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Jun 17

Chinese Men’s Soccer – Nothing left to say

Written by: Buxi | Filed under:News | Tags:
11 Comments » newest 2008-06-18 21:40:15

In a year when so many unexpected and abnormal events have struck China… one thing has remained the same. The Chinese men’s soccer team has failed in its attempt to qualify for the 2010 World Cup after losing to Iraq, a pathetic legacy that just can’t be explained. Soccer remains the most popular sport in China (with basketball catching up quickly)… a country of 1.3 billion people, millions are invested in the players, the best coaches/facilities… so, why are we so bad?

Guangzhou’s “New Culture” newspaper was literally at a loss of words. It ran a 84-font headline with no other content after this weekend’s loss:

Men’s Soccer Loses Again – We Have Nothing Left To Say

Jun 17

America opens its doors, slightly, to Chinese tourists

Written by: Buxi | Filed under:Announcements | Tags:
18 Comments » newest 2009-01-16 02:53:06

Ever since China flung open its doors in 1978, many Chinese have wanted to visit the United States. There’s a great deal of fascination with the world’s greatest superpower. But unfortunately, the door has almost always been closed. Initially by tight Chinese standards that restricted who could have access to a passport, but over the past decade, by tight American visa standards.

This issue has been discussed before (Washington Post article, 2006), although not many in the West are fully aware how difficult the visa issue has been in years past. The only Chinese who’ve entered the United States in the last two decades have been here to study, work, or to visit family. And even in these cases, after presenting an entire library of supporting documents to an often hostile consulate officer, a significant percentage (majority?) are denied visas for no obvious reason. It’s ironic to me that even as the United States government funds dissident groups in China in an attempt to spread the word on democracy, it keeps out hundreds of thousands of average Chinese willing to pay for the privilege of visiting.

But China’s economic growth has finally led to a change. Starting this fall, Chinese tourists will be given the opportunity to visit in groups. Chinese tourists will still have to appear at consulates for a face-to-face interview, but the indication is that visas will now be granted to the vast majority of qualified applicants.

Below is an article (文章) with a few early details:

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Jun 16

“Two Million Minutes” – High school in US/China/India

Written by: Buxi | Filed under:education | Tags:
8 Comments » newest 2008-06-19 15:41:20

This seems like a thought-provoking movie.

This LA Times articles provides the basic details:

But one faculty member, Compton recalled, told him that “we have nothing to learn from Third World education.” Another, renowned education theorist Howard Gardner, took him to task for comparing the U.S. with China.

“His point was: How can you have a great educational system when you don’t have freedom of speech?” Compton said. Compton saw the remark as missing the point: America may not have anything to learn from China’s one-party political system, but it might want to know why Chinese students do better in math and science.

The full story on this situation isn’t quite so simple; there are many in China deeply unsatisfied with the Chinese education system.  But the topic is certainly worthy of debate (see earlier thread on 50 years of gaokao).

Jun 14

“Chocolate City” – Africans seek their dreams in China

Written by: Buxi | Filed under:culture | Tags:, ,
227 Comments » newest 2016-04-07 04:58:36

This feature article (文章,published Jan 2008) from the Southern Metropolis Daily provides a candid, street-level view of the lives of African traders in China. I translate this article to provide some depth to the discussion of racism in China, as seen in this previous thread. In an era when China-Africa relations are making headlines in Western newspapers, it’s time to hear the story from a Chinese perspective. If the 20th century was defined by the American Dream, what can China bring to the world in the 21st century?

In Guangzhou, a 10 square kilometer area centered around Hongqiao has been given the name “Chocolate City” by taxi drivers.
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Jun 13

Chinese opinions of the Internet

Written by: Buxi | Filed under:News | Tags:,
5 Comments » newest 2008-06-14 03:39:47

While looking into the Pew Global Attitudes Survey (which deserves a blog post of its own), I came across these interesting results highlighted by Pew, with the title ‘Few in China Complain About Internet Controls‘.  This survey was conducted in 2007:

  • Over four years of tracking user reaction, trust in the reliability of online content has fallen by one-half, from 52% in 2003 to 26% now.
  • Only about one-third of internet users (30%) said they considered online content reliable.5
  • An overwhelming number of Chinese, almost 84%, agreed that the internet should be controlled or managed.
  • Since 2005, the percentage of users who say that online content about “politics” should be controlled or managed jumped from 8% to 41%, by far the biggest increase of any items tested.

