All posts by Steve

Google – A New Approach to China

Google issued a press release on their blog just a few hours ago pertaining to their operation in China. It is big news and will take some time to digest. I don’t want to comment, just get the story out.  Continue reading Google – A New Approach to China

Shanghai Style: Pajamas in the Great Outdoors

Shanghai PajamasIt seems the long held social custom of Shanghainese to walk down the street in their pajamas is causing some discomfort to the organizers of the Shanghai World Expo scheduled for next year and a campaign has been started by the municipal government to end the practice.

It’s not that unusual to see middle aged women milling around on the street in their pajamas, or even walking to the subway or local shopping mall. So the slogan “No Pajamas in Public – be Civilized for the Expo” has been coined to end what the government feels is uncivilized behavior in a modern, world class city. As China Daily columnist Raymond Zhou said recently in “In Defense of Pajamas”:

“So, it’s not really about whether we like it, but rather about whether we are liked. Again, it’s the quintessential concept of “face” and “saving face”.

Not many Chinese are shocked to see a street full of pajama-wearing pedestrians, but if international visitors feel squeamish about it we should stop doing it. Or so the implied rationale for the crackdown goes.”

The city’s tactic to stamp out street pajama wearers was to create a team of 500 volunteers to use persuasion at bus stops and other venues to convince pajama wearing Shanghainese residents to change their clothes.

Continue reading Shanghai Style: Pajamas in the Great Outdoors

Association for Preserving Historical Accuracy of Foreign Invasions in China (APHAFIC)

P1010462 (Large) Welcome to APHAFIC, the Association for Preserving Historical Accuracy of Foreign Invasions in China. This organization was started in San Diego by Nancy Lo, the current president, as a rebuttal to some of the historical inaccuracies coming out of Japan concerning the Japanese invasion of China in the early to mid 20th century. Nancy is wearing a floral dress in this photo. She was very good friends with Iris Chang (The Rape of Nanking) and felt this issue wasn’t getting the attention it deserved.

The mission of the Association is as follows:

Continue reading Association for Preserving Historical Accuracy of Foreign Invasions in China (APHAFIC)

Can Ma Ying-jeou Weather the Storm?

From August 6-9, southern Taiwan was hit with the worst typhoon in 50 years. Per the Associated Press story:

“Morakot dumped more than 80 inches (two meters) of rain on the island last weekend and stranded thousands in villages in the mountainous south. A total of 15,400 villagers have been ferried to safety, and rescuers are working to save another 1,900 people. The storm destroyed the homes of 7,000 people and caused agricultural and property damage in excess of 50 billion New Taiwan dollars ($1.5 billion), Ma told the security conference.”

Continue reading Can Ma Ying-jeou Weather the Storm?

Louis Yu's Indie Podcasts

Louis Yu It’s not often a guy working on his PhD in theoretical computer science is also one of the hottest Chinese DJs in North America, but there’s always an exception and Louis Yu (余雷) fits that role. Originally from Guilin, China,  he’s currently in Vancouver, Canada studying at the University of Victoria while also doing a weekly podcast featuring world indie music.

And where can you find his 30 minute weekly podcast? It’s right here on  www.wooozy.cn where you can catch this week’s show plus access the archive for all previous editions once you’re hooked. The difference with Louis’ show is that all the introductions are in Mandarin rather than English. It’s his way to bring a new style of music to an audience more familiar with Asian pop in a easy to digest manner. Starting in September, he’ll be switching to a show highlighting an equal balance of both Western & Chinese music.

Lou was kind enough to share his thoughts on China’s current music scene. As he is a Chinese expat very familiar with indie music throughout the world, I felt his opinions would be a nice contrast to the western voices we’ve heard reporting from China.

Continue reading Louis Yu's Indie Podcasts

Cross Cultural Dating

17m Now that many non-Chinese have moved to China and many native Chinese live throughout the world, cross cultural dating has become far more common. For someone leaving mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong or Singapore and moving to a western country, what are some of the cultural pitfalls and traps you need to avoid and adjustments you need to make? For someone moving to any of those four areas, the same questions apply. Are the “rules” different for Chinese women dating outside their culture as compared to Chinese men doing the same?

My direct experience isn’t too pertinent since I met my wife in Phoenix and she had already been living in the States for nine years, but there were still many adjustments we (mostly I) had to make. She was the first Asian woman I had ever dated so I didn’t fall into the “yellow fever” category. However, when I was living in mainland China and Taiwan, I had a chance to observe, ask questions and learn more from others involved in cross cultural relationships.

