The Broadcasting Authority demanded the castration of the "vulgar and extremely upsetting" dialogue in "An Autumn's Tale" and the resulting debate has been going on for more than one week without the senior Broadcasting Authority persons coming forth to explain.  The Broadcasting Authority chairman is the principal actor, but it is as if he had been vaporized.  Meanwhile civil discontent has been getting bigger and bigger.

As a result, the event has turned from a simple "argument over judgment" to a deeper and more serious issue of "accountability within the system."

... the controversial decisions by the Broadcasting Authority generated such a huge civilian response and reaction because there is a connection to the banning of the eight books by the Beijing authorities.  The more the Beijing bureaucrats suppress freedom of publication, the more the Hong Kong residents treasure their own freedom.  This is obvious from listening to the radio call-in programs.  The people of Hong  Kong are fortunate because the citizens and the media respond immediately to the ridiculous actions of the bureaucrats.  They will not indulge and they will not suffer in silence ...

When Zhang Yihe protested about the banning of her book, the General Administration of Press and Publications deputy director responsible for the ban has declined to comment so far.  When the Hong Kong citizens protested, the Broadcasting Authority chairman has declined to comment so far.  So this Special Administration Region is "special" in the sense that the citizens are "special," but unfortunately the senior officials are not so different from the mainland counterparts.

At 7pm on January 27, 2007, a Sichuan Internet forum claimed: a criminal suspect was arrested in Dazhu county on January 26, 2007 for manufacturing rumors.

According to the information, the public security bureau determined the suspect was a 24-year-old male named Zhang who has a university degree and owns a business at a Dazhu county computer mall.  The public security bureau determined that when a female employee died at the Nest Business Hotel, Zhang who had no personal knowledge about the truth of her death, began on January 15 to falsely claim to be a Nest Business Hotel employee who knew that the truth to be "three senior government officials spiked the drink of the female and gang-raped her to death."  Zhang kept distributing the information on the Internet, as well as following up on other posts about the incident.  He kept making up content, maliciously hyping up the event and instigating people who did not know the truth to gather and cause trouble.  In so doing, he defamed the image of the party and the government and he misled people so as to create chaos and disorder.

The information also stated the public security bureau found the clues and quickly moved to arrested the suspect Zhang and seized the electronic evidence on his computer.  Zhang has admitted to having manufactured and distributed the rumors that resulted in disturbance and social disorder.  The criminal suspect Zhang has violated Article 291 of the Code of Law of the People's Republic of China concerning the assembly of persons to disrupt the social order.  ...

Previously, the "64 Tianwang" website had also received some video material from multiple channels about the Dazhu incident.  After examining the information closely, we determined that the authorities can deduce who provided the information.  Thus, "64 Tianwang" will adhere to the principle of protecting our friends first and above all and therefore has not yet posted the relevant information and videos. 

Related LinkThe Mass Incident in Dazhu County

[in translation]

As of the first of this month, the Chinese government has adopted an open policy for non-mainland and foreign correspondents to gather news freely in conjunction with the needs of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.  This action has resulted in good international opinion feedback.  Certain mainland media people think that besides making life easier for the foreign media, this action has two effects on the Chinese media.  On one hand, it lets the mainland media break away from the yoke of "not being allowed to report outside your own coverage area" and really go at it.  On the other hand, this has also made the mainland media feel some competitive pressure.  But there are still insiders who do not believe that this will change the condition of Chinese opinion-making, because the right of the media to speak out does not lie in the hands of the reporters -- the Chinese Communist doctrine of "politics leads news" will continue to rule in Chinese media.

China Youth Daily veteran reporter Lu Yuegang said that it is inevitable that when the Chinese government permits non-mainland (Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan) and foreign correspondents to gather news freely, there will be an impact and influence on the mainland media.  When they cover overlapping stories, the foreign media reports will serve as a reference point for the mainland audience and readers to understand the mainland media.  Therefore, the mainland media workers working on the same story will be forced to consider their viewpoints, reporting methods and even writing styles in addition to the political positions.  "You cannot let the reader see that your report is as vastly different from what the others are saying as heaven is from earth."

Lu Yuegang said that the reform of Chinese press will be impelled by internal needs and external pressure.  The relaxation of restraints on foreign correspondents is one of those external factors.  This action will impact those mainland media that are working under the market model more than the radio/television stations or "mouthpieces" such as party newspapers and periodicals.  This is because the "mouthpiece" media do not worry about news competition and are not concerned about income or livelihood.

But he believed that certain media which want to break away from being "mouthpieces" would actively accept the challenge.  "For example, I think China Youth Daily should have a sense of crisis and confront the competition directly."

Southern Weekend's Beijing-based reporter Ma Changbo said that the the relaxation of regulations for outside correspondents has given them an unexpected gift.  Previously, the mainland authorities had emphasized that the press must not have "watchdog journalism from the outside" (that is, the media in place A cannot monitor the local government in place B).  This 'bad regulation' is now defunct with the opening to the non-mainland media.  "If the non-mainland media can do whatever you please and gather news wherever you want, then how could mainland reporters be given any less?"  Ma Changbo said that his colleagues are very enthusiastic.  "At the very least, the invisible yoke around our necks are gone.  No one will dare to stop us by saying that watchdog journalism from the outside is not allowed."

According to information, many media outlets known for "watchdog reporting" are taking advantage of this policy and sending their people to "problem areas" to begin "watchdog journalism from the outside."  Those local governments and departments that are being criticized do not dare to dissent.  A few years ago, Hunan province complained to the Central Publicity Department that the Guangzhou-based Southern Weekend intruded into its territory and the newspaper was punished as a result.  But recently, the city of Chenzhou in Hunan province publicly announced that it was setting up a prize for watchdog journalism and encouraged media supervision from the outside.  That became a topic in the mainland media circle.

CCTV Economic Channel reporter Zeng Xiaoling said that even though the relaxation of rules for foreign correspondents has a smaller impact on official media such as theirs, it should be clear that their advantages in resources will be weakened.  "For certain complaints about problems, the people will now have a choice.  They may be more willing to complain to the non-mainland and foreign reporters.  This may become a problem for us."  She said that the mainland media (especially the official media) tend to be relatively cautious about critical reporting.  Now that they have to share the same platform with non-mainland and foreign correspondents, there will be a definite impact.

But some media workers are cool towards the new policy.  Communist Party Beijing municipal party organ Beijing Daily political news reporter Geng Nuo said that she did not feel that the relaxation of rules for non-mainland and foreign reporters is giving her colleagues any pressure.  "Our reporting takes a different route from yours and our resources do not overlap with yours," she said.  "We are not worried that you outside reporters will gain any advantage after this opening.  We will do whatever we have to do."

A reporter with the official Xinhua agency who wishes to remain anonymous said tht the opening will not have a large impact on mainland media.  Mainland media were always free to gather news without any restrictions.  "But the mainland reporters do not have the right to publish.  That is the most important thing.  Particularly at the party and government mouthpieces, the right to publish is in the hands of the politicians.  There is no need to worry."  He believes that the increased freedom for foreign correspondents does not pose a big threat to mainland reporters.  The big challenge will come only after non-mainland and foreign media are allowed to enter the mainland market.

[in translation]

On the afternoon of January 24, 2007, McClatchy Newspapers Beijing bureau chief Tim Johnson and researcher Fan Linjun flew from Beijing to Chongqing.  On the morning of January 25, they traveled by car from Chongqing to Zigong to conduct in-depth investigation about the peasants who lost their land in Hongqi town.  As soon as Mr. Johnson and Ms. Fan stepped into my home, the Zigong city public security bureau Huidong branch National Security division telephoned me to invite me to have a cup of tea this afternoon.  I said: "I won't have time over the next few days, because I am preparing petition materials -- against the Zigong city public security bureau for illegally preventing me from attending an international human rights conference and refusing to renew my passport."

I am old friends with Mr. Johnson and Ms. Fan.  Mr. Johnson used to be the Beijing bureau chief of Knight-Ridder News.  In 2004, Mr. Johnson sent three reporters to Zigong to spend three days investigating the situation of peasants who lost their land.  When the American reporter attempted to verify the investigative results, the Zigong city government officials declined to answer.  From there on, McClatchy Newspapers has kept its attention on the livelihood and human rights conditions in Zigong.

Mr. Johnson and Ms. Fan came to Zigong this time mainly to conduct a full investigation of the situation of the peasants who lost their land, including the implementation of central government policies, protection of farm land, livelihood conditions, medical care, social security and other issues.  Mr. Johnson and Ms. Fan did not even bother with lunch, and they immediately started to question me fully.  At around 3pm in the afternoon, I accompanied the American reporter to visit the homes of peasants who had lost their land.  We also spoke to the peasants on the roadside who also lost their land.  Apart from me accompanying the American reporter, there was another small Audi car with four people following us.  They were protecting the American reporter as well as us.  But we did not have an entourage of large numbers of police cars and various levels of officials when the senior government leaders come to inspect the citizenry.

... In order to solve the puzzle about the death of Yang Daili pursuant to the requests of the provincial party and government units, the provincial and Dazhou city public security bureau formed a joint case squad and mobilized police resources to work day and night to obtain detailed evidence.  The special case squad visited Guangzhou, Chengdu and Dazhou many times, accumulating more than 10,000 kilometers in travel distance.  They spoke to the relatives, friends, schoolmates and co-workers of Yang Daili for a total of 235 times.  They wrote 690 pages of investigative materials, and collected almost 2,000 pages of combined evidentiary material.  They collected 36 pieces of documents and physical evidence.  The provincial public security bureau evidence examination center, the Sichuan University Huaxi Medical Center Basic Medical and Legal Science Academy, the Chengdu branch of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Dazhou City Central Hospital participated in testing and verifying the information along with 12 nationally and provincially eminent expert pathologists and toxicologists and 8 expert instrumental analysts who visited the crime scene 5 times and conducted 3 autopsies with 9 detailed test reports.  A total of 24 meetings were held to discuss the analytical results.  After these repeated examinations and analyses, the cause of death of Yang Daili has been confirmed.

Through the examination of the crime scene, autopsies, tests, investigations and joint diagnoses, the special case squad reconstructed the activities of Yang over the 33 hours prior to her death.  The squad excluded the possibility that Yang Daili died from physical struggle, violence, strangulation, poisoning and so on.  It also excluded the possibility that Yang had consumed alcohol or went outside of the hotel.  The pathology analyses showed that the cause of death was chronic pancreatic acute bleeding.  The laboratory reports showed that her amylase index was clearly too high and her heart exhibited spots of bleeding.  Combined with the crime scene analysis and other material evidence, it was concluded that Yang Daili's death was: chronic pancreatic acute bleeding.

According to the DNA analyses of the body fluids on Yang Daili as well as residues on her underwear, the DNA elements were identical to those of bartender Liu Chikun.  It was then confirmed that at around 230am on December 30, 2006, Liu Chikun and two other employees (Ou and Li) were checking the rooms after the KTV had closed.  They found Yang lying on the floor unconscious.  They took Yang back into the suite and left her there.  At 3am, Liu went back there and saw that Yang was still unconscious with no one else around.  So he raped her.  Afterwards, Liu found that Yang was pale in color and her lips were purplish.  So he called the hotel leader.  At 340am, the hotel sent someone over to help Liu to take Yang over to the Dazhu county People's Hospital.  Yang was found to have no vital signs.  The hospital attempted to revive Yang but they had to pronounce her dead at 4:35am.  The suspect Liu Chikun has confessed to his crime. ...

Who should they hire for PR crisis management?  How dare they devote that first paragraph to all the arduous work!  For one, I was filled with resentment at reading this claptrap.  I don't need to know that.  I only want the answer.  I find myself reading this self-congratulatory content-free filler until I reached the next paragraph and learned that the cause of death was: chronic pancreatic acute bleeding.  I have no idea what that means.  I read on.  Bartender Liu and two other colleagues found hostess Yang unconscious on the floor and all they did was to move her into a suite.  Half an hour later, Liu went back into the suite and raped Yang.  Hello!!!???  Why didn't Liu and others call for medical help immediately upon seeing the unconscious Yang?  Is this rocket science!!!???  You find a co-worker lying unconscious on the floor.  What will you do?  I know that I am a focus group of size one.  But do you share my doubt?

Black Holes  Susan Jakes, The China Blog (TIME)
China's Fantasy of Freedom  Hannah Beech, TIME

Yes, in some sense, we are aggieived that the western media could not be everywhere all of the time in order to render maximum assistance.  But why should we demand that of them anyway?
 
