Jun 27

I worked in China as a journalist on and off for most of the late 90’s and early 2000’s. I never quite knew what to write about the constant popular protest going on – little uprisings about the place. Did they mean the country was in trouble? They’re still going on today, and I just loved talking to Elizabeth Perry, one of the most amazing Western professors on China, who really put it all in context for me (again, like the previous interview I posted, also choosing five books on the subject):

Jun 27

Xinran on understanding China

Written by: guest | Filed under:-chinese-posts, -guest-posts | No Comments » newest

This is the last interview I’m posting, but here is Xinran suggesting that if you read these fivebooks, you’ll understand China!

Jun 27

I really think that Chinese dissidents have been marginalized, which is a pity, when what they say is so important.
Here, another interview about books I’d like to post, with Laogai survivor, Harry Wu.

Jun 27

Hi everyone, I have been interviewing various authorities on China-related themes, and I wanted to post some of them for anyone who is interested. Firstly, I have Rod MacFarquhar on the Cultural Revolution.
He chooses the five best books on it and also says that China is in denial about it and needs to come to terms with it, that it’s not healthy:

Jun 26

The ECFA trade agreement between China and Taiwan looks like it will be signed in the near future.

It is hard at this point to be sure of who will benefit the most from it economically. There are concerns in Taiwan that there will be a net loss of jobs as a result of the agreement. Whilst Taiwan will be able to ship goods to China with fewer trade barriers, this does not mean that increased trade will employ more Taiwanese than lose their jobs due to an increase in Chinese imports. After all, some Taiwanese bosses may just pocket increased profit, though others will see increased demand and need to employ more workers. It will be easier to consider the impact of the agreement after it has been in place for a year or two.

But now that the ECFA has been agreed upon, where do Sino-Taiwanese relations go from here? The Wall Street Journal has a suggestion.

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Jun 23

I came across two articles recently, both concerning India/China relations but one written from the Chinese point of view while the other was written from the Indian side. I thought it might be interesting to compare the two viewpoints to see just how far apart they really are.

The first article is from the China Daily while the other is from an Atlantic Council forum. The China Daily article feels there are ‘three gnawing issues’, as they put it. The Indian side looks at it historically, politically and diplomatically. They are both short so I’ll include them in their entirety.

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Jun 15

Old news became news in The New York Times. Just like on the path to the Iraq war, no WMD became WMD and war was promoted in the house organ of the American military-Industral-political establishment. War was sought, war was delivered by the paper of record.

Now the US military is in trouble in Afghanistan and can’t meet President Barack Obama’s timetable for withdrawal. But look at what we got here: a trillion dollars of minerals! Conveniently, according to Pentagon.

But it’s old news. Many have known it for decades. Afghans knew it. Soviets knew it. Even the Chinese have known it and are mining it right now.

If it’s on New York Times, it must be news. The TV networks duely aired the big news.

This is the news though: the US is staying put in Afghanistan. The generals wanted time to finish the job. Now time is what they got, with help from the paper of record. But to what end?

Jun 14

Here is a few points I learned in trying to understand people and places that are different than what I’m used to. I thought it might be nice to share and could be useful when going to different countries. Please, feel absolutely free to critique or add in any advice.

I believe one of the first things to know is to remember that in essence, human beings are the same. All blood runs red, everyone is born from a woman (so far), and we all have the ability to dream. However to really understand and see the humanity of others will depend on how much one knows him/herself. The reasoning is that it takes the same amount of effort and humility when you truly want to comprehend your reflections. Also, everyone is capable of being impartial, thinking rationally and feeling empathy. It takes all three elements to gain such an understanding of oneself and especially others.

To understand the differences, here are three points I learned. We must take into account the environment, the history and personal choices taken by each individual and society. In this case, people really have to know what they’re talking about, at the very least understand the basics.

Understanding the environment is figuring out how everything from the natural ecology to social values and how they influence the individual or community at large. Depending on how much you want to know, you may have to forgo any generalizations you or the people you’re interested in understanding have about themselves. Since there are exceptions to just about anything. This is for the sake of clarity.

