This is a very good historical drama, easily one of the best I have watched. However, it is a flop at the box office so it is not very well known. For a movie to be successful, it usually must attract cinema goers. Unfortunately, although this movie is realistic and have a good script, there is no captivating theme that can attract an audience. In fact, it has a very dark undertone making it an uncomfortable watch for many. Nevertheless, if you want a dramatic look at how the Ming Dynasty fell, this movie gives quite a few aspects of it. I am interested in your opinion after viewing, please leave comments of what you feel or think after watching. Thanks.
South China Sea tensions stem from the ‘nine-dash line’
By Demetri Sevastopulo in Manila
The South China Sea territorial disputes between China and its neighbours can be partly traced to an internal map published by the Republic of China government in 1947 that included an “eleven-dash line” enclosing much of the waters. China did not explain the significance of the line at the time. It was adopted by the People’s Republic of China government after the Communists came to power two years later. Then, in 1953, China unveiled a new map with a “nine-dash line” that covered a slightly smaller area of the South China Sea, losing two dashes that ran through the Gulf of Tonkin between China and Vietnam.
The US remained silent on the “nine-dash line” until February 2014 when Daniel Russel, a top state department official, said China should clarify its meaning.
*Trefor Moss, 12 September, 2013:
Diaoyu/Senkaku islands … administered from Taiwan long before Japan annexed them.
China arguably has a decent case regarding Scarborough Shoal. Here’s one important element of the case: China publicised its claim in 1948, and it took the Philippines five decades to object and counter with a claim of its own. Prima facie, that strengthens China’s claim quite substantially.
*On the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA):
The Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) is an intergovernmental organization located at The Hague in the Netherlands. The PCA is not a court, but rather an organiser of arbitral tribunals to resolve conflicts between member states, international organizations, or private parties. It should not be confused with the International Court of Justice which is the primary judicial branch of the United Nations, while the PCA is not a UN agency.
The court was established in 1899 by the first Hague Peace Conference. The Peace Palace was built for the Court in 1913 with funds from American steel magnate Andrew Carnegie.
Unlike the judges from the International Court of Justice who are paid by the UN, members of the PCA are paid from that same income the PCA earns.
*South China Morning Post, 14 July, 2016:
The Permanent Court of Arbitration rents space in the same building as the UN’s International Court of Justice, but the two organisations are not related.
*Members of «the court»:
Most of them come from countries unfriendly towards China – and most of these countries are characterized by heavy American news domination:
*One person wrote on the lawsuit process:
… an American-initiated, American-paid, American staffed lawsuit to a private, self-appointed, fee-for-service corporations (with no connection to the United Nations) that is not a real court.
*Many «international courts» are dominated by American and Western lawyers. Here is one of the reasons:
From Yale Law School guide (2012):
This guide provides information regarding some of the courts outside of the U.S.—international tribunals and intergovernmental courts, as well as national courts—where current law students and graduates may find temporary positions, paid and unpaid:
Huffington Post on UNCLOS: China, the Philippines and the Rule of Law
The threshold question really is whether the PRC can be bound by UNCLOS courts and tribunals, including its arbitral panels. The PRC ratified UNCLOS in 1996, but in 2006 the Chinese government filed a statement with UNCLOS saying that it “does not accept any of the procedures provided for in Section 2 of Part XV of the Convention with respect to all the categories of disputes referred to in paragraph 1 (a), (b), and (c) of Article 298 of the Convention.” These provisions of the Convention refer to “Compulsory Procedures Entailing Binding Decisions” issued by at least four venues: the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea, the International Court of Justice, an “arbitral tribunal” which may refer to the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA), and a “special arbitral tribunal.”
While there are venues available for the resolutions of disputes under the UNCLOS regime, the PRC does not wish to be bound by its compulsory processes — the ICJ and PCA included.
The PRC knew this day would come. Its 2006 statement effectively served as a “reservation” against any binding outcome of UNCLOS’s grievance procedure in the future.
