Archive

Author Archive

Building Envy – Chinese and American government offices

July 8th, 2008 65 comments

Many discussions involving China and the West end up being a competition: you have this, but we have that.

Here is one very popular competition, passed around in different forms on numerous Chinese internet forums for many years. It’s about the glory of our government buildings. The captions below are translated from the Chinese original:

The city hall in Marion, Iowa. In China, this kind of building would’ve been torn down long ago.

Government offices for the Fangshan District of Beijing. It’s far from the downtown area; a relatively poor mountain area!

Read more…

Wall Street Journal gets it wrong on Weng'an

July 7th, 2008 39 comments

A few days ago, an assistant working for the Wall Street Journal in Hong Kong emailed me an inquiry, asking for my thoughts on the Weng’an story. They were working on a story about the significance of citizen bloggers like Zola, and were interested in my input.

Unfortunately, the version they finally went to press with is simply wrong. I usually am more politic on this blog, but I feel entitled to judge this article, especially after they asked me for my opinion. The title and introductory paragraph from the article tell you all you really need to know about the rest:

Chinese Bloggers Score a Victory Against the Government
Firings Indicate Growing Power; Exploits of ‘Zola’

Aggressive Chinese bloggers make an art of challenging Chinese government propaganda. This week, they can claim a victory.


That change in stance appears to be a direct result of pressure brought by journalists and Chinese bloggers such as Zhou Shuguang, a self-styled “personal news station,” who didn’t allow the issue to drop, posting to the Internet unofficial reports along with photos and pleas from the family of the dead youth.

Read more…

Categories: Analysis, media Tags: ,

Translation error

July 6th, 2008 16 comments

The danger of relying on automated translation (and why Fool’s Mountain is better):

Read more…

Categories: aside, culture Tags: , ,

Comments on Democracy and China

July 6th, 2008 3 comments

There has been a lot of excellent debate about democracy and China in recent days.  Read more…

Categories: aside, Letters Tags: ,

The challenge in Taiwan

July 6th, 2008 88 comments

Ties between the two sides of the Taiwan strait are growing warmer and warmer. This should be no surprise, as its exactly what ROC president Ma Yingjiu promised in his campaign leading to a landslide victory earlier this year. With the arrival of mainland tourists in Taiwan representing another new milestone, we are clearly living through an inflection point in cross-strait relations.

But where will cross-strait relations go from here? That’s where the difference in opinion lies. One expat commentator in Taiwan offers this analysis (courtesy of A-gu’s blog):

Most KMT party members and supporters seem not to believe that China actually means any harm to Taiwan– and especially not now that there will be a unified KMT government. They believe that the anger of China and the rest of the world is directed solely at Chen Shui-bian and the DPP. They think that if Taiwan’s government can just behave, quietly cooperate with Beijing and give up the quest for de jure independence, that China will reciprocate by allowing Taiwan to indefinitely maintain the “status quo” of de facto independence.

So far, so good. I believe that to be an accurate statement on pan-Blue beliefs, and I also believe it’s an accurate statement of what most Chinese (certainly myself) firmly believe. However, he follows up with this:

Read more…

Categories: Analysis Tags:

What does it mean to be Chinese?

July 3rd, 2008 247 comments

Seems like a simple enough question. Actually… while the question of what it means to be Chinese is very simple, it is all of the numerous, equally valid answers that make the issue complicated. We have to accept that there are different answers for different people.

Here is one answer, translated from a post written by an American-raised Chinese on MITBBS (原贴):

I was eating lunch with a good friend (both a colleague and a classmate) a few days ago. He’s a true Englishman, having lived in England from birth through university. Although he’s now attending school with me in the United States, he naturally does so with the identity of an Englishman. Whereas I, as an ethnic Chinese person raised in the United States, have in his eyes been categorized as an “American”. And I will often correct him by saying “I’m Chinese”. This time, when the topic popped up again, he laughed and asked: “From your point of view, what is a Chinese person?”

I believe “Chinese” has three different meanings.

Read more…

Weng'an Riots: How the state media hurts China

July 2nd, 2008 95 comments

The central government did many things right in response to the Weng’an riots. Beijing’s campaign to treat “sudden incidents” with more openness was also obvious; a full news conference revealing the government’s version less than 2 days after the riot is pretty unheard of by Chinese standards. Reporters from around the country and world flooded into Guizhou without limitation (according to one reporter on site, as many as 140 reporters were present for a banquet last night). Citizen blogger/reporters, like Zola, also reported from the scene. Senior provincial leaders were also sent to Weng’an to provide high-level attention; Shi Zongyuan, the Party chief for Guizhou province, was on the scene leading that first investigation team within two days.