It’s fair to wonder whether the survey is fully representative. After looking at the methodology in detail (pdf) (which polled 2000 urban residents in 5 cities), I think these numbers do give us at least a fuzzy picture of common trends.

This all tells me that perhaps we shouldn’t expect much liberalization online in the near future. There’s just too little popular demand for it.

Jun 13

So China is responsible for the sub-prime loan crisis as well?

Written by: DJ | Filed under:Analysis, News | Tags:, ,
38 Comments » newest 2008-06-26 07:24:29

[Update inserted at the end]

The U.S. Fed chairman Bernanke gave some amazing recycled remarks to the International Monetary Conference on June 3, 2008. In that speech, he offered some gems of wisdom such as:

In the financial sphere, the three longer-term developments I have identified are linked by the fact that a substantial increase in the net supply of saving in emerging market economies contributed to both the U.S. housing boom and the broader credit boom. The sources of this increase in net saving included rapid growth in high-saving East Asian countries and, outside of China, reduced investment rates in that region; large buildups in foreign exchange reserves in a number of emerging markets; and the enormous increases in the revenues received by exporters of oil and other commodities. The pressure of these net savings flows led to lower long-term real interest rates around the world, stimulated asset prices (including house prices), and pushed current accounts toward deficit in the industrial countries–notably the United States–that received these flows. … The housing boom came to an end because rising prices made housing increasingly unaffordable. The end of rapid house price increases in turn undermined a basic premise of many adjustable-rate subprime loans–that home price appreciation alone would always generate enough equity to permit the borrower to refinance and thereby avoid ever having to pay the fully-indexed interest rate. When that premise was shown to be false and defaults on subprime mortgages rose sharply, investors quickly backpedaled from mortgage-related securities. The reduced availability of mortgage credit caused housing to weaken further.

As Mike Whitney so nicely summarized for Bernanke: “It’s all China’s fault. Really.”

Whew. That’s a pretty long-winded way of saying the Chinese are to blame for everything that’s gone wrong in the markets for the last 10 months.

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Jun 12

Can those “putting it on the tab” go on a diet?

Written by: Buxi | Filed under:News | Tags:
7 Comments » newest 2008-06-14 05:43:47

For average Chinese, one of the most common complaints about the Chinese government is the pervasive spread of “gray income” corruption in many government departments. At all levels of government, officials have opportunity to benefit themselves using public taxpayer money. Many officials eat and drink outrageously with public funds. Some officials are given the right to a government car plus driver, and use them regularly to run personal errands.

Because these stories surround us every day, it’s a constant reminder of special privileges for officials, and increasingly a source of real public anger. The most recent example comes from Holhot, the capital of Inner Mongolia. This story has drawn attention in the state press, which probably implies some sort of punishment will be coming to the officials involved.

This column (文章)comes from Rednet:

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Jun 12

Taiwan and Diaoyutai

Written by: Buxi | Filed under:Analysis, News | Tags:,
11 Comments » newest 2008-06-13 16:05:49

Two different Diaoyutai’s are front-page news today.

First, Diaoyutai islands: a Taiwanese fishing ship collided with a Japanese patrol ship off of the disputed Diaoyutai islands. One man was slightly injured as the boat sank; the passengers have been repatriated, but the crew remains held under Japanese custody.

The sovereignty of Diaoyutai is disputed by all sides on the basis of conflicting history; it’s either part of mainland China, Japan, Okinawa, or Taiwan depending on who is doing the talking. Wikipedia has the details in English. It certainly remains a potential flashpoint. Chinese nationalists (from Hong Kong, Taiwan, and mainland) have at different times made attempts to plant Chinese flags onto the island. Japanese nationalists have done the same.

These pictures come from an attempt in 1996, during which a Chinese activist (David Chan) tragically drowned.

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Jun 11

Olympic torch arrives in Shangri-La

Written by: Buxi | Filed under:News | Tags:,
106 Comments » newest 2009-09-11 02:35:56

The Olympic torch has arrived in its first Tibetan Autonomous county, and will arrive in Lhasa later this month.