Understanding the history is important, but this too will require us to figure out how everything relates to current conditions. So, while remembering important dates or famous figures are pretty neat, you might have to learn a whole bunch of topics, some that might not have to do with history. I say this because if people don’t have a basic understanding of other topics and how they relate to history, most people end up in this unfortunate situation; they end up asking why aren’t they like us or why aren’t we like them.

For example, to understand the economy of another country, you need to know both the history and basics of economics. After a while, one might realize some discrepancies like it does not make sense why there are a lot of jobs in the financial/banking sector for some places or why it costs a lot for certain services, with the currency adjusted to inflation but not based on any physical value except trust. However, the entire modern economy now runs on that type of mentality so we have to work from that. Same thing with understanding the education system of another country. There’s hardly any evidence to support placing young students in classes based on age or if any of those special honorifics and high test scores translate well for their future endeavors. However, it is convenient to do that and we have to deal with such a system and make gradual improvements from there. Same thing in understanding technology, art, sports, language, etc.

For something less serious, if you just want to understand another individual or small group of people, at the very least know where he/she or they are coming from. What ground they’re standing on, the foundation.

The last pointer I want to make is personal choices. This is probably the most important one, since we can change our environment or any influences from it. Depending on what perspective people take, knowing history could either hold you back from taking risks or inspire people to do more. Or both. Sometimes, the first two doesn’t matter whole lot, especially if we’re talking about individuals. Chinese history is impressive, even from a very critical point of view and framing it within the global perspective. However, what use is it when people have financial problems, illnesses or facing other issues that are more immediate. Same thing with the environment. People who grow up around mountains or beaches doesn’t always mean they must know how to ski or swim. Or for a more extreme example, people who grew up in dysfunctional families or trouble lifestyles can either overcome such challenges to empower themselves and others. Or they could call into a cycle of destruction.

My last point should be the most obvious and hardest to figure out in understanding the differences in other people and places. One can see how much time, personal experiences and knowledge it will take towards understanding people and places different than what you’re used to. Overall, it will depend on how much desire in knowing and effort you want to put in. If you stop learning, wherever you are at that point, is as far as you will go.

Jun 09

In the midst of the concrete and steel jungle that is the Shanghai World Expo, stands the Indian Pavilion, the ‘greenest’ of them all, built entirely of environment-friendly materials, showcasing India’s unique brand of Culture, History and Soft Power and offering an unprecedented opportunity to further improve Sino-Indian relations

The Expo has finally come to China. A largely forgotten event in most parts of the world, it has been rejuvenated, on a scale in which no other country could even dream of. A record number of 192 countries and 50 organizations have registered, the highest in the Expo’s history. Most people hadn’t even heard of the expo before it came to China. The verdict is clear – The Expo needed China as much as China needed the Expo.

It has been described by the Chinese government as “a great gathering of world civilizations”,  and is an excellent opportunity to improve ties between two of the oldest – India and China.

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Jun 09

Regarding the topic of China’s long and rich history of science and technology.

Here is one perspective to look at it. Only a few of the points here were made by me, but a lot of information I got from elsewhere and people who study this topic. I will try my best to put what I know so far understandable and straight to the point.
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Jun 09

Chinese Workers: “I’m mad as hell and not going take it anymore.”


The Recent suicides at Foxconn seems to be a watershed moment for Chinese workers who are fed up with the long hours, low pay and crappy cafeteria food. Recent strikes at this company, Honda and KFC recently announced substantial pay raises raises alarm bells for the companies and questions if they can still can produce goods affordability in China. China has already facing a of shortage workers in Guangdong/Shenzhen areas as well while the Chinese government is willing to stand aside and allow these strikes to happen.
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Jun 01

Across the seas: an iPad’s “gray” voyage

Written by: Nimrod | Filed under:General | 10 Comments » newest

A shopper looks over an iPad at an Apple Store.

Apple was elated that iPads sold briskly. Then they fretted when they sold out. Apple continues to experience supply shortages, just like with the iPhone release. Where have all the iPads gone? It turns out the iPads are not just made in Chinese factories, but even their distribution is re-routed by networks of Chinese people.

A CBN Weekly (第一财经周刊) feature examines the intricate gray market for iPads, and the role of overseas Chinese in this informal logistics chain.

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