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November 29, 2010

More opportunities and more pitfalls for women in China

Didi Kirsten Tatlow reports for the New York Times.

Step up supervision for cosmetology

China Daily reports on tightening regulations on plastic surgery after two people died from it:

The Ministry of Health on Saturday called on health authorities nationwide to step up supervision of the country's medical cosmetology industry following the death of two people during cosmetic procedures.

Judicial review: Tougher crackdown on hacking

China Daily reports:

China's top law enforcement and judicial authorities are working together on drafting a judicial interpretation to enable a tougher crackdown on Internet hacking, a senior police officer said.

Gu Jian, deputy head of the network security bureau under the Ministry of Public Security, said the ministry is working with the Supreme People's Court and Supreme People's Procuratorate to draft the legal document clarifying the conviction and penalty for hacking.

"China has become the main victim of Internet hacking amid a growing number of transnational cyber crimes", he told China Daily in an interview.

November 28, 2010

Yiwu in Sweden

At Behind the Wall, Adrienne Mong looks at the documentary The Chinese Are Coming to Town by Ronja Yu:

Yu’s easy access is clearly evident in the documentary, which captures some priceless moments illustrating the pitfalls when cultures clash in the relentless march towards globalization.

They include the arrival of that first group of thirty-odd Chinese laborers and four huge rice cookers (all the better and cheaper to feed them); the local authority’s attempts to enforce Sweden’s strict labor safety standards at the building site (one Chinese worker, in response to demands that they wear work boots lest they step on rusty nails, chortles, “Nails? We have all have eyes!”); and the bored expression on the faces of a Swedish delegation watching Chinese go-go girls at an Yiwu exposition.

The challenges of trying to build a project this size at Chinese speed prove to be too great. As a Chinese colleague of Luo observes at the beginning of the film, Sweden’s rule are rather strict, and it’s impossible him to work around them.

November 26, 2010

Mourning the victims of the Shanghai fire

shanghai fire mourning icon.jpg

The aftermath of the Shanghai high rise fire: Newspaper front pages, satirical Internet art and the mourning march organized by citizens and tolerated by the government.

BBC: Beijing Bookworm is one of "world's greatest bookshops"

Beijing's Bookworm has made it onto the BBC's list of the world's greatest bookshops:

The Bookworm does everything a good bookshop should do - which is a lot more than sell books. The Beijing mothership, which has spawned branches in Suzhou and Chengdu, has played a huge role in promoting both local and foreign literature...

November 25, 2010

Shanghai fire: Shanghainese "more valuable" than coal miners?

Josh China and Juliet Ye in The Wall Street Journal:

Controversy over a deadly fire that consumed an apartment tower in Shanghai last week has reignited, this time over the issue of compensation.

Shanghai authorities announced earlier this week that the families of the 58 killed in the blaze would each receive 960,000 yuan, or roughly $144,000, including a one-time accidental-death payment of 650,000 yuan.

How did they come up with 960,000?” wrote one reader on the Phoenix News website. “Why is it coal miners don’t get that much?”

Key diplomat in China-U.S. rapprochement Huang Hua dies

David Barboza in The New York Times:

Huang Hua, a Communist Party revolutionary who was China’s foreign minister during the 1970s and early 1980s and helped China restore diplomatic relations with the United States, died Wednesday in Beijing. He was 97.

The Ayi Jihu hoax

China Music Radar:

The BBC, Sky News, the Daily Mail, the Sun and other such luminaries have all written that Ayi Jihu has become one of China’s biggest new stars, routinely topping lists of sexiest Chinese women and her music has become phenomenally popular in the lucrative mobile phone download market with young people in China...

...Our conclusion: a cynical attempt by a PR company and record executives to try and fool the Western market into believing that this feel good story is actually a true one (and in the process make lots of money out of it). Watch the BBC video and it seems that she is pretty complicit in the scam.

"Crazy bad" air quality explained

Live from Beijing is a blog by an "an American engineer who works on clean transportation for China". He has taken a look at the air quality numbers from last week pollution nightmare that the U.S. Embassy's Beijing Air Twitter feed called "crazy bad".

The searchers

Austin Ramzy writes about the stolen children of China from Shanghai:

Zhou was repeatedly told by his new family, a large farming clan in Fujian, that his life would have been much worse had he never been sold to them. During his first several years in his new home, that seemed hardly the case. While the family was relatively prosperous by local standards, Zhou says he was given less food than the others, and he had to do more work around the farm to earn his keep. He constantly fought with his new parents, and would escape several times a year in hopes of returning home. But he had no idea where home was.

Shanghai pollution index rockets

The China Daily reports:

China's largest metropolis has suffered from high levels of pollution since early November, with pollution index figures far higher than those recorded during the six months of the World Expo.

As of Wednesday, the city has witnessed its air pollution index passing 100 for eight days this month, the worst readings in the past five years.

China's environmental standards rate a reading below 50 as "excellent", from 50 to 100 as "good" and above 100 as "polluted".

