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Archive for March, 2013

A proper perspective on Sino-Russian relations

March 30th, 2013 6 comments

In light of President Xi’s latest visit to Russia, it would be appropriate to provide a nuanced perspective to the current state of Sino-Russian relations. It is understandably difficult for the western media to deliver this kind of nuance; this difficulty stems not only from western biases against both Russia and China that obstructs objective analysis, but also the complications inherent in bilateral relations. For the sake of brevity, I will make just two observations which is inadequately emphasized in modern-day discourse on the Sino-Russian bilateral relationship – incentives for cooperation and Russia’s true value as a “comprehensive” strategic partner. Read more…

Sports Illustrated in China

March 30th, 2013 1 comment

Yes, the image below is of Sports Illustrated swimsuit model, Anne V, on a bamboo raft on the Li River in Guilin with a cormorant fisherman. You wouldn’t be alone if you thought the image was photo-shopped. Well, it is not. Sports Illustrated has actually gone to all seven continents and found local cultures as backdrops for their swimsuit photo-shoots. Their China landing page is here.

Sports Illustrated super model Anne V in Guilin

Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Anne V in Guilin


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The Wolf and The “Ginger Wave”, FBI, Source Codes, and the Ballad

March 25th, 2013 54 comments

Once upon a time, there was a Chinese Ph.D. student named “Ginger Wave”, (Bo Jiang) 姜波, who upon graduation got a nice job working for a NASA contractor.

How did he get a job with a NASA contractor, even when he was a Chinese citizen?  Who knows, but Ginger Wave didn’t lie, Ginger Wave didn’t care.  The US government knew about him, there was no lie to tell, Ginger Wave did nothing wrong.

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Losing The Last Accountability in the “Do-Over” Democracies, The Buck Doesn’t Stop.

March 25th, 2013 6 comments

By now, the Cyprus government is still haggling with EU (and its banks) over how to save Cyprus economy, without anyone paying for it.

But just a few days ago, they almost managed to get away with a “deal” to pay for it by “taxing” 10% of all bank accounts in Cyprus.  This didn’t have much of a shock value in the West, except for perhaps in Cyprus, where the populous protested and forced their representatives to vote “no” on the “deal”.

It should come though as no surprise for the pessimists, because Western Democracies have had a string of such “deals”, which gives new means to the lack of accountability.

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Kissinger’s “On China” – not quite a book review

March 23rd, 2013 5 comments

Kissinger‘s On China

Instead of a proper review, this is more like a sketch of the thoughts which struck me while reading Henry Kissinger’s On China.

In the past, writers were often individuals who saw things differently. Being different helped them to highlight alternative perspectives and popular social ills. Once in a while, they turned out to be right, and even listened to; and their visions delivered impact. Nowadays, books are written for a mass market. Guided by publishing preferences, more and more writers build their positions on opinion polls and market surveys. It is therefore refreshing to read Kissinger who, at nearly 90, has neither the time nor incentive to appease popularised prejudice.
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Shanghai’s Pudong in 1990 vs 2010

March 22nd, 2013 2 comments

I first came across the following image at weninchina.com. The difference in 20 years is indeed amazing. Pudong in 1990 vs 2010. As a point of reference, the two large arrows point to the same building. China now needs to work hard to make those white clouds come back more frequently.

Shanghai's Pudong 1990 vs 2010

Shanghai’s Pudong 1990 vs 2010

Truck unloads bamboo pile, Taiwan style

March 21st, 2013 2 comments

Following video is a truck driver in Taiwan unloading a big pile of bamboo. I guess modern day truck manufacturers and designers should keep this use case in mind.

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A Superficial Death of Soft Power: It’s another Made-Up Term.

March 18th, 2013 16 comments

One might as well call it “the Pink Powdery Pixie Dust of Hippie Magic,” because it is really quite a made-up concept that doesn’t make sense relative to its own applications.

Joseph Nye first defined and popularized the notion of “soft power” as the ability to attract and influence others.  But somewhere down the path of popularity, such a general idea became shrouded in numbers and PR.  Now, it is no longer enough to merely “attract”, no longer enough to be “soft”.  “Power” and “Influence twisted the essence of the notion until “soft power” became a plan of attack, like a soft drink overloaded with caffeine and sugar and double spiked with rum and turned into a 12 hour Energy Drink.

Mr. Nye may have defined “soft power”, but he certainly did not create it.  He merely sought to coin a word and define what he thinks was missing from Western traditional exercise of “hard power”.  But that means, Mr. Nye may himself be wrong in what he perceived, and he cannot give all the answers.

Worst of all, it is now being used to PR against China to prove rhetorically silly media lines like “China doesn’t have Soft Power Afterall.”  Well, I don’t think any one can say China has lost that Pixie Dust of Magic, because I don’t think China ever claimed that it had it in the first place!

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A “Half-Baked” US Traitor, A Showcase of “Chinese Espionage”? Or another Mercenary Expat?

March 18th, 2013 No comments

A while back a little story emerged about a US embassy security guard was arrested for trying to pass secret to the Chinese government.

http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2012/August/12-nsd-1064.html

Sounds pretty ominous as yet another Chinese espionage case?  Today, we know some more details:

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The Fantasy League of the Rubberstamping Billionaire Chinese Parliament Club

March 15th, 2013 12 comments

Some days, I can only throw my hands and laugh at the some of the ridiculous stories and statements concocted by some Western media, and wonder why there aren’t more people in the West with their eyes bleeding after reading such “news”.

