Category Archives: Photos

Is China a Real Victor of WWII?

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. Continue reading Is China a Real Victor of WWII?

Alternate View from Xingjiang

It seems that every time Xingjiang is in the news it is when something bad has occured. Doesn’t anyone question why there are no good news out of Xingjiang? I will be honest here, I really hated the mainstream western press portrayal of events in that region of China. The general narrative is that China invaded and colonized that region. Today, the native people there faced oppression, discrimination and threat of their religion and culture eliminated. The underlying message is that the Chinese are oppressing these people and they need to be taught a lesson and be kicked out! Continue reading Alternate View from Xingjiang

Fact Checking US Government Propaganda On Maoming PX Protest Death

It is often said Chinese government propaganda like Xinhua, People’s Daily, are highly agendaed and utterly unreliable. But how about America’s government propaganda? Here’s a recent example as illustration.

Recently, news of protesters killed in Maoming over a chemical plant made suspicious rounds – only in the usual propaganda outlets, Radio Free Asia, Voice of America, and ancillary outlets like Epoch Times, Boxun. These accusations of Chinese government killing protesters were accompanied with photos of citizen laying on the ground bleeding. However, a quick Google image-based search revealed these photos are not from the PX plant protest, but were victims of violent crime elsewhere in China:

RFA used a photo from a hacking attack that occurred in 2012, and was subsequently regurgitated by Falun Gong outlets like Epoch Times:

RFAprop Wenzhoutruth

VOA used a photo from a hacking attack that occurred in 2013 that was then Echo Chambered by Boxun:

VOAprop Qinhaitruth

As a loyal tax payers I am completely disappointed by how my hard earned tax dollars are misused.

The U.S.S. Midway and the Phantom F-4 jet fighter

During my teenage years, I dreamed of becoming a jet fighter pilot. Believe it or not, I was accepted by the U.S. Air Force Academy, and had I opt for that career, I would certainly have seen my share of war. Anyways, few days ago, my family visited the U.S.S. Midway aircraft carrier in San Diego. The ship and the airplanes on it have been decommissioned for couple of decades now, but being in their presence still rekindled the excitement I had many years ago. Below is a frontal view of a Phantom F-4 on USS Midway. These two pieces of arsenal made a formidable duo during the early years of the Cold War. The fighter is capable of speed faster than mach 2 (two times the speed of sound). It can carry a variety of missiles and bombs, including the nuclear bomb!

Phantom 4 fighter on the U.S.S. Midway
Phantom F-4 fighter on the U.S.S. Midway

Continue reading The U.S.S. Midway and the Phantom F-4 jet fighter

San Diego Zoo Safari Park and few thoughts on conservation

Slideshow below are random shots I took while at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park today. I admire the efforts at this facility in educating the public about endangered animals as well as their active role in helping to stop some species from becoming extinct.


On the topic of poaching, I think there is something to be said about the rich countries versus the poor.
Continue reading San Diego Zoo Safari Park and few thoughts on conservation

Elgin Street and the Old Summer Palace

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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

More Sights from Maui, the “Valley Isle”

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

Woman about to take a plunge at Hoopika beach
A woman about to take a plunge at Hoopika beach

Continue reading More Sights from Maui, the “Valley Isle”

Hawaiian Cliff Diving: a test of courage and loyalty

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

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Continue reading Hawaiian Cliff Diving: a test of courage and loyalty

Lahaina and a little bit of Hawaiian history

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

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

The aloha spirit is contagious. People readily greet each other with smiles and take time to be curious, helpful, and generally pleasant. Drivers are usually not in the rush and waves at pedestrians to cross first. Continue reading Lahaina and a little bit of Hawaiian history

Greetings from the island of Maui

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

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

Continue reading Greetings from the island of Maui

Shaolin Temple USA Blessing Ceremony

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


Continue reading Shaolin Temple USA Blessing Ceremony

Exploring China’s interior: Southwest 西南 Day 6: Chengdu, Sichuan Province

Exploring China’s interior: Southwest 西南
// Day 6: Chengdu 成都, capital of Sichuan Province
by WanderingChina

Chengdu 天府之国, capital of Sichuan province has been on the agenda for the longest time. It has retained its original city name since its founding more than two millennia ago in 311BC, the same cannot be said of many other Chinese cities. A fan of the Three Kingdoms narrative – it was great being able to investigate the historicity of such seminal characters in the Chinese psyche – such as Liu Bei and Zhuge Liang. Of course, being in this part of China during Sino-Japanese tension was also most interesting. Today it is one of China’s most liveable cities, famous for its giant pandas and is home to more than 14 million. Often tremendously foggy, there are only a few times a year locals actually get to fully embrace the sun. An inland city with increasing economic importance to China’s spread of growth to its interior and periphery, it is now becoming a first choice stop if one wishes to succeed in China’s west.

