Archive for January, 2013

Chinese hackers hacking Western journalists to want to know what they THINK about China?

January 31st, 2013 4 comments

What’s the most absurd nonsense that’s out there in the American press lately? Now that the Wall Street Journal has jumped into the fray, asserting, “Chinese Hackers Hit U.S. Media,” I thought the paper would at least cite some hard evidence. Alas, no. Instead, when you see the whole article premised on “people familiar with incidents said” or “several people familiar with the response to the cyberattacks said,” well, what can you say? Perhaps there is a career in journalism in quoting cats and dogs too. But I must give the WSJ credit for interviewing Chinese Embassy spokesman Geng Shuang, who condemned the allegations: “It is irresponsible to make such an allegation without solid proof and evidence. The Chinese government prohibits cyberattacks and has done what it can to combat such activities in accordance with Chinese laws.”
Read more…

Categories: Analysis, media Tags:

Joseph Nye tells NPR’s Neal Conan China’s concerns over containment can be dismissed

January 30th, 2013 6 comments

Joseph Nye recently spoke to NPR’s Neal Conan about the disputed islands in the East China Sea between China and Japan. Overall, I think Nye adds a helpful voice of moderation within the American public discourse on this issue. In the U.S.-China context, I also fully agree with him that if there is any sort of containment towards China, it is certainly not the same type as conceived by George Kennan against the former Soviet Union where United States allowed no Soviet students and had virtually no trade. However, when Conan posed America’s encirclement as the source of China’s containment fear, I thought it was a mistake for him to outright dismiss the concern in the fashion he did. First, here is how Conan phrased the concern:

CONAN: Yet if you were a Chinese admiral sitting there on the coast and looking out to sea and trying to figure out how to get your navy into the Pacific, all you could see was a series of islands from Japan in the north, all the way down to Australia, all United States allies, all controlling chokepoints that would prevent you from sending those vessels to sea.

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Xian Y-20’s Maiden Flight

January 27th, 2013 1 comment

Despite all the flaws of the US aviation industry (as illustrated by the 787 post below), the US and the West remains many years ahead of China in just about every part of the aviation value chain. However, this gap just got smaller yesterday with the maiden flight of the Y-20, a Chinese counterpart to the Russian Il-76 and the US C-17. Upon entering service, the Y-20 and variations thereof will have three primary civil and military applications: long-range heavy airlift, mid-air refueling, and airborne early warning & control.

Bravo to the engineers, scientists, management, and support staff of the Xian Aircraft Company.


US Grounds Boeing 787, The Anatomy of a 20 Year Denial, and a Bubble of Self-Confidence

January 23rd, 2013 6 comments

An almost sad tribute to Boeing’s 787 above, attributes the recent Infernal Batteries problem of two 787 a week apart from each other, both while in normal operations, to the growing pain of “innovation”.

Except, this was not “innovation”.  Using such batteries in airplanes perhaps, but the battery technology, Lithium Cobalt Oxide type, is not new.  It was invented in the late 1970’s, and have been in prolific use in cell phones and laptops since 1990’s.

Back in the early 2000, there began rumors around the world of incidents where cell phones exploded.  First, it became an urban legend attributing such explosion to sparks generated by an operating cell phone near a gas refilling station.  But this was quickly denounced as “urban legend”.

Then some users noticed that it was actually the batteries that were exploding or bursting into flames (even in laptops).  Companies attributed and blamed the problem on “counterfeit batteries” from China., recalling proactively batteries to look for “counterfeit”, but unfortunately, no report was ever made on the search.

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CIA’s role in anti-Chinese genocide

January 23rd, 2013 9 comments

The ethnic Chinese in Indonesia has faced many decades of racism and sometimes pogroms from Indonesians envious and suspicious of the Chinese. What is lesser known is that the US and especially the CIA played a cunning, covert role in spreading the defamatory lies and colluded with the racist Islamic government of Indonesia inciting the racial violence and ethnic cleansing against them.

The ethnic Chinese population is roughly 2-4% of Indonesia’s total population but there are persistent rumors that they own >70% of the wealth. This perceived economic success (which may not even be accurate due to the systematic discrimination the Chinese have endured for centuries in the country stretching all the way to Dutch colonial rule to prevent them from attaining certain degrees of success) has caused distrust and envy among many Indonesians mirroring the antisemitism during the early part of the twentieth century in Europe.