Plastic surgery kills '05 Super Girl contestant

From the China Daily:

A 24-year-old female singer died early last week when she was having plastic surgery in central China's Hubei Province, local authorities confirmed Wednesday, as postings about her death drew extensive attention from Internet users.

Wang Bei, once a contestant in the popular talent show Super Girl, died on Nov 15 in an anesthetic accident during plastic surgery, said a spokesman for the health bureau of Jiang'an District, Wuhan City, capital of Hubei.

November 24, 2010

SARFT moves to stop pirated TV

The China Daily explains why you're no longer able to get your America's Next Top Model fix from Youku.

Setting the wrecking ball loose

Shanghai Scrap details how the Carmelite Convent, a registered historical building, was demolished for redevelopment and then rebuilt on the same site at a slightly smaller scale.

Rare earth shipments to Japan resume

The BBC reports that the situation has returned to normal after exports were halted following the ship collision near disputed islands:

China has begun exporting rare earths to Japan after a two-month suspension due to a territorial row.

Japan's trade minister confirmed that shipments of the minerals, vital for making a number of hi-tech products, started this week.

November 23, 2010

Coal miners rescued

Xinhua reports on the rescue of 29 trapped miners in Sichuan:

Twenty-nine miners trapped in a flooded coal mine in southwest China's Sichuan Province for 25 hours were successfully rescued Monday.

Water inundated the Batian Coal Mine in Weiyuan County at 11 a.m. Sunday when 35 miners were working underground. Thirteen of the miners managed to escape by themselves while 22 were trapped.

After the flooding, deputy mine manager Cheng Ronghui and the general foreman Zhang Hongliang led a team of seven into the mine in an attempt to rescue the remaining 22 miners. However, the rescue mission failed and they themselves became trapped.

Coal miners shot

Xinhua reports on a blast at a coal mine in Yunnan that killed nine:

A shed of Xiaosongdi Coal Mine exploded after explosives in it were detonated at 9 am last Thursday when Zheng Chunyun, boss of nearby Yuejing Coal Mine, arrived with more than 80 people armed with knives and steel bars.

Nine people were killed and 48 others injured in the incident, most of them were with Zheng.

"Autopsies show some of them were gunned down before the blast," said Lu Qingwei, head of the public security of Luxi County, where the mine is located.

Worker discontent at Chinese-run coal mine in Zambia

Barry Bearak in The New York Times:

Hundreds of angry coal miners pushed toward the locked gate at Shaft 3, shouting and cursing as they neared the mine’s Chinese managers, who understood neither the English nor the Tonga words of the mob. As the workers butted up against the fence, the bosses grew more fearful and finally two fired their shotguns.

The Zambian miners scrambled in terror. Bodies pivoted, jounced and stumbled. Boston Munakazela did not know he was hit until he suddenly fell over and saw the blood on his chest and arms.

Carrying coal to China

Elisabeth Rosenthal in The New York Times:

Even as developed countries close or limit the construction of coal-fired power plants out of concern over pollution and climate-warming emissions, coal has found a rapidly expanding market elsewhere: Asia, particularly China.

At ports in Canada, Australia, Indonesia, Colombia and South Africa, ships are lining up to load coal for furnaces in China, which has evolved virtually overnight from a coal exporter to one of the world’s leading purchasers.

The United States now ships coal to China via Canada, but coal companies are scouting for new loading ports in Washington State.

November 22, 2010

Mourning the Shanghai fire

Newspapers, websites and netizens commemorate the victims of the deadly high rise fire i Shanghai on November 15, 2010.

November 20, 2010

China tells Niall Ferguson: "We are the masters now"

Historian Niall Ferguson, an old-fashioned Englishman not easily impressed by uppity orientals, writing in The Wall Street Journal:

"We are the masters now." I wonder if President Barack Obama saw those words in the thought bubble over the head of his Chinese counterpart, Hu Jintao, at the G20 summit in Seoul last week...

...Maybe Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner also heard "We are the masters now" as the Chinese shot down his proposal for capping imbalances in global current accounts...

..."We are the masters now." That was certainly the refrain that I kept hearing in my head when I was in China two weeks ago. It wasn't so much the glitzy, Olympic-quality party I attended in the Tai Miao Temple, next to the Forbidden City, that made this impression. The displays of bell ringing, martial arts and all-girl drumming are the kind of thing that Western visitors expect. It was the understated but unmistakable self-confidence of the economists I met that told me something had changed in relations between China and the West.

November 19, 2010

The LEGO Beijing Olympics

From bored-bored.com:

A team of LEGO make this LEGO models of the buildings which are built for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. This models represent the Birds Nest stadium, WaterCube - the National Swimming Center and Olympic Village. This model really looks cool and amazing, once again great creation from LEGO.

