Monthly Archives: March 2012

In Japan’s Shoes

In 2006, a high level meeting took place between Zhu Zhixin, vice chairman of China’s National Development and Reform Commission, and Jun Hamano, vice minister for economic and fiscal policy (Cabinet Office) to discuss the consequence of the 1985 Plaza Accord where Japan was forced by the United States to rapidly increase the value of the Yen versus the USD. 1 Many economists have argued the rapid rise of the Yen, by 200%, from 1985 through 1987 created an asset bubble, and after bursting, resulted in a serious recession; hence the 1990s have been labeled as Japan’s Lost Decade. Continue reading In Japan’s Shoes


  1. The Japan Times, “China seeks to learn from mistakes of 1985 Plaza Accord,” September 9, 2006,

More on China’s territorial disputes (with Japan).

I’d like to give people a heads up on the accessible work from two outstanding legal scholars specializing in international maritime law and especially China’s territorial disputes. Many may already know Professor Jerome Cohen who has down excellent work not on developing the rule of law within China’s legal system but in teaching law to Chinese law students. His academic career spans over 60 years. Jon M. Van Dyke is also a renowned legal scholar on maritime law at the University of Hawaii’s William S. Richardson School of Law. Authors have argued that China should take the case to the international courts for they have better evidential grounds to the made for their side.

Continue reading More on China’s territorial disputes (with Japan).

Massive number of BYD electric vehicles in trial

The following presentation is by a BYD executive in America talking about the company’s directions. I find his slides showing the ongoing trials in various cities in China make the company and it’s technologies much more concrete and real. China is also investing heavily to enable the charging infrastructure necessary for wide adoption of electric vehicles, not to mention the $18,000 (yes, that’s in USD) incentive for buyers.

CNN’s latest look at a Shengzhen toy factory in going green

CNN is basically trash, though today I was forwarded a link to their look at a toy factory in Shengzhen trying to be more green. Of course, the typical Western view of the Chinese factory is like that of 19th century America or U.K.. There are horrendous working conditions, I am sure, in other sectors such as rare earth and coal mining. The Chinese government absolutely needs to try to help upgrade working conditions in those sectors – perhaps by taxing consumption and exports. While the picture in China is mixed, the view in the West is completely distorted – or at times through outright lies – (see recent Mike Daisy article by Charles Liu and Allen). Continue reading CNN’s latest look at a Shengzhen toy factory in going green

The Retraction of Mike Daisey’s one-man show “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs” from ‘This American Life’

[Editor: this piece was co-written by Charles Liu and Allen]

To the credit of “This American Life” – a popular program on Public Radio International –  its producers over the weekend officially retracted its January airing of a version of Mike Daisy’s popular monologue titled “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs,” in which Daisy described first-hand terrible work conditions at Foxconn, a key supplier to Apple’s iPad and iPhones. There were simply too much distortion and fabrications of facts to ignore.

Both Allen and I actually heard the show in January.  It made us sad and angry at the time – not because we knew something was wrong – but because we got the sense that the story was too sensationalized.  Mike Daisy did know how to tell a story, but much of it sounded hollow to us.  It was too dramatized. It was so gloomy – so dark – so unapologetically one-sided. Continue reading The Retraction of Mike Daisey’s one-man show “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs” from ‘This American Life’

CCTV America and Beyond

Over the last few years, CCTV has been signaling expanding its footprint around the globe. On February 6, 2012, CCTV America officially launched with a new production studio based in Washington, D.C.. So far, I have watched a number of CCTV America reports, and I must say, for the American market, they are good. The reporters are American and the nuance is too, American. Obviously the narrative is Chinese. (This article contains a video that auto-plays, which I don’t know how to turn off.) Continue reading CCTV America and Beyond

Throwing the baby out with the bath water

I have mentioned in previous blogs that I believe people around the world value much of the same basic things such as freedom to express themselves (their opinions, religion, etc) and some control of the political climate of their society. There may be plenty of other freedoms people value to varying degrees over the world. Some groups may value these more than others due to the contingencies of culture and so forth but most people around the world do value them at some level in my opinion and the voices that contribute to the development and application of these concepts ought not be relegated to those strictly from the west. We ignore their development at our own peril.

