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Archive for December, 2014

汉武帝还是唐太宗 习近平陷入保守主义?/On History

December 31st, 2014 9 comments

Upon reading the article at dwnews.com on 12/31/2014, it triggered memory over 2 years ago when I was in Lhasa, after visiting Potala Palace, recovering from altitude sickness, and watching CCTV 10, about Taoism and analysis of history. For those who can’t read Chinese, the articles analyze the two dynasties when China was at her zenith, Han and Tang and the two great emperors, one used Confucianism as governing principle and downgraded other schools of thought, the other followed the principle of Taoism, which allows multiple paths of enlightenment. it obliquely criticizing Xi for following the Han emperor in censoring Gmail, questioning the conservative trend in whether it betrays a sense of inferiority complex or/and overconfidence. It questioned whether the attempt at isolating China from internet with Great Fire Wall be counterproductive.
I was excited in Lhasa because the TV program in Taoism was a real fresh air at the jointure of leadership changes. In China, history is more than history, it reflects on present as much as it’s about history. After all Cultural Revolution started with criticism of a historical play, the dismissal on an honest official (General Peng) by emperor (Mao). It mentioned Han Wudi, the great Han emperor, the year before he died he issued an edict apologizing to the nation on his own failures, which was unprecedented before or since in world history. Tang Taizong faced an invading army from west in front of the gate of his capital, signed a humiliating compromise treaty, yet within a few years absorbed the tribes that attacked. I was thinking of Mao, on his failure to change human nature. When he compared himself against great historical figures in his poetry, what China would have been, if he has the humility of Han Wudi to confess his own failures, and Tang Taizong’s foresight and not enter the Korea War.
History being what it is, those musings of alternate histories are for science fiction. I do agree with Xi in reigning in the excesses of Capitalism, of corruption, and yes, censorship. For even in the West, where profit reign supreme, there are still boundaries such as child pornography and terrorism. I do hope the revivals of Confucianism is tempered with Taoism, on live with nature in harmony, a greener future.

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Sony: the great propagandizer in the middle of its hacking scandal

December 25th, 2014 13 comments

Sony has a tumultuous month with its hacking scandal involving the embarrassing leaked emails, ncluding: Angela Jolie, Barack Obama, and Leaked Salaries.

Sony being sued because of the leaked data is not the worst part, but the potential loss of its business because Hollywood can no longer trust Sony is probably even worse. So at Sony’s darkest hour, Sony decides to deflect from its hacking scandal to North Korea. Western Propaganda ate this whole thing up: From FBI blames North Korea, Obama vows response, to North Korea Internet down.

Besides deflecting the criticism towards the North Korea, Sony seem to kill 2 birds with one stone and will get free publicity towards “The Interview” movie anyways as the movie is released in digital media and movie theaters in its Christmas Day release. It makes Americans as a ‘patriotic’ thing to do as a thumbs down against ‘censorship’ and North Korea to watch this otherwise mediocre movie.

The only problem is that alot of Security experts doubt that North Korea actually did the hack. There are plenty of articles that like this, this, and that.  I would like to add in my 2 cents.

First it is the type of data being stolen. Most of the “normal” hacking incidents is usually logins, passwords, addresses, credit card #’s which can be obtained from a compromised e-tailer’s web server like Home Depot and Target. However, the type of data being stolen in this hacking incidents are emails, computer inventory spreadsheets, and data that could not get stolen in an web server. The only incidents where this type of data was in the Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden, where a former insider was able to retrieve this kind of data.

Second it is amount of data data being stolen. yet how can 100 TB of data be stolen under the noses of the security engineers of Sony? Let’s face it, North Korea’s internet infrastructure won’t handle this much data and the speculation of some North Korea’s elite unit operating in Shenyang is just ludicrous.

