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April 3, 2009

New rules imposed on Internet video content

SARFT issues a notice warning video hosts about certain types of user-generated content and requiring them to apply for permission to host foreign TV shows.

Banks face big losses from bets on Chinese realty

For The New York Times, David Barboza writes about more losers in the financial crisis. This time it's the Evergrande Real Estate Group, and its investors:

Back in the good old days -- early 2007 -- bankers from Merrill Lynch, Deutsche Bank and other financial giants placed their bets on a 48-year-old property tycoon who was supposed to be China's next billionaire.

They lent his company $400 million, encouraged him to acquire large tracts of land and in early 2008 promoted a proposed $2.1 billion public stock offering by the company, the Evergrande Real Estate Group, in Hong Kong.

Writing the history of the Gang of Four


Ye Yonglie describes how he was inspired to write The Rise and Fall of the Gang of Four, and what obstacles he faced during the more than two decades before publication this January.

"I didn't want to be among the crowd"

Peter Micic interviews actor, singer, and TV personality Chelsey Mark, who came to China from Canada in 2000:

So when did you begin your road to celebrity?
Chelsey: I was browsing through the school job ads and I stumbled across an ad for a singer-guitarist in a cover band. I had sung and played guitar back in Canada so I called a number listed in the ad. Several hours later a rather pudgy and ugly Chinese dude by the name of Fisher showed up at my dorm. The group started me on lead vocals and guitar with Fisher on keyboards and supporting vocals. Our first gig was at a bar across from the Business University. We played three sets and each received 80 yuan for the night. Back then I could not sing any Chinese songs.

Stop taking the China Kool-Aid

Richard Spencer is leaving Beijing, some final thoughts about currency and President Hu's English.

China's yuan to warm up

From the Economic Observer Online:

A ministry-backed research institute recently submitted a report on the RMB's internationalization to the State Council, the country's cabinet, advising a gradual loosening of currency exchange under China's capital account.

Sohu to Focus on Online, Search Ads

Bloomberg reports on Sohu's plans to "build up its online and search advertising businesses after spinning off its games unit in the first U.S. initial share sale by a Chinese company since August":

We will focus on monetizing our business such as online advertising, search advertising, video and may even charge for content," Chief Executive Officer Charles Zhang said in an interview in New York. "Growth will also come from Pinyin messaging based on search-engine technology."

April 2, 2009

Unhappy China, and why it is cause for unhappiness

David Bandurski at China Media Project writes about the book Unhappy China 中国不高兴:

Some Chinese scholars and journalists have expressed concern about Unhappy China's pugnacious and even jingoistic tone.

Beijing and Paris to resume relations

From China Daily today, which said that France made a statement yesterday:

Based on this spirit and the principle of non-interference in each other's internal affairs, France refuses to support any form of "Tibet independence", it said.

"Both sides are willing to strengthen communication and coordination to jointly deal with the global challenge of the international financial crisis," it added.

An account of life and death in jail

Tim translates at Southern Weekend a witness account from a series of reports aimed to reduce the ground on which prison tyrants exist:

I was taken to a detention center by the police at little after nine in the morning on March 9, 2001. After they finished checking my person, they had to take my belt because of the rules.

Managing global media with state media tools

Adam Minter at Shanghai Scrap wraps up the Ningbo scrap kidnapping case by comparing two documents issued by Guanghe, the Chinese scrap company that allegedly had police hold Goldarrow representative Anil Srivastav until he signed over $350,000 worth of scrap:

So, to summarize: Back in November, during the initial backlash against [James] Xu and Guanghe, Guanghe decided to claim that Xu was never an employee, but only a friendly "introducer." When that didn't improve their image, the company shifted gears and announced that the whole Goldarrow deal was actually Xu's doing, without authorization, and thus, he's fired.

Background here.

April 1, 2009

No one wants to take on the coal bosses

Linfen, Shanxi province, can't fill its vacant party secretary slot, China Daily reports:

"We're indeed looking for a new Party secretary," an official from the organization department of the city's committee of Communist Party of China (CPC), who refused to be named, told China Daily yesterday on the phone.