Reuters gives us this report of the torch’s visit to Shangri-La in Yunnan province, with responses both positive and negative from Tibetans in China:

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Jun 11

Tent Donation Campaign

Written by: Buxi | Filed under:Announcements | Tags:,
4 Comments » newest 2010-02-02 01:48:08

According to government forecasts, up to 3 million tents are desperately needed in the earthquake zone.  Every available tent in China has been redirected to this effort, and other international donors have done their best to help as well.  (Pakistan, notably, has apparently donated every tent it owns to China.)  

Not satisfied with just donating money to a nameless charity, a group of US-based Chinese on MITBBS have formed a group to take direct action.  They are purchasing tents in the United States and shipping them directly to Sichuan.  Below is their story (文章), and an opportunity for you to help.

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Jun 10

Relief effort unites ethnic minorities

Written by: Buxi | Filed under:News | Tags:,
19 Comments » newest 2008-06-12 06:24:30

Hong-Kong-based South China Morning Post (and perhaps East Asia’s leading English language newspaper) gives us this article (courtesy of Bill Savadore in Qingchengshan):

Bai Liqun still remembers the stories told by the elders about a time when her people slaughtered “Red Army” soldiers who entered the homeland of the Qiang ethnic group around 1949 because they feared the communist government would take away their land.

In the ensuing decades, the Qiang have become increasingly assimilated with the Han majority in Sichuan province through intermarriages and government-funded education for their children.

Relief efforts after the earthquake in Wenchuan county, a centre for the Qiang people, have bolstered the image of the government among ethnic minorities after a security crackdown against Tibetan protests in March.

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Jun 10

Essay topics: 50 years of Gaokao

Written by: Buxi | Filed under:education | Tags:
38 Comments » newest 2013-08-07 22:59:57

As many might know, this weekend was the 3-day university admissions test (gaokao). For decades, all Chinese children have studied for this test as if their life depended on it… and for decades, it really did. For those living in a culture that has long treasured the value of academic study, and a country with a planned economy, receiving a university degree has meant literally everything. If we look back even further in history, ever since the Tang dynasty (700 AD), education has been the primary method for advancing yourself in society.

With the help of a post from Tianya (原贴, originally from Xinhua), here are the national essay topics used over the last 50 years. Read the questions and the years carefully enough, and you’ll get a hint of Chinese society as it has dramatically changed over the last 60 years:

1951: My work outside of the classroom; discuss advantages of increasing production and conservation.
1952: Remember a new person’s new event; throwing myself into the motherland’s embrace.
1953: Write about a revolutionary cadre you’re familiar with; remembering the person I’m most familiar with.
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Jun 10

Beijing considering a Speaker’s Corner?

Written by: Buxi | Filed under:News | Tags:,
13 Comments » newest 2008-08-21 23:11:15

A report out of Hong Kong’s Ming Pao newspaper suggests that as a form of political liberalization, Beijing is considering the establishment of a “petitioner’s district” zone in Beijing, a free speech zone similar to London’s famous Hyde Park. The intent is to manage possible public dissent during the Beijing Olympics. The report (文章, translation below) only mentions an anonymous source in Beijing, so take it with a bucket of salt.

For those not familiar with the Speaker’s Corner in Hyde Park, it is by tradition an area where anyone can speak publicly on any subject at any time, without requiring government permit or approval. Perhaps someone more familiar with British politics can fill us in on details; Wikipedia mentions a previous attempt to block an Iraq War protest?
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Jun 07

Briefs on Tibet: Action and Reaction

Written by: Nimrod | Filed under:Letters, News | Tags:, , , , ,
118 Comments » newest 2016-03-22 05:27:41

Just as the earthquake shook China last month, the ground has also shifted under the Tibet issue. It seems the protests and counter-protests did not go into a black hole, but are having some effects on the media. But the exiles and their supporters aren’t ready to pass up on such a good chance in this Olympic year yet. They are elevating the profile of a different lama. Between now and the Olympics, we may also see more Tibetan disturbances should the talks not “work out”, as the Dalai Lama advised/threatened. Let’s keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best. Inside are a few articles in the recent news on these two cross-currents, action and reaction:
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Jun 05

Six Four: A simplistic view

Written by: DJ | Filed under:Letters | Tags:
20 Comments » newest 2009-06-14 01:48:48

This one-liner also comes from MITBBS.

In the end, it was simply a case of an immature government using immature suppression tactics against immature students. It could have been no big deal if rubber bullets and high pressure water canons were used instead of [the guns and tanks].