As you know around June 4th every year Western news media have stories about «the tank man» – like when The New York Times first printed his photo and wrote: «A single man stopping a column of tanks rumbling toward Tiananmen Square». Or when the TIME magazine later declared the tank man «one of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century». Things like this have been repeated every year since 1989 in almost every Western news media.
But is the narrative true? Read more…
I’m glad to see the Chinese media FINALLY starting to explicitly outline the hypocrisy of American human rights rhetoric, but I think it doesn’t go far enough to illustrate the sheer scale of US human rights violations & issues, such as:
- Little mention on the sheer degree of income & wealth inequality, which then translates into the lack of meaningful political power for most average citizens.
- The number of annual police killings & prison incarceration rates in the US.
- The lack of respect for equal rights not just by the US government, but BY THE AMERICAN PEOPLE, as demonstrated by the popularity of xenophobic, & particularly islamophobic rhetoric among presidential candidates.
I think CCTV’s exclusion important details such as the aforementioned may create the misconception that the US human rights problems they outlined are somehow “small & isolated”, and inadequately highlights the widespread nature of their lack of respect for human rights. But nevertheless, this is a good start.
I recently saw a debate I wanted to share, regarding a topic of particular interest for me: innovation in China. A few takeaways I got from this video:
- The myth of what I call the “freedom-innovation nexus” is still alive & well.
- China is already surpassing the West in some aspects of innovation.
- Just as there are no one-size fits all political models, there are no one-size-fits-all innovation models.
Enjoy the debate everyone.
Recently, the Japanese Parliament passed controversial legislation pushed by Abe to allow Japanese forces to fight abroad for the first time since 1945. Here is how Reuters reported it:
Japan’s parliament voted into law on Saturday a defense policy shift that could let troops fight overseas for the first time since 1945, a milestone in Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push to loosen the limits of the pacifist constitution on the military.
Abe says the shift, the biggest change in Japan’s defense policy since the creation of its post-war military in 1954, is vital to meet new challenges such as from a rising China.
But the legislation has triggered massive protests from ordinary citizens and others who say it violates the pacifist constitution and could ensnare Japan in U.S.-led conflicts after 70 years of post-war peace. Abe’s ratings have also taken a hit.
The legislation “is necessary to protect the people’s lives and peaceful way of living and is for the purpose of preventing wars,” Abe told reporters after the bills were approved by the upper house. “I want to keep explaining the laws tenaciously and courteously.”
Japan’s ally the United States has welcomed the changes but China, where bitter memories of Japan’s wartime aggression run deep, has repeatedly expressed concern about the legislation.
China’s Foreign Ministry said the move was “unprecedented”.
“We solemnly urge Japan to learn the lessons of history … uphold the path of peaceful development and act cautiously in the areas of the military and security, and do more to help push regional peace and stability rather than the opposite,” it said.
Not surprisingly, this has incensed a large number of average people in China … and both Koreas … but also (take note!) the people of Japan. Read more…
In my recent article on Philippines’ ultimately absurd legal challenge to China’s claims in the S. China Sea, I noted how that conflict arose from the prevailing wind to diss China’s interests in the post WWII world. The cause for that are many. No doubt China’s relative weakness vis-a-vis the West and/or Soviet Union, its plunge into a major civil war in the aftermath of WWII, the alignment of the interests among the world’s most powerful – including both the West and the Soviets – to keep China from re-emerging as a major power all play a part. But whatever the cause, I think it is major time for the world to revisit just how important a role China played in securing WWII’s victory against the Axis.
I have heard many Japanese say that even though China was technically a victor, China did not defeat Japan, only the U.S. did. Some Americans say – what role could China have played when it was always teetering on the brink of national annihilation? Both are way over simplifications of history.
Even if China could not have single-handedly defeat Japan, the world would not have been able to defeat Japan without China. The defeat of the axis was a collaborative effort. The U.S. and Soviet Union may have been the strongest military powers of the day, but the removal of any of the major four victors – China included – would have changed history irrevocably. There are many reasons for the Axis to be defeated in WWII, and China is a key indispensable reason.