By anyone’s standard, these should all be considered positive steps in the aftermath of this type of crisis. But it didn’t completely work; for many Chinese, online tempers still flared. Here’s one key, representative quote behind the public frustration:

Shi Zongyuan pointed out, “6.28” incident started for a simple reason, but was used by a small number of people with ulterior motives along with the participation of evil, organized criminals.

Read more…

Categories: media Tags: , , , , ,

July 1st – Heartfelt thoughts of a Party member

July 1st, 2008 39 comments

On July 1st, 1921, the Communist Party of China was founded by a group of students and intellectuals in Shanghai; that date has served as the official birth date of the Communist Party since. The 87th birthday for the Communist Party passed in very troubled fashion, however, as China was reminded yet again of the deep corruption and dissatisfaction in various corners of the country. This posting translated below comes from a Party member on the Strong Country forum, and represents his thoughts on the Weng’an (Wengan) riots (连接):

As a member of the Chinese Communist Party, I wanted to say a few things to the Party Central, about the Weng’an (Wengan) incident:

1. There is no Communist Party that fears the people. The magic weapon for the Communist Party’s success during the revolution was trusting in the people, depending on the people, and motivating the people. This will always be the Party’s greatest weapon. The Party should actively dive into the people, and respectfully listen to the voices of the people, rather than simply waiting for problems to erupt before trying to “stabilize” the people. The Chinese Communist Party used to have an unparalleled ability to motivate the people; has this ability or strengthened or weakened? Every Party member should think deeply on this issue.

Read more…

Categories: Letters Tags: ,

Weng'An riots: The family's petition

July 1st, 2008 31 comments

These petitions were scanned in by blogger-journalist Zoula (连接). Much thanks to werew for bringing it to our attention (see previous thread). The first petition is shortly after the girl’s death, and the second petition comes two days later after the family and public security clashes.

(Written on June 23rd)
To the Weng’An (Wengan) Public Security Ministry:

Applicant: Li Xiuhua, Chinese Communist Party Member, Male, 36 years of age, Han, Weng’An resident, father of victim Li Shufen.

My daughter Li Shufen, before death, was a second year (8th grade) student at the local middle school. In order to study more conveniently, she rented an apartment from Liu Jingxue. At 18:00 (6 PM) in the afternoon of June 21nd, she was called away from her apartment by classmate Wang Jiao. On the same day at 23:12 (11:12 PM), Wang Jiao used her cell phone to call the victim’s brother Li Shuyong (a graduate of a local high school) informing him that Li Shufen was playing with her, and would be staying over that night, and definitely wouldn’t be going home.

Read more…

Categories: News Tags: , , ,

The Weng'An Riots: "How hard is it to give the masses the real picture?"

June 30th, 2008 80 comments

In the aftermath of the Weng’An (Wengan) riots, most newspapers are running with Xinhua’s short three paragraph report on the issue. I believe in keeping with recent trends, we will hear a much more detailed analysis and explanation from Xinhua shortly. In the mean time, there have been several online editorials from various newspapers, in some cases perhaps bending official rules on independent reporting by highlighting netizen comments rather than their own story. Many of these editorials are focusing their attacks on the local government, while insisting that the central government desires something else. I hope their interpretation proves to be the case. I translate two editorials below.

First, an article from the online site of the Jiangsu Communist Party newspaper Xinhua Daily, which is not directly related to the national Xinhua: (“How hard is it to give the masses the real picture?”, 原文)

… Article begins with a repeat of the first paragraph of the Xinhua story on the incident …

The incident’s cause is simple; it’s all because of dissatisfaction with the county public security office’s determination on “cause of death” for a female student. Emotionally, it’s very difficult for people not to place their sympathies with the weaker party. The majority of people are logical and rational, and that’s a point that no one, not even the national leadership or officials of every level would try to argue. So, unless it’s reached the point of extreme desperation, no one would risk everything to surround and attack the government. And from a logical point of view, it’s not difficult to determine that the people might have had good reason to rush into action.

Read more…

Categories: News Tags: , ,

The Weng'An Riots – Online

June 30th, 2008 22 comments

The Chinese internet is up in arms over the story of riots in Guizhou province over the weekend.  For the most comprehensive news we know so far, I refer you to ESWN’s very detailed coverage.  There’s nothing I have to add.

