Monthly Archives: August 2008

Understanding Democracy

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.

Continue reading Understanding Democracy

An Imperfect Perfection – Follow up

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

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

Beijing Welcomed You … so did you remember its song?

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.


Continue reading Beijing Welcomed You … so did you remember its song?

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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

(Letter) Fakery Filled Closing Ceremoney A Fitting Finish

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?

Beijing Olympics a learning experience for all involved

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?
Continue reading Beijing Olympics a learning experience for all involved

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Guest Post) Communism causes Olympics fatigue?

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: Continue reading (Guest Post) Communism causes Olympics fatigue?

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

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?

OR

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

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

(Letter) Jesse Owens, Hitler and Olympics (narratives and history as it really happened)

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 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesse_Owens

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.

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

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.