(New York Times)  China Presses Injured Athletes in Quest for Gold.  Howard French.  June 20, 2008.

When China’s champion 10-meter platform diver suffered a detached retina while training, a year after winning a gold medal in the 2004 Athens Olympics, family members and fans speculated about the imminent end of a great career.

The parents of the diver, Hu Jia, had surrendered him to trainers from the Chinese sports establishment at the age of 10, and had seen little of him since then. In an interview with a Chinese newspaper after the diver’s injury, his father suggested that this was sacrifice enough. Had he known his son risked blindness, the father said, “I would never have sent him off to dive.”

But less than two months before China hosts the Olympics for the first time, Mr. Hu is training and competing fiercely again, aiming to bolster a national diving squad that China hopes will dominate the sport this summer.

“The Beijing Olympics is an enormous glory to our generation,” Mr. Hu, whose other retina was also injured, was quoted in the Chinese media as saying last year. Speaking of another gold medal, he added, “I will do my utmost to grab one, unless my eyes are really blind.”


Hu Jia, the gold medal diver, for example, was born to laid-off workers in Hubei Province in central China. When he was 6 years old, his parents piled quilts on the ground, then let him jump from a bed to practice diving. Three years later, he was spotted by a former diver and sent to train with a coach in Guangdong, where he made the provincial team. He was considered relatively untalented by coaches and mocked by the public as a perpetual also-ran before the 2004 Games. But he distinguished himself through unrelenting hard work, eventually beating out the favorite, Tian Liang, for a gold.

Although a spot on this year’s squad is no sure thing, he has shown the same determination in working his way back from injury, forgoing anesthesia during eye surgery because he hoped it would speed recovery. “There are so many difficulties, surgery and injuries on the road, but I have to keep up to the last,” he told a newspaper in Wuhan.

Oh, wait, but we just read in Danwei on June 10th: Chinese media reports say diver Hu Jia, who won gold in the men’s 10-meter platform at the 2004 Olympics, will not compete in Beijing due to injuries.

Is Hu Jia in? or out?  If you click on the New York Timeslink to Hu Jia to find out more, you will reach ...

You know, all Hu Jia's look alike to Americans ...

On June 19, the popular Taiwan TV show <Kongxi Is Coming> drew curses from mainland Chinese netizens.  On the latest episode shown on June 18 and uploaded onto the Internet, there was a female guest Xiang Ying who brought along pink pyjamas as well as a white t-shirt with a Free Tibet flag on it.  Xiang Ying explained that she had been wearing the t-shirt for three or four years at home.  Only when the t-shirt was really worn out did she go and purchase the pink pyjamas.  The two hosts -- Little S and Tsai Kang-yung -- just stared blankly at the t-shirt without comment.

Some Chinese netizens are now demanding that all of the aforementioned entertainers be banned forthwith.  Some said that they used to think Little S and Tsai Kang-yung were smart and wise, but now that they have committee such a dumb error, they should not be allowed to be shown again.  Another netizen said that this incident showed that the program had no oversight over what the guests wear.  Yet another netizen said that Little S and Tsai Kang-yu should be made to apologize for severely hurting the feelings of the people.


The mainland tourists are about to arrive en masse in Taiwan.  Some tourist guides are saying that "FLG members have identified the spots where the mainland tourists will visit and they will push their 'anti-Communist' propaganda to the disgust of the visitors."  Therefore, they hope that the police will stop the FLG.  According to one tourist guide, there are six to seven FLG members outside the Chiang Kai-shek Shihlin Official Residence every morning.  Whenever a tourist bus arrives, they rush up to the mainland tourists with placards in hand, chanting slogans and thrusting flyers into the hands.  "This just about ruined all the joy."  This is not just at the Shihlin Official Residence, but it is also true at other hot tourist spots such as the National Palace Museum, the Sunmoon Lake, AliShan Mountain, Sizihwan Bay and so on.  This tourist guide said, "They have freedom of speech, but shouldn't we have the freedom not to be disturbed or harassed?"

According to the Taipei City police, it is not an illegal assembly to practice meditation in front of the Shihlin Official Residence.  At most, the police can try "moral persuasion" to solve the bad impression of "pushy salesmanship."  The police cannot oust them by force.