Ultimately, this is the tristesse of Chinese media.  It will show up as the The China Economic Times Report on the Lan Chengzhang Case (at ESWN).  Or as Top officials order "swift" investigation into the murder of Reporter Lan Chengzhang (China Media Project).  Instead, we are befuddled with technical issues of apparent questions of right/wrong.  The issues raised by Beech/Jakes ought to be straight right/wrong issues.  So why aren't they treated as such, and have to take such extra-judicial paths instead?
 
P.S.  By the way, this blogger receives petitiion messages on all sort of issues but has never felt adequate to address them in an effective manner.  The fact is that ESWN is only a personal blog and it cannot send out 50 people to follow up on all sort os leads.
 
P.S.S. Under the current format of ESWN, I am supposed to maintain a finite number of links and eliminate others.  In the pipeline of China-related recommended reading, I have: Lik Go  Daisann McLane, Learning Catonese.
 
Which old links should I eliminate?
 
Real Scoop On Fraud Journos: Q&A W/ Wang Keqin  Jonathan Ansfield, China Digital Times
Black Holes
  Susan Jakes, The China Blog (TIME)
Blackmailing By Journalists In China Seen As 'Frequent'
  Edward Cody, Washington Post
 
With due respect, I want as many people as possible to read these.  So I'll keep all of them as long as I can ...

At around midnight, a mainland Chinese spokesperson for a certain ministry appeared on Hong Kong television and told reporters: "Any mainland mothers who have their babies delivered in Hong Kong will face the loss of all their welware and social security benefits on the mainland!"  The spokesperson was solemn and well-meaning, whereas I almost spit out the tea in my mouth ...

Which mainland commoner receives any kind of benefit?  Forget about those objective statistics, because this is a mainland forum and we all know what is going on.  From my personal knowlegde, I went to Chengdu in 2001 and I heard a certain party secretary saying wispfully: "Chengdu guarantees a mininum payment of 156 RMB per month.  This shows the concern that the Party and the Government have for the citizens ..."  In 2002, I was in Beijing and I learned that certain workers at an enterprise had to choose extreme measures for the sake of the 20,000 RMB severance pay (that is, you are dismissed and you have to look out for yourself for the rest of your life).

How about Hong Kong?  Here are three examples: (1) The welfare payments in Hong Kong are about HK$3,000 per person (if the family situation is right, a family of four will receive about HK$12,000 per month); (2) The Hong Kong healthcare policy is universal coverage for all citizens; at public hospital, you only have to pay a HK$40 registration fee and then all medications, tests and analyses are free.  If you are have a serious medical condition and and must stay in the hospital, then you pay HK$68 per day (including room, meals, tests, medications and surgery).  (3) Nine years of free education for children (members of low-income family can attend university for free).

There is no point for me to waste my breath here.  It is just peculiar that the spokeperson for a certain department should give us the well-meaning warning: What do we actually lose when we lose our mainland citizen status?  I cannot help but remember that Karl Marx wrote that "the only thing the proletariat can lose is their chains."  Does that mean that they can "win the whole world"?  Heaven only knows!

As a scholar, I do not completely like Zhang Yihe's writings and works.  I have my personal doubts and criticisms of her writings.  But I firmly support her freedom to publish.  I believe that Zhang Yihe's writings did not violate state laws or social morality.  There was no proper legal basis for restricting her publications.  Everyone has the right the express his/her own political position and cultural thoughts, and criticise the positions and thoughts of others.  On this matter, all intellectuals share the same idea as Zhang Yihe.  I hope that everyone will hard to bring China more open and wider space for writing and criticising! 

[translated in summary]

During a visit of the Forbidden City, the reporter observed that there were two other foreign coffee shops.  Compared to Starbucks, they occupied more area and their signs were more obvious.

Following the directions, the reporter came to a row of small red houses which used to be the waiting rooms for government officials waiting to the emperor.  From the outside, the green Starbucks logo cannot be seen.  Entering inside, there are all sorts of gift shops and Starbucks only occur a corner with less than 20 square metrs of area.

From the map, the reporter found an indication that there is another French coffee shop in the Imperial Garden.  Following the direction, the reporter went that way and saw a row of foreign language letters that indicate a beverage shop.  The reporter walked in and found a small red house most of which were occupied by girls.  There are three tables in the middle of the room, with six 3-person milk-white-colored sofas around a coffee machine.  In a large outside courtyard, there were several dozen dark-green chairs and ten tables.  "Do you sell French coffee?"  "We sell Italian coffee."

From the map, this location did not seem to the one.  So the reporter continued heading towards the Imperical Garden.  Indeed, the reporter found another coffee shop, slightly smaller than Italian coffee shop.  This one had the sign "French Jazz Island Coffee."  Compared to the Starbucks shop, the other two were more spacious.
 
According to information on the website of French Jazz Island Coffee, it was the second coffee brand name that entered the Forbidden City, after Starbucks.  The date of entry was April 27, 2006.  According to workers at the Italian coffee shop, it opened six months ago.

So: Why pick on Starbucks and not the others?

[in translation]

This reminds me of <The Past Is Not Like Smoke>.  According to information, Mr. Li Changchun chaired a meeting.  At the meeting, the former leader of the Information Office of the State Council said (more or less): "My department can only control publishing houses, not individual authors."  So the matter was referred to the Ministry of Culture, from which a deputy minister said (more or less): "Zhang Yihe is already tired.  Besides her writing is a leisure activity.  It is not easy to control."  Since the matter was originally brought up by the United Work Front Department of the CPC Central Committee (at the time, it was a deputy director of that department who defined <The Past Is Not Like Smoke> as an "anti-Party declaration"), Mr. Li Changchun therefore decided thta the United Work Front Department had better clean up the mess.  Ultimately, the United Work Front Department asked somone to speak to my elder brother (who was a vice-chairman in the central committee of the China Peasants and Workers Democratic Party at the time) and requested that he forward the message to his younger sister (me): "Please don't write any more in the future."  That was how <The Past Is Not Like Smoke>.

In spite of the vast attention drawn to Zhang Yihe's Statement and Position, there has been no official reaction.  The person in the hot seat is Wu Shulin of the General Administration of Press and Publications.

Once against, Zhang Ziyi has betrayed the men of China.  She appeared with a foreign boyfriend in a high-profiled manner at a basketball game.  The two hugged, kissed and whispered to each other.  She even touched her boyfriend's face with her hand while looking content!  Therefore, the Internet patriotism (with respect to the sleeping bed) has been mobilized in roaring fashion once again.  Various obsenities mixed with personal and national hatred have been thrown at Zhang Ziyi.

Meanwhile Gong Li (who was also discovered by Zhang Yimou) had also been reported earlier to be strolling in the streets with a foreign boyfriend.  But there was no such similar effect.  Was this because Zhang Ziyi participate in movies in in which she writhes her body passionate under the foreign men?  But Gong Li's passion play with the foreigner in <Miami Vice> was said to be even more dubious.  So it seems that the netizens are spending a lot of effort to watch over Zhang Ziyi.  Whenever she strays, they condemn her angrily.  They must really love her.

Here is a spoof from 163.com (via ChineseNewsNet)


"Come on.  Give me a kiss!"
"You want a kiss?  Pay up first!"


"Wow!  Three hundred!  Is this Japanese yen?"
"What is wrong with your eyes?  They are Vietnamese Dong!"


"Hmm ... you didn't brush  your teeth?  
Your mouth tastes a lot fouler than Kai-shan."
"I did brush my teeth.  I used Colgate toothpaste!"


"You're really obedient.  Be a good boy and brush often.
But remember to use Chinese toothpaste next time.
Must suport Chinese goods!"
"Hmm ... I'll remember!"

[in translation]

The program segment <Comrade, Lover> of RTHK programme <Hong Kong Connection> only interviewed three gays.  The Broadcasting Authority believes that "it is insufficient to have the opinions of three gay persons on same-sex marriage" and therefore the program was "advocating same-sex marriage."  As a result, the program was determined to be "unfair," "incomplete" and "biased."  According to this reasoning, the Broadcasting Authority thinks that the program should have interviewed opposite-sex lovers about same-sex marriage.

In this decision, there is an erroneous presumption: opposite-sex believers must necessarily oppose same-sex marriage.

Suppose the program interviewed five opposite-sex-love believers, and it finds that 3 finds nothing wrong with opposite-sex marriage and offers support, 1 offers no opinion and 1 offers vehement objection.  If <Hong Kong Connection> presented these results, the program would not be considered "unfair," "incomplete" and "biased" but it will still be considered to have the "effect of advocating same-sex marriage."

Although the Broadcasting Authority seems to think that "impartiality" means the program must represent "agree" and "disagree" simultaneously, the result might be as follows: three homosexuals strongly approve same-sex marriage, while one opposite-sex marriage advocate strongly disapproves.  Is this deliberate selection concealing the fact that "most opposite-sex practioners do not object"?  Is this impartial?

Proceeding further on, should the program attempt to locate a homosexual who opposes same-sex marriage for the sake of impartiality?  If this was impossible, then is the program 'partial'?  No matter what, should this program which was only able to find homosexuals who approve of same-sex marriage be considered to have "the effect of advocating same-sex marriage"?

Simply put, there is no causal relationship between whether a program is impartial and whether it can produce the effect of advocating same-sex marriage.  Suppose we accept the irrational logic of the Broadcasting Authority and think that "impartiality" equals "including the opinions of opposite-sex lovers."   If most of the opposite-sex marriage lovers actually accept same-sex marriage, then there would still be "the effect of advocacy of same-sex marriage"?  If "impartiality" means "equal representation of opposite-sex lovers" including "the opinion of opposite-sex lovers against same-sex marriage," then this becomes a selective filtering of opinions in which the "effect of advocacy of same-sex marriage" has been lightened (assuming that this can even be achieved.).  But this is definitely not impartial.
 
Therefore, the Broadcasting Authority is actually prejudiced against homosexuals.  It set up the premise of "advocacy" and then framed "impartiality" as the end goal.  "Lack of fairness," "incompleteness' and "bias" are werel hypocritical excuses.

This is the tranlsation of one particular blog post.  But the overall impact of this seemingly trivial event (with respect to mainstream media) is actually tremendous.  Simply put, this seemed to have been a thoroughly one-sided battle in which the Internet opinion (through forums and blogs) thoroughly trashed the official press release.  The reality is this: there is no significant blog/forum force out there defending the position of the Broadcasting Authority.  Think about the implications ...

Journalists make a lot of mistakes when they start writing for a blog type thing which allows for comments (thus making them aware of their mistakes). First, don't talk down to your readers. Many of them are probably smarter than you, and literally all of them certainly know some things you don't. Second, blogging isn't just about throwing random thoughts out there without bothering to check them first. Sure, it's a bit more shoot from the hip than careful writing is, but the internets have this thing called "the google" that makes basic factchecking fairly simple. Third, don't have contempt for the readers who care enough to read what you write and respond. In case you didn't realize, these are the people who actually give a shit enough about current events to maybe occasionally buy a newspaper or magazine, or at the very least click through your website and watch news on the teevee. In other words, they pay the bills. Being actively hostile to them is certainly odd behavior. And, yes, discourse on the internet can be rude and caustic, some people may make you cry by telling you to go Cheney yourself, and you certainly don't have to engage people who are rude, but really who cares? People are mean, wah.

There is one final deep injustice. Even though it's "just a blog," people may hold "Time's Washington bureau chief" to a slightly higher standard than they do "some random person with a blog." The reasons for this should be obvious.

Why can "news publicity" be swapped for "compensation"?  How can "fake reporters" use "news" to conduct "extortion" and get money?  The direct answer can only be: "Fake reporters" can take a "real problem" to trade with criminals.  Otherwise, the extorted party is sure to call the police.  Therefore, we should not imagine the "fake reporters" to be ogres.  Sometimes, they can uncover problems that real reporters do not dare touch.  

For example, suppose "illegal sub-standard steel reinforcement bars" have become an industry in support of shoddy construction; then there will be "fake reporters" who specialize in extorting the producers of those bars.  As another example, if it becomes common for pig-breeders to inject water into their animals to increase bodyweight, then there will be "fake reporters" who specialize in extorting those breeders.  There are many coal mines in Datong Shanxi), and the "fake reporters" are obviously watching the coal mines carefully.  This is a food chain relationship.  

The degree of proliferation of "fake reporters" can be used to determine the form and size of the illegal products.  To a certain degree, " fake reporters" become a restraining force on the criminal elements.  This is game-theoretic play.  As the game intensifies, one party loses its patience and cool and then tragedy occurs.  According to the reports, before Lan Chengzhang arrived, the illegal mine owner had already received eight groups of "reporters."

When the local government conducts a campaign against "fake newspapers, fake periodicals and fake reporters," it is only plugging up one end of the problem.  But if you only plug one end of the problem, the criminal elements on the other end will have an easier time.  But if you also stop the criminal elements, it would also be a lot easier stopping the fake newspapers, fake periodicals and fake reporters.  Furthermore, if the local legal environment permits any citizen to safely report illegal activities, then there would not be any use for "fake reporters."