He said the position has been vacant since former incumbent Xia Zhengui was suspended on Sept 20 last year on account of a mine accident that killed at least 270 people.

via Citizens of Oxus

Environmentalist Tan Zuoren detained by Sichuan police

David Bandurski at the China Media Project translates a letter detailing the arrest of Tan Zuoren, who had been investigating the deaths of schoolchildren in last year's Wenchuan earthquake:

On March 28, Chengdu-based environmentalist, writer and former editor of Literati magazine (文化人) magazine Tan Zuoren (谭作人) was taken into custody under charges of "inciting subversion of state power" (涉嫌颠覆国家政权). [NOTE: This is the same charge that was leveled against Hu Jia (胡佳) in January 2008]. Prior to this Mr. Tan was working on an investigation into the death of children in shoddy school buildings during the Sichuan Earthquake, and was verifying a list of students who died. On the morning of the 28th, police barged into his home and took away all computer disks, handwritten notes and other materials. Only his children were home at the time, as the police proceeded to photograph the scene.

Reuters and the AFP also have reports.

The Nanjing Massacres and the Wenchuan Earthquake

C. Custer at chinageeks translates an article by media professor Hu Yong about numbers and memory:

Yes, 300,000 looks startling but actually through abstraction and generalization, it's like Vera Schwarcz said: it's easy to use a kind of "advocating distance and, moreover, aloofness" to sum up history. Only by recovering memories one by one, looking for people one by one, can we show the meaning of 'massacre' and make it clear to future generations how this suffering cannot be repeated. If one wishes for "China cannot die", first one must have "China cannot forget."** This not forgetting must be not forgetting and losing the specifics of even a single life, and nothing else.

The "huge potential" in China-Latin American trade

From the blog about Latin America and China relations, Double Handshake:

Zhou Xiaochuan, the head of China's central bank, has been one of the headline-grabbers from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) summit, which is wrapping up today in Medellin, Colombia. Zhou was the new guy at the meeting; China only became a member of the IDB in January, shelling out a US$350 million loan to join.

Chinese explorer preparing to cross Sahara

From Chris at Gokunming:

Today another Yunnan native - Jin Feibao (金飞豹) - is attempting to resurrect Chinese exploration of the world, which was stifled during centuries of dynastic government, wars and the political climate of the Cold War.

In 2007, Jin trekked to both the North and South Poles and summited the highest peaks on all seven continents. Last year he became the first Chinese to trek across Greenland.

On April 6, he will leave Beijing for Africa, where he will attempt to cross the Sahara desert from west to east - a first for Chinese explorers.

Fake pandas in the Taipei Times

The Taipei Times issues a timely report on counterfeit pandas at the Taipei Zoo:

Zookeepers discovered at feeding time yesterday that the two pandas are in fact Wenzhou brown forest bears that had been dyed to create the panda's distinctive black-and-white appearance.

The Taipei Zoo's head of ursidae ex-procyonidae care, Connie Liu (劉長春), said she became suspicious when the pandas, Tuan Tuan (團團) and Yuan Yuan (圓圓), began to spend almost all of their waking hours having sex. Pandas are notorious for their low libidos, which make them difficult to breed in captivity.

via Paul Midler, who says "Seriously, folks, you just can't make up stuff like this."

Yes you can.

Visible and invisible walls

Alice Poon at Asia Sentinel translates a blog post by Yang Hengjun:

Every time I cross over the 'visible wall' of Lowu Bridge to go to Hong Kong, I would usually leave a friends' gathering around 11:00 pm to go back to my hotel, because I want to surf the internet. My friends would question why. I would tell them that it is because there aren't any GFWs in Hong Kong and so I could enjoy my net-surfing freedom (in the mainland there are all sorts of firewalls and the downloading process is often full of obstacles). Therefore I would use every opportunity while on a 'freedom tour' to Hong Kong to surf freely on the internet and download a mass of things onto my computer.

Chinese govt. shopping delegation headed for USA with $$$

The China Daily reports:

The Ministry of Commerce is sending a delegation to the United States this month to explore trade and investment opportunities - close on the heels of a similar mission to Europe - according to sources...

...The buying trip comes only two months after a commerce minister-led trade mission to Europe, where Chinese enterprises signed deals worth more than $13 billion in four countries.

March 31, 2009

Under the influence of Wang Xiaobo

More than a decade on, Wang Xiaobo still manages to irritate China's nationalist-leaning pundits. In Unhappy China, Wang Xiaodong lets fly at what he identifies as "Wang Xiaobo worship," but his criticisms are actually aimed at the author himself. Transliterationisms translates this short, angry essay.

