Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Book Review: Shaun Rein, “The End of Cheap China”

April 13th, 2012 13 comments

If I have to pick three books for Western readers that best explains modern China, I would recommend Shaun Rein‘s recently released book, “The End of Cheap China: Economic and Cultural Trends That Will Disrupt the World.” (Also, see my interview with the author earlier this year.) The book draws heavily on Rein’s personal experience working and living in China. During one of his early trips in China in the 90s, visiting Changchun, he recounts being propositioned by a beautiful prostitute. Over the years, he has noticed a gradual “uglification” of the prostitution pool. He attributes that to the general trend of economic expansion in China where women are increasingly finding better job opportunities. Read more…

Why is the US so unhappy?

April 12th, 2012 3 comments

Perhaps it’s too much democracy, human rights and freedom. More likely, it’s too less of those things and way too much worries and troubles such as a lack of financial security, too much crime, not enough health care, and deficiencies in other indices of well-being. A common way to measure happiness and well-being is the Happy Planet Index by the New Economics Foundation. In 2006, the organization found that the US scored a disappointing 150 out of 178 countries (between Lithuania and Côte d’Ivoire). In 2009, it found that it was ranked 114 out of 143 (between Madagascar and Nigeria). As a reference, China was 31st and 20th respectively.

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Categories: Analysis, General, media, Opinion, politics Tags:

Virulent racism endemic in the western animal rights movement

March 15th, 2012 72 comments

This blog may be taken as a second part my Collective Defamation article (with possible further blogs in the future involving other kinds of anti-sinitic defamation). It is inspired by recent events blogged by Charles Liu. Another vicious slander that is common in the west is that the Chinese are a cruel people. The image is made visceral, rage inducing, when a cute animal is shown being killed or tortured. These kinds of images are often made focusing on Chinese people as the perpetrators. This is an effective image that serves to single out and dehumanize the Chinese as a group and it is very effective.

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Some Thoughts on the Linsanity Surrounding Jeremy Lin

February 21st, 2012 55 comments

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: Read more…

Refilling the Liberal vacuum

February 10th, 2012 4 comments

In a previous post I talked about the Liberal tradition (that is, the explicit and formal human rights framework, not to be confused with how people often use the term to refer to a political or economic “left” or being “progressive”) as being a byproduct of religious, political and other kinds of oppression in the west. I also talked about the importance of instituting rule of law and rights protection for China in the coming years in the comments section.

However, I always have had serious reservations about the Liberal model on philosophical grounds.

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Five reasons why China will not invade Taiwan, and an analysis of Cross-strait Relations

January 24th, 2012 47 comments

‘So solidly built into our consciousness is the concept that China is conducting a rapacious and belligerent foreign policy, that whenever a dispute arises in which China is involved, she is instantly assumed to have provoked it.’

— Felix Greene, 1965.

When a superpower is engaging in full hegemonic and supercilious display, another country with slowly increasing economic clout and rising international status can raise apprehension. When countries are used to a bigger country that is settled for some years in a bullying position, someone starting to come close to that bully’s level of power, however remotely, has the potential to raise various concerns.

This rise is often wrongly construed as a zero-sum game – the newcomer challenging the bully’s position. In such a case, the existing bully, in its efforts to manipulate popular conceptions about the comparatively-unknown newcomer, will (hypocritically) spread the myth that the newcomer is, and always has been, overtly aggressive. If this myth-making and spreading is successful, even to a small extent, it can negate the effect that the newcomer might have in compensating for or balancing the bully’s hegemony and its hubris. The newcomer’s assurances about its peaceful rise will then be dismissed as deception. The focal point of the bully’s containment policy will be to encourage and manipulate various types of pawns against the newcomer. If such pawns already exist, then they will be fostered and strengthened, and in case they don’t, new ones will be created (Or as Stephen Walt terms it, “a competition for allies”).