[in translation]

... Famous Peking University professor Kong Qingdong publicly rebuked Zhang Yihe in a speech yesterday.  He pointed out the Zhang family enjoyed special treatment from the Chinese Communists during the 1950's, when many Chinese people were living under starvation.  In her book, Zhang Yihe described that "to eat tofu, you must eat more than 20 kinds," "towels are replaced every day," "the bedsheets are changed every day, and they have to be washed very clean."  Kong Qingdong said that "her class was the enemy of our government," "the Communist Party was magnanimous towards them, but they keep dreaming about changing the facts and saying that the anti-rightist campaign was wrong."

Kong Qingdong said: "You (the rightists) think that you are proper heroes, so why are you asking the Communist Party for vindication?"  "Your cases have been overturned after the reforms began, but why do the big rightists want to demand hundreds more times in compensation from the people.  This is ten times worse than back the?" "Who is going to write the histories of our common people?  More than 60 people perished in a mine well.  Who is going to write a The Past Is Not Like Smoke for each of them?  How much be paid for each death?  All lives have value.  Do the lives of upper-class people have different values than those of lower-class people?  The revolution was intended to change this."  "We must used our shoulder to hold up this gate, in order that the sun can shine into here."

Relevant Link孔庆东:章诒和家庭所属的阶级是政权的敌人  KDNet

... the officer said ... that only several hundred people "gathered peacefully" outside the government offices.  "There was no confrontation during the gathering. Nobody was injured and no property damaged. The gathering was very peaceful and the crowd left after 7pm," the officer said.  He added that authorities had not mobilised riot police even though several roads near the government buildings had been blocked during the protest.

From The Mass Incident in Dazhu County, here are some photographs related to these statements:


"Authorities had not mobilised riot police"


"There was no confrontation during the gathering"


"The gathering was peaceful"


"The crowd left after 7pm"


"No property damaged"

Why did the police officer make these assertions?  Does he not know that about these photographs?  Actually, he probably does not know that these photographs are present because he could not find them after the order to remove them.  He probably believes that they are all gone.  But they can only remove some, but not all.  The surivivors will come back to bite them.

Informed sources told Boxun that several tens of people have been isolated in Guangzhou's Number 8 People's Hospital because of suspicion of the avian flu!  Also, many more persons have been placed isoloation at a certain Guangzhou military hospital!!

With due respect, should we invoke a social panic on account of a report such as this?  It may well be true (or it may not be).  Would you go screaming out into the streets as a result of reading this?  Where is the proof beyond a vague allegation?
 
Follow-up: Many Hong Kong media showed up at the Number 8 People's Hospital but did not find anything unusual.  (Sing Tao)  The Sing Tao reporter called the Number 8 People's Hospital yesterday.  A man on the general line said that they have suspected SARS patient(s) at the hospital, but the details must be obtained from the outpatient department.  The outpatient department had no comment.  The duty room at the inpatient department said that they have not heard of any SARS patients.  An inpatient department nurse said that they have not been informed to keep a high alert.  According to the revelant procedures, the hospital has to go into high alert if there are SARS patients.

Dozens of lawmakers kicked, shoved, punched, and threw shoes at each other, stalling passage of the government's new annual budget and a long-beleaguered military procurement bill.  The fighting was attributed to the ruling Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) opposition to a proposal by the main opposition Kuomintang (KMT) to adjust the make-up of the Central Election Commission (CEC).

Chaos erupted in the afternoon when dozens of lawmakers from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) stormed the speaker's dais to prevent the third and final reading of a proposal to revise the composition of the CEC.  Voting was called after in the afternoon representatives from major parties failed to reach consensus during the last-ditch inter-party coordination meeting on the issue in the morning.

Lawmakers of the opposition KMT and those without party affiliations responded to the DPP's move to block the voting by rushing forward to protect speaker Wang Jin-pyng, one of the KMT's senior members.  DPP lawmaker Lee Ming-hsien picked Chen Chao-jung of the KMT and grabbed him by the collar of his jacket and tried to pin him down against a desk.

Dozens of other legislators shouted, pushed, shoved and pulled the ties of each other.  A couple of them were hurled onto the floor and several others engaged in wild chases during the melee.  Some climbed on a table and others hurled objects as they fought over the microphone and tried to prevent the other side from controlling the podium.  When the men were busily hitting each other, their female colleagues did not just watch.  DPP woman Legislator Wang Shu-huei flung a shoe at speaker Wang Jin-pyng, but it struck precisely at the face of independent lawmaker Tsai Hao standing next to protect him like a bodyguard.  

Another legislator, the politically unaffiliated Yen Ching-piao, picked up the shoe and threw back at Wang Shu-huei and ripped up a DPP political placard.  Wang then hurled the shoe back at the speaker a couple more times again, though all missed. Yen then yelled at her with a stern warning. He was only withheld by other lawmakers when he attempted to charge to Wang.

Throwing his arms up, speaker Wang went back into his office under heavy protection. But an unidentified lawmaker locked his door from the outside.

There is a Chinese saying: Good news never get out of the door; bad news propagate one thousand miles away.  Whereas Taiwan practically never gets mentioned in American news, this is the sort of item that makes it onto CNN (see video at Taiwan parliament ends as fists fly).  The CNN anchorperson said: "This is not the first time, and it won't be the last time."

But this event is unique because of the pair of shoes.  

(TVBS, ETTodayDPP woman Legislator Wang Shu-huei had purchased this pair of leisure shoes for NT$1,800 in a street market.  Overnight, this has become the most famous pair of shoes in all of Taiwan.  Wang Shu-huei said: "I did not intend this to happen.  Actually, this is not a good thing for our international image.  But if the same situation were to recur, I would exactly the same because this is my duty to do so."

Wang Shu-huei intends to hold a public auction.  There is currently someone offering NT$68,000 already, and NT$100,000 is definitely within reach.  Wang Shu-huei said, "Our party needs money.  I'll donate it to the party."  P.S. (Apple Daily)  There is an alleged bid of US$10,000 (~NT$320,000).

(United Daily News)  As for the other collector's item -- the motorcycle chain/padlock that prevented the speaker from exiting, there is presently no known auction market for it, even though this was also unprecedented.

Satiric SMS or libel? Writing political poetry in Chongqing  Joel Martinsen, Danwei
As Grip of Censors Endures in China, A Satirical Poem Leads to Jail Time  Edward Cody, Washington Post
The Pengshui SMS Case  ESWN

So here is the eventual outcome with respect to the responsible parties.

At noon on August 15, 2006, Qin Zhongfei sent out a poem via SMS about corruption and ineptitude in Pengshui county.  This poem apparently touched some nerves.  According to Observation magainze, the Pengshui party secretary Lan Qinghua has been at his post for six years and county mayor Zhou Wei has been at his post for five years.  As such, they were due for transfer/promotion and they didn't want to hear about any negative news when the higher-ups come around to evaluate their performances in order to determine their next assignments.
 
According to information, on the morning of September 1, 2006, leaders from the Pengshui public security bureau, procuratorate and court met to discuss the case along with other department not related to political law.  The decision was to charge Qin Zhongfei with libel.
 
This was an obvious mistake, because if the subjects of the case (Lan Qinghua, Zhou Wei and others) felt that they were libeled, they should have filed a complaint directly with the People's Court.  Instead, Qin Zhongfei was detained by the public security bureau.
 
The case received national exposure and gained the attention of the superiors in Chongqing city.  On September 29, the Pengshui public security bureau permitted Qin Zhongfei to go out on bail after 29 days of detention.  The bail request did not come from Qin, but from the public security bureau itself.  This meant that the bureau indirectly admitted fault.  According to information, public security bureau director Zhou Mingguang admitted fault.

More media joined in the reporting of this case and even the central government issued directives because of the impact on the whole nation.  On October 24, Qin Zhongfei was pronounced innocent and all charges were withdrawn.  On October 25, Qin Zhongfei was compensated by the state with 2,125.7 RMB in lost wages.

Here is the most important part: Pengshui party secretary Lan Qinghua has been relieved of his post due to his role in the affair.

What does it mean?  It means that it is okay to send those SMS's!

On the evening of December 29, she was asked by three government officials to keep them company.  At around 2am on December 30, she was found unconscious in the suite room, with massive bleeding from her vagina.  According to information, Yang was believed to have been drugged and then gang-raped and tortured to death.  "There were many needle marks on her body, several teeth were broken, her tongue was bitten off, her breasts were cut off, her vagina was ripped, etc." 

The mainstream media (Southern Metropolis Daily) interview with the victim's father:

At the hosptial, I examined her body carefully.   There was no sign of injury.  There was just some blood inside the mouth.  Later on, after the examination in the mortuary, they said that there were many bruise marks on her neck and back, her vagina was bleeding and there were four needle marks on her arm ... Yesterday, the country government found a report from who knows where that said my daughter had been raped.  But I have yet to see this report ... Today, the provincinal judicial department came to do two autopsies.  They said that the four needlemarks were fake.  We are totally befuddled ... I have not seen the [Internet rumors].  I cannot make irresponsible talk."

The Chinese problem is that when mainstream media go missing in action by fiat, then Internet rumors rule.

At the CRHK Hit Song Awards, Joey Yung wore a ballet tutu that was very similar to the 2007 spring/summer clothes by Viktor & Rolf.  This drew criticisms from netizens.  In an appearance on a television show on January 5, Joey replied: "It depends on your personal view.  The important thing about clothes is that that they should be comfortable ... one day, I was worried about what to wear.  The designer said, 'Don't worry about it.  I'll take care it for you.'  I liked that particular dress.  So next time, I'll be more careful.  I'll might have to make some minor modifications.  But I'll keep the cutting ..."

Once she said that, the netizens went beyond the copying but they also criticized Joey for disrespecting intellectual property rights.  They called for everybody one to complain to the Broadcasting Authority that Joey was misleading young people with her speech.  The netizens were particularly displeased and upset by her saying "I'll be a bit smarter when I copy the next time."  Some netizens even want to complain together to the copied brand and even the Customs Department.  As of January 16, the Broadcasting Authority has received 108 complaints against Joey over the copying.

Everybody knows that a public figure has tremendous influence in front of the camera lens.  But the citizens have used the Internet channel to form a pressure force through expressing their opinions.  When Joey Yung made another public appearance on January 9, she apologized for her mistake.  From this, we can see that society treats Internet opinion as important.  The artiste had to make a hurried response through the traditional media.  This shows the power of Internet public opinion.

Related Link: Roast Swan Lake.

There once was a man named Wang Fulong.  He used to be a worker/foreman and he only had an elementary school education.  Then he got someone to spend some money to purchase the survey that the State Administration for Safe Production Supervision which referred to bringing the culture of safe production to the grassroots.  He then asked Modern Consumer Guide to let him publish a Safety Education Weekly periodical.  He hired 40 to 50 employees who were mostly unemployed people in society.  

Wang did not actually pay the employees; instead, they had to pay him 3,000 RMB per month.  These employees were supposed to spread out across Shanxi province.  They investigated the coal mines and if they found anything, they would extort money by threatening to expose the problems.  Whenever there were any mine accidents, these people can be counted on being there to get paid off.  When an employee made some money, he had to give 60% to Wang while only keeping 40% for himself.  Wang also sells bronze plaques at 40,000 RMB apiece to indicate that a place has passed the Safety Cultural examination.  Wang was grossing over 2 million RMB from this racket.

The downfall of Safety Education Weekly came when three employees were caught red-handed by the police during an extortion attempt in Linfen county.  The most eye-catching aspect was that the three people could not even write down anything simple.  That is, they did not even have elementary school language skills.  This made it abundantly clear that Safety Education Weekly did not employ these people either as investigators or reporters.  That was how the pressure came down from above to 're-organize.'  After examining the situation, the only logical way to 're-organize' was to dismiss everybody.

(Liu Taifu) It does not matter who the deceased was and it does not matter what his status is.  The life of any citizen should be equally protected under the law.  Anyone who illegally take the lives of others should be punished by the law.  Yet it is strange that after Lan Chengzhang was beaten to death, the locals seem to care more about the identity of the deceased.  Even an official at the Datong city News Center said that there was only an ordinary crime but no case of a reporter being killed, as if the nature of the case changes if the deceased were a reporter or not.  So it is that important whether the deceased is a real or fake reporter?