Third it is the intent. the original intent from hackers was to extort money from Sony for not releasing the embarrassing emails, and not to stop the release “The Interview.”  An article from Wired best summarize this:

Nation-state attacks aren’t generally as noisy, or announce themselves with an image of a blazing skeleton posted to infected computers, as occurred in the Sony hack. Nor do they use a catchy nom-de-hack like Guardians of Peace to identify themselves. Nation-state attackers also generally don’t chastise their victims for having poor security, as purported members of GOP have done in media interviews. Nor do such attacks involve posts of stolen data to Pastebin—the unofficial cloud repository of hackers—where sensitive company files belonging to Sony have been leaked. These are all hallmarks of hacktivists—groups like Anonymous and LulzSec, who thrive on targeting large corporations for ideological reasons or just the lulz, or by hackers sympathetic to a political cause.

The only plausible explanation of this hack is from a current or former disgruntled employee with backdoor access was able to steal more than 100 TB worth of data under Sony’s nose.  Instead Sony being in turmoil, it seems to be able to save its own skin by blaming North Korea.

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Xi Jinping’s fight against Corruption

December 23rd, 2014 4 comments

We in the West generally are cynical about corruption. We think it’s a natural product of Capitalism, of profit motive, and part of human nature. Yet the scale revealed of hundreds of millions of dollars involved does shock us. We can’t just excuse them as cavalier as Deng’s saying somebody has get to rich first. When Xi said that fight against corruption is life and death fight for the soul of communist party, he’s not exaggerating. For if the generals of PLA are selling promotions for profit, then the ripple effect can’t be understated. Not only it will affect the morale of honest officers, but those who paid the bribes will generally be corrupt also. When money controls the gun and not the party, then the party will really be in danger.

When I visited China 2 years ago, there were a general dissatisfaction about corruption. People maybe richer, yet they felt nostalgic about the time of Mao, they don’t have to worry about the mortgage for housing when rents were a few yuans per month. Despite what the West said about Cultural Revolution and Mao, most people do have warm feelings for Mao and yearn for honest officials. The recent moves on demoting naked officials, fight against waste, and transparency on budgets are quite popular. Two recent news stories caught my attention and illustrate the drain of money out of China due to corruption. One is the sale notice of the Villa in France belonging to the wife of Bo Xilai, China is trying to recover the money under the tangled web of ownership of the villa. The other is the downfall of Ling Jihua, former director of the General Office of the CPC Central Committee. He is the father of rumored Ferrari crash victim a few years back in Beijing that derailed his career. I understand there was an attempted cover up of the crash, the police changed the name of the victim, the 2 Tibetan girls injured in the crash, 1 died later, their families were paid off, and the father didn’t even attend his son’s funeral. Yet to no avail he’s now under investigation for serious disciplinary violations.

For those who feel that is irrelevant to their lives I would disagree. The fight against corruption now seriously impacted Macau, the jewel of casinos in Asia, their revenues are down. One of the major player there is Las Vegas Sand, majority owner being family of Sheldon Adelson, a major contributors in Republican politics in U.S.. The hit taking by Las Vegas Sand, on the year when stock markets were way up is about 1/3. I think Mr. Adelson has $10 billion fewer to affect U.S. politics where money is speech.

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The True Face of “Occupy Central With Peace And Love” Western Media Self-Censored

December 20th, 2014 3 comments

Besides the romantic, simplified “freedom” Official Narrative that framed the biblical David against Goliath story onto the Occupy Central protesters, seemingly for the purpose of indoctrinating media consumers in the West – is anything being left out?

Here, not so elegantly, are some raw YouTube clips – Occupy Central’s “peace and love” our supposedly free and objective media has choose to self-censor.

(Note: if youtube doesn’t work for you, scroll down to the bottom of post to get the videos we hosted here).

Foul-mouthed protester threatening people who disagrees:

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On China’s 9-Dashed Line and Why the Arbitrational Tribunal in Hague Should Dismiss Philippine’s Case Against China

December 16th, 2014 9 comments

December 15 was the deadline the Arbitration Tribunal for Philippine’s “arbitration” of its S. China Sea disputes with China had set for China to respond to Philippine’s claims under the UNCLOS.  According to this VOA report:

Monday is the deadline for China to submit a counter-argument in the Philippines arbitration case that questions China’s sweeping claims in the South China Sea. But China shuns arbitration and will not respond, while challenges to its position continue to mount.

