All posts by YinYang

Two bicycle thieves, two reactions from society

Have you ever wondered what “white privilege” is? The following segment is produced by ABC to highlight the American public’s racial bias towards Whites and Blacks. For good measure, it adds a twist – by adding a “beautiful” blonde as the final case. It is a short segment and totally worth watching.

Now think about this – when everything Chinese – the people, the companies, the culture, and the country herself are explicitly or implicitly trivialized or demonized in American media constantly, then what do you expect? While the days of Slavery of African Americans and Chinese Exclusion Act are over, the racist sentiments are still teething beneath the surface – as we see in these bicycle theft reactions.

Thanksgiving, a celebration and a tragedy

For most Americans, Thanksgiving will be about a turkey feast and homage to people they are thankful for. I too celebrate this occasion. However, the real history behind it is of course extremely dark. I just searched on Google for images related to “thanksgiving“, and there were only scant hints of Native Americans, let alone mention, as American writer, David Quammen puts it, a genocide. America has systematically been whitewashing this history. I recently came across an article written by Dennis W. Zotigh, a Native American Indian, who works as a writer and cultural specialist at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.. After reading it, I have been contemplating how might American society eventually come to grips with this appalling history in a honest and fair way. So far, the only way I can imagine it is that Native American Indians grow in sufficient numbers and then fight to have popular media represent their history more fairly. This will likely never happen. That then got me thinking: in the same vein, in order for Japan to apologize sincerely and for Japanese society to fully accept their invasion was wrong, China will have to become much stronger financially and politically. There is no other way. Anyways, since we are celebrating Thanksgiving, we mind as well know the whole truth.
Continue reading Thanksgiving, a celebration and a tragedy

A look back at Hillary Clinton’s 2011 “Internet Freedom” speech

Still recall former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s speech on “Internet Freedom?” Our first reaction on this blog was that America wanted unfettered access to citizens around the world. From a propaganda perspective, that idea enables the U.S. State Department to bypass foreign governments in reaching their citizens directly. Clinton herself has said the Internet would be a more viable means to reach into certain countries than, say, Voice of America (VOA), which often gets its signals jammed. This is also good business for the likes of Google and other American Internet services companies. The more users on Google, the more advertising dollars. And, it was no surprise at the beginning of that speech, Clinton pointedly acknowledged contributions from Google’s Chairman, Eric Schmidt. She affectionately described Schmidt, “co-conspirator from time to time” for that policy formulation.
Continue reading A look back at Hillary Clinton’s 2011 “Internet Freedom” speech

My Lai: anything else comes to mind besides the “napalm” girl?

When we hear about My Lai, the “napalm” girl immediately comes to mind, doesn’t she? Can we imagine what else was happening to the Vietnamese there?  Take a look at the picture below, starting with the woman holding a boy trying to button her shirt. From there, see the reactions from other people in the picture. This is of course one of those sad stories that’s never told enough. America has simply whitewashed it away. (Click here for the story.)

My Lai sexual assault by American soldiers

Putting BBC’s propaganda against Vietnam to the test

Is it possible to stop people from discussing news or current affairs on the Internet? The answer is easy: obviously not. I can’t see how that is possible without shutting the Internet down completely. And, what does it mean to be an “enemy of the internet” anyway? To qualify for that, wouldn’t a nation state be engaging in destroying Internet infrastructure globally or doing everything possible to shunt the productive potential of the Internet for humankind? Continue reading Putting BBC’s propaganda against Vietnam to the test

The U.S.S. Midway and the Phantom F-4 jet fighter

During my teenage years, I dreamed of becoming a jet fighter pilot. Believe it or not, I was accepted by the U.S. Air Force Academy, and had I opt for that career, I would certainly have seen my share of war. Anyways, few days ago, my family visited the U.S.S. Midway aircraft carrier in San Diego. The ship and the airplanes on it have been decommissioned for couple of decades now, but being in their presence still rekindled the excitement I had many years ago. Below is a frontal view of a Phantom F-4 on USS Midway. These two pieces of arsenal made a formidable duo during the early years of the Cold War. The fighter is capable of speed faster than mach 2 (two times the speed of sound). It can carry a variety of missiles and bombs, including the nuclear bomb!

