Danwei Noon Report

Bus bombs, Israel, Dell and robot chicks in China

Crazy football commentator on Esquire

August 7, 2006 - Danwei Noon Report, a daily roundup of new and old media coverage about China, from Chinese and English sources

• Jonathan Ansfield has become the Beijing correspondent for the politics and current events website Spot-On. His articles can be found here. In his article Arab, Jew and Chinese, he looks at Chinese reactions to the Israel - Lebanon war and the killing of the Chinese UN Peacekeeper. Another recent article of Ansfield's well worth a read is The Vicious Wheel of Life, a look at Chinese yuppies new fondness for 'living Buddhas' and other manifestations of a "schmaltzy search for inner strength" that seems to be occupying more and more Chinese people.

• Huang Jianxiang is the Chinese football TV commentator whose enthusiasm for the Italian team and hostility to the Australians during their recent World Cup match got him into trouble (see Danwei story). He is the cover boy of the August issue of Esquire's Chinese edition (image reproduceed above from Netease).

• Dell is in trouble on the Internet in China, as reported by Sam Flemming, Imagethief, and Business Week. From Sam Flemming:

The Business Weeek article cites a recent Dell incident as a case study where a consumer complaint on a BBS about a processor eventually led to a class action suit.

Here is the timeline for Dell's "processor gate."

June 23: First consumer complaint on IT168 BBS notebook forum

June 24: IT168 forum administrator invites others to complain about Dell

June 24: IT168 sets up special "Dell Hell" section to track issue

June 28: Dell responds to the incident, says "sorry"

June 29: Lawyer Ma Jianrong invites forum participants to join a class action lawsuit

June 30: Story moves to mainstream media, dubbed "Processor Gate"

July 4: CCTV reports the class action suit

July 5: Dell offers refund; consumers not mollified

• Last Friday The Beijing News reported that a bomb exploded in Tianzhu, Guizhou Province, killing 11 people. The bombing is being investigated (source in Chinese).

• Chinanews.com reports that China's first female robot, capable of speaking English and Sichuan dialect Chinese, has been unveiled by the automatization research department of the Chinese Academy of Science. (Source in Chinese)

• BBS aggregator Daqi has a post warning young women against date rape drugs such as Ketamine and GHB. (Source in Chinese)

• A Texas website has published an AP article titled: Foreign teachers in China flee 'sweatshop' jobs in English-language schools. It chronicles the adventures of some foreign English teachers in China who were mistreated by their schools.

• The Economist has published an article called Retailing in China - Ready for warfare in the aisles (subscription required). Excerpt:

Just two decades ago, shops had surly staff offering a few drab items, often locked safely away in glass cases. Yet there is still a long way to go. Even today, much of the population buys from daily markets or directly from producers. Organised retailing remains relatively new. Most Chinese stores are tiny, family-run outfits. China's top 100 chains account for just a tenth of total retail sales...

...Yet the arrival of foreign retailers is changing things. Apart from Wal-Mart, other successful giants have set up shop, including France's Carrefour, Britain's B&Q and Malaysia's Parkson. Foreign firms now account for 23% of the sales of the top 100 food retailers in China. More are arriving with the lifting of rules restricting foreign chains to a handful of big cities. In 2005, over 1,000 new retailers received approval, of which more than half had foreign investors. There are now over 1,000 foreign retailers in China compared with just 314 two years ago.

Local rivals have responded ferociously. Crippling price discounts can be accompanied by dirty tactics: some stores send fake “customers” to rivals' new stores to snap up all the promotions before genuine customers can get them. Another trick is to jam the doors of the lockers used by shoppers to store their purchases. Meanwhile, retailing costs are rising.

• The Wall Street Journal reports: Employees at Second Wal-Mart Store in China Form Union (subscription required). The title is slightly misleading, since unions in China are not set up by employees without approval and organization from the state-controlled union organizations.

• From The Financial Times: East China Sea spat heightens Japan tensions. Excerpt:

The long-running battle between Japan and China over a disputed oil and gas field in the East China Sea has intensified, after Japan responded to a report that China had started production by saying it would tell China to stop if necessary.

CNOOC, a Chinese state-controlled upstream oil and gas company, ended months of speculation when it said on its homepage on Friday that it had begun production at the field, known in China as Chunxiao and in Japan as Shirakaba.

If CNOOC's claim proves correct, it is likely to worsen relations between the Asian powers, which have deteriorated considerably since Junichiro Koizumi became Japanese prime minister in 2001.

• The NewYork Times has published a review by Orville Schell of John Pomfret's book Chinese Lessons.

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