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The Art of Free Media

January 21st, 2013 2 comments

With the U.S. Congress recently passing and President Obama signing into law the Magnitsky Act, Russian officials can be blacklisted and punishable for “human rights violations.” In response, the Russian parliament retaliated banning Americans from adopting Russian orphans. In reporting these two events, Russia Today laments the following which I thought interesting and worthwhile pondering:

There was, however, a significant difference. Under President Vladimir Putin’s “authoritarian regime,” the Russian media were filled with heated controversy over the adoption ban, including denunciations of Putin for signing it. In the “democratic” US mainstream media, on the other hand, there has been only applause for the Magnitsky Act and President Obama’s decision to sign it. Nor is this the first time leading American newspapers and television and radio outlets have been cheerleaders for a new cold war.

Categories: media Tags:

Another Look at the Great Leap Forward

January 17th, 2013 56 comments

The Founding of the New Republic
Since the founding of the People’s Republic of China, two events are so controversial that they almost cannot be discussed rationally or void of politics. One of them is the Great Leap Forward of 1958, and the other being the Cultural Revolution of 1966. A reference to history cannot be avoided for any event, more so an event as significant as GLF. The PRC was founded in 1949 October the 1st. What most people didn’t realize is, on that day, the Communist Party of China and its military arm, the People Liberation Army controlled less than 2/3 the territory of modern China. Areas such as Chongqing, Guangdong, Guangxi, Fujian, Sichuan, Yunnan, Guizhou, Hainan, Xizang, Taiwan etc are still under the control of various Nationalist armies. In fact, Gansu and Xinjiang was only taken by the Communist in September. It would be June 1950 when all those regions except Hainan, Xizang and Taiwan were to be liberated.

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Exploring China’s interior: Southwest 西南 Day 6: Chengdu, Sichuan Province

January 17th, 2013 1 comment

Exploring China’s interior: Southwest 西南
// Day 6: Chengdu 成都, capital of Sichuan Province
by WanderingChina

Chengdu 天府之国, capital of Sichuan province has been on the agenda for the longest time. It has retained its original city name since its founding more than two millennia ago in 311BC, the same cannot be said of many other Chinese cities. A fan of the Three Kingdoms narrative – it was great being able to investigate the historicity of such seminal characters in the Chinese psyche – such as Liu Bei and Zhuge Liang. Of course, being in this part of China during Sino-Japanese tension was also most interesting. Today it is one of China’s most liveable cities, famous for its giant pandas and is home to more than 14 million. Often tremendously foggy, there are only a few times a year locals actually get to fully embrace the sun. An inland city with increasing economic importance to China’s spread of growth to its interior and periphery, it is now becoming a first choice stop if one wishes to succeed in China’s west.


#1 Tianfu Square: At the square facing the Sichuan Science and Technology Museum with Mao statue. A dynamic gathering place, it is a must visit if one ever visits Chengdu.

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Categories: culture, Photos Tags:

Supermodel Cameron Russell: “Image is Powerful” on TED

January 14th, 2013 4 comments

Image is indeed powerful. Following is a rare and frank talk, given by supermodel Cameron Russell, about her profession on TED. More importantly, she explains that ‘beauty’ in the West is a construct. As in any other society, beauty is often constructed to reflect attributes only attainable by the majority or dominant group. For those of us in the West not born with blond hair and blue eyes, Russell reminds us that no matter we are yellow, black, brown, or blue, we must find beauty in our own colors. Conversely, if we live in a society where our colors are the dominant, we should be mindful of the undue pressure put on others. Her talk made my day. Bravo to Cameron Russell.

Categories: culture Tags: ,

中共的生命力——后民主时代在中国开启 – “The Post-Democratic Future Begins in China” by Eric Li

January 12th, 2013 7 comments

In his latest essay (in both Chinese and English), Eric X. Li wrote, “Many developing countries have already come to learn that democracy doesn’t solve all their problems. For them, China’s example is important. Its recent success and the failures of the West offer a stark contrast.” Of course, Li is not arguing that democratic systems are invalid. He merely argues that the universality claim is invalid. He also explains how China’s system is meritocratic, and despite a single-party rule, is able to be very adaptable. For those who genuinely believe in universality, they would do well by explaining why a country as rich and as powerful as the United States is plagued with problems of dismal approval for her politicians and incessant budget crisis nationally and locally. Read more…

Exploring China’s peripheries: Southwest 西南 Day 5: Yuanyang, Yunnan province

January 11th, 2013 No comments

Exploring China’s peripheries: Southwest 西南
// Day 5: Yuanyang county 元阳县,
Honghe Hani and Yi Minority Autonomous Prefecture 红河哈尼族彝族自治州, Yunnan province
by WanderingChina

Done with Dali, it was a six-hour long sleeper bus journey from Dali’s Changshan Erhai back to Kunming. Due to the nature of the region’s terrain, the train ride would have taken far longer. I whined to myself as the bus did not offer the most comfortable of rides, but it all changed as it meant it afforded me plenty of time to chat with a Hani-minority woman seated next to me.

