-  Taiwan
Public Opinion Polls (2/28/2006) The National Unification
Council "ceases to function" and the guidelines for national
unification "cease to apply." Earlier, the rumor mill has a
lot of unverified (and unverifiable) information about the choice of
language: "abolish," "terminate," "eliminate,"
"scrap," "freeze," "suspend", but the final
choice is "cease to function/apply." However, for the
western media, it proved difficult to write the headlines because the
construction "Taiwan declares that NUC has ceased to function" is
awkward. So here are some of the actual headlines:
-AP: Taiwan Leader Halts China Unifying Panel
-AFX: Taiwan formally scraps reunification body
-Bloomberg: Chen Says Unification Panel Will
'Cease to Operate'
-Christian Science Monitor: Taiwan's president abolishes China reunification committee
-Financial Times: Taiwan ends push to unify with China
-Guardian: Chen enrages Beijing by axing unification council
-Telegraph: Taiwan defies China by axing unity body
-Reuters: China condemns scrapping of Taiwan unification body
-San Jose Mercury: Taiwan's leader kills council on reunification with China
-Washington Post: Taiwan Scraps Council on Unity With China
The following are some Taiwan public opinion polls.
Daily) [Sample size=250; automated telephone survey; WARNING: small
sample size and bad methodology]
Q: Will changing "abolish" to "cease to function"
ameliorate the tensions in the China-Taiwan-US relationships?
-30%: Yes, it may
-56%: No, it won't
- 8%: It won't make a difference
- 6%: Don't know/no opinion
Q: What do you think the most important thing in Taiwan is right now?
-57%: The economy
-10%: Determine the direction of unification/independence
-27%: Both of the above are important
- 4%: Don't know/no opinion
- 2%: Other
Times) [Sample size=703; telephone survey based drawing random
numbers from the telephone directories and then randomly changing the last
two digits. The 95% confidence interval is plus/minus 3.7%]
-22%: Support decision on National Unification Council
-51%: Oppose decision on National Unification Council
- 9%: Taiwan-US relationship is better as a result
-46%: Taiwan-US relationship is worse as a result
-12%: Taiwan-US relationship is the same as a result
-10%: Positive impact on economic development in Taiwan
-53%: Negative impact on economic development in Taiwan
-12%: No impact on economic development in Taiwan
- 8%: President Chen Shui-bian will have positive influence on
-47%: President Chen Shui-bian will have negative influence on China-Taiwan
- 8%: President Chen Shui-bian will have no influence on China-Taiwan
-24%: Approve overall job performance of President Chen Shui-bian
-53%: Disapprove overall job performance of President Chen Shui-bian
-23%: No opinion
[Note: The 24% approval rate is a historical low for Chen Shui-bian]
-22%: Lean towards independence
-15%: Lean towards unification
-46%: Maintain current status
News) [Sample size = 923 (at 67% response rate); telephone survey based drawing random
numbers from the telephone directories and then randomly changing the last
two digits. The 95% confidence interval is plus/minus 3.2%]
Q1. President Chen Shui-bian's performance
Q2. Recent cross-strait relationship
-39%: More tense
-36%: No change
- 5%: More relaxed
Q3. President Chen's position on Taiwan's future
-43%: Independent as quickly as possible
-10%: Maintain status quo and then become independent
-17%: Maintain status quo permanently
- 2%: Maintain status quo and then unify
- 3%: Unify as quickly as possible
Q4. You personal position on Taiwan's future
-13%: Independent as quickly as possible
- 9%: Maintain status quo and then become independent
-47%: Maintain status quo permanently
-13%: Maintain status quo and then unify
- 7%: Unify as quickly as possible
Q5. Do you support President Chen terminating the National Unification
Council and the guidelines for national unification?
-46%: Not support
Q6. President Chen terminated the National Unification Council due to
-21%: National interest
-20%: Political party interest
-37%: Personal interest
Q7. Does President Chen terminating the National Unification Council help
the progress of Taiwan independence?
Q8. Does President Chen terminating the National Unification Council help
maintain the status quo?
Q9. Do you believe that President Chen has no intention to change the status
quo in Taiwan?
Q10. Does President Chen termination the National Unification Council have
negative impact on Taiwan-US relationships?
Q11. Will you support the recall of President Chen for terminating the
National Unification Council?
-  The
Ponemon Survey of Americans About Chinese Internet Censorship
(2/28/2006) The source here is the San
Jose Mercury article by Therese Poletti titled "Censorship in
China divides Americans."
The key information came from a survey conducted by the Ponemon Institute
(Elk Rapids, Michigan). 1,056 respondents were surveyed conducted
after the US Congressional hearings on Chinese Internet censorship in which
four US companies (Cisco, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo) were present.
Here are the survey results:
- 47% believed content companies should not allow their content to be
censored; 40% believed the companies should comply with restrictions.
- 54% agreed that it is better for the Chinese people to have access to
information from Google and others, even if it is subject to government
- 77% agreed that companies should not identify individuals who read banned
- 76% do not think the US Congress should create new regulations that
prevent US companies from cooperating with China or other countries on the
censorship of Internet content.
What does this mean?
I praise the SJM reporter Therese Poletti for including the
technical details of this survey, because very few reporters bother with
these important details: "The institute conducted its survey over the Internet. It received 1,056 responses deemed usable out of 1,234 total responses from 13,000 adults contacted. Respondents were paid $5 for answering the questionnaire. The margin of error for the survey is plus or minus 1.5 percent."
You can go and read my previous article Survey Biases Due To Sampling Frame Coverage Problems
to see why an online survey (on any topic whatsoever) with an 8% response
rate is just garbage. In this case, you can see the Level Seven factor
in operation: How many Americans have heard of the US Congressional hearings
about Chinese Internet censorship? I would guess that this is a very
low number. Do you believe that those who have and those who have not
heard about the hearings share the same opinions on the survey
questions? You tell me.
-  Hong Kong Sex Cultural Festival 2006
Pao) The opening day festival at Chater Road drew about 50,000
people, who did not have much to look at. There were 34 stalls, but
only two exhibited sex toys (one was a clothed inflatable doll and the other
was a made-in-China 'sex chair'). The best fun was probably at the
ring tossing contest (see photo).
The festival organizers admitted that they were deliberately conservative in
their approach for this inaugural event in a sexually reserved city.
That was why the inflatable doll had to be clothed.
-  The
Channel Asia News Interview (2/27/2006) I was interviewed by
Stephen Jiang of Channel News Asia a while ago, but it was only today
that I mustered up the courage to look at the VCD of the January 5, 2006
broadcast that was sent to me. Basically, I don't like to look or
listen to myself. Period. Still, this was satisfactory because
my on-air appearance was very brief relative to the actual length of the
interview (around 10-15 minutes). All I said was something like:
"The mainstream media attempt to cover everything as they see
fit. This is much better than a bunch of random bloggers talking about
whatever they see fit." Oh yes, at the New Media and Social
Transformation Conference at City University of Hong Kong in December 2005,
Chinese blogger Michael Anti openly identified me as a "rightist"
for holding such ideas (along with himself). So I shall wear this
badge with honor.
More interesting in this Channel News Asia segment was the opening piece
about Curbside @ WTO journalist Sam Graham (at MayBe
HK) and the statement by Mark Clifford (then editor-in-chief at The
Standard and now at the South China Morning Post) about the impact of the
Internet. The Channel Asia News reporter Stephen Jiang said that website traffic to The Standard has
grown by over eight times in the last two years. Nice, but did this
change their coverage? That is the real question.
-  My
Nike Team (2/27/2006) On this particular Sunday, I am thinking
of my orange running team again (see CentralParktc.org).
This is the day of the New York Road Runners' Snowflake Run, which is the
traditional high-point of the year for my team. Everybody on the team
was supposed to turn out, regardless of their physical condition (unless
they live on the other side of the world like me). I went and checked the team
results. I looked for the team beginning with "Central
..." and I see only the "Central Jersey RR." There were
41 men's teams and 34 women's teams, but there was no "Central Park
Track Club." I cried my eyes out over the demise of my team,
which apparently could not even field five runners at any pace in this
race. Then I checked out the winners: The Open Men division was won by
the Nike Central Park Track Club and the Open Women division was won by the
Nike Central Park Track Club, both by comfortable margins. And this
was not even a full-strength team as our top middle-distance track runners
were running in the distance medley relays in the USATF National
Championships in Boston this weekend.
Oh, silly me! I had totally forgotten that the team now has a corporate
sponsor (Just Do It, Swoosh!) in addition to being granted the status of
Elite Development Club by the USATF!! Here, the EastSouthWestNorth
blogger puts in a full claim for being responsible for these fantastic
developments. Once upon a time, when the blogger was the webmaster of
the Central Park Track Club, the team had the reputation of having a
far-too-interesting website and people spending far-too-much-time on
mouse-clicking than working their legs and lungs. The departure of the
aforementioned person to the other side of the world to start the
EastSouthWestNorth blog has resulted in the glorious renaissance of the team
with respect to its core values and purposes.
The above was said in jest, of course. For an organization with such a
long history, there will be bountiful years as well as lean years. In
the bountiful years, we enjoyed ourselves; in the lean years, we kept stiff
upper lips, persevered and never gave up. I am a relative newbie, as I
only joined the team in 1989 and so my ups and downs were fewer than those
founding parents of the teams. But I am looking towards a very bountiful year in
2006. Just Do It!!!
-  Logging
Off On China (2/26/2006) This is from Robert Reich's TAP
article (via CBS
If the U.S. government wants to make Chinese human rights a priority, it could pass a law tomorrow prohibiting American companies from helping the Chinese government trample on the free speech of its citizens. Such a law wouldn’t hurt the competitiveness of these companies because they’re preeminent in the world. If China wants to be part of the Internet age it has no choice but to allow in Cisco, Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, and other American firms – who could then tell the Chinese government they’re required by American law to respect the free speech of Chinese citizens. Otherwise, no deal.
Besides, given the pressures on these companies to maximize profits, this sort of law is the only way to stop Cisco, Microsoft, Google, and Yahoo from being enablers. And it’s the only way to get the attention of the Chinese authorities.
This is one of those things that is said to
"hurt the feelings of the Chinese nation and its people." The
assumption is that the Chinese would not have a clue what to do without Cisco,
Microsoft, Google and Yahoo and the Chinese Internet age will come to an
immediate end without these great American companies. Therefore, the
Chinese government will get down on their knees to beg the companies and
accept the terms that these companies will dictate to them in accordance with
the new American law.
This is SO WRONG,
because there are indigenous Chinese market leaders such as Huawei, Bokee,
Netease, Sina.com, Sohu.com, Baidu, Sogou, etc. China can choose to say
no to this American law (and it will win the hearts of minds of the
"angry young people" wing of the Chinese Internet while even the
"rational reformist" wing will have to shut up), while those
indigenous Chinese companies will be delighted not to have foreign
Cisco, Microsoft, Google and Yahoo have little or no leverage because they are
inessential and/or inconsequential in their respective markets. The
leverage will come only after they grab a significant market share
and/or become indispensable. For example, if MSN Spaces registers 20 million Chinese blogs,
can dare the Chinese government to shut down the whole service and face the
wrath of the Chinese bloggers. But if they are just blog-city.com and
they only have several thousand users, then who gives a damn if they are shut
-  Globalization
At Work (2/26/2006) (New
York Times) Two weeks ago, a dead wild duck was found to have
been infected with the H5N1 avian flu virus in the Ain region of
France. More recently, the turkeys at a French farm have been
decimated by the virus. On Friday, France's president Jacques Chirac served Poland's president, Lech Kaczynski,
suprême de volaille, a creamed chicken dish, at Élysée Palace.
Still Japan and other countries have banned the import of poultry and
poultry products from France.
In Hong Kong, the front page news in Apple
Daily was: "Hong Kong bans the import of French goose
What will we do? According to the PR person for the Hong Kong
Intercontinental Hotel, its restaurants (including the French restaurant
Spoon) use top-grade French goose and duck liver, and they have about one
week's stock left. After the stock is exhausted, the restaurants will
have to suspend the offering. According to the Fu Lam Chinese
restaurant famous for the Number 1 Abalone, they will resort to using canned
goose liver after the inventory of fresh goose liver runs out. They
claim that the canned version is every bit is as good.
-  How
Did I End Up In A Movie? (2/26/2006) See Adamu at Mutant
Frog Travelogue for the plot summary: "I have lunch with Roland Soong and his Chinese girlfriend (petite, bubbly voice, intelligent) at a Chinese restaurant in a Japanese city (Osaka?). We discuss poverty in Japan and China and I mention something about a black underclass in Japan. We discuss other really intelligent things and then go and take some kind of weird water ride that’s kind of like underwater paddleboats. The end of the ride deposits us in a huge pond where this funny white guy is splashing
everyone ... "
Shall I raise the capital for this proposed movie, as suggested in the
comments over there? I can't -- as a result of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
I once was a movie buff until I encountered Barry Levinson's Toys in
1992. For more than ten years afterwards, I was unable to walk into a
movie house to watch a movie. What caused the trauma? Here was a
bad movie and an exercise in self-indulgence for which Barry Levinson was
able to raise and piss away US$40 million. I can list any number of
good things that can be done with US$40 million. Forget it, Jake, this is
Hollywood and nobody cares ...
-  My
Google PageRank (2/25/2006) An Internet friend (note: the kind
that I have never personally met) informed me that the Google toolbar
PageRank for EastSouthWestNorth is 7. What does that mean? That
is far too abstract. The explanation was that this would put me in
the same grade as Sina.com. What does that mean? This is just too
abstract. The only concrete thing that I can understand is that when I
punched "Apple Daily" into Google today, my post of February 19,
About Apple Daily) was ranked number 5, just behind three authentic
Apple Daily sites (Hong Kong, Taiwan and Apple/Next corporation) and
Wikipedia (see screen capture below).
Among other things, the rank of a page with the keywords relevant to a
search depends on the average PageRank of the site on which the page is
deposited. The high ranking of this particular page is likely to be due
to the overall popularity of the site.
here is a critique of PageRank:
In the first place, Google's claim that "PageRank relies on the uniquely democratic nature of the web" must be seen for what it is, which is pure hype. In a democracy, every person has one vote. In PageRank, rich people get more votes than poor people, or, in web terms, pages with higher PageRank have their votes weighted more than the votes from lower pages. As Google explains, "Votes cast by pages that are themselves 'important' weigh more heavily and help to make other pages 'important.'" In other words, the rich get richer, and the poor hardly count at all. This is not "uniquely democratic," but rather it's uniquely tyrannical. It's corporate America's dream machine, a search engine where big business can crush the little guy.
Secondly, only big guys can have big databases. If your site has an average PageRank, don't even bother making your database available to Google's crawlers, because they most likely won't crawl all of it. This is important for any site that has more than a few thousand pages, and a home page of about five or less on the toolbar's crude scale.
Thirdly, in order for Google to access the links to crawl a deep site of thousands of pages, a hierarchical system of doorway pages is needed so that crawler can start at the top and work its way down. A single site with thousands of pages typically has all external links coming into the home page, and few or none coming into deep pages. The home page PageRank therefore gets distributed to the deep pages by virtue of the hierarchical internal linking structure. But by the time the crawler gets to the real "meat" at the bottom of the tree, these pages frequently end up with a PageRank of zero. This zero is devastating for the ranking of that page, even assuming that Google's crawler gets to it, and it ends up in the index, and it has excellent on-page characteristics. The bottom line is that only big, popular sites can put their databases on the web and expect Google to cover their data adequately. And that's true even for websites that had their data on the web long before Google started up in 1999.
