As we all know – every year around June 4th, Western media has stories about «the tank man» – like then The New York Times first printed «the tank man»-photo, and wrote: «A single man stopping a column of tanks rumbling toward Tian’anmen Square». Similar narrative has been repeated by Western news outlet every year since 1989. TIME magazine even declared «the tank man … one of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century».
US, by claiming the right of conducting military surveillance under “freedom of navigation”, escalated the provocation by essentially the logic of “We are here with guns, what are you going to do about it?”
Hong Kong “politics” has decomposed into a tiny repertoire of elemental clichés. Nonetheless, they can cause disproportional disruptions when deployed vociferously by ardent sloganeers with singular determination. By far the most overworked slogan is — of course — freedom and democracy. It’s become licence to do practically anything without consequence. Well, freedom is pointless if fettered by legal constraints, isn’t it? Other banners in the arsenal include, in order of perceived popularity, social justice; freedom of press/speech/expression, academic freedom, and a few other simplistic beauties.
Freedom and democracy, having worked overtime during Occupy Central, is taking a break. Academic freedom has taken centre stage, with the University of Hong Kong (HKU) as backdrop. Continue reading What Academic Freedom?→
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.
Some think this is just a purely economical issue. The Taiwanese students are not happy with the trade agreements agreed upon but not yet signed into law between the Mainland and Taiwanese side. This is understandable. College graduates in Taiwan has had a tough time getting (good) employment this past several years (decade?). Many – unfortunately – have come to feel protectionism – legal protection from globalism – is the best way to “compete” in the global economy.
However, this is oversimplification. If you listen to the speeches and talks within the protest, you have no doubt this is about partisan politics between KMT and DPP – and also emotional politics invoked against the Mainland. As I noted earlier in a comment in another thread, the main impetus of the protest is not about economics, but about the uneasy unsettled status of Mainland-Taiwan relations. The real reason is unification/independence politics.
But if this is all there is to the protest, I’d not write this post – as there is not much for me personally to write about. It’s just about normal democratic politicking – built upon base politics, misinformation, distortion, emotional rants, hateful or divisive rhetoric, and what I might call ethno/religious/identity politicking.Continue reading Taiwan’s Student Mob?→
PBS’s Frontline recently aired a documentary of behind the North Korea scene. Among all of the images of the expected misery, poverty, hunger, want, there was 1 segment which I thought was greatly overlooked. A quick exchange between a few North Koreans behind closed doors.
NARRATOR: Behind closed doors, even members of the North Korean elite have voiced unhappiness with the regime, like this businesswoman filmed at a private lunch.
1st MAN: All we’re saying is give us some basic rights, right? We don’t have any.
WOMAN:It’s not like that in China. In China, they’ve got freedom of speech, you know. They went through the Cultural Revolution.
2nd WOMAN: We North Koreans are wise and very loyal. An uprising is still something we don’t understand.
1st MAN: But even that’s only to a certain point.
WOMAN: There can’t be a rebellion. They’ll kill everyone ruthlessly. Yes, ruthlessly. The problem here is that one in three people will secretly report you. That’s the problem. That’s how they do it.
2ndMAN: Let’s just drink up. There’s no use talking about it.
The Western Net users picked up on the line, and laughed at the irony of what they could only attribute to as ignorance of a North Korean. But the real irony is, the North Koreans may have the better understanding of “Free speech” and “cultural revolution”, as do the Chinese who experienced it.
“Freedom of Speech” through “Cultural Revolution”. It couldn’t happen in North Korea, because the regime would “kill everyone ruthlessly”. Need to digest that a bit more.
Politics and Law is the business of Justice. And the Business of Justice, law and politics, is a very dirty business.
Periodically, whenever I feel safe and secure in the knowledge of my place in the world and in my profession as a lawyer practicing somewhat boring law fields, I go visit a court or a jail for a field trip. If you have never done it, in whatever country you live in, you should. Because the experience will remind you of the complexity of morality and fairness.
This is apparently a continuation of an old story of how China is “expelling” foreign journalists en masse. However, there are some conflicting details in the story itself.
“Withholding” visas means they accepted the applications, but won’t issue the the visas. However the article later explained, “Chinese authorities had initially accepted resident journalist visa renewal applications from The Times’ reporters. But they stopped doing so — and in some cases returned applications to reporters — after the newspaper ran a report last month detailing ties between JPMorgan Chase and a consultancy in China run by Wen’s daughter.”
If they won’t accept the applications, or return the applications, that’s not “withholding” the visas. The Applications were just REJECTED for some reason, usually technical. As previous story on this noted, the Chinese government had explained that the applications were rejected for technical /formality reasons.