Consider, for example, that despite Japan’s many military victories in China throughout WWII, China was nevertheless able to, through its heroic resistance movement, lock down some 94% of Japan’s army throughout the war. That is a huge deal. Had China capitulated and freed Japan’s army, Japan could have opened with the Soviet Union a second front as Hitler had asked. The course of WWII in Europe would have been irrevocably changed.
Alternatively – or perhaps simultaneously – the freed Japanese army could have rolled across S. East Asia, or India … or been used to invade Australia, Philippines and perhaps even India – securing the resources of much of Asia. Does the U.S. really think it could have withstood an additional enforcement of Japan’s army by a factor of 15-16 throughout Asia??? Japan, I argue – would have been that much more difficult – if not impossible to defeat.
Some American exceptionalists might claim, but it was nuclear bombs that defeated the Japaneses. That is patently false. By the time the “bomb” was used, Americans already had control of Japanese skies and were carrying out firebomb raids with impunity. Without that cover, the bomb could not have been deployed.
Strategically also, the bomb was used precisely because Japan was a defeated nation. Had Japan had a fighting chance of survival, America would not have dared to try the bomb … for the simple reason that Japan would not easily go down, and would have had the resources to develop its own bomb … and used it against America. The nuclear bomb did not end the war. It was used to make a political statement … and to shorten – perhaps (tenuously) – the war. But make no mistake: the war was already won.
In commemorating the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII, I offer two articles. The first, China a Forgotten WWII Ally, from China.org, argues that China made uniquely important and significant contributions to securing Japan’s ultimate defeat and that its efforts have been too long been neglected in the West in the advent of the cold war. The second, Did a forgotten Japanese journalist turn the tide of World War II?, from Asia Times tells the story of how Soviet knowledge of Japan’s decision not to open a second front decisively changed the course of WWII … and how a brave Japanese journalist named Hotsumi Ozaki heroically relayed that critical knowledge to Soviet leaders. Read more…
The following is an interview given by Deng Xiaoping to the Italian Oriana Fallaci on August 21 and 23, 1980. I have included Deng’s original Chinese language version at the bottom. The English translation credit goes to People’s Daily of China. It gives very good insight to Deng.
Oriana Fallaci: Will Chairman Mao’s portrait above Tiananmen Gate be kept there?
So it looks official now, Hong Kong’s Legislature has officially rejected the Election Reform promulgated by PRC’s Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress. (For more on this topic, see this previous post late last year) The central government has responded that the election rules stands and now it is the hope of many that Hong Kong will continue to find a way to execute full democracy under the Basic Law and NPC rules.
For those who read Chinese, here is a great article that calls on all Chinese to reject russophobia & get our strategic priorities straight.
Lee Kuan Yew, the founding Prime Minister of Singapore, passed away on 23rd march 2015. His supporters called him a great leader and outstanding politician who turned Singapore from a poor British colony into one of the richest country (if wealth is calculated per capita wise) in the world. His detractors would derided him as a dictator, and violator of human rights and civil liberties. Read more…
I came across this article on the Vineyard of the Saker blog, which I think is worth reading (both the article and the blog in general). I don’t know what fellow Hidden Harmonies bloggers think of other works by Jeff Brown (especially those related to China), but his description of information control methods in the West seems to be pretty spot on.
By the way, my fellow bloggers should be proud of the fact that Hidden Harmonies is listed as a source of good alternative media, in the same mention as Asia Times and CounterPunch no less.
I choose not to copy and paste this essay in its entirety, given that there are multiple hyperlinks in it, which are necessary components that enrich the narrative. While I’m sure there are some automated ways to copy over these hyperlinks, I figured an extra click wouldn’t be too hard. 🙂
SHANGHAI — A few weeks ago at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, Shinzo Abe made a bold pitch to Asia to buy in on a new type of Japanese leadership. According to Mr. Abe, the peace that is at the foundation of the Asia Pacific’s unprecedented growth can no longer be guaranteed. Without naming China by name, Mr. Abe warns of a new danger that looms on the horizon. The Asia Pacific needs Japanese leadership and a new affirmation of “international law.”