Is this another reason to hate Google?
The alternative may be to retrieve every page that contains the keywords and
present them randomly. That would be 'democratically' fair to the pages
(as in equal opportunity),
but will the users be satisfied? I think that one can fairly assume that
such a 'democratic' search engine would be rejected by the users after a short trial
And then there is the question about the
class struggle. Could it be that the rich got rich by doing the right
things all along? Or because they were big, fat capitalist pigs who
managed to buy Google's help?
P.S. The recent EastSouthWestNorth post titled There
Was A Man Named Liu Binyan is also Number 5 for the person of that
name, after TIME magazine, Human Rights Watch, New York Review of Books and
Radio Free Asia. If you are looking for a "steamed
bun," the EastSouthWestNorth post titled The
Steamed Bun Lawsuit is number 2; the post The Case of Zhang Dejiang
is number 2 for Zhang Dejiang; the post The Wangfu Ping Essay in Caijing
is number 1 for the Wangfu Ping; etc. Those were the prominent posts in
the month of February.
-  Chinese
Student Faints At Sight Of Internet Police (2/24/2006)
(Chongqing Daily News via Wenxue
City) In Chongqing, China, the police inspection team entered
an Internet bar in the morning. About seven or eight students were
present. One student was concentrating hard on pornographic websites
and was totally unaware of the police officers behind him. The
officers stood there for a minute and then they asked him to cooperate.
The student stood up, his body wavered and he passed out. The police
gave him some water and he came to a few minutes later. He said,
"I was scared." The student was brought back to the station
where he apologized and was soon released after a lecture and a warning.
-  Two
Photographs of Wen Jiabao (2/24/2006) (Northeast
News) The following two photographs was first posted on
January 30, 2006 at a BBS forum under the title: "When Premier returned
to the Shandong rural village 10 years later, he is still wearing the same
The photograph on the left was taken in the winter of 1995 when Wen Jiabao
was still a reserve member of the Chinese Communist Party Politburo.
The photograph on the right was taken this January when Wen is the
Premier. It looks like as if Wen is still wearing the same green
jacket. This post then spread like wildfire through the Chinese forums
and blogs (the reporter found 232,000 links on the Internet). Sample
comment: "I pay my respects to Premier Wen, because he is just like the
neighbor who lives next to an ordinary citizen. He is a good neighbor
and a frugal good neighbor."
Is this a piece of engineered public relations? I don't know and
neither do you. It suffices to say that this was not accomplished
through a traditional top-down campaign, such as the Xinhua story of a
certain national leader swimming across a river. Instead, this one propagated horizontally across
the Internet by many people. This would not have been possible in 1995
when the Chinese Internet was still in its infancy.
Addendum: It would be remiss for
me not to give you some flavor of the several tens of thousands of BBS
comments on these photos. The following is translated from some Tianya
Club comments selected by the KonG
A vibrant system is more important!
The previous attempts to inflate the quality of the leaders reeked of
feudalism and were quite useless.
There are all sorts of officials out there, some are good in some ways and
others are of terrible quality.
The most reliable thing is an effective system.
I believe that this was stage clothing.
I think so.
Someone also said that this was a "bullet-proof vest." That
is possible too!
Just because the clothes were worn for
several years does not solve any problems.
It is the payment of the back wages of the migrant workers, elimination of
the agricultural taxes, the gradually elimination of the miscellaneous fees
for elementary school (already in place in the western regions) and so on
that made me respect the current generation of leaders. At least, they
paid attention to those socially vulnerable groups and thought about doing
some concrete things for them.
We should not ignore these leaders' efforts due to some other unresolved
problems. At least, they are doing something for the
don't know what the "angry" people have in mind. Are
you perfect? Can you be a perfect person overnight?
Certain people say that the country is
corrupt and the government is corrupt. Were they never corrupt in
their entire lives? If they should ever ascend to Premier Wen's
position some day, would they dare to take out their ten-year-old jacket to
wear? Should they go and check how important Premier Wen has valued
the common people since assuming the post?
I don't understand these people. We the Chinese people finally got
such a good Premier, but they won't support and they don't care about
him. Are we supposed to attack him instead? Are we tell him that
you are the Premier and you represent China, and so you must not wear old,
beaten-up clothes because it damages the reputation of China? It is
really difficult to be China's Premier."
If you step back for a moment, you will
realize that something is missing in these voices. It is possible at
this point to get on a BBS forum and accuse Premier Wen of cynically putting
on a stage show. Enough people are doing that and none of them is likely
to be arrested in the middle of the night. This is just standard BBS
behavior now. It may be that the Central Publicity Department will
eventually ban the topic, but the commentators will simply move on to the next
The counter-arguments in the debate are not
given in officialese. Nobody ever talks about how the brilliant and
courageous Premier Wen is the representative of the glorious Party and
therefore must never ever be impugned or insulted. Today, that kind of
talk is no longer acceptable, because it is unpersuasive in a discursive
environment. If there are undercover Chinese police commentators at
these BBS forums, their messages would have to be more subtle and
nuanced. In fact, they probably don't have to do anything because
the two largest camps are the "angry young people" and the "rational
reformists," and the latter is an effective check-and-balance entity right now.
-  Previewing
Guangdong Province (2/24/2006) This is what is coming up for
this year, according to the Guangdong province police. From Ming
The Guangdong police indicated that they
will concentrate this year on the problem of internal and external hostile
forces interfering with "defending rights." According to
the report from the Guangdong province public security bureau, hostile
forces have politicized the issues of economic rights of urban consumers and
rural farmers in recent years, and used individual incidents to stir up
opinions and incited people who didn't understand the truth to cause
trouble. There had been multiple serious mass incidents which posed a
serious threat to the construction of a harmonious and stable society in
Guangdong. The report indicated that the many serious mass
disturbances last year in Guangdong were related with disputes over rights.
According to the report from the Guangdong
police, there were 498,000 criminal cases last year, which was 3.3% fewer
than the year before. The police solved 186,000 cases. But the
number of mass incidents increased largely. The provincial public
security bureau used firm measures under these special circumstances to
defeat the infiltration of overseas hostile forces including Falun Gong,
terrorist activities, Internet criminals and others in many cases.
This year, apart from concentrating fighting the internal and external
hostile forces interfering in defending rights, the Guangdong police will
increase their fight against terrorism, to develop anti-terrorist response,
system and professional forces.
-  Tammy
NYP Tops Chinese Competition (2/24/2006) First, the top of the
hit parade was held by university student Wang Tingting whose photos and
videos of her trysts were apparently posted by the ex-boyfriend (see Comment
200602#050). Next, it was Xie Lijun posting videos of her
trysts with a Chinese police officer (see Comment
200602#056). Now both have been toppled by student Tammy at
Nanyang Poly in Singapore (see AsiaPundit
for links from Singapore). Once the news got around, the Chinese
forums are getting hot on those videos (see, for example, Wenxue
City and 6Park), with people "getting down on their knees" for those
videos and/or instructions on how to view a .3GP file (use
QuickTime!). For convenience, Tammy NYP is even bundled with Wang
Tingting in the same download.
Is there anything better the Internet can be used for?
-  Free
Market in Operation (2/23/2006) The previous comment Free
Market Economics in the Blogosphere drew a bunch of sympathetic
emails. Since they seem to share a common theme, I will try to
collectively address the issues here.
The common question is: Who is writing these hate emails?
Answer: The usual suspects are present. Here are some specific
examples from the past few months:
- Why do you keep insisting that you don't understand the meaning of the
87,000 mass incidents in China during 2005? Maybe you just can't deal
with the fact that China is falling apart?
- Why did you translate the slanderous Freezing Point article by Yuan Weishi
about the Boxer rebellion? Do you hate China so much? Do you
want the foreigners to occupy China again?
- You use the word cult to characterize the Falun Gong. We all know
that there are serious consequences as to whether you use the word cult,
sect or religion. You should not be using the word cult lightly.
(Note: I usually use 'cult' inside apostrophes).
- When you posted the Abu Ghraib pictures, you must still want Saddam
Hussein to be in charge in Iraq? Don't you understand that we have brought
freedom and democracy to the people of Iraq!? Does it mean anything to
you at all!?
- As we all know, Taiwan is a sovereign nation and you should take care not
to suggest that it is a part of China.
- You should not be criticizing Reporters Without Borders because
they are the good guys in this. By criticizing them, you are aiding
and abetting the totalitarian forces in China.
- For you to say that fewer than 250,000 people marched in Hong Kong on
December 4 means that you hate democracy and freedom.
- Why are you so interested in criticizing the arrests of those South Korean
farmers during the anti-WTO demonstrations? Everybody knows that they
are professional rioters!
The problem is obviously this: Who am I supposed to please? There is a
Chinese saying: 順得哥情失嫂意.
(translation: If you please your brother, you displease your
sister-in-law). For example, if I start calling Taiwan a sovereign
nation, the other kinds of email will start appearing in my inbox. I
am not in the business of pleasing my email writers. I am here to
please myself. A personal blog is not a democracy. It is an
autocracy of size one. So there you have it.
The other problem is this: Do you believe that dealing with the listed
questions is the major issue of our times? I voted NO. That was
my personal decision. You can decide whether you want to spend X hours
a day dealing with them but you can do it on your own time.
The second point to note is that many of these complaining emails begin with an opening
statement such as "Since you have an influential blog, you should not
... (blah blah blah) ..." That is the good news. It means
that they wouldn't have given a rat's ass if this were just an ordinary
blog. The EastSouthWestNorth blog is more than an ordinary blog in
their view and that is why they wrote in. I must admit that I enjoy
being important. Still, a blog is a personal project that reflects the
personality, values, attitudes and opinions of an individual blogger and not
subject to the calculations of the mainstream media to offend the least
number of people. I am not going to change myself. If you
believe that you own or represent the majority view that is not reflected
here, you should write your own blog and you will win in the free market of
public opinions. You have my best wishes.
P.S. I was just told that someone thought that the original comment was
about him. I had no idea who that was. Here, I am reminded of Carly
You’re so vain, you probably think this song is about you
You’re so vain, I’ll bet you think this song is about you
Don’t you? don’t you?
-  The
Greatest Court Trial Photo Ever (2/23/2006) (My China via Wenxue
City) In Fuxin city, eight individuals were on trial for
forcing three females into prostitutes. When the females refused, they
were raped and beaten. At the trial, the eight individuals all claimed
that they were used by the others or that they had not realized that they
were involved in any crime.
But the case is not what made this a remarkable photo. It is what the
court clerk was caught doing on camera. [Sorry for all you Apple
Macintosh people: the court clerk was playing the Microsoft game
Reader's comment: "Just
wondering what you think the likelihood is of the trial photo with the
solitaire-playing woman actually being a Photoshop job. Seems to me
that the MS solitaire game has seven piles of cards in the lower section,
where in the photo, there are four filled and two empty slots, making a
total of six. I don't think the monitor is large enough to obscure the right
section of the screen from the angle the photographer is using, and the left
hand side doesn't look like it holds another pile of cards. I'm inclined to
think it's a fake, or at the very least, some sort of court software that
-  What
Is Up With Huang Ju? (2/23/2006) Executive Vice-Premier Huang Ju
is ranked number six on the nine-member Politburo in China. Under the
prevailing media protocol, all news about the Politburo members is released
only by the Central Publicity Department.
-(SCMP via UPI,
2/22/2006): Huang had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and remained in hospital.
He is expected to quit the Politburo.
-(Beijing News via Boxun,
2/21/2006): At a meeting to study rural village problems, eight members of
the Politburo were present with the exception of Huang Ju who was
"visiting outside" (外访)
-(Asia Times via Boxun,
2/20/2006): Huang Ju has not been seen since January 16. In his last
appearances, he looked healthy and did not look ill. If he is ill,
then he may be trying to avoid certain political storms. For example,
in April 1993, Li Peng pleaded a "heart disease" and spent half a
year in a hospital; but the speculation was that Li was unhappy with the
wave of reform after Deng Xiaoping's southern tour and he was under a lot of
pressure. So ducking in the hospital was a way of evading
responsibility for an economic collapse.
-(Ming Pao via Boxun;
2/17/2006) At yesterday's Ministry of Foreign Affairs press
conference, spokesperson Qin Kong replied: "I thank you for your
concern about Vice-premier Huang Ju. I don't know where you are coming
from. He is working normally and nothing has changed."
-(Oriental Daily via Boxun;
2/14/2006) At the evening meeting in the People's Great Hall, eight
members of the Politburo (minus Huang Ju) ate the traditional sweet soup
balls. The absence of Huang Ju led to speculation that he may have
-(United Daily via Boxun;
2/14/2006) The last written appearance of Huang Ju was a national
resources supervision meeting on January 23; the last photo was on January 5
at a national transportation meeting and he looked tired in the Xinhua
What is up with Huang Ju?
Additonal link: Washington
-  Negative
Reporting and Public Safety (2/22/2006) (Jinan Times via MediaChina.net)
(in translation) According to the most recent research by Zero Point,
the sense of public safety among Chinese urban dwellers has been falling
down since 2003. In China Youth Daily (2/20), Professor Wang Taiyuan
said that there are more negative reports in the media nowadays, and it
subjectively affected the knowledge and psychology of the people.
Logically, then, the easiest way to increase people's sense of public safety
is to decrease the amount of negative reporting in the media!!!
The commentator then wrote: As an editor, I probably come into contact with
a lot more negative news than ordinary citizens, but I don't feel less
safe. But when a thief broke into my home one night and stole stuff
while I was sleeping, I truly felt threatened and unsafe.
The commentator continued: There is no denying that people feel less safe
when they read the negative reports, but that influence is tiny relative to
their personal experiences. But if some local governments believed
Professor Wang, they may blame the media and neglect to look for the real
reasons. This will not increase people's sense of safety. It
will only restore the policy of keeping people uninformed or misinformed.
-  Free
Market Economics in the Blogosphere (2/22/2006) With respect
to the pile of email in my inbox as to why I refuse to address certain
criticisms, I will try to answer them with this sweeping statement.
Life is too short, and I don't have the time to deal with these issues one
at a time. In a nutshell, this is about "free market
Axiom #1: If you don't like the EastSouthWestNorth blog, you don't have
to read it.
This axiom is the core concept of free market economics. If
someone does not like this blog, he/she doesn't have to read it. How
simple can this get! Nobody is pointing a gun at them. As for
me, I did not do this blog to please the market to maximize any objective
function (such as money, fame, etc). I do this to please me and only
me (and The
Most Popular Chinese Blogger does not feel any differently about herself
even if she
is totally apolitical). In the end, I have to be me and it does not
matter to me whether I get zero traffic or a ton of traffic. I have to
be me because this is my essence. It is you who have to decide for
yourself whether you want to come here or not. This is not my problem
and I don't answer to you. You vote with your feet (or mouse click, as
is the case). This is the essence of blogging.