Apparently, the lure of money makes people forget lessons of the past.
So when recently the housing prices started to rise again in the Western regions of US, People are starting to dump houses, hoping to cash in on the higher prices. (either that, or just trying to get themselves out of the market with little loss as possible).
That’s what I said to my parents-in-law who asked me to explain the “market” behavior that turns on every bit of news.
To the ordinary people, American or Chinese or anyone else, the “market” is hard to explain/understand. That’s because it really is nuts/bonkers/crazy/insane/irrational. This is NOT some “rational market”, because this “market” of today responds to opinions of those who claim to know. But do they really know? Or are they merely seeking to influence the outcome with their opinion?
I have long maintained that boycotts rarely work well as a tool of political protest. Even when mobilized as a collective national action like a trade embargo, history has not shown much effectiveness in causing political change, other than merely increasing bitterness (like the Embargo against Cuba).
Against a much larger target, with even broader scope, such as “boycott China”, the sheer size of lunacy of such a proposition is immediately apparent. Chinese economy is not pinned down in a few special economic sectors, it’s large and diverse, and most importantly international. It produces final products and components and material. It’s not merely economical for businesses, it’s necessity of businesses to buy Chinese products.
But even more interestingly, the increase in the internet economy has shown that it’s not just companies like Walmart that dictates the improbability of “boycott China”, it’s increasingly the end user purchasers who are making it impossible to “boycott 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!
Sipping sangria in a tapas bar at Hong Kong’s Soho District, looking out the window, one could spend hours watching cosmopolitan humans spewing out one of the world’s longest elevator systems. Next to it, a street sign reads “Elgin Street.” Hardly anybody knows who Elgin was, or what he had done to deserve a street named after him. If not because of a recent deliberation with a quaint academic about Hong Kong’s early colonial days, I would not have bothered to research about him either. By reading up on the history which embroiled the life of this forgotten character, however, I’ve discovered the justice in history. Continue reading Elgin Street and the Old Summer Palace→
By now, the Cyprus government is still haggling with EU (and its banks) over how to save Cyprus economy, without anyone paying for it.
But just a few days ago, they almost managed to get away with a “deal” to pay for it by “taxing” 10% of all bank accounts in Cyprus. This didn’t have much of a shock value in the West, except for perhaps in Cyprus, where the populous protested and forced their representatives to vote “no” on the “deal”.
It should come though as no surprise for the pessimists, because Western Democracies have had a string of such “deals”, which gives new means to the lack of accountability.
The ethnic Chinese in Indonesia has faced many decades of racism and sometimes pogroms from Indonesians envious and suspicious of the Chinese. What is lesser known is that the US and especially the CIA played a cunning, covert role in spreading the defamatory lies and colluded with the racist Islamic government of Indonesia inciting the racial violence and ethnic cleansing against them.
The ethnic Chinese population is roughly 2-4% of Indonesia’s total population but there are persistent rumors that they own >70% of the wealth. This perceived economic success (which may not even be accurate due to the systematic discrimination the Chinese have endured for centuries in the country stretching all the way to Dutch colonial rule to prevent them from attaining certain degrees of success) has caused distrust and envy among many Indonesians mirroring the antisemitism during the early part of the twentieth century in Europe.
One of the best methods used by colonists, genociders, and other racist oppressors is to use testimony from certain members of the victim group as evidence of the victim group’s subhuman nature. We are told that this member of that group agrees with the oppresser’s narrative of the inferiority of the victim group. White slave masters loved to show-off their House Negroes who went on about the natural inferiority of the black race and how slavery was a good thing for his people. This kind of co-opting of narratives to serve as a tool to justify racism and oppression is common throughout history. If even they say they’re inferior/evil/stupid/worthy of oppression, oppressing them has to be right!
I have now been living in China for almost 4 month and I’d like to write a little about my impressions so far from personal experience and in talking to the people. As you all know by now, my views on things like the rule of law, human rights and democracy may be quite different from some of yours (see the posts and comments here, here, here, here, here and here for example).
Zigong inquired, “What if everyone in a village despises a person?” The Master said, “It’s not enough. It would be better if the best villagers love and the worst despise, this person.”
There’s no one more emblematic of Chinese wisdom than the ancient Chinese sage, Confucius (Kong Zi). His legacy as a philosopher in Chinese history is unsurpassed and his influence still seen even two and half thousand years after his death. The spirit of his ideas can be felt in the words, actions and future hopes of the Chinese people despite the fact that much of the influence has been diluted during contemporary times.
