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August 15, 2009

The loneliest grave on earth

Michael Rank in Asia Times:

There can be no lonelier grave anywhere on Earth. Amid fields close to the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, lie the remains of Flight Lieutenant Desmond Hinton, a British fighter pilot who flew for the United States Air Force as a member of United Nations forces in the Korean War.

August 14, 2009

China Newsweek reporting from Urumqi

An interview with China Newsweek journalists Wang Gang and Wang Jing about the magazine's reporting on the Urumqi riots.

Chinese media on the Rio Tinto case


Iacob Koch-Weser rounds up some Chinese media reactions to the arrests of four Rio Tinto employees for industrial espionage. Does Australia have it in for the PRC?

Naked Yunnan girl looks for mother

ESWN translates from Southern Weekly the plight of a girl trying to get noticed by posting some nude pictures of herself:

Peng Chunping liked to start her memory from the year 2003, when her aunt received a call from her mother Zhumadian in Henan to ask for help after being kidnapped. It was that year that she left her sister and the village behind in order to locate her mother. Her sole motivation in life became petitioning.

Nobody can clearly describe the shock and impact of this petition journey for this strong but helpless girl. She has not talked about the details either. Two years later, Peng Chunping returned to the village to obtain her identification card. She found to her surprise that her household registration, her land and even part of her house had been taken away. This would turn her to turn the entire village into her enemies.

The village party secretary explained; "Who is going to allow a plot of land to remain fallow?" But Peng Chunping thinks that the village cadres and residents were bullying the widow and her two orphans. If she did not fight back, she would be living in a permanent state of oppression.

Green Dam "absolutely not" compulsory

By Aaron Beck in The Wall Street Journal:

China's industry and technology minister said the government will "absolutely not" force the mass installation of Internet-filtering software on personal computers, in Beijing's clearest climb-down to date on the software, which has aroused concerns over Internet users' freedom in China.

Xinhua has also reported the story.

Culinary nostalgia in Shanghai

At MCLC, Jin Feng reviews Mark Swislocki's Culinary Nostalgia: Regional Food Culture and the Urban Experience in Shanghai:

Part of Swislocki's discursive analysis distinguishes between two discourses on regional food culture in Shanghai: "one centered on local specialty foodstuffs, and a second on regional restaurants," and examines a variety of written sources such as local gazetteers (fangzhi), guidebooks, directories, journal articles, and literary representations (12). Arranging his discussion chronologically through five chapters, he then delineates the embodiment and enactment of "culinary nostalgia" in Shanghai at several crucial junctures of the city's history.

Examining the WTO decision

Stan Abrams at China Hearsay unpacks the WTO decision on China's book, film, and music imports in a three-part series of posts:

Will China appeal? I have no idea, but if it was me, I wouldn’t bother for most of the issues. China basically shot its legal wad with respect to several of these issues with the “public morals” defense, and they lost. The restrictions against foreign companies are obviously there, and if they have no excuse as to why they need those policies, then that is discriminatory.

One statement that came out today from the Chinese government simply said that the market for foreign products in this area is unimpeded by restrictions. Weak.

That’s not the point. The central issues here related to the ability of foreign companies to access the market directly. Sure, a movie studio can sell here via China Film Group, so technically they can access the market. But that isn’t going to cut it anymore.

See also: Part I, Part II (Content Review Provisions).

InMusic Festival review

China Music Radar reviews a music festival staged in Zhangbei recently by InMusic magazine:

Overall, we must commend the organizers for pulling it off in a decent, if far from perfect, fashion. They should certainly be a bit more humble post-event than the accolades of amazingness that they are currently giving themselves on their Sina microsite (there were not 100,000 people there; maybe 5-6000 per day) And sure, the critics are right in that the restroom facilities were miles away, the food selection was minimal (the pizza quite tasty though) and the site a dirty dustbowl rather than a romantic grassland but hey, this is a first festival effort on their part and they got a lot of it right. Despite the complaints we hear coming from the bands about how they were treated – the music was the highlight. It shone, the bands shone and that it the reason for a music festival in the first place.

