May 06

Amidst the accusations of China’s belated response to the devastating earthquake that hit Yushu county in Eastern Tibet in the early hours of April 14, the downplaying in the Chinese media of the key role that Tibetan monks played in the rescue efforts and mourning ceremonies, alongside reports of Chinese rescue workers who seemed more interested in posing for cameras than in saving lives, there is a small story that transcends it all.

There are few outside of China and Tibet who have heard of Tsering Dhondup, a ten-year-old Tibetan boy who saw his home and the homes of all his neighbors completely flattened in the 6.9 quake. Since then, he’s been living with his family in a temporary shelter in the local stadium in Jyekundo, the town most affected by the disaster, where 85% of the mud-brick houses like Tsering’s were destroyed.

Tsering volunteered to work as a translator for a Chinese medical team that was treating Tibetan survivors. The state-controlled national news channel CCTV, Chinese Central Television, aired a report about him that on April 17, three days after the earthquake….

Read full article and watch the Youtube video here:

Apr 10

minipost-[Translation] Greed Destroyed Bob Dylan’s Concert

Written by: Charles Liu | Filed under:-mini-posts, General, music, News | Tags:, , ,
24 Comments » newest 2011-05-14 05:13:38

Recently there were some news about cancelation of Bob Dylan’s concerts in China. Not surprisingly following the usual Western media narrative the dominate theme was the Chinese government had banned Bob Dylan because of censorship, Tibet, the usual.

However, the Chinese netters have been circulating a different story that appeared February this year (UPDATE: also covered by China Music Update in March). According to a music industry insider, Sun Mengjin, cancelation of Dylan’s China concerts had to do with the steep mark up by original concert rights holder (Brokers Brothers) rendering the concert not financially viable for local promoters, and out-of-control greediness in Chinese concert promotion industry:
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Apr 09

minipost-Taiwan’s Version of Whitney Houston

Written by: Steve | Filed under:-mini-posts, culture, media, music, video | Tags:, , , ,
20 Comments » newest 2010-04-25 04:43:58

Lin Yu Chun is a contestant on Taiwan’s version of American Idol called Super Star Avenue. He’s quite young, a bit chubby with a bowl haircut, not the most likely candidate for stardom. But he does a dead on impersonation of Whitney Houston and has gone viral on You Tube with over 2 million…  5 million hits.

Mar 16

Is the Politiburo smoking weed?

Written by: Maitreya Bhakal | Filed under:General, media | Tags:, , ,
24 Comments » newest 2010-03-22 05:26:38

Surprised? No sir, this is not some comment which a random user made at an online forum. This is the question which The Telegraph poses to its readers, in a recently published article entitled – ‘Is China’s Politburo spoiling for a showdown with America?’.

Now, we are all aware of the severe Cold-Waresque bias against China in large parts of the Western media, amounting to literally a childlike obsession, but this article really takes the cake.  The author, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, is in fact the international business editor of the newspaper!

But coming to think of it, in a way it also serves to be a bit of a laugh actually. Nothing beats a taste of good old British comedy. Who knows, we might be witnessing another Mr. Bean or David Brent in the making!

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Mar 14

Recently thirteen Chinese newspapers jointly released an editorial on the hukou system in China, in a coordinated attempt to press the National People’s Congress into revising and subsequently abolishing it. You can read the whole thing here in Chinese.

“China has suffered from the hukou system for so long. We believe people are born free and should have the right to migrate freely, but citizens are still troubled by bad policies born in the era of the planned economy and [now] unsuitable.”

However, after the editorial spread beyond its origins with those newspapers, Chinese censors apparently leapt into action (or were instructed to do so), and it was promptly removed from many websites. A special website set up by the Economic Observer to discuss hukou reform also disappeared. Furthermore, one of the co-writers of the editorial, Zhang Hong, was ousted from his position as deputy editor-in-chief from the Economic Observer’s website. It was also claimed that the Economic Observer received a warning from the CCP’s propaganda department. Continue reading »

Mar 10

The two Asian Giants are still not able to figure out the line which divides them – in the longest running border dispute in modern history. This dispute offers interesting lessons on how to, and how not to, handle boundary issues. The analysis of Chinese behavior in the negotiations is doubly important given China’s perception in the west of it ‘flexing its muscles’, and China’s theory of ‘Peaceful Rise’.

About a century ago, Sir Henry McMahon, the then British Foreign Secretary, took a think red pencil and sketched a line between India and Tibet on a map – a line which has resulted in the two most populous nations in the world going to war, costing more than 2000 lives; and which has created enormous mistrust on both sides, especially in India.

