Archive for December, 2010

2010, a recap at Hidden Harmonies

December 31st, 2010 5 comments

As the year is coming to a close, we want to take this opportunity to recap and to tell you interesting information about our Hidden Harmonies China blog.

Allen and I launched this blog on February 14, 2010, coinciding with the lunar new year of the tiger.  We felt most of the English language “China” blogs out there offered basically the same narrative as the Western media, and it was time we offered one purely of Chinese perspectives.

During the first month of this blog, we were shy of 1,000 page views.  December 2010 is our highest yet, approaching 15,000.  Our RSS feed subscribers are steadily growing in number as well.  We are still relatively small, and it is possible we grow 10x in traffic in 2011.  We are also happy with the fact that the second largest base of readers come from inside China.

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Categories: Announcements, General Tags:

The Vatican’s Politics against China

December 28th, 2010 68 comments

A good friend of mine recently told me that “separation of church and state” is a misnomer, especially in a democracy. Why? Pretty simple; he explained that whenever there is a group of people coming together, they will want their interests protected. That desire is politics. Whenever a group of religious people congregate, they will want to impose their views or desires on the rest of society.

What are we to make of the Vatican then? It is obviously both a religious and political entity. It wants power over citizens on this planet. It wants to protect its interests. In dealing with the child molestation scandals in the U.S., here is a snippet from a CNN article earlier this year describing the Vatican’s legal strategies in the U.S.:
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My pet-peeve racial slur, and a small every day insult.

December 23rd, 2010 12 comments

I am a social liberal and an educated agnostic, which means, I don’t get offended personally by too many things.  I will occasionally cry out against unfairness, but I don’t make crusades out of them.  I rarely participate in any political causes, because I have seen too many causes subverted by the Rich and the Powerful for their own purposes.

But there is one small every day insult against me, that I have allowed to chaff me too often.  Thus, I speak of it now.

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Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Warren Buffett weighs in on China; Three blames: “Government, Wallstreet, China”

December 21st, 2010 20 comments

Here is Warren Buffett talking to CNN Money about two months ago. I feel his basic message to the American people is right. I think he tried to stay away from the politics and offer a fairly optimistic view of the China-U.S. relationship. Quite a bit of ground covered in that short segment, actually. If one of my American friends ask me, I will provide basically the same nutshell. (There might be an obligatory 30 second commercial before Buffet appears.)

Categories: economy Tags:

“中国之最” by 徐子巍 and 姚贝娜

December 19th, 2010 15 comments

徐子巍 and 姚贝娜 are incredible vocalists. I love their voices. Great looking duo too. Here, they sing “中国之最,” about various geographies making China special. How about that? China is able to cherish such things; why won’t the West reach within and find few things to celebrate? To me, this is a big cultural difference.

( version)

Categories: music, video Tags: , ,

Translation: “Being Chinese is tiring, but being Chinese abroad is even more tiring”

December 18th, 2010 6 comments

I recently came across this short essay at MITBBS and found the original at It was written by a forum user, “马丁” yesterday. The essay raised a bunch of questions for me. How far do we push ourselves in pursuit of fame and fortune? Here is the essay in Chinese followed by my translation. What are your thoughts? Also, I hope someone helps translate the text at the very bottom (too hard for me).



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Categories: General, Opinion Tags:

Yan and Sautman: “Do supporters of Nobel winner Liu Xiaobo really know what he stands for?”

December 15th, 2010 32 comments

Do supporters of Nobel winner Liu Xiaobo really know what he stands for?

Barry Sautman
Associate Professor
Division of Social Science
Hong Kong University of Science Technology

Yan Hairong
Department of Applied Social Sciences
Hong Kong Polytechnic University

In recent weeks, Nobel prizewinner Liu Xiaobo’s politics have been reduced to a story of a heroic individual who upholds human rights and democracy. His views are largely omitted to avoid a discussion about them, resulting in a one-sided debate. Within three weeks, in Hong Kong, for example, more than 500 articles were published about Liu, of which only 10 were critical of the man or peace prize.

In China, before the award, most people neither knew nor cared about Liu, while, according to Andrew Jacobs, writing in the International Herald Tribune, an “official survey of university students taken since the prize was awarded found that 85% said they knew nothing about Mr Liu and Charter ’08.” A Norwegian Sinologist has elicited comments from Chinese people and indicated that younger Chinese still do not care about Liu. Older Chinese intellectuals are interested in discussing the award, but many do not think Liu is an appropriate recipient. Read more…

Shaun Rein: “How To Fix Western-Chinese Relations; Do it with the Nobel Peace Prize.”

December 15th, 2010 57 comments

This is a re-post of an article by Shaun Rein, “How To Fix Western-Chinese Relations; Do it with the Nobel Peace Prize,” where it first appeared on Forbes – with permission from the author.