In my view, after the killing, the local authorities ought to investigate the coal mine where the incident occurred and find the murderers.  They needed to figure out even more just what is it about these coal mines that draw fake reporters to extort money from them.  Reportedly, fake reporters have become an occupation.  There is a common saying: a fly cannot enter into an egg without a crack.  So what sort of ugliness is being hidden in these coal mines?  Yet, it is surprising that the local authorities immediately released the <Notice of the special Datong project to combat fake newspapers, fake magazines and fake reporters> to take action against 'fake reporters.'  Of course, it is necessary to take such action . But rooting out the cause of these fake reporters is the most important thing.  If you only take action against the fake reporters without paying any attention to the root cause of the fake reporters, then no matter whether it is real or fake reporters, incidents like the Lan Chengzhang case will recur.

(Cheng Huaiqiang)  A man was brutally beaten until he was seriously injured and subsequently died.  This would be alright if the related departments followed the process of a criminal case.  But when a reporter investigating a coal mine was murdered by the people there, then this has a different background because it involves the issue of watchdog journalism.  The death of a reporter meant that the murderers must be punished.  The authorities must also deal with questions from the news media, the public sympathy for the reporter and the anger of their superiors.  Worse yet, they must be afraid that if one follows the lead, they may be held accountable for production safety issues.

Therefore, the most urgent task was to deny the identity of the deceased.  This will minimize public attention while diverting attention from the safety issue at coal mines.  When the incident loses its news value, its impact will be smaller and the superiors are less likely to intervene.  So the relevant Datong city departments kept emphasizing that this was just a 'fight' and an ordinary crime.  They insisted that the deceased was not a reporter, because the conditions of the relevant regulations about reporters have not been met, etc.  Thus, Lan Chengzhang died at the hands of thugs, but the principal reason was that the local news environment was disorderly and the reporters were a mixed lot.  As to why the local news environment is disorderly and why there are so many fake reporters, the relevant departments will probably dodge the answer.  After a few more evasions, the potentially key question of supervising mine safety will probably disappear.  Furthermore, it is possible to clamp down on the various news media so that there will be fewer worries in the future.  At this point, I have to say, "Brilliant!  That is really brilliant!"

[in translation]

The exclusive game offered by Sung Hon-sang (see Comment 200701#042) is about the non-obvious design at Hong Kong Chief Executive candidate Alan Leong's website at www.alanleong.net.  When I went there, I was also astonished by the pop-up with the slogan of "Gender equality begins with the toilet." ...

It is not hard to market politics, but it is absolutely not simple.  When a voter casts a vote, he does not spend much time and definitely not any money.  Anyway, everybody knows that the one vote will make no difference, but it is only an expression of attitude.  This is not just my own pessimism, but it is the viewpoint in the very popular public choice theory.  Since voters don't care about policy platforms, the candidates concentrate on their images and one cannot blame them for that.  The only social discontent will come from young intellectuals such as Sung Hong-sang.

Yesterday, I spoke to Sung Hong-sang.  It turned out that the "offline office" of barrister Alan Leong has replied quickly and asked Apple Pie to publish the correct URL address of Alan Leong's campaign.  Why didn't Leong seize this opportunity to push his policy platofrm?  Isn't this a chance to use Apple Pie to provide some free promotion?  What is the point of just publishing a URL?  Active communication seems to be more critical; this embarrassing sitaution would not have emerged otherwise?

... I have gone to Alan Leong's campaign site, and I find it lacking in focus.  No wonder Donald Tsang counter-attacked Alan Leong at last week's Legislative Council meeting that Leong is all style and no substance.  That is a crucial point that differentiates the two camps.  The vulnerable points of the opponent is quite often your best opening.  This applies to political propaganda as well as business operatons.

Here, I will have to refer you to Alan Leong's campaign website at: http://www.competitionforce.hk/.

[in translation]

According to a China Youth Daily report, 226 doctoral, masters and undergraduate students at a certain Nanjing university signed a joint petition to ask for lenient sentencing for a graduate student named Zuo Fan.  The defendant Zuo Fan had been involved in a dispute over a girl in which the other party planned to assault him, but he retaliated and used his knife to stab three persons.  The court has taken measures against the possibility of student opinion pressures in the event that Zuo Fan is found guilty.  It should be noted that in the Internet debate, the pro-Zuo Fan faction that regards him as a "great hero" and "a man with guts" has an overwhelming majority voice.

If asked how I look at this matter, I would like to tell you about my personal experience.  On an evening more than ten years ago, I was attending university.  Suddenly, the news came that a fellow university student was out drinking, got into a fight with some local hooligans and was killed.  The campus exploded.  Within minutes, the march to demand "severe punishment of the perpetrators" had gone out into the streets, including myself.  This was a sensational event at the time, and we thought that it was obvious.  In retrospect, I have to think about whether we knew what were the precedents and consequences?  Did we pressure he judicial system?  But nobody cared at the time, because we only knew that a fellow student had been killed and we must take revenge on his behalf.  Here, emotions trumped rationality.  Our sense of collective identity trumped our respect for universal law.  It went without say that the hooligan was punished by the law very quickly.  How dare he offend university students?  In that era, university students were untouchable!

In bringing up this past event, I want to reveal the typical mindset of university students.  I believe that this is applicable to those young people who were gathering signatures for Zuo Fan.  This is a group which has a collective consciousness without caring about the details.  This is about "us" and "them."  The particular psychological characteristic is that it becomes more apparent the younger, the less knowledgeable and the less socially experienced.  What can be done?  When one is not ready to become psychologically independent, one needs a sense of group membership, even to the point of disregarding the right and wrong.  In our case, it was blood for blood.  But we did not pay any attention to the details, for we only wanted the blood debt to be repaid.  We felt offended and trampled upon as a group, so we must each do our own part.  There was an impulse to show our strength.  We realized that we were powerful, due to our identity as the group known as university students ...  The power of youth creates the impulse to intervene with society.  We cannot intervene in the major issues of our times, but we can demand justice for our fellow student.  Besides we knew who we were -- university students do not have economic positions, but our political positions were not bad.  When we spoke out, who would dare to ignore us?  They would be drowned out by the saliva from society.

Although the students who signed on behalf of Zuo Fan may not realized all this, I believe that this is what they must think sub-consciously.  The judge believed that the students did not understand the truth and therefore ignored their petition.  He upheld the independence of the verdict.  From the previous case of Liu Yong in which Internet opinion influenced the juridical decision, the judicial community is aware of interference of public opinion and even formed a psychological resistance.  Without this background, the judge in the Zuo Fan case would not have definitively rejected the student petition, even though he was confronting the university student group that held the opinion advantage.

The "leftists" in the opinion battle are mostly those who "do not understand the truth" or "have no interest in learning about the truth."  They only want to fight the powers, but they don't care about legal decisions.  Ultimately, they don't believe in the law, they don't trust the existing legal system, they don't believe that the law is just and they don't believe that judges will rule fairly.  If one says that "the law is an act of faith," then the case of Zuo Fan showed that faith is a long way from being established in China, and that includes public perception as well as the perfection of law and justice -- ultimately, those are the causes and effects. 

On January 9, China Trade News' Shanxi bureau reporter Lang Chengzhang was beaten to death at a Datong city coal mine.  The newspaper and the Shanxi authorities differed in their opinions about whether Lang Chengzhang was a reporter.  The following is an interview with Datong city General Administration of Press and Publications division director Liu Dongyue.

Q: How is the case about Lan Chengzhang's death coming along?
A: The suspects have not been apprehended.  The purpose and goal of Lan's visit to the coal mine are still unclear.  The police are investigating.
 
Q: Datong city published a notice to strike against fake reporters on January 10.  Has anyone telephoned to denounce fake reporters?
A: Not yet.

Q: When Luliang city (Shanxi province) began its own campaign against fake journalism, they found 80 fake reporters within 100 days.  Are there a lot of fake reporters in Datong city?
A: There are many coal mines in Shanxi.  There are fake reporters in Datong city.  We have heard about it, but there are very few crime reports and testimonies.  Many of the extorted units would rather "pay them off."  This has emboldened the fake reporters to the point where they are now a public menace.

Q: Is anyone without a <Reporter's Identification> a fake reporter?
A: Strictly speaking, that is a fake reporter because the General Administration of Press and Publications has its regulations.

Q: Do the Datong media often hire temporary reporters?
A: Quite a lot.  This happens across China, not just in Datong.  Therefore, our anti-fakery campaign is intended to regulate this.  Whenever Datong city holds an event, there is a publicity committee formed by the city party committee's publicity department, the General Administration Press and Publication and other relevant departments to greet the reporters and verify their legal status as reporters.

Q: Has Datong city conducted any anti-fakery campaign previously?
A: Yes.  Certain media forge reporter passes.  Certain units are not even media units.  But in order to hold events easier or avoid the toll charges, they forge reporter passes.  Last year, we confiscated many fake reporter passes.

Q: Are there any steps taken beyond confiscating fake ID's?
A: We have an idea right now, but it has not been solidified.  We want to publish the names, photographs and circumstances of those people with fake identification.  We want to publish the information and describe the facts, so that the various units can be alerted and not have to receive those fake reporters.  The various departments will still have to consider whether this is a violation of the image rights of the fake reporters.  When we act against illegal activities, we must make sure that what we do is legal.

Red Sparowes - Every Red Heart Shines Towards the Red Sun - There is a good reason why I've never picked up a Red Sparowes disc. It is a side project of guys from Isis and Neurosis, doing what Pelican does. Well, I thought it was a good reason until I actually sat down and listened to this: a sharp turning opera of post-metal. It's one of the strengths of metal that it is unself-conscious enough to take something like The Great Chinese Sparrow War of 1958 and turn it into an album. One of the benefits of the post-metal construction is that when it comes to grinding on power cords, the album usually has earned it with studied contemplation up to that point. There is nothing shallow, cheap and masturbatory about this release. Instead it builds up a huge vision of a thing that never sells itself out with schlock.

[in translation]

Since the 1970's, when I taught contemporary Chinese literature in the United States, I always use Eileen Chang's own translation of "The Golden Cangue" as one of the texts.  Therefore, I know from personal experience about the reception of Eileen Chang's works in the English-language world.  In the foreword to my <Re-reading Eileen Chang>, I wrote:

American youth are bold and daring and there is seldom any awkward silence during class discussions.  They have opinions about Lu Xun, Ba Jin, Mao Dun and others.  No matter what their viewpoints are, they are usually reasonable.  The sole exception is Eileen Chang.  The students seldom spontaneously join the discussion.  If named, they would frequently explain that they do not understand the human relationships in the story, and therefore they found it hard to figure what the author was trying to say.

Although they claimed that they "didn't understand" the story, they still reacted strongly towards the character of Ch'i-ch'iao during exam time.  Even though this is many years later, I still remember that one female student who never said a thing in class wrote these words about Ch'i-ch'iao: "This woman is an absolute horror, so sick, so godless."

The undergraduate class uses English-language texts and they speak English in class.  It is difficult to appreciate the literary enchantment of Eileen Chang's stories unless you read them in the original language.  The story of Ch'i-ch'iao in translation only reveals her loathsome aspects.  No wonder there were so few fans of "The Golden Cangue" in my class.  How many twenty-year-old American students can standing this "monstrous" daughter-in-law of the family?

...

<Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon> director Ang Lee wrote in the blurb ... "She is the fallen angel of Chinese literature, and now, with these excellent new translations, English readers can discover why she is so revered by Chinese readers everywhere." ... Ang Lee probably wanted to say that Eileen Chang has been ignored by English-language readers.  The young readers in my class who had difficulty with "The Golden Cangue" will surely be delighted by romances such as "Love In A Fallen City" and "Red Rose, White Rose."

I love this fasinating old building at 119 Lai Chi Kok Road, Mong Kok (旺角荔枝角度119). In my childhood, the ghosts there had haunted me for a period of time but certainly it was imaginary, just like many other ghost stories in historial buildings - a vintage construction is often reputable with some imaginary ghost stories.  Lui Seng Chun (雷生春), a Grade I historical building and one of the few remaining "tong lau", or Chinese tenement, buildings in the city, was officially donated to the people of Hong Kong on October 7, 2003. 

[... there's more on that page ...]

(Diuman Park)  From Yip Yatchi on January 13, 2007:

(in translation from Chinese) When a historical site is renovated too modern, it erases the distance of time; once it looks too modern, it is impossible to invoke the imagination.  All the legendary ghost stories have vanished, and the historical site becomes uninterested.  Only if "Lui Seng Chun" is allowed to age will you see that female ghost leaning against the pillar and longing for her husband.

(SCMP)  Tsang acknowledges challenge of the blogger.  By Felix Chan.  January 14, 2007.

The government faces a tough task handling public opinion that is increasingly being expressed on the internet, Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen said yesterday, referring to lessons learned from the recent failed campaign to save the old Star Ferry pier in Central.

Speaking at the Hong Kong News Executives' Association's 20th anniversary dinner, Mr Tsang acknowledged that more people were using the internet to become their own reporters or editors, setting the agenda of the day through weblogs, or blogs, and mobilising public support for their causes.  "Although I am not qualified to give my opinion in this area, the government will have to do some thinking, such as how to handle the new, rapidly expanding public opinion platform on the internet."

