Wednesday: Cable television station TVBS produced a photograph of the two principal characters (Chen Che-nan and Chen Min-hsien) in the Kaohsiung Rapid Transit Corp scandal (see #070).  TVBS also showed that the trip was paid for by Huapan Company, the broker for importing Thai laborers to work for KRTC.

Thursday: TVBS produced a document that showed that the President's Office had been told about the details of the KRTC arrangement to import Thai laborers.  

Friday: The Democratic Progressive Party proposes to expel Chen Che-nan from its ranks.

Friday: Chen Che-nan pre-empts the DPP move by announcing his decision to quit the DPP first.

Friday: (Taipei Times)  The Government Information Office issued a NT$200,000 fine to TVBS for failing to report a change in its stock ownership when it applied for a renewal of its license earlier this year.

Saturday: (Taipei Times) President Chen Shui-bian: "I feel sorry and ashamed about Chen Che-nan's integrity problem. On behalf of the government, the DPP and myself, I will assume the biggest responsibility and apologize to the nation, former DPP Chairman Lin Yi-hsiung and long-time supporters of the DPP." 「非常對不起大家、以及對阿扁、民進黨的長期死忠與『換帖』,我真『歹勢』,我也對不起前黨主席林義雄,阿扁要向人民道歉!」

Saturday: (eTaiwanNews)  The governing Democratic Progressive Party yesterday expelled Chen Che-nan, who had already quit the party of his own accord.

Saturday: (Taipei Times)  Government Information Office (GIO) Minister Pasuya Yao said the GIO possesses sufficient evidence to prove that TVBS is a foreign-owned company and therefore breaking the law.  "If that is the case, the GIO is authorized to suspend all operation licenses for its four channels," he said.

Monday: (BCC via Yahoo! News)  The Department of Treasury will be conducting an audit of the tax returns of TVBS for the past five years.

Tuesday (DPA via Bangkok Post)  President Chen Shui-bian said that the media must obey the law but he would not shut down any news organizations or a TV station during his term.

More to come:  (Central News Agency via Yahoo! News)  It has been alleged that more dynamite evidence will be produced by "Deep Throat" on Monday, as Vietnam (and not South Korea) was where Chen Che-nan went to launder money.

The timeline intertwines the KRTC scandal with the government investigation of TVBS.  It is hard not to see the events as being related.  (UDN via Yahoo! News)  Ever since the cable television license renewals in which one station was rejected (see Freedom of Press in Taiwan), it has been said that there is an atmosphere of intimation of the media by the government.  A political science scholar has proposed: "怕者恆怕,不怕者恆不怕."  Those media that are afraid will be more afraid and continue to maintain their silence.  But those media which are not afraid will be even more unafraid; the harder the government cracks down on them, the more the people will support them and the less afraid they will be.  This is how media will be polarized in Taiwan.  On Thursday night, TVBS achieved its highest rating ever, but that was still less than 4%.  But when United Daily and other newspapers featured the story on their front pages, this became national news.  TVBS may well be shut down, but there will always be others (if not for democracy, then for the ratings).  And this is an Internet world: if no media in Taiwan will report on the story, then "Deep Throat" can always speak to the media outside of Taiwan while shining the light on the new White Terror regime inside Taiwan.  This is not good at all.

(SCMP)  Polytechnic University researchers were commissioned to conduct a telephone poll of 1,225 people three weeks ago. The question they were asked foreshadowed the proposals released yesterday: "If the government's package of proposals is (1) to increase the number of Election Committee members from 800 to 1,600 and to include all elected and appointed district council members; and (2) to increase the number of seats in the Legislative Council from 60 to 70, with five of the new seats to be returned by direct election and the other five by new functional constituency seats to be returned through election by all district council members from among themselves, would you accept this proposal?"  Just over 55 per cent of the 1,225 respondents said yes, 22.4 per cent no, while the rest did not know, had no opinion or were undecided.

