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April 20th, 2013 11 comments

Latest number from China Daily’s coverage shows death toll has risen to 200+ for the Yan’an (雅安) earthquake which occurred yesterday.  The epicenter is not too far from the 5.12 quake that hit Sichuan back in 2008.  Rescue operations is paramount during the first 72-hour window following the quake.  China has already mobilized 8,000 troops with more on standby.  This was a 7.0 magnitude quake, and though comparatively weaker than the 8.1 few years ago but still massive.  For the 1.5 million people affected in Sichuan, and especially in Yan’an (雅安), we stand by you. 雅安我们和你在一起!

Remembering Lu Lingzi (吕令子)

April 18th, 2013 3 comments
Lu Lingzi (吕令子) was among those killed at the Boston Marathon bombing.

Lu Lingzi (吕令子) was among those killed at the Boston Marathon bombing.

Our condolences to the victims and families of the Boston Marathon bombing. Among the three deaths is Lu Lingzi (吕令子), a Chinese national, who is studying at the Boston University in applied mathematics. Following is a translated letter from her parents (source: BU) to Bostonian’s, encouraging them to move forward as a way to remember Lu.

We are grieving and at a loss for words to describe the pain and sadness we are experiencing following the sudden passing of our dear daughter, Lingzi. She was the joy of our lives. She was a bright and wonderful child. We were thrilled to watch her grow into an intelligent and beautiful young woman. She was a positive role model for many others.
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Hollywood has underwent self-censorship training, so should Feng Xiaogang

April 18th, 2013 38 comments

Western narrative likes to pit Chinese against China’s government censorship.  In accepting the director of the year award, Feng Xiaogang (冯小刚) publicly lamented the difficulties he faced in complying with Chinese censors.  What Feng and the 10,000-some people who retweeted him on weibo (sizable, but not that big a deal given the 500 million+ users) need to realize is that Hollywood will never make blockbusters about innocent Iraqi’s or Afghani’s and other innocent civilians killed in America’s drone strikes.  Hollywood will never do a lot of things.  All Feng needs to do is to ask his Hollywood friends to make a list, then he will understand perhaps what he has to put up with is not all that bad.  Don’t get me wrong.  All societies practice censorship.  The simple truth is really just that some societies simply have thick skin like the fattest pig and feel no embarrassment wagging fingers at others.

Life in flames: The story behind Tibetan self-immolation (Xinhua News)

April 3rd, 2013 7 comments

(It’s worth noting that Gady Epstein of The Economist calls this video, “remarkable propaganda document.” If you think about it, that’s a wholesale rejection of the Chinese point of view. This is politics. But, then, don’t forget that The Economist and other Western media self-proclaim to be “free.” According to their definition, Western journalism is supposed to be about presenting differing perspectives. That’s rubbish. As regular readers of Hidden Harmonies know, Western media is every bit about propaganda as much as anything else.)

Chinese media criticism of Apple aims to rectify U.S. protectionism against Huawei

April 1st, 2013 37 comments

Apple’s Tim Cook formally apologized to Chinese customers today in response to media criticisms within China for unfair warranty and customer service related issues. China’s Consumer Association have also demanded Apple making a formal apology. While U.S. media in unison came to Apple’s defense before today’s apology, making light of Chinese consumer grievances, I think there is a bigger issue at stake. As I examined how ridiculous the U.S. media and some U.S. politicians are against Huawei back in August 2012, it’s a matter of time the Chinese government retaliates:

Huawei might need the Chinese media’s help in doing some defamation against Cisco before that American protectionism truly drops. It’s hard to imagine any other way. Huawei’s Chen Lifan is asking for ideas!

Instead of Cisco, Apple is an ideal target. For one, its user base is much larger than Cisco’s. Samsung’s phones with Android are better in my personal opinion, so iPhones are not indispensable. Apple’s customer service is probably above average in China relative to all the other companies. Certainly, there are legitimate grievances, but I wouldn’t consider them egregious. Also, remember, the Chinese media criticisms were targeting a basket of foreign firms. China is merely playing catch-up in this protectionism game others have been playing these last few years. In this kind of ugliness, everyone should remember who started first.

Sports Illustrated in China

March 30th, 2013 1 comment

Yes, the image below is of Sports Illustrated swimsuit model, Anne V, on a bamboo raft on the Li River in Guilin with a cormorant fisherman. You wouldn’t be alone if you thought the image was photo-shopped. Well, it is not. Sports Illustrated has actually gone to all seven continents and found local cultures as backdrops for their swimsuit photo-shoots. Their China landing page is here.

