Category Archives: aside

Server Migrated

green-check-markIf you see this page.  You have reached our new server.  If you see things that appear wrong, please let me know, so I can fix them.  I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a shakeout period for me to see how this new server works for us.

Thanks All!

Short Post: Returning Stolen Treasures

Cage's stolen Tyrannosaurus bataar dinosaur I saw this article earlier today in the NYT about actor Nicholas Cage agreeing to return to Mongolia a dinosaur fossil that he had legitimately bought (paying top dollars for) but that turned out to have been stolen earlier from Mongolia.  Following is an excerpt of the story.

I wish people and governments around the world also think about returning back to China the thousands and thousands of stolen cultural relics that have been looted from China the last century or two.  When one takes the politics out, one can see this as the only virtuous thing to do.  But alas, when it comes to facing to history of the last few centuries, so many in the West become so self-righteous and indignant.

Still, we can hope and dream … one day … Continue reading Short Post: Returning Stolen Treasures

Opinion: U.K. – the Bridge Between East and West? Not So Fast.

U.K.-China Toast
U.K.-China Toast

President Xi is visiting the U.K. this week.  There are pageantry … and some $60 Billion US worth of deals.  British Prime Minister has made a big commotion calling it as the “Partner of Choice” in the West for China.

I am sure the British Leadership, Cameron personally, believes that it is in the long-term interest of Britain to mend relationship with China.  But I don’t believe Britain is really a “Partner of Choice.”  It may be a “Partner of Convenience,” but I believe it still cares little for – has little respect for – China … except to make a buck. Continue reading Opinion: U.K. – the Bridge Between East and West? Not So Fast.

What’s Up with Abe’s Egging China On to War?

Mr. Abe has done a lot to put Asia back on the path to War: what with re-arming Japan, making a mockery of Japan’s Pacifist Constitution, and overflowing rhetoric about the dangers of a rising China.

Just last week, I was perusing through Asia Times, reading an article by Peter Lee on the TPP, when I noticed the following picture, and a comment from a reader.

Abe in cockpit of Japanese air force aircraft
Abe in cockpit of Japanese air force aircraft

Reader Jack Temujin astutely noted: Continue reading What’s Up with Abe’s Egging China On to War?

Indonesia’s Hidden Holocaust

Joshua Oppenheimer is an Oscar-nominated American film director based in Denmark. He recently produced two award-winning documentaries on the genocide perpetrated by the Indonesian government against ethnic Chinese and others throughout Indonesia in 1965-69.

This week marks the 50th anniversary of the beginning that atrocity. Joshua penned what I think is a great op-ed in the New York Times about Indonesia’s continued silence about that event … as well as U.S. complicity of that crime against humanity.

Here is a copy of the op-ed. Continue reading Indonesia’s Hidden Holocaust

Privacy, National Security, Human Rights, Social Value, Whatever – It’s Whatever the West Says

Microsoft
Microsoft, Privacy, and Rights over Ex-territorial Servers

The Economist today had an article on a case involving Microsoft’s alleged refusal to turn over documents stored on a foreign server to FBI. The article can be found here (archived here).

According to the Economist:

SUPPOSE FBI agents were to break into the postbox of an American company in Dublin to seize letters which might help them convict an international drug dealer. There would be general uproar, if not a transatlantic crisis. But that is essentially what the FBI wants to happen, albeit in the virtual realm: it has asked a court to order Microsoft, in its capacity as a big e-mail provider, to hand over messages from a suspect in a drugs case which are stored in a data centre in Ireland. On September 9th an appeals court in New York will hear oral arguments on whether Microsoft has to comply.

The case has many wrinkles … But at the core of the case is one of the most knotty legal questions in the age of cloud computing: how to give law-enforcement agencies access to evidence when laws remain national, but data are often stored abroad and sometimes even at multiple places at once?

This article rightfully brings up conflicts in law in the Internet arena within the West. Over the last few years, certain very public and passionate debates have flared up with Europe and the U.S. regarding privacy, right to delete, and censorship on the Internet.

A few years ago, as early as 2008, when I noticed Google Streetview growing to incorporate the streets of Taiwan, Hong Kong, and other Asian regions, I realized that everyone there simply took it for granted that it’s ok. What Google did must be the right, enlightened, and forward-thinking. Continue reading Privacy, National Security, Human Rights, Social Value, Whatever – It’s Whatever the West Says

A short caricature on politics …

japans-imperialismIn the lead up to China’s commemoration of the 70th anniversary of Japan’s defeat in WWII, I thought I’d do a little personal aside … that might explain why Japan can be so delusional about so many things.