(The Standard)  The Constitutional Development Task Force commissioned Hong Kong Polytechnic University company Technology and Consultancy to conduct the poll September 27-30.  It found that 55.1 percent of the 1,200 respondents would accept the government's package of proposals while 22 percent disagreed.  Forty-five percent agreed that Legislative Council seats should be increased while 36.5 percent disagreed. Nearly 80 percent of those who agreed think the number should be increased to 70, while others would like to see as many as 120 seats.  Fewer than half agreed that the district councils should be given more than their current one functional constituency seat in Legislative Council, but only 33.4 percent disagreed.  On the premise that universal suffrage will not be introduced in 2007 or 2008, about 75 percent of respondents agreed there should be some progress in the methods of selecting the chief executive and for forming Legco, rather than having no change at all.

Okay, this is a game of fractions here.  Why, oh why, would the SCMP reports 55% versus 22.4% to round down the pros and keep the decimal fraction for the cons whereas The Standard reports 55.1% versus 22% to keep the decimal point for the pros and round down the cons!?  Could there be any clearer indication of political positions here?  I report, you decide.  For the record, Ming Pao (via Yahoo! News) simply chopped of all the decimal points: 55% versus 22%.

Yes, it looks like a hit with 55.1 percent for and 22.4 percent against.  But 22.4 percent out of 3.2 million voters equals means 720,000 and certainly much more impressive than a march with 35,000 people.  In any case, this is not a slam dunk by a long shot.  The first poll was done before the details of the plan were disclosed.  There will be plenty of time to analyze the proposal and offer alternatives.  So public opinion may shift quickly.

This year, the number of 7/1 marchers fell drastically to 20,000 from the 500,000 of yesteryear.  But Anthony Cheung believes that if the democrats can have 30,000 to 40,000 participants in the 12.4 demonstration, more than this year's 20,000, then it will be a 'shocking' number.  At that time, Donald Tsang must reassess whether he has to come up with a different proposal.  Cheung believes that the democrats must monitor public opinion.  If the public reacted strongly against the government wanting to preserve the appointed district councilors, then the democrats must stay together with their 25 votes and negotiate based upon the public opinion.  "In 2003, 500,000 people got on the streets and Beijing immediately adjusted its Hong Kong policies.  If the citizens react strongly against the new proposal, the powers that be cannot completely ignore them."

Is Anthony Cheung a saboteur inside the democratic camp?  Here are the pure quantitative analyses:

There are 3.2 million voters in Hong Kong.  According to Cheung, the government must reconsider its political reform package if the number of demonstrators reaches 30,000 to 40,000, or just over 1% of the voters.  I sure hope that Hong Kong government and society are not beholden to the demands of any group that reaches 1%.  You can start thinking of all sorts of new proposals that "cannot be completely ignored" ... (hint: try the Truth and Light Society first).  This cannot be about the absolute size of the demonstration.

In terms of relative size, 30,000 to 40,000 is enough to have an 'impact' because that number is significantly higher than the 21,000 claimed at the 2005 7/1 march (July 1 Afternoon March Estimates).  This will therefore be an indication of a trend reversal.  But what is the composition of that 21,000?  According to July 1 Afternoon March Photos, there were large groups which will not turn out for the 12.4.2005 political reform demonstration, such as overseas domestic helpers.  If you subtract those groups from the 21,000, the 30,000-40,000 figure may be tough to meet unless public opinions have shifted dramatically since July.

Finally, if this magical threshold is accepted as conventional wisdom, then the whole thing is dead if there are fewer than 30,000 on that day.  There will probably be multiple professional teams out there to count, so overclaiming won't work.

Here is my suggestion -- stick to public opinion polls and don't bet on one and only one demonstration march.  The public opinion polls consistently say 60%; the march may not exceed 1%.  Where would you put your bet on?

Around 8:40pm on September 8, Lu Banglie brought two foreigners into Taishi village in a rented car.  They were stopped near the Taishi Secondary School by some villagers of Taishi.  The villagers warned Lu Banglie not to stir up trouble in the village because they won't listen to them anymore.  They told the group to leave immediately, but the Lu trio attempted to force their way in and there was some pushing and shoving.  At 8:50pm, the Yuwotou police received a report and proceeded to the scene.  