Phantom 4 fighter on the U.S.S. Midway
Phantom F-4 fighter on the U.S.S. Midway

Continue reading The U.S.S. Midway and the Phantom F-4 jet fighter

San Diego Zoo Safari Park and few thoughts on conservation

Slideshow below are random shots I took while at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park today. I admire the efforts at this facility in educating the public about endangered animals as well as their active role in helping to stop some species from becoming extinct.


On the topic of poaching, I think there is something to be said about the rich countries versus the poor.
Continue reading San Diego Zoo Safari Park and few thoughts on conservation

Chinese Tourists

Ultimus Prime robot at the Transformers ride in Universal Studios
Ultimus Prime robot at the Transformers ride in Universal Studios

In recent years, we hear increasing number of Chinese tourists visit Western countries. I have certainly seen my share and even encountered quite a few. While at Universal Studios yesterday, I am yet again reminded of that trend. In fact, for a brief moment I thought I was in China as two large groups of tourists made their way towards the Transformer ride. I had just gotten off the ride and was heading out. As they walked by, I glance into the crowd. Partly, because I was hoping to catch some eyes so that I can give back a welcoming smile. But, partly, because I was intent on observing for any odd behavior.

(Earlier this year on Maui, Hawaii, I regretted not able to stop in time a Chinese tourist spitting water he gurgled his mouth with unto the pristine beach – the same beach where shortly after I took these shots of cliff diving. Suffice to say, he was embarrassed. And so was I – knowing other beach-goes have just caught a glimpse of something as unthinkable as that just happened!)

Alas, both groups were well mannered and “normal.”

Due to the volume of Chinese tourists, Universal Studios in fact have studio tours conducted in Mandarin couple of times a day. Continue reading Chinese Tourists

On Yemen drone strikes and U.S. mainstream and social media

For those of you who pay attention to the news, the United States have stepped up drone strikes recently, including many in Yemen. It is interesting to observe how the U.S. and British media report on such strikes and their damages. CNN headlined those killed as, “militants.” Reuters, “suspected militants.” Bloomberg, “Al-Qaeda Suspects.” U.K’s BBC, “militants.”

Except, according to Press TV, an Iranian-based station, “US drones kill mostly civilians in Yemen.”

So, what is the real truth? Difficult to know isn’t it? However, as FAIR.org recently argued, the U.S. mainstream media are basically letting U.S. government officials decide who the casualties are and never bother to find out: Continue reading On Yemen drone strikes and U.S. mainstream and social media

“first island chain”

island_chains
(click to enlarge)
During the Cold War, the United States sought to contain China by forming a “first island chain” from Japan reaching all the way down to the Philippines. (Refer to the map on the left.) Circled are various straits China has successfully navigated through to date. After reading this China Daily report, I was curious where those mentioned straits are located. With Russia, China probably feels more emboldened to crossed those parts of the chain.

We are accustomed to hearing joint navy exercises between the U.S. and Japan in the region on a regular basis. However, in recent years, China and Russia are conducting exercises of their own. Given Obama’s Asia Pivot, where the U.S. officially divert more naval power to the region, China sees urgency in beefing up her presence too. Continue reading “first island chain”

New national story or not, Orville Schell and John Delury’s article whitewashes Western atrocities

If a survey is conducted in the West about the Opium Wars, very few would know about them today.  Even the few who actually know about them will likely not hold the Brits and other Western powers responsible.  The reason is because the West has been whitewashing this history.

Case in point was the 1997 Hong Kong hand-over.  The Western media spent virtually no time educating their audience how Hong Kong was forcibly taken by the Brits (and hence the hand-over).  They instead focused majority of their effort vilifying the Chinese political system and sensationalizing an imminent destruction of Hong Kong’s way of life.  This clever tactic is willful omission – by not talking about the miseries of the Chinese at the hands of the drug-pushers and Western invaders, the perpetrators were absolved of their sins. Continue reading New national story or not, Orville Schell and John Delury’s article whitewashes Western atrocities

Climate of not so truths

The following short CCTV report is actually a great summary of the key issues confronting America today. There are so much junk in the American press, it is difficult to make heads and tails of what is happening with them. America should demand and hold her leaders to account when they make promises or make lies. The current climate has no shame, no accountability. It is a sorry state of affairs. It is also difficult to see how American society improves from here.