He said the Star Ferry pier campaign was a good example of a movement born out of the internet.  "How to listen to these opinions in an organised manner is a type of challenge for us, as well as finding a new means for it, since we don't have any specialised formula to process this type of opinion. However, I still believe that sincerity [in listening to others] is most important."

What does it mean to "handle" the Internet public opinion platform?  This is a two-stage process.  In the first stage, you have to locate and listen to these opinions.  This can be achieved with sufficient manpower.  The second stage is much more critical -- it is not enough to listen, because the point is to respond to public opinions and change them through interaction (see Theses on Feuerbach).  Now this is an apparently intractable problem because traditional PR methods do not work on bloggers; if anything, any crude attempt to do so will only result in blowbacks.  As an exercise, take a look at the issue of "Lui Seng Chun" as presented by the blogger Yip Yatchi with some simple but powerful pictures.  How will you interact with this blogger?  How can you influence his opinion?  Yes, Yip Yatchi is waiting out there for the response ...  To put it simply, he thinks that the renovations may have preserved the form, but not the spirit of "Lui Seng Chun."  You can change his opinion by offering a compelling argument either about (1) form always trumps spirit or (2) the new and improved "Lui Seng Chun" preserves the true spirit of the place.  If you do an adequate job, you own the new media PR market!  The government departments and the mega-corporations will be pounding on your door for your service.  This is truly the multi-million dollar answer!

[in translation]

The Forbidden Palace is vast.  If you get tired walking around, you need to get something to drink or eat.  Although the food and drinks in the Forbidden Palace stalls are not necessarily better than Starbucks and their service is definitely worse, those problems are solvable and they would not have created the strong feelings of incongruity and absurdity that tourists feel when they see a Starbucks inside the Forbidden Palace ... This is not about globalization; this is only about trashing Chinese culture.

I googled "Starbucks in the Forbidden City" and I found 289,000 results with plenty of photographs.  I read some of these essays, which are mostly about westerners' humurous observations on China.  A large number of westerners were disgusted by what happened and felt that this was a disrespect towards China.

... At the Yale CEO summit conference, I met the new Starbucks CEO Jim Donald and I used my chance to speak as a half joke to ask him to get rid of the Starbucks in side the Forbidden Palace.  Here is what I said:

"The Chinese people did not have the taste or tradition for drinking coffee, but Starbucks has turned China into its second largest global market.  This is an admirable commercial success.  But there is something that is disappointing: there is a Starbucks inside the Forbidden City.  I and numerous Chinese and foreign friends believe that it is incongruous to have a Starbucks inside the Forbidden City, because it is 'obscene.'  I don't know if Starbucks has any plans to be present at the Taj Mahal Palace in India, or the Pyramids of Egypt, the Buckingham Palace in England and other world cultural treasure and miracle sites, but I ask you to get out of the Forbidden City."

When I delivered this speech in English ... there was laughter among the audience and Jim Donald was somewhat embarrassed.  But most of the American CEO's agreed with my viewpoint.  During the break, Jim Donald told me that he is new at this job and he does not agree with Starbucks being in the Forbidden City.  He promised that he will discuss with colleagues when he gets back to the office, in particular with the Chinese partner.  Frankly, I have a good impression of Jim Donald and we had a nice chat.  If the idea had really come from the Chinese partners, then we have to really work on how those Chinese people are thinking.

It has been four months since I returned from the Yale conference.  Starbucks is still in the Forbidden Palace ...

Perhaps you feel that it is unimportant whether Starbucks is in the Forbidden Palace or not.  In my humble opinion, this is one of the many things can be said or left unsaid, done or left undone, but these are the things that areunconsciously leading to the misreading of China and the rest of the world by each other.

... I hope that Starbucks will continue to succeed in China, but they must get out of the Forbidden Palace soon.

Relevant Links
Starbucks in the Forbidden City
  Ask Edgeworth (July 13, 2004)
Starbucks in the Forbidden City: some Chinese views
  Jeremy Goldkorn, Danwei

How Blogging Can Galvanize China
  Geoffrey Fowler, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
China's Starbucks-blogger-gate: Hype and reality
  Rebecca MacKinnon, RConversation
China's growing blogosphere turns on US coffee icon
  Peter Ford, Christian Science Monitor

[in translation]

It's the weekend again, so how about getting on the Internet to play a game for relaxation?

Here it goes.  A few days ago, legislator Alan Leong challenged Chief Executive Donald Tsang to quickly announce his candidacy in the election in order to debate their respective policy platforms.  A friend asked, "So what is Leong's policy platform?"  Good question.  Previously, someone had complained that the policy platform exists, but the media do not report on it.  No problem.  If the media won't report on it, we can always go to Alan Leong's personal website to find out.

From Google, I found Leong's website (www.alanleong.net).  I opened the page and a box popped out with the words: "Gender equality begins with the toilet."  My instant reaction was just like yours right now.  But I followed it through and then I found out what it was about.  Leong's legislator office is "presently conducting a series of studeis in order to determine the proper ratio of male and female restroom cubicles."  I have to admire Leong's progressiveness for public justice.

While it is easy to find restroom justice, it was harder to find the policy platform.  So I recommend a game -- try to find Leong's policy platform as quickly as possible.  So, grab a timer and take the challenge!

How about it?  How much time did you spend?  Don't despair.  Ten people in our company tried it.  The quickest person had to press 57 links; the slowest person took ten minutes; two people actually gave up.  It was really not easy.  Some people struggled with the menu on the left hand side; some people used the search function; some people started clicking on the  photographs, including even Leong's leather waist belt, the left and right breasts of the blind goddess on top of the legislature buildings and so on without success.

Do not click on the "public speeches" page because it is blank; do not click on "blog" because the date is still stuck around August of last year and it is also blank.  You still haven't found it?  Fine, let me give you a hint: press the item titled "other links concerning Alan Leong" near the bottom right; press the first link and that will bring you to the home base of Alan Leong's campaign for Chief Executive.  Quite unexpected!  Could the website have been hacked, such that the link was so ambiguously titled and concealed?

...

How are you doing?  You still haven't found it?  You must not be distracted by the pagewide advertisement about the Alan Leong's CE Election Campaign Fundraising Walkathon!  You should look at the top of the page.  Yes, there is a link about "policy platform" in small letters near the top left corner.  Congratulations!  Was it difficult?  It was hard work.  It seems that someone else other than the media does not think Leong's policy platform is important.  You can't blame them because the policy platform was not just four points or three paragraphs, but a grand total of 2,632 words ... a normal peson could not remember what it was after reading it in full.  Wait, what was Leong's policy platform?

These days, a website is a fundamental way to communicate with citizens.  In this Chief Executive election, Leong cannot win in the actual voting.  The principal goal is to win public opinion support, and use the discrepancy between the voting result and public opinion result to expose the inadequacy of the small circle election.  If Leong claims that he "values communication," then it is time to ask his campaign team to fix up the fundamentals of communication.

11:05, December 30, 2006.  Saddam Hussein was executed by hanging.  Five hours later, almost all of the major Chinese Internet portals placed the first photograph of the deceased Hussein on the top of the front page: black suit, eyes shut, mouth half-open, lying on a white bedsheet.

The next day the shocking revelation was that this photograph was forged by a netizen, who provided the process of the forgery.  So the public condemnations were directed at the netizen named "Harry Potter's dad" who made the post at the MOP forum.

However, the true culprit was not "Harry Potter's dad" but another netizen known as "Blue Silence."

Here are the steps: (1) borrow the eyes of the dead Uday Hussein, the son of Saddam Hussein; (2) find a head shot of Saddam Hussein and paste Uday's eyes on them; (3) find a full photograph of Saddam Hussein in a suit; (4) paste Saddam's head on top of the suit; (5) set up the white background bedsheet; (6) paste some Arabic comments from elsewhere.

The yWeekend reporter contacted all the major Internet portals, and was surprised at the amazingly uniform reactions: they admit that they found this photograph at the forums and noted that it was drawing high hit rates.  Therefore, they also recommended the post on their front pages.  But they insisted that they never put a forum post into the news section, because all news items are obtained from the print media.  If the netizens mistake the photograph as factual news, then it is their misreading.  Journalism experts may not agree with this opinion since the Internet portals have far greater influence on public opinion than any individual media outlet at this time; as such, they ought to act responsiblity with respect to their influence.

In Wuhan, the police set up a platic statue of a police officer who appears to be taking video recording of cars coming through (to detect speeding and/or running through red lights).  This morning, it was noticed that the plastic video camera is gone and the police officer is now holding a paper instant noodle cup with a pair of chopsticks.  Free lunch for the drivers?  The police say that they are investigating who the prankster is.

Two men who distributed leaflets with mocked-up images depicting state leaders and Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen having sex with local female performers to make a political statement were sent to jail yesterday.  Yip Chi-wai and Wong Chun-kit were found guilty of possessing and distributing obscene articles.

Magistrate William Lam Kui-po rejected their defence that they had been exercising their right to freedom of speech under the Basic Law. Yip was jailed for eight months, Wong for three.  The Obscene Articles Tribunal had earlier determined the leaflets to be obscene.

In the leaflets handed out near the Bank of China Tower in Garden Road last February 16, the cut-out heads of leaders, including Mr Tsang, President Hu Jintao , Premier Wen Jiabao , Vice-President Zeng Qinghong and US President George W.Bush, were attached to nude bodies and animals from photographs and cartoons.  Among the images on the cover was one of Mr Tsang's head attached to the body of a dog.  The images depicting the leaders having sex were on the centre page.

According to Apple Daily, there was actually a complainant who initiated the case.  On the day of the incident, a secretary Ms. Liao went by the Bank of China on her way to work and received a flyer handed over by the two defendants.  This was a stack of A4 papers stapled at the four corners.  She was perlexed: "I thought that there may be something in there that cannot be shown in public.  So I removed the staples and then I found some very disgusting pictures.  There were men and women without clothes, and Donald Tsang's head was attached to that of a dog."  Ms. Liao eventually called the police.
 
During the cross examination, the first defendant told the complainant: "The pictures of Chairman Hu Jintao, Premier Wen Jia-bao, Chief Executive Donald Tsang and Vice-Premieir Zeng Qinghong appeared on the front page with the warning: 'Obscene material inside.  Do not distribute to minors or else you will reported to the authorities.'  Therefore, it was the complainant's own informed decision to read the contents.  But the complainant that the front page also contained disturbing language such as "Fxxk you" and so on.

According to Ming Pao, the second defendant Wong Chun-kit put in the defense that he had no idea what was in the leaflets and he was only there to look after the personal belongings of the first defendant.  The arresting police officer said that he had observed Wong passing out a leaflet to another police officer and that Wong had 13 leaflets in his hand when arrested. 

And watch how you fold models kimono! And youd better watch it all the way through production. Even in a Japanese-American audience in modern times, sensitivities can reach deep. A community that will go unnamed here chose a photo of a kimono-clad young woman to promote a Japanese-American event. The woman properly wore her kimono with the left flap on top. No one noticed that the photo had been flopped showing the right flap on top until the image graced the full run of souvenir booklets, posters, banners and newspaper supplements. Then members of the planning committee "blew a gasket" and insisted on reprinting, said our source, a Japanese-American committee member who didnt see the need for concern.

What was the big deal? The worst that happens with a non-Japanese flopped photo is that type and wedding rings loses its meaning or a hair part changes sides. But in Japan, only dead people are dressed with the right flap of the kimono on top. The community considers the incident so embarrassing that the person who told the story asked to remain anonymous so as not to identify the group by association. (As the source added, the need to save face is strong among Japanese people.)

(Next Weekly)  Top model Chiling Lin (commonly known just as '040') is the spokesperson for China Airlines.  In the China Airlines calendar, Chiling posed in a Japanese kimono in front of the Osaka castle.  Unfortunately, she appeared with the right flap of the kimono on top.  As soon as the calendar appeared in Japan, this faux pas was pointed out and the calendar has been withdrawn.  But if you own one of those calendar, then this is a collector's item.

I listened to part of an interview with Al Gore earlier today in which Gore argued that the Internet and blogs are in the process of fundamentally changing the nature of political debate and dialogue in this country. Television has been overwhelmingly dominant in shaping public opinion, Gore argues, and because its attributes (corporate control, advertisement-dependence, reliance on an entertainment-format) preclude meaningful political discussions, our political debates have been vapid, substance-free and highly manipulative and those who have exercised the most influence in that environment -- presumably television "journalists" and pundits -- have thrived because they excel at these empty tasks.

