled out of Beijing, but still in their heads and mine is probably this catchy (some say annoying) song that was sung by an ensemble of veritable who’s-who in today’s Chinese popular music world. Chinese people seem to really like this kind of qunxing (群星) or star-ensemble singing, where phrases are sung by their favorite stars.

Read more…

Tony Blair's New Op Ed on China in the Wall Street Journal

August 28th, 2008 59 comments

I thought I’d bring to people’s attention to a recent Op Ed from Tony Blair in the Wall Street Journal on the Rise of China and the Olympics. I think the piece is interesting as a genuine attempt by a Western Leader (or at least a former Western leader) to understand – in good faith – the Rise of China and the Olympics. Read more…

(Letter from skylight, Opposing Viewpoint) A letter from a Chinese to Dalai Lama (originally written by Zhu Rui)

August 28th, 2008 103 comments

Note from Editor (Allen):

[edited 2008-08-31 (originally I failed to attribute the source to Zhu Rui’s blog, for which I apologize)]

Here is a letter brought to our attention by guest blogger Skylight originally published in Zhu Rui’s blog.

A nation of 1.3 billion has many voices.  Here is a minority voice that I (Editor) do not necessarily agree with but that I still respect as legitimately Chinese.

The following is the complete post written by Zhu Rui.

Read more…

The iPhone girl update: no one was fired for a "beautiful mistake"

August 27th, 2008 18 comments

I didn’t know anything about the iPhone Girl until reading her rumored firing at ESWN. The good news is that it was just a rumor.

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(Letter) Western Media's Selective Reporting Of Gymnast Age Claim

August 27th, 2008 3 comments

While news outlets such as NYT and Huffington Post were all too happy to “out” the Chinese government on misreporting and record errors, by citing unfavorable search engine results to bolster the “lie”, “cheat” conclusions – What our media doesn’t seem to care about, is the search engine results that are in support of the claim these girls are of age: Read more…

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(Letter) Fakery Filled Closing Ceremoney A Fitting Finish

August 25th, 2008 43 comments

Just watched the closing ceremoney, allow me to head off any potential criticisms:

– During the flag raising the 56 fake ethinic children are now being faked by 56 grown ups (I’m sure those children didn’t grow up in 2 weeks.) No doubt they are all Han (except a close up on a woman who appears to be ethinic, possibly CGI enhanced?) And they were again fake singing, no doubt using 56 other people’s voices.

– The king of the drums was not flying, rather hanging on wires – just like the moon goddess during the opening ceremoney.

– The perfectly synchronized fireworks aerial must be CGI. No doubt about it.

– The entire dance number was pirated from Circ De Sole, down to those giant drums that didn’t make a sound when the soundtrack was misqued (no doubt the drum sound were from a different drum, how cruel it is to the unseen drum.)

Did I miss anything?

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Farewell, Chairman Hua

August 25th, 2008 25 comments

Overshadowed by the Olympics, the news of the passing away of a former supreme leader of China, Hua Guofeng 华国锋, on August 20, 2008 wasn’t particularly noticed by many. I would like to use this post to pay respect to Chairman Hua, as he was once called when I was in my childhood, and offer condolences to his family and friends.
Read more…

Categories: News, politics Tags: , ,

Recommended reading: China and the West revisited

August 25th, 2008 7 comments

H/T to David Peng for pointing out this article written by Assaf Lichtash and published in the Jerusalem Post. David also pointed out an interesting discussion thread on this article in Chination Report. Read more…

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Beijing Olympics a learning experience for all involved

August 24th, 2008 32 comments

It is said that the Beijing Olympics was a big draw, perhaps proving the adage that no publicity is bad publicity. Did the worldwide protests before the Olympics ironically serve as a big advertisement for the Beijing Olympics? And now that a record number of people have watched the Olympics, what have they learned about China?
Read more…

Categories: Analysis, Environment, media Tags:

(Letter) A China-friendly foreigner's Post Secret

August 24th, 2008 35 comments

Just saw a China-related Post Secret (I swear it’s not mine! 😉 ). Read more…

Recommended readings: Two TPM discussion threads on China

August 24th, 2008 7 comments

For a change of topic from the Olympics, please check out two recent discussion threads at Talking Point Memo: “Out of Mao’s Shadow” and its followup “Do not underestimate the CCP”. Read more…

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(Letter from Howard Greenberg) China Observed

August 24th, 2008 4 comments

I have just started reading your blog and have found it informative and interesting, especially as to the Olympics. In the interest of international cross-cultural exchange and helpfulness, I venture the following inquiry. Read more…

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How do Americans really rank countries on their Olympic medals?

August 24th, 2008 51 comments

The answer is “whichever way that looks good on us”.

The Olympics simply won’t allow me to go back to work. Came across this cute piece on (Chinese source). Here is my rough translation. Read more…

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The U.S. synchronized swimming team enters with a "thank you China" sign

August 24th, 2008 6 comments

Falsifying Documentation and Its Impact on International Public Opinion: "Underage Chinese Gymnasts" and "Bogus Americans".