Continue reading Throwing the baby out with the bath water

Virulent racism endemic in the western animal rights movement

This blog may be taken as a second part my Collective Defamation article (with possible further blogs in the future involving other kinds of anti-sinitic defamation). It is inspired by recent events blogged by Charles Liu. Another vicious slander that is common in the west is that the Chinese are a cruel people. The image is made visceral, rage inducing, when a cute animal is shown being killed or tortured. These kinds of images are often made focusing on Chinese people as the perpetrators. This is an effective image that serves to single out and dehumanize the Chinese as a group and it is very effective.

Continue reading Virulent racism endemic in the western animal rights movement

Should Chinese be Allowed to Vote on the Upcoming US Presidential Election?

Firstly, this author is not questioning whether US citizens of Chinese descents should be allowed to vote. Successive US administration has repeatedly chided the People’s Republic of China for violation of human rights. The lack of “direct” leadership election is cited as one violation. So should the US government put pressure on the Communist Party of China by allowing Chinese citizens to vote on the coming US presidential election? Continue reading Should Chinese be Allowed to Vote on the Upcoming US Presidential Election?

Wen Jiabao Urges Political Reform and Praises Internet Criticism of Government

The Fifth Session of the 11th National People’s Congress (NPC) has just ended.  Here are two stories about Wen that I found interesting.  I have no personal insights beyond what is reported, but I thought it is helpful to bring attention to such stories to balance the distorted view in the West that the Chinese government somehow has in its DNA a fear of criticisms and a distrust of people and reforms. Continue reading Wen Jiabao Urges Political Reform and Praises Internet Criticism of Government

Examining The Non-Existent “Rich Chinese Hunting Polar Bear” Story

Recently a story by Peter Simpson of Daily Mail UK made waves in the conservationist circle, that wealthy Chinese businessmen, as many as 100, are paying upwards of $80,000US to hunt endangered polar bears into extinction with this headline, “Rich Chinese Thrill Seekers Paying £50,000 for ‘trip of a lifetime…’ to kill endangered polar bears.”

The Daily Mail then followed up with an OpEd with the temerity to question how cruel the Chinese race is: “are the Chinese the cruelest race on earth?Continue reading Examining The Non-Existent “Rich Chinese Hunting Polar Bear” Story

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: “The danger of a single story”

Hat tip to reader, perspectivehere, in sharing this important perspective (through our Open Forum) from the continent of Africa, from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, where in this 20-minute talk to a TED audience, she warns against a dominant Western narrative about other peoples on the planet. It’s called, “The danger of a single story.” Adichie’s words must be spread. As perspective rightly noted:

This is one of the problems that Hidden Harmonies is trying to address is to present voices that are different from and challenge the one-sided stories we often see in the western media about China.


Continue reading Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: “The danger of a single story”

Democracy Is Ruining Capitalism – Does China Do Capitalism Better Than America?

Slate/Intelligence Squared appears to be planning an interesting live debate on March 13 – with Orville Schell and Peter Schiff arguing for the motion in the title and Ian Bremmer and Minxin Pei against.

Details of the debate can be found at the slate and intelligence squared websites. The intelligence squared site – in particular – features a good and interesting set of articles linked under its research in depth section.

In anticipation of the debate, Schiff had this to say in an interview with Slate titled “Excuse Me, But Your Democracy Is Ruining My Capitalism”: Continue reading Democracy Is Ruining Capitalism – Does China Do Capitalism Better Than America?

The world’s fastest smartphone, Huawei Ascend D Quad

Following is a commercial for the Huawei Ascend D quad Android-based smartphone – currently the world’s fastest! Huawei already sends chills down Cisco’s spine, and I have no doubt it will become a household name globally. Unfortunately, I thought this phone was poorly named. Just say “d quad” fast! (Here is a hint if you need it.) I currently use the Samsung Galaxy. The screen is amazing; it’s a photographer’s dream phone. My next upgrade will have to be the “d quad.”

Continue reading The world’s fastest smartphone, Huawei Ascend D Quad

Bo Xilai best not fart

Because if he does, there is clearly a press club waiting for a whiff. After Wang Lijun’s (王立军) visit to the American Consulate in February 6, 2012, there has been speculation in the Western press that this ex-police chief from Chongqing may be seeking political asylum. The Chinese Foreign Ministry has confirmed to a reporter he is indeed under investigation. Further speculation in the Western press is that Wang Lijun may be seeking cover for exposing corruption in his boss, Bo Xilai. In this post, I thought I write about this peculiar press club. But, what’s the connection between this club and Bo Xilai? Apparently, Bo Xilai has a campaign going on in Chongqing for “red” songs. And we know how badly certain corners in the West like to sniff out redness. Anyways, do a search on for ‘Bo Xilai’ and you will get a list which includes NTD TV (FLG propaganda arm), The Epoch Times (FLG), CDT, Melissa Chan (Aljazeera), Tom Lassetter (McClatchy), Austin Ramzy (TIME), and David Barboza (NYT). These various media certainly makes for interesting company, no? Coincidence? Very likely. NYT’s coverage about China? Yeah, a bit better than the FLG outlets. Continue reading Bo Xilai best not fart