Just days before the December 15 deadline, Vietnam Foreign Ministry spokesman Le Hai Bin said his government told the Permanent Court of Arbitration that Vietnam fully rejected “China’s claim over the Hoang Sa [Paracel] and Truong Sa [Spratly] archipelagoes and the adjacent waters.”

In a statement, the Philippines called Vietnam’s position “helpful in terms of promoting the rule of law and in finding peaceful and nonviolent solutions to the South China Sea claims.”

But China’s Foreign Ministry urged Vietnam “to earnestly respect China’s territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests.” The ministry reiterated China’s position that the tribunal does not have jurisdiction over the case.

In a paper Beijing released a week ago, China argued the Philippines was essentially taking a territorial dispute to the tribunal and that the question of territorial sovereignty was not something addressed by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Philippine Foreign Affairs Spokesman Charles Jose said his government has “taken note” of the position paper.

I had done some research and written an article on the subject earlier this year.  The plan was to publish it somewhere with Eric’s help, and through Guancha’s affiliates. However, by the time I finished, in mid-late August, the S. China Sea issue had drifted from the main media attention and Eric thought it was best to wait.

As it turned out, the “news” would not focus on S. China Sea again this year (fortunately), as the West attention seems to be focused now on ISIS, Ukraine, Russia, and Japan and Europe’s continuing economic problems…

If the news flare up again, I will see about writing something pertinent to that occasion.  But for now, I think it’s too much of a waste to just let my research this year lie dormant.  So below is my paper.   It might seem long and dense because it’s meant to address all the major legal arguments I hear Philippines officials and Western anti-China “legalists” publicly making.  I hope it’s educational for all here. If people have any feedback, I welcome them.  They will only make our position – and my future articles (if they are needed) – that much stronger.

Second Enlightenment – Debunking Democracy

December 9th, 2014 4 comments

More people (even Professor Francis Fukuyama) seem to be waking up to the fact that populist democracy controlled by money (let’s call it Democracy with a big dee) is a political cul-de-sac. However, just as otherwise enlightened individuals such as Galileo and Newton dare not deny the existence of God, modern-day Democracy skeptics are hesitant to challenge its sanctity. Without God, one’s doomed. Without Democracy, life’s unthinkable. That’s the mantra since childhood. Don’t ask why.

Democracy bears many resemblances to its religious predecessor. It’s also upheld by faith rather than reason, analysis, or benchmarked assessment — virtually a replacement of God in most of ex-Christendom. Consistent definition is not necessary. Politics in the USA, France, Italy, Greece, Japan, India, Switzerland, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya etc. differ in form, substance, and spirit. Even buddies like the US and UK have markedly different political structures. But as long as they hoist the Democracy banner, all is fine. Like God, Democracy’s good by tautology. Details are unimportant.
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Jeremy Lin