Beijing's weirdest restaurants

Tom O'Mally at CNNGo.com:

...Always stuck in second gear? Seek out this eerily precise replica of TV show "Friends’" Central Perk for big cups of Joe, chocolate muffins, hot dogs and endless re-runs. A giddy student crowd fights over the famous couch, and takes turns strumming “Smelly Cat” on guitar. Fanatical owner Du Xin confesses to studying “millions of pictures online to get it right.” Yes, he dresses like Gunther.

A year of hard labor for a tweet

Andrew Jacobs in The New York Times:

A Chinese woman was sentenced to one year in a labor camp on Wednesday after she forwarded a satirical microblog message that urged recipients to attack the Japanese Pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo, human rights groups said Thursday.

The woman, Cheng Jianping, 46, was accused of “disturbing social order” for resending a Twitter message from her fiancé that mocked young nationalists who held anti-Japanese rallies

November 18, 2010

China and the sleeping South African media

Writing on The Daily Maverick, a rant about the lack of South African media coverage about Xi Jinping's just concluded visit to that country, by Danwei's Jeremy Goldkorn.

McDonald raises menu prices

From Routers:

McDonald’s has raised menu prices in mainland China by 0.5 yuan to 1 yuan per item with immediate effect because of rising materials costs as the country grapples with accelerating food inflation.

Soros: China uses currency to transfer wealth to its government

From Wall Street Journal:

…China’s undervalued currency is also at the core of the effectiveness of its government because it enables the government to essentially transfer wealth from those earning it to the government in the form of its roughly $2.4 trillion in foreign exchange reserves, he said. ‘It makes for a powerful government in China,’ he said. The Chinese government has more policy options than the U.S. because it has a substantial trade surplus, he said.

Piping sea water to the deserts of Xinjiang

water bohai xinjiang.jpg

The endless ambitions of Chinese engineers: Media reports on a proposal to pipe sea water from the Bohai Sea to Xinjiang to make the desert bloom.

50 million registered users on Sina Weibo

China Web Radar attended Sina's Weibo microblogging developer conference, and came back with some numbers from Sina, including the following:

By October 20, 2010, just 14 month after its beta launch on August 28, 2009, Sina Weibo has reached 50 million registered users, and over 25 million updates (tweets) published every day. So far, over 2 billion tweets have been published on Sina Weibo platform.

The secret struggle of sex-starved seniors

The Global Times reports on the sexual issues of China's senior citizens.

The soaring cost of food in China

David Pierson in the Los Angeles Times:

Already worried about runaway real estate prices that have shut millions out of the housing market, China's leaders are grappling with yet another threat to social stability: the soaring price of food.

The nation's State Council on Wednesday announced that it would move to stabilize prices by cracking down on speculators and boosting supplies of some staples from government stockpiles.

After Foxconn: China's new labor and manufacturing landscape?

In the Financial Times, Foxconn’s milestone for a rising China price, David Pilling examines "before and after Foxconn", seeing the giant electronics manufacturer as an indicator of China's future, where labor isn't so cheap and Chinese companies start moving inland and even sourcing manufactures from other, cheaper countries.

Li Gang and the limits of censorship

Michael Wines in The New York Times on the Li Gang case:

[P]arty propaganda officials moved swiftly after the accident to ensure that the story never gained traction.

Curiously, however, the opposite has happened. A month after the accident, much of China knows the story, and “My father is Li Gang” has become a bitter inside joke, a national catchphrase for shirking any responsibility — washing the dishes, being faithful to a girlfriend — with impunity. Even the government’s heavy-handed effort to control the story has become the object of scorn among younger, savvier Chinese.

Getting divorced to buy a second house

On Patrick Chovanec's blog:

The other day, I was talking with a part-time maid we had hired to help us settle in to our new apartment after relocating within Beijing. She had told us, when we hired her, that she was divorced. Now that she had gotten to know us, however, she informed me — matter of factly — that while she was, in fact, officially divorced, she still lived happily with her husband and daughter as a family. Seeing the quizzical look on my face, she reassured me that the only reason they had gotten a divorce — a mere legal technicality — was so they could circumvent the one-home-per-family restriction and qualify to buy a second home in Beijing.

At first I figured her case must be an outlier, an exception. It turns out the practice is far more common than I imagined.

November 17, 2010

Will China's rise be peaceful?

by Martin Wolf:

So how might this end? I envisage three possible outcomes.

First, the “positive sum” view wins out. Awareness of the absence of any deep ideological conflict, of mutual economic dependence, of a shared planetary destiny and of the impossibility of war in a nuclear age force adequate levels of global co-operation. For this to happen there must also be a profound commitment to co-operation, not much evident recently in such areas as climate change or global imbalances.

Confucius Peace Prize, China's answer to Nobel Peace Prize?

From Global Times:

In fact, this is a good opportunity and China's civil society should consider setting up a "Confucius Peace Prize," launching the evaluation and selection and finding the real Peace Prize winners from all over the world.

This is the best opportunity for the Chinese to declare China's view in peace and human rights to the world.