How CNN uses disaster to propagandize against a government

(最近,一些中国朋友对这篇文章表示兴趣。我简单解释。两年前,中国温州有高铁遇意外。最近,西班牙的高铁也有意外。右边的CNN报告是关于中国的意外。左边是报西班牙的。这两篇文章非常清楚。CNN关于中国文章的目的是骂中国。不像西班牙的报告, 唯一关于意外。这是他们的宣传技巧。这是西方媒体的宣传技巧。他们不希望中国高铁进入他们的市场。中国人,行业,社会,政府都需要被他们骂的臭臭的。)
Western propaganda has become an art-form, and for the unsuspecting audience, it is invisible.  If you decide to be critical though, you will immediately see how thinly-veiled the propaganda is.  Some of you might have heard about the recent high-speed rail crash in Spain, killing 69 people according to the latest count.  The weird coincidence is that China’s Wenzhou crash was exactly 2 years ago.  Below are two articles from CNN reporting on the crashes.  On the right column is of China’s crash two years ago and on the left column is a recent coverage for Spain’s.  Notice how the Spain article is about the accident while the article on China is a condemnation of China’s HRS and governance.  CNN can find tons of criticism and dissatisfaction on Spain’s Internet too if it wants.  Yes, right now.  CNN can find critical things to write about the Spanish government: for example, Spain woefully under-funds its infrastructure.  These are CNN’s explicit choices to make.  See the glaring difference in the articles as a result of the choices CNN made. Welcome to “free” press.
Continue reading How CNN uses disaster to propagandize against a government

“Cross-straits” team wins Winbledon doubles title

It has been two weeks since “cross-straits” team Peng Shuai (彭帥) (mainland) and Hsieh Su-wei (謝淑薇) (Taipei) won the women’s title at Winbledon. Moments after their win, a Japanese reporter has already created a lasting stir within China. The controversy went as follows, according to Phoenix News Media Ltd (in Chinese):

賽後,一名日本記者請謝淑薇以“第一個拿到大滿貫賽冠軍的‘台灣人’”身份,去談談“這對自己的‘國家’意味著什麼”。在聆聽兩人交談了一段後,彭帥舉手示意打斷,她說:“對不起,我還坐在這裡,我不能接受台灣是一個‘國家’的說法,網球只是體育運動,我們並不想被牽扯進政治。我們倆私下不會刻意去談這樣的話題,而且從小到大一直就覺得‘海峽組

My translation below:

After the game, a Japanese reporter asked Hieh Su-wei, “Being the first to win a grand-slam as a ‘Taiwanese,’ can you talk about what it means for your ‘country.’ After a short exchange between the two, Peng Shui interrupted. She said, “Excuse me. I am still sitting here. I cannot accept Taiwan is a ‘country’ type of talk. Tennis is sport. We don’t want to bring politics into this. We don’t want to discuss this type of issue. Furthermore, since when we were young, we have always thought of ourselves as a ‘cross-straits’ team.

Continue reading “Cross-straits” team wins Winbledon doubles title

“human rights,” “democracy,” “freedom,” and now, “rule of law”

When Western countries invade Iraq out of “human rights,” “democracy,” and “freedom,” those become ideologies used as propaganda to dupe their public into supporting unjust wars. Obviously, there are merits in the ideas carried behind those words. But the essence of the propaganda, the power behind the propaganda, is the religious believe in the absolute and universality of those ideas. There is no universality. Regular Hidden Harmonies readers know we frequently argue against that notion. So, today, in this brief post, I would like for our readers to meet another one: “rule of law.” In fact, Allen has been hinting he’d offer us a full treatise for some time now, but recently, in a fit of rage at me, I thought he offered up a really good summary. It was enough to wake me up fully. I used to believe in the absoluteness of “rule of law,” but no longer. It’s another religion. Continue reading “human rights,” “democracy,” “freedom,” and now, “rule of law”

Internet Freedom vs NSA Dragnet

Have you ever wondered how a map would look like if it showed Internet freedom versus the NSA dragnet recently revealed by Edward Snowden? Well, it would look like the following map.  Click to have a look first and then come back to this post.