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A conversation with Shaun Rein on China

January 7th, 2012 72 comments

(On January 5, 2012, I sat down with Shaun Rein, founder and Managing Director of the China Market Research Group, to talk about China. He gave us his insights into major events of 2011. In this hour-long interview, we touched on many topics: pollution, CNN and Christian Bale’s recent run-in with Chinese police, food safety, Weibo, and so on.)

YinYang:2011 was another eventful year for China. Just when her bullet train seems unstoppable, a fatal collision left the whole country in doubt. China achieved space docking, something only the U.S. and Russia have managed. Then there was Tiger Mom.

I have invited a real China expert to weigh in on these events and other events that mattered to China. What were the Chinese narratives? How did the Chinese feel about them? I couldn’t have found a better person to do this with. Read more…

India v/s China: We’ve got Facebook! What’ve you got?

December 1st, 2011 70 comments

An interesting analysis in TIME magazine, to the extent that it tries to be an analysis:

And don’t forget to check out these two accompanying arguments, one for India and one for China:

I plan to blog about this general issue sometime soon. Right now however, I just can’t help commenting on just two points for the time being, particularly because many westerners have humongous misconceptions about these issues. Almost every article on the topic contains at least a reference to these two fallacious points.

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China’s role in the international community

October 21st, 2011 54 comments

I’d like to extend DeWang’s last post on the possible role of China in the resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict with a more generalized discussion of what China’s role should be in international affairs in the future.

China seems to be taking a more active approach in engaging with the world’s conflicts and affairs and other pressing issues and I think this is the right way to go. It has increased its role in the UN and provided peacekeeping troops. It has also taken up an active role in establishing law in jurisprudential debates, making its side’s perspective more known and defending the interests of other developing nations. By being more active here, it makes its own viewpoint and interests known to the world instead of being passive recipients of the rules that continue to govern the world. China has been more actively involved with disputes, economic, social, cultural, environmental, etc. Read more…

Categories: Foreign Relations, General, Opinion, politics Tags:

the Israel-Palestine conflict, a call for peace

October 20th, 2011 55 comments

I was recently exposed to some very sad images of the Israel-Palestinian conflict and thought about what I might do constructively as a blogger. So, I have decided to make a plea to the world to help the two sides end their cycle of violence. I think we are way passed the point of taking sides. And, since this is a ‘China’ blog, I thought: it’s time to think big and how about it, China, a shot at this?

Categories: General Tags: ,

“We Chinese – 我们中国人” by M. Scott Brauer

May 20th, 2011 No comments

We Chinese – 我们中国人” by M. Scott Brauer is a glimpse into the minds of the ordinary Chinese. I personally like this form of street photography where the subjects are near where they live, work, or just happens to be. The image themselves give many clues to society. I enjoy this type of work too (see “Faces of Guilin“), and I know it takes genuine curiosity and friendship to win cooperation from the subjects. Brauer also asked what they thought about China and their future. Follow the link to see their responses. Read more…

China’s public smoking ban regulation in place, but toothless

May 2nd, 2011 16 comments

In my recent trip to China, the one thing that I really disliked was the fact that so many people smoked. Not only that, there was a general disregard for non-smokers who do not wish to be second-hand smokers. While on airplanes, buses, and some other places, people observed non-smoking signs well. In restaurants and other places, adults puffed away unhindered, even while their children sat right next to them. We asked our relatives about the May 1 smoking ban. Their response was, “let’s see.” It was very disappointing. I thought this Xinhua article captured nicely how the Chinese view the new regulation. The 1.2 million deaths a year due to smoking is atrocious and should be screaming at everyone in China! The public is still ignorant of the hazards of smoking. This is an area where the government could clearly do more and is not.

Categories: Announcements, General Tags:

Faces of Guilin

April 9th, 2011 3 comments

Today, we spent the whole day at Guilin’s Qixing Gongyuan (Seven Star Park). Former U.S. President Bill Clinton visited this park and gave a speech on environmentalism there. Guilin is a Tier 2 city in southwestern China where growth is primarily driven by tourism. Locals and tourists from other parts of China frequent the park. In this post, I will be showing their faces.