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#1 Tianfu Square: At the square facing the Sichuan Science and Technology Museum with Mao statue. A dynamic gathering place, it is a must visit if one ever visits Chengdu.

Continue reading Exploring China’s interior: Southwest 西南 Day 6: Chengdu, Sichuan Province

Exploring China’s peripheries: Southwest 西南 Day 5: Yuanyang, Yunnan province

Exploring China’s peripheries: Southwest 西南
// Day 5: Yuanyang county 元阳县,
Honghe Hani and Yi Minority Autonomous Prefecture 红河哈尼族彝族自治州, Yunnan province
by WanderingChina

Done with Dali, it was a six-hour long sleeper bus journey from Dali’s Changshan Erhai back to Kunming. Due to the nature of the region’s terrain, the train ride would have taken far longer. I whined to myself as the bus did not offer the most comfortable of rides, but it all changed as it meant it afforded me plenty of time to chat with a Hani-minority woman seated next to me.

She offered me all manner of wisdom, despite profuse apologies via her self-perception that she was uncultured, compared to an overseas-born Chinese. On the way to Kunming to see her daughter striking it out in the big city (a luxury she gets twice a year at most), she left an indelible impression. Alas, when we reached our destination, the flurry of activity (anyone who has travelled to China would know how many rush to wait and wait to rush as if it were an Olympic event) prevented me from taking a photo of/with her. We talked about all manner of things, from the Sino-Japanese dispute, the South China Sea, from growth opportunities and healthcare, the list was long – above all it was a comment she made about her daughter that would stick forever. She said, when a girl gets older she actually becomes younger and more vulnerable. I digress, here’s a summary of that first-hand account that might be useful for readers:

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#1 One of the sleeper buses one can take to commute from Dali to Kunming

Continue reading Exploring China’s peripheries: Southwest 西南 Day 5: Yuanyang, Yunnan province

Exploring China’s peripheries: Southwest 西南 Day 4: Dali 大理, Yunnan province

Exploring China’s peripheries: Southwest 西南
// Day 4: Dali 大理市 county-level city
Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture 大理白族自治州, Yunnan province
by WanderingChina

Dali is an ancient capital where its old city walls still stand. Not UNESCO protected like Lijiang, it was the seat of power for the Bai kingdom Nanzhao which thrived during the eight and ninth centuries. Later, the Kingdom of Dali regined from 937-1253AD. Dali was formerly a significantly Muslim part of South China.

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#1 To get to Dali from Lijiang, this was the recommended approach. Winding through mountain passes and snaking over gorges, the journey looking out of the  train window was picturesque as infrastructure-crazy Yunnan impressed yet again. The tremendous effort to connect through the extremely rugged hills and mountains of central Yunnan is awe-inspiring. No High-Speed Rail here yet, however. Expect to share cabin space socialist style if you choose the sleeper coach- everyone had to respectfully share a highly limited space. The alleyways are probably just 60cm wide.
Continue reading Exploring China’s peripheries: Southwest 西南 Day 4: Dali 大理, Yunnan province

Exploring China’s peripheries: Southwest 西南 Day 3: Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, Yulong Naxi Autonomous County, Lijiang, Yunnan province

Exploring China’s peripheries: Southwest 西南
// Day 3: Jade Dragon Snow Mountain 玉龙雪山 (Yu Long Xue Shan)
Yulong Naxi Autonomous County 玉龙纳西族自治县, Lijiang, Yunnan province
by WanderingChina

This AAAAA-rated tourist destination found in a Naxi autonomous county would price even the most eager out of the game. But when I arrived, they were there by the busloads, 4WD-loads, the list went on – the snaking queues to take the shuttle buses up to the various peaks and attractions were intense. The mountain mastif is the southernmost glacier in the northern hemisphere and consists of thirteen peaks all higher than 4,000m. The highest point is Shanzhidou 扇子陡 that stands at 5,596m. Continue reading Exploring China’s peripheries: Southwest 西南 Day 3: Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, Yulong Naxi Autonomous County, Lijiang, Yunnan province

Exploring China’s peripheries: Southwest 西南 Day 2: Lijiang, Yunnan province

Exploring China’s peripheries: Southwest 西南
// Day 2: Lijiang 丽江 Prefecture-level city, Yunnan province
by WanderingChina

Old meets new: Next stop was Lijiang, a historically rich city that harks back to the ancient southern silk route. Located in the Northwestern part of Yunnan, more than 1.2 million reside here.
#1 Old meets new: Next stop is Lijiang, a historically rich city that harks back to the ancient southern silk route. Located in the northwestern part of Yunnan, more than 1.2 million reside here. The monolithic impression of Han Chinese dominance ends here. The Naxi tribe (totalling 300,000 in total across Yunnan and Sichuan) is rather dominant here. Architecturally, buildings in the old town, relics from the middle ages are largely made of brick and wood, featuring carved doors and brightly painted windows

Continue reading Exploring China’s peripheries: Southwest 西南 Day 2: Lijiang, Yunnan province

Exploring China’s peripheries: Southwest 西南 Day 1: Kunming, Yunnan province

Exploring China’s peripheries: Southwest 西南
// Day 1: Kunming, Yunnan province
by WanderingChina

Featuring 10 photos a day, here is a first-hand journey into learning more about China’s interior.