Sports Illustrated super model Anne V in Guilin

Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Anne V in Guilin

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Shanghai’s Pudong in 1990 vs 2010

March 22nd, 2013 2 comments

I first came across the following image at The difference in 20 years is indeed amazing. Pudong in 1990 vs 2010. As a point of reference, the two large arrows point to the same building. China now needs to work hard to make those white clouds come back more frequently.

Shanghai's Pudong 1990 vs 2010

Shanghai’s Pudong 1990 vs 2010

Truck unloads bamboo pile, Taiwan style

March 21st, 2013 2 comments

Following video is a truck driver in Taiwan unloading a big pile of bamboo. I guess modern day truck manufacturers and designers should keep this use case in mind.

Categories: aside, video Tags:

Ann Lee vs Peter Navarro and CNBC on China Real-estate ‘Bubble’

March 11th, 2013 14 comments

Allen and I had a chance to chat with Professor Ann Lee a little over a year ago, and we continue to see her moderating the warped perspectives in the Anglophone press. In this short CNBC video, she debunks Professor Peter Navarro of UC Irvine. Actually, she’s mostly debunking CNBC’s narrative. China’s urbanization rate is still only about 52%. When China’s industrialization finishes, about 1 billion people would have moved. Demand for urban housing is astronomical in China this day in age. As Lee says, China is implementing various policies to curb escalating real-estate prices. Allen often like to say – this is an economics issue, but as you see in the narrative below from CNBC’s reporter and Peter Navarro, this issue sounds ominous and political doesn’t it? Kudos to Lee for sticking to her points which we wholeheartedly agree with.

Categories: economy, media, politics Tags: ,

CNN and Financial Times spin news of China topping U.S. in importing oil as shake up to geopolitics of natural resources

March 4th, 2013 10 comments

CNN recently repeated an article from Financial Times on the news China has temporarily overtaken the United States as the world’s largest net oil importer. In spinning this news, their narrative went as follows:

“China has overtaken the US as the world’s largest net importer of oil, in a generational shift that will shake up the geopolitics of natural resources.”

First of all, China offers a lesson to the world, and especially to the NATO countries. You can become the world’s #1 net importer of oil without invading and occupying countries. You simply trade. China just did it. And, the last time I checked, it doesn’t appear China is upsetting any geopolitics. Is China kicking out American bases anywhere for oil? Nope. America may withdraw some ships from the region because America is becoming less dependent on Middle East oil, but that is on America’s own accord. So, all we have here is CNN and Financial Times agitating fear within the American public; corporate media and military industrial complex on display.

A powerful infographic of America’s inequality perception gap

March 3rd, 2013 6 comments

Back in October 4, 2011, I predicted the Occupy Wall Street movement would fizzle, simply because the U.S. corporate media were not behind it. pug_ster argued Obama’s first term supporters were starting to become disillusioned, “Just today the Unions, and many other left groups whom have supported Obama in the past are joining this protest.” While true, I still think U.S. media propaganda is too strong. For sure, they talk about the wealth gap in this country. However, their narratives in painting a more dire picture abroad and not pushing the Occupy’s narratives domestically allows a skewed view to fester within the American public. The following short video does an exceptional job in explaining this perception versus reality gap in America.

More Sights from Maui, the “Valley Isle”

February 17th, 2013 4 comments

Following are mostly landscape shots I took today. Even though I came across great materials of Dr. Sun Yat-sen, I have decided to wait until I am able to do additional research before writing a post on him. So, for now, enjoy this set, from Maui, the “Valley Isle.”

Woman about to take a plunge at Hoopika beach

A woman about to take a plunge at Hoopika beach

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Categories: Photos Tags: , , , ,

On the Importance of Understanding Chinese Thoughts using Chinese Terminologies

February 17th, 2013 25 comments

Recently, Zack brought to our attention a great article at Asia Times by Thorsten Pattberg, who is a Research Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Humanistic Studies at Peking University. Pattberg dedicated his life to study Chinese philosophy, political thoughts, and culture in their original meanings. He concludes:

Western people are curious like all the people of the world. If someone gave them Chinese taxonomies, they would look them up, familiarize with them, and internalize them. They would stop calling a junzi a (British) “gentleman”, or a (German) “Edler”; instead they would call a junzi just this: a “junzi”.