December 8th, 2014 4 comments

For those who are not into basketball, Jeremy Lin is a Chinese American who set the basketball world on fire 3 years ago. when on the verge of being cut, he helped to direct New York Knicks, with injuries on stars, and in desperation move by coach, starts a winning streak and coined the word “Linsanity”. His history was chronicled in a documentary called “Linsanity”. I am sure the director of the movie probably is accumulating additional footages for a new documentary. I hope this time he’ll examine Lin’s travails since with an eye on the question of race, model minority, and capitalism.
National Basketball Association, the major league of basketball in U.S. is a big business. Recently the Los Angeles Clippers, whose owner got into trouble with racial comments was sold for $2 billion. Star players get paid for over $100 million for 4 years contracts. With a new TV contract the salaries are expected to increase substantially due to revenue sharing. Lin is presently playing the last year of his 3 years, $25 million contract. Basketball is ostensibly a team sport, with coaches trying to manage egos of star players for team success. The most successful coaches like Phil Jackson or Greg Popovich can manage the tension between individual and team success. NBA, due various large and small markets, runs essentially as a socialistic entity, with limits of spending power to equalize the competition. NBA is also interested in expanding the market to China and the rest of the world.
As a lone Chinese American in NBA, Lin has many avid followers in internet discussion groups. They discuss his statistics and travails in subsuming his own game to appease the star of the team and coach. He is a humble and religious man and the perfect model minority. He manages to carved out a place due to his efforts and skills. Yet despite his attempt to fit in he’s been marginalize in his latest team, Los Angeles Lakers, and its aging star Kobe Bryan. He’s been relegated to the backup because he sometimes outshines Kobe despite the effort of the coach to limit his time on the court. He’s bewildered and some of his fans are turning against him, for not speaking out and stand his ground. When he was in Houston his teammate Asik asked to be traded when they sign a new star, broke their promise of he starting. And his new teammate Boozer walk out of the after game press conference when he was demoted to second team. Some of his fans deride him as weak, lack of spine, of not asserting himself, in other words as too perfect model minority. Lin is in a difficult position, and the mental strain is affecting his physical game. NBA is dominated by skill players of African Americans, with China being blamed for job losses here, Lin’s entrance to NBA is bother welcomed by Asia American community and viewed with suspicion by others. When China refused visa request by British Parliamentarians to investigate Hong Kong agreement, China was essentially telling them to f— off, and that was priceless that China can stand her ground. I wonder whether Lin can.

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Taiwan’s Recent Local Elections

December 6th, 2014 3 comments

The Taiwan elections last week may have many in the West – and some perhaps on the Mainland – thinking if politics in Taiwan is yet turning another corner with its independence movement mounting a comeback?

The following comment by a Taiwanese reader on guancha caught our attention.

作為一個贊成統一的台灣人,針對這次選舉結果,想跟觀察網的朋友做如下分享:

1. 這次選舉雖然國民黨潰敗,民進黨大勝,並不意味著多數台灣人趨向支持獨立;根本影響這次選情的原因是:一、馬英九當選總統六年以來的執政無方,政策傾向財團與既得利益階級,根本罔顧台灣多數中產階級與基層民眾的需求與感受。二、連戰所代表的國民黨政商既得利益階層推出自己的兒子連勝文出來競選台北市長,更是加深台灣民眾對國民黨壟斷瓜分兩岸和平紅利的印象,一般老百姓根本無法從中得利,但卻看到這些遊走兩岸的政商人物每個都賺得肥油油的,自然會反彈不願意將票再投給國民黨,這也是為何國民黨連在居絕對優勢的台北市都會選輸的原因!

2. 北京需要重新檢討對台政策,特別是調整目前透過國民黨及富商階層作為對台政策代理人的做法。我之前有建議過,今晚還是要在這邊呼籲,希望中央能考慮是否直接在台灣發展基層組織,聯合台灣左統派,發展在台灣的統一力量!

3. 如果民進黨不能在兩岸關係上給台灣民眾一個放心穩妥的答案,2016的台灣總統選舉綠營未必就能再次獲勝,泛藍勢力也會在島內安定的訴求下,再次集結整合,台灣走向獨立的可能性微乎其微。

4. 在台灣島內,多數人民的首要矛盾問題是經濟與民生問題,但這6年來國民黨在馬英九的領導下完全無能無所作為;統獨問題作為次要矛盾問題,在我的認識,許多台灣人都抱持著鴕鳥心態 — 既或是傾向獨立的綠營支持者,很多人心底也都知道或默認,統一是遲早與無法抗拒的,只能持著消極抵制心態應對。而對大陸人來說,在台灣問題上,統獨是首要矛盾問題,台灣的經濟與民生問題是次要問題。而當台灣人因為自己的首要矛盾問題票投綠營時,會讓許多大陸人認為台灣走向獨立之路,或是刻意想與大陸對抗,這是許多大陸人不了解台灣社會實際情況所產生的誤解與誤讀,希望觀察網的朋友對此點有重新的認識。

Here is my quick translation: Read more…