Archive for October, 2010

Rare Earth Rebalancing

October 29th, 2010 10 comments

Peter Lee recently penned an interesting article in the Asia Times.  There has been a lot of posturing and false reports about China’s use of rare earth ban as political leverage against Japan – and maybe even against the U.S. and the E.U. Despite the hot air, none of these reports have been substantiated and most are probably media reports (i.e. propaganda) planted by politically savvy parties. Read more…

A Japanese view of the U.S. national debt

October 29th, 2010 2 comments

Today, I am writing this post from Japan. I had a chance to speak with a Japanese colleague about the general financial crisis in the developed world, particularly as relates to Japan and the U.S.. In this post I simply would like to share that conversation.

It started out with him telling me the Japanese government is trying to take austerity measures to address the country’s budget deficit. This meant cutting back on government expenses. Europe is similarily embarking on such measures.
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Categories: economy, Opinion Tags:

Surfing Tidal Bores in China

October 26th, 2010 2 comments

One of my surfing friends tipped me off to this recent surfing event in China. This is the first time I learned about the phenomenon of tidal bores. The Qiantang River appears to feature the biggest tidal bores in the world (up to a height of 9 meters or 30 feet!).

Seems pretty cool … at least from a distance…. Enjoy!

Aloha from the island of Kauai

October 24th, 2010 5 comments

Spirituality on Poipu Beach

Kauai is one of the most beautiful places on planet earth. I have just returned from a one week vacation on the island with my family. The vacation has given me a chance to step away from blogging and put a pause on every day life. You might begin to wonder how this post is going to relate to China. While on Kauai, a number of thoughts did occur to me. Before getting into that, I’d first like to share with you the wonders of this incredible place.

(You may click on any images on this post for an enlarged view.)

Above is a traveler meditating to sunset at Poipu Beach at the southern coast of Kauai. It is easy to imagine why such landscape or seascape draw all sorts of inspiration; romance, artistry, and, apparently spirituality. By the way, the woman in the picture is really beautiful. A thought to interrupt her to get a portraiture did cross my mind, but I decided otherwise.
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A lesson from the history books – “Our Chinese Allies”

October 20th, 2010 9 comments

Our Chinese Ally” by Owen and Eleanor Lattimore

In response to Wukailong’s recent comment, I dug up an old post I had left undone from a few months ago.

In the run up to the World expo, I was surprised to see how the coverage of Shanghai in the West had been much less politicized than those on Beijing (and China in general) in the lead up to the 2008 Olympics.  Check out for example, these interesting articles on Shanghai from National Geographic and Time.

When later I ran across an old pamphlet on China (titled “Our Chinese Ally” by Owen and Eleanor Lattimore) produced in America in 1944 and compare that with the venom spewed about China in the lead up to the current U.S. election, I am again reminded how politicized our views of otherwise ordinary things in the world can be – how the the demonization of other peoples and nations can derive from political expediency.

The pamphlet is not short, but it is definitely worth a read.  While the pamphlet was written at a time when China was an ally to the U.S. and still a very poor (impotent) nation, it is nevertheless amazing to note how much of what was written is consistent with what many in the West today blindly refer to as communist or Chinese nationalist propaganda.

Sometimes, to see beyond the ripples and warts of the times, you have to turn to historical narratives from another era.

Categories: Analysis, history, Philosophy, politics Tags:

Friendships are Made on a Personal Level, One at a Time

October 19th, 2010 3 comments

Despite the recent China bashing, which I believe is serious and dangerous, I can’t but keep myself from smiling when I read stories like this, which reveal the thousands upon thousands of bonds formed between ordinary Chinese and Americans every year…

By Jeanne Kniaz, Voice Reporter

While most travelers abroad seem content to return with souvenirs such as porcelain or silk, Maria Schapman, 23, of Memphis brought home a living, breathing treasure made in China and nurtured here. Read more…

Is it Ever Possible for the West to See a “Responsible” China?

October 18th, 2010 7 comments

Many in the West have tried to coax China to act more “responsibly.” But is it possible for China to ever act “responsibly”? I don’t think so – not because China is inherently not “responsible,” but because an “irresponsible” China is born out of the imagination of an insecure West. In this atmosphere, the only way for the West to deem China to be “responsible” is for China to stop being an independent polity and tow the Western line. Here is a case in point.