She offered me all manner of wisdom, despite profuse apologies via her self-perception that she was uncultured, compared to an overseas-born Chinese. On the way to Kunming to see her daughter striking it out in the big city (a luxury she gets twice a year at most), she left an indelible impression. Alas, when we reached our destination, the flurry of activity (anyone who has travelled to China would know how many rush to wait and wait to rush as if it were an Olympic event) prevented me from taking a photo of/with her. We talked about all manner of things, from the Sino-Japanese dispute, the South China Sea, from growth opportunities and healthcare, the list was long – above all it was a comment she made about her daughter that would stick forever. She said, when a girl gets older she actually becomes younger and more vulnerable. I digress, here’s a summary of that first-hand account that might be useful for readers:


#1 One of the sleeper buses one can take to commute from Dali to Kunming

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Categories: culture, Photos Tags:

Exploring China’s peripheries: Southwest 西南 Day 4: Dali 大理, Yunnan province

January 10th, 2013 4 comments

Exploring China’s peripheries: Southwest 西南
// Day 4: Dali 大理市 county-level city
Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture 大理白族自治州, Yunnan province
by WanderingChina

Dali is an ancient capital where its old city walls still stand. Not UNESCO protected like Lijiang, it was the seat of power for the Bai kingdom Nanzhao which thrived during the eight and ninth centuries. Later, the Kingdom of Dali regined from 937-1253AD. Dali was formerly a significantly Muslim part of South China.


#1 To get to Dali from Lijiang, this was the recommended approach. Winding through mountain passes and snaking over gorges, the journey looking out of the  train window was picturesque as infrastructure-crazy Yunnan impressed yet again. The tremendous effort to connect through the extremely rugged hills and mountains of central Yunnan is awe-inspiring. No High-Speed Rail here yet, however. Expect to share cabin space socialist style if you choose the sleeper coach- everyone had to respectfully share a highly limited space. The alleyways are probably just 60cm wide.

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The Irrational, Racist Fear of China

January 7th, 2013 3 comments

(This article is published here with permission from the author. His bio and links are at the bottom of the article. In sharing this article, he writes, “I am particularly happy that the piece will address Chinese readers. It had already been translated to Italian and Spanish; plenty of support for China coming from Latin America.
All the best, Andre“)
[Update 20130109: In regards to the Cambodia-Vietnam-China relationship, make sure to check out reader Mulberry Leaf’s contention in the comment below.]

The Irrational, Racist Fear of China


Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, and Libya are in shambles, crushed by the heavy boots of Western imperialism.

But we are told to fear China.

The entire nations of Indochina were bombed back to the stone age, because Western demi-gods would not tolerate, and felt they did not have to, tolerate, what some yellow un-people in Asia were really longing for. Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos – millions of tons of bombs dropped on them from strategic B-52’s, from dive-bombers, and from jet fighters. The falling bombs rained on the pristine countryside, murdering children, women, and water buffalo – millions of people perished. No apologies, no admission of guilt, and no compensation came from the tyrant-nations. Read more…

China Railways Safety Record: A Comparative Study

January 7th, 2013 8 comments


  1. Railways are the safest means of transportation among all methods in this study.
  2. Railway safety-wise, China and France are about twice as safe as Japan and Germany.
  3. You are about 2.2 times as likely to die in an American airplane as in a Chinese rail car, traveling the same distance.
  4. You are about 200 times as likely to die in a vehicle on an American highway as in a Chinese rail car, traveling the same distance.