Axiom #2: If you keep coming back to the EastSouthWestNorth blog even
though you keep stating that you hate it, then you are a masochist.
Again, this is your problem and I don't care. It was your choice
to be 賤
(trash, despicable). As for me, I
am not going to let you change me in any way or fashion. If you have
any appreciation about the import of blogging, you will agree with me on
this principle regardless of your political predilections. I will
always be me. If you don't like me, you don't have to come here.
This is the true beauty of the market economy of the Internet blogosphere.
Axiom #3: If the rest of the world continues to traffic the
EastSouthWestNorth blog while you despise it, then (1) you are the
only smart one around and (2) the rest of the world is stupid.
In the previous post Stories
About Apple Daily, the point was that 'lying rag' known as Apple Daily happens to
the market leaders in both Hong Kong and Taiwan. Either Apple Daily is
doing something right, or else its readers are doing something wrong. With
respect to the EastSouthWestNorth blog, are you the lone voice in the
wilderness of stupid people, or are you the only person who is out of
your mind? You can go and figure it out for yourself. Again, this is your problem and I don't care. I am
not going to let you change me.
Axiom #4: The unique service offered by the EastSouthWestNorth blog is
the near-real-time translation service for suddenly breaking
incidents. If you think that you can provide the same service, please
do it. I would be very delighted to relinquish my 'stranglehold' in
this area and let someone else fulfill this important function. I
would rather devote my finite time each day to 'commentary' instead of
straight 'translation.' For my travails, all I get are complaints
about translation nuances, biases and partiality in selection. If you
don't like what I do, please step up and provide a better service. The
free market will reward you with huge traffic.
I am here because there is a market vacuum. I don't want to fill
it, but it needs to be filled and nobody else is doing it. As an example, the Washington Post is providing an extensive accounting
of Chinese blogger Michael Anti with the State Council Internet Monitoring
Bureau and Microsoft (via RConversation)
on this date (February 20, 2006) together with translation of the last blog
posts by Michael Anti at MSN Spaces. Those blog posts were translated in
near-real-time in late December and early January right here at the
EastSouthWestNorth blog (in passable and possibly imperfect
translation). That would be about six or seven weeks before the
Washington Post can do the perfect job. That is how this blog is
different from mainstream media and this is why people come to this
blog. As I said, if you don't like
what I am doing, you don't have to come here and/or you can do it yourself
better. This is about the free market. You can either step up,
put up or shut up.
Now that you have heard the free market principles enunciated, go for it!
-  Super
Girl's Press Conference in Taiwan (2/22/2006) Eastday's
summary (via 6Park)
(translation: "not a single drop of water seeped through").
Q: Now that you are finally allowed to speak, how do you feel?
A: I don't have much to say, and I don't have any special feelings.
Q: What about the photograph on the Internet of you in an intimate embrace
with a member of the same sex?
A: I am not the person in the photograph. There is nothing to clarify.
Q: Do you like boys or girls?
A: [No response from Li Yuchun who just stared the questioner icily in the
eye. At that moment, the workers entered and escorted her out.]
The above were not real questions; they were provocations. The real
substantive statement from Super Girl Li Yuchun was this: "Taiwan fans are very
warm-hearted. The local snacks are good."
-  The
Case of Annie Pang (2/21/2006) On the day when the mother of
the 'Goddess of Democracy' Anson Chan passed away in Hong Kong, the
headlines were shared by the inquest into the death of Annie Pang, alleged
mistress of Anson Chan's brother John Fang.
The inquest is being heard by Coroner Colin Mackintosh and five
jurors. According to The
Standard, statements from as many as 49 witnesses, including three described as "casual friends/drug addicts" may be heard in the investigation which is expected to last 15 days.
This is a tremendous waste of public resources. Everybody agrees that
there is a mystery, as noted in The Standard:
There are many unanswered questions, beginning with why Pang's body remained undiscovered for so long - the last time she was seen was July 1995.
In about August 1995 neighbors complained of a smell they described as "dead rats,"
[coroner's officer Dee] Crebbin said.
Also, why, in October 1999 when Fang and a locksmith entered the Waterloo Road apartment to close bathroom and bedroom windows that had caused water leakage into the flat below both said they never saw Pang's uncovered skeleton nor her skull in a waste basket on the floor beside the bed in the 300-square-foot flat.
"Mr Fang said he had to step over some things to reach the [bedroom] window and did not look at what they were," Crebbin said.
The next day he sent a man named Yeung Kwai-choi, who also knew Pang, to clean up the flat which was "in a terrible mess. Extremely untidy, dirty full of dust and cobwebs," Crebbin said.
It was Yeung who saw the skeleton and called police after he notified Fang.
The 'mystery' is this: When a person dies,
she does not pick up her own head and put it in a waste basket. That was
why it defied commonsense for the police to have closed the case previously
because there was nothing "suspicious." Of course, the trail
is cold by now and nothing can be done barring some new breakthrough
So what is the purpose of this
inquest? The court probably has the best of intentions in trying to
satisfy the Pang family's desire for an explanation, but the press is going
for sensationalism and scoring political points. The headline in the South China Morning Post was:
"I was told Anson Chan's family linked to underworld, court hears."
There you have the money quote: "Anson Chan's family involves both the authorities and the
underworld." It sounded better in Chinese (via Ming Pao): 「你知不知道陳方安生家族一邊黑一邊白﹖」
The Sun even put the "Half Black/Half White" quote onto the front
page, while Oriental Daily, Sing Pao and Sing Tao went with the three
abortions that John Fang allegedly forced Annie Pang to have. Please be
mindful that this is all hearsay testimony and the inquest is not about
probing the black/white connections of Anson Chan. Here is an eyewitness
account of the court proceedings: "The coroner told the jury to ignore that testimony as it was clearly hearsay,
involved anonymous/unknown 'sources' and ridiculously vague. It was also quite brief;
more so as he cut it off." But it made the front page in The Sun.
Apple Daily preferred to have the story
about the death of Anson Chan's mother.
-  The
Pushback Against Gao Zhisheng (2/21/2006) The pushback by the
Chinese government against the account by lawyer Gao Zhisheng of being
followed by the secret police everywhere (see My
Life With The Plainclothesmen) took place in a pro-Beijing Hong Kong
newspaper. This is at least an acknowledgement that the Gao has
assumed some international importance. But Gao Zhisheng cannot be
discussed on the mainland, and the pushback had to come from friendly
sources outside of China.
According to Wen
Wei Po, its Beijing-based reporter went to an informed source to ask
about the "surveillance" and "near assassination" of Gao
Zhisheng. According to the source which checked with the Beijing
police, there was no "deliberate collision" at the time and place
on January 17 and the police did not receive any complaints from Gao.
As for the Beijing EB8233 license plate number, there is no such
number. Therefore, these were all manufactured rumors without any
factual basis. The Gao Zhisheng case has been hyped up by foreign
media and Taiwan and overseas organizations are supporting it. The
Hong Kong Alliance In Support Of Patriotic Democratic Movements organized
marches, signed petitions and engaged in hunger strike support.
What can we say here?
(1) Just because the police did not have a police report on file does not
mean that the event did not happen. How about checking the closed
circuit television tapes?
(2) Just because there is no Beijing EB8233 license place number does not
mean that there was not a car going around with that plate.
(3) Why doesn't the Wen Wei Po reporter run a surveillance on Gao Zhisheng
to see if anyone is really following him? Gao claims that when he goes
to the park for his morning exercise, he is surrounded by a whole
crew. The Wen Wei Po reporter can just take some photographs from
afar, one way or the other. Is that an invasion of privacy?
Well, how do paparazzi reporters treat celebrities such as Jay Chou and Cecilia
Cheung? What can't they treat Gao Zihisheng the same way?
-  Reporting
A Crime On The Internet (2/21/2006) Earlier this year, there
was a widely distributed post titled "A Letter Pleading For Help From A
Weak Woman (一个弱女子的求助信 )"
The complainant is a divorced woman who claimed that she was coerced into a
relationship by a police officer in Cixi city (Zhejiang province). She
operates an unlicensed taxi cab, and the police officer held power over her
The police officer is already married, so she was in fact made into a
long-term mistress. She sent the evidence of the relationship to the
police department, which should take disciplinary action against the police
officer. When that failed to happen, the woman went public on the
Internet. When that letter failed to generate enough support, the
woman began posting video clips of love-making (see JiaoDong.net).
An informal tally is that this post now has more several hundred thousands
viewings and more than 30,000 comments across many websites.
According to the police, the police officer has been "severely
reprimanded by the party for improper personal relationships."
But at QQ.net, a lawyer wondered if the woman has legal liabilities for
posting the video clips, including invasion of the privacy of the police
officer as well as disseminating pornography.
-  This
Blog Is Not Being Filtered (2/21/2006) In Keywords Used to Filter Web Content
(Washington Post), there is a list of filtered media titles. Included
are two entries: EastSouthWestNorth Forum and EastSouthWestNorth Forum.
Not to fear, because the reference is to a much bigger forum 东西南北
-  The
First Li Datong Letter (2/20/2006) Philip P. Pan at the
Washington Post recreates the history of the first Li Datong internal letter
of August 2005 at The Click That Broke a Government's
Grip. This is an astonishing and emotionally rousing story,
and it is infinitely more significant in Chinese history than the US
Congressional hearings on Cisco, Google, MSN and Yahoo!. I read this
article and I applauded.
At the time,
I recognized the significance of this astonishing event and I immediately
Letter of Li Datong in near-real-time. It took Pan to tell us
today the timeline and processes by which that letter got propagated in a
moment when the Central Propaganda Department could not cope with the huge
popular response. This was a case in which numerous strangers
unconnected to each other did what they saw as the right thing without any
instructions from anyone. There have been more such moments since, and there
will continue to be many more courtesy of the Internet. The process is
irreversible unless the Internet is shut down altogether in China (together
with all business activities that are based upon Internet services such as
email, IM, websites, etc), and that would be a Great Leap Backward.
The next scheduled event on the calendar is the re-launching of Freezing Point minus the
services of Li Datong and Lu Yuegang. The announced program promises a
critique of Yuan Weishi's article (see History Textbooks in China)
which was the alleged reason for the banishment of Freezing Point and its
editors. I look for the entire Chinese Internet community to go
ballistic against this critique, and the Central Propaganda Department will
not know how to stop them because the attacks will come from
everywhere. I predict that they will endure a couple of days of
blistering attacks before declaring the subject to be out of bounds
altogether. I promise you that I will be out there giving you all the
information. The Central Propaganda Department has the upper hand most
of the time, so why not kick them when they don't have full control?
-  Morph:
We Media Global Forum (2/20/2006) For the month of February, I
am collaborating and interacting with people around the world on this group
blog. See, for example, The
Shot That Won't Get Heard In China about how people from different areas
and fields think about the Dick Cheney hunting 'accident.'
-  Yet
Another Real Baidu-Google Project (2/19/2006) Pursuant to The
Li-Lu Statement On Freezing Point, the subject of interest was obviously
going to be the man Li Datong (李大同)
himself. Here are the results:
- Google.com: 60,300 results (led off with a copy of his own open protest
letter against the shutdown of Freezing Point)
- Google.cn: 15,100 results (the open protest letter can be found on forums and
blogs; obviously missing were Epoch Times articles, etc)
- Baidu: 194 results (nothing about the shutdown of Freezing Point)
Li Datong's deputy Lu Urging was also ousted, but for having published this
Was A Man Named Liu Binyan. Another subject of interest was
obviously going to be Liu Binyan (刘宾雁).
After all, Lu Yuegang wrote the essay precisely because the name of the
reportage pioneer had been erased.
- Google.com: 10,800
- Google.cn: 8,740
- Baidu: 10,700 (and you can even find copies of Lu Yuegang's essay through
These are two different
scenarios. In the case of Li Datong, there was a concerted effort at
Baidu to block out any mention of the recent happenings at Freezing
Point. Google.cn is blocking out links to the 'hostile overseas
forces' (Epoch Times, RFA, VOA, AsiaDemo, 64memo, etc), which would be
inaccessible from inside China without some special tools. In the case
of Liu Binyan, both Google.cn and Baidu are blocking out the 'hostile
The dissemination of The Steamed Bun was
made possible by the Internet. It was a no-brainer for forum masters,
who didn't need more than a second to approve the post. Soon, the hits
were occurring faster than a chicken pecking at food on the ground.
The traditional media did even better, and soon opinion pieces such as:
"Brother, you hold on in there. If you go bankrupt, we will raise
money for you" are everywhere across the country. On Phoenix TV,
the beautiful program hostess raved about the video, as if telling the
audience: "Look! I can talk about this freely, like a little bird
flying in the air." Then there are the dozens of lawyers who
fight to become Hu Ge's defense lawyer. Thus, a huge entertainment
show is about to begin, in which both sides seemed righteous. At this
moment, in the eyes of the numerous participants, other more urgent things
that require attention have all turned into freezing points
(emphasis added). (此时此刻，在成千上万的参演者眼中，再现实再紧迫再需要关注的事，都凝固成了冰点。)
Yes, we all know. There are
restrictions on what you can talk about in China, but you do everything to
act innocent and slip in whatever you can ... like Freezing Point ... did
you think that it came out of nowhere?
-  The
Most Famous Face In China Now (2/19/2006) According to 6Park,
the name Wang Tingting (王婷婷)
is hot on Baidu as netizens have received word-of-mouth recommendations to
look for her photo/video collection that ranges from the mundane tourist
pics to a hardcore session video taped at a hotel.
What is so interesting about Wang Tingting above all other porno
actresses/amateurs? Because she is described as a third-year student at
Northeastern Finance University, having served as class leader, excellent
student league member, excellent military cadet, etc. Furthermore,
these photographs were allegedly posted on the Internet by her ex-boyfriend
after breaking up. In other words, this is a real person.
There are now netizens who "get on down their knees" to
"beg" for the photos/videos as well as her telephone number, home
address and anything person item that she might have used.
When the reporter went to the university and looked up Wang Tingting, there
was indeed a real Wang Tingting except she looks nothing like the one in the
The real Wang Tingting said: "Several days ago, a friend called to tell
me that there are photos plus a biography of Wang Tingting. I was walking
down the street, and I rushed into an Internet bar to check. That
person isn't me, but the background in one photograph was our university
campus. Perhaps some busy body thought that it was me and made up the
story. I can't imagine who would do that. I am surprised and I
am angry! My future and reputation may be ruined. I am 'famous'
without trying. School is going to re-open in a few days.
Someone is going to start calling me at the dormitory based upon the
information on the Internet. What will I do?"
-  ETTV-S
Returns (2/18/2006) Back in July/August 2005 (see post
and comment), the Taiwan
cable/satellite news channel ETTV-S was denied a license renewal.
According to eTaiwanNews
A news channel owned by the Eastern Multimedia Group won its war with the Government Information Office after the Cabinet's Commission of Administrative Appeals ruled in favor of an appeal filed by the channel to reinstate its license, which was revoked by the GIO last year.
... The commission said it had failed to find evidence that the group was running in the red or failed to meet other requirements set by the government.
... Chang Shu-sen, an ETTV-S executive said his company will consult with its lawyers before deciding whether to seek national compensation for the GIO's decision, a move which has incurred heavy losses for the channel.