The three year-old girl in the photo below left a very strong impression on me. Her parents operate some rides in the kid area of the park. All the workers in that area know and take turns watching her with her parents. She spends her Saturdays there enjoying kid rides for free.

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Categories: General, Photos Tags: ,

English language “China” blogs

January 28th, 2011 42 comments

If you look here, there are many China blogs out there and the list is only growing. Occassionally, I will browse to get a sense of what the English language “China” blogs are buzzing about. Recently, I came across this comment on

For true Chinese perspective, not western expat hacks:

Ronald’s one-man show ESWN.
If you are into political commentaries: Hidden Harmonies.
Of course everybody knows the tabloid site ChinaSMACK.

The feeling I get from reading the English language “China” blogs are that they are mostly written by Western expats.

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Categories: General, media Tags:

230 million Chinese hitting the rails for Spring Festival

January 27th, 2011 2 comments

In celebration of the Chinese New Year (or the Spring Festival), 230 million people are expected to ride China’s rails. This is another illustration of a society on the move. Many have moved into cities and are now traveling back to their hometowns for this important family reunion. Given China’s sheer numbers, it is no wonder China is investing so heavily into train technology. I thought it was interesting a migrant worker saying he is willing to wait 40 hours to get a cheap ticket rather pay a high price ticket on a high-speed train. (See “Faster but costly, high-speed train sparks controversy.”) One thing for sure; for many travelers, the longest journey will be in line at the train station, and not on the train itself.

China President Hu Jintao visits U.S. midst hostile U.S. media

January 18th, 2011 No comments

China President Hu Jintao greeted by U.S. Vice President Biden (China Daily)

China President Hu Jintao has landed in U.S. on his official state-to-state visit and was greeted at the airport by U.S. Vice President Biden today.

The U.S. media continues the same old tune: ‘currency manipulation’, ‘human rights’, and etc. I hope Presidents Hu and Obama make pragmatic breakthroughs at the conclusion of this visit.

For now, I would like to take this occasion in highlighting some of our recent posts dispelling this various nonsense in the U.S. media.

In November 2010, a U.S. congressional committee made some astounding remarks against China on the above issues. We where shocked a branch of the U.S. government would stoop so low and take such an unintelligent stance like the media. Allen and I wrote this, “A point by point rebuttal to the 2010 USCC Annual Report.”
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The truth is out; Amy Chua’s “Chinese moms” attack on “American moms” is actually a Wall Street Journal creation

January 13th, 2011 36 comments

If you are visiting America, you might get a feeling America’s moms have just been slapped in the face by their Chinese counter-parts. All this started with a recent article by Amy Chua (see my prior post A bombshell at the WSJ by Amy Chua: “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior”) at the Wall Street Journal.

Thanks to our reader Chops for alerting us to an article out today in the San Francisco Chronicle by Jeff Yang. It turns out, the original article was really a Wall Street Journal spin or creation, including the title. As I concluded in my prior post, Amy Chua is not that same mother portrayed in the article nor is her book. Yang writes:

Chua responded to a brief message I sent her introducing myself and asking for an interview by saying that she was glad to hear from me, as she’d been looking for a way to discuss her misgivings about the Journal article. Apparently, it had been edited without her input, and by the time she saw the version they intended to run, she was limited in what she could do to alter it.
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A changing China

January 6th, 2011 3 comments

Mr. Zhang

Occasionally I sift through photos taken by friends who had recently been to China. This is a portrait of Mr. Zhang taken by my friend Ming while in Shanghai. (The same friend whose Tiananmen photo I used in a previous post.) In his words, this is the story behind the image:
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Categories: culture, economy, General, Opinion Tags:

The Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence

January 1st, 2011 16 comments

After contemplating a while what to write for Day one of 2011, I thought it worthwhile to simply remind everyone what the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence are.  They form the bedrock of Chinese foreign policy.  Chinese President Hu Jintao’s 2011 New Year’s address reaffirmed China’s adherence to them:

China will develop friendly cooperation with all other countries on the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence and continue to actively participate in international cooperation on global issues, Hu said.

