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May 16, 2009

Utah Gov. Huntsman to be US Ambassador to China

LA Times' Top of the Ticket blog reports that US President Obama will pick Jon M. Huntsman Jr, the Republican governor of the state of Utah, to be the new ambassador to China. Huntsman reportedly learned to speak Mandarin during a stint in Taiwan.

Also in the Salt Lake Tribune, and on James Fallows' blog.

Your misfortune is their great fortune

C. Custer at the blurb-worthy ChinaGeeks blog translates an excerpt from a post on Ai Weiwei's blog that stresses why the free exchange of ideas and information is so important:

Without your own voice and the free interchange of information, the people, the working class does not exist, the common interests of humanity do not exist, you do not exist. We'll never have real social change, the first step of real social change must be the right to freedom of speech. A society without freedom of speech is a dark society whose underbelly cannot be seen, so dark that everything actually appears bright.

Ai's post has since been removed, but the text can still be found here: How have we fallen to today's state of affairs? (proxy required on the mainland).

Congestion in Shenzhen

At Shenzhen Noted, Mary Ann O'Donnell talks to a Shenzhen cabbie about why traffic accidents often remain on the roadway for hours until the police show up:

His discourse lasted about thirty minutes, or the time it took us to crawl from the Mangrove Station offramp to another accident at the entry to Xiasha New Village. Like most populist worldviews, his was a fascinating mix of fact and fiction, liberalism and conservatism. It was also much more entertaining that the traffic report.

May 15, 2009

Nouriel Roubini: RMB set to usurp US dollar

The New York Times has published an opinion piece by economist Nouriel Roubini, widely credited with predicting the current global financial crisis:

THE 19th century was dominated by the British Empire, the 20th century by the United States. We may now be entering the Asian century, dominated by a rising China and its currency. While the dollar's status as the major reserve currency will not vanish overnight, we can no longer take it for granted. Sooner than we think, the dollar may be challenged by other currencies, most likely the Chinese renminbi.

Is Communist Party "propaganda" a relic of China's past?

David Bandurski at the China Media Project explains why Chinese government publicity efforts still count as propaganda by translating part of a front-page report from the "May 10 edition of the official Beijing Daily...laying out 'propaganda' guidelines for coverage of the 60th anniversary of the CCP"

The post is a response to Patrick Whiteley's op-ed in the China Daily: Who is really spinning the propaganda?

Sex theme park prepares to open in Chongqing

From China Daily:

Naked human sculptures, giant replica genitals, a photo exhibition about sex history and sex technique workshops.

China's first sex-themed park has not even opened yet, but the controversial project has already got some people hot under the collar.

Love Land will open in October in the entertainment zone near the Yangtze River in Chongqing.

Lu Xiaoqing, park manager, said Love Land would be useful for sex education and help adults "enjoy a harmonious sex life".

The early history of the Chinese typewriter

For The China Beat, Thomas S. Mullaney writes about the first Chinese typewriters, and how the west dismissed them:

Despite this long history of technological achievement equal to, if not more impressive than its Roman alphabet counterpart, the Chinese typewriter has remained an icon of backwardness in the West. When it is not openly ridiculed, at most the machine has served as a medium through which artists have explored the comical, the strange, and the ironic, as in the short-lived mystery series "The Chinese Typewriter" starring eighties hearththrob Tom Selleck, the similarly titled film by experimental artist Daniel Barnett, and the carnivalesque ditty "Her Chinese Typewriter" by indie rocker Matthew Friedberger.

Where the United States found drunk

Alex W at The Wang Way In reads the ads in the Nanchang Evening News.

Zhao Ziyang's memoirs

Many big news organizations are reporting on the publishing of the memoirs, the Chinese version currently available in Hong Kong. From The Guardian:

"People thought Zhao was probably broken and bitter and at the very least had so much surveillance there was no way he could have offered his final word on Tiananmen. But he had - and nobody knew," Adi Ignatius, one of the editors of the English language edition, told the Guardian.

"It will remind people that Tiananmen did not have to end up as it did; it was a power struggle at the top level - nothing to do with putting down a violent rebellion."

The New York Times report is entitled Secret Memoir Offers Look Inside China's Politics, and from John Pomfret's Washington Post blog: Are Zhao's Memoirs Real? Seems So.

China to simplify foreign investment paperwork

From The China Daily:

China's efforts to streamline approval procedures for foreign exchange business applications under the capital account category are expected to boost foreign investment into the country, experts said.

The State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) on Wednesday issued a circular giving more power to its local bureaus in approving as many as 10 foreign exchange categories under the capital account.

May 13, 2009

One positive experience of Chinese education

From James Fallows' blog. James Fallows of The Atlantic has been posting about the Chinese education system and today he posts on what the students actually want, taken from a letter from a teacher:

- more of a connection to the real world. They want to have the chance to do community service near their schools, such as tutoring and helping to take care of their elderly, and they also want to take their classes outside of their schools. One of the most impressive examples a student gave me was for an environmental science class being built around an effort to clean up a river, stream, or forest near the school.

- the chance for social development. They want clubs and sports, but they also want things like more free time to spend with their friends, school dances, and for dating to be allowed on campuses. I even had a student say, in full seriousness, that he thought there should be a class teaching students how to interact with the opposite sex.

Liao Yiwu on survivors of the earthquake

From the Three Cents section of the University of Rochester's website, a repost of Liao's essay about his book, The Big Earthquake, and his tribute to the earthquake victims:

The doctor said that every festival or anniversary has the potential to cause an insurmountable amount of stress for survivors. That reminds me of two lines from a well-known Chinese poem: "A stranger in a foreign land I cast, I miss my family on festival days."