Consequently, on 3rd July 1914 was signed one of the most bizarre and controversial agreements ever known to man – The Simla accord, the complexities of which have yet to be unraveled.
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Mar 09

The execution of a Britain in China for Drug Smuggling raises some interesting questions – including Britain’s integrity and significant lessons for Indian politicians.

Recently the news was packed with what they called the execution by the Chinese Government of a ‘mentally ill’ Britain. He was caught carrying 4 kgs of Heroin in China. His family (surprise surprise!) said that he was mentally ill. And then human rights groups, which are always more than ready to jump in on denouncing China, picked it up.
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Jan 13

Google issued a press release on their blog just a few hours ago pertaining to their operation in China. It is big news and will take some time to digest. I don’t want to comment, just get the story out.  Continue reading »

Jan 07

Asian Music Update

Written by: Steve | Filed under:culture, media, music, Photos, video | Tags:, , , , , , , , , ,
13 Comments » newest 2015-07-26 10:49:24

TheAnalogGirl_bRather than stick to just one country, I thought I’d highlight underground music from Hong Kong on this post and add a little bit from the rest of Asia on the end. On the left is the Analog Girl, one of the hottest acts on the continent. Hailing from Singapore, the electro-rock chanteuse was named by TIME magazine as one of the 5 Music Acts to Watch in 2008. Since that time she’s toured the world with her unique sound.

I also got interested in the underground music scene in Hong Kong after I discovered “The Underground Channel” on YouTube.  After the jump, we’ll feature videos from Quasar, Tacit Closet, Soler, The Sinister Left, DJ Matthew Veith, Hardpack, Audiotraffic and Poubelle International. We’ll also hear from Jakarta’s Goodnight Electric, Malaysia’s Zee Avi and Beijing’s P.K. 14 along with Japan’s Vamp and YMCK. Finally for some of the older crowd, I want to introduce a couple of Enka style acts from Japan, which is surprisingly similar (at least to me) of some of the classic Chinese singers.

Today’s collection is very eclectic so hopefully there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

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Dec 05

Immaculate Machine’s Tour of China

Written by: Steve | Filed under:culture, media, music | Tags:, ,
3 Comments » newest 2009-12-08 17:12:50

im003_10x6 (Large)We’ve written about China’s music scene in the past and remarked how few hip bands actually tour the country. Most of what appears are singers and bands that saw their heyday decades ago.

With the help of Louis Yu, Vancouver’s own Immaculate Machine is currently touring China. They are a side project of the New Pornographers, and their newest album, “High on Jackson Hill”, featured appearances by Alex Kaprano of Franz Ferdinand and members of the Cribs. They’ve also worked with such famous performers as Neko Case and AC Newman.

So for all our readers who live in China and wish they could see more quality acts, here’s your chance to catch a hot band that really knows their stuff. Their concert dates are after the jump.

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Oct 21

Lou Jing: Racism Gone Wild?

Written by: Steve | Filed under:culture, education, General, media, music, News, Opinion, video | Tags:, , , ,
391 Comments » newest 2013-07-05 18:34:48

Lou Lou Jing (娄婧) entered a competition reality show called “Let’s Go! Oriental Angels” (加油!东方天使) on Dragon TV. Though born and raised in Shanghai and a Chinese citizen all her life, her story is quite complicated. Her mother was married to a Chinese man but had an affair with an African American man and gave birth to Lou Jing. The African American man went back to the States before Lou Jing was born, the Chinese husband divorced his wife when he discovered she had an affair, so Lou Jing was raised by a single mother. She is considered a talented singer, speaks fluent Mandarin and Shanghainese and is Chinese in every way except for her looks and skin color.

However, upon entering this competition, she was shocked to find rude racial epithets hurled against her on the Chinese blogosphere. Was she really Chinese? Quite a few people felt she was not. They condemned her for her skin color and her mother’s infidelity. Many comments were blatantly racist.

I first became aware of this story when James Fallows mentioned it in his Atlantic blog. He wrote, “To be clear about the context: this is not a “blame China” episode but rather one of many illustrations of the differences in day by day social realities and perceived versus ignored sources of tension in particular societies. That’s all to say about it for now.” I want to explore those tensions further.

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Oct 01

I watched the national day parade on TV with my family, and liked it. As expected, the Chinese government managed to put out an impressive show. Then I read some media’s coverage of the parade. Well, let’s just say that those writings were as expected too. Anyway, there are a number of memes and other little oddities, in no particular order, that I want point out. As the title of this post says, this is just an excise of nitpicking.

[Update] I gotta share this photo that I just found with you. When the kids released the balloons at the end of the parade, somehow the these balloons formed a shape that looked like China’s map. Please don’t tell me that this was not a coincidence but a carefully choreographed act.

Ballons forming Chinese map
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Sep 23

minipost-Sound Unlimited!