“How To Fix Western-Chinese Relations”

Do it with the Nobel Peace Prize.
12.14.10, 10:50 AM EST

Tension between China and the West has been inching up over the past year. There have been disputes over everything from Google’s stand against censorship and protectionism to China’s trade surplus, the valuation of the yuan and the problem of North Korea’s thuggery. Bad relations do not help anyone, and they certainly don’t solve any of the very real economic problems the world faces. We need to have the West and China working together. Otherwise we could collapse into another Cold War.
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Face Saving in South Korea, and Piling BS at China’s Doorstep

December 14th, 2010 1 comment

A few years ago, there were several high profile incidents of North Korean refugees “running the guntlet” to embassies in Beijing, especially the South Korean embassy.  They scaled fences and walls, or tried to rush the local Chinese police, or tried to fake their way into the embassies under false pretenses.

China was accused of roughing some of them up.  South Koreans blame China as abusing the refugees, because technically, under South Korean laws, all North Korean citizens are also South Korean citizens.

If you read the internet posts from many South Koreans, they blame China for these abuses of their “brethens”.

However, the Truth is far more embarrassing to South Korea:  That they really don’t want the North Koreans, and they wouldn’t take them, unless they were publicly embarrassed into taking them.

A well written article below highlight some of the embarrassing details:

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Peaceful rise, the biggest international relations issue of our life time

December 13th, 2010 74 comments

In 1996, Samuel P. Huntington published his famous book, “The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order” where he posited after the Cold War, the world is more likely going to have major wars due to civilizational fault lines than anything else. He recognized that the Cold War was a competition between the Capitalist West and the Communist East. Huntington provoked great debates among international relations theorists. Of course, Hungtington followed the heels of Francis Fukuyama who famously wrote “End of History” at the end of the Cold War, proclaiming that Democracy has won; that that system would be an eventuality for every nation on earth and there will no longer be any major conflicts after that.

Fukuyama has since recanted what he wrote, especially as China has risen in the last couple of decades with a system of its own (albeit changing). Regardless of whether Huntington or Fukuyama is ultimately right, the biggest international relations question for our life time and for the next few generations will be how a new power rises peacefully so the declining power does not clash with it. For now it appears to be between China and America, but for our collective future, it can be between any two nation states (or civilizations if you prefer). History tells us that those clashes are often brutal, and given the awesome technologies we have today, there is probably no place to hide and nobody spared.

If we don’t solve this problem as humans, we are guaranteed to self-destruct sooner or later. If Fukuyama is reading this post, he’d agree this is a worthwhile problem to solve. If Huntington is still alive today, he’d agree too.
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North Korea, and why no one really want to confront it?

December 11th, 2010 14 comments

There is an old saying:  If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.

Corollary:  If no one wants to be part of the solution, the problem never goes away, and only gets bigger.

Apply to North Korea, it’s a 50 year old “problem” for US, and while China might be easily scapegoated for that, the real reason is always about resources and money.

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Nobel Peace Prize Award, and reactions from Russia

December 11th, 2010 58 comments

The 2010 Nobel Peace Prize award to Liu Xiaobo yesterday at Oslo made headlines in the West, and as expected, the Western media continued the same narrative. As I was hearing Thorbjorn Jagland over the radio presenting the award and then followed by Norwegian actress Liv Ullmann’s reading aloud Liu’s statements (written two days prior to his 11-year sentencing), I was imagining what runs through a typical Westerner’s mind when they hear this presentation. No doubt, Liu would seem like an angelic figure, who wants nothing but the most fundamental things a human desires for all the 1.3 billion Chinese, and for that, he was jailed to 11 years. According to Ullmann’s utterances, there could not be a soul on this planet more gracious and peace loving. For that, Liu deserves the worthy Nobel Peace Prize.

If you have had not already read our two recent posts on this very topic, I recommend resuming this post after doing so. In, “The 2010 Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo and what it means to the Chinese” we discussed how the Chinese views Liu and what he was actually convicted for. For a better understanding of Liu’s politics, Barry Sautman (a political scientist and lawyer at Hong Kong University of Science & Technology) and Yan Hairong (an anthropologist at Hong Kong Polytechnic University), did a lot of research to come to this conclusion: “Liu Xiaobo Deserves an Ig Nobel Peace Prize.”
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PISA 2009 and Education in a competitive world

December 10th, 2010 13 comments

I remember an interview on Charlie Rose of Bill Gates about globalization few years ago. This was around the time when Thomas Friedman wrote his famous book, “The World is Flat.” Gates made the comment that in a flat world, everyone will be competing for the right to work. There are no such jobs reserved for anyone. Certainly there are certain jobs reserved for within each national borders. For example, the President. But, is there doubt competing for that is ultra competitive?