Long Shong Group, whose cable movie outlet was also shut down last August, has decided to seek NT$1.8 billion in compensation from the government. The group has been showing its movies on a different channel under different licenses since the Long Shong channel was closed.
National compensation can be asked when a
public servant violated citizen rights either deliberately or mistakenly
during the discharge of his/her public duties. The public servant may
also have personal liability if his actions were not permitted under the law
and administrative regulations.
In the case of ETTV-S, the most readily identifiable public servant is the
former GIO Minister Pasuya Yao. Here is the instant Apple Daily
poll: When the reinstated television channels ask for national
compensation, should the government ask Pasuya Yao for compensation
money? Yes: 63.8%; No: 20.6%; Don't now/no opinion: 15.7%. In
practice, showing personal liability would be impossible since this was not a
personal decision by Pasuya Yao alone, as any number of government bureaucrats
and commissions were involved in the process too. The poll reflects
public perception, though.
-  Papa's
Got A Brand New Bag (2/18/2006) This Shanghaiist
post brought back a surge of memories. And I mean a tsunami of
memories. My current readers will find it very, very difficult to
believe that I once was the webmaster of an authorized blog for the
personality and music of James Brown. Yes, I was even an official
photographer for him.
What was going on? Well, I never asked for such an assignment.
But I happened to be the webmaster of a highly popular running club in New
York City and one club member asked me to help out with his corporate
website. So there I was for the official signing of the big James
Brown bond deal. What was the commercial concept? James Brown may
be the hardest working musician in the United States, but he had no idea how
to manage his money or pay his taxes. Consequently, the Internal
Revenue Service was hounding him to the tune of millions of dollars in owed
taxes. Therefore, he sold the future revenue stream from his musical
works for an immediate payout to satisfy his debtors. This was a
multi-million-dollar deal and I was called on to be the official photographer. Here was one of my masterpieces of James Brown putting
his signature onto the contract (plenty more at Pullmanco.com):
Of course, this is just useless information. I will tell you an
interesting detail. The entourage had to go to the lawyer's office. As
soon as James Brown walked out onto Sixth Avenue (New York City), people in
the street recognized him and asked for autographs. James Brown
obliged everybody with one exception. Someone did not have any paper
and gave him a dollar bill to sign; he said "I do not sign my name on
American currency bills!" Indeed, only authorized signatures
appear on American currency bills. I would have liked to scan an
American bill to illustrate, but the Secret Service will be after me ...
-  The
Kindergarten School Teacher (2/18/2006) There is an
interesting article by Woo Yanwai in Yazhou Zhoukan (Asia Week) which I will
have to translate. The intriguing idea is just why freedom of press
and expression in Hong Kong and Taiwan actually left these places dominated
by tabloid sensationalism while humanistic journalism is no longer even
conceivable (to wit, the investigative reportage in Freezing Point
(China Youth Daily) is simply inconceivable in Hong Kong). Meanwhile,
in unfree China, they seemed to have no problems at quickly adapting to
This story is just a street story in the city of Lanzhou (Kansu
province). It was immediately picked up by People's
Hotline and hundreds of other news outlets. What is the deal
here? At 3pm, a female kindergarten teacher in her 20's walked down
the street, pulled up the sleeve on her left arm and cut herself with a
razor. Blood spewed into the air. She continued to walk quickly
for almost 600 meters before she collapsed. Pedestrians called the
emergency medical service, and an ambulance came to take her to the
hospital. The reason why she wanted to commit suicide is unknown
(possibly related to emotional issues).
In essence, this is a story without real substance but it is sensationalistic
and it tollgates without much after-effect. This is the kind of story
that the government allows in China to the exclusion of more important
social and political issues. Meanwhile, in Hong Kong and Taiwan, the
same kind of story dominates in most newspapers to the exclusion of more
important social and political issues. What does this say? We
are screwed no matter what ...
-  Another
Hong Kong Man Gets Arrested And Sentenced For Internet Speech
Pao) In Hong Kong, a man named Chen was sentenced to
probation. However, the judge was unhappy and referred the case to the
Secretary of Justice to see if a more severe charge/sentence is possible.
What did the man do? On August 13, Chen read a news item in Apple
Daily about an English "Jack Rolling" gang used cars to intercept
solo females for gang rapes. The practice began in South Africa and
spread to England. On the same day, Chen posted at a Hong Kong forum
seeking other men to form a "flash rape gang" in Hong Kong.
He wrote that the gang needs five or six people; while one man is raping the
female, the other men will keep watch. A netizen was alarmed by the
message and informed the police. Chen was arrested the next day (note:
no technical details about the arrest process were provided, so it is not
known whether the BBS forum, the Internet Service Provider and/or telephone
company cooperated with the police but it was at lightning speed).
The prosecutor agreed that most comments on the BBS forums are exaggerations
of lies; although two or three men replied, Chen never contacted them.
There were no actual victims in the case. Therefore, the prosecutor
only requested probation. After reading the case details, the judge
told Chen: "Why are you so stupid? Is this a lot of fun? (為何這麼無聊，很好玩嗎﹖)."
Then the judge pointed out that this was a serious case involving social
instability and luring others to commit crime. The case has been
referred for further consideration.
Curiously, there is no explanation from Chen himself (e.g. it was only a
joke, which is protected under freedom of speech).
Under the proposed US legislation (via InMediaHK):
Any United States business that maintains an Internet content hosting service may not provide to any foreign official of an Internet-restricting country information that personally identifies a particular user of such content hosting service, except for legitimate foreign law enforcement purposes as determined by the Department of Justice.
So let say Mr. Chen leaves a Yahoo.com email
address for contact. When the Hong Kong police gets the tip, they go to
Yahoo. Yahoo says that they will have to go to the US Department of
Justice for approval. How long will the delay be? How many
Chinese-language/Chinese law experts does the US Department of Justice intend
to hire to process the requests that will come from a country with 110 million
Internet users? Just remember that all it takes is one single case in
which the decision was delayed or the wrong decision was made (i.e. the "flash
rape gang" had the time to form and go into operation) before this whole
extra-territorial policing system collapses in ignominy. Can the victims sue the US
government (and Yahoo)?
-  Freezing
Point Returns Without Teeth (2/17/2006) From Benjamin Kang Lim
and Chris Buckley of Reuters:
The official China Youth Daily decided on Thursday to revive a provocative weekly section closed by censors last month, but shunted aside the two editors who made it a standard-bearer for combative journalism.
Communist Party officials in charge of the newspaper, the mouthpiece of the party's youth wing, bowed to an outcry and decided to resume publishing the weekly Freezing Point section from March 1, the weekly's editor Li Datong said by telephone.
But Li and Lu Yuegang, a famed investigative reporter, will be removed as editor and deputy editor respectively of the weekly and shunted to the newspaper's news research office, Li said.
'This exterminates the soul of Freezing Point, leaving an empty shell,' Li told Reuters. Lu also said he was 'extremely disappointed' before his telephone was abruptly cut off.
The first edition of the new Freezing Point will publish an essay attacking Yuan, Li said.
'The editors and journalists aren't happy about it, and if they don't agree to it, the Freezing Points may not be resumed,' he said.
... Li, the editor, said he believed propaganda officials chose the historian Yuan's essay as an excuse to act, because its criticism of nationalism jarred with many ardently patriotic young Chinese and provoked condemnation on the internet.
'They waited for the right excuse at the right moment, but they've wanted to close us for a long time', he said
I was perhaps ambiguous in Comment
200602#039 about what the 'old comrades' were thinking. Based
upon that anecdotal story, I believe it has little or nothing to do with the
pretext over the Yuan Weishi story. Rather, for more than a decade,
Freezing Point had been a source of information for directing their attention
to where the government/party might have failed in spite of their best
intentions. If Chairman Mao was assessed with a grade of 60%/40%,
Freezing Point probably rated as 95%/5% and a single essay did not merit the
total banishment of an important pipeline to the people. I believe that
this was the reason why the elders took the astonishing step of publishing an
open letter to express their outrage.
Anyway, I will make this prediction
here. May God help the person who gets the assignment to pen the article
attacking Yuan!!! He (or she) and his (or her) essay will be ripped to shreds on the
Internet (unless the Central Publicity Department intervenes by banning all
discussion of said essay)!!!
As for Li Datong and Lu Yuegang being
assigned to the news research office, they have done that before (see Li Datong In 1989).
The only question is how quickly they will return for their next assignment.
Pao) Li Datong: "It does not matter what they say or how they
arrange things. My view is that Freezing Point is fact dead (不管他們作什麼姿態、怎麼安排，我的看法是，冰點事實上已經死亡了。)."
-  American
Mainstream Media and Abu Ghraib (2/17/2006) After the first
Abu Ghraib photos appeared, it had always been known that there were much
worse photographs on that infamous CD. When the US elected
representatives were invited for a private screening, it was said that they
had to find barf bags. Many members of the American mainstream media
have seen those photos and videos (including Seymour Hersh of The New
Yorker), but they have restrained themselves from showing those
additional photos. Whatever their motives were, disclosure of truth
was not at the top of the list.
Now that the Australian television channel SBS has broken through, the
American mainstream media have suddenly found the courage as well (see Salon exclusive: The Abu Ghraib files).
I am going to place a link on the most comprehensive collection of those
photos here -- it is hosted here at ESWN
and I will kill the page if and when bandwidth usage gets out of hand.
For now, let me tell you how disappointed I am with American mainstream
media. The Man Of The Year in 2004 was the person in this
Well, guess what? That famous photograph had been sanitized!!!
Salon.com shows us the original photograph before cropping, with the
following annotation: "Staff Sgt. Ivan 'Chip' Frederick clips his
fingernails as a detainee nicknamed 'Gilligan' stands hooded on a
box." Just which media outlets had been complicit with the
'clean-up'? Every one of them!!! The excuse as stated by the Washington
Post which has had these photos since 2004: ""We are going to publish only those images that give readers essential information. Many of the images are so shocking and in such bad taste, especially the extensive nudity, that they are not publishable in our newspaper or on our Web site."
Here is the even more odious part: (The
Australian) At a press conference in Washington for foreign media yesterday,
[John] Bellinger [ a legal adviser at the US State Department] said the Bush administration's position was that it was better that the Abu Ghraib photos not be released.
"We felt that it was an invasion of the privacy of the detainees themselves to have these photographs come out and in addition, that it would ... cause, potentially, further violence."
You will have to go through those photographs to decide if respect for
privacy had been on anyone's mind when all of that was happening ...
-  The
Most Despised Man In China (2/16/2006) (6Park)
Hundreds of thousands of people come to Nanjing's Yuhuatai to pay tribute to
the revolutionary martyrs. On this day, a Chinese man climbed onto
the statues, sat himself down on the head of a revolutionary martyr and
got his photograph taken. For his troubles, this photograph would make
the rounds on the BBS forums.
-  Contrarian
Advertising (2/16/2006) When you have a unique service that
nobody else offers, you must advertise it. When you do not have a
service that everybody else offers, must you advertise it? Indeed, you
City) At this hostel in Shenyang, there is a sign: "This
is a proper hostel which operates according to the law. [no
Misses]. Please do not interrupt our rest)." Obviously,
every other hostel, motel or hotel in the same neighborhood has many Misses.
-  Commentary
on Rebecca MacKinnon's Blogging on US Congressional Hearing on Chinese
Internet Censorship (2/16/2006)
"These companies tell us they will change China. But China has already changed them."
This is not a good day to listen to the high-and-mighty speeches from
Representatives Chris Smith and Tom Lantos. The much bigger story on
this day is how the Australian television channel SBS has broken through
more than 20 months of collective silence by the US government and its media
to present more photographs and videos from the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq
(see this updated post (WARNING:
Everything said on this day at the Congressional hearings on Chinese
Internet censorship can be turned around against the US government in the
case of the Abu Ghraib photos/videos -- the US government (and the
subservient media) thought that certain information needed to be suppressed
for the greater good, based upon their own judgment. Now isn't that
sad? I promise that I won't drone on this point again in the rest of
this comment, because it has nothing to do with it.
China censorship: Google's
defense Statement #1 from Google: "We have recently launched Google.cn, a version of Google’s search engine that we will filter in response to Chinese laws and regulations on illegal content. This website will supplement, and not replace, the existing, unfiltered Chinese-language interface Google.com. That website will remain open and unfiltered for Chinese-speaking users worldwide."
If they really have a deal or unwritten understanding with the Chinese
government, then who cares?
China censorship: Yahoo! defends itself
Here are some excerpts from written testimony by Michael Callahan, Senior VP and General Counsel:
Regarding the Shi Tao case, he repeated a lot of Yahoo!’s recent statements about the need to follow local laws. Then:
“Let me take this opportunity to correct inaccurate reports that Yahoo! Hong Kong gave information to the Chinese government. This is absolutely untrue. Yahoo! Hong Kong was not involved in any disclosure of information about Mr. Shi to the Chinese government. In this case, the Chinese government ordered Yahoo! China to provide user information, and Yahoo! China complied with Chinese law. To be clear — Yahoo! China and Yahoo! Hong Kong have always operated independently of one another. There was not then, nor is there today, any exchange of user information between Yahoo! Hong Kong and Yahoo! China.”
That is something that I have learned from
multiple sources, none of which are publishable by me because they were
hearsay. Upon information and belief, Yahoo! Hong Kong does not have
the technical capability of retrieving any user information even if they
wanted to. That information had to have come from Yahoo! China.
It is a mystery as to why the legal documents in the cases of Shi Tao and Li
Zhi would refer to Yahoo! Hong Kong Holding Company.
There is still something that I truly don't
get -- people believed that if a US law were enacted to required Yahoo! to
store its emails outside of China, then there would be no need to comply
with any warrants. I can understand this if the company is the U.S.
company Yahoo.com. But if the company is Yahoo.com.cn and it is
registered at a Beijing address with a named responsible person, how can
they turn away a legal warrant from the Chinese government? Who cares
where your server is located? If you are a New York City bank, can you
turn away a New York City police warrant for information on a customer
because your servers are located in New Jersey (or Jamaica)?
As for the rest of the Yahoo! PR statement,
I have no idea what they are talking about. It is content-free, as far
as I am concerned.
China censorship: Microsoft's
defense First of all, Michael Anti has been read into the US
Congressional records. Hurray! Skipping over the mea culpa
statement in the Anti case and the revised company policies and procedures,
here is the most important portion:
When pressed on this point, most observers would no doubt concede that there are circumstances—such as instances of kidnapping, child abuse, or cyber-attack—when the apprehension of serious criminals justifies cooperation with law enforcement authorities even in authoritarian societies—so long as law enforcement is not used as a pretext for political repression. Yet in practice, when companies face law enforcement requests of this kind, there is little room to question the motivations and/or second-guess the judgments made by officials in these cases.
In the end, the issue comes back to a difficult judgment of the risks and benefits of these powerful technologies, not just in China, but in a wide range of societies where cultural and political values may clash with standards of openness and free expression.
Microsoft cannot substitute itself for national authorities in making the ultimate decisions on such issues.
This is exactly my position all
along. You can condemn these companies for all you want, but in the
end there has to be a practical and workable solution for them.