Facebook-Map - adjusted for population density (click to enlarge)
Facebook-Map – adjusted for population density (click to enlarge)

Continue reading Internet Freedom vs NSA Dragnet

Finally, a “cogent” argument why Edward Snowden is a traitor to America

At this point, the dominant narrative in the American media on Edward Snowden is undoubtedly him being a traitor. The reason for a turn for the ‘worse’ is Snowden revealing to the world, especially to China and Hong Kong, how the United States hack their universities, public officials, and tapping into Pacnet, the major backbone of the Internet for the whole Asia region and stealing SMS and other communications. Kurt Eichenwald argued recently on that point, and major American reporters on Twitter are lauding that line of thinking as “cogent” and a “must read.” The idea there is that NSA’s ability to spy and hack the Chinese (and Russians and other countries the United States may get into conflict with) is severely compromised. If Snowden had kept to whistle-blowing only on the surveillance of Americans, the debate about whether he is a traitor would have continued. Since he divulged American spying and hacking capabilities to potential enemies, he has become a traitor. I buy that argument. Continue reading Finally, a “cogent” argument why Edward Snowden is a traitor to America

Putin talks to Russia Today about NSA, Iran, and American mindset

Have you thought to yourself, “man, this talk about freedom, God, human rights, and we are for good while people we don’t like are evil has become so trite and boring?!” I actually thought the following round-table of Vladimir Putin dishing out his views on America refreshingly interesting. I have my opinions, but I often wished American politicians would be equally willing to be frank about how they feel towards certain issues in practical terms rather coated with so much righteous non-sense.

Prism and U.S. Internet Giant’s Denial

Now that the U.S. President Obama has publicly acknowledged the existence of PRISM, it is interesting to see executives from America’s Internet giants such as Google’s Larry Page saying he has no knowledge of it. It is mind-boggling that he could say that while in 2012 alone, 1856 electronic surveillance and physical searches were approved with NONE denied by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

As I have written in the past, it is Google’s business interest to align with the current U.S. strategy on “Internet freedom.” The idea there is simple: make sure every citizen in every county have unfettered access to Google, Facebook, Twitter, and other U.S.-based Internet services. It’s great for business. It’s also great for NSA to freely tap into foreign national’s private emails and everything else.

Perhaps all those 1856 instances in 2012 were of U.S. national security interest, but for each not, it is tantamount to the U.S. government hacking into private stuff of foreign nationals – with Google, Facebook, etc assisting. With knowledge about Prism, governments around the planet will likely be discouraging their citizens from using foreign Internet services.

So, here again, for some who espouse a “free” Internet, the intent is not truly free. The Chinese government by blocking some of these services has proven once again they are prescient.

Remembering June 4th

A friend of mine who lives in Shanghai wrote a quick WeChat update today:

“今天64,缅怀一下当年为自由民主牺牲的青年”

which roughly translates to:

“Today is June 4th. Let’s pay homage to those young Chinese who perished in the cause of freedom and democracy.”

(For an in-depth article on June 4th, read “Let’s Talk About Tiananmen Square, 1989” and in Chinese, “且谈1989年的天安门事件.”)
Many of our readers’ reaction might be: “oh no, another idealist who is sold on the ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’ religion!” Not so! In fact, there are many in China who use these two terms as a way to solidify grievances they have with Chinese society. They mainly see China as more backwards compared to richer countries like the United States. When asked what China is more backwards on? Many a response come as, “we have less freedom and democracy.” Continue reading Remembering June 4th

Tsung Tsung is why I am bullish on China

Video below was taken about a year ago, then 5-year old Tsung Tsung exhibiting what a piano prodigy he was. This is obviously raw talent and true passion. It would have been a shame for not Tsung Tsung’s parents affording him the piano and the lessons. Tsung Tsung is another example of why I am bullish on China. The hundreds of millions of Chinese finally moving out of the farms, away from playing in the dirt, are finally getting a chance to unleash their potential. That’s all due to stable development. When James Fallows told the Anglophone media that the Chinese have no dream, well, we were the first to tell him: shove it!