August 13, 2009

Petitioner rapist turns himself in

China Daily reports on the rape by a "guard" that occurred at the Juyuan hotel:

A receptionist from the Juyuan Hotel told China Daily yesterday that Xu Jian, the rape suspect, checked out of the hotel about a week ago after staying there for more than three months.

She added that she was not sure if Xu is a "guard," but "guards" were often stationed at the hotel to control the movements of the people who came to Beijing to petition.

The hotel manager, surnamed Liu, told China Daily yesterday that all petitioners left the hotel after the rape incident, but he didn't deny that the hotel often housed petitioners.

India will not build road connecting Assam State with Yunnan

From GoKunming.com:

The decision follows a continuing impasse regarding the long-disputed border shared by China and India. Recent talks between the two countries ended with no resolution of border issues and a promise to talk more in the future.

The Stilwell Road is a former World War II supply route built in 1944 under the supervision of US General 'Vinegar' Joe Stilwell. The 1,700-kilometer (1,000-mile) road once connected Kunming with the city of Ledo in Assam state, with most of the road passing through northern Myanmar's Kachin state.

WTO rules against import restrictions on books and other media

The Washington Post reports on a WTO ruling in response to a US complaint that China was unfairly restricting the import of books, movies, and recordings:

The WTO ruling said China's regulations, which largely channel distribution of foreign audio-visual material through state-owned companies, were inconsistent with its pledges on entering the WTO in 2001 and with the 1994 General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. It said the WTO should therefore order China "to bring the relevant measures into conformity with its obligations under those agreements."
China or the United States could appeal the ruling. If China does not comply with the distribution ruling, the United States would have to go back to the WTO before it could retaliate, a process that can take years.

Both the Post and a similar article in the New York Times note that Chinese consumers may not see much of an actual difference because widespread piracy already allows them to access many of the products whose legal import is restricted.

No 'Grandpa Ma' for Taiwan president

The New York Times reports from Taiwan on the aftermath of typhoon Morakot:

If President Ma Ying-jeou thought he might be treated presidentially on Wednesday as he toured a center for survivors of last weekend’s typhoon he was mistaken.

The moment he stepped onto a soccer field that had been doubling as a landing pad for rescue helicopters, Mr. Ma was besieged by angry villagers who accused his administration of moving too slowly to help those still trapped in the mountains near here. As they hurled accusations at him, the skies opened and Mr. Ma quickly became drenched to the skin, all of it captured live on television.

August 12, 2009

11 detained in Chengdu

The Guardian's Tania Branigan reports on the detainment of Ai Weiwei and others in Chengdu, during the trial of an activist campaigning of behalf of dead students:

i, who has led a group of volunteers attempting to list the names of all the students who died, said Tan's lawyer had asked him to give evidence about the deaths and poor building work. When the court barred him from appearing as a witness, he decided to watch the trial anyway, along with 10 volunteers.

Speaking from his hotel, he said: "I wanted to show my support for Mr Tan. I feel nowadays less and less people stand up for truth and justice [and] it is hurting the truth and dignity of the law.

Financial crisis complacency in China

Arthur Kroeber pours cold water on the 'China beat the financial crisis' crowd in The Financial Times:

“China’s spirit”, opined the People’s Daily in a recent editorial, is a “Great Wall” built to ward off global crisis.

In purple prose heralding China’s recent heroic successes, the editorial extols the Communist Party for leading China back from the global economic abyss after the country recorded 7.9 per cent growth in the second quarter of this year...

...The nauseating tone of the editorial reminds us of a famous quotation by the Roman historian Livy, explaining why the Carthaginian commander Hannibal failed to destroy the Roman Empire.