Gore contends that the Internet will make political debates far more substantive and will render the punditry world far more meritocratic, because online commentators are largely free of the constraints of television which ruin political debates, and because online political dialogue both permits and demands higher-quality arguments in order to persuade.

Meritocracy: "A government or society in which citizens who display superior achievement are rewarded with positions of leadership. In a meritocracy, all citizens have the opportunity to be recognized and advanced in proportion to their abilities and accomplishments."  But how do blogs get sorted out in this alleged meritocracy?
 
A wrong model is to believe that this is about blog wars -- Blogger A PK blogger B on the grounds of greater knowledge, more subtlety in the arguments and better presentation skills and therefore blog A is a leader.  No, the real war is not between bloggers.  The real war is being fought in the minds of the readers.  In the above case, it would be nice if blogger A is much more popular than blogger B.  But what if blogger A wins only on technical grounds and yet blogger B is much more popular?  You can follow the path of fascism and declare that the masses are stupid and need to be told what to do and think.  Or better yet, you can try to figure out why this is happening.
 
So why does Michelle Malkin have so many readers?  Are the masses stupid?  Or is there something else?

[in translation]

In anticipation of next year's Beijing Olympics, the mainland government has recently relaxed the regulations concerning foreign correspondents in China.  As of this year, foreign correspondents can interview anyone with the consent of the subject; that is, prior application is no longer required.  As soon as the new arrangements took place, Reuters interviewed the late premier Zhao Ziyang's secretary Bao Tang who is under house arrest.  This act broke the taboo that had existed for foreign correspondents over the past eight years.  Presently, the foreign correspondents are watching the "bottom line of tolerance" very closely.  But most Hong Kong media people may not realize that this new arrangement was a promise made by the Chinese Olympics Organization Committee to the International Olympics Committee during the Beijing bid for 2008.  The person who came up with this idea was Sarah Liao, the current Secretary for the Environment, Transport and Works in Hong Kong.

According to an informed person, human rights and freedom of press were the major issues that the competitors made about China during the Olympics bid.  Some competitor made a short film using an undated film of the execution of 80 prisoners in Sichuan.  Also, the French delegation cited a report about how the Chinese love to eat dog meat, including France's favorite Saint Bernard dogs.

The informed person said that Sarah Liao was working as a consultant for the Beijing delegation and she objected immediately to the French assertion by saying that the French loved to eat horse meat and also slaughtered horses (so beloved by the English) for that purpose.  These battles of words left things unresolved.  To close the battle, Sarah Liao recommended that during the preparation period for the Olympics, China will increase its transparency and relax the restrictions on foreign correspondents.  At first, the department in charge of ideological control had reservations, but the government considered the costs and benefits and decided to make the promise to the International Olympics Committee.

Althought there is less restriction, it does not mean that foreign correspondents can do everything that they want.  For example, while Reuters was able to interview Bao Tang successfully, another news agency reporter went to Inner Mongolia and interviewed the wife Xinna of imprisoned dissident Hada.  The attempte to interview rights lawyer Zheng Enchong failed because the security guards outside Zheng's abode prevented contact.

Nevertheless, these new regulations represent an improvement for foreign correspondents.  A Beijing Olympics Committee official complained privately that the relaxation of rules has created a large amount of additional work for them.  When the international media can gather news freely, biases and errors inevitably occur and therefore the officials have to spend a lot of effort to correct the inaccurate reports.

This official used the example about how an international news agency reporter calculated on the basis of the number of hutongs that have been demolished in Beijing to say that a large number of residents had to be "forcibly relocated."  After the report was published, the relevant officials had to issue strong denials that this was not true.  But many foreign correspondents already believe this to be true, and so the Beijing Olympics Committee even had to take a large number of international media people to visit the Beijing hutongs so that they can see for themselves.

The demolition of the tallest building by West Lake (Hanzhou):
Sina.com netizen: Does this show their ability to demolish, or their ability to waste money in constructing in the first place?
 
The closure of the school for children of migrant workers in Shanghai, and the physical assault on the school instructor:
Sina.com netizen: The state does not want voluntary education provided by the civilian sector!  How infuriating!  People try to provide education and they are assaulted!  Teachers!  Where will you go!  Students!  You are better off being idiots to satisfy the interests of certain people!  Bandits!  They are elites with no human feelings!
 
... Shanxi disciplinary committee secretary is dead.  The government information is that she fell down a building and died.
Netease.com netizen: The police are actively investigating the cause of death.  Even though the police does not know yet, the government knows that "she fell down a building and died."  Is this an intelligence test for a three-year-old?
 
According to incomplete calculations, the 1,600 RMB deductions will decrease taxes by 2,000 million RMB.  The National Tax Department recently reported that the average personal income increased by 17.1%, while the tax revenues increased by 35.841 billion RMB.  This exceeds the targeted total annual amount. 
Netease.com netizen: What does this prove?  There are fewer taxpayers, but the tax revenues actually increased.  This proves that income inequality has increaed.

One of the things about having a blog (we at the China Blog have learned in our lengthy four-day stint as bloggers) is that you spend a lot of time wondering who--apart from your Mom and your editors--actually reads what you write. We're still wondering.  [you can read the plug for Danwei, from which I learned about this new blog]

... Also indispensable is Roland Soong's EastSouthNorthWest. Based in Hong Kong, Soong is an apparent insomniac who translates from mainland mainstream media and blogs at lightening speed.

Just a couple of days before this, I wrote to another emergent blogger:

Concerning this blogging thing, there is nothing I or anyone else can really do for you in terms of getting traffic (over the long term).  
In the end, you will have to put in the effort.  
If and when you do, you will be found (by others like myself through search engines, Technorati, Blogsearch, etc) without your even having to do anything.  
That was what happened to me.  
So just keep up the good work!
 
Patience, persistence and perseverance ...

... I was reading/watching the news in London when I discovered something that could affect the long-term development of newspaper media around the world.  In Hong Kong, the three free newspapers are battling with each other.  <Metro> has the advantage of exclusive access in the MTR subway system; <Headline Daily> and <am730> concentrate on the office workers who are traveling on the KCR lines from the outlying suburbs such as Shatin to the Central Business District.  <am730> has exclusive rights at the Ma On Shan and KCR West lines with their emergent middle-class populations.  Everybody believes that the essential key to success for free newspapers is distribution within the subway systems.  I have discovered that this is a beautiful misunderstanding and the three free newspapers may have been misguided when they paid cash to the subway systems in order to obtain exclusive distribution rights.  In Europe, this is no longer the case (note: although I write a column for am730, I must still tell you what I believe).

The free newspapers in London are going in the opposite direction.  The London Underground had been trying to auction off the distribution rights for free evening newspapers over the past 18 months, but they have now abandoned the effort.  The official reason was that the offers from the bidding newspaper groups were too low, so that there was no profit for the London Underground.

The free morning newspapers inside the London Underground is the <London Metro>, published by the Associated Newspapers group of the Daily Mail and Evening Standard.  In 1999, they wanted to prevent the invasion of the Swedish Metro International group and signed a ten-year exclusive distribution contract with the London Underground.  That contract actually included full-day distribution rights, which meant that no free evening newspapers can be present.  Obviously, this protected the interests of the paid evening newspaper Evening Standard.

In 2003, Rupert Murdoch's News Corp complained to London's Office of Fair Trading about the monopoly situation in the London Underground.  This matter involved so many complex details that the auction for the free evening newspaper distribution rights in the London Underground dragged on for 18 months.  In the meantime, Murdoch lost patience.  In November 2006, he launched the free newspaper <The London Paper> targeted towards young office workers.  Meanwhile, the Associated Newspapers also launched <London Lite> to counter-attack.  Both newspapers issues about 400,000 copies per day today.

From the beginning, these two free London newspapers were distributed at the entrances to the London Underground.  As a result, they no longer care about distributing inside the metro subway stations themselves.  This meant that the two large newspaper groups had done their arithmetic and determined that it was more effective distributing by hand outside the subway station than putting the copies on racks inside.  They were able to reach their target readers more efficiently.  Therefore, they will not put in high bids to the London Underground, thereby ruining the auction plan.  The refusal of the two free newspapers to get into the subway system makes one want to re-evaluate the value of those distribution rights.  Another free morning newspaper <City A.M.> also distributes by hand in the financial district.  As a result, the value of the distribution rights within the subway system has now been seriously discounted.

(SCMP via AsiaMedia)  Free papers take bigger cut of advertising dollar.  By Frederick Yeung.  January 10, 2007.

Free newspapers look to be the winners in the 2006 advertising market, after high response rates to marketing campaigns gave advertisers confidence to devote more of their budgets on the new rivals to traditional mass dailies, according to an executive at one of the freesheets.  The launch of Sing Tao News Corp's Headline Daily and property agent Centaline Group's am 730 in the summer of 2005 broke the monopoly of Metro Publishing Hong Kong's Metro Daily in the freesheet market.  At the same time, the new players helped to expand the market for freesheets which have captured more than 10 per cent of total newspaper advertising revenue.

"Our overall advertising revenue should have kept about a 10 per cent growth rate in 2006, thanks to the amount of advertising dollars in the last quarter," a source close to Metro Daily told Media Eye earlier this week.  The paper, which has exclusive distribution rights within the MTR rail system, had an extremely quiet period in the first three quarters last year, the source said.

Metro Daily distributes about 330,000 copies among the more than two million morning commuters. Headline Daily distributes more than 600,000 copies in the streets and in lobbies of selected residential estates.  "With our rival having double our circulation, I would be happy for us to have growth this year," the Metro Daily source said.

Headline Daily, with the largest freesheet circulation, should lead its competitors for last year's advertising revenue after earning HK$432 million in the first 10 months compared with HK$116 million in its first six-months of operation in 2005, according to researcher Nielsen Media.

The local gossip-magazine market is showing signs of consolidation and cost cutting as their ad rates tumble in a largely undifferentiated market.  Next Media's flagship Next Magazine yesterday fired some editorial staff with management claims that they did not perform well last year, a source said.  The dismissals followed last week's closure of two publications brought out by Robert Ng Hung-san's South China Group, a move that led to the sacking of about 20 workers, sources told Media Eye.  The two magazines were the monthly Capital HMC, which had been directed at a trendy male audience and Feel 3, a supplement of 3 Weekly.  "There had been rumours since mid-December that two titles were to be closed and the axe fell on January 2," said one worker who lost his job. The company asked him to stop working that day while his employment contract will be terminated next month.

The women's gossip magazine market, which includes Next Media's Sudden Weekly and Emperor Group's Oriental Sunday, has had to cut ad rates to compete for advertising dollars as they all promote gossip or news that is similar to stories run in newspapers during the week.  "A full-page advertisement for a gossip magazine now costs as low as HK$6,000, compared with more than HK$10,000 several years ago," an industry source said last week, adding that several larger circulation magazines, such as Next Media's flagship Next Magazine has cut rates by 25 per cent to strengthen their market share.  The fall in the ad rate was also linked to the arrival of U Magazine which was started by Hong Kong Economic Times Group late in 2005 and has grabbed market share from existing titles, the source added.

Jiang Chunxuan handed his thick English-language mathematics book to Hu Yifu, who asked slowly in a serious tone:

Have you read this book?
Is any one of you a mathematician?
Does anyone of you understand this?
If you don't understand it, why do you call this false science?

The fact is that Sima Nan has ever said anything about the mathematics.  While he has been called a "debunker" by the media, he has only debunked various religious quacks, miracle healers, mind readers, levitationists, etc.  He does not address the issues of science themselves.  Here is the exchange on the show:

Jiang: Sima Nan, have you read the book?
Sima: No.
Jiang: If not, then why do you call me a false scientist?
Sima: Where and when did I call you a false scientist?
Jiang: (silence, followed by a long digression until Hu Yifu had to cut him off)

What is the issue here?  If Jiang Chunxuan wrote a book about some mathematics, it is up to the mathematical community to debate and judge whether this is good or false science.  Unqualified outsiders (such as Sima Nan) are not requested to offer their unlearned and uninformed opinions.  Sima Nan has never offered an opinion on the mathematical works of Jiang Chunxuan.

The problem with Jiang Chunxuan is that he made additional claims beyond the mathematics.  For example (see Comment 200701#018), "I am the greatest mathematician in the last two thousand years.  I was conservative when I said 500 years previously."  There is no known objective and scientific basis for making such an assertion.  Therefore, this is false science.  This has nothing to do with reading his book or not.  If you read it and think it is the greatest book ever, you can say so and that is quite alright.  But that is a subjective and unscientific assessment and there is still no basis for quantifying your opinion (namely, 500 or 2,000 years).