Li Daguang: “Non-aligned” policy does not mean China cannot make friends

[This is a translation courtesy of Charles Liu of a recent Op-Ed by LI Daguang]

李大光:中国 “不结盟” 并不意味着不结交朋友
LI Daguang: China’s “Non-aligned” Policy Does Not Mean She Cannot Make Friends

2012-02-27 08:34


Abstract: Making friends, especially dependable international relations, have the benefit of breaking down certain containment against China by larger countries. Otherwise as China becomes stronger, friends become fewer, and as she becomes wealthier, influence declines. This is a true reflection of weak soft power. Continue reading Li Daguang: “Non-aligned” policy does not mean China cannot make friends

The need for clarity

Unlike many of the bloggers here, I’m not a big fan of Eric X. Li’s writing and speeches from what I have so far seen and heard. I disagree with what he has said as they are either irrelevant, confused, contradictory or a strawman. I think I have expressed why I felt this way in the comments section of the latest blog on Li but there still seems to be some misunderstanding between Allen’s interpretation of Eric and myself.

Here I’d like to give a more detailed explanation of why I didn’t think Eric’s interview was that interesting or even helpful to bettering understanding between China and the west. I did agree on some things but found myself disagreeing far more often. I do not believe that Eric’s view represent much of what the Chinese government’s views which I think are primarily very sound. It’s a shame that people may misconstrue Eric’s views as a defense of China’s view because they are quite different.

Continue reading The need for clarity

Neil DeGrasse Tyson on “The Most Astounding Fact”

One thing I love about science is that it helps us connect the dots. The video below is narrated by astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson. I was inspired by it. We all can take a pause and relish in the fact that when distilled all the way down, all of us are the same. On the other hand, American society is increasingly trashing science and empirical evidence to serve politics. Chinese leaders often caution their peers on the global stage to not politicize everything – interesting trend to observe.

Glaxo CEO Witty on Competiveness and Innovation in China

In this short interview, CEO Witty of Glaxo – British multinational pharmaceutical, biologics, vaccines and consumer healthcare company – said that while Chinese government will continue to have a tension between building its domestic industry and fomenting an open competitive market in which foreign companies participates, it does a good job of making its market fair. Most importantly, Witty notes that it’s important to take a long-term view when it comes to China.  Glaxo intends to embed its Chinese operations into an integral part of the company. You won’t be that successful if you just take a “tourist” of China, he said. Witty says Glaxo intends to profit as well as to innovate in China.

Announcement: 2012 Hidden Harmonies Essay Contest

We are excited to officially launch the 2012 Hidden Harmonies Essay Contest. In doing this, we hope to bring more awareness to the ‘Chinese’ perspective. The best 3 essays will be awarded prizes with an iPad 2 ipad 3 going to the top essay. This year’s topic will answer the following question:

Every society has a set of values around which it builds its culture. The West likes to think its most important value is freedom. What do think are the most important Chinese values, and how do you think they might be better than those in the West?

To qualify, entrants must be a college/university student in China or a Chinese student studying in college/university abroad. Deadline for submission is June 15, 2012. For other guidelines and rules, please refer to our essay contest page ( Continue reading Announcement: 2012 Hidden Harmonies Essay Contest

Eric X Li, Chinese pluralism vs. Western universality

As regular readers of this blog may know, we are fans of Eric X. Li. In this video below at the Aspen Institute, Anand Giridharadas (of NYT) interviewed him in front of a live audience. As Giridharadas said at the introduction, Eric indeed shakes the foundation of prevailing Western views present in the room. I especially liked his confident and forthright answers to a shaken audience towards the end. Eric characterized the Western peddling of values with universality – (in my view, a form of intolerance, really) – and the Chinese non-interference and acceptance of each culture’s values is in fact pluralism – IS SPOT ON. The video is a bit over an hour, but we highly recommend it.

[Editor Note: Please also see follow-up post by Melaktaus titled “The need for clarity“]