Continue reading Cross Cultural Dating

Chimerica: James Fallows & Niall Ferguson

This is the full session between Niall Ferguson and James Fallows at the recently held Aspen Ideas Festival. Allen had posted excepts and we promised you the complete discussion as soon as it became available. Niall Ferguson had coined the term “Chimerica” to describe the symbiotic relationship between the economies of China and the United States. He currently sees this relationship as being in jeopardy, while James Fallows feels the relationship is far stronger the most realize. This video is slightly over 75 minutes.

Continue reading Chimerica: James Fallows & Niall Ferguson

Chinese Rock n' Roll!

hardqueen81 We’ve done some posts on China and Taiwan music in the past, but those were about the general music scene. Today I’d like to feature two videos created by Brendan Madden, who lives in Qingdao, is a teacher and member of the band Dama Llamas, and keeps up with the scene in northern China. I’ll also feature a few other bands you might not know, and some comments about where I think things are headed.

These two mini-documentaries show the trials and tribulations of trying to establish modern music venues in China. So far, the audience has too many non-Chinese expats along with too few locals, though locals form most of the bands themselves. Right now, Beijing is the hot spot in northern China with the most popular bands in the country. Outside of Beijing, legitimate venues are hard to come by and the money isn’t very lucrative. In these places, rock n’ roll comes strictly from the heart.

Continue reading Chinese Rock n' Roll!

India: Friend, Enemy, or Both?

This article was printed in the People’s Daily on June 19th. Since this is a state controlled publication, whatever is published will usually have the blessing of the CCP leadership.

Chinese President Hu Jintao and India PM Manmohan Singh recently appeared together at the BRIC summit in Russia. Things seemed friendly enough at the time. What has changed since then? And why would China have a problem with the Asia Development Bank financing development projects in Arunachal Pradesh? I would think economic development in an area that China considers to be a part of her territory would be viewed by China in a positive manner, as it would be beneficial to the people of that region.

Continue reading India: Friend, Enemy, or Both?

Iran & China: Is World Press Coverage Similar or Different?

i38_19379493 Events of the last week in Iran have been widely reported by the world press. Not long before, the press also reported on the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square incident of 1989. Were these two distinct events reported in a similar manner or were they treated as different and unique events? Let’s take a look at each and see what we can find.

1) Who are the good guys and who are the bad guys?

Based on the coverage I’ve seen, both governments were cast as being in the wrong and both protest movements as in the right. In the case of China, the government sent in tanks and used live ammunition to break up a protest movement that was alleged to have turned violent. Most of the reporters in the world press were located in or near the same area, and their reports reflected what occurred in that vicinity. Analyzes of this event in most cases pointed to the government as the culprit and the demonstrators as being victims and responding in a suitable fashion. Is this an accurate assessment? The Chinese government attempted to confiscate film of the event from foreign sources but those attempts were successfully evaded in most instances.

Continue reading Iran & China: Is World Press Coverage Similar or Different?

Green Dam-Youth Escort

China Internet

It seems the western media and Chinese blogosphere agree on one thing; Green Dam is not winning any popularity contests. Today, the Chinese government backed down on the mandatory usage of the software, though it will still come either pre-loaded or be included on a compact disc with all PCs sold on the  mainland from July 1st.

There are several problems associated with this software, each one an interesting topic in itself. I’d like to run down the issues associated with its release, one by one.

1) Why the sudden announcement of this invasive software with virtually no implementation time given to the manufacturers?
Continue reading Green Dam-Youth Escort

Perception vs. Reality?

I was reading an opinion column in the Washington Post that contained information I thought might be of interest to the group. It concerned a BBC World View poll showing how countries view each other, either positively or negatively and the percentages of each. It was interesting to see not only how countries viewed each other, but also how the view a country has of itself can be very different than the actual reality. Per the Post column, “A whopping 92 percent of Chinese surveyed believe that China has a mainly positive influence on the world; whereas a mere 39 percent of people polled in 20 other major countries agree. This was the largest perception gap among the countries’ polled.”

Continue reading Perception vs. Reality?