The Western public are likely unfamiliar with what they are or their significance. These principles were formulated in June of 1954 between former Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai and his counterparts, Jawaharlal Nehru of India, and U Nu of Myanmar. The countries had just re-emerged from the end of WW2.  The colonial powers had finally (by in large) left their occupied territories. The victims wanted a fairer world.

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2010, a recap at Hidden Harmonies

December 31st, 2010 5 comments

As the year is coming to a close, we want to take this opportunity to recap and to tell you interesting information about our Hidden Harmonies China blog.

Allen and I launched this blog on February 14, 2010, coinciding with the lunar new year of the tiger.  We felt most of the English language “China” blogs out there offered basically the same narrative as the Western media, and it was time we offered one purely of Chinese perspectives.

During the first month of this blog, we were shy of 1,000 page views.  December 2010 is our highest yet, approaching 15,000.  Our RSS feed subscribers are steadily growing in number as well.  We are still relatively small, and it is possible we grow 10x in traffic in 2011.  We are also happy with the fact that the second largest base of readers come from inside China.

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Categories: Announcements, General Tags:

Translation: “Being Chinese is tiring, but being Chinese abroad is even more tiring”

December 18th, 2010 6 comments

I recently came across this short essay at MITBBS and found the original at It was written by a forum user, “马丁” yesterday. The essay raised a bunch of questions for me. How far do we push ourselves in pursuit of fame and fortune? Here is the essay in Chinese followed by my translation. What are your thoughts? Also, I hope someone helps translate the text at the very bottom (too hard for me).



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Categories: General, Opinion Tags: Secret US Embassy Cables

November 30th, 2010 14 comments

Wikileaks made history on October 22, 2010, for making public the “391,832 reports (‘The Iraq War Logs‘), documenting the war and occupation in Iraq, from 1st January 2004 to 31st December 2009 (except for the months of May 2004 and March 2009) as told by soldiers in the United States Army.”

They are making headlines again, bigger headlines I think, for starting to release secret U.S. embassy cables from around the world. The embassy cables give a rare insight into the minds of world diplomats – albeit reported through the eyes and ears of the U.S.. The Germany based Spiegel Online had this to say about the new leak (“WikiLeaks Diplomatic Cables“):

251,000 State Department documents, many of them secret embassy reports from around the world, show how the US seeks to safeguard its influence around the world. It is nothing short of a political meltdown for US foreign policy.

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长沙两天建成15层新方舟旅店 – 15 Story Ark Hotel goes up in Two Days

November 13th, 2010 6 comments

( version if you are outside China)

This is a time-lapse of a 15-story Ark Hotel in 长沙 (Changsa) being built; 48 hours for the basic structure and another 90 hours for the walls and windows. It can withstand a Richter scale 9 earth quake. It was built using 6x less materials than a similar building. More details here.
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Aloha from the island of Kauai

October 24th, 2010 5 comments

Spirituality on Poipu Beach

Kauai is one of the most beautiful places on planet earth. I have just returned from a one week vacation on the island with my family. The vacation has given me a chance to step away from blogging and put a pause on every day life. You might begin to wonder how this post is going to relate to China. While on Kauai, a number of thoughts did occur to me. Before getting into that, I’d first like to share with you the wonders of this incredible place.

(You may click on any images on this post for an enlarged view.)

Above is a traveler meditating to sunset at Poipu Beach at the southern coast of Kauai. It is easy to imagine why such landscape or seascape draw all sorts of inspiration; romance, artistry, and, apparently spirituality. By the way, the woman in the picture is really beautiful. A thought to interrupt her to get a portraiture did cross my mind, but I decided otherwise.
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Top 5 things I thank, wish for in the U.S. of A.