Written by: Steve | Filed under:-mini-posts, culture, media, music | Tags:, ,
1 Comment » newest 2009-09-25 00:05:49

Louis Yu’s new show called Sound Unlimited has hit the net. This show features indie music from all over the world, including the hottest bands in China. The format is in Chinese and you can download the podcast here or subscribe to it on iTunes.

Take a few minutes to check it out. It’s very rare (if not unique) to be able to find a music podcast from North America (in this case, Vancouver) that caters to the Chinese market. I can guarantee you that Lou knows his music and you’ll be exposed to many top bands you’ve never heard nor seen before.

Aug 17

From August 6-9, southern Taiwan was hit with the worst typhoon in 50 years. Per the Associated Press story:

“Morakot dumped more than 80 inches (two meters) of rain on the island last weekend and stranded thousands in villages in the mountainous south. A total of 15,400 villagers have been ferried to safety, and rescuers are working to save another 1,900 people. The storm destroyed the homes of 7,000 people and caused agricultural and property damage in excess of 50 billion New Taiwan dollars ($1.5 billion), Ma told the security conference.”

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Aug 17

Louis Yu’s Indie Podcasts

Written by: Steve | Filed under:culture, General, media, music | Tags:, , , ,
8 Comments » newest 2010-10-09 18:42:27

Louis Yu It’s not often a guy working on his PhD in theoretical computer science is also one of the hottest Chinese DJs in North America, but there’s always an exception and Louis Yu (余雷) fits that role. Originally from Guilin, China,  he’s currently in Vancouver, Canada studying at the University of Victoria while also doing a weekly podcast featuring world indie music.

And where can you find his 30 minute weekly podcast? It’s right here on  www.wooozy.cn where you can catch this week’s show plus access the archive for all previous editions once you’re hooked. The difference with Louis’ show is that all the introductions are in Mandarin rather than English. It’s his way to bring a new style of music to an audience more familiar with Asian pop in a easy to digest manner. Starting in September, he’ll be switching to a show highlighting an equal balance of both Western & Chinese music.

Lou was kind enough to share his thoughts on China’s current music scene. As he is a Chinese expat very familiar with indie music throughout the world, I felt his opinions would be a nice contrast to the western voices we’ve heard reporting from China.

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Aug 05

In recent days, there have been widespread and unchallenged reports of Rebiya Kadeer’s accusation in Japan that 10,000 Uighurs disappeared overnight in Urumqi on July 5. I can not find a transcript of Ms. Kadeer’s press conference speech. The following, from the Guardian, is one of the more detailed and also seemingly the most critical account of her accusation:

“Almost 10,000 people attending the protests in Urumqi disappeared in one night,” Kadeer, president of the pro-independence World Uighur Congress, said. “Where did they go? If they died, where are their bodies? If they were detained, where are they being held?”

It was unclear where Kadeer got her numbers from.

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Jul 15

This is the full session between Niall Ferguson and James Fallows at the recently held Aspen Ideas Festival. Allen had posted excepts and we promised you the complete discussion as soon as it became available. Niall Ferguson had coined the term “Chimerica” to describe the symbiotic relationship between the economies of China and the United States. He currently sees this relationship as being in jeopardy, while James Fallows feels the relationship is far stronger the most realize. This video is slightly over 75 minutes.

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Jun 26

Is China faking economic recovery?

Written by: guest | Filed under:-guest-posts, News | Tags:, , ,
47 Comments » newest 2009-08-16 13:51:27

I found this story on an Indian newspaper based out of Mumbai, DNA (Daily News and Analysis) on how the GDP of China, as announced by the country is fabricated and the actual GDP is much lower. They have quoted Albert Edwards, chief global strategist, Societe Generale and International Energy Agency (IEA) to come to such a conclusion. Here is the full exerpt on the story

Venkatesan Vembu / DNA

Hong Kong: Cynical crunchers of statistical data believe there are three degrees of ‘mistruths’: lies, damned lies and statistics.

Increasingly, economy watchers are beginning to believe falsehood could go a step beyond: China’s GDP numbers. Ever since the official Chinese statistical agency announced earlier this year that the country’s GDP grew 6.1% in the first quarter of 2009, there have been murmurs of scepticism about the authenticity of those figures. A few have observed that the GDP data are inconsistent with other data, such as weak power production.

Those murmurs have in recent weeks turned into a high-decibel chorus that is beginning to openly rubbish the validity of the official numbers.

“The Q1 6.1% GDP outturn is simply a lie,” notes Albert Edwards, chief global strategist, Societe Generale. “It helps explain why the Chinese data is derided by so many economic commentators.”