For safety reasons, the three individuals were taken back to the town government building.  ...  Since Lu Banglie claimed to be injured, the Yuwotou police station sent police officers to take Lu to the town hospital for a full physical examination including CT and other procedures.  The doctors believed that Lu was normal except for some light scratches on his hands.  As Lu was a representative of the people's congress, the relevant persons called the standing committee of the Zhijiang City people's congress.  At 10:41pm, the Zhijiang City people's congress standing committee replied and asked the Panyu District people's congress to bring Lu Banglie back to Zhijiang City.  The Panyu District people's congress then arranged for workers to take Lu back to Zhijiang.

At 730pm on September 9, Lu Banglie arrived at Zhijiang City in Hubei province.  The Zhijiang City people's congress standing committee immediately arranged for Lu Banglie to be examined at the Bailizhou town hospital.  On the morning of October 10, they brought Lu Banglie to the Zhijiang City People's Hospital for further examination while asking the legal medical expert of the Zhijiang City Public Security Bureau to be in attendance.  After repeated examination, except for the legal medical expert identifying the light scratches on his arm (believed to have been caused during the pushing and shoving with the villagers when Lu insisted on entering), Lu was deemed to be normal otherwise.  Afterwards, Lu Banglie signed his name on the town and city hospital examination results.  Therefore, the "bloody incident" in which Lu Banglie was beaten or killed was fabricated.

What is absent here?  The Panyu government puts a premium on the fact that Lu Banglie signed his name on the town and city hospital examination results in Hubei.  That was the clincher for them.  Okay, let us grant them that.  Now comes the obvious question: "Sir, could you tell me if Lu Banglie signed his name on the Yuwotou town hospital examination (which was a full examination including CT and other procedure) which took place between 8:50pm and 10:41pm on the evening of the incident according to your timeline?  If not, why not?  Could he have been in a coma at the time?"  If there was a signature from Lu Banglie then, the Panyu District government would not even need to refer to the Hubei examinations -- the man signed the form at the Yuwotou town hospital and therefore his claim of being unconscious must be false!  Therefore, we can assume that there was no Lu signature, and you can guess why.

By the way, according to a brief note in Boxun, Lu Banglie has decided to sue the Panyu District government for claiming that he passed out for more than 10 hours after just some "pushing and shoving."

(1) Benjamin Joffe-Walt's description was inconsistent with the true extent of Lu Banglie's injuries.  The Guardian acknowledges this, first in the Corrections And Clarifications of October 13 and now in Ian Mayes' report.

(2)  Still, this was understandable given the barbaric circumstances that the young and inexperienced reporter found himself to be in.  Ian Mayes' report gives a detailed explanation about Benjamin Joffe-Walt's state of mind before and after the incident.  One cannot help but be sympathetic with him after reading: Joffe-Walt having expressed repeated apologies for what he had done and its implications for the Guardian, and indeed for the pro-democracy movement in China, said: "This was a situation in which I honestly, for the first time in my life, thought I would die."

(3)  And the Guardian promises that it will have rigorous procedures in place to make sure that this will never recur.  I do not think that this is really necessary.  There clearly are procedures in place under normal circumstances.  But this was not a normal situation and the system failed ("He filed only an hour before deadline, which left little time for interaction with the desk. He was not specifically questioned by the desk in London about some of the details in his description. He was not asked how far he was from Mr Lu when the latter was being beaten. He was not asked how clearly he could see the things he was reporting he had seen. At the same time Joffe-Walt failed to communicate to the desk the condition he was in then and was still in at the time of writing. He was still convinced at that time that Mr Lu was dead.").  The next time, the desk will undoubtely be on the alert.

By the way, Chinese blogger Anti translated Ian Mayes' essay into Chinese on his blog with the title: The Honest Character of the Guardian.  In the comment section, Anti added that he admired the fact that the Guardian had an independent readers' editor and wished that China would consider the same.  