Mainland China has more magnificent views and ancient buildings that Taiwan cannot match; Hong Kong can probably provide better gourmet and shopping experiences.  But Taiwan has a maturing democracy with high tolerance for multicultural diversity and dissident voices.  In Taiwan, the "Red Army" can march in the streets to protest against Ah Bian; the talk show hosts can discuss politics on air; all types of speeches have their spaces for expression.  For the people of Taiwan, FLG holding up banners and passing out flyers are no different from the other people passing out various advertisements in the street.  As long as this is not forced sales or violent interference, it is protected under freedom of speech.

P.S. The Ministry of Transportation is training tourist bus drives on manners.  They want every driver to "smile as lovingly and sincerely as Lin Chiling" to greet the mainland tourists.  They need to practice that 1,200 times.

Approval for the job performance of President Ma Ying-jeou
50%: Satisfied (66% on May 20)
30%: Dissatisfied (10% on May 20)

Approval for Premier Liu Chao-shiuan
43%: Satisfied
33%: Dissatisfied

Approval for the cabinet in general
42%: Satisfied
35%: Dissatisfied

Q1.  President Ma Ying-jeou has been in office for one month.  How satisfied are you with his performance? (corresponding numbers for 4/29/2008)
  8% (12%): Very satisfied
33% (40%): Somewhat satisfied
20% (13%): Somewhat dissatisfied
17% (  4%): Very dissatisfied
21% (31%): No opinion

Q2. How satisfied are you with the performance of Vice-President Vincent Siew? (corresponding numbers for 4/29/2008)
  9% (13%): Very satisfied
33% (40%): Somewhat satisfied
17% (11%): Somewhat dissatisfied
  9% (  4%): Very dissatisfied
32% (31%): No opinion

Q3. Premier Liu Chao-shiuan has been in office for one month.  How satisfied are you with his performance?
  7%: Very satisfied
31%: Somewhat satisfied
27%: Somewhat dissatisfied
16%: Very dissatisfied

Q4. Overall, how satisfied are you with the performance of the cabinet?
  4%: Very satisfied
31%: Somewhat satisfied
29%: Somewhat dissatisfied
18%: Very dissatisfied

Q5. Overall, do you feel that President Ma Ying-jeou is taking our nation in to the right or wrong direction?
54%: Right direction
17%: Wrong direction
29%: No opinion

Q6. How satisfied are you with how Premier Liu handled the "green card" affair?
  7%: Very satisfied
29%: Somewhat satisfied
24%: Somewhat dissatisfied
22%: Very dissatisfied
19%: No opinion

Q7. How satisfied are you with how the government is handling the problem of rising prices?
  5%: Very satisfied
26%: Somewhat satisfied
26%: Somewhat dissatisfied
32%: Very dissatisfied
11%: No opinion

Q8. How satisfied are you with how the government is handling cross-strait relations?
22%: Very satisfied
38%: Somewhat satisfied
15%: Somewhat dissatisfied
11%: Very dissatisfied
14%: No opinon

Q9. How satisfied are you with the government is handling the ship collision incident at the Diaoyutai Islets?
  8%: Very satisfied
30%: Somewhat satisfied
22%: Somewhat dissatisfied
23%: Very dissatisfied
18%: No opinion

Q10. Generally speaking, how would you rate the crisis management skills of the government?
  5%: Very good
31%: Good
32%: Not very good
19%: Very poor
13%: No opinion

Q11. Do you think that President Ma Ying-jeou will become better? worse? the same? in the future?
54%: Better
  9%: Worse
22%: The same as now
14%: No opinion

Q12.  President Ma Ying-jeou has been in office for one month.  Do you think that the Ma team is ready to govern?
21%: Ready
66%: Not ready
13%: No opinion

Q13.  Overall, who would you say has the better performance in governance?
49%: Nationalists (KMT) are better
17%: Democratic Progressive Party are better
17%: About the same
17%: No opinion

Q14.  Do you think that the performance of the government has been better, worse or the same compared to what you thought when you voted in March this year?
11%: Better
42%: Worse
41%: About the same
  7%: No opinion

Olympic Gold Medal Winner

Taiwan independence
81%: Oppose
11%: Support

Tibet independence
82%: Oppose
  7%: Support
[Previously, the opposition rates had been 64% in June 2007, 69% in September 2007, 69% in December 2007 and 71% in March 2008]

Confidence in cross-strait reunification
59%: Confidence
31%: No confidence

Taiwan rejoining the United Nations
46%: Oppose
37%: Support
[Previously, the opposition rates had been 64% in June 2007, 68% in September 2007, 66% in December 2007 and 58% in March 2008]

Believed "one country, two systems" was applicable to Taiwan
60%: Applicable
29%: Not applicable

[in translation]

Even though I have been a journalist for 10 years, most of the time I did not believe in the power of journalism.  I and many of my colleagues have written many reports that went unpublished for various reasons.  Sometimes the reports were published but they could not alter reality.  The sun still rises as usual, the victims keep crying and those who ought to be punished continue to live comfortably.  Can journalism empower the powerless?  This was my frustration and perplexity a lot of times.