October 14th, 2010 7 comments

America being the victor of the Cold War means she is the undisputed super power right now. The last two decades could have gone worse, but if we look back, there are a lot of positives. In the context of China, America finally accepted her into the WTO and abolished the discriminatory MFN exclusion. We saw inflow of capital into China which helped China’s continued growth lifting hundreds of millions of people out of abject poverty. We also saw the invasion of Iraq on false pretense of WMD. I am sure there are a lot on peoples mind when thinking about the USA. I wanted to make a list of top five things I think the world should thank this country. I also want to list the top 5 things I wish this country would aspire to. Below are mine. I am really curious what yours are.

Top 5 things the world should thank USA for:

5. Awesome Hollywood movies
4. Showing the world having a very open society is possible
3. A culture of extreme individualism that helps unlock the individual’s abilities (though with really bad side-effects too.)
2. A world-order that roughly works and generally most gets to develop.
1. Technological advances in so many areas (Microprocessor, space exploration, medicine, biotech, etc.)

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“Liu Xiaobo Deserves an Ig Nobel Peace Prize” – the latest reaction to buzz the West

October 13th, 2010 15 comments

“Liu Xiaobo Deserves an Ig Nobel Peace Prize” is a recent reaction from Barry Sautman (a political scientist and lawyer at Hong Kong University of Science & Technology) and Yan Hairong (an anthropologist at Hong Kong Polytechnic University) on the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo. Roland Song’s ESWN (東南西北) has also brought this to his readers attention. No doubt, this controversy is a huge stir in the West. Here is a copy of it forwarded to this mailing list by a David Thorstad with his short introduction:

Those who gave the Nobel Peace Price to a Chinese dissident explain that peace and human rights are inseparable. Yet the country that proclaims the loudest its attachment to human rights (the United States) is also the one that has the most soldiers in other countries and wages the most wars.

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One Billion People on the Move

October 13th, 2010 No comments

About a year ago, I wrote, ““Father’s Prairie, Mother’s River” – the feelings of one billion people on the move.” I estimated China in few decades will have moved about one billion people from the country side into cities. Yes, that’s one billion people! This is a stressful but necessary transformation as China continues to industrialize. Below is that same video I used in the original post to help illustrate one of the feelings of this transformation – that of longing for childhood home (for lyric and meaning follow link to my original post):

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Top Ten Interesting Things about China from Yahoo Video

October 9th, 2010 1 comment
I have too many serious things in my mind.  So I decided to purge them by posting this funny (but not too slanderous) video from Yahoo about China (Taiwan not being shown as part of China can be interpreted as slanderous, but I won’t argue in this context).

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao interview by CNN’s Fareed Zakaria ignored by English ‘China’ blogs

October 5th, 2010 14 comments

Fareed Zakaria of CNN’s GPS recently interviewed Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao. It’s a great interview, and I am glad to learn that CNN agreed to not make commentary on what Premier Wen said. In exchange, CNN was given permission to ask whatever they wanted. Zakaria acknowledged “it was one of the most open and frank discussion he has ever seen with a Chinese leader.”

Here is the interview from
(Looks like I linked mistakenly to the 2008 interview on in my original post. Tudou still has the 2010 interview in fragments. Here is the correct interview video from in its entirety.)

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William Hooper: “The Scientific Development Concept”

September 29th, 2010 42 comments

According to William Hooper, Western lead Democracy has peaked. He believes the baton will be passed unto China, and a new Age of Enlightenment, one that is going to be improved upon with China’s concept of Scientific Development, will start. Those of you who observe China may know that this political philosophy was advanced and officially adopted into the CPC (Communist Party of China) constitution in 2007. Hooper has taken a lot in and articulated this idea for the Western audience.

This essay touches upon many topics we have pondered on this blog. In my discussion (see “, breaking the mold of Western media bias?“) with Rosa Sow, Kai Pan, Maitreya Bhakal, and our very own Allen, we asked ourselves how the mold on Western media bias can be broken. Our consensus seems to be, in MIT Professor Chomsky’s words, “the only way to break it is education and organization, and working hard to create alternatives.”
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