Now that wasn't very hard for the Guardian to publish that statement, was it?  As I said, the threshold was being set very low.  It was about stating the obvious.  There were plenty of surrogates out there saying the same thing, but the Guardian must say so itself.  My personal regret was that the Guardian waited until October 17 for Ian Mayes' regular date instead of much earlier to put out the firestorm.
And by the way, I have not mentioned this, but Anti took my post Media Coverage of the Taishi Village Affair and posted it in English on his website under the Chinese title of
东南西北博客关于本杰明事件的评述.  Please think about the asymmetry here.  Anti felt nothing about posting an English-language post onto his blog because he expectd his readers can cope; if I had posted the preceding Anti blog posts in Chinese on the ESWN blog, most of my readers cannot read it.  There is an asymmetry of information and linguistic ability here.
Why did Anti put my post there?  Because it was important to communicate to the Chinese readers that someone outside mainland China gets it.  This is how the Chinese- and English-language blogospheres communicate with each other -- not frequent enough, but effective enough if necessary.

…ESWN (zonaeuropa) is a very interesting blog for me because he often offers immediate translations of mainland and local stories, often pointing out flaws and offering interesting links…but i still would not rely on these as sources as i am unable to verify the translations…often i take a point from here and search around until i can verify his info… 

Yes, he has really got it.  For me, the true lesson of the Media Coverage of the Taishi Village Affair is this (and some of Chinese blogger Anti's commenters got it as well) -- nobody should get a free pass to be speaking the 'truth' on account of their credentials.  Just because you are the New York Times, Washington Post or any foreign media does not guarantee that you are writing the 'truth' this time.  An Anti reader quoted this comment of mine from Super Girl and Democracy:

It is about building a social environment in which people learn to be critical and look underneath the veneer.  You can start by listening to what any public figure (whether this is a national leader, scholar, writer, dissident, or blogger) say or write, and check against the facts.  And then you won't get fooled again ...

This leads to the matter of brand trust.  If I've often lied to you the last 100 times that you checked, do you think that you would want to read what I write?  Conversely, if you like what I read and you think that I'm okay the last 100 times that you were able to check, I think you will keep reading me (but I hope that you will use your instinct to withhold your belief and wait for verification if the circumstances are suspicious).

Building brand equity is a long-term project here.  There are two things that I want to establish.  First, it is about brand trust.  That can be earned over the long term when most of what appears here turn out to be accurate.  Furthermore, I am willing to acknowledge an error when that occurs.  At this time, ESWN is a blog and may not be accorded the same degree of trustworthiness as a mainstream media brand that has a hundred year history.  Just give me another few more years and I will get there.  Second, this is about brand satisfaction.  I want to provide information that is not otherwise available or as comprehensive.  Marketers use the question "Would you miss this blog if it were no longer there?" (see my old post).  Just give me another few more years ...
Will this blog (or in conjunction with other blogs) replace mainstream media?  No way.  New York Times Editor Bill Keller spoke in Phoenix last week at the annual Association of National Advertisers conference: "Most of what you know, you know because of the mainstream media.  Bloggers recycle and chew on the news. That's not bad. But it's not enough."  That will remain true.  When any reader writes in to thank me for telling them about China, I am pained.  I cannot pretend that I am telling anyone about this thing known as China.  It is a much more complex subject and a website like China Digital Times provides a more comprehensive view on a daily basis.  However, some blogs will be able to fill in information gaps in a timely and informative manner, and that is where I want to be.  For a major suddenly breaking event, you suspect that the mainstream media may not be telling you the whole truth and you will click to check ESWN instead because you will expect me to be more informative and accurate.  That is where I want to be.  I intend to win your trust.

We have always lived in a world of lies.  From the time when we were small, we were filled with various kinds of lies.  When we finally woke up, we swore that we will look at the real world and we will tell our children about the real world.  That is an important reason why I chose to be a news worker.  I feel that too many reporters are lying.  I want to do my own investigation to make sure that I can tell my readers the truth as I saw it.  Our generation is the geneartion that is the most super-sensitive about distinguishing truth from lies.  We take a sniff and we know whether it is a lie, and whether it is a big or small lie.