To put “culture” back in a more economic perspective: Nations should compete for their terminologies like they compete for everything else.

I was too quick to disagree with the need for China to explicitly compete for her culture and for preserving her ideas in her own taxonomies, assuming a richer China will somehow automatically cause the problem to correct itself.  So, I was really happy today seeing perspectivehere chiming in on this topic and later on Allen giving a good gist on what this means for him. I recommend Pattberg’s article linked above in its entirety and of course  perspectivehere’s and Allen’s remarks below.
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Hawaiian Cliff Diving: a test of courage and loyalty

February 15th, 2013 5 comments

In 1770, King Kahekili dove 63 feet from the cliffs to the water at Kaunolu Bay on the southern tip of Lanai island. He forced his warriors to follow suit, to demonstrate courage and to show loyalty. Hence forth, cliff diving has become a tradition in Hawaii. Today, at the Black Rock beach adjacent to Sheraton Hotel on Maui, we got to witness this tradition in a short ceremony. The ceremony was performed during sunset and the effect was, in a word, dramatic.

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Lahaina and a little bit of Hawaiian history

February 14th, 2013 5 comments

Lahaina is a gorgeous little town in the western part of Maui. Today, it is bustling with tourists. Shops and restaurants dot the water-front main street.

As I researched into its past, I am confronted with a number of emotions. Foremost, the aloha spirit is abound.  So far, we have met travelers from the mainland U.S., Germany, China, and even Lithuania.

The aloha spirit is contagious. People readily greet each other with smiles and take time to be curious, helpful, and generally pleasant. Drivers are usually not in the rush and waves at pedestrians to cross first. Read more…

Categories: history, Opinion, Photos Tags: ,

Greetings from the island of Maui

February 11th, 2013 6 comments

My family is currently vacationing in Hawaii, on the island of Maui. I might find inspiration in connecting Maui to China, but don’t hold me to it. Dr. Sun Yat-Sen (1866-1925) is locally known in Hawaii, because this is where he came for school. Even on the island of Maui, there is a small memorial park dedicated to him. Perhaps I will find time to pay it a visit. For now, a few shots near the resort where we are staying.  It’s been raining in this Western part of Maui and not a whole lot of sun left for the day.

(click image to enlarge)
Sunset on the beach is always spectacular, and tourists stick out like a sore thumb with their cameras. Yes, me included.

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Categories: Photos Tags:

Shaolin Temple USA Blessing Ceremony

February 10th, 2013 No comments

Exactly five years ago on February 3, 2008, Shaolin Temple officially opened it’s first branch in Fremont, California. Since then, branches in San Francisco and Herndon (Virginia) have been established. More will follow in coming years. At the 5th anniversary, I got to witness a Buddhist blessing ceremony. While I couldn’t comprehend everything, my understanding was that we should find inner peace and let go all that troubles us. Master Shi Yanran presided over the ceremony with California State Senator Leland Yee, Fremont Mayor Bill Harrison, and other community leaders present to lend support. In the video below I caught up with Senator Yee on what Shaolin means for him. Rest are footage I took while observing the ceremony.

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Happy Chinese New Year

February 9th, 2013 4 comments

祝大家新年快乐, 萬事如意, 身体健康!  Today is the start of the Chinese New Year of the snake. Most families in China will be spending time together enjoying the festivities, including watching the Spring Festival show on CCTV. We are looking forward to the show as well since a local station rebroadcasts it. This time of the year in Northern California actually feels like spring. Winter months have brought much welcomed rain. Everywhere is green and lush. Some fallen leaves are still on the ground. This may be bit of an odd post, but I just feel like sharing pictures I took around the yard today. These were taken with a standard lens, so not as sharp as a macro lens.
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Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Iran’s PressTV with U.S.-based political analysts on the Wallstreet-London financial empire nexus

February 6th, 2013 1 comment

Searching on “China” in Russia Today’s Youtube channel led me to the following video from PressTV, which towards the end, I then learned it’s an Iranian station. It features three panelists, all from the United States and the U.K.. They all seem to agree that the U.S., U.K., and Japan are hijacked by a Wallstreet-London financial empire nexus of sort. Most readers will find this conspiracy difficult to accept. I certainly hope that a nuclear war is not so imminent nor likely. While the main conclusions are questionable, the panelists do offer unconventional views (absolutely unvarnished). Perhaps they are right though: it is time citizens of the world unite! Read more…