These are heavy words for uncertain times. But should Asia buy in? In his speech, Mr. Abe talked extensively about The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, declaring his government’s strong support of the Philippines and Vietnam in their claims against China.
From China’s view, this was a provocative and dangerous articulation of law. China has never taken any actions or made any claims in the South China Sea that limits the freedom of passage. That is made abundantly clear with China’s ratification of the UNCLOS in 1982 and its signing of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea in 2002 reaffirming its “respect for and commitment to the freedom of navigation in and overflight above the South China Sea.” Read more…
In addition to our post on “The Inconvenient Truth Behind the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands” by Han-Yi Shaw, the article “Deconstructing Japan’s Claim of Sovereignty over the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands” by Ivy Lee and Fang Ming in Japan Focus is also worth reading. The Shaw article focuses more on the political history surrouding the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands while the Lee-Ming article focuses more on the legal history.
Here is a link to Lee and Ming’s article.
Below is a pdf we archived on our site.
In the lead up to the “25th Anniversary” of the Tienanmen Square Incident of 1989, we are hearing everything again of how a great sad chapter of Chinese history has been – and continue – to be covered up. A politically activist museum even opened in Hong Kong earlier this month. Old, tired politically activists are freshly interviewed by the major Western media outlets again (Guo Jian by FT, for example). New books are published, as reported, for example, in this Washington Post piece.
Even though times have changed, the narrative has not. As 1989 fades ever back further to memory, Western pundits try to re-frame the issue more and more as a current freedom of speech issue. In the Washington Post piece linked above, for example, it is reported:
The contours of today’s brash, powerful China were shaped by decisions made in the immediate aftermath of the Tiananmen crackdown.
China’s leaders are personally vulnerable because they trace their lineage to the winners of the power struggle that cleaved their party in 1989. … The party’s ultimate goal is ensuring its own survival, and it has clearly decided that it needs to keep a lid on discussion about Tiananmen in public, in private and in cyberspace.
China’s online censors are busy scrubbing allusions, no matter how elliptical, to June 4. As the anniversary nears, judging by precedents set in recent years, the list of banned words and terms will grow to include “64,” “today,” “that year,” “in memory of” and even “sensitive word.” History is apparently so dangerous that China’s version of Wikipedia, Baidu Baike, does not have an entry for the entire year of 1989.
Just days ago, I stumbled across “Tiananmen,” written by the British poet James Fenton less than two weeks after the bloody repression. A quarter-century later, his words are still true, perhaps more so even than before.
“TiananmenIs broad and clean
And you can’t tell
Where the dead have been
And you can’t tell
What happened then
And you can’t speak
This is the preface of the book titled Memoir of Chen Mingzhong (陈明忠回忆录) written by Lu Zhenghui (吕正惠) who is a university professor at Taiwan Tamkang University (淡江大学), the editor was Lin Na (李娜). Chen Mingzhong has been an activist in Taiwan since the 1950s. I feel that this part of Taiwan’s history is so well buried that it needs to be better known. In the following translation, I left out the part regarding the process of editing the book. Read more…
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. Read more…
When I wrote my first commentary on this blog, I outlined three common myths that people frequently believe without question when they think about democratic governance. Obviously, an idea as blindly and fervently worshiped as ‘democracy’ will have far more than just three myths associated with it. I continue my exploration of this ideology by discussing another myth that is frequently accepted without critical examination. Read more…
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.
I want to note that before Qin re-united the country, the title of huang(皇) and di(帝) mean sage or saint. The Qin king combined that title and make it huangdi(皇帝) which becomes the title emperor. And I also want to say that before the Xia dynasty, leader in China is elected rather than being hereditary. Read more…
It is refreshing to see public intellectuals other than Eric X Li speak openly against the blind faith that most westerners place in their own brand of democratic governance and market capitalism (a faith that they attempt to impose on the rest of the world). However, I wanted to voice my skepticism on two of Moyo’s assumptions that I noticed in this linked video.