Today, anyone who lies will have to pay a heavy price.  This is why I believe that all government public relations activities are useless at this time.  Since no one believes you, it is useless no matter how you soften your propaganda.  When an incident breaks out, our first reaction is that the government is lying.  This is based upon our experience.  The opposing forces or the weaker ones now have inherently better trustworthiness than the government.  Foreign news is also like that.  Therefore, many of us will trust the foreign reports about China instead of the official news from the Xinhua agency.

Given that position, there are some immediate consequences:

When Benjamin Joffe-Walt reported about happened to Lu Banglie, our immediate reaction was to believe him because we believe in the foreign media all along.  We even started to prepare to donate money, voice support, sign petitions and make protests.  Then all of a sudden, we were told that this was just a fantasy of Benjamin Joffe-Walt.  You must realized what a major shift it is for us.  Even though this does not destroy all of the trust of the civilian sector, it is for certain that the next time that The Guardian or any other foreign media reports on an exclusive about an incident, we cannot be naturally trusting.

In order to guarantee this natural trust, we must criticize any exaggerated or false report, even if it may bring us good results.  We should reject all temptations to exaggerate or lie in order to accomplish our goals.  The only reason that we still have a small voice inside this propaganda system is that we are speaking the truth.  If we start lying as well, how can we have any voice at all?

Following the initial DoD turndown, Ellen Preisser and this writer then data-mined unclassified information to report to Mr. Weldon on possible Chinese front companies in the United States seeking technology for the People's Liberation Army.  It showed how Chinese front companies in the United States listed as U.S. corporations were acquiring U.S. weapons technology from U.S. defense contractors, and improving China's military capability. Such access to U.S. technology then would allow the Chinese over time to duplicate U.S. military systems down to the widget.

Indeed, a June 27, 2005 article in The Washington Times reported U.S. investigators were concerned with China and its middlemen increasingly and illegally obtaining "sensitive or classified U.S. weapons technology" from U.S. companies.  Reaction to the study on Chinese front companies in the United States from the Army and the General Counsel's office in the Office of the Defense Secretary was immediate. In November 1999, they ordered the study destroyed, but not before Mr. Weldon complained to then Army Chief of Staff Eric K. Shinseki.  Mr. Weldon also wrote a letter to then-FBI Director Louis Freeh requesting an espionage investigation. Mr. Freeh never responded to the Weldon request.

Laura Rosen links to the New York Post on why the study was destroyed.

Sources said the private contractors, using sophisticated computer software that sifts through massive amounts of raw data to establish patterns, came up with a chart of Chinese strategic and business connections in the U.S.  The program wrongly tagged [current Secretary of State Condoleezza] Rice, who at the time was an adviser to then-candidate George W. Bush, and former Defense Secretary William Perry by linking their associations at Stanford, along with their contacts with Chinese leaders, sources said.  The program also spat out scores of names of other former government officials with legitimate ties to China, as well as prominent American businessmen. There was no suggestion that Rice or any of the others had done anything wrong.

So let's see how sophisticated this can be: (1) Condoleezza Rice is the provost at Stanford University; (2) she has visited China more than once; (3) Stanford has US defense department contracts; (4) Stanford has academic exchange with China.  Therefore, she is a tech spy for China and must not be given security clearance.  This is what the 'sophisticated' computer program said, so it must be true.  Case closed.  No appeal possible.

My colleague Rebecca speculates that US papers may be reluctant to write about the matter because they can’t reach the village in question and can’t confirm Banglie’s death.

Oddly enough, neither can the person who’s been doing the best job of covering the story: Roland Soong of EastSouthNorthWest. A Hong Kong-based media critic, Roland’s been doing exactly what skilled journalists could be doing with the Taishi story - collecting accounts online, via email and from media sources, translating from Chinese to English, and organizing them into coherent narratives, like this hugely useful timeline.

While I’m not generally a blog triumphalist - I believe there are stories that mainstream media can cover that bloggers cannot, and that bloggers usually follow, rather than lead the media - this is a case where bloggers and citizen journalists have been running circles around formal journalism.

Jeff Alworth (at Low on the Hog) suggests that mainstream media have choices too.