Rejecting every single Chinese government warrant is NOT the answer, because
you are in fact aiding and abetting real criminals most of the time. I
personally do not see how this can be
done. The change will eventually have to come from inside China about
Chinese censorship: Cisco responds
From Mark Chandler: "Cisco does not customize, or develop specialized or unique filtering capabilities, in order to enable different regimes to block access to information; Cisco sells the same equipment in China as it sells worldwide; Cisco is not a service or content provider, or network manager; Cisco has no access to information about individual users of the Internet."
Do you believe that Cisco ought to start
investigating each of its hundreds of thousands of customers just exactly
how they are using the Cisco routers? Maybe they can start with my New
York City office: Boxun, ObserveChina and New Century Net are blocked
because they are "hate" sites? Should Cisco butt in and
object, as if they have any idea what Boxun, ObserveChina or New Century Net
-  The
Elementary School F1 Drivers (2/16/2006) 6Park has several
photographs of Chinese elementary school students in their official school
uniforms. Given all the Marlboro, Shell and other logos, one has to
wonder if these are school kids or Formula 1 racecar drivers!
-  Freezing
Point Updates (2/15/2006) In BBC,
Guardian and New
York Times, it is noted that a group of former senior Communist
party officials have issued an open letter to denounce the shutdown of the
Freezing Point weekly magazine in China Youth Daily. I can say that I
saw it coming when I translated Fifth Uncle and Fifth Aunt,
which was the most popular essay in the history of Freezing Point, because
there was this paragraph about a reader response:
One day, I received a telephone call.
The voice seemed steady and it was a middle-aged man. "I am the
secretary of an old comrade. This old comrade read the report on Fifth
Uncle and Fifth Aunt. He felt badly and said that we have not done our
work. I have sent 2,000 yuan over. Please make sure that you
forward it to them." I asked him if he could tell me the name of
the old comrade. He said, "I cannot say." I
understood. According to custom, this is a
"revolutionary"-class leader in the central government.
The old comrades are naming themselves now.
In another development, Li Datong had
previously filed a complaint against the Central Publicity Department in the
matter of the shutdown of Freezing Point (see Comment
#200602019). Procedurally, in accordance with the party
regulations, this is a three-step process. Li Datong hands his complaint
to the party organization in China Youth Daily, which hands the document to
the China Youth League central party organization, which hands the document to
the Communist Party Central Disciplinary Committee. Ming
Pao is reporting that the China Youth League central party
organization has declined to forward the complaint to the next level, and Li
Datong has confirmed this to be the case. The word is that the China
Youth League central party organization has instructed China Youth Daily to re-launch
Freezing Point, but will Li Datong be around for the new and
-  AOL.com
in Chinese (2/15/2006) The subject is brought up at RConversation
and Peking Duck.
AOL.com in Chinese is supposedly a totally uncensored service. Will
this succeed in China for that reason? Well, who am I to tell you, one
way or the other? I do know that AOL.com was a company that totally
did not get it in Latin America, notwithstanding the combined financial
muscle of Time Warner and the Cisneros Group. From Washington
Post, this is what happened after almost one decade of work in Latin
America Online Latin America Inc., an Internet service provider partly owned by Time Warner Inc., said it may file for bankruptcy protection because it doesn't have enough cash to pay its debt and fund its business beyond September.
AOL Latin America is not looking more money "because we believe that any efforts to obtain financing would be futile based on past experience," the company said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The company also said it won't be able to obtain additional financing from New York-based Time Warner Inc., Venezuela's Cisneros Group of Cos., Brazil's Banco Itau SA "or any other source."
AOL Latin America also said Tuesday that its stock has no value. Even if the company manages to sell part of its businesses, none of the proceeds will be available to shareholders, it said in the filing.
How did they end up that way? Because
they were outsiders who totally did not understand local consumer needs.
The American model, which was failing even in the USA, meant nothing to the
locals. They never got any traction and they just burned through US$900
million (or some other absurd amount) in the process without a clue.
With that in mind, let us look at the AOL.com in Chinese. The key
content area appears to be the online videos. On this day, the featured
videos were the CCTV Spring Festival show and a television drama series (蝶舞天涯).
With due respect, this stuff is DOA (Dead On Arrival) inside China. This
is old stuff and nobody wants to see it on the Internet. The AOL.com in Chinese service is not going to be commercially
viable in China with just an 'uncensored' search engine which can be blocked
by the Great China Firewall anytime that the government wants.
P.S. AOL.com in Chinese has the better social and entertainment coverage than
mainland Chinese portals because they have Hong Kong and Taiwan news feeds. For example, this is an Apple Daily (Taiwan) story
of a 64-year-old mother-in-law in Taichung county catching her 64-year-old
husband making love with her daughter-in-law who happened to moaning too loud
With due respect, this is not enough to make this a must-read and best-overall
portal for the mainland Chinese.
-  US
Congressional Hearing On Chinese Internet Censorship
(2/15/2006) According to the schedule (see Angry
Chinese Blogger), there will be three panels. The first comes
from the US State Department and the second panel consists of the 'evil
empires' of Cisco, Google, MSN and Yahoo!. The third panel is:
* Reporters Without Borders - Lucie Morillon, Head, Internet Freedom Desk
* China Information Center - Harry Wu
* Radio Free Asia - Libby Liu, President
* University of California (Berkeley) - Xiao Qiang, Director, China Internet Project
When I saw this list, I thought: "Holy
crap!" This is not going to be your fair and balanced points of
views (note: I trust Xiao Qiang). But the long
and short of it is this: "Please explain how the Chinese
Internet users will be substantively better off as a result of your
recommendations." This is how I will be reading the transcripts.
I do dread the aftermath. I am sure my telephone will be ringing with
requests for interviews because I am someone who does not hold the identical
views as the panelists. And the request will begin as follows: "I
know that you must be sick of this subject. Just about every Chinese
blogger that I have spoken to refuses to deal with what they consider to be a
non-existent issue. I have a deadline to meet and I would really
appreciate if you can help me out here ..."
-  The
Vanishing WTO Riot Trial (2/15/2006) InMediaHK
has news from the lawyers of the three remaining Koreans who are to stand
trial in March. And now there are only two. Previously, Yang Kyung-kyu
had offered to plead guilty on the charge of unauthorized assembly to accept
political responsibility as a leader. However, he objected to
descriptions of specific acts in the charges because he knew that they were
false. But the police refused to withdraw those descriptions.
Therefore, he pleaded not guilty instead. Now, his defense lawyer has
procured video tapes to prove that Yang was elsewhere when he was allegedly
in the unauthorized assembly on Lockhart Road. The prosecutor has
therefore withdrawn the charge against Yang altogether.
This leaves two remaining defendants, Park In-hwan and Yun Il-kwon, on
charges of illegal assembly. At a minimum, Park In-hwan would be a
tough case to prosecute because he was the video-camera person. Park had previously
stated that he would need a third hand to hit the police because he was
holding the camera with his two regular hands. So the entire honor of
the Hong Kong police may rest on the case of Yun Il-kwon.
[Alternate version] (SCMP,
Prosecutor Charlotte Draycott told Fanling Court the prosecution of Mr Yang had been based primarily on his identification by a senior police officer. But when the officer was approached for further investigation, the quality of his evidence was found to be wanting.
Police re-examined video footage from the riots and interviewed other witnesses in an attempt to identify Mr Yang, but in vain, said Ms Draycott.
"In consequence, the DPP has concluded that doubts exist in this prosecution case. In particular, it cannot be shown with certainty that Mr Yang did in fact play any particular role in the alleged offence," it said.
"Nor can any role he may have played be sufficiently distinguished from that of others arrested at the same time but not, in the event, prosecuted."
Principal Magistrate Andrew Ma Hon-cheung ordered that the charge be dismissed and acquitted Mr Yang.
-  Chained
Melody (2/15/2006) The Macromedia Flash file Chained
Melody by Hu Laiping (via Massage
Milk) is incredibly funny, and yet there is a poignant social
message about how the grassroots people endure. If you don't
understand Chinese, here is the script. The music is sung to the tune Unchained
Melody (made famous by the Righteous Brothers) to Chinese lyrics (some of
them sung in Changde (Hunan) dialect). In the first act, the street vendor
explains what he plans to sell (e.g. potatoes at one RMB per jin).
In the second act, a woman asks for the price of potato. He gets greedy
and says, "Five RMB per jin." She says,
"Wow! This is robbery!" He pulls out a knife and says, "Yes, this is robbery. Now hand me your
money." Whereupon she beats the crap out of him because she is a
Taekwondo expert. In the third act, a tough guy asks for the price of
potato. The street vendor gets scared and says, "Half an RMB per jin."
Whereupon the tough guy beats the crap out of the street vendor for daring
to ask for any money from the top thug in the street market. In the fourth act, the
street vendor is hauled away for 24-hour-detention by the police for creating incidents. The
street vendor is first read his rights: "You have the right not to
defecate. But if you do, each piece of turd can be and will be used as
evidence against you!" You
can enjoy it even if you don't understand any Chinese.
-  The
Xuecun Condoms (2/15/2006) (Netease)
Xuecun is the name of a brand of condoms in China. According the
records, the trademark rights were registered by a Hebei province enterprise,
registration number 3495517 valid between September 7, 2004 through
September 6, 2004. Only the Chinese letters 雪村
and the phonetic spelling "Xuecun" were registered, without any
associated images. Below is a photo of an early edition of the Xuecue
Alas, when the name Xuecun is mentioned, the general public will tend to
immediately think of the singer Xuecun, famous for the song "All
northeasterners are living Lei Feng's" (东北人都是活雷锋).
(East Asian Economic News via Yahoo!)
Acting on a tip, a reporter went into a pharmacy and saw the Xuecun condoms
displayed with other brands. A female salesperson recommended to the
reporter: "You buy the Xuecun brand. Xuecun is the image
spokesperson for the company. He did commercials for them. Many
people buy this brand." The reporter deliberately asked,
"Who is Xuecun?" The female salesperson laughed and said,
"This one who sang 'All northeasterners are living Lei Feng's'.
Everybody on this planet knows!"
The reporter saw that the Xuecun condoms were manufactured by a Heibei
company and sold at 25 yuan per packet. The box is green in
color. On the top right corner is a cartoon drawing of Xuecun, with
his tongue sticking out in the shape of a condom and holding a condom packet
in his hand. The words 雪村
appear in the middle with "Xuecun." The product description
is: Preventing sexual diseases begins with Xuecun.
When the reporter contacted Xuecun himself later, he was shocked: "I
have never authorized this factory. I have never heard about this. They used my name and image for condoms and this is an insult to
my character." Xuecun has referred the matter to his lawyer.
It is one thing to have an identical name (Xuecun means "Snowy
village" literally), but it is something else to use an image.
Does the real Xuecun bear a likeness to the cartoon figure on the condom package?
-  Public
Entertainment in China (2/14/2006) This China
Daily article on the regulation on the administration of
entertainment places is factually correct ("no pirated products")
Daily and Xinhua
have much more extensive and fascinating accounts of the other
regulations. Here are some highlights:
- No business to be conducted between 2am and 8am.
- Apart from national holidays, electronic game machines must not be open to
- Entertainment places must not be located in: private residences, museums, libraries
or buildings listed as protected cultural sites; residential areas,
schools, hospitals and government offices; train stations, airports and
other places of dense public gathering; basements or lower levels inside
buildings; adjacent to warehouses that store dangerous chemicals.
- Employees must not have criminal records in organizing, coercing,
seducing, permitting and presenting prostitution; manufacturing, selling or
disseminating pornographic material; smuggling, selling, transporting and
manufacturing narcotics; rape; forcibly abusing and insulting females;
gambling; money laundering; organizing, directing and participating in
triad-like criminal organizations.
- Owners of entertainment places must not be related to employees of the
Public Security Bureau or Cultural Administrative Bureau through spousal
relationship; direct blood relationship; indirect blood relationship through
three generations; and close familial relationship (e.g. in-laws) to spouse.
- The following activities are banned in entertainment places:
- (1) Contrary to the basic principles of the
- (2) Endangering national unity, sovereignty and
- (3) Endangering national security, or damaging national
reputation and interests
- (4) Inflaming ethnic hatred and prejudices, hurting
ethnic feelings, intruding on ethnic customs and habits and damaging ethnic
- (5) Violating national religious policies and promoting
evil religions and superstitution
- (6) Promoting pornography, gambling, violence and
drug-related criminal acts, or persuading others to commit crimes;
- (7) Contrary to social morals or national cultural
- (8) Insulting and defaming others and violating the
legal rights of others;
- (9) Other contents banned by laws and administrative
- All box rooms in entertainment places must not have locks from the inside;
the lighting must not be lower than the national standard during business
hours; there must be a transparent window through which the whole room can
- No one must bring guns; ammunition; restricted equipment; exploding,
flammable, poisonous, radioactive, corrosive or other dangerous materials;
communicable disease virus specimens into entertainment places.
-  On
The Epistemology of Chinese Photojournalism (2/14/2006) With
respect to yesterday's comment about Chinese
on photojournalism, the following
remarks are made:
- I take it that 天方乱谭 is
a reporter with Southern Metropolis Daily and therefore may have come across
instances where he may have seen certain top-quality photographs which could
not be published. That may be the reason for his comments, and we can
all appreciate that. But I am trying to be a mind reader here.
- It is not the case that all negative photographs of disasters in China are
banned in the media. A reader sent in the following link at the China
Daily BBS for a China Picture of the Year Poll. Five of the
ten are disasters (#1 Jilin explosion; #2 Loudi mining accident; #5: Newborn
after earthquake; #9 Escaping a typhoon; #10 Harbin water crisis). As 天方乱谭
pointed out, the most dramatic
photographs come from suddenly breaking events.
- Nevertheless, there is anecdotal evidence such as The Ruzhou Coal Mine Disasters
in which photographs and reportage do not show up. In epistemological
terms, the size of the missing portion is unknowable. This is asking
someone to guess at the size of the iceberg on the basis of the visible tip.
- My point was simply that if anyone has photographs stashed away, they
should share it with the public. Perhaps it was not possible to
publish something through the mainstream media, but there are Internet
forums and blogs nowadays. An example is The Fuzhou Bus Explosion,
which was a combined civilian effort.
-  The
Real Business (2/13/2006) In reviewing what was posted here in
recent weeks, I am upset to find the inordinate amount of time and space
that I have devoted to Google, MSN and Yahoo!. This is a huge waste of
time because these are insignificant players in China right now. For
example, Sohu.com CEO Zhang Chaoyang has just characterized Yahoo! as a
failed company for having gotten nowhere after seven or eight years in the
market (see MediaInChina)
and Google is still a nobody who does not get the Chinese market.
Anyway, the more important thing is that there is next to zero discussion
about any issues related to Google, MSN and Yahoo inside China! These
are regarded as simply western exercises in self-absorption, self-indulgence
and self-flagellation, and completely alien to the Chinese situation.
It does not matter whether Google, MSN or Yahoo! come or go -- in fact, it
would be easier if they just go away!