Roland at ESWN mentions that an article at Xinhua forum (连接) has been left open to netizen discussion, in contrast to much tighter standards at Tianya and MaoYan.   It’s also interesting to note that the Strong Country forum (连接) run by the People’s Daily has also been running very loose standards, if any.  See attached snapshot showing the most frequent discussions on Strong Country, many of which refer to Weng’An by name.  (If you click into a post, a side-bar showing the most current posts are almost entirely all about Weng’An.)

Popular threads on Strong Country right now include:

  • Guizhou Province Weng’An Prefecture Has Hitting/Smashing/Burning Incident (连接)
  • I support the people of Guizhou – Weng’An (连接)

Read more…

Categories: News Tags: , ,

The Chinese debate – Part 2: Democracy and the economy

June 28th, 2008 102 comments

Thanks to one our visitors (Traveler, Youzi, 游子), a debate about fundamental issues that divide many Chinese has been brought to our blog (see comment in earlier thread).   In this post, I want to express my opinions on the economy, democracy, and the Chinese government.

I also want to send a few sentences to Mr. Wahaha: please do not so easily “represent” the Chinese or the Chinese government. I don’t know if you’re an oversea student or overseas Chinese, but regardless of China is strong or small, it doesn’t have anything to do with you having greater face and authority in the face of Westerners. Furthermore, China’s economic growth is the result of hard work by Chinese citizens, and not the government’s charity; our lives are improving, because these are the returns from our own work, not because of a government or certain political party has bestowed them on us.

Now, we get to a topic that has nothing to do with Western media and being overseas.  Now we get to a topic that has to do only with being “left” or “right”, being a supporter or opponent of the current Chinese government.  This topic should be kept separate from the topic above.

Let me start by sending a few sentences to you, Traveler: please do not so easily assume that we hope for a strong China because we need “face”.  I will not speak for Wahaha, but many of us are extremely successful, and do not need to borrow face from anyone.  We can silence ourselves on China tomorrow, and we will not suffer for it.  We can cut ourselves off from China tomorrow, and no one in the United States will force us back.  Here’s a bit of advice for you if you ever come to the West, and are embarrassed by an association with the Chinese: if nothing else, we can always pretend to be Japanese.  No one in the West could possibly know the difference

Read more…

Categories: Letters Tags: ,

The Chinese debate – Part 1: The West

June 28th, 2008 37 comments

One of our myriad goals for this blog was to make one simple point: the Chinese debate politics. The Chinese community debate eloquently and foolishly, intelligently and blindly, informed and uninformed, left and right, China and West… the Chinese are not brain-washed robots living in a closed society; we often disagree, often very passionately. To make this point, we talked about the divide between “old and little generals“; we talked about the Chinese that love America; we talked about Tianya, one of the bastions of online debate in China; and we of course had a long series about the deeply divisive issue of Six Four

Debate is important, because debate is the foundation of true knowledge and true conviction; without opening yourself up to true debate and reconsideration, any knowledge or conviction is suspect. Most in the West have never seen the Chinese debate political issues, so our conclusions are often ignored for exactly the reason. The more that we explain what the Chinese debate about, the more we will gain respect (if not agreement)… and gradually, we can erase Western bias and ignorance. And even more importantly, the better we’ll know what we want from our own country.

Thanks to one our visitors (Traveler, Youzi, 游子), this debate has been brought to our blog (see comment in previous thread).

In terms of the problem with Western media’s “bias”, different Chinese can have different feelings. For overseas Chinese, because they exist in a different cultural environment, it’s easy for them to develop some isolation while interacting with locals. Minorities will often feel more sensitive about mainstream media’s criticisms. In reality, the same reaction can be seen in China’s interior as well. Furthermore, outsiders always feel discriminated against by locals, and the most basic reason is a cultural gap. This sort of discrimination due to the cultural gap is a very common phenomenon, and can only be erased through integration. Clearly, any sort of specific discrimination that causes injury or loss, can be rectified through a lawsuit seeking economic compensation. Therefore, the discrimination due to cultural differences in the West should be resolved by law if effective rule of law exists; cultural problems can only be resolved through cultural interaction.