Today James Fallows wrote an interesting article on whether China is merely Self-Interested (as any power is) or “Actively Maligned” against the International Order. I won’t repeat what he wrote, suffice for me to quote his reasonable conclusion that: Read more…

Top 5 things I thank, wish for in the U.S. of A.

October 14th, 2010 7 comments

America being the victor of the Cold War means she is the undisputed super power right now. The last two decades could have gone worse, but if we look back, there are a lot of positives. In the context of China, America finally accepted her into the WTO and abolished the discriminatory MFN exclusion. We saw inflow of capital into China which helped China’s continued growth lifting hundreds of millions of people out of abject poverty. We also saw the invasion of Iraq on false pretense of WMD. I am sure there are a lot on peoples mind when thinking about the USA. I wanted to make a list of top five things I think the world should thank this country. I also want to list the top 5 things I wish this country would aspire to. Below are mine. I am really curious what yours are.

Top 5 things the world should thank USA for:

5. Awesome Hollywood movies
4. Showing the world having a very open society is possible
3. A culture of extreme individualism that helps unlock the individual’s abilities (though with really bad side-effects too.)
2. A world-order that roughly works and generally most gets to develop.
1. Technological advances in so many areas (Microprocessor, space exploration, medicine, biotech, etc.)

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Translation: What Travesty does the Award of the Nobel to Liu Xiao Bo Reveal?

October 13th, 2010 9 comments

Here is a translation of an op-ed from a Chinese blog about Liu’s Nobel that we at FM found interesting.

So here goes the news again: Public Enemy Number One in China, Liu Xiao Bo, has been awarded the Nobel Prize!  Not sure where that infamous title of Liu came from.  But this latest Nobel prize must be giving people in the U.S. quite a laugh.

The award of a Nobel to Liu is certainly controversial. Allegedly, the Nobel committee itself was internally divided. But given Liu’s high profile conviction last year, this decision is not totally unexpected. I originally did not plan to write about Liu. However, given the renewed and widespread interest of Liu’s Nobel, I have decided to wade in with my thoughts. Here is a translation of what a typical report in the West is like. Read more…

“Liu Xiaobo Deserves an Ig Nobel Peace Prize” – the latest reaction to buzz the West

October 13th, 2010 15 comments

“Liu Xiaobo Deserves an Ig Nobel Peace Prize” is a recent reaction from Barry Sautman (a political scientist and lawyer at Hong Kong University of Science & Technology) and Yan Hairong (an anthropologist at Hong Kong Polytechnic University) on the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo. Roland Song’s ESWN (東南西北) has also brought this to his readers attention. No doubt, this controversy is a huge stir in the West. Here is a copy of it forwarded to this mailing list by a David Thorstad with his short introduction:

Those who gave the Nobel Peace Price to a Chinese dissident explain that peace and human rights are inseparable. Yet the country that proclaims the loudest its attachment to human rights (the United States) is also the one that has the most soldiers in other countries and wages the most wars.

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One Billion People on the Move

October 13th, 2010 No comments

About a year ago, I wrote, ““Father’s Prairie, Mother’s River” – the feelings of one billion people on the move.” I estimated China in few decades will have moved about one billion people from the country side into cities. Yes, that’s one billion people! This is a stressful but necessary transformation as China continues to industrialize. Below is that same video I used in the original post to help illustrate one of the feelings of this transformation – that of longing for childhood home (for lyric and meaning follow link to my original post):

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Armless Pianist Liu Wei, an inspiration for the world, wins ‘China’s Got Talent’

October 13th, 2010 1 comment

Few weeks ago I made a brief intro to armless pianist Liu Wei on “China’s Got Talent.” Liu Wei has now won. Lyndsey Parker has followed the competition, and here she continued her coverage, “Armless Pianist Liu Wei Wows & Wins On ‘China’s Got Talent’.”

And this past weekend, Liu won the entire competition with a tear-jerking and inspiring performance of James Blunt’s “You’re Beautiful”–complete with English-language singing–in front of a capacity audience at Shanghai Stadium.

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The current global imbalance, a fight between rich and poor

October 11th, 2010 4 comments

Despite the moral posturing and smearing campaign against China in the Western media on the currency valuation issue, the essence of the current rebalancing of our world economic system is a fight between the rich and the poor (and between the rich themselves).