My persistent perplexity underwent a fundamental transformation on May 17, 2008.  On the fifth day after the Wenchuan earthquake took place, I and some volunteers arrived at the Bridge of Isolation in Qingping village, Hanwang town, Mianzhu city, Deyang City.  Qingping town was one of the four towns that the rescue teams from Deyang City were unable to reach at the time.  This bridge may have a quaintly poetic name, but I saw nothing poetic as I stood on it.  The tremor had completely destroyed the road that led from the bridge up to the mountains.  The Bridge of Isolation was the boundary between two worlds -- on the other side of the bridge, there were dozens of mountains where thousands of miners from the Chuanlong Company, Longmang Company, the Qingping Phosphorous Mine Company, and other companies worked.  It has been five days since the earthquake.  All communication was broken.  The fate of several thousand people remained unknown.

I was surrounded by at least thirty to forty family members of these miners.  The sound of their crying is still whirling inside my head.  I think that everyone can understand the helplessness and sorrow when your own family is missing.  It was Elder Sister Ma Yongfang who left the deepest impression on me.  Her husband Jiang Mingquan is a police officer with the Hanwang public security bureau.  His specialty was dynamite detonator management.  Since there are many phosphorous mines in Qingping town that required explosions regularly, he is often up in the mountains.  On May 12, he was also in the mountain.  Fortunately, he took a satellite telephone with him.  Within the first two to three days after the earthquake, he called Ma Yongfang several times to tell her to ask for help.  Ma Yongfang looked up the public security bureau director, who said: "Please be reassured that we will rescue old Jiang."  Ma Yongfang said that the last time Jiang called, their daughter had picked up the phone.  Jiang told his daughter: "Please tell mom to get people to save dad.  Dad has no food to eat."  After that, the phone went dead.

At around 4pm, May 17, Ma Yongfang was so filled with sorrow in front of me that it was as if Jiang Mingquan had left her forever already.  She held my hand as her tears fell upon it.  My heart was in pain.  She said that she realized that roads were blocked.  Although the rescue team was trying to repair the road, it is estimated that it could take months, or even as long as one year, to get finish the job.  "The important right now is to get food and water to them, or else they will starve to death.  Please beg the army to airdrop!  Please, please, please!"  She was crying as her words turned incoherent at this time.

At that moment, I really wished that I had the flower key of the female character Xiaobpei in <The Flower Fairy> -- by holding the key up to a flower and meditating, the flower can be transformed into a person with special skills, such as a pilot.

Then there was a disturbance ahead.  The family members dispersed quickly and raced in that direction.  I followed them.  I saw a group of people surrounding two persons who had obviously traveled a long distance.  The people kept passing mineral water, sausages and other food to them.

These two men have just returned from hell to earth.  They were the miners Liu Zibing and Zhu Yunjiu from Mine 2145 of the Longmang Group.  After the earthquake, they began to walk downhill on May 13.  After five days and four nights and eating only some dried rice plus leaves from trees, they managed to reach safety.  "Did you see my husband?"  A miner's family member shook the shoulders of Zhu Yunjiu.  "I don't know know if he is dead or alive!"  She kept crying and almost fainted.

According to Liu Zibing and Zhu Yunjiu, there were more than 1,000 people walking downhill.  In the end, only 13 made it out.  They were the first two to bring the news out.  There were one to two thousand people still trapped in the quake lake that was formed after the earthquake.  The lake stretched two to three thousand meters long.  These people had used the wood from the lumber factory to build a raft in order to move out.  I immediately called my newspaper's frontline news team's commander Deng Ke.  We discussed briefly, and we decided to publish the information that several thousand people are still trapped immediately on the newspaper website.  I hung up the telephone.  Five minutes later, my colleague Huang Jinping from the Southern Weekend website called me back.  Based upon my oral narration and Jinping's notes, the report <Airdrop, speedboats, hurry up!  A thousand Longmang miners in Mianwhu city waiting for rescue> was posted at 16:51:43, May 17, 2008.