China in the Year 2020: Three Political Scenarios

In our Dalai Lama Warns of Looming Violence thread, Wukailong linked to this essay covering three political scenarios that China might face in the year 2020. The author, Cheng Li is Senior Fellow at the John L. Thornton China Center of the Brookings Institution and William R. Kenan Professor of Government at Hamilton College. His summary is as follows:

Continue reading China in the Year 2020: Three Political Scenarios

Song of the Grass-Mud Horse

There’s a new phenomenon sweeping China. Back in January on a Chinese web page, a new video made its way from there into the hearts of internet users all across the country, spawning a wave of related items such as cartoons, documentaries and grass-mud horse dolls.

Continue reading Song of the Grass-Mud Horse

Silly Taiwan Acronyms

Reading TonyP4’s comment this morning on the Numbers as Language thread, I noticed he used the acronym FOB meaning “Fresh Off Boat”. That reminded me of my Taiwan days and especially Catherine, one of the gals at my office in Hsinchu who was one of the funniest people with one of the driest wits I’ve ever encountered. She seemed to have an acronym for everything! So I thought it’d be fun for everyone to share the ones they know. I’ll start it off: “That stupid MBA made a pass at an MIT while married to an ABC. He’s just an IBM anyway.”

Continue reading Silly Taiwan Acronyms

Internal Divisions and the Chinese Stimulus Plan

I ran across this article today on Stratfor, the geopolitical global intelligence service. It discussed a side of China’s political and economic situation that we have touched upon here and there but never delved into that deeply. It highlights some of the intraparty differences within the CPC and expands on the philosophies of those factions.

I’d like to hear everyone’s comments, and especially those from our bloggers living in China, about how they view the two primary economic factions and their strategies within the party. There are several links within the article that take you to further analyses of those particular subjects.

Continue reading Internal Divisions and the Chinese Stimulus Plan

Serfs' Emancipation Day for Tibet

The following article appeared in the BBC News Online today:

Serfs’ Emancipation Day for Tibet

By James Reynolds
Beijing

China has declared a new annual holiday in Tibet called Serfs’ Emancipation Day, to mark the end of what it says was a system of feudal oppression.

The local parliament in Tibet has passed a bill which declares 28 March as the new holiday.

The announcement comes in the run-up to the 50th anniversary of the escape into exile of the Dalai Lama.

The 49th anniversary a year ago led to widespread protests by monks and others in and around Tibet.

Continue reading Serfs' Emancipation Day for Tibet

Chinese American Art & Culture

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Heart Sutra: Calligraphy by Wendy Lee

The San Diego Chinese Art Society recently presented the Thirteenth Annual San Diego International Music & Arts Festival. Sometimes we tend to forget about Chinese who have emigrated to other countries but continue to keep in touch with their culture in a new environment. The San Diego Chinese community has many organizations dedicated to keeping their ancestral culture alive, and the events these organizations hold are supported not just by Chinese Americans but by the San Diego residents from all ethnic groups.

Continue reading Chinese American Art & Culture

Hakka Tulou in Fujian Province

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Huaiyuan Lou Tulou; built in 1907

We’ve had discussions about Hakka culture in the past with several of our commenters being of Hakka ancestry, so I wanted to show some photos taken by Ted of tulou (土楼; 土樓) in Fujian province. 60% of Hakka are from the Xingning/Meixian area of Guangdong province and over 95% of overseas Hakka were originally from that region, but tulou exist only in Fujian.

Continue reading Hakka Tulou in Fujian Province

Taiwan's Alternative Music Scene

ricemagnet

We covered China’s  underground music scene in a previous thread and with the new year approaching, I wanted to introduce some alternative artists from Taiwan.  I’m sure everyone already knows the most popular Mando-pop stars, so here are a few that are a little less known. Most of these musicians either made their debuts or saw an upsurge in their popularity over the course of 2008. An article I read recently in the Taipei Times was the initial catalyst in my search for finding newer artists.

Continue reading Taiwan's Alternative Music Scene

As Trade Slows, China Rethinks Its Growth Strategy

A recent article in the NY Times with excerpts below, talks about the continued deepening of China’s economic slowdown. When calculated in China’s own currency for a true local effect, the situation is worse than expected even a few short weeks ago. There is recession in the USA, recession in Japan, cancelled orders and lack of re-orders hitting the Chinese businesses dedicated to export markets.

The Chinese government’s plan is to stimulate the local economy and encourage its people to lower their savings rate. But with the lack of a health care plan or retirement programs, people seem to be saving more, not less. What is the best way for China to head off a recession? Should they establish a rudimentary health care plan for their citizens? Or is the money better spent in other areas? Continue reading As Trade Slows, China Rethinks Its Growth Strategy

Hu Jintao Urges Closer Ties with Taiwan

Yesterday’s  Associated Press article featured below might indicate movement between China and Taiwan in terms of closer military cooperation and inclusion in some international organizations. The language seems softer than in the past and no date for reunification was set forth by Hu.