November 16, 2010

Why does China have so few successful youth orchestras?

From Guardian:

But pianos and violins don't make an orchestra, and there are constant comments about the unevenness of provision, China having often failed to achieve the balanced youth orchestras one might expect from such a vast pool of talent. There is nothing in China to match the Venezuelan orchestral revolution. That would require a massive act of social will such as Venezuela made, to empower students to work in orchestras and perfect their skills communally. It could yet happen, but it would require a seismic shift.

Beijing-Shanghai high speed rail track complete

The China Daily, reporting from the wonderfully named city of Bengbu in Anhui Province:

Track-laying work for the long-anticipated Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway stood complete when Railways Minister Liu Zhijun tightened the line's last bolt on a windy Monday morning.

"The project has entered its last stage," Lu Chunfang, vice-minister of railways, said at a ceremony to celebrate the latest success in the city of Bengbu, situated in the center of the railway line.

Since the project kicked off on April 18, 2008, some 135,000 workers have toiled hard to lay 1,318 km of high-quality tracks.

In the next few months, workers will race against time to install the railway's power supply, communications and signal systems, and carry out operation trials to test the line and trains to ensure the railway can open to traffic next year, Wang Yongping, spokesman of the Ministry of Railways, said.

China begins damming Brahmaputra river

Ananth Krishnan in The Hindu:

China has started damming the middle reaches of the Brahmaputra river, or the Yarlung Tsangpo as it is known in Tibet, to begin construction on a 510 MW hydropower project that has raised concerns in India.

The government for the first time revealed that it has, since November 8, begun damming the Tsangpo's flow to allow work to begin on the hydropower project at Zangmu. This is the first major dam on the Brahmaputra and has been billed by the Chinese government as a landmark hydropower generation project for Tibet's development...

...The Indian government has raised concerns about the possible downstream impact of this project during talks with China earlier this year.

China loses $600 million on Saudi monorail

In The Sydney Morning Herald, John Garnaut looks at the 18-kilometer monorail linking Mecca to the Muslim holy sites of Mina and Mount Arafat, a gift from China to Saudi Arabia that cost China Railway Construction Corporation $US600 million, a gift they could not refuse to give.

Get ready for traffic jams in the sky

In The China Daily:

Government approval of plans to open part of its low-altitude airspace to the general aviation industry may unleash pent-up demand for private air services and create a market worth more than one trillion yuan ($150 billion), experts said.

A circular jointly issued on Sunday by the State Council and the Central Military Commission said China will gradually open part of its low-altitude airspace - altitudes lower than 1,000 meters - for private flights to promote the country's general aviation sector, or the use of aircraft for purposes other than those of airlines, the military and the police.

How much your 100 yuan has shrunk in one year

How bad is the inflation? Netease gives you a sense of how much your money has shrunk with a series of photos. See how many goodies that your 100 yuan could no longer buy: 30 apples, four and half instant noodles, six kilogram of garlic and etc.

53 killed in Shanghai highrise inferno


The death toll of a big fire that engulfed a high-rise building in downtown Shanghai had risen to 53 by 9:20 a.m. Tuesday, local authorities said.

More than 70 people injured in the inferno are being hospitalized.

The 28-story building at the intersection of Jiaozhou Road and Yuyao Road in Jing'an District, a densely-populated area in Shanghai, was being renovated when it caught fire at about 2:15 p.m. Monday.

November 15, 2010

Social-media bullying forced celebrity to stop microblogging

From Asianpopular:

Compared to all the people who have lost their lives due to the fearsome power of rumours, my retirement from micro-blogging is just a small protest against this ridiculous ‘collective public trial’, Hsu told reporters, vowing not to update her micro-blog again.

Man spent 12 years enslaved in Yunnan brick yard

From GoKunming:

The story begins in 1998 in a hamlet in Jurong City in China's eastern Jiangsu province where Yuan, 28 years old and still unmarried, was employed as a security guard. There he was acquainted with a woman married into a local family who was originally from Yunnan.

Japan and China stop sulking

The China Daily

Top Chinese and Japanese diplomats on Sunday vowed to adopt concrete measures to improve bilateral relations one day after an eye-catching meeting between senior leaders of the two neighbors.

Hopes for a diplomatic thaw were raised since a territorial spat escalated in September and strained bilateral ties, but analysts note that there remains no immediate solution to the disputes despite the meetings.

Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and his Japanese counterpart Seiji Maehara met on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit as they accompanied state leaders for the regional conference.

French bank targets Chinese business in Africa

By Scheherazade Daneshkhu in The Financial Times:

Africa is becoming a route to China for Société Générale as the French bank targets Chinese companies doing business in the mineral-rich continent as part of its African expansion strategy.

Bernardo Sanchez Incera, SocGen’s deputy chief executive in charge of international consumer banking, said the group’s expansion in China has been limited by local restrictions.

But it is able to access part of the explosive growth in Chinese commercial activity in Africa, particularly in the sub-Sahara...