Politics … in many ways … especially politics in the democratic sense (i.e. at the level of the people) … is about caricatures … about simplifying (over-simplifying as the case may be) the issues.  Politics is about setting narratives – about burnishing worldviews – through selective highlighting (and de-emphasis) of reality … to present a particular view of the world that sometimes resembles some aspects reality … but that can some times also be completely in contravention with any sane view of reality.

There is a reason why people often avoid talking politics and religion in polite settings.  People can try to use logic and reason … but the problem is that underneath iceberg tip of logic and reason are mountains full of unspoken – and sometimes even unconscious – presumptions.  It’s why reasonable people can disagree vigorously and get so worked up about political disagreements. Continue reading A short caricature on politics …

Position Paper of the Government of the People’s Republic of China on the Matter of Jurisdiction in the South China Sea Arbitration Initiated by the Republic of the Philippines

On December 7, 2014, the Chinese government released a position paper on why the UNCLOS Arbitration initiated by Philippines should be dismissed as groundless.  Below is a copy.  For me personally, it’s interesting reading it after I have conducted my own extensive research in the area in writing my own paper on the topic last June.  The Chinese position paper has cited the relevant laws correctly, but I feel my paper dove into the legal issues deeper and more comprehensively.  The Chinese position paper however does include a lot of events that are relevant to understanding the situation but that I had not cited.

Here it goes: Continue reading Position Paper of the Government of the People’s Republic of China on the Matter of Jurisdiction in the South China Sea Arbitration Initiated by the Republic of the Philippines

Revisiting “Tiger Mom”, and where “Individualism” failed (with a Sleeveless Pineapple)

Recently, I had an interesting debate about the “Tiger Mom” culture in Asia, against the backdrop of a Chinese American mother who criticized the Tiger Mom’s suppression of children’s “autonomy”.  So, since we had lively discussions of this subject here, (http://blog.hiddenharmonies.org/2011/01/13/the-truth-is-out-amy-chuas-chinese-moms-attack-on-american-moms-is-actually-a-wall-street-journal-creation/), I thought we should visit with some updates.

First, it’s actually amazing how many people criticize “Tiger Mom” without actually reading what she wrote.

More details on this later, but let me just say that Chinese children are not born or brought up to be mindless robots.  Plenty of them get into trouble, plenty grow up to disobey and challenge authority.  Tiger Mom is about challenging a child’s autonomy.  Amy Chua’s own 2 daughters questioned everything she made them do.  In challenging the child’s autonomy, the child must struggle to strengthen his/her own will and discipline.  Without self-will and self-discipline, autonomy/”individualism” is weak and useless.  My parents never tried to “suppress” my autonomy.  On the contrary, they always insisted to push me to learn to do the right things on my own initiative.

Second, I’m yet again reminded of how non-individualistic Chinese kids are, and how creative and individualistic Western children are.  Beyond the obvious (and somewhat racist) stereotype that such assumptions are based on, I came across this rather interesting story:  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/21/nyregion/standardized-testing-is-blamed-for-question-about-a-sleeveless-pineapple.html.

Continue reading Revisiting “Tiger Mom”, and where “Individualism” failed (with a Sleeveless Pineapple)

Western Media’s Pervasive Bias Against China Today

Zack recently pointed out in the open thread the following article by Stephen Harner that accurately – though not necessarily exhaustively – hit on so many points on what is wrong with the Western press, which I quote in full:

Dealing With the Scourge of “Schadenfreude” in Foreign Reporting on China
Stephen Harner, Former US State Department Official
October 3, 2014

Stephen-HarnerWhy are we so often disturbed by Western media reporting and analysis of China? Why does reading commentary of China’s economy, foreign relations, politics, and society leave us feeling emotionally abused, injured, or even angry and resentful?
I believe our reactions are a response to the pervasive, ugly, and malevolent, but largely unnoticed element of schadenfreude in this commentary.  It is our natural revulsion to writing and thinking that is anti-humanistic, hostile, and harmful.

