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Farewell, Chairman Hua

August 25th, 2008 25 comments

Overshadowed by the Olympics, the news of the passing away of a former supreme leader of China, Hua Guofeng 华国锋, on August 20, 2008 wasn’t particularly noticed by many. I would like to use this post to pay respect to Chairman Hua, as he was once called when I was in my childhood, and offer condolences to his family and friends.
Read more…

Categories: News, politics Tags: , ,

Recommended reading: China and the West revisited

August 25th, 2008 7 comments

H/T to David Peng for pointing out this article written by Assaf Lichtash and published in the Jerusalem Post. David also pointed out an interesting discussion thread on this article in Chination Report. Read more…

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: , , ,

Recommended readings: Two TPM discussion threads on China

August 24th, 2008 7 comments

For a change of topic from the Olympics, please check out two recent discussion threads at Talking Point Memo: “Out of Mao’s Shadow” and its followup “Do not underestimate the CCP”. Read more…

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: ,

The U.S. synchronized swimming team enters with a "thank you China" sign

August 24th, 2008 6 comments

Yang Peiyi and Lin Miaoke outside of the Bird's Nest

August 21st, 2008 39 comments

image found at 世界军事论坛.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: ,

Ouch! A sign raised by Nigerian fans at the Olympic men's soccer semi-final between Nigeria and Belgium

August 20th, 2008 15 comments
Categories: Uncategorized Tags: , ,

Recommended reading: The Online Evisceration of David Brooks, A Cautionary Tale

August 18th, 2008 5 comments

I have followed the responses to David Brooks’ essay “Harmony and the Dream” published in the New York Times with interest ever since first reading James Fallows mercilessly picking Brooks’ theme apart. There have been others joining the “onslaught” as well since then. Elliott Ng has now compiled a nice summary of Brooks’ thesis and various responses online. It is well worth a read.

Do not pressure athletes into saying sorry

August 16th, 2008 31 comments

Note: The following is a translation of a post by “zl19860707” in 铁血论坛 Tiexue Forum, one of the popular online bulletin boards in China. This post was responding to the words spoken by the Chinese shooting athlete 谭宗亮 Tan Zongliang after he won the bronze in the men’s 50m pistol event on August 12. Beijing 2008 is the fourth Olympics Tan has competed in, and this bronze is the first of any kind he has received. (Tan, by the way, now officially owns a silver medal because the North Korean shooter ahead of him failed subsequent doping tests.)

Do not pressure athletes into saying sorry

Tan Zongliang said: “I feel that I have let the country down by winning only a single bronze through four Olympics.”
Read more…

Categories: media Tags: , , , ,

The cruelest insults come from ones pretending to speak as the righteous

August 13th, 2008 158 comments

[UPDATE]

At the risk of being seen as running an excessive self and cross promotional campaign, I highly recommend all interested readers to check out ESWN’s take on some of the irresponsible media reports in this case, particularly the collection of quotes from various medias, and the latest comment on the “uneven teeth” meme such reports created. Roland is very gracious in claiming only to frame this very post, but I think his “re-framing” does a very effective job in making the point.

I should also point out some subtle but extremely damaging distortions introduced and propagated by the media reports that earned my ire. As reflected by a Chinese blogger on his second posting on this matter after listening to the entire interview of Chen (H/T to ESWN again):

陈音乐总监的说法被媒体断章取义了,或者说歪曲了。第一,陈没有说杨小朋友的形象不好,只是说林小朋友的形象最好;第二,陈说到国家利益,是指作出用最好的形象和最好的声音这样一种“双簧”的安排更符合国家利益,并不是指不让杨小朋友出镜是“国家利益”。

The words of Chen Qigang are used by the media out of context and are distorted. First, Chen did not say that Yang Peiyi was considered not good in appearance. He merely pointed out that Lin Miaoke was considered to have the best image. Second, when Chen talked about national interest, he was claiming that the national interest was served by combining the best stage presence with the best singing voice [to present the best perceived performance]. He did not mean that it was a matter of “national interest” to hide Yang Peiyi from the camera.

Read more…

An imperfect perfection

August 12th, 2008 176 comments

Note: an update is inserted at the end.

The Beijing Olympics opening ceremony was, by most accounts, a brilliantly choreographed and spectacularly executed performance worth of a gold medal of its own. There were a fair number of notable highlights, and many journalists certainly were not shy from exhausting all the synonyms of the word “stunning” in the thesaurus in describing those scenes.