Read more…

The misnamed Dalai Lama

June 26th, 2008 89 comments

What should we call the Dalai Lama? It might seem like a silly enough question… but if you look deeper, there lies a more substantial issue of basic respect and mutual understanding. On Davidpeng’s blog (in an article linking to one of our entries)… an interesting discussion has developed (原贴) on that exact topic.

One commenter (Flatfish, a frequent Tibetan visitor) reacted to part of the original discussion when the term “the Dalai” was used:

In reference to the proper name for the Dalai Lama, let me talk about a few related things that have touched me deeply.

After the end of the Second World War, a court sentenced Mr. Hideki Tojo to death by hanging. Mr. Tojo immediately stood, and with perfect manners bowed deeply to the judges; he didn’t say another word. When the Tibetan uprising (in 1959) expanded, quite a few Tibetans were executed. Before they were shot, they politely said “T’oo-Je-Che” (Tibetan term of thanks). Later, when the families of the executed were charged expenses of 200-500 RMB, they again said “T’oo-Je-Che”, and nothing else.

For the Dalai Lama, the respectful way of referring to him in English is: His Holiness the Dalai Lama. In Tibetan, the respectful way of referring to him is Jiawa Renbuqie (嘉瓦仁布切,Gyalwa Rinpoche), Kundun (昆顿), or Yixi Loubu (益西罗布, Yeshe Norbu). Tibetans would never use the name Dalai Lama, because that’s actually equivalent to a title, and not a name.

My point is, if any group or government investigates and finds the Dalai Lama guilty of a crime, then all of these details could be revealed to the public, and they could proceed to trial and conviction. And if anyone, including Han, have doubts or criticisms of him, that’s also not a problem. And for those who are not Buddhists and not Tibetan Buddhists don’t necessarily have to refer to him by his courtesy title. But all should respect basic human rights, and do not casually shorten the title Dalai Lama to just “the Dalai”.

Read more…

Categories: culture Tags: , ,

"True Pride" – Time magazine

June 25th, 2008 210 comments

Ah, wonderful article published in Time. Of course, I’m biased as her perspectives very much mirror mine. If only we could convince Ms. Liu to submit an article for us once in a while… I’m tempted to paste the entire article here, I find it that compelling. Instead, you can read it here: Time – True Pride.

Money quotes:

Just a few weeks ago, the west’s view of china was dominated by thuggish torch guards, hypersensitive nationalists and a repressive government. But since the earthquake in Sichuan, the immense state-led rescue effort and the outpouring of charity from the Chinese people has taken center stage. Has the country really changed that much? Not really. The two phenomena on display — nationalism and compassion — are related facets of the vast, multidimensional nation that China is. When it comes to my homeland, I feel them both.

Read more…

Categories: media Tags: ,

Prices in the Mao era – a peasant's view

June 24th, 2008 14 comments

The vast majority of Chinese favor and support the “opening up and reform” period started in 1978. But many are also very nostalgic for the Mao era, a time when equality was guaranteed, a time when socialism in China was far more than just a hypothetical. One simple example is translated below.

This article has been spread around numerous Chinese forums, actual origin not clear. (原贴)

I was born in 1954, in a village in Shandong province. I have a sister, and our parents are also peasant farmers. I want to start by talking about the prices of agricultural goods, starting with wheat as an example. From 1970 – 1980, the market price for wheat was: 0.35 RMB/shijin (ed: 0.5 kg), later growing to 0.35 RMB/shijing. The cost of things didn’t really change, it was very stable during this period. So the problem I want to discuss is, when a farmer sells a half kilogram of wheat on the market, what can he do with that money?
Read more…

Categories: Analysis Tags: , , ,

Don't indulge our "race complex"

June 23rd, 2008 48 comments

Many are now aware there are 56 different nationalities in China. There is another lesser known community, however, that sometimes refer to themselves as the 57th nationality. (Some in the community actually hate that term… but we’ll get to that later.)  These are the Minkaohan (民考汉), ethnic minorities raised in Han-language schools alongside Han classmates. The term Minkaohan literally means “minority testing using Han”. With their perfect grasp of putonghua and numerous Han Chinese friends, Minkaohan are often the best economic achievers in their community, and a successful model of the Chinese government’s policies towards minorities. But with their non-Han faces, and with their inability to read/write their own language, they often find themselves uncomfortable in both communities.

Their fate, their experience is critical in understanding the future of multi-ethnic China.  Their support, their contribution is critical in building a China that lives at peace with itself.