Another problem with Jiang Chunxuan is that he claims to be internationally famous.  This means that his lack of recognition inside China must have been due to evil forces such as Sima Nan and others who hate civilian scientists.  Sima Nan has investigated the claim in detail -- it is based solely upon an American-Italian by the name Ruggiero Maria Santilli.  Santilli is a retired physicist who is an amateur mathematician and has published several papers by Jiang in his journal Algebras, Groups and Geometries.  Santilli heads the Institute for Basic Research, whose address is "Post Office Box 1577, Palm Harbor, FL 34682, USA."  To have one international amateur mathematician endorse your work does not make you 'internationally famous.'  If Jiang Chunxuan really "proved the Goldbach conjecture in ten statements" as he claims, he ought to be really, really internationally famous.  Any qualified mathematician would recognize the worth of ten statements that solves an age-old problem.  But they don't.  More conspiracy theories?

In the Era of Spring and Autumn, there was a Mr. Ye in the nation of Chu.  Mr. Ye loved all things related to dragons.  All his decoractions, pillars, doors, windows, bowls, plates and clothes have dragons on them.  Even his wall was covered by the painting of a very very big dragon.  One day, a real dragon came to Mr. Ye's home, stuck its head through the window and bellowed: "Is Mr. Ye home?"

Mr. Ye saw that it was a real dragon and screamed: "Wahhh! There's a monster!"  The dragon was surprised and said: "Why do you call me a monster?  I am your beloved dragon!"  Mr. Ye was quaking in terror and said: "I love fake dragons that look like dragons, not real dragons.  Help!"  Before Mr. Ye finished saying those words, he was already on his way out in flight.  Because democracy and the current Chinese Communist interest group are like fire and ice, something that goes to democracy means something less for the Chinese Communist interest group.  Democracy is a good thing.  But if only the Chinese Communists can put the nation's and the people's interests ahead of their own interests, then democracy is a good thing.

The other angle is about the current political situation in China, specifically with respect to the control of media access.  The assertion is that the Hu-Wen faction does not control the Central Publicity Department, and an essay like this had to be published in obscure places (such as Beijing party organs) instead of mainstream sources such as People's Daily.  This is a recurrent condition in Chinese history:

Forty years ago, Mao Zedong held supreme power within the Communist Party, but he did not control the opinion apparatus in Beijing.  So he had to go to Shanghai and get Yao Wenyuan and Zhang Chunqiao to criticize the historical drama <Ha Rui Quits Officialdom> to begin the Cultural Revolution; he also posted <My First Big Character Poster> on his own office door.  In early 1992, Deng Xiaoping also held supreme power within the Communist Party, but he had no voice in Beijing either.  Between January 18 to February 21, he traveled to Wuhan, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Shanghai and other places and spoke to the local government and party officials to explain his dissatisfaction with the progress of the reforms, throwing down the tough words: "Whoever does not reform will be ousted."

The problems that Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping and Hu Jintao faced exposed that flaw of the Chinese Communist system -- it appears to be a collective leadership with division of labor, but it is in fact division of power by special interest groups.  Obviously, the publicity and opinion apparatus in Beijing are not controlled by General Secretary Hu Jintao.  Instead, the control goes to other members of the Politburo who used those apparatus to suppress public opinion against corruption in the name of "stability over all else."  In the end, the beneficiaries are all the corrupt organizations at the various levels of local government.

(Just A Sidekick)  

[in translation]

In the movie <Twelve Nights>, Eason Chan told Cecilia Cheung: "It is very tiresome to argue with you.  You never follow someone else's argument."

This dialogue created a deep impression with me.
When you "argue" with someone, do you have to follow their argument?

When I first saw the movie and heard this dialogue, my immediate reaction was: "I am arguing!  Of course, I won't follow your argument.  If I follow it, what is there to argue about?  Stupid!"

But on the other hand, I also thought: "If I don't follow, then what is there left to discuss?  When both sides do not have some basis for some common understanding, then there is no point in saying anything." ...

While Sidekick considered this to be an issue in the blogosphere in which bloggers have retreated from arguments, the problem is actually much more widespread.  I am going to list some of the long blog posts here over the past week:

Consider The False Science Debate on Phoenix TV - Part 1 and The False Science Debate on Phoenix TV - Part 2.  This was a televised forum about false science.  Were the participants trying to follow the arguments of the other side?  That is highly doubtful.  Instead, the arguments involve statements like: "Let us settle this in the parking lot afterwards and I'm going to whip your ass!"

Consider Prevention and Control of Public Harm from the Press.  The state of arguments in Taiwan goes as follows: "XYZ is pro-blue media/blog.  Therefore, everything therein is automatically wrong and harmful.  Don't pay any attention.  XYZ only wants to sell Taiwan out to China."  The opposite argument goes as follows: "ABC is pro-green media/blog.  Therefore, everything therein is automatically wrong and harmful.  Don't pay any attention.  They only want to protect their corrupt masters who want to rake in money while inflaming ethnic hatred."  And the more polarized this society gets, the more gain goes to the politicians, special interests groups, media and blogs.

Sorry, but there was nothing from Hong Kong this week.  But the state of arguments would be depressingly similar.  "MNOP media/blog is pro-democracy and pro-freedom.  Therefore everything there is automatically correct.  Anyone who disagrees must hate freedom/demoracy.  If MNOP criticises some other media/blog, then those other people hate democracy and freedom."  The opposite argument is "MNOP media/blog hates China.  It must be subsidized by secret funds from the US CIA and Taiwan military intelligence.  Therefore everything there is automatically false.  Anyone who disagrees is a traitor."  Alternately, "PQRS media/blog dares to be critical of the pan-democratic camp.  It must be a Communist shill.  Therefore everything there is automatically false.  Anyone who disagrees must also be a Communist shill."

Such pre-emptive statements will have a preventative effect of rendering all arguments unnecessary and redundant.  We live in a harmonious society in which nobody has any arguments about anything because everything is settled beforehand ... such bliss! ...

The netizens attacked Joey Yung by methods such as joining together to complain to the Broadcasting Authority that Joey Yung had propounded on harmful information and disrespected intellectual rights during a TVB interview; that as a public figure she said "As long as it is comfortable or I like it, you can ignore the hard work of the creator ...." which may mislead or encourage young people who were watching the program during the family hour.

Also some other netizens were going to file complaints with the Customs Department and Viktor & Rolf; Jackie Cheung's promotion film about intellectual property rights was resurrected; asking Joey to turn herself in at the police station; asking whether it is alright to download Joey's songs (as long as you don't download the entire song)  ... There was also a poll on the spokesperson for contraband goods, and obviously Joey won outright; ... There was another poll in which one has to select the person that Joey most resembles from a list that includes: thief, senior government official, Mrs. Tung Chee-hwa, Mongkok district contraband vendor with hair dyed blond, etc, in which 'thief' is currently leading ... However, Joey is only second (behind Jackie Chan) in the poll for the worst artiste in terms of moral character and self-cultivation ....

Joey's fans felt that she is being maligned by evil forces, but their voices are being drowned out the critics.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Here is the sample translation about event #5 in Part 2:

In early August, typhoon Paibian passed by Hong Kong almost 300 kilometers southeast (towards east) of Hong Kong.  There were gale-force winds throughout Hong Kong.  At first, the Hong Kong Observatory hoisted the number three storm signal based upon the Victoria Harbor measurements instead of a number eight storm signal.  This caused many injuries to citizens.  Many radio listeners called in to complain about the decision by the Observatory.

The Underground Observatory director posted a blog post titled "Did you know that the Weather Observatory fooled you?" which questioned the position of typhoon Paibian and the use of the weaker gale force winds at the Kaitak location and criticized the Hong Kong Weather Observatory for neglecting science, hiding the facts and deceiving the public.  According to the blog service provider mysinablog, that post was viewed 120,000  times on a single day.  This was a record for that blog service provider.

Many of my readers are English-only-readers in Hong Kong.  These lists in fact have no relevance for them because they are for Chinese readers.  But they cannot be dismissed, because 95% of the population in Hong Kong are Chinese readers (possibly bilingual).

[in translation]

yWeekend: You participated in the 12/28 Phoenix TV program hosted by Hu Yifu.  How do you feel?
Jiang Chunxuan: For a person like Jiang Chunxuan, there had never been any opportunity to speak out in public.  He Zuoxiu, Fang Zhouzi and Sima Nan controlled the opinions, talked rubbish and trashed us.  We can now speak out and therefore they are scared and want to divert attention.
The program host had established that Ding Xiaoping was a Peking University professor and it had nothing to do with the debate.  But Sima Nan and others wanted to focus on that issue because they intended to bring up these unrelated matters.
 
yWeekend: What is your assessment of this program on Phoenix TV?
Jiang Chunxuan: This was my first opportunity to participate in this kind of program.  I thought that the Phoenix TV program was very good.  It provided an opportunity for us and for everyone in the whole world who does not understand this matter to find out about what is going on.
My biggest flaw is that my putonghua is not very good.  Therefore, I did not get to say much on this program.  But I am satisfied.  I felt that Hu Yifu was very good towards me.  He displayed my book for people to look at.  I'm very grateful to him.
Under the present circumstances, I am the greatest mathematician in the last two thousand years.  I was conservative when I said 500 years previously.

Related linkPseudoscience in four glorious colors  Joel Martinsen, Danwei; No space to speak, or simply no one listening?  Joel Martinsen, Danwei

Re: male singer Lin Peng -- "Oh, Lin Peng.  I recommend that you not get into this business because I don't think it suits you.  You should be commended for you courage.  I like that.  But after listening to you sing, I feel that you should get into this business only if you want to live a life of sorrow.  If you want to be happy in your life, I recommend that you not get into this field.

Re: a bar singer who won the Beijing preliminary round with 200,000 plus votes on the Internet: "Although her singing was good, she is pie-faced.  I don't think that she will become popular!  Look at her.  When she sings, her facial features go to the wrong places.  She is really too ugly."

Re: a slightly rotund female singer: "Let me tell you something first.  You need to lose some weight.  When you sing this touching song, I was breathing hard on your behalf.  I think that you are over-loaded!  You better hurry up and lose some weight.  Nobody wants to see a mother pig singing on stage!"

Re: a pretty female singer: "God is just.  If he gives you the looks, you won't give you singing talent.  From your looks, I thought you are an air stewardess!  From your singing, I realized that you are just a ground crew member!"

Many of the contestants are organizing to dump Ke Yimin.  "These are personal attacks against us.  These are insults to our characters.  Ke Yimin is just of too poor quality.  She is unqualified to be a judge at Super Yeskee."

[in translation]

Wang Dan has opposed the Chinese Communists for many years.  When speaking about the mistakes made by the Hong Kong democratic camp in the struggle against the Chinese Communists, he could not help using descriptive terms such as "too naive," "too moderate" and "too easy to bully."

"Certain Hong Kong democrats in Hong Kong are too naive.  They actively seek to have a dialogue with the mainland.  Some people hope to relax the relationship with the central government.  I feel that this type of approach is not likely to work."

"The Hong Kong democrats have not caused many problems for the central government.  It is more correct to oppose the Chinese Communists like Leung Kwow-hung.  Most democrats are too moderate.  They are basically unable to offer any competition against China."

"The view of the China Liaison Office is that the Hong Kong democrats are too easy to bully.  If mainland makes one or two moderate comments, the democrats are highly encouraged.  The Chinese Communists only see your strength.  If you want them to respect you, you must show them some strength.  On July 1, 500,000 people marched in the streets.  Tung Chee-hwa left and Article 23 was tabled."

Wang Dan pointed out that Hong Kong has been returned to China for almost ten years and the Hong Kong democrats are in an increasing perilous environment.  The forces of the Chinese Communists are growing stronger.  The democrats must grab the public opinion of the seven million people and become a clearly defined opposition.  The opposition is an opposition that will criticize the rulers and the mainland.  The best strategy is to know your position and show your strength.

Simply put, are the democrats too lacking in strength?

"They don't do enough.  They have to show more resistance.  They have to be stronger," he said.

According to the defiant approach that Wang Dan is recommending, pan-democrat representative Alan Leong should hold nothing back in his Chief Executive bid.  He must have the determination to win.  If he does not win this time, he will win next time.  There is no such thing as participation without competition in this race.

Alan Leong should launch large demonstrations to demand universal suffrage and criticize the 800 small circle of people who will decide the future of the more than 7 million people.  Also, he should hold more large evening rallies to boost public opinion, to demand early implementation of universal suffrage and to encourage more Hong Kong people to have the passion and confidence for political participation.  The mainland government is flawed by its nature because they are detached from public opinion.  The democrats have the advantage.  Turning that advantage into votes is the key to victory for the Hong Kong democrats.

For a fair and balanced presentation, here is the opinion piece in pro-Beijing Takungpao:

The Hong Kong Civic Party organ recently interviewed former "democratic movement member" Wang Dan in the United States.  Wang Dan said that after he completes his doctoral thesis this year, he will apply to teach at a Hong Kong university.  He "appealed" to Donald Tsang to "adhere to the 'One County, Two Systems' policy and not interfere with the issuance of the visa."