November 12, 2010

Is a rising China Japan's setting sun?

A pair of Japanese twin sisters' separate lives mirror the power shift that is the economic story in Asia. From CNN:

Her current job in Beijing, she says, is challenging, rewarding and interesting. Her new country, says Fukuko, is where her future lies.

"You can feel a lot of optimistic, energetic (feelings) here. People are so optimistic. It's really, really powerful because everyone knows that the economy is doing really well. Japan's the opposite. It's sort of going down."

Gome Electrical in truce with jailed founder Huang Guangyu

In The Financial Times:

Shares in Gome Electrical Appliances, one of China’s biggest retailers, soared after the group announced a ceasefire in the battle between its US private equity investors and chairman and its jailed billionaire founder.

Gome rose 19 per cent to HK$3.24 in Hong Kong on Thursday after the company said it had reached an agreement with Huang Guangyu, its founder, who is serving a 14-year sentence for bribery and insider trading.

Mr Huang’s sister and lawyer will join Gome’s board of directors in a deal that the founder, once China’s richest man, apparently negotiated from behind bars.

British PM's speech at Beida

A transcript of speech given by British Prime Minister David Cameron at the Beida University in China on 9 November 2010.

Baidu, a history

Businessweek has published a profile of Baidu and CEO Robin Li.

Brad Stone and Bruce Einhorn tells Li and his company's story starting from the shy Chinese engineer's days "as a Silicon Valley cubicle jockey earning around $45,000 a year at Infoseek, a forgotten portal from the Web's past" to his current position at number two on the Forbes rich list with a fortune of USD7.2 billion.

Can Chinese companies buy American media?

On ChinaBeat, Ron Javers looks at Southern Weekly's rejected bid to buy Newsweek and how Chinese companies may fare as they try to buy media in the U.S.

November 11, 2010

Bohai to Xinjiang

A new proposal to pump seawater from the Bohai Sea and send it through Inner Mongolia to Xinjiang to fight desertification.

Sina, MSN China sign instant messaging deal


Sina Corp, which operates the largest web portal in China, is reported to have entered into a strategic partnership with MSN China, as Qihoo 360 –China’s biggest anti-virus vendor –and Tencent, maker of the country’s most popular instant messaging software QQ are still in the vicious cat-fight...

...Currently, users will be able to access SINA’s websites to download MSN, besides SINA’s own instant tool, the so-called UC.

The collaboration will include SINA’s Twitter-like microblog service, blog and instant messaging as well as portal news services.

Interview with Ma Huateng, CEO of Tencent

The Economic Observer's English website has published a translation of an interview with Ma Huateng, CEO of Tencent, the giant Internet company that has been embroiled in a bitter public spat with 360 (aka Qihoo), another Internet company. Excerpt:

EO: The whole industry is worried that since Tencent is so big, it can force users to drop other products. What will happen when the next software or application company has a similar conflict with Tencent? Would you force users to make a decision again?

Ma Huateng: How can that be? This is an emergency. The truth is that we faced a do-or-die moment for our company. People refuse to believe us, even though we have explained it very clearly. Or they don't understand, either way, it's very upsetting.

Cameron and the chatter about human rights

On Channel 4 News:

David Cameron discussed human rights issue on the last day of his trade delegation in China. China Analyst Paul French looks at whether business has triumphed over ethics - again.

The article is accompanied by Channel 4's news feature on the British Prime Minister's underwhelming visit to Beijing.

November 10, 2010

Southern Weekly interviews Cardinal Sepe

Tim Hathaway translates an interview that Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, former prefect of Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples at the Vatican and Archbishop of Naples, gave to Zhu Youke of Southern Weekly. "This is quite probably the first time a Vatican official has been interviewed by the mainland press since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949."

See also: The Vatican, Immigrants, and Urbanization: “China and the Holy See will find a way to solve it together”.

A review of Tudou's USD 120 million IPO

On PCWorld, a review of Tudou's planned "US$120 million initial public offering on the Nasdaq Stock Market to help sustain operations as it strives to become profitable."

Milk scandal activist jailed for 2.5 years

Zhao Lianhai, whose own child was affected in the 2008 melamine milk scandal, has been jailed. According to the AFP:

Zhao Lianhai, whose own child was one of 300,000 who became sick in the food scare that left at least six babies dead, was convicted by a Beijing court on charges of stirring up public disturbances, attorney Peng Jian told AFP.

See also: Injuring the Injured: The Case of Zhao Lianhai at Dui Hua Human Rights Journal.

China exports jump 23%

From Reuters via The Brisbane Times:

China's exports rose 22.9 per cent in October from a year earlier, and imports increased by 25.3 per cent, the official Xinhua News Agency said today.

November 9, 2010

All the news that's not fit to print

China Digital Times has published their latest digest of "directives from the Ministry of Truth", i.e. "censorship instructions , issued to the media and/or Internet companies by various central (and sometimes local) government authorities".