For most Americans, Thanksgiving will be about a turkey feast and homage to people they are thankful for. I too celebrate this occasion. However, the real history behind it is of course extremely dark. I just searched on Google for images related to “thanksgiving“, and there were only scant hints of Native Americans, let alone mention, as American writer, David Quammen puts it, a genocide. America has systematically been whitewashing this history. I recently came across an article written by Dennis W. Zotigh, a Native American Indian, who works as a writer and cultural specialist at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.. After reading it, I have been contemplating how might American society eventually come to grips with this appalling history in a honest and fair way. So far, the only way I can imagine it is that Native American Indians grow in sufficient numbers and then fight to have popular media represent their history more fairly. This will likely never happen. That then got me thinking: in the same vein, in order for Japan to apologize sincerely and for Japanese society to fully accept their invasion was wrong, China will have to become much stronger financially and politically. There is no other way. Anyways, since we are celebrating Thanksgiving, we mind as well know the whole truth.
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?
When we hear about My Lai, the “napalm” girl immediately comes to mind, doesn’t she? Can we imagine what else was happening to the Vietnamese there? Take a look at the picture below, starting with the woman holding a boy trying to button her shirt. From there, see the reactions from other people in the picture. This is of course one of those sad stories that’s never told enough. America has simply whitewashed it away. (Click here for the story.)
Peter Lee wrote an interesting piece at Asia Times titled “India places its Asian bet on Japan” today regarding his take of India’s recent rapprochement with Japan. Before reading this piece, I had regarded Singh’s recent trip to Japan as nothing much more than two second-rate power trying to form a second-rate alliance against a perceived first-rate power. But perhaps there is something more…
Here is an excerpt of Lee’s article: Read more…
There is an interesting phenomenon known to psychologists as projection. I quote at length from wiki’s entry on the topic.
Psychological projection was first conceptualized by Sigmund Freud as a defence mechanism in which a person unconsciously rejects his or her own unacceptable attributes by ascribing them to objects or persons in the outside world instead. Thus, projection involves projecting[clarification needed negative qualities onto others, and is a common psychological process. Theoretically, projection and the related projective identification reduces anxiety by allowing the unconscious expression of the unwanted unconscious impulses or desires through displacement.
If you were ask to give a short narrative for those two very important historical figure, what words were to come into your mind?
Abraham Lincoln was consistently voted by US scholars as the greatest US president. He was even immortalized in the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. However, don’t the ill informed Americans know he is the greatest mass murderer in US history? During his term of presidency, the US fought the most destructive and bloodiest war ever, WWII caused less destruction than the US Civil War. 3% of US population died in combat, starvation or even mistreatment in prisoner of war camps. Lincoln exercised his authority to suspend habeas corpus, arresting and temporarily detaining thousands of suspected secessionists without trial. Read more…
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. Read more…
In light of President Xi’s latest visit to Russia, it would be appropriate to provide a nuanced perspective to the current state of Sino-Russian relations. It is understandably difficult for the western media to deliver this kind of nuance; this difficulty stems not only from western biases against both Russia and China that obstructs objective analysis, but also the complications inherent in bilateral relations. For the sake of brevity, I will make just two observations which is inadequately emphasized in modern-day discourse on the Sino-Russian bilateral relationship – incentives for cooperation and Russia’s true value as a “comprehensive” strategic partner. Read more…
Instead of a proper review, this is more like a sketch of the thoughts which struck me while reading Henry Kissinger’s On China.
In the past, writers were often individuals who saw things differently. Being different helped them to highlight alternative perspectives and popular social ills. Once in a while, they turned out to be right, and even listened to; and their visions delivered impact. Nowadays, books are written for a mass market. Guided by publishing preferences, more and more writers build their positions on opinion polls and market surveys. It is therefore refreshing to read Kissinger who, at nearly 90, has neither the time nor incentive to appease popularised prejudice.