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Archive for March, 2010

What Should Be Done with Google’s IP in China?

March 31st, 2010 15 comments

Google search may have left China, but does Google owe responsibilities to the people of a place it has recently left?

This is not an academic question, especially since many believe that Google’s exit will hurt average people in China. According to this CNN article,

Businesses and universities could be substantially affected by the departure of Google from China.

Most of the country’s nearly 400 million Internet users may not be affected by the closure. But academics, university students and other researchers rely heavily on Google’s search services to access information not available through Chinese search engines, like Baidu.com, China’s most popular search portal. Small businesses that depend on Google applications such as Google Docs and Gmail may also suffer, analysts said.

A recent survey of more than 700 Chinese scientists conducted by the journal Nature found that 80 percent regularly use Google to search for academic papers while 60 percent said they use the site to stay on top of new research. Read more…

The U.S. China Dispute over Renminbi: Who is Right?

March 29th, 2010 12 comments

Recently, a rising chorus can be heard in the U.S. accusing China of “manipulating” the value of the RMB. In a recent op-ed, Krugman characterized Chinese policy as an “anti-stimulus” to the rest of the world. In an editorial op-ed, the NY Times staff accused China of playing a “beggar-thy-neighbor competitive devaluation” that is “threatening economies around the world … fueling huge trade deficits in the United States and Europe … [and] crowding out exports from other developing countries, threatening their hopes of recovery.” 130 Congressman sent letter to the Obama administration urging Obama to take action against the yuan.

In response, China has denied that its policy has caused harm to the world. In contrast, China has argued that a stable Yuan is a major factor that has kept the world from economic free fall today. The trade imbalance between the U.S. and China is caused more by stringent U.S. export restrictions than the value of the yuan.

I am not going to go over every economic theory there is about international trade (there are so many), but will make a few observations. Read more…

Geely buys Volvo from Ford, and a thought on RMB vs. USD

March 28th, 2010 No comments

Geely’s deal to acquire Volvo from Ford has been made official today. “Ford sells Volvo to China’s Geely auto group for $1.8 billion” and according to L.A. Times, Ford had originally paid $6.5 billion back in 1999. This acquisition helps Geely tap the domestic Chinese market better in the luxury segment where BMW, Lexus, and other foreign brands have dominated in the past. Geely will learn a great deal about the American and European auto markets through Volvo in terms of marketing, distribution, and global supply chain. Another take on this story by China Daily: “Geely’s Li to go global with Volvo deal.” Read more…

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A Brief History of the Sino-Indian Border Dispute and the role of Tibet

March 26th, 2010 172 comments

On 3rd July 1914, as Ivan Chen made his way down the steps of the Summit Hall building in Simla, he must have been aware of mixed feelings rising up inside him.  He had done something which would have far reaching repercussions; and which would for years be remembered by many people on both sides of the Sino-Indian border, albeit in very different ways – He had just left the Simla conference.

After refusing to sign the agreement himself, he was made to sit in a separate room, and behind his back, was signed  one of the most controversial and bizarre treaties in human history – The Simla accord.

For over a century, the intricacies of the border between India and China/Tibet have baffled scholars. In fact, the plot leading to the Simla conference and beyond actually plays just like a thriller movie or book. The sheer complexity of this problem can be judged by the fact that 36 rounds of negotiations have taken place between India and China at different levels since 1981; but they have yet to reach a settlement.

康美之恋 (Kang Mei Zhi Lian) by 谭晶 (Tan Jing): Traditional Chinese medicine made really cool

March 24th, 2010 4 comments


(Tudou.com version)

This video is mind-numbingly beautiful, inspiring, and powerful. In the last 24 hours, I have been watching it for a least a dozen times (with the music blasting in my ears on my headphone), and trying to figure out what is in it that has completely mesmerized me.
Read more…

Google shuts down google.cn and routing to google.com.hk

March 22nd, 2010 16 comments

Google has just officially announced discontinuing google.cn and routing web requests to google.com.hk. It has proclaimed serving uncensored results from Hong Kong “entirely legal and will meaningfully increase access to information for people in China.” Legally, it is probably true, but the Chinese government might take steps to block google.com.hk for Mainland users, as China has done with some other Google services. Google has also announced a tracking web page to show what Google services are blocked within China.
Read more…

陈海汶 (Chen HaiWen): Pictures of China’s 56 Ethnic Groups

March 22nd, 2010 2 comments

陈海汶 (Chen HaiWen) lead a team of 14 photographers, traveling over 100,000 km from 2008 through 2009, photographing all 56 ethnic groups making up China.  They took roughly 570,000 photos during this period.   It was a massive undertaking. Over 150 people, including historians and cultural experts worked with Chen to come up with the final compilation, “和谐中华——中国56个民族剪影” (“Harmonious China – Silhouette of China’s 56 Ethnic Groups”), officially released in the Shanghai Book Fair on August 18, 2009.