(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.
As the Olympics wind down in London, there can be little doubt in anyone’s mind that this Olympics is about politics. How else can one explain the string of smears against Chinese athletes and their performances – coming from unexpected sources such as the prestigious journal of Nature – all in the name of “science and objectivity” – as well as expected sources such as the NY Times – where personal tragic setbacks such as Liu Xiang’s can be made into a kind of political statement?
Nature’s article on Ye Shiwen was especially troublesome. The editors of Nature wrote:
At the Olympics, how fast is too fast? That question has dogged Chinese swimmer Ye Shiwen after the 16-year-old shattered the world record in the women’s 400-metre individual medley (400 IM) on Saturday. In the wake of that race, some swimming experts wondered whether Ye’s win was aided by performance-enhancing drugs. She has never tested positive for a banned substance and the International Olympic Committee on Tuesday declared that her post-race test was clean. The resulting debate has been tinged with racial and political undertones, but little science. Nature examines whether and how an athlete’s performance history and the limits of human physiology could be used to catch dopers.
Nature then went through the “science” of how unusual, super-human Ye’s performance and how a clean drug test during competition does not necessarily rule out the possibility of doping. Continue reading The Political Olympics→
Today, badminton superstar Lin Dan (林丹) triumphed over Malaysian friend Lee Chong Wei (李宗伟) for gold at the London 2012 Olympics. This is one of the most highly anticipated match-ups at the London games as both athletes have faced each other at major competitions in recent years, including the 2008 Beijing Olympics finals. In both Olympics, Lee has been Malaysia’s first gold medal hopeful in the country’s history. Earlier in the year at the 2012 London Open, Lee lost again to Lin, but it was due to injury. Badminton fans around the world, especially in Asia, adore them. Knowing the weight on Lee’s shoulders and his injuries, Chinese fans had a soft spot while watching him live. It was a nail-biting show for the Malaysian fans too. Lee took the first set at 21-15. During the second set, Lin over-powered, forcing Lee to give up hustling and instead conserving his energy for a final round of show-down. And, a show-down it was; the third set was neck-in-neck until Lin triumphed at 21 over Lee’s 19. So, who exactly is this Lin Dan? His letter home when he was a little boy said a lot. Continue reading Letter to mom by then 9 years-old badminton superstar, Lin Dan (林丹)→
On my way to Shanghai from Guiyang few days ago, sat next to me was a business executive, not much of a conversational type. Past initial greetings, the conversation went like this, with me asking, “你觉得中国这几年发长有什么看法?” In response, he exclaims, “很正常!” I pried, “上海的空气不是污染吗? 中国如何解决这个问题?” With not even a pause, he declared, “这是过程!” I looked straight into his eyes, expecting elaboration. Few seconds later he blurted out, “英国，美国, 都不是有这个过程的吗?!” Then I laughed, and he knew I know he knows what he is talking about. Actually, he became much friendlier afterwards, and perhaps I’ll share other bits and pieces on another blog post. His conviction was striking.
As a sports enthusiast, I follow a lot of less known athletes, of which some eventually became superstars, but far more just faded. A superstar example was Liu Xiang. I started following him in 2002 after he clocked 13.12” at age 19. It takes knowledge and experience to link up 13.12” and 19, and figure out the potentiality – or quite frankly just a lot of time waste nurturing a hobby.
The first time I watched Ye Shiwen swimming in a live race on TV, was the 200 meter Individual Medley (IM) in the 2011 FINA World Championships held in Shanghai. I had started following Ye Shiwen since 2010 but had never actually watched her swim. In the 2010 Asian Games, she won 3 gold medals and ended the year ranking #1 in 200m IM, and #2 in 400m IM in the world. 2010 was in the middle of two Olympic Games, and sometimes the rankings don’t mean nearly as much as in an Olympic year – but she was only 14! Continue reading Ye Shiwen, the 16 year old dreamy girl superstar, and the ugly world→
Our Open Forum has gotten to be a slow load for some of you. This is a new open forum thread. The previous one can be found here. Remember, this is an area where we welcome readers to give us feedbacks, tell us what they want to read, or to simply share off-beat thoughts with each other.
China’s development has seen a dramatic rise in quality of life for many of its people as many people are well aware. But despite this improvement in quality of life, modern China also has some very high suicide rates. According to 2010 figures supplied by the WHO, China is ranked 9th in the world in suicide rates behind Latvia and ahead of Slovenia.
What accounts for this high rate and what are some things the government or others do to reduce this trend?