It comes as of no surprise that American business leaders are pushing the U.S. government to make education a top priority. Corporate America prefers to hire highly skilled and educated Americans rather than foreigners for obvious reasons; one of which is to avoid political heat at home for being ‘unpatriotic.’ Here is Intel CEO, Paul Otellini making a case for investing in education: “The Long Look Ahead: The Economic Crisis and the Importance of Investing“, addressed to the Economic Club of Washington, D.C., on Feb. 10, 2009. He argues how education is directly related to the health of an innovative economy.
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“家园” (“HOME”) by Yann Arthus-Bertrand

December 9th, 2010 2 comments

As 2010 is coming to a close, I thought about what some important messages we ought to remind ourselves of. Al Gore’s “Inconvenient Truth” was a great feature film which brought the message of preserving our planet Earth around the world. While we can sense a momentum of need to change, we are indeed still far from taking the drastic measures necessary to slow down the type of changes and degradation we are causing. In 2009, Yann Arthus-Bertrand made another feature film, “HOME” (or in Chinese, “家园”) that was simultaneously released around the world. Like before, it warns us of the alarming rate at which we are damaging this planet. This time, no graphs or charts; just real images. It also shows us great many examples where we are doing the right things to buttress the trend. The film tells us how we have come to where we are in relation to our environment. It is done with cinematography showing us how incredibly beautiful our home really is; one that we must renew, cherish, and protect.

( version in 720P if you are outside China)

The New York Times Propaganda: “Vast Hacking by a China Fearful of the Web”

December 7th, 2010 44 comments

On December 4, 2010, the New York Times published this article, “Vast Hacking by a China Fearful of the Web.” Well, if you actually spend just a little bit of time looking for facts supporting what the headline claims, you will not be surprised this is a tactic often employed by the U.S. media to smear other countries. There is no fact supporting the headline. They are all insinuations.

My retorts may come across to some as rants, because frankly, I think that’s all this article deserves. You will realize this article is really not trying to honestly make a case for the headline. It presumes the readers have already bought into it. This is a thinly veiled propaganda piece. Sadly, when it comes to China in the U.S. media, this is what we see. As this same propaganda is parroted throughout America, I feel compelled to chime in. America is better without it, because Americans are torn in all directions. She needs to reign in the budget deficit and reinvigorate herself to be more competitive.
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希望工程 (Project Hope), bringing education to China’s rural poor

December 5th, 2010 1 comment

There is no gift better than the gift of education. As 2010 is soon coming to a close, some of you may be considering where to make donations. My favorite charity is the China Youth Development Foundation’s Project Hope (希望工程). In terms of scale and impact, it is one of the top charities in the world. In recognition for how critical Project Hope is to alleviating poverty in China and to provide equal opportunities to all, Deng Xiaoping wrote the calligraphy, “希望工程,” which became part of the logo for the organization.

Project Hope’s mission is to bring education to the poorest parts of China. (By the way, we have been researching China related charity organizations. Too see some other reputable ones, please click on the “China Charities” link in the navigation menu near the top of this page.)
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Western media’s gloating at America’s misfortune over the State Department’s cable leaks should stop

December 2nd, 2010 27 comments

In my prior post, “ Secret US Embassy Cables“, I didn’t get a chance to say what I thought were wrong about this leak. I mean the leaking itself, not the content of it. Apparently, the Western media is still all over it, gloating at America’s misery and milking it for every penny of advertising dollar they can get their hands on. Here is an example, the Economist’s latest segment, “From soporific to sizzling; Plenty of gossip, some titillation—and also a few surprises.”

I couldn’t help but sympathize with the U.S. government over their desire to put an end to this leak. Whoever leaked it (took the original documents and sent to Wikileaks) is in clear violation of U.S. laws. The fact that Wikileaks is redistributing illegally obtained materials has a tinge of dishonor in it, despite their stated goals.
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The bully has been stabbed by the smaller kid, but now what?

December 2nd, 2010 4 comments

Lately we have been spending a lot of time discussing Korea. Yesterday I had a chance to discuss this issue with one of my best friends over lunch. This post is essentially a distillation of that conversation.

There are few more important points people should bear in mind when thinking about what is happening in that region. The DPRK indeed bombed an inhabited area killing two civilians and two marines. Even if the ROK was wrong in shelling into clearly DPRK territorial waters, an equal retaliation could have been to shell a ROK controlled territory not occupied by people. Beyond that is indeed overboard.

On this specific incident alone, the DPRK escalated the tension. On any form of escalation, I think it deserves condemnation. Some of you have expressed a need to condemn, and I agree in this context. The world community ought to be precise about that.

We also should bear in mind too ROK subsequently fired into DPRK in response to the Yeonpyeong shelling, and we still have no information where the ROK hit; casualties or no. But if this went after people and property, it should equally be condemned.
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