So why do I waste my time on these subjects then? Reporters Without
Borders came out with a sensationalistic press release that includes a link
to a Chinese-language primary document (see The
Case of Li Zhi). The people inside China can read the press
release as well as the primary document, and it should be clear
that the two documents are inconsistent with each other. So the
Chinese wait. If the western media simply rolls along, the Chinese
will take them for connivers or fools. So I gave myself the highly
unpopular task of pointing out the obvious, and leave it up to the western
media to show their colors (see Some things never
end). My heart is warmed in the knowledge that I will never
walk alone because I can always count on Rebecca
MacKinnon (and there are others). From the foreign media, the
first to respond was Justin Mitchell at The Standard: Jailed Net user wants Yahoo evidence in court, Venkatesan Vembu at DNA World: Did Yahoo help jail Li, a Chinese cyber-dissident?;
and Sumner Lemon at MacWorld: Yahoo's role in Li Zhi case overblown, critic says;
there should be one other whom I will acknowledge after publication; the
rest of you are silent, and that will be duly noted by the people in China.
These people are professional media workers and they know whether that
primary document can lead to the headline: Another cyberdissident imprisoned because of data provided by Yahoo
Enough about this already! I want to tell you instead about the real
business that the Chinese (more specifically, the media workers themselves)
are paying attention to. Look at the two blog posts today. No
Google, MSN or Yahoo!, for sure.
In the post World
Press Photo Of The Year Winners, Chinese blogger 天方乱谭
addresses the issue of why there
are no 'negative' photographs of major disaster scenes in China. The
obvious answer might be that this is not allowed. Under the present
environment, does it not appear to be obvious that the tens of thousands of
professional photojournalists ought to begin publishing their unpublishable
photographs in forums and blogs (possibly anonymously), and for others to
disseminate them as widely as possible? This may already be happening
and I should start looking for it. The message is this: Stop whining
about Google, MSN and Yahoo!; go into your hard disk and start posting those
photographs! That is the real business in building an open and civil
In the post A
Investigative Reporter's Year-End Review, a top Southern Weekend
reporter reflected on the larger sociological meanings of his journalistic
work during the year 2005 (sample: The Death of a Hair Salon Girl). This essay is widely disseminated in forums
and blogs, receiving much praise. When you read through this essay,
you realize that you are regarding a person who did not become a journalist
just for a decent pay and a sense of self-importance; rather, this person
had a firm sense of social responsibility. I submit to you that such an
agenda-driven and self-reflective essay cannot conceivably be written by
most of the big-name reporters working at the New York Times or Washington
Post -- they are too busy doing book deals and television appearances.
The real business here is about building a media worker culture in China.
-  Blizzard
of the Century (2/13/2006) Phew! I even had an airplane
ticket to depart Saturday morning from Hong Kong to New York City.
That would have brought me there just in time for the two feet of snow in
the blizzard of the century. Fortunately, my business meeting was
canceled and I am warm and cozy in Hong Kong. Here is the AP photo of
my Midtown South neighborhood.
-  Chen
Jieren's Open Letter (2/12/2006) Public Times editor Chen
Jieren was demoted from chief editor to regular editor. The
circumstances were reported in a 'fair-and-balanced' report by Deutsche
Welle. It was 'fair-and-balanced' in the sense that the reporter
interviewed both the Editor-In-Chief and Chen Jieren (The
Case of the Public Interest Times Editor).
Fifteen years ago, nobody would have learned about this case. After
all, Deutsche Welle is not exactly standard reading in China. But
nowadays, that DW report is popping up on the Internet. On top of
that, Chen Jieren has published a 10,000-word rebuttal on the Internet as
well (see original Chinese essay here).
Just think about this: this type of behavior is considered 'normal' and
'expected' today, whereas it was unthinkable and 'unheard of' (in the sense
that there would be no media outlet) 15 years ago.
The following is the translation of the Ming
Pao interview with Chen Jieren:
Chen Jieren's Letter To Everybody Under The
Sun recounted the entire incident: At noon February 8, the State Council
office called the Public Times' administrative unit (Civil Affairs Bureau)
about the essay in the Public Times which criticized the numerous errors in
the English-language pages of the Chinese government website. The
essay was said to "have seriously affected the image of the Chinese
government." The Civil Affairs Bureau then took
"preventative measures" by relieving Chen Jieren as chief editor
in order to "forestall further efforts from above." Chen
Jieren said that he understood why he was treated this way, and he was
willing to accept responsibility on behalf of others (because he was not
the person who approved the problematic essay) so that the newspaper won't
be shut down or the reporter punished.
But he said that he never expected that the
editor-in-chief Liu Youping would turn this into a personal issue during the
interview with the foreign media and launched personal attacks against
him. Liu Youping said that Chen Jieren was demoted because he
"cannot handle his own job," "did not come to work" and
"surreptitiously placed his wife to work at the newspaper."
Chen Jieren replied that this is denying that he has given the Public News a
new image during this half-year and it was also contradictory to Liu Youping
calling his work "exceptional" in person after the incident.
As for his wife, who used to be a reporter, working at the newspaper, it was
at the personal request of Liu.
The letter also pointed out that
afterwards, the newspaper engaged in self-criticism over some recent
reports, including the withholding of disaster relief funds by the Shaanxi
Huayin local government and causing the Shaanxi provincial government to
intercede directly with the Civil Affairs Bureau, which thinks a news report
would bring trouble; the publication of a critical essay about National
Resources Committee director Li Rongrong, because the Civil Affairs Bureau
leadership is concerned that Li Rongrong might cause trouble for them; the
publication of the essay "The Whole Story about Hu Jintao's three
written orders to assist people in hardship", which led to an order
from the News Office of the Civil Affairs Bureau to write a self-criticism
because the leadership believed that "all reports on national
leadership must use the Xinhua release or else they would be breaking the
regulations." Chen Jieren was contemptuous of the professional
ethics of the editor-in-chief. He said: "The way I look at it, it
is a supreme honor to be found guilty for speaking out -- in this world, if
I don't go into hell, who will go into hell?"
During yesterday's interview with out
newspaper, Chen Jieren said that this incident reveals the basic problem
that exists in Chinese media. Whenever a subordinate newspaper has an
"inappropriate report" that gained the "attention" of
the superiors, they over-react and habitually engage in
"self-castration" by looking for a scapegoat so to avoid any
responsibility of their own. "When the ice is three feet thick,
it did not come on one cold day. Such is the sadness of Chinese
-  MSN
Spaces, Bokee, Tianya Club and others (2/11/2006) In Comment
#026, it was noted that the Wang Ning blog was taken down by MSN
Spaces pursuant to an order from the Chinese government. What will the
blogger do? Get another blog
somewhere else, of course. In this new blog
post, Wang Ning revealed that he had previously been keeping
parallel blogs at MSN Spaces and Bokee. However, Bokee was deleting
his posts, and that was why he has been using MSN Spaces exclusively for more than half
a year. Today, he dislikes MSN but not too much because he realized
where the root of evil is. The Chinese BSPs are not much different
from MSN Spaces, or even worse. MSN Spaces blocks the entire website
rather than one post at a time, because it saves them the need to evaluate
each page. Which is worse? They are all bad.
That is what Wang Ning thinks. Actually, I think that there is a difference.
MSN Spaces is taking the passive approach. They will comply with any
direct specific orders from the Chinese government and they won't lift a
finger otherwise. So it is up to the government to read the blogs and
compile the hit list. And the faster MSN Spaces can grow, the harder
it is to cover all the blogs.
By contrast, the Chinese BSPs are taking the active approach to filter and
delete themselves in order to avoid the phone call from the
government. As such, they may be more aggressive than necessary.
P.S. Wang Ning also noted that the 我们的世界
blog (see the previous post EastSouthWestNorth
in Reverse) hosted at Tianya Club has been shut down. Here is
Translation: Sorry! Visits to your blog are banned. Please
contact the administrator!
What will this blogger do? He already has another one and he is going
to get yet another one more just in case. Meet
and The World In My Eyes.
-  Der
Krieg in China (2/11/2006) The official reason for the
shutdown of the Freezing Point weekly magazine was stated to be the essay History Textbooks in China.
The common belief was that this was a pretext, because there are more
egregious prior cases (such as the tribute to Hu Yaobang). So why did
this essay get selected? This essay happened to touch the nerves of a
certain segment of angry young people on the Internet, because they took
this essay to be a justification of the invasion of China by the United Army
of the Eight Nations. Anyone who wants to defend this essay will feel
the full wrath. By contrast, if the Hu Yaobang tribute was
selected, there may not be any public condemnation (except for that he did
not reform quick and hard enough).
The following posters from 6Park
are examples of how the Chinese were viewed at the time. The source of
these posters are unknown, so they can be either German propaganda, or
commercial postcards, or works of art.
Related Link: The Chinese Boxers Shall Never Die
Letters from China
-  MSN
Spaces Goes On A Spree (2/11/2006) Earlier today, AsiaPundit
noted that the MSN Spaces blog 天一生水 朱子无语
is no longer accessible inside China.
This is how MSN's new policy on censoring blogs is being practiced. The company will no longer erase a blog, as it did with Michael Anti's site. It will only block it in the country where the government has requested a block. This is a step up, as users can still see the site through a proxy and as postings can be retrieved and placed elsewhere.
... Still, it would have been nice if Microsoft displayed the above notice in Chinese.
Well, Microsoft does have the ability to
display the above notice in Chinese. The blogger Wang
Ning has just sent me the message on his MSN Spaces blog. The
difference is probably in the Preferences setting of the visitor.
For memory's sake, here is the screen capture of Wang Ning's final post at MSN
Spaces. It has a link to EastSouthWestNorth's The
Case of Li Zhi.
-  CCTV
Solves Crime (2/10/2006) (Xinhua)
The term CCTV here is based upon the UK usage of Closed Circuit
Television. The following images were recorded in Beijing. In
the first photo, a young man on a motorbike reached an intersection and
pressed the button for the traffic light. In the second photo, the
light has turned green and the motorcyclists moved ahead. A red BMW
came flying down at 100 kmph. In the third photo, there was
impact. The motorcyclist was dead on arrival at the hospital, while
the red BMW fled the scene.
How was the crime solved? There are only just 40 or so red BMW's of
this model in Beijing, which means that they are easily identifiable.
Once the media broadcasts went out, an auto-repair shop called in to say a
red BMW had been brought in for repairs to the windshield and front
bumper. The police retrieved the replaced windshield and confirmed
that there was a collision. However, the BMW had left the shop
already. However, another civilian report led to the owner of a red
BMW which was no longer seen in the neighborhood. The photograph of
the owner's 24-year-old was shown to the auto-repair shop mechanic and
positively identified. The man was then apprehended and he confessed
to his crime. Where was the car? Based upon the confession from
the culprit, it would be found in an unattended parking lot in the city of
Foshan (Guangdong province) with a white paint job, new chassis and engine
registration numbers and a Shanghai license plate!
-  Li Zhi and Sina.com (2/10/2006) There is no point in
sending in more hate mail about yesterday's comment
on the case of Li Zhi. I have no axe to grind here, for the situation
is simple. Here is the exact sequence of events.
- I read a press release from Reporters Without Borders.
- There was a reference to a Chinese-language primary document, which was
written by the defense lawyers of Li Zhi.
- I read that document.
- I found that the substance of that document inconsistent with the
Reporters Without Borders summary statement: "Yahoo! customer and cyberdissident Li Zhi had been given his eight-year prison sentence in December 2003 based on electronic records provided by
- The western media essentially parroted the press release. Red
Herring went much further:
The latest case came to light when the news site Boxun.com posted a plea from Mr. Li’s lawyer, Zhang Sizhi, on Sunday. Mr. Zhang said his client, who used a Yahoo email address and user name, had been sentenced on the basis of information handed over by Yahoo Hong Kong on August 1, 2003.
Mr. Li, 35, a former civil servant from the Dazhou region of China, located in the Sichuan province, was arrested later that month on a charge of “inciting subversion.” He had criticized corruption among local officials in online discussion groups and articles. Mr. Li was sentenced to eight years in prison on December 10, 2003.
In the verdict, the court cited Yahoo Hong Kong’s cooperation with the Chinese police.
- I have now translated that document in
full at The
Case of Li Zhi; the original Chinese document is here
for my Chinese readers and for anyone who wants to verify the translation
(note: it was a rush job and not totally accurate, but you will get the
- I offer my readers the opportunity to just go
and read the entire document themselves and then ask:
- Does the quoted sentence
summarize this case?
- And was the quoted sentence a fair
characterization of Yahoo's contributory role in this case?
- I spoke my
mind yesterday but you should make up your own mind.
I am curious as
to the reception of the translated primary document -- Will mainstream media
and blogosphere pretend that they didn't see it? I will know in a few
days. I can tell you that some mainstream media are doing the
follow-up story (see Justin Mitchell at The Standard: Jailed Net user wants Yahoo evidence in court).
Where will you be? Is silence golden?
Meanwhile, there are some real gems buried in that primary document.
Try this statement: " According to the information provided
by Sina.com to the investigating unit, the two principal state witnesses Ying and
Mou have the same
mailbox: firstname.lastname@example.org." Why would Sina.com know who was
using a certain Yahoo! email account? And what is the world going to
say to Sina.com about their role? Nothing. Absolutely
nothing. Because Sina.com will simply say, "We obey Chinese
laws" and dare you to tell them otherwise. If you then say that
Yahoo! is an American subsidiary and must therefore be held to a higher standard, then
this is the kind of statement that is said to "hurt the national
feelings of the Chinese people." Don't even go there ...
-  The
Case of Li Zhi (李智)
(2/9/2006) Li Zhi was sentenced to eight years in jail for 'inciting
subversion.' The primary document in the current wave of outrage is
the defense statement which resides here, here
or here. A full English-language translation is at The
Case of Li Zhi. The document goes through three main points of contention about the
evidence. Then there are some additional thoughts:
[in translation] Concerning the
evidence in the file, apart from the problems pointed above, there are
several doubts and explanations in the following:
[translated by Xiao Qiang at CDT]
“ (2) On August 1, 2003, Yahoo Hong Kong Ltd provided to the public security agency Proof of the User's Information, 'provided relevant information about user lizhi340100,' and also explained 'for more detailed information, see attached documents. The Attached documents include the user's registered information and email from that account.' Therefore the part that can be considered evidence is the content of that attachment. But the attachment was not provided to the court. According to Yahoo's explanation, the content of the attachments not only reflects the situation of the mail exchanges, but also can have the function of “resolving some doubts.” Therefore, we hope the court will review the attachment. We certainly hope the defense lawyers will be allowed to review the documents so we can understand the full situation in order to defend our client. This is a matter of the rights of our client. Please remedy this situation.”
So is it clear that the information from
Yahoo! was not presented during the first court trial?
Here is the press release from Reporters
Without Borders via RConversation:
Reporters Without Borders today condemned the US firm Yahoo! for handing over data on one of its users in China which enabled the authorities there to send him to prison for eight years, the second such case that has come to light in recent months.
... It said it had discovered that Yahoo! customer and cyberdissident Li Zhi had been given his eight-year prison sentence in December 2003 based on electronic records provided by
This is completely blowing the role of Yahoo!
in this case out of proportion (as in BBC's headline Yahoo 'helped jail China
writer' and Reuters' Yahoo accused in jailing of 2nd China Internet
user). The full defense statement is actually very
interesting because multiple methods were involved -- the principal evidence
came from two informers (who were most likely agents provocateurs), and
there were even taped conversations with Li Zhi. So the defense's theory
revolves around entrapment, and that is why they believed that getting the
full information from Yahoo! might help them. Specifically, one informer
used the account email@example.com to send mail to firstname.lastname@example.org,
and getting all the mail exchanges between those two accounts would allow the
defense to show how
Li Zhi was set up (e.g. email@example.com
may be the person who sent Li Zhi a web address to apply for membership in the
Chinese Democratic Party, which is the overseas "subversive"
organization named in the charge of "inciting subversion.").