Commodity prices worldwide have surged in recent weeks on the hopes of a robust V-shaped revival in the Chinese economy. But Edwards, who had rightly called the Malaysian economic crisis of 1997 and the dotcom bust of 2000, believes that “to the extent that the renewed surge in commodities and the metals and mining sectors are based on the Chinese growth miracle, the markets are relying on a combination of hype, lies and wishful thinking.”

Edwards isn’t alone in questioning the validity of the official data. Last month, the International Energy Agency (IEA) observed that China’s first-quarter GDP data “does not tally with oil demand data, which contracted by 3.5% year on year.” One explanation for this, IEA analysts reasoned, “is simply that real GDP data are not accurate, and therefore should not be taken at face value.”

Simultaneously, analysts at Lombard Street Research, a London-based economic consultancy, too argued that the 6.1% GDP growth figure was inconsistent with the 20% decline in trade volumes over the same period, because it would have required domestic demand to expand by 9% in real terms. Using official nominal annual growth rates for GDP and consumption for the first quarter, and consumer and fixed investment price indices as deflators for consumer spending and investment, respectively, Lombard analysts claimed that domestic demand expanded at most by 2% year on year in real terms.

They therefore concluded that real GDP growth in the first quarter was probably slightly negative or nil at best, and even in the fourth quarter of 2008, real growth was likely negative or flat. “If so, the last two quarters would effectively signal, from a Chinese perspective, a recession of a rare magnitude.”

China’s official statistical agency, the National Bureau of Statistics, responded to IEA’s scepticism with a stern rap on the knuckles. “It is regrettable that the point of view in the… article is groundless,” a notice on its website said.

“We believe that, for an international organisation, this approach lacks seriousness.””
Even economists who point to anecdotal evidence of China’s recovery concede that interpreting official Chinese data is problematic.

“Trying to understand China’s GDP data is always a nightmare for professional China economists,” observes Credit Suisse chief regional economist Dong Tao. “Since I joined this industry 14 years ago, I’ve had this trouble, I still have this trouble, and I suspect I will continue to have this trouble.”

He points out that there is abundant anecdotal evidence of a “phenomenal improvement” in China’s economy over the previous quarter too. “Go to restaurants, talk to real estate agents, count the number of shipping containers at terminals, see the number of cars being sold… I believe in my eyes.”

The plain-speaking Edwards, however, argues that “if the bubble of belief in China’s medium-term growth prospects finally bursts, it will have huge investment implications.”

It is all too easy, he reckons, for investors to buy into “beguiling growth stories, which are in fact utter nonsense.” He concedes that China’s mammoth 4 trillion yuan stimulus has had a beneficial effect on economic activity this year, but says that he still questions the “quaint notion the markets now seem to have that the Chinese economy can grow at a respectable rate when the rest of the world is in a deep recession.”

The “bullish group think on China is just as vulnerable to massive disappointment as any other extreme of bubble nonsense I have seen over the last two decades,” says Edwards. “The fall to earth will be equally shocking.”

Now the questions to be raised here are:
1> Why would China do it? To project themselves as the new economic centre of the world?
2> Does it do more harm than good? Considering economic decisions involve a lot of speculation… if trade has picked up because of these figures doesn’t it do good for the world economy?
3> It is okay for a country (assuming this report to be true) to project false figures to prevent people from panicking?

Jun 22

i38_19379493 Events of the last week in Iran have been widely reported by the world press. Not long before, the press also reported on the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square incident of 1989. Were these two distinct events reported in a similar manner or were they treated as different and unique events? Let’s take a look at each and see what we can find.

1) Who are the good guys and who are the bad guys?

Based on the coverage I’ve seen, both governments were cast as being in the wrong and both protest movements as in the right. In the case of China, the government sent in tanks and used live ammunition to break up a protest movement that was alleged to have turned violent. Most of the reporters in the world press were located in or near the same area, and their reports reflected what occurred in that vicinity. Analyzes of this event in most cases pointed to the government as the culprit and the demonstrators as being victims and responding in a suitable fashion. Is this an accurate assessment? The Chinese government attempted to confiscate film of the event from foreign sources but those attempts were successfully evaded in most instances.

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Jun 16

China Internet

It seems the western media and Chinese blogosphere agree on one thing; Green Dam is not winning any popularity contests. Today, the Chinese government backed down on the mandatory usage of the software, though it will still come either pre-loaded or be included on a compact disc with all PCs sold on the  mainland from July 1st.

There are several problems associated with this software, each one an interesting topic in itself. I’d like to run down the issues associated with its release, one by one.

1) Why the sudden announcement of this invasive software with virtually no implementation time given to the manufacturers?
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Jun 02

The BBC has run an article by James Miles, its Beijing correspondent who witnessed the events of the 3rd and 4th June, putting across his memories of those days, as well as subsequent thoughts on issues like their reporting and how the protests are seen today. I have selected a number of passages from the larger article.
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