For example:  http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-02-26/china-s-billionaire-lawmakers-make-u-s-peers-look-like-paupers.html

which contained this little paradoxical statement:

While the legislature, with about 3,000 members, is often derided as a rubberstamp parliament, its members are some of China’s most powerful politicians and executives, wielding power in their home provinces and weighing in on proposals such as whether to impose a nationwide property tax.

because apparently, there are 83 Chinese Parliament members who are “billionaires”, out of about 3000 Parliament members.

How does a “rubberstamp” parliament contain the “most powerful” politicians is a complete mystery of a logic to me.

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Ann Lee vs Peter Navarro and CNBC on China Real-estate ‘Bubble’

March 11th, 2013 14 comments

Allen and I had a chance to chat with Professor Ann Lee a little over a year ago, and we continue to see her moderating the warped perspectives in the Anglophone press. In this short CNBC video, she debunks Professor Peter Navarro of UC Irvine. Actually, she’s mostly debunking CNBC’s narrative. China’s urbanization rate is still only about 52%. When China’s industrialization finishes, about 1 billion people would have moved. Demand for urban housing is astronomical in China this day in age. As Lee says, China is implementing various policies to curb escalating real-estate prices. Allen often like to say – this is an economics issue, but as you see in the narrative below from CNBC’s reporter and Peter Navarro, this issue sounds ominous and political doesn’t it? Kudos to Lee for sticking to her points which we wholeheartedly agree with.

Categories: economy, media, politics Tags: ,

The Teapot Tempest of “Live Execution Broadcast” Showing Dyslexia And Moving Goal Post of Moral Schizophrenia

March 8th, 2013 16 comments

It started with CCTV news announcing on Feb. 28, that the 4 drug lords found guilty of murdering 12 Chinese sailors are to be executed.

The SCMP blogger John Kennedy blogged on March 1, with the above screen capture, that CCTV announced “broadcast live execution.”
http://www.scmp.com/comment/blogs/article/1165484/cctv-broadcast-live-execution-mekong-river-massacre-drug-smugglers

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Before “Why Leaving China,” Why They Went To China.

March 7th, 2013 12 comments

A short commentary of commentary this time.

A little while back, a few Expat “tossed the room” before they packed up and left China, by explaining in detail their “reasons” for leaving.  (With nothing but their own confessed reasons, perceptions, etc.)

We didn’t bother to question them much about those reasons.  Hey, who are we to question their motives?  It’s their personal choices.

But we also didn’t really ask the question that they didn’t bother to answer themselves:  If China was so awfully full of problems (which they must have known to start with), why did they go to China in the first place?

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CNN and Financial Times spin news of China topping U.S. in importing oil as shake up to geopolitics of natural resources

March 4th, 2013 10 comments

CNN recently repeated an article from Financial Times on the news China has temporarily overtaken the United States as the world’s largest net oil importer. In spinning this news, their narrative went as follows:

“China has overtaken the US as the world’s largest net importer of oil, in a generational shift that will shake up the geopolitics of natural resources.”

First of all, China offers a lesson to the world, and especially to the NATO countries. You can become the world’s #1 net importer of oil without invading and occupying countries. You simply trade. China just did it. And, the last time I checked, it doesn’t appear China is upsetting any geopolitics. Is China kicking out American bases anywhere for oil? Nope. America may withdraw some ships from the region because America is becoming less dependent on Middle East oil, but that is on America’s own accord. So, all we have here is CNN and Financial Times agitating fear within the American public; corporate media and military industrial complex on display.

A powerful infographic of America’s inequality perception gap

March 3rd, 2013 6 comments

Back in October 4, 2011, I predicted the Occupy Wall Street movement would fizzle, simply because the U.S. corporate media were not behind it. pug_ster argued Obama’s first term supporters were starting to become disillusioned, “Just today the Unions, Moveon.org and many other left groups whom have supported Obama in the past are joining this protest.” While true, I still think U.S. media propaganda is too strong. For sure, they talk about the wealth gap in this country. However, their narratives in painting a more dire picture abroad and not pushing the Occupy’s narratives domestically allows a skewed view to fester within the American public. The following short video does an exceptional job in explaining this perception versus reality gap in America.

Truth Bent, Credibility Broken – a scathing review of Ping Fu’s book & her actions

March 1st, 2013 6 comments
The following is a re-posted review (find the original on Amazon.com) of the book “Bend, not Break” by Ping Fu. For those who don’t know the context, this book is an “autobiography” detailing the horrors Ping Fu supposedly faced during the Cultural Revolution (a summary of her side of the story is on Wikipedia). When Chinese netizens started to investigate and voice skepticism about the accuracy of her stories, Ping Fu and her defenders in academia and media labeled these actions “online terrorism”. This is not surprising, given that anyone – especially someone believed to be ethnic Chinese – who supports the Chinese government and the PRC, or simply voices skepticism about western political/ideological dogmas, is immediately labeled as part of the “fifty-cent party” or a “brainwashed fool”. Well, here at Hidden Harmonies, we have some of the most infamous “brainwashed online terrorists” around, so we could hardly let this one go without giving it some proper attention. Enjoy the book review, everyone (for those who do not wish to read such a lengthy review, I’ve bolded some parts of the text to draw attention to the key issues).

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