It is also understandable why the information provided by Yahoo! is not needed
in the court trial, since the informer has copies of all the email
correspondence between the two of them, copies also reside on Li's home
computer which was seized by the police and the in-person conversations about the
content of the emails were taped.
Instead, this is now all Yahoo!'s fault.
-  WTO
Demonstration Statistics (2/8/2006) (Ming
Pao) At the Hong Kong Legislative Council hearing, police director of operations Peter Yam
enumerated that the police fired six rounds of high-powered beanbag pellets, 34 tear gas canisters and 738 cans of pepper spray.
518 police officers used their batons in action.
On December 17, the police had 20 Korean interpreters working for
them. 12 of them worked during the morning. From afternoon to
night, there were 8 of them. After midnight, there were only 3 of
them. The police procedure requires an interpreter to explain to each
arrestee about his/her rights, and that was why it took so long to complete
Legislator Margaret Ng said that she and other volunteer lawyers as well as
volunteer Korean interpreters were at the police station ready to meet with
the arrestees, but they were denied by the police. Peter Yam explained that
according to the rules, the arrestee and the lawyer must inform the police
that they wish to meet with the other named party before the meeting can
take place. Of course, that would mean that the police had to talk to
the arrestees through interpreters which were in short supply. Of the more than 900 arrestees, eventually 202 persons
were able to meet with lawyers. Although Ming Pao does not say, it is
likely that the volunteer Korean interpreters were not trusted by the
Somehow, nothing at the Legco hearings has the immediacy of a first-person
account such as Hong Kong Detainee Number SAF02518
(who speaks putonghua).
So that bad taste in the mouth continues -- was this inadvertent bad
planning? or was this deliberate withholding of resources in order to keep
the people under detention until after the WTO conference?
-  A
Reason Never To Use Google, MSN and Yahoo in China (2/8/2006)
From Associated Press via Miami
Mexico issued a complaint on Tuesday against an American-owned hotel that - under pressure from the U.S. government - expelled a group of Cuban businessmen meeting with U.S. energy executives, saying the company violated investment and trade protection laws.
The U.S. Treasury Department confirmed that the Hotel Maria Isabel Sheraton in Mexico City was told to expel the Cuban delegation in compliance with the U.S. embargo against business with Cuba or Cubans. The meeting was moved to a Mexican-owned hotel Saturday.
"The hotel in Mexico City is a U.S. subsidiary, and therefore prohibited from providing a service to Cuba or Cuban nationals," said Brookly McLaughlin, a spokesman for the department's Office of Foreign Assets Control. He was referring to the Helms-Burton law, which tightened U.S. trade sanctions first imposed against Cuba in 1961.
"The hotel acted in accordance with U.S. sanctions," he said.
Mexican Foreign Relations Secretary Luis Ernesto Derbez said the Mexican government is also considering a diplomatic complaint against the United States in the case.
He said his department had formally started a complaint process against the Sheraton for violating investment and trade protection laws, and that the hotel would have 15 days to respond. The hotel could face fines of nearly $500,000 or even be shut down, officials said.
"I think that there was evident contempt for Mexican law on the part of the Hotel Maria Isabel Sheraton ... and it is going to be punished for discrimination, consumer fraud and, moreover, for applying laws that do not apply in Mexico," Derbez told reporters in London, where he is on an official visit.
Chronicle puts it slightly differently.
The U.S. government informed the hotel's parent company, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, that its Mexican subsidiary was not allowed to have the Cubans as guests.
There is a 45-year-old U.S. embargo designed to undermine Fidel Castro's communist government.
"U.S. law prohibits U.S. persons or entities to supply services to Cuban nationals, persons or entities," said Judith Bryan, spokeswoman for the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City. "The Sheraton (Maria Isabel Hotel) is subject to U.S. law because it is a subsidiary of a U.S. company."
By the way, Starwood Hotels & Resorts
even forwarded the Cubans' hotel room deposits to the U.S. Treasury
Google, MSN and Yahoo operations in China are
subsidiaries of U.S. companies, and are subject to U.S. law. An
invocation of U.S. law such as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act could mean that all data must be supplied to the U.S. government for data
mining, predictive modeling, surveillance, monitoring, etc.
Improbable? Well, didn't we say that it was improbable that airlines
would supply passenger data to the U.S. government? Didn't the airlines
swear that they didn't? And didn't six airlines come forth eventually to say that
they had indeed done just that?
P.S. Here is a hypothetical case: if someone inside Cuba gets on the
Internet and uses the Google, MSN and Yahoo search engines, would they block
the person based upon the IP address and/or domain name (.cu)? U.S. companies are prohibited from
providing a service to Cuba or Cuban nationals.
-  Plagiarism
and Anti-Plagiarism on the Internet (2/8/2006) This is not the
moment for any Hegelianism on the dialectic and the anti-dialectic.
This is about the catch at the Kalos Kagathos blog ( 出得嚟行，預咗要還).
In Phase 1, famous Hong Kong media personality Shum Yat-fei (岑逸飛)
published a column in Ming Pao. In Phase 2, the Kalos Kagathos
blogger noted: The first half of paragraph one came from a Taiwan website;
the second paragraph came from a Chinese website; paragraphs four, five, six
and seven came from Epoch Times; paragraph eight came from a Taiwan
website. These are the sources that he could track down with search
engines, and it does not mean that the remaining paragraphs are clean.
On one hand, the Internet made it easy to for someone with constant pressure
on deadline to copy-and-paste so as to look learned and erudite. On
the other hand, to the extent that the person never bothered to cover the
tracks, the Internet also made it easy for someone else to track down the
If I can put it simply: THIS IS HORRENDOUS!!! The Kalos
Kagathos blogger clarified: He would be perfectly happy if the column were
labeled "edited by Shum Yat-fei" as opposed to "by Shum
Yat-fei" (plus fewer superfluous words and more annotations and
explanations). Is that too much to ask in Hong Kong nowadays?
Twenty or thirty years ago before the Internet was around, such plagiarism can only be detected by the authors themselves or a reader with total recall
(like the one in The Sling Shot
at the Hong Kong WTO). Today, the Internet makes it easy for
plagiarists to google their sources quickly, but also for their debunkers to
google those sources. The moral of the lesson for all potential
plagiarists is this -- change the text in some way or fashion in order to
throw off the trackers!
Additional link: Google殺雞，宵練屠龍
-  The
Freezing Point (2/7/2006) Here is a minor discovery.
According to the official statement, the Freezing Point weekly magazine in
China Youth Daily was shut down for publishing the essay by Yuan Weishi (see
History Textbooks in China).
Subsequently, that particular essay could not be found with certain keywords
on certain search engines (Solving A Real-Life Problem With Search Engines).
While I was moaning about not having access to the back copies, someone
discretely pointed out that it is possible to go to the China Youth Daily
website and find the entire 1998-2005
Freezing Point web archive. I get the impression that some
people do not take those orders from the Publicity Department too literally
or seriously. By the way, I have downloaded the entire archive -- one
cannot be too trusting ...
-  Freezing
Point Warms Up (2/7/2006) (Ming Pao via ChineseNewsNet)
Li Datong, editor of the Freezing Point weekly magazine in China Youth
Daily, has formally filed a complaint with the Chinese Communist Party
Central Commission of Discipline Inspection against members of the Communist
Party Publicity Department. The complaint states that the suspension
of Freezing Point was against the party constitution and other
regulations. Normally, a response is expected within a week.
In the interview with Ming Pao, Li Datong declined to name the Publicity
Department members listed in the complaint. But other sources said
that it was Deputy Executive Director Ji Bingxuan (吉炳軒),
who is nicknamed "Director No" for issuing orders "not"
to report on this or that.
-  Pre-Trial
Hearings for WTO 'Rioters' (2/7/2006) (Ming
Pao) Of the three Korean farmers charged with unauthorized or
unlawful assembly, the following evidence will (or will not) be available:
- 931 photographs shot by police will not be presented
- 70 video tapes shot by police will not be presented due to poor quality
- approximately one hour of video tapes shot by TVB, ATV and Cable News will
be used (note: this was handed over to the defense seven minutes before
yesterday's court hearing)
- statements under caution by police officers were withdrawn
- 64 police witnesses cited originally are now pared down to 7, who
identified the defendants after watching the televised videos and then
picking out the defendants in a face-to-face confrontation (i.e. only the
original 14 suspects present and no actors)
- list of summary of facts is unknown as yet
-  A
Fond Farewell (2/7/2006) (Ming
Pao) In Hong Kong, the next generation of middle-school
students rejoice at the announcement that the modern poem 聽陳蕾士的琴箏
will be removed from the syllabus next year. Students from the era of
the 1990's remember their bewilderment at a poem which manages to turn music
into words, musical scores into poetic verse and sound into sight. The
poet Wong Kwok-pun (黃國彬)
apologized today to all the 16/17-year-olds who had to study the poem which
he admitted was "a bit complicated."
For my mainland Chinese readers whose childhood was deprived of this
literary experience, here is the poem:
You want a English-language
translation? Well, you won't get it from me because I am pleading
-  The
Words of Xia Yong (2/6/2006) In the matter of the beating of
Guo Feixiong (see Comment #009), Ai Xiaoming wrote
[in translation] The assaulters came
from a special group without any identifiable signs and they did not
disclose their identity. One saying among the militia police was that
"a functional department was enforcing the law" and therefore the
militia police did not interfere. I lack knowledge about the law
enforcement departments and I cannot tell between the Ministry of National
Security and the National Administration for Protection of State
Secrets. But if this functional department had any connection with the
National Administration for Protection of State Secrets, then the assault
against the human rights activist as described is tantamount to a attack
against the top leader in the organization because it is in direct
contravention to the will of that top leader, and all those illegal acts
will be subject to legal sanction.
Who is the director of the National
Administration for Protection of State Secrets? The human rights and
constitutional expert Xia Yong (夏勇).
Who is Xia Yong? He was the chief editor and translator of the
collection of human rights documents, "Commentary on Human Rights
Treaties." ... this is what he wrote in the foreword:
"When the people do not have political
rights, then they don't have the legal qualification and power to express
their wishes and protect their own rights and interests, especially with
respect to preventing others (particular those in power) to hurt and injure
them. Without political rights, they cannot be their own masters; if
they cannot be their own masters, they cannot be the masters of the nation
... in this manner, when the powerful take advantage of the people's
exemplary virtues and when the powerful think that their will represent the
natural order of things, the people are letting others become their
masters. Wouldn't their fates be sad and tragic then?"
... serious fallout from Taiwan President Chen's New Years speech has now hit...President Bush has been briefed on Chen's remarks Sunday that he was "considering" abolishing the National Unification Council, that it was time to press for Taiwan, under that name, to be admitted to the United Nations, and that he might also seek to amend the Constitution prior to the 2008 presidential election (on Taiwan, as in the US).
President Bush is said to be "personally furious", along the lines of "he did it AGAIN, after what happened last time?"
"The last time", Bush ended up feeling he had no choice but to write a stern personal letter to Chen reminding him of the facts of life...a humiliating move which was followed up by Taiwan's worst nightmare...Bush stood next to then-Premier of China Wen, and repeated his opposition to Taiwan independence, and any unilateral threats to the status quo.
Now Taiwan faces a repeat of this, up to and including the threat of Bush standing next to President Hu Jin-tao, when he arrives in April, and making similar remarks.
Observers report Taiwanese diplomats today seeking guidance from both the NSC and State on what will calm the waters, but it does not sound like the US side is making things easy for them. In addition to demanding a background explanation for the domestic political context, the US wants to hear Chen himself repeat his promises NOT to do the things he discussed Sunday.
In the often arcane catechism of Cross Strait "dialogue", Chen will be expected to repeat "The Four Noes"...specific things he and Taiwan will not do.
Other reference: Taipei
-  The
Buck Stops There (2/5/2006) (Apple
Daily) Whereas US President Harry S. Truman had a sign on his
desk saying "The buck stops here," Chinese president Hu Jintao has
息 透 露
， 胡 锦
涛 在 农
历 年 前
考 察 福
建 期 间
， 曾 在
福 州 举
行 福 建
省 市 级
以 上 的
议 。 有
与 会 的
官 员 透
露 ， 他
在 会 上
特 别 提
及 广 东
番 禺 事
件 和 汕
尾 事 件
， 令 大
惊 讶 。
述 胡 锦
涛 称 ，
中 国 经
济 在 迅
速 发 展
之 际 ，
贫 富 悬
殊 加 剧
， 社 会
基 层 的
矛 盾 亦
大 。 他
指 出 ，
在 当 前
社 会 潜
在 基 层
矛 盾 下
， 基 层
干 部 不
应 该 掩
盖 矛 盾
， 也 不
盾 交 给
中 央 （
处 理 ）
， 让 老
百 姓 到
北 京 去
上 访 。
倘 若 基
层 干 部
不 能 妥
善 处 理
基 层 矛
盾 ， 容
易 引 发
社 会 的
不 安 。
有 与 会
的 福 建
官 员 认
为 ， 胡
总 的 讲
提 醒 基
层 官 员
， 广 东
发 生 的
番 禺 和
汕 尾 等
事 件 ，
仅 是 冰
山 一 角
。 基 层
矛 盾 尖
仅 是 广
东 的 问
题 ， 而
是 全 国
各 地 政
府 都 面
临 的 问
题 。 据
悉 ， 有
许 多 福
建 的 地
对 番 禺
事 件 和
汕 尾 事
件 ， 均
不 知 详
情 ， 会
后 纷 纷
打 探 事
件 的 始
末 并 议
论 纷 纷
According to information, during his
pre-Chinese New Year inspection tour of Fujian province, Hu Jintao held a
meeting with cadres in Fuzhou city with Fujian provincial and city
officials. Attending officials said that he pointedly mentioned the
Guangzhou Panyu and Shanwei incidents, and that surprised everybody.
The source quoted Hu Jintao as saying that
as China develops rapidly economically, wealth inequality is increasing and
conflicts at the base-level of society is also increasing. He pointed
out that given the underlying conflicts at the base-level of society, the
base-level cadres should not attempt to cover up these conflicts and they
should not send the problems to the central government for resolution by
forcing the people to go to petition in Beijing. If the base-level
cadres cannot handle these problems and resolve the base-level conflicts,
there will be social instability.
Attending Fujian officials said that
President Hu's speech was meant to remind the base-level officials that the
Guangdong Panyu and Shanwei incidents were merely the tip of the
iceberg. The intensification of base-level conflicts is not solely the
problem of Guangdong, because other local governments around the nation are
facing the same problem. Upon information, many of the Fujian local
officials had never heard of the Panyu incident or the Shanwei incident, so
they began afterwards to ask around what those incidents were about.
The last paragraph is funny and sad.
