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Mar 17

Since the Olympics torch relay last year, much have been written about Chinese nationalism (see, e.g., this time article, this newsweek article, this new yorker article) – often in a negative (and unfair) light.

Earlier today, we at foolsmountain ran across a more thoughtful, subdued but perhaps equally critical view of Chinese nationalism – written from an immigrant’s perspective. In this wall street journal op ed, Ms. Ying Ma, an American educated Chinese American, wrote: Continue reading »

Jan 24

On January 19, 2009, Tibetan legislators endorsed unanimously a bill designating March 28 as Serfs Emancipation Day, a day designated officially to mark the freeing of 1 million serfs from serfdom 50 years ago.

For many ethnic Tibetans, this day represents a celebration of freedom (from cast and class based oppression), economic empowerment, and social and political liberation that has been a long time coming.  The day has been held hostage for so long partly because the government, in hopes of trying to convince the Dalai Lama to return back to China, had not wanted to mark the occasion while the Dalai Lama was still in exile.  But one cannot hold back a celebration of freedom forever, and fifty years has been a long time… Continue reading »

Nov 14

Tibet: Turning over a new page

Written by: Allen | Filed under:Analysis, General, politics, religion | Tags:,
439 Comments » newest 2008-12-18 01:11:23

I’ve been resisting writing anything on Tibet recently because I think we’ve had more than our shares.  But I think the time may be right on this board for one small, limited discussion. Continue reading »

Oct 19

The idea of “human rights” is neither new nor did it suddenly sprang into existence after WWII. It has arguably existed since the dawn of human existence, as portrayed in human stories and mythologies and exemplified throughout human history in man’s struggle against the arbitrariness of a higher power, be they of gods, fortune, nature or tyrants.

In Chinese society, such struggles are found in the stories and mythologies of 大禹 (Great Yu) taming the floods, 神農  (Shennong) inventing agriculture or the Monkey King’s rebellion against Heaven. Socio-politically, a central theme of Confucianism is the rights and duties of each member of society, from the peasant to that of the Emperor. Subsequently, 孟子 (Mencius) argued for the rights of the citizens to just rule, while later 王夫之 (Wang Fuzhi) favoured governing in the interest of the people (i.e. for the people) instead of for the benefit of the rulers. Continue reading »

Oct 14

It’s common knowledge that when it comes to racial remarks, Chinese people (and perhaps Asians in general) are not the most politically correct people in the world.  We’ve had extended discussions about “racism” in China (see, e.g., Chocolate City post by Buxi).  Recently, I came across an interesting article in Times Magazine (in relation to the U.S. Presidential politics) regarding racism in Asia.  Unfortunately, I believe the author falls into many pitfalls that many Westerners make when it comes to Asian racism. Continue reading »

Oct 04

In a surprise move to some, the United States reactivated a $6.46 billion Taiwan arms sales proposal and sent it to Congress for approval yesterday. (As late as September 28, the proposal was said to be frozen by the White House even as Taiwan lobbied Congress.)

Some Chinese now believe China and Wen Jiabao were “played” by the US: “Premier Wen had just said to save the US markets, out came $6 billion of arms sales as a slap to the face,” reads a typical comment online.
Continue reading »

Oct 02

A fool’s reflection

Written by: admin | Filed under:Announcements, General | Tags:, , ,
182 Comments » newest 2008-11-16 22:49:36

Our blog has been around for 5 months. Judging from our site traffic and the comments we get (over 12,600 and counting, plenty of them insightful), we are doing quite well.

However, some readers’ comments paint a very different picture. Continue reading »

Sep 11

Malaysia over the years has been known for its share of ethnic violence against Chinese and other minorities. Most recently, Ahmad Ismail, a district chief in the United Malays National Organization ruling party, has been quoted to pronounce: Continue reading »

Sep 05

minipost-Pocketbook References for Tibet

Written by: Allen | Filed under:-mini-posts, Analysis, culture, Letters, politics, religion | Tags:, ,
186 Comments » newest 2008-09-18 17:48:59

Two of the most commented threads over the last week relate to Tibet.  Even a neutral posting on the administration of the website has also somehow “devolved” into a debate over Tibet.

Continue reading »

Sep 01

(Letter) Tibet: A Way Forward?