Read more…

Categories: Analysis, General Tags: , ,

Exploring China’s peripheries: Southwest 西南 Day 3: Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, Yulong Naxi Autonomous County, Lijiang, Yunnan province

January 6th, 2013 2 comments

Exploring China’s peripheries: Southwest 西南
// Day 3: Jade Dragon Snow Mountain 玉龙雪山 (Yu Long Xue Shan)
Yulong Naxi Autonomous County 玉龙纳西族自治县, Lijiang, Yunnan province
by WanderingChina

This AAAAA-rated tourist destination found in a Naxi autonomous county would price even the most eager out of the game. But when I arrived, they were there by the busloads, 4WD-loads, the list went on – the snaking queues to take the shuttle buses up to the various peaks and attractions were intense. The mountain mastif is the southernmost glacier in the northern hemisphere and consists of thirteen peaks all higher than 4,000m. The highest point is Shanzhidou 扇子陡 that stands at 5,596m. Read more…

Categories: culture, Photos Tags:

My New Year Resolution

January 5th, 2013 7 comments

It’s been some time since I last blogged.  And my new year resolution is … to BE MORE REGULAR AT BLOGGING!

I actually have an excuse this time.  In November, my grandmother – with whom I am close – passed away.  In December, my second son was born…

This period of change has gotten me to reflect more deeply on life … and for here, to reflect once more why I spend the time to blog.

Life can be so short … so precious.  There are so many people to touch, relationships to build, places to travel, creative endeavors to pursue.  And blogging as I often do about the heavy hands of politics and history can be emotionally draining. Read more…

Categories: aside, Opinion, politics Tags:

Exploring China’s peripheries: Southwest 西南 Day 2: Lijiang, Yunnan province

January 4th, 2013 1 comment

Exploring China’s peripheries: Southwest 西南
// Day 2: Lijiang 丽江 Prefecture-level city, Yunnan province
by WanderingChina

Old meets new: Next stop was Lijiang, a historically rich city that harks back to the ancient southern silk route. Located in the Northwestern part of Yunnan, more than 1.2 million reside here.

#1 Old meets new: Next stop is Lijiang, a historically rich city that harks back to the ancient southern silk route. Located in the northwestern part of Yunnan, more than 1.2 million reside here. The monolithic impression of Han Chinese dominance ends here. The Naxi tribe (totalling 300,000 in total across Yunnan and Sichuan) is rather dominant here. Architecturally, buildings in the old town, relics from the middle ages are largely made of brick and wood, featuring carved doors and brightly painted windows

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Exploring China’s peripheries: Southwest 西南 Day 1: Kunming, Yunnan province

January 3rd, 2013 3 comments

Exploring China’s peripheries: Southwest 西南
// Day 1: Kunming, Yunnan province
by WanderingChina

Featuring 10 photos a day, here is a first-hand journey into learning more about China’s interior.

Prejudices can have a habit of clouding perspective. It is unlikely great powers, be it the U.S. or China get to where they are today without significant struggle and effort. These photo stories of my travels around China as a ‘returning’ overseas-born Chinese sojourner are intended to dispel the myth of China as a monolithic entity. By closing the gaps between myth, misconception and first hand experience, perhaps these images will shed light on China’s struggle and ability to harness 1.3 billion narratives to become a collective force for forward motion.

Having explored most of the developed eastern coast, I was keen to see just how much work was being done to spread the benefits of China’s rise to its interior and peripheries. Xi’An, in China’s central north-west was as deep as I had travelled to before. Eager to learn more and experience China’s promise of equitable growth and armed with a tablet computer (disclaimer as I decided to travel ultra-light, without a purpose-built camera), I head to China’s southwest with Yunnan and Sichuan province in my sights.

First stop is Yunnan’s capital – Kunming.

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A Happy New Year Message

January 1st, 2013 29 comments

新年快乐! 2013 is officially upon us and I want to take this opportunity to wish our readers and contributors a happy new year. Rather looking back at 2012, I want to offer some forward-looking thoughts. For Hidden Harmonies readers who are in position to interact with others of different heritage, I urge you to make a resolution for the new year to connect on a people to people level. If you are musically inclined, see how Abigail Washburn does it with a banjo or as I just saw on CCTV in celebration of the new year, how Lang Lang collaborates with celebrated Italian mezzo soprano Cecilia Bartoli. Invite your child’s friend’s family to celebrate Chinese New Year at your home or take a deeper interest in Diwali or some other traditions and participate. Or, if you like photography, take many pictures and share. Whatever is your hobby or interest, there is a way. I do believe at the people-to-people level, there is a genuine desire for peace and prosperity. Like the suspension cables that hold up the Golden Gate Bridge, they too are but bundles of individual threads. Rather than hoping for the warmongers amongst us to change, we should forge a bond that they can’t break.

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