This weeks list includes directives restricting reporting on, amongst other stories, the following:

- 360 vs Tencent
- The "My father is Li Gang" incident
- Liu Xiaobo
- The vice mayor of Maoming who fooled around with a female reporter
- The relocation and elimination of periodical stands in areas of Nanjing
- The retention or abandonment of World Expo pavilion buildings

Masked man's lawyer asks for Chinese media ban

The strange tale of the Chinese man who wore a spy-movie style full head mask to board a plane from Hong Kong to Vancouver just got a little stranger: According to Canada's Globe and Mail, the would-be refugee's lawyer has

...asked an immigration refugee board hearing to ban Chinese media from the man's refugee proceedings, saying that the Chinese-language publications are subject to government control and could put his client’s safety at risk...

...On Monday at an IRB proceeding, duty counsel Dan McLeod cited articles that described Sing Tao, Ming Pao and World Journal as being under the influence of the Chinese government.

Reporters for the publications were caught off guard by the suggestion their papers should be banned, and told the hearing that they were independent journalists who were not influenced by the Chinese state....

...[The lawyer] cited several stories from the Epoch Times, including one that quoted Ming Pao employees in the New York office as saying that their true boss was “none other than the Chinese consulate and they are obligated to do whatever the consulate asks.”

The article neglects to mention that Epoch Times is a Falungong propaganda organ.

Former News Corp executive launches Asian media venture

From PaidContent.org:

Peter Chernin, who stepped down as News Corp.‘s chief operating officer nearly a year-and-a-half ago, is now launching a new media company based in Asia. The company, called CA Media, will operate initially in China, India and Indonesia and “focus on a broad range of opportunities in content creation (specifically, film and TV production), television networks, sports, education, advertising, and digital media,” according to an announcement.

Obama's hawkish stance on China

On The Daily Beast, Peter Beinart looks at how China became the "most important foreign policy issue in the 2010 midterms" and why Obama has been much more hawkish on China than Bush was.

CCTV ad auction revenues: 12.67 billion yuan

The China Daily:

[State-owned broadcaster CCTV] launched its 17th annual prime-time advertising auction at 8:08 am on Monday, - the number eight stands for fortune in Chinese culture.

The 12-hour auction raised bids totaling 12.67 billion yuan ($1.86 billion), a 15.52 percent increase on last year, said He Haiming, vice-director of CCTV's advertising operation and management center.

"The amount of money sets a new record in 17 years," he said. "The top bidders were from the food and beverage sectors, home appliances as well as finance and security. There was also an increased presence by the auto and tourism industries."

November 8, 2010

Ai Weiwei's river crab banquet

Artist and activist Ai Weiwei was placed under house arrest in Beijing on Friday, apparently to prevent him going to Shanghai to host his "River Crab Banquet" - a party to mourn the demolition of his Shanghai studio. Tessa Thorniley attended and came back with photos, and comments on the event from Ai himself (whom she spoke via telephone) and from a variety of guests.

Red guards apologize

Translated by ESWN, Southern Weekly has a lengthy article on public apologies by several red guards for their role in beating teachers:

During class reunions, Zhang Dazhong and other students felt very bad when they discussed the current situations of their teachers. Among the Red Guards, some of them beat up teachers but others did not. But they have gradually reached a consensus: "We must acknowledge our mistakes even if it means getting down on our knees and kowtowing."

On that day in 2009, Guo Canhui described his mistakes and took three deep bows to teacher Li Huangguo and her family twice. The teacher sat there expressionlessly. In 2001, 70-year-old Li Huangguo was diagnosed with depression and hallucinations. She would look at the window and scream: "Someone is trying to come through the window to launch a criticism session against me."

Dissidents and their activities

From Liu Xiaobo in 1989, to exiled elite in 1991, to a cult leader in 1999, biographies that employ "the man and his deeds" (其人其事) in the title tend to pull back the curtain on the wickedness of the man and the awful deeds he has done.

Bubonic plague in China

Recent research points to China as the origin of Europe's medieval bubonic plagues. Malcolm Moore and Gao Hang reviewed the research and spoke to Dr Yu Dongzheng, director of animal to human infectious diseases at the National Centre for Disease Control about the plague in China.

A Nanjing without news kiosks

Nanjing's city administration authorities have begun a campaign to remove newsstands from major streets. A report, plus microblogged reactions from news vendors.

November 6, 2010

Why CRC took a bath on the Mecca railway

The Economic Observer has an in-depth report on the project, which brought a loss of 4.15 billion RMB to China Railway Construction:

The CRC has said that the Mecca Light Rail is a commercial project and the company will voice the interest of its shareholders.

But the Mecca light railway has been an important concern of leaders from both Saudi Arabia and China. The Ministry of Railways, the Ministry of Commerce and the State-owned Asset Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC) have all given tremendous support to the project. The high executives of CRC have stated many times within the company that the Mecca Light Railway is a “political project” and it has to be constructed with high standards of quality.