The censorship inside China is so successful that even the government
officials who needed to know does not know. How will they find out
now? There is nothing on Taishi and Shanwei published in China other
than the Xinhua reports. Oh, yes, they can read about it in English
via Google, at which point they will be routed right to
-  Public
Gambling Leads To Baldness (2/4/2006) (Wenxue
City) In Malaysia, eleven men of Chinese descent were playing
mahjong in a restaurant on the second day of the Chinese New Year.
There were two tables going on, and three men were just watching and
drinking. The police raided the restaurant at 11:30pm at night and
took everybody back to the police station. At 4am, the men were
ordered to strip down to their underpants and then they were shaved
bald. At 6pm, they were told that they can arrange for bail while
awaiting trial for public gambling. They are facing fines and/or a
jail term up to 3 years.
-  Comings
and Goings at Hong Kong English-language Newspapers (2/4/2006)
As much as the news media are supposed to bring openness and transparency to
society, they are dismal in covering developments in their own and other
media organizations. Here is what I read between Wednesday and
Saturday. You go figure what is going on (e.g. Sinofication?
Next Weekly (February 2, 2006, page 86) (in translation) A year ago,
there was an earthquake at the South China Morning Post. Simon
Pritchard, editor of the business page section, quit; his deputy Tom
Mitchell followed; furthermore, veteran reporter Jane Moir left as
well. The business page was almost a vacuum. Why? SCMP Group chairman Kuok Khoon
Ean had personally found a 'comrade' from the People's Daily publishing group
to look after the business page; this comrade neither understands nor speaks
English, so the English-only staff were bound to have to leave. The
newspaper must be thinking that there is money to be made in mainland China.
In a staff memo at The Standard (February 3, 2006), CEO Lo Wing Hung wrote:
I regret to announce that Mr. Mark Clifford has decided to leave the Sing
Tao Group, with effect from 7th February, 2006, after having served as
Publisher and Chief Editor of The Standard for the past two years ... With
the departure of Mr. Clifford, Mr. Ivan Tong Kam Pui will be taking put the
role of Chief Editor of The Standard. Mr. Tong is a veteran of the
local newspaper industry, with particular focus on the financial media,
having previously held the post of Deputy Chief Editor (Finance) at a
Chinese-language newspapers and Financial Editor at an English-language
Not included in the memo is managing editor John Berthelsen and executive editor
Lin Neumann being sacked on the same day. The two were fired by Mark
Clifford two hours before the announcement of his own move. You can
speculate on the motives -- was this a final act of sabotage? or was it done
at the behest of his erstwhile successor who did not want to personally
swing the hatchet?
(SCMP) (February 4, 2006) The South China Morning Post has appointed Mark Clifford as editor-in-chief, effective April 1, SCMP Group chairman Kuok Khoon Ean announced yesterday.
Mr Clifford joins the Post from The Standard, where he has been publisher and editor-in-chief since January 2004. Previously, he was Asia regional editor at
Business Week, where he worked from 1995 to 2003. He started his career in Asia at the Far Eastern Economic Review in 1987 and held a number of posts, including business editor, before leaving the magazine in 1995.
-  The
Bird Flu and the Rule of Law in Hong Kong (2/4/2006) From
Keith Bradser at the New
A chicken smuggled across the border from mainland China has died here of bird flu, Hong Kong officials announced late Wednesday. The case raised new questions about whether Chinese provincial officials are concealing the true extent of the disease.
A villager living near the Chinese border obtained the chicken last Thursday from a mainland relative in neighboring Guangdong Province, which denies having the disease. The chicken fell sick and died Tuesday, said Dr. Thomas Sit, Hong Kong's acting assistant director of agriculture, fisheries and conservation, adding that preliminary tests quickly confirmed that the chicken had the A(H5N1) avian influenza virus.
The people in Hong Kong could not care less
about what they do (or won't do) in China. It is all about what happened
to the chickens within a 5 kilometer radius of ground zero. If this were
in China, all birds (including chickens, ducks, geese, doves and migratory
birds) would be culled immediately. But this is Hong Kong and the law
only says that private citizens cannot breed more than 20 birds. So this
leaves a huge legal loophole which can be exploited at will.
According to the Fishery and Agricultural Department survey, 42 families own
just more than 200 birds within the five kilometer zone. So far, only
ten birds have been voluntarily turned over for culling.
Case #1: 68-year-old Grandma Kao had 8 chickens. She said:
"I bought eleven chickens in Yuen Long two to three years ago. I
gave three of them to my daughter for the Chinese New Year. She ate
them, and she is physicall fine. I brought them up when they were tiny
... I intend to eat them myself. These chickens are helathy, and they
lay eggs every day." The government workers could not persuade
her. But after they left, she deicded to slaughter four of the
chickens. The other four were in the hills right now, so she will
execute them when they "return home."
Wei Po: Grandma Kao slaughtering the four chickens for the media show)
Case #2: A villager named Lee had four chickens, three ducks and more
than 20 doves. He rushed home to attempt to prevent government workers
from taking his brood away: "Did you ask me? Have you ever been a
father? Have you ever given your 'children' away?" The
government workers explained that owning more than 20 household birds requires
a farm license, and it would be against the law otherwise. Lee said:
"You are using the law to oppress me ... common citizens are not able to
Here is the ESWN blogger's cynical question: if the villager named Lee
released enough doves so that he only has four chickens, three ducks and
twelve doves left in his possesion, would his nineteen birds be untouchable
under the law? And if the government takes the birds away anyway, can he
ask for a judicial review?
-  Mobile
Phone Power (2/4/2006) Chinese activist Guo Feixiong was
recently released without charges in reference to the Taishi Village matter,
but in recent days he has been followed around Guangzhou by a group of
people who were clearly not local police. So he went into the local
police station to complain about his stalkers. The following are
translations of SMS messages between Guo Feixiong and his friend Tang Yingling (via Boxun).
15:14 -- I am at the police station and being semi-detained without reason
15:22 -- I have been semi-detained by force while they wait for the orders
from the leaders
16:17 -- It's been four hours. I am not allowed to leave. I was
the one who reported the case
16:30 -- Thanks. When the day started, they did the same thing that
they did to you yesterday. This proves that my attack was
correct. If I respond weakly, the consequences are immense. We
intend to make the greatest sacrifice.
16:36 -- Therefore, we are retreating on one side but we are insistent on
the essential principles. They are actually only testing us.
Guo Feixiong finally signed a document to state that a settlement could not
be reached. When he stepped into the lobby of the police station, he
was seized by plainclothes men, dragged out into the street and
beaten. Guo: "I stood there and let them beat me.
Afterwards, they were just like the underworld gangsters in the movies --
they put my camera around my neck again, they put my glasses back on and
they helped me stand up. It was like a gangster movie.
Throughout the process, I did not cry out and I did not ask the police to
help. Afterwards, I did not file a police report. Under these
circumstances, there was no point in reporting the case. They beat me
in front of the police, who will say that they saw nothing. Besides,
they beat me professionally in the kidneys and waist, so that there are no
external signs of injurty."
ESWN Blogger's comment: The technology is sufficiently advanced that we will be
viewing a live broadcast of a police interrogation before too long ...
-  Kids
(2/3/2006) From Apple
Daily, six children between five to eight years old (including the
three in the photograph below) in the Wong Tai Sin district of Kowloon, Hong
Kong found a dead magpie bird in a pool inside a park. They picked up
the dead bird by hand and then even threw it around as well as kicking it
like a soccer ball. Local residents called the police quickly.
-  Cold-Hearted
Hong Kong'ers? (2/3/2006) There is a question mark because
there are conflicting reports.
In Apple Daily, here was the front page: "Injured man complained in
tears: Hong Kong people are cold-blooded." According to a Hong
Kong tourist on an Egypt tour, the bus was speeding on the way to Luxor and
flipped over at a sharp turn. A Hong Kong man who suffered less
serious injuries said: "I saw quite a few tour buses go by, at least
two or three are Hong Kong tour groups. But nobody stopped for
us. I got down on my knees to beg them to help, but nobody paid any
attention to me. If someone had offered help, we could have saved more
people. I saw many people calling for help from inside the bus.
When the crane truck came three hours later, they were not
responsive." At this point, he broke down in tears: "Why are
Hong Kong people so cold-blooded? They only care to have fun."
Within SCMP itself, one story was titled 'Cold-blooded HK tourists rode by wreck: survivor'
and the other one was titled 'Buses didn't ignore wreck, say agents'.
From the second story: "Travel agencies yesterday either refused to comment on, or rejected, claims that they had tour buses passing the scene of Tuesday's bus accident in Egypt which claimed the lives of 14 Hongkongers, and that occupants had ignored cries for help from the injured.
Some offered the defence that it was illegal to stop in the middle of a highway and that doing so could have jeopardised the safety of tour groups on other buses."
Given the circumstances, it may never be known if the Hong Kong'ers were
cold-hearted in that sense because we don't know who were in those other
buses. Whatever else, one must admire Next Weekly for being able to
come up with a gory photo on Wednesday:
This photo would never make it into SCMP or The Standard, either in terms of
the goriness or timeliness.
-  The
France Soir Statement (2/3/2006) From The
Guardian, the French newspaper France Soir published cartoons which
were caricatures of the prophet Muhammad, although it later apologised and apparently sacked its managing editor. The cartoons include one showing a bearded Muhammad with a bomb fizzing out of his turban.
It is necessary to crush once again the infamous thing, as Voltaire liked to say. This religious intolerance that accepts no mockery, no satire, no ridicule. We citizens of secular and democratic societies are summoned to condemn a dozen caricatures judged offensive to Islam. Summoned by who? By the Muslim Brotherhood, by Syria, the Islamic Jihad, the interior ministers of Arab countries, the Islamic Conferences - all paragons of tolerance, humanism and democracy.
So, we must apologise to them because the freedom of expression they refuse, day after day, to each of their citizens, faithful or militant, is exercised in a society that is not subject to their iron rule. It's the world upside down. No, we will never apologise for being free to speak, to think and to believe.
Because these self-proclaimed doctors of law have made this a point of principle, we have to be firm. They can claim whatever they like but we have the right to caricature Muhammad, Jesus, Buddha, Yahve and all forms of theism. It's called freedom of expression in a secular country ...
For centuries the Catholic church was little better than this fanaticism. But the French Revolution solved that, rendering to God that which came from him and to Caesar what was due to him.
If you have never seen the cartoons, here is
-  Anal
Intercourse (2/2/2006) Ethan Zuckerman in Sex and human rights, yes! Falun gong and Xinjiang independence, no!:
"Does one engine give meaningfully more results than another engine?"
Well, life is too short to pursue all 80 keywords that Rebecca MacKinnon
supplied. There is no point trying the F-word or some such, so I will
go all the way with the sensitive subject in Broke Back Mountain:
Anal intercourse (肛交).
Baidu: "Sorry, we did not find any page related to 'anal
intercourse.' Baidu suggest that (1) check if your query was
incorrectly phrased; (2) delete unnecessary words; (3) read
HELP." Postscript: If "anal" is used alone,
there were 414,000 results; if "intercourse" is used alone, there
were only 15,400 results. What a strange world we live in!
Meanwhile, Google.com.cn yielded 245,000 results where as Google.com yielded
619,000 results. Do you think that it will be a triumph for freedom
and democracy if Google disappears in China?
-  Internet
Photos (2/2/2006) In a Tianya
BBS post, there was a post titled: "I beg the forum master to
allow this post ..." The poster alleged that he was at a renowned
digital plaza in Shanghai when a store tried to force him to buy
something. When he refused, he was assaulted and ended up in a
hospital. The police refused to treat him fairly and in fact warned
him not to contact the media about this plaza. Photos were attached.
Whose side are you on, based upon the information? Well, I don't have
a clue, but certainly one side has its story posted at a prominent Chinese
BBS whereas the other side is not heard from. This is how the Internet
is significantly different from mainstream media.
-  The
1994 Kelamayi Fire (2/2/2006) There is a request to explain
the context of the top item in Ten
Famous Sayings in China. This occurred in 1994 before the Internet
became so important in terms of information. Here are the facts
summarized from China-week
On December 8, 1994, the Kelamayi City
(Xinjiang province) Department of Education put on a show for 25
higher-level officials from the "Free Education and Literacy Assessment
Team" with 796 elementary and middle school students at the Friendship
Theater. The theater curtain was too close to the stage light and
caught fire. Fireballs were dropping down on the stage from the
air. At that moment, a Kelamayi Department of Education official told
the students: "Everybody sit down. Don't move! Let the
leaders leave first!"
The students were very obedient and sat
still in their seats. They waited for the 25 officials sitting in the
front row to exit in the rear. Then the teachers organized the
students to evacuate. But by that time, the lights had failed and fire was everywhere. The only exit was engulfed in flames (note: all
other fire safety exits had been padlocked by the Friendship Theater
All 796 students from 15 schools were
engulfed in flames. 323 died (including 288 students) and 132 suffered
fire burns. Of the 40 plus teachers, 36 perished and the state of
their bodies showed that they were genuine heros and heroines. Example
1: When Teacher Meng's body was found, her back and head was burned to
charcoal but there was a student underneath her arms and his heart was still
beating! Example 2: Teacher Zhou held open the curtain
door. All he had to do was to take one step forward and he would be
safe himself. But he stood there to prop the iron door open with his
shoulders. Surviving students saw him last using his hands to push
three students out before falling himself. Example 3:
Elementary school principal Zhang and deputy school principal Ni kept
pushing students out of the fire. Their bodies were burned almost
beyond recognition, but they had their arms open with several dead students
around them, like mother hens protecting their brood.
Of the 20 plus Kelemayi officials, all
survived. In the wake of the ensuing public outrage (and that was in
the pre-Internet age), many of the officials were tried and jailed.
The most ignominous case was a female official who was familiar with the
setup in the Friendship Theater. When she saw that there was no way to
go through the exit, she went into the restroom, locked the door and refused
to let anyone else in. Afterwards, more than 100 bodies of students
were found outside the restroom. She was sentenced to four years in
jail for dereliction of duty. She told the press: "I am very
experienced in escaping with my life." That could be a famous
-  采风
(2/2/2006) We bid welcome to this section of Letters
from China that carries original Chinese-language documents that are
critical to understand the totality of certain important events and
-  Crime
and Punishment (2/1/2006) The crime is grave robbery.
(Associated Press via The
Standard) Four people have tried to rob a grave, believed to be that of the wife of Hong Kong's richest man, Li
Ka-shing ... An electric drill, shovels and gloves were found next to the damaged grave at a local cemetery.
What is the punishment? Well, there are extra-judicial sanctions
against grave robbery.
Daily) According to an anonymous geomancy (fengshui)
master, the fact that the robbers chose Chinese New Year's Day to rob a
grave means that either they are mentally ill or they harbor a deep hatred
against the deceased or her descendants. As everybody knows, grave
robbery is traditionally regarded as an unnatural crime against the heavens,
particularly on New Year's Day. Furthermore, according to geomancy,
the grave robbers will live a rotten life thereafter as well as leaving no
descendants. The descendants of the person whose grave was robbed will
suffer misfortunes and ill health. According to information, Li
Ka-shing, his eldest son and his granddaughter were all born in the Year of
the Dragon, which is unfavorable in the Year of the Dog. Therefore,
this won't be a good year for them.
Is this time to dump the Cheungkong stock? We report, you decide.