High on many Chinese viewers’ list of the most moving moments, however, is one that might not be easily appreciated by foreign audiences. Early in the process, China’s national flag was brought into the Bird’s Nest and raised while an young girl in a red dress stood singing “Hymn to the Motherland”. This song is perhaps best explained as the equivalent of “God Bless America” and is similarly considered an unofficial national anthem by many. The simple lyric line

歌唱我们亲爱的祖国,从今走向繁荣富强。 “We sing to our beloved motherland, on her way towards prosperity and strength.”

captures the hope and pride of so many Chinese for so long in merely 17 characters.
Read more…

The evolution of political activisms according to (misused) Gresham's law

August 7th, 2008 19 comments

From vegetable field to bird's nest: witnessing the birth of the national stadium in Beijing

August 3rd, 2008 5 comments

Many of you perhaps have already seen the stunning computer rendered image, shown above, of the national stadium, better known as the bird’s nest. But do you wonder what it looks like during the seven years of building? Read more…

The value of public opinion does not depend on its correctness per se

August 2nd, 2008 6 comments

Note: This post is a translation of an article written by Deng Wangjing 邓王景 and published on China Youth Online 中青在线 on July 31, 2008. It is a response to an essay “public opinion is not always correct” written by Chen Jibing 陈季冰 on the same site two days earlier. In turn, Chen’s essay, which is already translated by ESWN, seems to be a response to some even earlier articles. Some examples are:

Hopefully, such translations would give readers a stronger sense of (often quite lively and sometimes idealistic) discussions of politics, democracy, etc. in the Chinese media.
Read more…

A must-read: a reporter's guide to covering the Olympics

July 31st, 2008 51 comments

There is “A Reporter’s Guide to Covering the Olympics“, supposedly found in the Foreign Correspondents Club in Hong Kong, at Time’s China Blog. It is well worth a read. Read more…

Categories: media Tags: , , ,

Tom Miller Award Nominee: "Our Foreign Staff" at Telegraph

July 30th, 2008 73 comments

Nominee: “Our Foreign Staff” at Telegraph

News title/claim: China dumps gold medallists from Olympics ‘for political reasons’

Comment: Some writers at this British newspaper need to learn English. “Politics” as in office team politics =/= “political reasons”. Read more…

Categories: media Tags: , ,

Add this to your "what if California is a country …" line at the next party

July 22nd, 2008 14 comments

Wired recently reported some amazing statistics:
Read more…

Categories: News Tags: , , ,

The emperor has no clothes; South China Morning Post has no what?

July 21st, 2008 120 comments

It has been three days since the sensational title “Authorities order bars not to serve black people” written by Tom Miller showed up in the supposedly reputable South China Morning Post. I used the phrase “supposedly reputable” because I don’t read SCMP and really can’t directly comment on it. However I vaguely remember someone, in one of the many blogs/forums discussing this allegation, commented to the effect of: “It comes from the SCMP, which has a solid reputation. So I am inclined to believe this is true.” Sorry, I seriously intended to quote that comment here, but I somehow just can’t find it. It must be buried in lots of other comments either questioning SCMP’s journalism standard in this case or blaming China for all the wrongs of the universe. Nevertheless, I logically infer that SCMP must have had a solid reputation with at least some readers up until three days ago.

Read more…

How to greet properly in traditional Chinese style

July 19th, 2008 22 comments

On July 18th, Beijing released a set of official Olympic and Paralympic posters and graphics. A sharp eyed reader quickly pointed out a mistake in one of the smiling face photos:

Read more…

Categories: culture Tags: ,

The danger of categorically accusing others of prejudice

July 18th, 2008 65 comments

Tom Miller of the South China Morning Post has generated somewhat doubtful outrages with an article alleging Beijing ordered bars not to serve blacks. For now, however, Beijing Boyce seems to have seriously deflated the credibility of Tom Miller’s work. (H/T Danwei) Read more…

Make guests feel at home and follow the customs of your host

July 18th, 2008 26 comments

There is a heated debate going on regarding the lack of Chinese characters on China’s official Olympics uniforms in contrast with those on German’s sportswear.

Personally, I see no point in not printing Chinese text on China’s official uniforms. But for this post, I will purposely play the role of a “CCP apologist” and try to put these things in positive terms. 😉 Besides, I will explain two frequently used Chinese phrases and hopefully cast some light on a particular aspect of the Chinese culture.