Pre-amble
Prejudices can have a habit of clouding perspective. It is unlikely great powers, be it the U.S. or China get to where they are today without significant struggle and effort. These photo stories of my travels around China as a ‘returning’ overseas-born Chinese sojourner are intended to dispel the myth of China as a monolithic entity. By closing the gaps between myth, misconception and first hand experience, perhaps these images will shed light on China’s struggle and ability to harness 1.3 billion narratives to become a collective force for forward motion.

Having explored most of the developed eastern coast, I was keen to see just how much work was being done to spread the benefits of China’s rise to its interior and peripheries. Xi’An, in China’s central north-west was as deep as I had travelled to before. Eager to learn more and experience China’s promise of equitable growth and armed with a tablet computer (disclaimer as I decided to travel ultra-light, without a purpose-built camera), I head to China’s southwest with Yunnan and Sichuan province in my sights.

First stop is Yunnan’s capital – Kunming.

Continue reading Exploring China’s peripheries: Southwest 西南 Day 1: Kunming, Yunnan province

Fall foliage at Napa Valley

Readers on this blog know I post pictures from time to time. Today, I was at Napa Valley checking out fall foliage. Below are few taken at the Baldacci Family Vineyards next to Silverado Trail road. There is a China connection too. Napa Valley was a mining town and saw the first wave of laborers from Canton province in the 1860s into California. (More on the Chinese connection later.) Immediately below is a bundle of grapes still hanging on the vine while harvest season is well over now. Wineries in Napa Valley are busy processing grapes; squeezing out the juice, fermenting, and then aging to produce wine.

Fall foliage at Napa Valley, California

Continue reading Fall foliage at Napa Valley

A Follow Up on the Hong Kong Curriculum Protest – Who’s doing the “brainwashing”?

@DeWang already addressed this topic, but I felt it appropriate to add a more visual perspective on this, and a simple commentary to the last blog entry simply does not suffice. I did an image search on the term “Hong Kong education protest”, and here are just a few of the numerous pictures that appeared. The question that comes immediately to my mind is: Anyone notice all those little kids that came out to protest?


Continue reading A Follow Up on the Hong Kong Curriculum Protest – Who’s doing the “brainwashing”?

Spectacular Shanghai

I took the following photos of Shanghai’s Lujiazui and Bund areas on July 30th. (h/t to Shaun Rein for recommending the Hyatt where I took the night shots and 龙信明 for taking me up to the 91st floor of the World Financial Center.) It was a beautiful day in Shanghai with fog completely gone, showing a pristine blue sky with white clouds lazily meandering about. Emperor Qianlong left his writings at the Shaolin Temple proclaiming his greatness, for during his visit, rain finally poured in Henan Province ending months of drought. Well, I hence forth proclaim my visit has brought Shanghai spectacular blue skies!

The Oriental Peal Tower with blue sky and white clouds. (Click for hi-res view)

Continue reading Spectacular Shanghai

From Guiyang (贵阳) to Liupangshui (六盘水)

Few days ago, we traveled to Liupanshui by train via Guiyang. Knowing the region is mountainous (and poor), I knew the landscapes could be spectacular. Well, weather really didn’t cooperate much. Below are images I captured along the way. Hardcore landscape photographers will cringe at what I did, because I had to break every landscape photography rule in order to get these shots on a moving train; telephoto lens with high shutter speed. Continue reading From Guiyang (贵阳) to Liupangshui (六盘水)

The Shaolin Temple (少林寺)

The 1982 Jet Li movie, “Shaolin Temple,” was really something out of this world. As a boy, I was mesmorized by the feats of these kungfu monks. Never have I ever seen anything like it in my life. One of the scenes showed monks practicing the horse stance in a training hall in unison, with punches and feet pounding the brick floor, shouting out, “ha, haha” in rhythm. Where the monks held their stance, the brick floor gave and deformed into the ground. Dusts stirred at each strike. The monks were molding their bodies into instruments of force while nature gave way, more visibly from generations of monks pounding against it.