On June 4th, Reactions to “What’s wrong with China?” and other bits

With June 4th right around the corner, the Western press will likely try to milk it, though each year with decreasing column space. In anticipation of that, we remind our readers the narrative perpetrated in the West is not the truth. 龙信明 draws from public materials and shows us what the real truth is, in English, “Let’s Talk About Tiananmen Square, 1989,” and in Chinese, “且谈1989年的天安门事件.”

For new visitors to Hidden Harmonies, I highly recommend a visit to our “Featured Posts” section (the right third of the blog main screen). There you will find featured articles addressing key topics these last few years by this blog. For example, Ray examines the international political climate surrounding the lead up to the Great Leap Forward (“Another Look at the Great Leap Forward“). melektaus discusses how the Western media collectively defames China (“Collective Defamation“). Allen addresses what Democracy means (“Understanding Democracy.”) Black Phoenix debates other American lawyers about the status of Tibet (“2008 ‘Olympic Debate’ over Tibet on American Bar Association China Law Committee.”)

melektaus‘ recent observations about the Chinese people (“What’s wrong with China? Hint: it’s not the government“) has certainly caused a stir. We all should commend him for sharing his thoughts from the bottom of his heart and for his genuine desire to see a better Chinese society. (Some of you might be visiting because James Fallows of The Atlantic has linked to it. As an aside, see our take on why Fallows is so wrong on so many things related to China.)  Anyways, I don’t want to derail his thread, so if you wish to add to the conversation, I urge you to continue there. Many of you have offered thoughtful comments, so thank you. I do want to highlight Allen‘s response here, because, as he illustrates clearly, we all have a tendency to judge others based on our standards – and is unfair: Continue reading On June 4th, Reactions to “What’s wrong with China?” and other bits

Suzhou Pingtan (苏州评弹): 姑苏十二娘

A civilization of 1.3 billion and having a continuous history of thousands of years can only mean one thing: it’s language and culture should have both amazing breath and depth. One of my hobbies is to rediscover this richness that’s accorded me through my heritage. I want people around me to relish in what Chinese culture has to offer. Recently, I discovered Suzhou Pingtan (苏州评弹), an interesting oral artform accompanied usually by musical instruments or props to tell a story. Its roots are Suzhou and Jiangsu (江苏) in the 1600’s. The performance below is done by a large group, a modern rendition I suppose, though I think two or three performers are the norm. I lament my Chinese language is poor, because the prose and the stories are often delivered in amazing eloquence (Chinese language can be extremely compact while character combinations provide context enabling further reduction in number of characters needed).

A Conversation with Boi Boi Huong on the Great Leap Forward

Recently I had a chance to speak with Boi Boi Huong (mp3, audio play link below). Her family emigrated to Holland from Vietnam when she was young. While in college, she took a stronger interest in China, and in fact completing her thesis on the Great Leap Forward. The timing of her work was interesting, because this had been just couple of years following 1989. Western academia and press at that time were especially hostile to China and China’s political system. The Great Leap Forward has always being used in the Western press and academia to vilify Mao Zedong and his policies, especially with the millions of deaths coinciding that period. Once Huong found out a bit about the circumstances of that period, she was able to quickly figure out the dominant narratives in the West were flawed. (Make sure to also read Ray‘s excellent post, “Another Look at the Great Leap Forward” and Allen‘s robust analysis of the death numbers, “Did Millions Die in the Great Leap Forward: A Quick Note on the Underlying Statistics.”)

As many Hidden Harmonies readers who are of Chinese descent likely could identify, having everything related to ‘China’, be it culture, history, people, ideas, companies, government, or whatever constantly cast in negative light really represses a bit of who we are. We may be citizens of whichever country we live in, but we should be allowed to feel proud about our heritage just like everyone else. To the Chinese, Mao was a symbol of modern China. Under his leadership, ordinary Chinese were finally freed from imperialism, invasions, and centuries of miserable life. Mao is more than the mere mistakes he has committed. Nor is he any of that exaggerated sins pinned against him in the West.

Click on the play button or right-click on the link to save the podcast for local listening: link. Please bear in mind English is not Huong’s primary language.