A Chinese reporter’s 5-minute speech on free thinking, activism, and improving society

February 2nd, 2013 3 comments

The following 5-minute speech is by 柴静, a news anchor in China. It’s in Chinese, but I enjoyed what she had to say. She recounts the people she’s met over the years and their unique stories of individuals fighting for rights, upholding law, and the need for free thinking. This is an example of a narrative for wanting to truly improve Chinese society. How different is 柴静 from the handful of ‘dissidents’ the Western press often champions for? They speak the same ideas, don’t they? Well, they indeed do. The striking difference though, which makes 柴静 an example of mainstream force of change in China, is that she does not whore to topple her own government and turn her society upside down. Read more…

Categories: Opinion Tags:

Chinese hackers hacking Western journalists to want to know what they THINK about China?

January 31st, 2013 4 comments

What’s the most absurd nonsense that’s out there in the American press lately? Now that the Wall Street Journal has jumped into the fray, asserting, “Chinese Hackers Hit U.S. Media,” I thought the paper would at least cite some hard evidence. Alas, no. Instead, when you see the whole article premised on “people familiar with incidents said” or “several people familiar with the response to the cyberattacks said,” well, what can you say? Perhaps there is a career in journalism in quoting cats and dogs too. But I must give the WSJ credit for interviewing Chinese Embassy spokesman Geng Shuang, who condemned the allegations: “It is irresponsible to make such an allegation without solid proof and evidence. The Chinese government prohibits cyberattacks and has done what it can to combat such activities in accordance with Chinese laws.”
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Categories: Analysis, media Tags:

Joseph Nye tells NPR’s Neal Conan China’s concerns over containment can be dismissed

January 30th, 2013 6 comments

Joseph Nye recently spoke to NPR’s Neal Conan about the disputed islands in the East China Sea between China and Japan. Overall, I think Nye adds a helpful voice of moderation within the American public discourse on this issue. In the U.S.-China context, I also fully agree with him that if there is any sort of containment towards China, it is certainly not the same type as conceived by George Kennan against the former Soviet Union where United States allowed no Soviet students and had virtually no trade. However, when Conan posed America’s encirclement as the source of China’s containment fear, I thought it was a mistake for him to outright dismiss the concern in the fashion he did. First, here is how Conan phrased the concern:

CONAN: Yet if you were a Chinese admiral sitting there on the coast and looking out to sea and trying to figure out how to get your navy into the Pacific, all you could see was a series of islands from Japan in the north, all the way down to Australia, all United States allies, all controlling chokepoints that would prevent you from sending those vessels to sea.

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The Art of Free Media

January 21st, 2013 2 comments

With the U.S. Congress recently passing and President Obama signing into law the Magnitsky Act, Russian officials can be blacklisted and punishable for “human rights violations.” In response, the Russian parliament retaliated banning Americans from adopting Russian orphans. In reporting these two events, Russia Today laments the following which I thought interesting and worthwhile pondering:

There was, however, a significant difference. Under President Vladimir Putin’s “authoritarian regime,” the Russian media were filled with heated controversy over the adoption ban, including denunciations of Putin for signing it. In the “democratic” US mainstream media, on the other hand, there has been only applause for the Magnitsky Act and President Obama’s decision to sign it. Nor is this the first time leading American newspapers and television and radio outlets have been cheerleaders for a new cold war.

Categories: media Tags:

Supermodel Cameron Russell: “Image is Powerful” on TED

January 14th, 2013 4 comments

Image is indeed powerful. Following is a rare and frank talk, given by supermodel Cameron Russell, about her profession on TED. More importantly, she explains that ‘beauty’ in the West is a construct. As in any other society, beauty is often constructed to reflect attributes only attainable by the majority or dominant group. For those of us in the West not born with blond hair and blue eyes, Russell reminds us that no matter we are yellow, black, brown, or blue, we must find beauty in our own colors. Conversely, if we live in a society where our colors are the dominant, we should be mindful of the undue pressure put on others. Her talk made my day. Bravo to Cameron Russell.