Schadenfreude is a German-origin term defined by the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary as  “a feeling of pleasure at the bad things that happen to other people.”  Schadenfreude is rarely expressed plainly, or in relation to a specific event or situation.  Rather, it is an attitude and bias that disparages achievements, discredits sincerity, and hopes for failure.

We see this vile sentiment often in Western media coverage of news events, in reporting on Chinese business, and particularly in analysis and commentary on policies, plans, and initiatives of the government and the Communist Party.

Continue reading Western Media’s Pervasive Bias Against China Today

Typhoon Haiyan’s Destructive Path

Survivors waited to board a military plane at the airport in Tacloban
Survivors waited to board a military plane at the airport in Tacloban

The news is still enfolding on the destruction Typhoon Haiyan – now barreling its towards Vietnam and on into southern China – left in the Philippines. For those with the means, it appears the best way to help for the public now is to donate money. Two organizations with the capacity to help on the ground are:

Should China Consider Giving Snowden Asylum?

As Snowden considers asylum offers from Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Bolivia, and perhaps mulls a second application to Russia (Putin had earlier said if Snowden wanted to apply asylum there, he’d have to stop releasing NSA leaks), should China Consider Giving Snowden Asylum?

By the answers, I am hoping to gauge people’s attitude toward Snowden.  For me, I am neutral.  I personally have nothing against government “snooping.”  I have nothing to hide in general.  As long as they don’t pick on me for little trivial things (I trust governments generally enough that they wouldn’t), I have nothing against government tapping, government cameras, government sucking of emails, etc.  So what Snowden has revealed does not hit me in the stomach on that level.

However, I believe what Snowden has revealed is important in a geopolitical context.  Previously, we thought of the Internet as “free” – run by innovative Stalwart companies devoted to freedom, free from government interference.  Now we know the vastness of what we consider to be “free internet” is merely a very nationalized network space that is compatible with one specific set of values and that is at the core of 21st century geopolitical competition.

That’s an important insight for humanity to know.

So – should China…?

As Snowden weighs his not very stellar asylum choices, should China give asylum if given a chance?

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[Editor’s Note: clarification added 2013-07-09]: From the above write-up about “geopolitical context,” one might misunderstand me as saying that what Snowden has to say has no relevance to Americans and relevance only to the rest of the world.  That’s not what I meant.  To the extent Americans are world citizens, they should care.  They should understand so they understand why the information they get online in the so-called free internet (and also why the information they get in the so-called free media, why their very perspective about the world, about history) may be so biased and American (or Western)-centric.  And then perhaps they may understand why so many things they had taken to be Universal may just be American (or Western)-centric.  What Snowden revealed, and he may not even understand it, is to change the paradigm by which we view the world by revealing a blindspot we had universally taken for granted.  Others have noted the dangers of relying on “google” for all information on the net – because that essentially allows one entity – which is not beholden to the “people” per se – to define our knowledge, our worldview, our identity…  It is equally dangerous to rely on the falsehood of a universal, free internet for our information because there is no such thing as a universal internet.  Language and cultural barriers would have fragmented it fr0m the start – though now we see politics from the U.S. already set it up to fragment from the very beginning, too.

Eric X. Li: A tale of two political systems (李世默:两种制度的传说)

eric x. li - hEric X. Li, whom both YinYang and I know personally, recently gave this TED presentation on the ideological worship of two political systems – communism … and electoral democracies. As usual, I find Li’s perspective insightful and interesting. It certainly takes guts to stand up and speak against the predominant religion in the world! Now I appreciate even more how Galileo must have felt in confronting the Catholic Church!

I do want to make a quick note about one of the two questions the host at Ted asked of Li at the end of the talk.  The host asked about how a non-elected government can legitimately set the agenda without feedback in the form of contested elections.  Li talked about how the Chinese government – at all levels – takes surveys of the people on all types of issues, from what people think of the garbage collection at a local level to what people think about the direction of the nation on a national level.

This exchange reminded me of the adversarial vs. inquisitorial approach to resolving legal controversies. Continue reading Eric X. Li: A tale of two political systems (李世默:两种制度的传说)

U.S. – Hong Kong Extradition Treaty (1997)

Took me a while, but I finally found the text of the U.S. – Hong Kong Extradition Treaty (1997) from the U.S. Government Printing Office.

A copy of the pdf is provided below.

hongkong-us-extradition-treaty-1997

The Senate Notes here provides a good summary of (and background information surrounding) the treaty.