On the afternoon of May 18, I and the volunteers returned to the Bridge of Isolation.  Helicopters passed over our heads periodically.  Each time that the family members saw the helicopters passing by, they asked: "Are the helicopters here to rescue them?  When will they be rescued?"  I always replied: "The helicopters have come to rescue them.  They will be rescued soon."

Even as I said that, I was unsure inside.  Before I came over here, I had called the Sichuan Military District Earthquake Relief Frontline Command Center in my capacity as a Southern Weekend reporter.  I forwarded the facts about a thousand miners still being trapped and I asked them to send out helicopters to airdrop food.  But I was not fully confident about the results.

On May 20, I called Ma Yongfang again.  There was crying again on the other side of the telephone, but she said: "Thank you, Comrade Reporter.  My husband and many others were rescued.  On May 18, the helicopters airdropped food.  Later on, the helicopters airlifted them out.  Right now, my husband is organizing people to rescue others."

I had not slept well for several days and nights, and I had a case of blood-shot eyes.  At that moment, my eyes got even redder.

The overall rating for the Ma Ying-jeou government was 59.6.  This is based upon a score of 0 to 100, with 60.0 being common regarding as the passing grade.

44.2% were dissatisfied with the performance of the administration over all.
- 44.4% were dissatisfied with the job performance of the Premier (47.5% were satisfied)
- 53.5% were dissatisfied with 'reviving the economy'
- 63.6% were dissatisfied with 'stabilizing daily living prices'
- 44.1% were dissatisfied with 'increasing social welfare benefits'
- 53.7% were dissatisfied with 'handling of the Green Card affair'
- 59.7% were dissatisfied with 'handling of flooding disaster in central/southern Taiwan'

When asked who was the best cabinet minister, the Government Information Office received 5.6%, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs got 4.0%, the Ministry of Legal Affairs got 3.3%, and 68.4% did not respond.

When asked who was the worst cabinet minister, 13.5% picked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 13.1% picked the Ministry of Defense, 3.7% picked the Ministry of Agricultural Affairs.

The reason for these cutbacks is that advertising revenues have been decreasing over time.  The causes for the revenue drops are the Internet and competitors (especially Apple Daily).  Could China Times remodel itself to compete with Apple Daily?  Well, here is the lead social story in Apple Daily today.  Remember, it is worse to go half way only because you will lose your core audience now and you won't win any new audience.  In fact, you need to go beyond Apple Daily (as if this is possible)!

(Apple Daily)  At a Taipei County public primary school, a physical training teacher demanded the students to perform certain physical exercises.  Anyone who failed to perform properly was punished.  The punishment was administered by a clothespin.  The females had the clothespin applied to their nipples while the males had the clothespin applied to their penises.  The school reckons that the teacher acted inappropriately but did not believe that this was sexual harassment.  The teacher denies doing anything of the sort, but admits to applying the clothespin to the face, hair, clothing and pants of the students.  The teacher has applied to leave the school at which he has taught for more than 20 years.

Ever since I stated on CCTV9 on May 14 that the absence of a warning about the Wenchuan earthquake showed that the "China Earthquake Administration had unavoidable responsibility,"  I have been interviewed by mainland, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and French reporters.  I have received their published reports and broadcasts which were accurate.  But I have also seen other reports that contained inaccurate information.

There is a broadly circulated report which claimed that "for three years since 2006, the Natural Disaster Prediction Committee has issued three predictions about a possible strong earthquake in the Wenchuan area.  In particular, Chen Yiwen personally handed a prediction about a possible Wenchuan earthquake to the Earthquake Administration.

This does not correspond to the facts.  The actual situation is this:

The Natural Disaster Prediction Committee of the China Geological Society send "prediction opinions on Chinese earthquake situtation" on April 26, 2006; April 23, 2007; April 30, 2008.

1)  On April 26, 2006, the combined opinion of the committee was that there may be a magnitude 7 or higher in western China.  The major areas at risk are the Ganzi and Aba Tibetan Autonomous Regions (Batang, Mayikong, Hongyuan and Ruo'ergai) in western Sichuan.

2) On April 23, 2007, the combined opinion was that there may be a magnitude 7.5 or so earthquake in 2007.  The major areas at risk are the Ganzi and Aba Tibetan Autonomous Regions (Batang, Mayikong, Hongyuan and Ruo'ergai) in western Sichuan.