Each time a disaster hits China, we all become refugees and strangers in our own land. The famines of 1959 and 1962 left thirty million dead. The Cultural Revolution caused the deaths of between two and seven million people. The devastating earthquake in Tangshan claimed the lives of 240,000 . . . We survivors struggle on, living meaningless lives like pigs and dogs.

Second case of H1N1 confirmed in Shandong, China

From Reuters:

The Chinese man flew from Canada, where he was studying, on May 8 and then took a train from Beijing to Jinan, the capital of Shandong province. He was immediately isolated and sent for treatment after reporting flu-like symptoms on the train.

China's exports plummet despite stimulus

From China Daily:

... exports dropped 22.6 percent from a year earlier to $91.94 billion in April, the Customs said Tuesday. This was steeper than March's 17.1 percent decline. Imports slumped 23 percent in April, compared with a 25.1 percent decline in March.

Public mourning in Chengdu

A spontaneous group mourning took place at Tianfu Square in Chengdu at 2:28 p.m. on May 12 to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the Wenchuan earthquake: photos and reporting on GoChengdoo.com.

May 12, 2009

Mourning the quake dead

From Reuters (via The Washington Post):

"Today is so sad, so heart-breaking. I didn't want to come back here because the place brings back so many bad memories," said Zhou Caigui, a Beichuan native who said he lost over 30 relatives in the disaster.

There are also reports about the one year anniversary from CNN, related report from the BBC, and China Daily.

"My friend is obviously Chinese"

RPC at The Studio of Exhausted Diligence explains Spock's connection to the Chinese National Space Administration.

Also, from Strange Tales from a Modern Chinese Studio, China vs. Star Trek, a comparison of various space agency logos.

Champagne brunch with Big Ears Du's grandson

Recession, shmecession, the champagne life does not stop in Shanghai.

A board game themed on the historical Shanghai Race Club is launching on Sunday with the party presided over by Danny Du, great grandson of famous Shanghai mobster Du Yueshang aka Big Ears Du.

May 11, 2009

John Rabe in Nanjing's city of life and death

Bloggers respond to City of Life and Death and John Rabe, two new movies dealing with the Nanjing Massacre.

Erotic manga thriller, featuring Lu Xun


In Dekisugi Taro's adaptation of Lu Xun's famous essay "In Memory of Miss Liu Hezhen," the 22-year-old college student is part of an attempt to assassinate Duan Qirui.

A foreign editor at the Global Times

Danwei speaks to Richard Burger, the blogger behind The Peking Duck and now an editor at the new English-language Global Times newspaper.

Ten years on from NATO bombing a Chinese embassy

Alec Ash at 6 asks a friend of his who's studying at the Foreign Affairs University about the 1999 Belgrade bombing:

3. What might happen now if something similar happened again?

First of all, I think the probability of similar incident is very low at present given the higher recognition of China by the west and broader engagement with the west by China. This is a period of transition, from one that China was criticized on many fronts to one that China is expected to take more responsibility as a "responsible stakeholder". It is vital for China to manage the transitional process by reducing misunderstandings, concerns, or even fears in the west, and it is equally significant for the west to adjust their attitude towards China and "see China in light of its development".

Domestic trade driving China's economy

James Kynge in The Financial Times:

China is going continental. Just as the US during the 19th century underwent a transition from export-oriented growth to a greater reliance on inner dynamism, so China is looking inwards for the engine to drive its economy.

In China's case it is still early days, but evidence suggests the conventional view of an export-dependent, river delta-driven economy no longer matches the reality. The argument here is not that trade has somehow become unimportant to China, but rather that the energy generating the world's fastest economic growth rate this year is increasingly coming from within.

Mexico pulls out of Shanghai trade fair

The Associated Press reports that Mexico has pulled out of the Shanghai trade fair:

Mexico had been planning to showcase its pork products at the Shanghai fair, and China's withdrawal of its guest of honor status fed a growing sense of grievance at anti-flu measures aimed at the Latin American nation, especially flight bans, quarantines and trade bans against its pork products.

Civil society starts from within the rubble

Peter Ford of The Christian Science Monitor writes about NGOs in light of the earthquake's one year anniversary:

"You have to be strategic in highlighting sensitive issues without irritating government officials," explains Wen Bo, a rising young environmental activist. "If you are seen as a troublemaker ... they will shut your mouth and shut you down," he warns. "NGOs working to improve Chinese society should not work as if they are in the United States."

Chengdu reports swine flu H1N1 case

From The China Daily:

The Chinese mainland reported its first suspected case of A(H1N1) Sunday and health authorities quarantined seven people who flew in from North America, raising fears of a possible outbreak.

A 30-year-old man surnamed Bao has tested positive for the H1N1 virus in Sichuan province but the Ministry of Health (MOH) has not confirmed the case. That may be because MOH is conducting further tests, an expert said.

Bao flew from St Louis in the US to Tokyo on Friday. He landed in Beijing from Tokyo on flight number NW029 on Saturday, and took the U8882 flight to Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province, the same day.

Hunan youth Tan Zhuo killed by Hangzhou race car

Since the incident on May 7th, the killing of Tan Zhuo in Hangzhou has been all over the Internet. From Hecaitou's blog (via ESWN):

Citizens of Hangzhou went to the scene to pay tribute to Tan Zhuo. Clearly, they are unhappy with the car racing that has been going on in this city. For them, the matter is not just pity for a deceased young man. His death symbolizes a certain chronic illness that threatens the lives of everybody in this city. Tan Zhuo is dead, and he could be any citizen. Everybody can face his fate - to walk in your own city, get hit by a young car racer, tossed into the air, spun around, dropped into the ground and then be dead.

There is also a summary on chinaSMACK and in Chinese, on 70km.