 

Cult of personality mindset and Xi Jinping (aside)

dalailamacult_b

 

You’ve ever noticed how many American news personalities and pundits always talk about personality when they are comparing Xi Jinping with his predecessor Hu Jintao? Hu is described as lacking in this while Xi is often described as having more of it. See this latest Charlie Rose interview with Richard McGregor on the latest meeting between Xi and Obama and notice McGregor’s comments about Xi and Hu. His comments are really common in the media when addressing Xi (also see here and here for some more examples). Xi’s physical appearance also seems to get a lot of attention. Whether Xi has more “personality” than Hu is true or not is not my concern. What is my concern is the focus on such a nebulous thing as personality. Why is it so important to Americans? Many of our presidents had been elected out of personality. The last two, Bush and Obama, being good examples. Many politicians try to drum up or manufacture their personal attributes and try to create images that appeal to Americans. Americans are deeply concerned with character and judge others by it. Unfortunately people do this all over the world including China (such as the cult of Mao) but it seems especially a matter of emphasis in the USA and the west.

Continue reading Cult of personality mindset and Xi Jinping (aside)

Support for Korea Non-Intervention, Self-Determination and a Peaceful Northeast Asia

North Korea is the most vilified nation in the world.  But in truth, it should be considered the shining city on top of a hill as far as human spirit is concerned.  HOW???

You wouldn’t think that by what you typically read in the international news (dominated by Western media).  Oh, the people in North Korea are so wretched.  They eat dirt, have no freedom, live in a police state (I’ve argued it is the U.S. that is the reigning police state), and are constantly bombarded with suffocating, stale state propaganda.  Poor North Koreans.  Look to the South – see how free, how happy, how prosperous they are! Continue reading Support for Korea Non-Intervention, Self-Determination and a Peaceful Northeast Asia

Morally degenerate equivocators

This post is basically a followup on the few posts recently addressing the perceptions of the GLF in the west. I will not add to the debate per se or even defend the other posters but rather talk about how people in the west are treating like discourse, namely those that does not fall in line with the dominate narrative in the west, i.e., that Mao was a mass murderer that had killed more people than Hitler and Stalin. I will take as my main target a recent post on another blog because I think its contents and its comments are so exemplary of the type of ignorance, bigotry and bias facing anyone that dares to question the west’s perspective on anything. They are met with derision, marginalization, and every fallacy in the book instead of direct refutation and they are made by morally degenerate and intellectually dishonest individuals.

One such individual is Sam Crane who has a blog about China. In a recent post (which was inspired by “noodling around the internet”) in which he casually dismisses views that critically examines the thesis that the GLF wasn’t as bad as commonly portrayed in the western media and that Mao wasn’t the same kind of monster as Hitler, Stalin or the Japanese imperialists. He makes a long-winded post without actually refuting any specific individual or position (I wonder which positions and individuals he is referring to?). In fact he explicitly says he doesn’t want to address them specifically and the reason he gives for this is that this will give those perspectives more attention than they deserve. That’s convenient. Sounds like a classic cop-out of an intellectual coward to me. It’s easy to dismiss phantoms but much harder to refute actual arguments.

Continue reading Morally degenerate equivocators

My New Year Resolution

It’s been some time since I last blogged.  And my new year resolution is … to BE MORE REGULAR AT BLOGGING!

I actually have an excuse this time.  In November, my grandmother – with whom I am close – passed away.  In December, my second son was born…

This period of change has gotten me to reflect more deeply on life … and for here, to reflect once more why I spend the time to blog.

Life can be so short … so precious.  There are so many people to touch, relationships to build, places to travel, creative endeavors to pursue.  And blogging as I often do about the heavy hands of politics and history can be emotionally draining. Continue reading My New Year Resolution

On China’s Got Talent, husband begs for a chance for his wife to sing

I came across this video couple of days ago of a failed performance on China’s Got Talent, but the contestant begged the judges instead for a chance for his wife to sing. I was deeply moved by this couple, their modest means to life. The song the wife end up singing is about a toast between two friends. In many ways, the song is about the two of them too. Friendship alone can defeat a mountain of bitterness. When thinking about China’s last couple of centuries, I am of the same mood too.