This post (原贴) is from a regular Uygur poster at a Chinese forum dedicated to Minkaohan (民考汉论坛).  Most posters to the forum are Uygur and Kazakh.

Don’t indulge our “racial complex
I’ve been silent for several days; I’ve maintained my silence out of doubt.

These few days, I’ve been thinking a lot.  I’ve been thinking of my childhood; at the time, I was the only minority student in my class, and all of my friends were Han.  We went to school together, went home together, and played together.  In the alley where our home was, the left side was entirely Han, while the right side was entirely Uygur.  During hot summer evenings, everyone sat together cooling off in the courtyard, talking about every day things.  The alley was filled with harmonious laughs and chatter.

Read more…

Categories: Analysis Tags:

Yellow River in Beijing

June 21st, 2008 5 comments

Let’s have a quick flashback to a happier time, when all of us thought 2008 would be a simple year full of celebration. Below is the Chinese piano prodigy Lang Lang, performing the Yellow River Piano Concerto on Tiananmen Square.  The date is 08/08/07, one full year before the start of the Beijing Olympics.

Categories: culture Tags: ,

Dalai Lama tries speaking to the Chinese

June 21st, 2008 69 comments

If there’s one thing we’ve consistently criticized here, it’s that the Dalai Lama (and “clique”) has largely failed to reach out to the Chinese people directly. For every interview he provides to the Chinese-language press, it seems he’s done fifty for foreign language press. And even when he makes an attempt to speak to the Chinese (as with an open letter released earlier this year), his ignorance and lack of familiarity shows through.

But he is at least making an active effort to change this. He has met with individual Chinese in the United States and Germany in recent months. And in his just completed trip through Australia, he met with the Chinese-language press, and also hosted an open Q&A session targeted at overseas Chinese. (Unfortunately the session was organized with a dissident group with links to the FLG… but that’s not the point here.)

Here’s what he had to say in Australia, courtesy of the International Campaign for Tibet (原文):

Dalai Lama: … Problems related to Tibet must absolutely be resolved between the Han and Tibetan races, no one else can deal with this type of problem. And precisely because of that, the Chinese, the Han in inland China, you must understand the real situation, this is very important.

So, what is the real situation in his opinion? Read on for more.

Read more…

"Pressure" for injured athletes

June 20th, 2008 45 comments

Today’s New York Times is running an article titled China Presses Injured Athletes in Quest for Gold. The article starts by discussing diver Hu Jia, who suffered from a detached retina several years ago, putting him at risk for permanent injury. This paragraph about sums up the message behind the article:

Pressured by the national athletic system and tempted by the commercial riches awaiting star performers in the 2008 Games, China’s athletes are pushing themselves to their limits and beyond, causing some to risk their health in pursuit of nationalist glory.

Seems to me the reader is supposed to feel pity for the Chinese athletes (and some outrage towards the Chinese sports authority), for risking their health for a goal as dubious as “nationalist glory”.

Five years ago, NBA player Alonzo Mourning was diagnosed with a serious kidney disorder, with doctors telling him he risked cardiac arrest every time he stepped on the floor. And yet, he risked his life to continue playing… in fact, even after an eventual kidney transplant, he still returned time and time again. The New York Times ran an article with this title at the time: Mourning’s Dedication Won Him Admiration. The Times didn’t seem too concerned, apparently, that Mourning’s agents and employers were pressuring him into risking death, all just in order to sell basketball shoes and entertain basketball fans.

I can’t dispute the facts that the New York Times have laid out in today’s article… I suspect many Chinese athletes do indeed face pressure to win, just as athletes around the world face pressure. But for those Chinese athletes who are fighting through injury to win gold in front of their countrymen this summer, I just want to say: you don’t deserve pity. Your dedication is winning our admiration.

Categories: News Tags:

"Down with the Dalai Lama" – Western criticism

June 19th, 2008 41 comments

Well, we are a little behind the curve here at Fool’s Mountain. An article titled “Down with the Dalai Lama” was published* by the Guardian a few weeks ago, and I was completely ignorant of it until the Chinese translation began to be passed around. (*Was it actually published in print, or is it only available online?)

Here are a few choice snippets from that article:

The Dalai Lama says he wants Tibetan autonomy and political independence. Yet he allows himself to be used as a tool by western powers keen to humiliate China. Between the late 1950s and 1974, he is alleged to have received around $15,000 a month, or $180,000 a year, from the CIA. He has also been, according to the same reporter, “remarkably nepotistic”, promoting his brothers and their wives to positions of extraordinary power in his fiefdom-in-exile in Dharamsala, northern India.