[Click on image to launch slideshow of the individual ethnic “family” portraits.]

Read more…

Professor Jiang Ruiping:”Revaluation of Japanese Yen, a historical lesson to draw: analysis”

March 21st, 2010 No comments

Under U.S. pressure, the Japanese government revalued the Japanese Yen 200% from end of 1985 through early 1988 to address the trade deficit U.S. had with Japan. Did it make any difference for the U.S.? What happened to the Japanese economy as a result of that revaluation?

Professor Jiang Ruiping, Chairman of the Department of International Economics, at the Beijing-based Foreign Affairs College had an article in the People’s Daily in September 25, 2003, titled, “Revaluation of Japanese Yen, a historical lesson to draw: analysis.”  He addressed those questions for us back in 2003.  Below is the translation by People’s Daily Online staff member Li Heng:

(For a view of the whole Yuan and Dollar exchange rate issue, have a read at one of our featured posts, “Opinion:Making Sense of the Dollar and Yuan“.) Read more…

What Exactly is the Developing World – a talk by Prof. Hans Rosling from Sweden

March 18th, 2010 1 comment

Sometimes – it is good for the mind and soul to take some time off, take a step back and just think about the world in broad strokes – without too much political takes or ideological traps.  I hope you enjoy this little 20 minute talk from Prof. Hans Rosling as much as I did last year…

Western human rights activism, where is the real humanity?

March 18th, 2010 8 comments

Each year, the U.S. Department of State publishes the annual “The Country Reports on Human Rights Practices” to U.S. Congress, and Western human rights activists and media use it to condemn governments around the world.  In response, China has started in the last few years publishing her own annual reports on the U.S. human rights violations.  The most recent was carried on China Daily, March 12, 2010, in the article, “US Human Rights Record in 2009.” It said:
Read more…

What does “Internet Censorship” Mean?

March 16th, 2010 16 comments

As Google prepares potentially for a highly politicized exist of China, we’ll hear a lot more accusations on how closed China’s Internet is.  The presumption of Google’s move would be that China’s Internet is closed while the rest of the world (in which Google still does business) is open.

Of course, anyone who has even remote experience with China’s internet (and Chinese society for that matter) will understand the Internet in China is amongst the most dynamic in the world, as well as amongst the most explosive and important.

China’s Internet is not closed in the sense that has been depicted in the West. Read more…

Google Leaving China?

March 15th, 2010 No comments

According to Google’s CEO Schmidt, Google’s “negotiation” with the Chinese government over Internet censorship regulations will end “soon.” There are speculations in the tech-sphere that it looks like Google will have to leave China. According to ZDNet’s Tom Forenski, for example:

Champagne corks are undoubtedly popping in Redmond on reports that Google is planning to close its Chinese search service.

Google will try to maintain its other operations in China but this is unlikely to succeed. Any foreign business requires the approval of the Chinese government. Google has shown itself to be in opposition to the Chinese government — this is an untenable position.

This also means that Google will unlikely be able to take part in joint ventures with others in China. In early February, Reuters reported that Google is a member of a consortium led by Disney, to buy a large stake in Bus Online, a large Chinese advertising company.

It’s difficult to see how this deal will go through with Google as a member, if it is an opponent to the government.

This means Google is barred from the world’s largest and fastest growing Internet market. Read more…

Translation: Living in an Era of Change – Era of Acceptance

March 14th, 2010 2 comments

Last month, Xinhua News had an interesting piece of “被时代” – which translates roughly to “era of being forced” or “era of acceptance.” 被 (bei) in Chinese indicates a passive clause.  Thus when you get hit (撞), you say 你被撞了.

According to an Internet poll, the most popular Chinese character of 2009 was “被.” Why?  Part of the reason is that living in a society charging full steam ahead, many Chinese no doubt feel they are losing control of their lives. But the more important reason is that it provides a satirical platform for many to express the indignity many average Chinese have suffered at the hand of social inequity and irresponsible governance. Here is a rough translation of the Xinhua article. Read more…

Open Letter to President Obama from Chinese netizen, LTML

March 10th, 2010 9 comments

Following is an open letter posted on the popular Chinese BBS forum, bbs.huanqiu.com,  by a member named “LTML.”  The English version of it follows the Chinese in this post.  It is addressed to U.S. President Obama on his decision to sell weapons to Taiwan.