August 23rd, 2008 86 comments

ChinaWatcher’s response to my last post has struck me as particularly thoughtful and reasonable. However, I have a different view on the following statement and feel the issue is important enough to write a separate post, to ensure sufficient attention. My writing is 99.9% dead serious and 0.1% over the top satire. The Olympics have been criticized for being uptight and lacking in fun. We need to make it up for Beijing. Read more…

(Letter) Lots of us want to love and respect China, but right now China isn't helping

August 23rd, 2008 81 comments

This will probably make some people angry, or at least get people’s emotions fired up. But that’s not what I’m trying to do. This is a totally honest Western perspective from a Westerner who is usually very positive toward China (we are learning Chinese in China and want our kids to grow up here). I’m writing this hoping we can have a real conversation and understand one another better.
Read more…

What you can do to verify He Kexin's age: On subjectivity and procedural justice.

August 22nd, 2008 135 comments

The International Olympics Committee (IOC) has found no proof that Chinese Gymnast He Kexin was underage. The issue was raised by the US gymnastic team based on their visual inspection; “they don’t look like 16, but a lot younger”. How much credit should be given to the subjective impression of the American competitors who have lost to Kexin and her teammates? Moreover, what can you do with your subjective impressions? Read more…

(Guest Post) Communism causes Olympics fatigue?

August 22nd, 2008 14 comments

Note: This was written by Michael at World-China Bridges, cross-posted here.

I thought there is a new democracy fatigue, but Gordon Chang, author of “The Coming Collapse of China,” quoting what he called “a well-known fund manager in Beijing,” thought “there is now an Olympics fatigue.”He wrote at the Far Eastern Economic Review: Read more…

Categories: Analysis Tags: ,

Yang Peiyi and Lin Miaoke outside of the Bird's Nest

August 21st, 2008 39 comments

image found at 世界军事论坛.

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Russia, South Ossetia, China and West

August 21st, 2008 45 comments

On Wednesday, Mr. Gorbachev wrote an opinion piece in New York Times commenting on the South Ossetia crises. The following passage sounded eerily familiar: Read more…

Categories: General Tags: , ,

(Letter) How Do I Love The Medals, Let Me Count The Ways

August 21st, 2008 51 comments

(h/t to anti-CNN) Read more…

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Has He Kexin's age been changed to older or younger?

August 21st, 2008 198 comments

Even though Buxi isn’t back, why don’t we return to a fine tradition of this blog? This post from Niubo (牛博), a Chinese forum often filled with discontent with how things are, has something interesting to add about the age of Olympic gymnast He Kexin. Translation below:

On the question of the Chinese gymnast He Kexin’s age, one fact is certain, that is, there is an inconsistency between the local athletic bureau and the central athletic bureau. So, is it that:

1. The local athletic bureau is correct, and the central athletic bureau changed her age to older?


2. The local athletic bureau falsified, and changed her age to younger?

Read more…

Ouch! A sign raised by Nigerian fans at the Olympic men's soccer semi-final between Nigeria and Belgium

August 20th, 2008 15 comments
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(Letter) Jesse Owens, Hitler and Olympics (narratives and history as it really happened)

August 20th, 2008 6 comments

This belongs to the “random musing” category. What’s your take?

In some quarters, the Beijing Olympics were compared to the 1936 Berlin Olympics. During the debates of that IMHO ill-conceived moniker “Genocide Olympics”, Jesse Owens’ name was often used. A dominant narrative was that in 1936 the more progressive United States, sent in some black athletes such as Jesse Owens to the Nazi Germany. The fantastic performance of Jesse Owens gave a black eye to Hitler.

Was it the history as it really happened? Hardly. According to

Owens recounted:

“When I passed the Chancellor [Hitler] he arose, waved his hand at me, and I waved back at him. I think the writers showed bad taste in criticizing the man of the hour in Germany.”

He also stated: “Hitler didn’t snub me — it was FDR who snubbed me. The president didn’t even send me a telegram.” Jesse Owens was never invited to the White House nor bestowed any honors by Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) or Harry S. Truman during their terms. In 1955, President Dwight D. Eisenhower acknowledged Owens’ accomplishments, naming him an “Ambassador of Sports.”

Owens was cheered enthusiastically by 110,000 people in Berlin’s Olympic Stadium and later ordinary Germans sought his autograph when they saw him in the streets. Owens was allowed to travel with and stay in the same hotels as whites, an irony at the time given that blacks in the United States were denied equal rights. After a New York ticker-tape parade in his honor, Owens had to ride the freight elevator to attend his own reception at the Waldorf-Astoria.

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(Letter) Chinese Men's Weightlifting Champion Was A Girl

August 19th, 2008 58 comments

You think after the underage gymnasts allegation, lip syncing, Han children dressed as minority, and modern warriors pretending to be ancient warriors at the opening ceremony, China’s Olympic woes can’t get any worse – think again. Read more…

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Recommended reading: The Online Evisceration of David Brooks, A Cautionary Tale

August 18th, 2008 5 comments

I have followed the responses to David Brooks’ essay “Harmony and the Dream” published in the New York Times with interest ever since first reading James Fallows mercilessly picking Brooks’ theme apart. There have been others joining the “onslaught” as well since then. Elliott Ng has now compiled a nice summary of Brooks’ thesis and various responses online. It is well worth a read.