3) On April 30, 2008, the combined opinion was that in the course of the 12 twelve months, attention to be paid to a possible 6-7 magnitude earthquake south of Lanzhou down to the border between Sichuan, Gansu and Qinghai provincies.

These prediction reports were sent via registered mail to the China Earthquake Bureau in 2006, 2007 and 2008.  Chen Yiwen did not personally hand over anything as such.

During this period, I declined to be interviewed by certain overseas media.  For example, a Radio Free Asia reporter named Ji Lisi based in Hong Kong contacted me by email and telephone to ask for an interview.  I screened around and found that RFA was publishing propaganda on behalf of Tibet independence elements.  I also found out that RFA was distorting, smearing and rumor mongering about politics, economics, society, culture, the state of the reforms and the developmental trends of China, and also inciting its audience to be dissatisfied with the current government ..."  As a result, I replied to them on May 31: "A Google search showed that Radio Free Asia is of 'ill repute'" and I suggested that they visit the Cheniwan website (http://cheniwan.sea3000.net).  I also explained that "the material will help to explain my political position to you and why I could not accept your request for an interview."

A while ago, another American radio station named Dajiyuan contacted me for an interview.  As soon I heard the name Dajiyuan, I immediately declined.

... I want to state the following clearly: Ever since I began to be interviewed by many overseas publication and television channels, I have never received any warning, pressure or restrictions directly or indirectly from the Chinese government ...

(Fang Zhouzi)

Each year, the Natural Disaster Prediction Committee issues earthquake predictions around the end of April.  In 2006 and 2007, the areas at risk are the Ganzi and Aba Tibetan Autonomous Regions (Batang, Mayikong, Hongyuan and Ruo'ergai) in western Sichuan.  This is a vast area, but none of the four counties experienced earthquakes.  So they guessed wrong.  If they had continued with the same in 2008, they could have argued that they got it right because some of the counties are in the Aba Prefecture along with Wenchuan county.  Unfortunately, they changed their prediction in 2008 and went even further away to "south of Lanzhou down to the border of Sichuan, Gansu and Qinghai."

Red: Chinese person; Green: Hong Kong person

On February 18, 2008, Hollywood movie producer Steven Spielberg issued this statement:

After careful consideration, I have decided to formally announce the end of my involvement as one of the overseas artistic advisors to the opening and closing ceremonies of the Beijing Olympic Games.

In anticipation that this day might one day come, I left unsigned the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games contract presented to me nearly a year ago. Since that time, I have made repeated efforts to encourage the Chinese government to use its unique influence to bring safety and stability to the Darfur region of Sudan. Although some progress has been made along the way, most notably, the passage of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1769, the situation in Darfur continues to worsen and the violence continues to accelerate.

With this in mind, I find that my conscience will not allow me to continue with business as usual. At this point, my time and energy must be spent not on Olympic ceremonies, but on doing all I can to help bring an end to the unspeakable crimes against humanity that continue to be committed in Darfur. Sudan’s government bears the bulk of the responsibility for these on-going crimes but the international community, and particularly China, should be doing more to end the continuing human suffering there. China’s economic, military and diplomatic ties to the government of Sudan continue to provide it with the opportunity and obligation to press for change. The situation has never been more precarious – and while China’s representatives have conveyed to me that they are working to end the terrible tragedy in Darfur, the grim realities of the suffering continue unabated.

This has been a very difficult decision for me, as I have cherished the relationships with my Chinese counterparts, in particular, the noted director Zhang Yimou, who is a close personal friend. I have learned a great deal from working with him and all the other creative artists along the way. There is little that is more rewarding than to collaborate with those who bring vision and imagination to a challenging artistic task. And I greatly appreciated the spirit in which we worked together - a spirit that embodied genuine friendship and respect.

For me, the Olympic Games represent an ideal of brotherhood designed to bridge cultural and political divides. I am committed to building bridges between peoples and I saw, and continue to see, the Beijing Games as an opportunity to help ease some of the tensions in the world.

China has much to offer the world and I have no doubt that its international contributions will grow in the years ahead. With growing influence, however, also comes growing responsibilities. As China welcomes the world to Beijing for the 2008 Olympic Games, I hope to be among those in attendance; and it is also my great hope that, with renewed and intensified efforts from China, there will be peace and security in Darfur at last.

Official response from China's embassy in Washington D.C.: "As the Darfur issue is neither an internal issue of China, nor is it caused by China, it is completely unreasonable, irresponsible and unfair for certain organizations and individuals to link the two as one."