The universality of human rights: a Chinese perspective

One of the most influential people of the twentieth century, but who is almost unknown by name, is a man named P.C. Chang (1892-1957). He (along with Charles Malik) were the two principle drafters of the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, one of the most influential documents of the twentieth century.

Continue reading The universality of human rights: a Chinese perspective

Does China need a new religion for the 21st century?

(This will be a controversial post so let me explain in detail before throwing any cyber tomatoes) Hu Jintao and many other top ranking Chinese officials have spoken about the need for cultural influence and development of Chinese culture. But Chinese culture does not have as much influence in the rest of the world today and now even among Chinese, much of their traditional culture is being replaced with outside influences. I believe that as China becomes more wealthy and politically influential some level of cultural influence will come with that as well. But I don’t think economic development alone will do the trick for seriously developing one’s own cultural influence among one’s own people and others people.

Continue reading Does China need a new religion for the 21st century?

Riots in Assam

There has been terrible violence in India’s Assam region recently and the violence has spread to other parts of India.  Since this is a blog on China, not India, I am not going to dig too much into the cause or even meaning of the riots.  But I do want to point out the relatively “favorable” coverage India is getting.

In almost all reports I see, India is cast as the force of stability (and humanity), with the forces of conniving politicians and ethnic-based politics the root of instability.  By comparison, when ethnic violence occurs in China, the opposite story is told, with ethnic-based politics held in high regard (under the guise of “human rights”) and any efforts to stabilize the situation seen as somehow oppressive and barbaric.

You see this fairly uniformly across Western media in all Western countries, including even self-professed “independent” news sources such as the global post.  Here is a recent article global post had on Tibetan self immolations – which place the blame squarely on China.  The Tibetans who burned themselves – and by extension the Tibetans who rioted in 2008 – were seen as oppressed people who had a right to riot, to fight back and were cheered on for their presumptive courage. There was never a reference to the official Chinese perspective on what’s really going on. Continue reading Riots in Assam

Mighty Gears Found Around Olympic Venues in London as Olympics Near

As DeWang busies himself shooting lilies and other flowers around Shanghai, I think people ought to check out some of the pictures of heavy duty military gears around Olympic Venues in London as Olympics Near.  Truly amazing stuffs!  However it’s not just the serious gears, but also the many precautions that have been taken – including the deployment of of an army in London that is bigger than the one Britain has in Afghanistan, the use of orders used to pre-emptively ban protests, the “total policing” of all Olympics and surrounding areas, the training of aggressive goons that double as security guards, etc.  I’m sure they are all necessary. The duty to defend humanity’s right to a Free, Happy, and Festive Olympics deserves nothing less…

 

 

Wen Jiabao Urges Political Reform and Praises Internet Criticism of Government

The Fifth Session of the 11th National People’s Congress (NPC) has just ended.  Here are two stories about Wen that I found interesting.  I have no personal insights beyond what is reported, but I thought it is helpful to bring attention to such stories to balance the distorted view in the West that the Chinese government somehow has in its DNA a fear of criticisms and a distrust of people and reforms. Continue reading Wen Jiabao Urges Political Reform and Praises Internet Criticism of Government

Some Thoughts on the Linsanity Surrounding Jeremy Lin

Like other Asian Americans, I have been following Linsanity over the last 2 weeks or so with great interest and pride. It’s not too often you see a twice-cut bench warmer become a starter and take a professional team in New York by storm like Jeremy Lin (林書豪) has. While the future of Lin as a mega star is not necessarily secure, with some saying that Lin is a phenom only because of his race and others observing that the Knicks has played mostly sissy teams the last couple of weeks, there are plenty of which to be proud even if Linsanity were to end tomorrow.

As a columnist in the Washingtonpost pointed out: Continue reading Some Thoughts on the Linsanity Surrounding Jeremy Lin

Interesting encounters in Japan

breakfast in Japan
My strategy for fighting jet lag returning from Asia is to have a large breakfast followed by a large lunch on the departure date. Minimal fluid around lunch and depart in the afternoon. Sleep little the night before. And then sleep all the way in a window seat on the plane. On numerous occasions, I managed to be out before take off and waking up as the plane approaches San Francisco. Picture to the left was my breakfast (a promise I’d show Allen during a chat) from yesterday while in Japan.

Seriously though, I had a number of interesting encounters during this trip to Japan. Continue reading Interesting encounters in Japan