Heavy metal warfare

Caijing magazine reports on heavy metal pollution in Hunan's Xiang River:

Between 2002 and 2007, Sanshiliuwan district of Linwu County in northern Chenzhou, saw an illegal mining boom. On a patch of hilly land of about 10 square kilometers, several hundred mines and more than 60 scouring plants opened business, often under the sponsorship of corrupt officials. They poured waste and sewage heavily contaminated by heavy metals into the river.

Qingshuitang, another heavy polluter on the upper fork of the Xiang River, is 30 km from the source of drinking water for the city of Xiangtan, and 100 km above Changsha further downstream.

Some 108,440 cubic meters of heavy-metal-tainted tailings and mud are now estimated to lie in the waterbed of the Sanshiliuwan section, including 95 tons of cadmium, 297 tons of lead, two tons of mercury and 160 tons of arsenic.

Floods of Yanks?

Danwei received email from two old China hand journalists yesterday regarding the New York Times story linked here:

Wise Hack A:

Here's one of those great stories that the ever lazy hack pack recycle every so often - floods of Yanks coming to China for jobs.

No evidence whatsoever for this but it gets churned out again every couple of years I note.

Wise Hack B:

Please please mention the NYT "no Mandarin required" article and what
an absolute crock of shit it is. Thanks.

Stan Abrams at China Hearsay concurs:

Sorry, that is some real skewed bullshit writing there.

Rio Tinto executive and employees formally charged

Xinhua announced the formal arrest of an Australian citizen and three Chinese citizens over trade secrets infringement and bribery:

Prosecutors have approved the arrest of four employees of the Anglo-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto Ltd. on charges of trade secrets infringement and bribery, according to a statement of China's Supreme People's Procuratorate late Tuesday.

Preliminary investigations have showed that the four employees, Stern Hu, Liu Caikui, Ge Minqiang and Wang Yong, had obtained commercial secrets of China's steel and iron industry through improper means, which had violated the country's Criminal Law, according to the statement.

The New York Times, Forbes and Bloomberg have followed to report on this.

Anti-Chinese sentiment in the DPRK

Adam Cathcart examines the anti-Chinese sentiment in Kim Il-Sung's Works:

Yet there is an intensive strain of anti-Chinese thought running through Kim’s Works, and indeed in North Korean culture. We see it in everything from Kim’s instructions on historical research of the Koguryo period to his recollections of wicked Chinese landlords/warlords of the colonial period. And he recalls obliquely how the Chinese Communist Party readily sold him and his comrades out in the early 1930s with the sanguine traumas of the Minsaengdan incident. Ergo, the fact that North Korea desperately needs Chinese aid today and remains in mutually supportive treaty arrangements with the PRC does not preclude the growth of anti-Chinese sentiment in the DPRK. And the existing criticisms of China in the DPRK’s canonical documents ranging from Kim’s Works to the novels of Han Sorya to children’s books published in Pyongyang could easily be augmented: Chinese as greedy capitalist landlords, and (though this last is much more subtle and implied) the perfidy of the Chinese Communist Party.

August 11, 2009

What the Amoiist did in jail

Peter Guo, who blogs at the Amoiist, describes the circumstances surrounding his detention for making posts alleging police involvement in a rape-murder scandal. He explains how he was able to use his Internet-capable phone (police thought it was a basic MP4 player), and the role that Twitter played in getting the word out:

It was about 5:00am of July 16 and they had interrogated for several hours, so the police were quite tired. The police sitting opposite me felt asleep and the other one sitting behind me played games on computer so engrossed that he was unable to pay attention on me. I quickly and quietly took my phone and sent messages announcing that I had been arrested by Mawei police to Twitter in English via a twitter's mobile web interface. The messages were quickly translated back to Chinese and crazily retweeted by users, and this drive also attracted international attention. With a certain popularity in Chinese blogger sphere and Twitter, the news that I was detained was quickly spread to everywhere on the Internet. Interestingly, I also had enough time to read paragraphs of an e-book with my phone until a police realized that the phone was in my hands. He grabbed the phone from my hands, but it was useless, too late.