He poses as the quirky, giggly, modern monk who once auctioned his Land Rover on eBay for $80,000 and has even done an advert for Apple (quite what skinny white computers have got to do with Buddhism is anybody’s guess). Yet in truth he is a product of the crushing feudalism of archaic, pre-modern Tibet, where an elite of Buddhist monks treated the masses as serfs and ruthlessly punished them if they stepped out of line.

Read more…

Categories: Letters Tags: ,

Has the Chinese government sold out China?

June 18th, 2008 19 comments

The news this morning is of a new resource-sharing agreement in the East China Sea that represents the start of a new era in east Asia. Japan and China has agreed to ignore territorial demarcation for now, and instead focus on extracting oil and gas from fields in the area.

Many Chinese see in the agreement a government desperate to buy international peace before the Olympics, at any price. One post (原贴) from Tianya:

The Olympics is only a game, how can it be used to kidnap China; how can it lead to such a heavy loss in Chinese interests?

China has 100% sovereignty over the East China Sea continental shelf, this is our most fundamental principle. Once China makes a mistake on this basic principle, then the consequences are long-lasting and severe. This naturally implies China will fall into the hopeless situation of having to negotiate. Once China accepts Japan’s demand for “joint development”, it inevitably dilutes China’s sovereignty over the East China Sea continental shelf.

The Chunxiao natural gas fields have already been fully developed by mainland China, why is there any talk of joint development? Japan’s is using its claims of sovereignty to request a taste of Chunxiao’s rewards. I absolutely can not accept this perspective.

If China agrees to sharing the East China Sea oil and gas fields, this is equivalent to recognizing Japan’s sovereignty over the continental shelf. This is a very serious strategic mistake, with unimaginable consequences.

Read more…

Categories: News Tags: , ,

Maimaiti's 2008

June 17th, 2008 6 comments

Today’s news is that the Olympic torch has arrived in Xinjiang province. As widely reported in the Western press, the Xinjiang government encouraged people to watch at home on TV due to security concerns. In addition to schools and offices that organized groups to support the torch, many private Chinese still chose to come on the streets. Tianya has reports from some excited eyewitnesses.

In honor of the torch’s visit to Xinjiang, let me introduce a domestic movie that combines three of our favorite topics: football, Olympics, and minorities! Maimaiti’s 2008 is a movie about a group of kids in Turfan, on the edge of the Taklamakan desert. In order to inspire them, their young football coach Maimaiti tells them a little lie: a win in the district finals will translate into a visit to the Opening Ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics.

Here’s the trailer:

Read more…

Categories: culture Tags: , , ,

Chinese Men's Soccer – Nothing left to say

June 17th, 2008 11 comments

In a year when so many unexpected and abnormal events have struck China… one thing has remained the same. The Chinese men’s soccer team has failed in its attempt to qualify for the 2010 World Cup after losing to Iraq, a pathetic legacy that just can’t be explained. Soccer remains the most popular sport in China (with basketball catching up quickly)… a country of 1.3 billion people, millions are invested in the players, the best coaches/facilities… so, why are we so bad?

Guangzhou’s “New Culture” newspaper was literally at a loss of words. It ran a 84-font headline with no other content after this weekend’s loss:

Men’s Soccer Loses Again – We Have Nothing Left To Say

Categories: News Tags:

America opens its doors, slightly, to Chinese tourists

June 17th, 2008 18 comments

Ever since China flung open its doors in 1978, many Chinese have wanted to visit the United States. There’s a great deal of fascination with the world’s greatest superpower. But unfortunately, the door has almost always been closed. Initially by tight Chinese standards that restricted who could have access to a passport, but over the past decade, by tight American visa standards.

This issue has been discussed before (Washington Post article, 2006), although not many in the West are fully aware how difficult the visa issue has been in years past. The only Chinese who’ve entered the United States in the last two decades have been here to study, work, or to visit family. And even in these cases, after presenting an entire library of supporting documents to an often hostile consulate officer, a significant percentage (majority?) are denied visas for no obvious reason. It’s ironic to me that even as the United States government funds dissident groups in China in an attempt to spread the word on democracy, it keeps out hundreds of thousands of average Chinese willing to pay for the privilege of visiting.