The most harmonious general plus Li Gang and more

The new Sinica podcast featuring Will Moss, Jeremy Goldkorn, Gady Epstein, David Moser. For relevant links to source materials, see the post on Imagethief.com.

Police confine Ai Weiwei to his house

Michael Wines in The New York Times:

A phalanx of Beijing police officers confined the prominent artist and activist Ai Weiwei to his north Beijing home on Friday, apparently at the behest of unnamed but powerful political figures in Shanghai who feared that he was about to embarrass them.

They were correct. In telephone interviews this week, Mr. Ai detailed a bizarre and mysterious chain of events in which Shanghai officials first implored him to burnish the city’s cultural credentials by building a million-dollar art studio, then ordered the finished building demolished at the command of anonymous higher-ups.

Mr. Ai had planned to fly to Shanghai on Friday to prepare a Sunday goodbye party at the studio, to be attended by eight rock bands and up to a thousand supporters from around China. But on Thursday night, he said, Beijing police officers came to his home and asked him not to make the trip.

November 5, 2010

Xinjiang White Russians in the United States

Chuck Kraus looks "nearly 150 pages of memos sent back and forth between offices in the State Department concerning the immigration of twenty-four 'White Russians' from Xinjiang."

Books: Han Dong, Laozi, and Bai Yansong

The Economic Observer summarizes its November book review in English.

Who is "Zheng Qingyuan"?

China Media Project looks at recent Chinese speculation about the recent spate of conservative official Party editorials in People’s Daily, with the mysterious byline “Zheng Qingyuan”, probably not a person but a "writing task group".

Coked up bankers of Hong Kong


Are the expatriates who run Hong Kong's financial industry all jumped up on cocaine? Tessa Thorniley reports from the Pearl of Asia.

Journalists from Ghana to train in China

On African Boots:

China is rolling out a training package for Ghanaian journalists, to broaden their horizon on the culture of the Asian giant and sharpen their skills.

CNC global news TV to become "news channel, not propaganda station"?

Elizabeth C. Economy, on the blog of the Council on Foreign Relations:

Just four months after launching their 24-hour global news network, CNC, Chinese media officials are in the midst of a strategic rethink. Selling China “Chinese-style” hasn’t quite worked out. The problem is less about getting the news—CNC has access to 130 news bureaus globally—than it is about getting people to watch. While they haven’t publicized their global viewership, total daily viewers in Hong Kong, China’s most globalized hometown, average only 5,000.

After promising that CNC would provide “international and China news with a Chinese perspective to global audiences,” CNC President Wu Jincai has changed his tune. He has decided that CNC needs to rid itself of typical Chinese sloganeering, insisting that CNC is a “news channel and not a propaganda station.” He is now telling his editors, “Do not watch CCTV [Chinese state television] and watch Phoenix [Hong Kong television] even less, but watch more of CNN and BBC.” He has even suggested that they watch Taiwanese news.

France and China kiss and make up

The Global Times:

French President Nicolas Sarkozy greeted his Chinese counterpart, Hu Jintao, at Orly airport, south of Paris, Thursday with a rare reception that analysts considered a change in tone by France, which angered Beijing two years ago for threatening to boycott the Olympic Games.

Military honors were presented, as was the offer of a horseback escort. And the two leaders have scheduled several one-on-one meetings during President Hu's three-day trip.

"Netizens give QQ thumbs down"

The China Daily:

More than half of Chinese netizens are willing to turn their backs on China's dominant instant messenger, QQ, after its owner Tencent Holdings Ltd pushed people to choose either QQ or a popular anti-virus program by Qihoo 360.

When asked "which program will you desert between QQ and 360 if you have to", more than 57 percent of 1.5 million participants voted to get rid of QQ, while 23 percent chose to sweep out 360, according to a poll on sina.com by 8:30 pm on Thursday. Another 19 percent were undecided.


"My brothers and sisters use QQ, my colleagues and classmates use QQ, even my clients do business with us through QQ. I don't like QQ's threat but I just can't stop using it," said 32-year-old Fan Qicheng, salesman at a State-owned company that has installed 360's free anti-virus software.

The article also has information about other recent corporate spats, such as Mengniu vs Yili and Nongfu vs Master Kong.

Hu's girls: the People's Daily responds to Taiwanese politics

On the Sinocentric blog, a look at the People’s Daily's response to the following media-political affair in Taiwan:

[I]t’s about a pair of twins who wanted to contribute to the campaign of Taichung Mayor Jason Hu and shot a video with the aim of promoting his cause.

As the Taipei Times explains, however, things took an unexpected turn with the development of a parody, ‘Kuso’, video ... portrayed the girls as ‘young women as working as hostesses at a nightclub in Taichung…

In the altered version, footage of the twins is played alongside video of the club and hostesses, with voiceovers claiming the women offer sex services to customers.’