Read more…

Another statistic

July 17th, 2008 8 comments

Anton Lee Wishik II wrote about an interesting statistic while discussing polling in China: Read more…

I know China has a lot of good food, but …

July 17th, 2008 7 comments

Tim Johnson dished out an interesting statistic of Beijing’s preparation for English speaking Olympics visitors: Read more…

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: ,

Lee Kuan Yew lashes out at critical human rights groups

July 16th, 2008 78 comments

Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore has never been shy in defending Singapore’s political system or his own legacy. During the recent Economic Society of Singapore’s annual dinner, Lee gave a stern rebuke to some human rights organizations that frequently picked on Singapore for not being a liberal democracy.

Mr. Lee charged such criticisms as “a conspiracy to do [Singapore] in” because Singapore was viewed a threat by those critics.

Explaining why these groups regarded Singapore as a threat, he said it was because they saw that the Russians and Chinese have been coming and studying Singapore’s success story and picking up pointers.

Read more…

Categories: News Tags: , ,

Chalk it up to the list of toxic exports from the U.S.

July 15th, 2008 31 comments

Rebecca MacKinnon concluded her blog entry on Chinese media control following the Weng’An riot with the following line:
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Categories: Uncategorized Tags: , ,

The art of PR: lying without technical falsehood

July 14th, 2008 38 comments

Reacting to reactions to a campaign that went too far, Amnesty International put the following disclaimer on its home page:

Amnesty International would like to make clear that it was not involved in the dissemination of a series of images that have been circulating on the web in relation to the Beijing Olympics. Amnesty International’s global website address is www.amnesty.org

The statement is not untrue per se. But some details were conveniently left out:

  • Amnesty International commissioned TBWA\Paris to produce those photos
  • It further granted permission to TBWA\Paris to run the ads once and enter them in the Cannes
  • The visuals were not final versions, and Amnesty International knew the wrong web address was a minor error

Can smog be used as a smokescreen?

July 13th, 2008 41 comments

Claire Fox is rather perceptive in her blog entry “Beijing Olympics: China’s green critics should get a grip“: Read more…

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: , , ,

Tall expectations on RMB

July 10th, 2008 13 comments

Here is a quick summary of Francesco Sisci’s take of what the G8 want with China’s currency RMB: Read more…

Categories: aside, News Tags: , ,

As far as unhealthy nationalism is concerned …

July 5th, 2008 10 comments

Shanghaiist highlighted some interesting news: “selling Chinese-made American flags within Minnesota is a crime punishable by up to 90 days in jail and/or a US$1,000 fine.”

What’s going to be the next, penalizing a bare lapel?

Categories: aside, News Tags: , ,

Happiness levels in mainland China, Taiwan, Hongkong, …

July 5th, 2008 11 comments

Many of the headlines have focused on Denmark being ranked the happiest country in the world after a U.S. funded global survey was released at the beginning of this week. So where are the Chinese people ranked? And what about the two countries often used for comparison/contrast with China (i.e. Russia and India)?

Rank, Score, Country/Region
48, +1.83, Taiwan
54, +1.64, mainland China
63, +1.16, Hongkong
69, +0.85, India
89, -1.01, Russia

Note: a negative value means a majority of the population being unhappy. And remember, these are just statistics…

Read more…

Categories: News Tags: , ,

Heads roll (figuratively) in the Weng'An riot aftermath

July 5th, 2008 10 comments

David Peng made a prediction in his blog An Anachronist’s Life on July 1st, thee days after the Weng’An riot:

… I predict, the “Hu Jintao style” government response [which emphasises on proactive reporting the news and guiding the public discussion/opinion in order to restore/maintain stability] is going to be followed by acts in the “organizing department style” , that the entire local leadership team is going to be summarily dismissed.

He was right. The following is a translation of an article titled “Party secretary and head commisioner of Weng’An county both dismissed”, coming from the Xinhua Net.

Guizhou provincial government continues pursuing officials responsible for the June 28th Weng’An incident. Authorities at various levels have decided on July 4th to dismiss Weng’An county party secretary, Wang Qin, and head commisioner, Wang Haiping, from their positions. [Note: these are the top 1 and 2 positions at the county level.]

Read more…

Categories: News Tags: , , ,