But China’s economic growth has finally led to a change. Starting this fall, Chinese tourists will be given the opportunity to visit in groups. Chinese tourists will still have to appear at consulates for a face-to-face interview, but the indication is that visas will now be granted to the vast majority of qualified applicants.

Below is an article (文章) with a few early details:

Read more…

Categories: Announcements Tags:

"Two Million Minutes" – High school in US/China/India

June 16th, 2008 7 comments

This seems like a thought-provoking movie.

This LA Times articles provides the basic details:

But one faculty member, Compton recalled, told him that “we have nothing to learn from Third World education.” Another, renowned education theorist Howard Gardner, took him to task for comparing the U.S. with China.

“His point was: How can you have a great educational system when you don’t have freedom of speech?” Compton said. Compton saw the remark as missing the point: America may not have anything to learn from China’s one-party political system, but it might want to know why Chinese students do better in math and science.

The full story on this situation isn’t quite so simple; there are many in China deeply unsatisfied with the Chinese education system.  But the topic is certainly worthy of debate (see earlier thread on 50 years of gaokao).

Categories: education Tags:

"Chocolate City" – Africans seek their dreams in China

June 14th, 2008 134 comments

This feature article (文章,published Jan 2008) from the Southern Metropolis Daily provides a candid, street-level view of the lives of African traders in China. I translate this article to provide some depth to the discussion of racism in China, as seen in this previous thread. In an era when China-Africa relations are making headlines in Western newspapers, it’s time to hear the story from a Chinese perspective. If the 20th century was defined by the American Dream, what can China bring to the world in the 21st century?

In Guangzhou, a 10 square kilometer area centered around Hongqiao has been given the name “Chocolate City” by taxi drivers.
Read more…

Categories: culture Tags: , ,

Chinese opinions of the Internet

June 13th, 2008 5 comments

While looking into the Pew Global Attitudes Survey (which deserves a blog post of its own), I came across these interesting results highlighted by Pew, with the title ‘Few in China Complain About Internet Controls‘.  This survey was conducted in 2007:

  • Over four years of tracking user reaction, trust in the reliability of online content has fallen by one-half, from 52% in 2003 to 26% now.
  • Only about one-third of internet users (30%) said they considered online content reliable.5
  • An overwhelming number of Chinese, almost 84%, agreed that the internet should be controlled or managed.
  • Since 2005, the percentage of users who say that online content about “politics” should be controlled or managed jumped from 8% to 41%, by far the biggest increase of any items tested.

It’s fair to wonder whether the survey is fully representative. After looking at the methodology in detail (pdf) (which polled 2000 urban residents in 5 cities), I think these numbers do give us at least a fuzzy picture of common trends.

This all tells me that perhaps we shouldn’t expect much liberalization online in the near future. There’s just too little popular demand for it.

Categories: News Tags: ,

Can those "putting it on the tab" go on a diet?

June 12th, 2008 7 comments

For average Chinese, one of the most common complaints about the Chinese government is the pervasive spread of “gray income” corruption in many government departments. At all levels of government, officials have opportunity to benefit themselves using public taxpayer money. Many officials eat and drink outrageously with public funds. Some officials are given the right to a government car plus driver, and use them regularly to run personal errands.

Because these stories surround us every day, it’s a constant reminder of special privileges for officials, and increasingly a source of real public anger. The most recent example comes from Holhot, the capital of Inner Mongolia. This story has drawn attention in the state press, which probably implies some sort of punishment will be coming to the officials involved.

This column (文章)comes from Rednet:

Read more…

Categories: News Tags:

Taiwan and Diaoyutai

June 12th, 2008 10 comments

Two different Diaoyutai’s are front-page news today.

First, Diaoyutai islands: a Taiwanese fishing ship collided with a Japanese patrol ship off of the disputed Diaoyutai islands. One man was slightly injured as the boat sank; the passengers have been repatriated, but the crew remains held under Japanese custody.

The sovereignty of Diaoyutai is disputed by all sides on the basis of conflicting history; it’s either part of mainland China, Japan, Okinawa, or Taiwan depending on who is doing the talking. Wikipedia has the details in English. It certainly remains a potential flashpoint. Chinese nationalists (from Hong Kong, Taiwan, and mainland) have at different times made attempts to plant Chinese flags onto the island. Japanese nationalists have done the same.

These pictures come from an attempt in 1996, during which a Chinese activist (David Chan) tragically drowned.

Read more…

Categories: Analysis, News Tags: ,