Written by: Otto Kerner | Filed under:Analysis, Letters | Tags:, , ,
322 Comments » newest 2008-11-19 11:40:57

In the comments to an earlier post related to Tibet, I found it striking that, although by different routes, bianxiangbianqiao and wuming and I have reached roughly the same conclusion, viz that there’s no logical reason why Tibet should remain part of China, but, at the same time, it is completely impossible for China to let it become independent, since that would invariably be seen as China giving up 19% of its land area (or even 13%, which is what the TAR is). Particularly so since, as bxbq points out, the boundaries of “Tibet” are quite fuzzy. I could draw a border that I think would be a fair delimitation of “where Tibetans traditionally predominated and still do”, but obviously there would be a lot of people who would disagree with any given attempt. Continue reading »

Aug 30

Understanding Democracy

Written by: Allen | Filed under:Analysis, culture, Letters, politics | Tags:, , ,
163 Comments » newest 2009-06-10 15:48:02

For all the talk about democracy leading up to the Olympics, perhaps it is time – in the wake of the Olympics – to take a step back and ponder about what democracy really is.

An interesting article appeared in the New Yorker earlier this month about the process of politics. Digging under the hood of democratic politics, it tries to explore two strains of forces that in real life can be di-opposed: rough and tumble democracy v. good governance and social policy.

Continue reading »

Aug 21

Even though Buxi isn’t back, why don’t we return to a fine tradition of this blog? This post from Niubo (牛博), a Chinese forum often filled with discontent with how things are, has something interesting to add about the age of Olympic gymnast He Kexin. Translation below:

On the question of the Chinese gymnast He Kexin’s age, one fact is certain, that is, there is an inconsistency between the local athletic bureau and the central athletic bureau. So, is it that:

1. The local athletic bureau is correct, and the central athletic bureau changed her age to older?

OR

2. The local athletic bureau falsified, and changed her age to younger?

Continue reading »

Aug 13

[UPDATE]

At the risk of being seen as running an excessive self and cross promotional campaign, I highly recommend all interested readers to check out ESWN’s take on some of the irresponsible media reports in this case, particularly the collection of quotes from various medias, and the latest comment on the “uneven teeth” meme such reports created. Roland is very gracious in claiming only to frame this very post, but I think his “re-framing” does a very effective job in making the point.

I should also point out some subtle but extremely damaging distortions introduced and propagated by the media reports that earned my ire. As reflected by a Chinese blogger on his second posting on this matter after listening to the entire interview of Chen (H/T to ESWN again):

陈音乐总监的说法被媒体断章取义了,或者说歪曲了。第一,陈没有说杨小朋友的形象不好,只是说林小朋友的形象最好;第二,陈说到国家利益,是指作出用最好的形象和最好的声音这样一种“双簧”的安排更符合国家利益,并不是指不让杨小朋友出镜是“国家利益”。

The words of Chen Qigang are used by the media out of context and are distorted. First, Chen did not say that Yang Peiyi was considered not good in appearance. He merely pointed out that Lin Miaoke was considered to have the best image. Second, when Chen talked about national interest, he was claiming that the national interest was served by combining the best stage presence with the best singing voice [to present the best perceived performance]. He did not mean that it was a matter of “national interest” to hide Yang Peiyi from the camera.

Continue reading »

Aug 12

An imperfect perfection

Written by: DJ | Filed under:media, News | Tags:, , , , , ,
202 Comments » newest 2013-07-23 18:40:03

Note: an update is inserted at the end.

The Beijing Olympics opening ceremony was, by most accounts, a brilliantly choreographed and spectacularly executed performance worth of a gold medal of its own. There were a fair number of notable highlights, and many journalists certainly were not shy from exhausting all the synonyms of the word “stunning” in the thesaurus in describing those scenes.

High on many Chinese viewers’ list of the most moving moments, however, is one that might not be easily appreciated by foreign audiences. Early in the process, China’s national flag was brought into the Bird’s Nest and raised while an young girl in a red dress stood singing “Hymn to the Motherland”. This song is perhaps best explained as the equivalent of “God Bless America” and is similarly considered an unofficial national anthem by many. The simple lyric line

歌唱我们亲爱的祖国,从今走向繁荣富强。 “We sing to our beloved motherland, on her way towards prosperity and strength.”

captures the hope and pride of so many Chinese for so long in merely 17 characters.
Continue reading »

Aug 10

The Olympics Demonstrate China’s “Soft Power”: on Baloney and Silliness.