President Obama has repeatedly stressed that he wants to reach the people of China. Well, based on what we’ve read in some of China’s BBS’s, we believe the sentiment expressed by LTML is widely and deeply held inside China.

We urge President Obama or his administration to take this view seriously, and to respond and change course.  Sovereignty is amongst the highest of core interests of China. There is a huge gap between the Chinese and the U.S. perspective regarding the extent of Chinese sovereignty.  Closing this dangerous gap will be better for the two countries and will lead to a more peaceful, stable world.

The following letter has circulated in Chinese blog-sphere for a while.  A recent submission of a copy by a reader to Fool’s Mountain, our sister blog, and a call in the Chinese blog-sphere for people to help spread the word has compelled us to publishing it here.

Read more…

You Scratch My Back, but I Won’t Scratch Yours

March 10th, 2010 45 comments

The two Asian Giants are still not able to figure out the line which divides them – in the longest running border dispute in modern history. This dispute offers interesting lessons on how to, and how not to, handle boundary issues. The analysis of Chinese behavior in the negotiations is doubly important given China’s perception in the west of it ‘flexing its muscles’, and China’s theory of ‘Peaceful Rise’.

About a century ago, Sir Henry McMahon, the then British Foreign Secretary, took a think red pencil and sketched a line between India and Tibet on a map – a line which has resulted in the two most populous nations in the world going to war, costing more than 2000 lives; and which has created enormous mistrust on both sides, especially in India.

Consequently, on 3rd July 1914 was signed one of the most bizarre and controversial agreements ever known to man – The Simla accord, the complexities of which have yet to be unraveled.
Read more…

在梅边 (Beside the Plum Blossom) by 王力宏 (Wang LiHong)

March 10th, 2010 2 comments

What happens when you mesh up American style rap with an opera written roughly 500 years ago?  This song, “在梅边” (“Beside the Plum Blossom”) by 王力宏 (Wang LiHong) draws inspiration from 牡丹亭 (The Peony Pavilion), a play written by Tang Xianzu during the Ming Dynasty(1368 to 1644) using the 昆曲 (Kunqu) style opera and music.
Read more…

Opinion: Keeping a cool view of the U.S.-China Cooperatition

March 9th, 2010 3 comments

The term, “cooperatition” was coined by economists to describe corporations both cooperate and compete at the same time.  For example, Apple and Google cooperate on getting Gmail and Google Maps integrated well into the iPhone, resulting in a better finish product and while helping both companies in the market place.  However, Google also makes the Android phone operating system which helps strengthen Apple’s iPhone competitors.

Read more…

U.N.’s Application of the Clean Development Mechanism to China – Fair or Unfair?

March 5th, 2010 1 comment

As is customary for many over the Chinese New Year, I spent a lot of time cleaning up old junk in my house the last few weeks. As luck would have it, I happened to run over a December article in BusinessWeek reporting that the U.N. had stopped awarding carbon funding of green projects in China. An excerpt of the article (cnn copy) is provided here:

The United Nations body in charge of managing carbon trading has suspended approvals for dozens of Chinese wind farms amid questions over the country’s use of industrial policy to obtain money under the scheme.

China has been by far the biggest beneficiary of the so-called Clean Development Mechanism, a carbon trading system designed to direct funds from wealthy countries to developing nations to cut greenhouse gases.

China has earned 153m carbon credits, worth more than $1bn and making up almost half of the total issued under the UN-run programme in the past five years, according to a Financial Times analysis. The credits are currently trading at about $10-$15 each.

Industrial countries can meet part of their commitments under the 1997 Kyoto protocol to battle global warming by financing projects that mitigate emissions in developing nations. Projects only qualify for credits if the applicants prove they would not have been built anyway, a condition known as “additionality”.

The controversy over Chinese wind farms and other CDM projects will intensify calls for the system to be overhauled at the UN’s Copenhagen conference, which opens on Monday. Read more…

The 21st Century the Chinese Century or No?

March 2nd, 2010 5 comments

If Deng Xiaoping is asked this question today, despite the incredible progress China has made in the last three decades, I’d expect him to say “no!”  Besides the cat quote, Deng has a number of other ones which are less well known in the West.  He said, “keep a cool head and maintain a low profile.”  In fact, this quote is particularly important today, as a “Red Scare” seems to be brewing in the U.S. recently.  See this February 26, 2010 Washington Post article, “There’s a new Red Scare. But is China really so scary?”  It said: Read more…