Who is Wang Dan?  He is no stranger to Hong Kong citizens.  Last month, the name of this "democratic movement member" appeared in the Hong Kong and Taiwan media.  However, the relevant news was not glorious.  In Taiwan, Ah Bian was in deep trouble with the disappearance of large amounts of "state affair funds" revealed that some of the secret funds was used to "finance overseas democratic movements" and he personally identified Wang Dan.

The Taiwan media then followed up and revealed that since 2003, the "Taiwan National Security Bureau Number One Office" had funded the "overseas democratic movement" with NT$1.5 million annually and the recepient was Wang Dan, the president of the "Association to Promote Constitutional Governance in China."

But Wang Dan was just as shameless as Ah Bian.  After being exposed by the media, he had the gall to explain that "he did not know who his donors were," "he thought the money came from the civil sector" and he "felt regrettable" to have been involved in Chen Shui-bian's state affairs fund case.

Wang Dan has been in the United States and Taiwan working off the capital as an "overseas democratic movement activist," taking American dollars on the left hand and Taiwan dollars on the right hand ... This time, he is setting his eyes on Hong Kong.  Does he want to get some Hong Kong dollars too?

The purpose of Wang Dan coming is to cause harm to the people of Hong Kong.  In the interview, Wang Dan said that the Hong Kong democrats are "too naive, too moderate and too easy to bully."  They are "strategically wrong in their struggles with the central government and they are elated and encouraged with one or two nice comments from the mainland."  He thinks that the "democrats" must dare to "oppose" the central government.  "500,000 people went into the streets, Tung Chee-hwa left and Article 23 was tabled ..."  He is already acting as an advisor.

The Hong Kong "democrats" are not necessarily naive, but Wang Dan is definitely impudent.  His impudence has reached the point that it defies commonsense.  He should know that Hong Kong is implementing "one country, two systems."  But there has to be one country in order to have two systems.  Hong Kong is not the "base" from which he advocates resistance to the central government, and it is not the paradise from which he continues to draw American dollars and "Taiwan state affairs fund." ...

[in translation]

It is the eternal tragedy in Chinese history for people to be criminalized for speech and to give up speech for others.

I did not imagine that by my personal thoughts would be passed over to certain social elite and I did not imagine that there would be such a reaction from them.

I expected to be attacked and I expected to be shut down.  At a time when they are fighting to gain the release of XX, they could not accept another desk in their classroom.  Their space cannot tolerate one additional voice, in spite of their claim to be educators.

I expected that I might have to shut up.  They may have thought that they won this time, but we will have to look at the long term.

For those friends who are interested in political thinking, you may have to be disappointed for some time.  Let me gather my thoughts and I will shall my views with you later.

I never regretted any of my decisions.  When I decided to quit politics at my peak, it was right as seen from today, even if it might have been too late ...

(Postscript: The friends who are monitoring my blog from the CGO Bldg and the Nathan Road HQ must be working really hard.  You should really try some more subtle ways next time.)

In reviewing the Chinese media coverage of the Qiu Xinghua case, Southern Weekend provided the most depth while Huashengbao was the most timely.  Southern Weekend also steered the direction of public discussion through its reporting on the psychological condition of Qiu Xinghua.

But the flaws in these reports are obvious.  That is, in the initial stage, the media paid attention to the arrest of Qiu, how he committed the crimes and the condition of his family.  In the latter stage, the reporting placed the emphasis on whether Qiu was mentally ill and the criminal proceedings.  The tragic conditions of the victims' families, the assistance offered to them, the establishment of a victim aid system and the proposal of legislation to assist victims were all totally missing in action.

Only after Qiu Xinghua was executed did the local media noticed that while the Qiu family received some donations, the families of the eleven victims received practically no attention.  It is obviously an improvement to show humanitarian concern for the family of a murderer, but if the price is ignoring the victims, then this kind of humanitarian concern is suspect, hypocritical and exhibitionistic.

I believe that the reason why the media collectively missed this issue is related to the media's emphasis on conflicts and drama.  The logic behind the action is connected to the business logic at newspapers, because the action sells more copies.  Objectivity and balance became less important and can even be put aside temporarily.

The consequence of this action is that media reports become partial, segmented and fragmented, thus distorting the audience's "virtual opinion environment" (this notion came from Lippmann).  As a result of this distortion, the audience acted contrary to our traditional moral sense -- the murderer's family received donations, while nobody cared about the victims' families.

Therefore, I believe that public media with conscience should stay alert about the damage that business logic can do to the spirit of objectivity and balance.

For any report, it is unfounded and unreliable to claim that "I had the facts and the truth."  From the theory of knowledge, it is hard for us to know the truth.  When the judicial system uses the national apparatus for any case, the judge can ultimately only said, "I obtained the legal facts, but that does not mean that I know the truth of the matter.  Nobody can reconstruct the state of things back in time."  In news reporting, there are the truth according to the investigation and the truth according to the narrative, but these are just the truths of the news reporting and they are not the truths of the matter.

In the Qiu Xinghua case, the report should have adequate understanding of the murderer, the victims, the judicial system and the scholars, and provide a platform to express their views.  If the media had been able to do this from the start, there would not be the grand-scale bias and incompleteness later.  It can be said that the "principle of triangulation," the "principal of presenting multiple interests," and other investigative procedures provide the basic guarantee for objectivity.  In the narration and expression of the reporting, the narrative style of know-it-all should be abandoned, the sources of all the important pieces of information should be identified, key information should come from more than one witness and physical evidence is preferred so as to form a chain of evidence as in judicial processes.

The serious bias in the media coverage of the Qiu Xinghua case caused the bias in public concern.  In later reporting, the media focused on the system of criminal investigation and decisions.  But actually, a more urgent need that affects greater public interests is to discuss the victim compensation/aid system in China.  This is a more important, more basis, more urgent and more widespread problem.

The many victims in the Zhang Jun case, the many victims in the Ma Jiajue case, the man victims in the Huang Rong case and now the many victims in the Qiu Xinghua case have failed to invoke reflections and actions about how the legislative and judicial systems can set up a victim aid system.  That is truly very regrettable.

As thousands of Saddam Hussein's supporters protested in Sunni Arab enclaves across Iraq, the Shiite-led government said it had launched an investigation into the chaotic scene at his execution, captured on video, which has deepened the nation's sectarian rift and sparked condemnation around the world.

Iraqi officials said a committee from the Interior Ministry would likely question everyone, including senior Iraqi officials, who was present at the hanging, where witnesses mocked and jeered the ousted president as he stood at the gallows. Hours later, grainy video of the event, taken with a cellphone camera, was broadcast around the world, bringing more pressure on Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to take action.

The video triggered outrage, in Iraq and abroad, at Hussein's undignified and disorderly end. Iraq's Sunnis declared the execution an act of Shiite revenge.  ...The video was the latest example of how amateurs using modern technology are exposing abuses and holding the powerful to account.

Oh, really?  Let's see who took the video ... From Talking Points Memo:

Munqith al-Faroon, an Iraqi prosecutor whose job was to convict Saddam Hussein of genocide, was one of the small group of witnesses at the hanging and defended Saddam's right to die in peace.  He said he knew that "two top officials ... had their mobile phones with them" at the execution, although other witnesses had their phones taken away beforehand.

...

(CNN) 

A witness to Saddam Hussein's execution in Baghdad said that celebrations broke out after the former dictator died, and that there was "dancing around the body."  "Saddam's body is in front me," said an official in the prime minister's office when CNN telephoned. "It's over."  In the background, Shiite chanting could be heard. When asked about the chanting, the official said.  "These are employees of the prime minister's office and government chanting in celebration."

The Internet is a tool, just as a video-capable mobile phone is a tool.  Tools can serve civilian journalists to expose abuse and hold the powerful acountable, just as they can serve the powerful to manipulate public opinion.

More blogs

With more media exposure and more talk, expect a profusion of blogs: Both little ones like this and your big daddies like Danwei and ESWN. On the whole Ive enjoyed blogging since I started this summer, and Im sure more people will also suddenly realize it requires zero technical skills. Its still a small world, the English-language blogosphere, but its going to start getting a whole lot bigger. Sure,  the quality of blogs will vary, and good blogs will come and go, but the law of averages suggests that if there is quantity, there will be some quality.

What I feel is still lacking at the moment are a few alternatives to ESWN. While he does a grand job, he is only one man and is therefore never going to be able to capture everything that is happening in the Chinese blogosphere. An increasing number of English-language China bloggers will mean more demand for knowing what is happening in Chinese media. Hell, someone might even be able to make themselves a bit of money.

Also, more generally, there is no one central place where you can go for China news. China Digital Times is good, but blocked here in the fatherland motherland. Apart from that there are no good websites dedicated to China news (that Ive found). If I had a few quid and some skills Id start one up right now, sourcing content from all sorts of media and adding some analysis, comment and a bit of humour. If I was the editor of the SCMP Id free up the website and corner the market while its still possible. And while people still think its a decent paper.

Advantage on the news aggregator will go to the first mover ... it is really not too hard and it really does not require that many resources (time or money).

Anson Chan 12.90%
Alan Leong 4.84%
Anthony Hedley 12.90%
Bus Uncle 19.35%
Ching Cheong 8.06%
Donald Tsang 9.68%
Mainland mothers 1.61%
Margaret Chan 3.23%
Regina Ip 3.23%
Richard Li 1.61%
Star Ferry Pier protesters 22.58%

(GoogleA Roman military commander. In the Byzantine period the title was given to the military commander of a small theme such as Durazzo or a frontier duchy in the east, such as Antioch.
 
(The Free Dictionary(Mus.) The scholastic name for the theme or subject of a fugue, the answer being called the comes, or companion.
 
(MSN EncartaScotland: top student: the student whose academic achievements are highest in a school, subject, or class. 

The third answer is the correct answer.
 
(2) Once upon a time, I was the webmaster for the Central Park Track Club (New York City).  It is reasonable to assume that I am a track/road runner.  How fast was I?  Well, I have been running for twenty years and I ran races at various distances.  So it is hard to come up with a 'fastest' race because the concept does not exist.  I have ran hundreds of races at various distances inside Central Park, the home base of my team.  But I am particularly fond of the Staten Island Half Marathon each year because of the ferry ride from Manhattan to Staten Island and back.  Here is my photo from the Staten Island ferry in 2000, showing the World Trade Center twin towers before 9/11.

So here is my best race in the Staten Island Half Marathon (official result from the New York Road Runners Club): 1:21:57 (6:15 min/mile pace).  I could have gone under 1:20 but for a leg muscle cramp in the last mile.
 
(3) Once upon a time, I stayed at the Jarvis Hotel (before it was acquired by Ramada Inn) in Ealing, London, England, United Kingdom.  That experience was fully documented at the Central Park Track Club website, Food Review section (scroll down to the date October 11-13).  The rest of that page contains my reviews of other facilities, as well as my teammates'.  Of course, I enforced a 'style' requirement on all submissions, so you will only find the same style and attitude as mine.  Dissent was ostracized.  There is no better way to understand me as an individual than reading through this page.  This is my essence.  This is also about my good friends in this life.  I love them dearly.
 
(4) Once upon a time, I was given a mission by my company to publicize  on my website ZonaLatina.com the Latin American consumer survey that we conducted every year.  Indeed I have written several hundred articles related to my company's consumer surveys.  But my company forgot that I was a hopelessly romantic liberal who simply ignored all business objectives and pursue other personal fancies whenever they struck me.  The best example was when I received a request from a Danish journalist about her documentary film Para Nunca Olvidar.  Beyond just giving a plug, I built a monument for the victims of the dead in the Guatemalan civil war.  The majority of my readers could not care less about Guatemala.  Neither did I.  That was until I began to research the subject.  This whole case is more than the country of Guatemela, but it is also about reconciliation afterwards.  For example, how shall you reconcile 1989 in China?  The white terror in Taiwan?  And so on.  In those contexts, Guatemala may be an even more extreme case and they figured out a way to deal with this explosive issue, even if not everybody agreed that the outcome was totally satisfactory.
 
(5) Once upon a time, I have this page You Are What You Read which documents the books in my New York City apartment.  More recently, the following photograph of me appeared in Next Weekly (see Comment 200612#099).

This led to this snooping question: What is on that bookshelf in my Hong Kong apartment in the background of that photograph?  Here is one photograph of the books from one shelf.  These are all Chinese-language books, including titles such as the Chinese Peasant Study and so on.  These are some of the books that formed my present attitude and opinion.

 
Now I will be really really nice here -- I won't tag anyone else.  Ain't I nice!?


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