November 4, 2010

School consolidation and empty classrooms

The China Daily reports on the side-effects of a push to transition to centralized schools in the countryside:

Because their homes are far from the centralized schools, village students usually have to board in the county seat during the week. Most of the expenses are borne by the family, though they will receive some subsidy from the government.

Many villagers have even abandoned their farmland and rented rooms in the county, where they work, live and take care of their children.

See also: Boom and bust for "hope schools", an exposé on abandoned school buildings in Hubei Province, from December 2008.

November 3, 2010

Frank talk behind closed doors

The Just Recently blog compares a Global Times (Chinese) report on sinologist Helmolt Vittinghoff with a full interview with the retired professor as printed in the southern German newspaper Fürther Nachrichten.

Your suggestions wanted for the next Five Year Plan

In The China Daily:

As China prepares to outline its national economic and social development plan for the next five years, a public opinion campaign is being launched in which foreigners are being invited to submit their recommendations, officials said on Tuesday...

...Over the next two months, individuals and agencies can send e-mails to 125@ndrc.gov.cn, preferably in either Chinese or English.

Hebei to build three new cities around Beijing

In The China Daily:

Hebei province plans to build three new cities in the east, north and south of Beijing, China National Radio reported.

Jingdong (which means east of Beijing) will contain three counties of Langfang, Hebei province; Jingnan (south of Beijing) will contain Baoding and Zhuozhou; Jingbei (north of Beijing), will contain Zhangjiakou and Huailai.

Building the new cities is an important part of the urbanization plan of Hebei province.

November 2, 2010

Movie discussion site MTime gets suspended

The Economic Observer reports on the suspension of the popular forum's domain name service:

As users of Movie Time or Mtime (时光网 shíguāng wǎng) often uploaded critical reviews of domestically-produced films to the site, some web users speculated that perhaps the take down of the site was connected to the policy of protecting the domestic film industry.

But according to the Southern Metropolis, the website's domain provider HiChina (中国万网) stopped parsing the website's domain and thus forced the closure of the site. If you search the status of the mtime.com domain name, it is currently displayed as clientHold.

A representative from HiChina told a Souther Metropolis journalist that the company acted in accordance with a notice issued by the Beijing Communications Administration, which said that Movie Time had been "disseminating pornography and obscenity," and it was for this reason that they stopped providing parsing for the domain.

Behind the scenes at the USA pavilion

From Chengdu Living, an insider's account of exploitation and labor organizing among the volunteers and staff of the United States pavilion at the Shanghai Expo.

Nowhere were these disparities clearer than in the V.I.P. Suite, an exclusive upstairs lounge named “1776 suite,” devoted solely to entertaining and hosting functions of top-level sponsors. A membership card system was enacted for employees and friends of USAP sponsors. Initial scheduling preference was given to “global sponsors,” companies that donated over $5 million. The USAP expected high volume attendance in the 1776 suite, so it had a rotating schedule of 15 well-qualified SAs.

But attendance at the suite was incredibly low, and much of the SAs’ 8.5-hour shifts were spent waiting by the door for visitors like concierges, or competing with secretaries for access to the reception computers. During the overlap between morning and afternoon shifts, it was common to have five or six SAs standing around in the upstairs and downstairs lobbies with absolutely nothing to do, merely waiting out the final hours of their shifts. So while VIP SAs joked away the hours and played online games, the rest of the staff were outside dealing with the myriad problems that arise with crowds of over 30,000 visitors a day.

"Lose public opinion and we lose it all"

On the China Media Project:

Yesterday, a hard-line article in the Party journal Seeking Truth fought back against the idea of relaxed restrictions on China’s press, saying this would lead inevitably to “national collapse.”

A translation of the article follows.

Dirty Internet wars: 360 vs QQ

ChinaHush has long post that explains some of the arcane details behind the dirty war between the behemoth Internet company Tencent (who operate the QQ instant messaging service and associated websites) and 360, makers of China's most popular, free anti-virus software.

There's more on ESWN.

Bad press

This weeks Sinica podcast, hosted this week by Gady Epstein, with Tania Branigan, Will Moss and Danwei's Jeremy Goldkorn:

This week on Sinica, we find out what happens when the media attacks, and China is caught in the crossfire. Specifically, recent weeks have brought us two prominent cases of bad press for China as the country gets caught in loaded battles fought by unrelated parties. In the first, an American political advertisement raises the spectre of an US economic collapse. The second is more homegrown, as two giants in the dairy industry are caught spreading lies to promote short-term sales.

November 1, 2010

2010 census begins

China Daily reports on the official start of the census:

One in 10,000 households will be visited again from Nov 11 to 30, with the NBS sorting and filing the data through December. In April 2011, the main census data will be made public.

Around 700 million yuan ($103 million) of central government funds will be spent on the census, according to official figures.

And, if the previous household visits are anything to go by, the census takers will not have an easy job, because many people worry about their privacy, not to mention the rapidly swelling migrant population in major cities.