Categories: culture Tags: ,

中共的生命力——后民主时代在中国开启 – “The Post-Democratic Future Begins in China” by Eric Li

January 12th, 2013 7 comments

In his latest essay (in both Chinese and English), Eric X. Li wrote, “Many developing countries have already come to learn that democracy doesn’t solve all their problems. For them, China’s example is important. Its recent success and the failures of the West offer a stark contrast.” Of course, Li is not arguing that democratic systems are invalid. He merely argues that the universality claim is invalid. He also explains how China’s system is meritocratic, and despite a single-party rule, is able to be very adaptable. For those who genuinely believe in universality, they would do well by explaining why a country as rich and as powerful as the United States is plagued with problems of dismal approval for her politicians and incessant budget crisis nationally and locally. Read more…

A Happy New Year Message

January 1st, 2013 29 comments

新年快乐! 2013 is officially upon us and I want to take this opportunity to wish our readers and contributors a happy new year. Rather looking back at 2012, I want to offer some forward-looking thoughts. For Hidden Harmonies readers who are in position to interact with others of different heritage, I urge you to make a resolution for the new year to connect on a people to people level. If you are musically inclined, see how Abigail Washburn does it with a banjo or as I just saw on CCTV in celebration of the new year, how Lang Lang collaborates with celebrated Italian mezzo soprano Cecilia Bartoli. Invite your child’s friend’s family to celebrate Chinese New Year at your home or take a deeper interest in Diwali or some other traditions and participate. Or, if you like photography, take many pictures and share. Whatever is your hobby or interest, there is a way. I do believe at the people-to-people level, there is a genuine desire for peace and prosperity. Like the suspension cables that hold up the Golden Gate Bridge, they too are but bundles of individual threads. Rather than hoping for the warmongers amongst us to change, we should forge a bond that they can’t break.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Abigail Washburn: Building US-China relations … by banjo

December 22nd, 2012 4 comments

As Abigail Washburn shows us with her banjo and music, it’s actually really easy to connect with the Chinese and yet be so captivating. What an awesome soul!

When America throws her weight around with petty politics, she is squandering her privileged position to affect our world towards greater good. Judging from the audiences response, I guess I am encouraged her message is not lost. To the Americans who engage China and the world with a heart like Washburn, bless you.

iPhone shopper, Li Xiaojie, stunned by Taser and tackled to the ground by two Nashua police officers

December 12th, 2012 59 comments

In all likelihood, Li Xiaojie was buying iPhones to bring back to China for resale, or as she claims, for relatives (and friends). When the Apple store manager in the New Hampshire mall refused to sell her more than two, she argued other customers were allowed. [Update: See Charles Liu comment below, Apple has lifted the number of phones restriction for the holidays.] Details beyond that are still a bit sketchy, but what caused the headlines in the U.S. press is that this tiny woman was stunned by Taser and then tackled to the ground by two Nashua police officers. All of that took place in front of her 12 year-old daughter. Brutality? No doubt about it in my mind. Court date is set for next month.

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Chinese farmer finds way to add horse power, chipping away at pollution

December 10th, 2012 11 comments

Following is a report on Chinese farmer, Tang Zhengping, who comes up with a novel way to harness wind energy to give cars extra horse power. That in turn reduces fuel consumption. It’s a great story in so many ways. For one, I wish more Chinese farmers are untied to their land so they have time and resource to pursue their dreams. China does not lack ideas, but rather markets big enough for ideas to come to fruition. And it takes stable and sustainable development to get there. I certainly won’t mind a ride in the back of his car.

Congressman Dana Rohrabacher of California excoriates TGIE’s Lobsang Sangay

December 2nd, 2012 11 comments

Given that the Dalai Lama and the TGIE are funded by the U.S. government, wouldn’t it be interesting if their communications are somehow transparent such that we could see the nature of the relationship? Are their interests aligned? Who calls the shots? Patrick French in an Op-Ed in 2008, advising the Dalai Lama to instead negotiate in good faith with Chinese authorities and abandon his Hollywood strategy, wrote:

The International Campaign for Tibet, based in Washington, is now a more powerful and effective force on global opinion than the Dalai Lama’s outfit in northern India. The European and American pro-Tibet organizations are the tail that wags the dog of the Tibetan government-in-exile.

Remember, French was a former director of the London-based Free Tibet Campaign. Interestingly, in this recent letter made public from Congressman Dana Rohrabacher of California to Lobsang Sangay, we get a glimpse of what French wrote about. Rohrabacher excoriates Sangay and his ‘cohorts’ for allegedly tampering with the Tibetan language version of Radio Free Asia. He wrote: Read more…