Training provided for 140,000 prosecutors

From China Daily:

China will introduce specialized training courses for about 140,000 prosecutors nationwide in a bid to "strengthen their supervisory skills as well as their ability to handle cases", the Supreme People's Procuratorate (SPP) said Monday.

The move is aimed at "plugging any inadequacies that prosecutors may face in their comprehensive and specialization duties", the SPP guidelines on procuratorial education and training up to 2012, released Monday, said.

"There is still some way to go for strict, fair and civilized legal enforcement," it said.

It's your turn to strip

ESWN points to an interesting cartoon from the Southern Metropolis Daily based on Wen Jiabao's quote that officials should declare how their wealth is spent. Seagull Reference also posted about this.

Late in Xinjiang

Barbara Demick reports for the Los Angeles Times: Kashgar has two time zones.

"So I say to the Chinese guy, come at 4 o'clock, and to the Uighur guy, come at 2 o'clock, and then everybody will be there the same time. No problem."

China, Tibet and the road to nowhere

Veteran China reporter for The Guardian John Gittings takes a look at recent events and makes some predictions, at The Guardian's Comment is Free.

March 30, 2009

An irreverent graphic designer speaks

New Graphic magazine talks to Zhang Facai, whose blog is a collection of visual puns, dirty jokes, and clever fake advertisements that push the boundaries of political and social sensitivity.

Exploiting Confucius for fun and profit

Chow Yun-Fat will star in a new biography of the sage. The question on everyone's mind is: Did Confucius know kung-fu?

Zachary Mexico's China Underground

An excerpt of Zachary Mexico's China Underground. The author writes, "I wanted to read about the crazy people I'd met in China and the even crazier people they'd introduced me to. I wanted to read about the streets that hum with the energy of constant change, and how that change affects the young Chinese of my generation."

"No serious intellectuals in China are proponents of neo-liberalism"

Dylan, who has been reading through discussions on the Utopia BBS, translates a dialogue between Liu Guoguang, a special advisor to CASS, and Yang Chengxun, a professor of finance and former vice-director of Henan's provincial academy of social science:

What's been the result of neo-liberal policies globally? NYU's William K. Tabb summarized it nicely: "The first thing to recognize is that neo-liberalism is widely understood, even by many mainstream economists and policy wonks, to have failed in terms of its announced goals. It has not brought more rapid economic growth, reduced poverty, or made economies more stable. In fact, over the years of neoliberal hegemony, growth has slowed, poverty has increased, and economic and financial crises have been epidemic."

Now, the flames of the global financial crisis have burned the West, and the rest of the world will suffer in its wake.

Part 2 is here.

China accused of global spy ring

Western media such as the VOA, The Guardian and The Financial Times have all reported on a Chinese spy ring that is stealing documents from government all over the world. From The Financial Times:

University of Toronto experts found 1,295 infected computers around the world and observed the operation stealing documents and watching and listening to users through webcams and microphones.

The chutzpah of Oak Pacific

Oak Pacific, an Internet company that produces the horror of Mop.com, is now claiming that their new social networking site is leaping ahead. Mobinode.com reports:

Joe Chen, CEO of Oak Pacific Interactive, the owner of Xiaonei which is the leading SNS and the most successful Facebook clone in China said in the iResearch VIP dinner, its Kaixin.com is now bigger than the super hot Kaixin001.com. I am not sure what metric Joe is referring to, but at least Alexa says it is not true.

Oak Pacific, with no apparent shame, launched their new site at Kaixin.com specifically to lure search traffic away from the more established Kaixin001.com.

Furthermore, Alexa rankings are considered easily gamed by Chinese Internet companies: if Kaixin.com does not even do well on Alexa, you can be fairly sure that Mr Chen's statements should be taken with a large pinch of salt.

Many paths to translation work

This week, Sinosplice profiles five Chinese to English translators now working in China today. How do translators get started, and how have new technologies changed how the work is done?

Brendan O'Kane is the subject of the first interview. He talks about his background in Chinese language, how he started out, and what challenges he faces today.

Govt. alert on hand-foot-mouth disease

From Xinhua:

China's Health Minister Chen Zhu urged grassroots level medical staff Saturday to fan out across the countryside to detect and prevent cases of hand-foot-mouth disease (HFMD), which has killed at least 19 children this year...

...The ministry said 41,846 cases of HFMD had been detected by March 27 in 30 provinces and regions, except Tibet. Most cases were in rural areas.