Written by: bianxiangbianqiao | Filed under:Analysis | Tags:, , ,
104 Comments » newest 2013-06-24 07:07:30

Watching the NBC broadcast of the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games in Beijing gave me a sleepless night. Something about the ceremony and the games bothered me. I had to think it trough.

What do you make of the following features of the Opening Ceremony? Continue reading »

Aug 08

Who got the loudest cheers at the Opening Ceremony?

Written by: Nimrod | Filed under:culture, media, News | Tags:,
131 Comments » newest 2008-08-27 06:15:20

One of the interesting things about the Opening Ceremony is the outside world gets to see (or is made to pay attention to) a slice of raw Chinese public opinion on full display.

Besides obviously the home team, Taiwan probably got the loudest cheers from the Chinese crowd at the Bird’s Nest today, a sure head-scratcher to foreign pundits stuck in a brain warp, I’m sure, but no real surprise to Chinese people and those who know China.

As we watch the Opening Ceremony, let’s make a list of the teams that got the loudest cheers from the Chinese crowd today. It is bound to be interesting.
Continue reading »

Jul 31

There is “A Reporter’s Guide to Covering the Olympics“, supposedly found in the Foreign Correspondents Club in Hong Kong, at Time’s China Blog. It is well worth a read. Continue reading »

Jul 30

China presses hush money on grieving parents,” according to New York Times

Parents of children killed in collapsed school buildings in the Sichuan earthquake have been offered cash settlements, relaxing of the birth quota and pensions by the local government. In exchange, they are pressured to sign a contract to give up demand for investigations into official negligence and corruption associated with the collapsed schools. Some parents have relented and signed the contract, while others have refused.

A while ago at the collective funeral for the victims at one of the schools with a large casualty, the grieving parents’ pain was so profound that some bite on their fingers and wrote their children’s names with a wish of a “good journey” in their blood on a piece of white cloth. The pain of losing a child can never be compensated with money. My discussion will focus on a cross-cultural understanding on the money in question. Is it correct to label the Chinese authorities’ offer to the grieving parents “hush money”, or even “compensation”? Continue reading »

Jul 20

Chinese Exceptionalism -义理和人情

Written by: bianxiangbianqiao | Filed under:Analysis, culture | Tags:, , ,
196 Comments » newest 2013-05-31 14:32:48

Before switching from posting immature opinions on things I know unprofessionally to the work I do for a living for a few weeks, there are some thoughts I really want to get out of my chest. I hope these thoughts will help non-Chinese understand some puzzling phenomena in the Chinese social and political life.

Notes:
1. My English translation of the key terms (义理, 人情, 隐忍) might be a bit off. Suggestions are welcome.
2. If you disagree, please trash, ridicule, tear it apart or ignore. Don’t worry about me committing suicide out of shame. Continue reading »

Jul 14

An advertising campaign commissioned by the human rights group Amnesty International has raised flames of anger throughout China. For previous discussions, see ESWN and Danwei.

Wall Street Journal has more details on the backlash, reporting:

Weeks before the Olympics put Beijing and the Games’ corporate backers on the world stage, an advertising heavyweight has stumbled over the divide between how some view China and how the nation views itself…. Word of the human-rights campaign is now spreading through China, and TBWA and Amnesty International are disavowing the ads.

Chinese bloggers, spurred by a report in state-run media of the Amnesty campaign last week, are now calling for a boycott of all TBWA ads, among other measures.

And many in China are indeed very angry. But there are other voices as well; below is a translated internet post from Xinmin Net: (原文):

Continue reading »

Jul 03

What does it mean to be Chinese?

Written by: Buxi | Filed under:Letters | Tags:, , ,
264 Comments » newest 2013-06-24 20:00:25

Seems like a simple enough question. Actually… while the question of what it means to be Chinese is very simple, it is all of the numerous, equally valid answers that make the issue complicated. We have to accept that there are different answers for different people.

Here is one answer, translated from a post written by an American-raised Chinese on MITBBS (原贴):

I was eating lunch with a good friend (both a colleague and a classmate) a few days ago. He’s a true Englishman, having lived in England from birth through university. Although he’s now attending school with me in the United States, he naturally does so with the identity of an Englishman. Whereas I, as an ethnic Chinese person raised in the United States, have in his eyes been categorized as an “American”. And I will often correct him by saying “I’m Chinese”. This time, when the topic popped up again, he laughed and asked: “From your point of view, what is a Chinese person?”

I believe “Chinese” has three different meanings.

Continue reading »