While the Times has restricted its most read online content and restricted other internet-only content to its subscribers, the WaPo has gone the other direction. They've given print space to bloggers, covered bloggers in their media coverage, created their own blogs, and most alluring (to bloggers), they now have a little box on each page powered by Technorati that searches the net for blogs linking to the page.

Mark Granovetter (“Threshold models of collective behavior,” American Journal of Sociology 1978) provides another early general treatment of the critical mass model. His treatment is inspired by the literature in sociology on the genesis of riots and revolutions, and so rather than focusing on Nash equilibria considers the characteristics of the steady state which would be reached from an initial condition of zero. This consideration of dynamics yields a feature of the critical mass model which was not emphasized in Schelling’s treatment: the equilibrium correspondence (or the lowest steady state) is nonlinear or discontinuous in group composition, i.e., a slight shift in the group’s level of heterogeneity or in its average preferences may lead to a large shift in overall behavior. Granovetter suggests that the model could be applied to diffusion of innovations, rumors, diseases, strikes, voting, educational attainment, leaving social occasions, migrations, and intervention of bystanders; and provides a detailed analysis of rioting. With coauthor Roland Soong, Granovetter later applied this model to diffusion of technology (“Threshold models of diffusion and collective behavior,” Journal of Mathematical Sociology 1983), consumption (“Threshold models of interpersonal effects in consumer demand,” Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization 1986), and diversity (“Threshold models of diversity: Chinese restaurants, residential segregation, and the spiral of silence,” Sociological Methodology 1988).

Yes, I could have been a star too.  But life is about a series of forked paths and at some point, I took a different branch and I eventually ended up with the ESWN blog instead of accepting a Nobel prize in Stockholm ... oh well ...

I’ve always thought that it was one of those urban myths that you can tell different Asians apart. Especially if I can’t see what they are wearing, I don’t think that I can tell them apart. And, I’m an Asian myself. I’ve been living in the US for over 15 years and I’ve heard some people tell me I definitely look Japanese, while others thought that I don’t at all. Some people boastfully claim that they can tell the difference no problem, while others quietly admit that they can’t. Even with those who claim they can, is it really true that they can? Maybe there is something to be said about someone saying “You guys all look the same!” Or, maybe they just don’t know any better.

You can go there and take the test at  I got 8 out of 18.  The average score is 7.  By random chance alone, one expects to get 6 out of 18.  Good luck!

Wondering how the American people's opinions on the subject have been affected by the public debate, the Pew Research Center recently took a look at polls conducted by our organization, Gallup and many others over the last 20 years. What we found was that the public has relatively settled views on evolution and creationism -- perhaps surprisingly, roughly equal numbers accept one or the other. Among those who endorse evolution, however, many believe that a supreme being had a hand in the process. Moreover, most Americans want students to be exposed to a diversity of viewpoints on the issue. Public opinion on all of these points has been steady over the past two decades.

Regardless of how questions are posed, polls consistently find that 40 to nearly 50 percent of the public accepts a biblical creationist account of life's origins, while slightly more accept the idea of evolution. For example, in a recent Pew poll, 42 percent agreed that "humans and other living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time," while 48 percent believe that "humans and other living things have evolved over time."  ...

But here's the kicker: Although neither evolution nor creationism is accepted by a sizable majority, upwards of two-thirds of the public over the past 20 years has supported teaching both accounts of the origins of life. Even among proponents of natural selection, a majority wants students to be exposed to creationism. And a large minority of Americans -- around 40 percent in both the Gallup and Pew polls -- says that creationism should be taught instead of evolution.

ON a scale of 0 to 10, with 0 meaning not at all influential and 10 meaning extremely influential, how much do you think the views of the majority have on the decisions of elected officials in Washington?  Answer: 4.5.

How much influence do you think the view of the majority of Americans should have on decision of elected officials in Washington?  Answer: 8.0.

So please get this straight: majority opinion means diddly in America in practice.  The rulers are smarter than the people and know what is best for them.  And the people accept that arrangement.
Also this: "Generally, do you think the United States should support the pro-democracy movement in China, or do you think this is an internal matter and the United States should stay out of it?"  55% thought the US should "stay out of it," while only 35% thought the US should support China's pro-democracy movement.