(Pictures I took within post below)

Continue reading The Shaolin Temple (少林寺)

Zhengzhou Street Market

The Yellow River flows through Henan Province, and this region is considered the cradle of Chinese civilization. Besides Luoyang, the province is home to a number of other ancient capitals of past dynasties. We were in Henan mainly to see the Shaolin Temple (which I plan to blog about later). Below are pictures I took while roaming a local street market in Zhengzhou, the provincial capital. Local street markets show a grittier side of China, one that is inhabited by the majority of the people today. Yes, there were little ones with slit pants roaming around which I have decided to not show. Mentally, the distance between what those creatures produced and what I ate were too short for comfort. Continue reading Zhengzhou Street Market

It’s about family at the Shanghai Zoo

When at a zoo, what do you think is likely the more numerous? At the Shanghai Zoo today, I think children outnumbered animals. The place is massive, perhaps one of the largest zoos anywhere around the world. Rides and children activities are abound. While observing the kids, my thought was that they all should grow up to never see strife, at least not what their parents or grandparents have experienced. The tough lesson for the Chinese is to not let themselves become weak, because if they do, it is the plight of 1.4 billion people at stake. Below are pictures I took while at the zoo with my observations.

A boy having his picture taken by his friend. Many kids have their own compact digital cameras, an indication of difference between Shanghai and other tier 1 cities versus the rest of China in terms of affluence.
Continue reading It’s about family at the Shanghai Zoo

Lotus and Water Lily from Shanghai People’s Park

Hello from Shanghai! My family arrived yesterday. We were expecting Shanghai to be hot and humid, but the recent rain has made the weather more pleasant. We had a moment to stroll through 人民公园 (People’s Park) this morning, and, to our pleasant surprise, were met with a pond where lotus and water lily are in full bloom! Rain drops are still clinging on to the flowers. We saw old Chinese folks exercising at the park. An old man with a Nikon film camera was happy to see me with my Canon 5D Mark 2. He kept asking me to try various shots – so he doesn’t have to go through his films as quickly. I was more than happy to oblige. The whole place is rather lush. It’s a contrast to the many high rises and other man-made stuff that crowd Shanghai.

Lotus in full bloom at Renmin Park (Shanghai)

Continue reading Lotus and Water Lily from Shanghai People’s Park

Fog entering San Francisco Bay at Golden Gate bridge

Often when returning from Asia, I will look out the window as the airplane descends into San Francisco. Invariably, I will see fogs entering the San Francisco Bay, some times completely engulfing the Golden Gate bridge. I have always wanted to make a time-lapsed video, so decided the fogs over the bridge would be a perfect subject. So, here it is, shot with my Canon 5D Mark 2 using the 16-35mm F/2.8L II lens. It was a beautiful day yesterday. Footage was taken from Hawk Hill, a vista point north-west to the bridge. Music is courtesy of Yoyo Ma, performing Bach’s cello suite #1’s, “Prelude.” Make sure to view it full screen at 1080p!

(Watch this on Youku.com if the following is inaccessible.)

Silicon Valley Melting Pot

I was at a corporate event yesterday, at Coyote Ranch, a bit south of San Jose.  Looking at the faces of people there, I was struck by how diverse the Silicon Valley population is.  Not to discount the atrocious past, or the discrimination that still exists today, I think America has the will officially to work towards racial harmony.  On a global scale, talents tend to migrate into areas where there is demand or opportunity.  Silicon Valley has attracted students, engineers, business people from China, India, and other parts of the world.  Steve Jobs was a by-product of that trend; his birth parents are ethnic Syrian and adoptive parents Armenian.  Following is a collection of pictures I took – and I shall refer to them as “Silicon Valley Melting Pot.”

Petting Zoo

Continue reading Silicon Valley Melting Pot

At “The City of Roses”

In my past trips to Portland, Oregon, I was always struck by how green this city is, especially while looking down as the plane descends toward the airport. Portland is in fact known as “The City of Roses.” Given the amount of rain in the Pacific Northwest, the whole area is lush and carpeted by plants. I am writing from the city today. Since I have a little bit of time, I decided to cross the Willamette river and take a few shots of the city looking West. Some of you may not know, Portland and Suzhou are sister cities. Suzhou is known for its water canals and gardens. Whether that sisterhood is founded on a shared love for gardens and nature or not (probably not), education, culture, and economic exchanges have been fostered. While over the Willamette, it struck me, this is a bridge city.

Waterfront Park, Portland, Oregon (by hiddenharmonies.org) - click to enlarge
Continue reading At “The City of Roses”

Shanghai in 272 Gigapixels

Following is a picture of Shanghai in 272 giga-pixels. Clicking on it will launch a new window allowing you to click and zoom. Can you find the Howard Johnson building? The Tiffany and Company billboard? All the key buildings that make the Shanghai skyline are easy to find. I am not quite sure how this image was put together. Here is a collection of 20+ giga-pixel photographs, all of which are amazine!

www.shanghai-272-gigapixels.com