Dueling Uighur documentaries at a
New Zealand TV station

The Chinese embassy in New Zealand has submitted a film about the Urumqi riots to Maori TV, the New Zealand Herald reports:

Maori TV is to screen 10 Conditions of Love, an Australian film about the struggle of Muslim Uighur people in Xinjiang, the scene of recent ethnic riots, and their figurehead, Rebiya Kadeer.

Beijing, however, has produced its own documentary, Xinjiang Urumqi July 5 Riot: Truth and has asked Maori TV to screen it instead.

In the Chinese-produced film, Kadeer is branded a terrorist and accused of instigating and orchestrating the ethnic riots in the northwestern Xinjiang region last month that left at least 197 people dead.

In an amusing report on the festival screening in Australia, Xinhua gave a thumbs-down rating to the Rebiya Kadeer documentary, calling it "dull" and quoting audience members who called it "poorly-shot." And there's this bit of objective reporting from the Q&A session afterward:

A man from the audience who called himself David challenged Kadeer's assertion that she is an advocate of non-violence.

"I have stayed in China for three years... Personally I think China's ethnic policies do create opportunities for the people of all ethnic minorities in China," David said, adding that Kadeer was herself one of the beneficiaries.

He noted that the casualties of Han Chinese in the July 5 riot were much higher than those of Uygurs. How come the Chinese government suppressed ethnic minorities?

The question left Kadeer and the director speechless with embarrassment. After all, lies will collapse of themselves.

August 10, 2009

Another mysterious Kunming death

Chris at Gokunming.com reports:

A man being held in detention in Kunming died in a hospital on Saturday with no clear cause of death, according to a Xinhua report.

According to a police spokesperson speaking to reporters on Sunday, 43-year-old Wang Shukun (王树坤) had been held in the Guandu District Detention Center since July 19 before being checked into a hospital by police on August 6. After undergoing emergency procedures to save his life, Wang died early Saturday, the spokesperson said.

A million in China evacuate ahead of Typhoon

From the New York Times:

Typhoon Morakot slammed into the east coast of China on Sunday, packing winds up to 111 miles an hour, destroying hundreds of homes and forcing one million people to flee.

A 4-year-old child was reported dead in Wenzhou, a city of nearly 1.4 million in Zhejiang Province, where officials said the storm had leveled more than 300 homes. The child was among five people buried when the winds collapsed five adjacent houses.

Out of the shadows

For RealTime Dan Edwards visits photographers Rong Rong and Inri at their Three Shadows Gallery and ponders about photographic art in China.

Gulou hutong histories 2009

Movingcities.org has put up a blog series on the demolishing of hutongs around the Gulou area to make way for the new Subway lines:

During the past month a large area (approximately 250 by 250 meter) south of the Gulou Dajie subway station has been gradually demolished. Right around the corner from where we live, the city is disappearing. Reason for the destruction is the extension of Line8 subway line, known as the Olympic Branch Line, in Southern direction.

The online market flourishes in China

New York Times runs a piece about China's online commerce portals, Taobao and Alibaba. David Barboza reports.

Internet analysts say this booming marketplace — reminiscent of the early days of eBay, when Americans started emptying their attics for online auctions — has turned Taobao into China’s newest Internet darling.

Though just six years old, Taobao (Chinese for “to search for treasure”) already has 120 million registered users and 300 million product listings. Its merchants produced nearly $15 billion in sales last year.

China diverts 'bomb threat' plane

A plane heading from Kabul to Urumqi was refused landing yesterday. Later on Sunday evening the plane landed in Kandahar, southern Afghanistan, en route to returning to Kabul. Al Jazeera reports:

An aeroplane bound for the capital of China's western Xinjiang province has been diverted back to Afghanistan following a reported bomb threat on board the aircraft.

China's official Xinhua news agency on Sunday reported that the aircraft had received a bomb threat, but later reports said the aeroplane had been diverted simply because it lacked the necessary documents.