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October 20, 2007

British soprano in North Korea

From a story by Michael Rank in Asia Times:

This 38-year-old British soprano may not be a household name in the western world, but she's a superstar in North Korea where she has given dozens of concerts and appeared countless times on the rigidly state-controlled television.

Suzanne Clarke has performed every year since 2003 in the culturally and politically isolated country, where she has sung everything from Mozart to Gershwin and from Verdi to Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Endangered wildlife on Ali Baba

WildlifeExtra.com reports:

Alibaba, the huge web trading site part owned by Yahoo! is none too picky about what is sells, and the fuss is growing. The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has recently launched a campaign to boycott Yahoo! due to their promotion of shark fin sales.

It's a shame that a system that is so good at filtering 'sensitive' words from the Internet is so bad at stopping the trade of useless luxury products made from endangered animals.

Sloppy journalism vs Party stooge

A Danwei article critical of a Western media report about 'black jails' started a comment storm and a rebuke that we are stooges. You be the judge.

Buzz words from the Party Congress

Cynical bloggers are mocking the entire event as a big act, but the Communist Party still thinks socialism is the best. This is a review of the buzzwords on the Internet and in the reports coming out of the Communist Party's quinquennial gathering.

Youtube blocked in China...

...And illiterate Youtoubers descend on Danwei's comment section to complain.

October 18, 2007

Same same but different

RTHK on the Internet presents streamable programs on the interaction of Cantonese and English in Hong Kong:

Cantonese and English are languages from different ends of the earth. They look different, sound different, and on the face of things have little in common. But in Hong Kong, they come together in our daily lives in some colourful and unexpected ways.

In a series of special features, Radio 3's June Ng and Hugh Chiverton will be finding out what lies between the two tongues. As they work, they'll be blogging some highlights and asking some questions.

Pork prices fall

The Financial Times reports:

According to China’s chief economic planning agency, the National Development and Reform Commission, the cost of pork in supermarkets has fallen for two weeks in succession. Outside the pig farms, the other barometer being watched by the central government is the grain harvest in the northern autumn. The signs at the moment are that it will be good.

Hu Jintao's speech - full text in English

An English translation of Hu Jintao's long speech given at the opening of the 17th party Congress is online at this link.

Youtube blocked in China

On the evening of October 17, the Chinese Net Nanny blocked access to Youtube. The block seems to be a response to Youtube starting Chinese language versions for Hong Kong and Taiwan, but may also be connected with the Communist Party's 17th Congress that started on October 15.

Party Congress a dizzying ordeal in the media

At the Zhongnanhai blog, Paul explains why a report on Nicholas Sarkozy's meeting with Vladimir Putin can't air on the radio during the 17th Party Congress.

Down the rabbit hole

Imagethief deconstructs the White Rabbit candy wrapper.

Waiting for the smoke to clear

At China Dialogue, Gaoming Jiang writes on China's problems with pollution caused by farmers burning the crop stubble off their fields:

When Qufu held its International Confucius Culture Festival the local government cracked down on the stubble burning to avoid the embarrassment of smoke veiling the proceedings. The authorities threatened fines of 4,000 yuan (US$532) and 15 days detention for farmers caught flouting the ban. But even that failed to stop the practice. Local farmers ended up playing a 24-hour game of cat and mouse with the authorities, waiting until the police had ceased their patrols to start burning the crop stubble.

Related on Danwei: Rural smoke envelops Beijins.

October 17, 2007

One step closer to the moon

China has come one step closer to having a mine staffed by a million Henanese workers on the moon. Xinhua reports:

A senior Chinese official said here Tuesday that researchers and technicians are making final preparations for the launch of the country's first moon orbiter, Chang'e I, at the end of October.

Zhang Qingwei, minister in charge of the Commission of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense (COSTIND), who is attending the 17th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), said in an interview with Xinhua.

Is Crazy English here to stay?

Wu Nan at CDT looks at Li Yang and his Crazy English teaching regimen:

Li's resume says that in 1993 he translated for Richard Bush, the current director of the Brookings Center for Northeast Asian Policy Studies, who used to advise Congress about U.S.-China relations. His resume also says Li was interviewed by BBC, ABC, RTHK, NHK and other foreign press. In China, this is another way to say how famous he is. But so far there's no available independent reports to verify Li's resume and his legend.

October 16, 2007

Greenhouse gasses and the Chinese steel industry

Adam Minter at Shanghai Scrap explains why China's steel industry produces a disproportionate amount of pollution:

I've never been particularly sympathetic to Chinese claims that pollution control is a first world responsibility that a developing country - like China - cannot be expected to share. That's ridiculous. China could install and operate pollution control equipment on every one of its steel mills (the technology is simple, well-known, and easily built and installed) - and still have lower steel-making costs than the developed world. However, there is another, more complicated side to this story suggesting that - even if China suddenly met developed world steelmaking environmental standards - it would still be the world's dirtiest steelmaker.

The birth of China's moon program

CDT translates a Global People feature on the Chang'e I moon probe:

Now with the moon orbiter almost on the launching pad, China's chief scientist for the moon program Ouyang Ziyuan says this is a sure thing for the Chinese who started the process in a difficult way but worked consistently over the years.

Ouyang's work on the moon started 25 years ago with a half-gram moon rock sample, a gift from former US President Carter's National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski during his trip in 1978.

Democracy - as long you agree with the leaders

From The Financial Times:

Hu Jintao, China’s Communist party chief, on Monday vowed to introduce greater democracy to the world’s largest political organisation but reminded members they must “always agree” with their leaders.

The other main message Hu delivered was that economic growth remains a priority.

October 15, 2007

Socialism is the best!

The Communist Party's 17th Congress has started this morning with a call by Hu Jintao for Party members and the Chinese people to hold high the 'great banner of socialism with Chinese Characteristics' in their strive for building 'a moderately prosperous society in all aspects.'
You can find the Xinhua reports on this morning's activities on pretty much any Chinese news website you care to visit.

October 14, 2007

China takes aim at US on quality control

The Wall Street Journal presents some items from an "eclectic list" of defective American imports to China.

Mr. Li's list also cited shipments of more than 430 Hummer trucks, models H2 and H3, manufactured by General Motors Corp. of Detroit - and imported into China by unknown third-party suppliers - that Mr. Li's office says didn't meet Chinese safety requirements. "The shape of the front, large headlights don't have clear-cut boundaries between bright and dark" so that "when two cars are driving toward each other, it could have a negative influence on the driver's vision, to cause dazzling," according to Aqsiq. The government also cited problems with smaller amber-colored lights on the vehicles and markings on the speedometer that didn't meet Chinese standards.

via China Law Blog.