Now that the three links have been established, what should the next step be? Would it be membership in the WHO, demilitarization between the island and mainland, or something in the economic realm? Continue reading Hu Jintao Urges Closer Ties with Taiwan

China's Charter 08

Recently, over 2000 Chinese citizens signed the document below, released on December 10th, calling for human rights and democracy with an eventual end to one party rule. I’ve used the translation from the New York Review of Books with sections of their Postscript included. This document was signed by Chinese citizens living inside China, not expat dissidents living abroad. The Postscript gives some information concerning the status of a few of the 303 intellectuals who had signed the document. The blog Global Voices  also has an in-depth look at the current status of the more prominent signatories.


What do you think of this document? Should it be discussed or dismissed? Should the signers be arrested and jailed? Is there room in the current China for this type of discussion? Continue reading China's Charter 08

Chinese Crew Fights Off Pirates

From the Times Online website with thanks to FOARP: Chinese Crew Used Beer Bottles To Fight Off Pirates

 The crew of a Chinese ship have described how they used beer bottles and water cannon to fend off a pirate attack off the Somali coast before they were rescued.

Zhenua 4 was one of four vessels seized by pirates on Wednesday, shortly after the UN Security Council authorised countries to pursue the renegades by land and air.

Nine pirates armed with rocket launchers and machineguns boarded the ship, Xinhua, the Chinese state-run news agency, reported. Continue reading Chinese Crew Fights Off Pirates

Direct Flights between China & Taiwan Begin

It’s about time!

Per Mark McDonald at the International Herald Tribune: Shortly after dawn Monday, a passenger plane took off from Shenzhen, China, bound for Taiwan. The 80-minute flight across the Taiwan Strait marked the first regular cross-strait traffic since the end of the civil war in 1949 and another dramatic step in the improvement of relations between the two countries.

The Shenzhen Airlines flight from China – along with a later TransAsia Airways flight to Shanghai from Taiwan’s capital, Taipei – inaugurated regular direct flights between Taiwan and mainland China. Direct ship traffic and mail service also began Monday, state media reported.

Xinhua, the official Chinese news agency, reported that the flight from Shenzhen took off at 7:20 a.m. The TransAsia flight from Taipei left 46 minutes later. A total of 16 direct passenger flights were scheduled Monday. Continue reading Direct Flights between China & Taiwan Begin

The Princess Tai Ping Crosses the Pacific Ocean

And now for something completely different!

After sailing across the Pacific Ocean in a 15th century Chinese junk, Captain Nelson Liu and his crew of seven on the Princess Tai Ping spent their last few days at the San Diego Maritime Museum before making their way to Hawaii and eventually back to Japan and Taipei.

The 54 foot, 35 ton Fujian style warship, built and launched from Xiamen using the same materials as their ancestors, is following the conjectured route of 15th century Chinese admiral Zheng He who, according to some theories, may have arrived on the North American West Coast long before Cabrillo.

Continue reading The Princess Tai Ping Crosses the Pacific Ocean

The Indie Music Scene In China

Chinese culture has undergone tremendous change in the last 20 years. We tend to notice the big events: Massive new skyscrapers, world class airports, new symphony halls, the Olympic Games, 5 star hotels and restaurants, etc. But what we might not see is that below the surface, there are other changes taking place.

China has developed an exciting indie music scene throughout the country. Though strongest in Beijing, excellent bands have appeared in Shanghai, Guangzhou and other parts of the country. Though there is a huge pop music industry with many very popular singers, these are acts that are less known but have developed a core following among the young. I’d like to introduce you to a few bands and hear about others you know that you can share with us. Follow the links to their myspace sites and the songs will usually play automatically. For the Neocha site which is in China, you need to click on the “play” button. I’ve included descriptions of each band either from the web or from my own knowledge. Continue reading The Indie Music Scene In China

Is China An Inclusive Society?

With its recent election of an African American president, the United States has continued to evolve into a more inclusive society. One of the reasons is that being “American” means buying into a set of ideas rather than belonging to a particular race, creed or color. What was once a society of European immigrants is now a culture with roots from around the world; a culture that celebrates and is proud of its multicultural heritage. Continue reading Is China An Inclusive Society?