The U.S. really doesn’t have this currency valuation issue all that together. Here, NYT reports “Currency Rift With China Exposes Shifting Clout” where Jame D. Wolfensohn, a former president of the World Bank, on what this boils down to:
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Top Ten Interesting Things about China from Yahoo Video

October 9th, 2010 1 comment
I have too many serious things in my mind.  So I decided to purge them by posting this funny (but not too slanderous) video from Yahoo about China (Taiwan not being shown as part of China can be interpreted as slanderous, but I won’t argue in this context).

The 2010 Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo and what it means to the Chinese

October 8th, 2010 82 comments

The 2010 Nobel Peace Prize has just been awarded to Liu Xiabo, and according to the Nobel committee, the key reason was “for his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China”. Of course, the Western media is using this occasion to lambaste the Chinese government. They are parroting the anti-China positions from all the die-hard “human rights” activists throughout the West. (See here, here, and here.) They also compare Liu Xiaobo’s case to that of Carl von Ossietzky who won the same prize in 1935 for opposing Hitler. This has gone too far, and it’s about time the Chinese perspective be heard.

Really, it is amazing there is an urge within the West to compare China to that of Hitler Germany. Needless to say, I am not going to waste any breath arguing how stupid that is.
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Fighting for Jobs in a Globalized World

October 7th, 2010 6 comments

Last week, the U.S. Congress passed a bill that authorized the Obama administration to raise tariffs against Chinese goods in response to China’s alleged manipulation of its currency, purportedly to gain an unfair trade advantage. According to this article , while the Obama administration “has not taken a position on the bill … [t]he vote ‘shows lawmakers have serious concerns about this issue…’.” Leaders of the European Union appear also to join the chorus in bashing the Yuan, claiming that the Yuan may hurt prospects of overall European economic recovery. Read more…

the 8th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM)

October 6th, 2010 1 comment

the 8th Asia-Europe Meeting

The 8th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), a bi-annual event (the previous was in Beijing in 2008), just took place on October 4th and 5th in Brussels, Belgium. It was a big deal. Asia and Europe represent 60% of humanity and 60% of global trade. I like how ASEM state their mission. Below is part of it:
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Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao interview by CNN’s Fareed Zakaria ignored by English ‘China’ blogs

October 5th, 2010 14 comments

Fareed Zakaria of CNN’s GPS recently interviewed Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao. It’s a great interview, and I am glad to learn that CNN agreed to not make commentary on what Premier Wen said. In exchange, CNN was given permission to ask whatever they wanted. Zakaria acknowledged “it was one of the most open and frank discussion he has ever seen with a Chinese leader.”

Here is the interview from
(Looks like I linked mistakenly to the 2008 interview on in my original post. Tudou still has the 2010 interview in fragments. Here is the correct interview video from in its entirety.)

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the Economist, a case of Western media censorship

October 4th, 2010 12 comments

I recall during the dot com explosion in early 2000, the typical Western media narrative was that a rising Internet population in China would somehow bring down the Chinese government. Of course, that didn’t materialize. At that time, I predicted, instead, a bigger audience would challenge the Western media narrative on everything related to China. As of 2010, the Chinese Internet population reached 400 million – about the total population of the U.S.. Looking at comments at some Western media outlets, I think it’s fair to say that increasingly, the narratives are being challenged by pro-China perspectives. The Chinese government still enjoys very popular support (Pew Global Survey – 87% of Chinese positive of China’s direction).

Now I predict Western media will begin a phase of rampant censorship of pro-China perspectives across the West. Or, they will close down ability for readers to comment in their articles altogether.

Here is an example.
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Eric Schmidt of Google discussing China with Charlie Rose

October 1st, 2010 1 comment

Google CEO, Eric Schmidt, was recently on Charlie Rose talking about the China censorship issue. As you recall, Google threatened to pull out of the Mainland China market insinuating Chinese government backed hacking (no evidence to date) and threatening non-compliance with Chinese censorship laws. When China didn’t budge, Google shut down the search service on Instead, on, there is a fake search box, and when a user clicks, it redirects the user to the Hong Kong site. According to this AP article, since then, Google dropped in revenue search share in China from 30.9% to 24.2% with bulk of the loss added to Baidu’s gain. Remember, this is revenue share, and given Google’s reach for the generally more English language capable Chinese population and Google’s over-all better monitization, Google’s user share within China is likely in the low teens or single digit percentage wise (my opinion).

We have written about the PR stunt Google pulled earlier in the year. (See Allen’s debunk: “Google vs. China – Good vs. Evil?“) It has been almost a year, and it is interesting to see Google’s current positioning on the issue. For your reference, below is a snippet of the Charlie Rose program transcript.
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