就是一个不成熟的政府对一些不成熟的学生动用了不成熟的手段进行镇压,要是换成橡皮子弹和高压水枪,估计屁事没有.

Jun 05

Six Four: 1989 and Falun Gong

Written by: DJ | Filed under:Letters | Tags:,
39 Comments » newest 2008-06-11 00:12:59

This article is another one coming from MITBBS. Because the original post at MITBBS seems to have been edited into a truncated version, the full Chinese text is presented along with the translation.

To be honest, it seems out of place to discuss 6/4 and FLG together. But after seeing the “antics” of FLG followers in the last few years, I cannot help reflect on the way the government handled 6/4.

说实话,把六四和FLG放在一起似乎有些不合适,但近年来F LG在全球范围内的“表现”不由得引发了我对当年政府处理“六四”的方式作一点思考。

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Jun 04

Six Four: The early morning bus

Written by: Buxi | Filed under:Letters | Tags:
1 Comment » newest

This poem comes from a different forum, WanWei.  It’s written by a student remembering his escape from Six Four.

how I spent tens of hours on the edge of life and death, I was already
unable to remember clearly, but

the “pai-pai” sounds of the assault rifles I could remember;
the bright purple flames of fire from the assault rifles I could remember;

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Jun 04

Six Four: Remembering the victims of Six Four

Written by: Buxi | Filed under:Letters | Tags:
8 Comments » newest 2008-06-09 12:28:01

This article comes from another self-professed moderate “middle” general. He views the government and the students in a negative way, but most of his criticisms are aimed at the government for the violent suppression.

Let’s take the recent topics of debate, one by one:

1. Why should we commemorate Six Four?

This was supposed to be the last topic, but after finishing I decided to move it to the beginning. I want to use this article to memorialize all of the students, average city folk, and soldiers who died 19 years ago. They are all innocent, and there were no Six Four winners.

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Jun 04

Six Four: Glad the student movement didn’t succeed

Written by: Buxi | Filed under:Letters | Tags:,
137 Comments » newest 2016-03-30 07:58:57

This article comes from a self-described moderate who wasn’t old enough to participate in the Six Four movement. Instead, he’s one of many of his generation who is “glad” the student movement didn’t succeed. Some “old generals” of the movement might refer to him derogatorily as “young” and “immature”… but keep in mind, this man is now in his mid-30s, and has lived in the United States for 10 years. It can be argued he represents the mainstream opinion.

I went to university in 1991; I’m not an old general or a young general.

1. Even as early as 1992, my opinion was that the Six Four student movement should not have been allowed to succeed. Primarily because of a comparison against the Soviet Union.

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Jun 04

Six Four: A shift in attitudes

Written by: Buxi | Filed under:Letters | Tags:
48 Comments » newest 2008-06-08 06:10:03

After translating numerous other perspectives, here is my take.

It’s hard to say what a “moderate” position on Six Four should be. In the early days and years after Six Four, it’s no exaggeration to say that the vast majority of Chinese were united in a single consensus: the students were heroes, and the government had behaved like fascists.

But as the years have moved on, as China’s economic and social development moved on from those early failed chaotic days… life has gone on, and attitudes have gradually shifted. I think this is perfectly understandable. Remember, the college students of 1989 are now approaching their 40s. This year’s entering class of university students were not even born during that fateful summer. The man who stood with Zhao Ziyang as he apologized to the fasting students on the square, now happens to be the beloved Premier of China.

Today, 19 years later, there’s a wide range of passionately held opinions. Many have argued that the goodness in today’s China would not exist if the student movement had succeeded; others argue the badness in today’s China would not exist if the government hadn’t suppressed the student movement. I can start by describing what the extreme positions are; these may be “extreme” in attitude, but it’s no exaggeration to say that many Chinese support each side. (Remember the “What kind of Chinese are you” quiz..?)

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Jun 04

Six Four: A Personal Memory

Written by: Buxi | Filed under:Letters | Tags:
6 Comments » newest 2008-06-06 23:55:38

This woman participated in the Six Four protests as a young college girl. She will never forget her memories, including the terrible sights of violence and death. Fortunately, it has not marked her life or twisted her outlook. She has moved onto a successful career in government, eventually coming to the United States to study and work.

In 1989, I was studying at a university in Beijing. I personally experienced the marches, the fasting, and all of the important events on the square. I’m going to briefly talk about my background. Everything below is my personal experience.

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