Unofficial response from Chinese netizens (via Wenxue City):

Do not allow Hollywood to dig gold in post-earthquake China!
<Kung Fu Panda>, go home!

Partial Translation: ...

To the dearest leaders of the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television:

As Chinese citizens, we firmly oppose the exhibition of the Hollywood movie <Kung Fu Panda> in China as of June 20.  The reasons are as follows:

Hollywood is the kind of place whose style and values create large numbers of people like Sharon Stone.  She was the female actress who claimed that the earthquake in China was "karma."  Not only was she not criticized by the "department unit,"  her "aura" was shining bright instead.  Hollywood is the type of place which lovingly applaud the arrogance, hypocrisy and vileness of Sharon Stone.  Only in an amoral place like Hollywood can Sharon Shone gain in popularity via a moral lapse.

So this Hollywood is not stopping at exploiting and rejoining at the the disaster in China.  It is now coming to dig gold in post-disaster China.

As Chinese ciizens, we want to borrow the words of the CNN host to assess what Hollywood has been doing: It has been the same old thing for several decades.  Hollywood has always been a cultural thug and a cultural thief!

We feel that the Chinese are too tolerant.  Often, compatriots look at problems "from the viewpoints of others" and thus forgive people like Sharon Stone.  This seems tolerant, but it is actually ambivalent to the point of being shameful!  We firmly believe that an honest person can have only one angle.

It is necessary to point out that the producer of <Kung Fu Panda> is none other than Steven Spielberg, the Dreamworks boss who announced a boycott of the Beijing Olympics.  You must know that under his machinations, the voices against the Beijing Olympics grew noisier and noisier.

If <Kung Fu Panda> is exhibited in China, it will be handing over the hard-earned money of the Chinese people into the pockets of this person.  The hypocritical Hollywood used the pretense of "aspiration" to create an old-fashioned American-style inspirational story, but its true target is still people's money.

This one is worse because the money-grubbing gimmickry stole China's "national treasure" (note: the panda) and "kung fu" and then came to China to grab its share of money in post-earthquake China.
We cannot welcome a Hollywood that is relishing the Chinese earthquake!

We cannot allow the anti-Beijing Olympics Spielberg to stuff money into his pocket!

Therefore, we firmly oppose the showing of <Kung Fu Panda> in China!e hope that the leaders of the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television make a decisive choice to stop the exhibition of <Kung Fu Panda> in China.

(Kazinform)  Shaky start for new quake alert system in Japan.  June 1, 2008.

The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA)'s early-warning system gathers data from a series of a thousand seismographs across Japan—200 operated by the agency and another 800 used by the National Institute for Earth Science and Disaster Prevention. 
The seismic stations measure the intensity of a quake's primary wave, or P-wave, which travels through rock at about 4.3 miles (7 kilometers) a second. This data gets sent automatically to the agency.  Scientists can then use the P-wave to determine the scale of the quake's secondary wave, or S-wave. This wave moves slower—about 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) a second—but is what causes damage at the surface.  Prerecorded alerts are automatically broadcast on television and radio and are electronically transmitted to municipal governments, hospitals, construction sites, and railway operators.  The agency issues a warning only if the quake is predicted to be at level 5 or higher on the Omori Seismic Intensity Scale, the seven-point scale used widely in Japan.

Tetsuzo Fuyushiba, Japan's minister of land, infrastructure, and transport, launched the warning system in October 2007 amid high hopes for its effectiveness.  But on January 27, 2008, a level 5 quake struck in the early morning in Ishikawa Prefecture on Japan's northern coast; Kazinform cites National Geographic News.  No alert was issued, because the early-warning system predicted the tremor would be a level 4. No injuries were reported.  And on April 29 the agency issued a warning to residents of Okinawa Prefecture of a level 5.2 earthquake near the island of Miyako Jima—some four seconds after a level 4 tremor had shaken the area.  Once again no one was injured, but school buildings and airport facilities were damaged.  The agency believes the warning went out late because the quake's epicenter was very close to the island, so data on the seismic waves didn't arrive at the agency in time.

The Real-Time Earthquake Information Consortium, a Tokyo-based nonprofit organization, has estimated that the death toll from a major tremor can be reduced by 25 percent if an area receives just a two-second warning.  That figure jumps to 80 percent if a five-second warning is given, enabling people to take cover under tables, stand in doorways, or cover their heads with cushions or bedding.


The world's first earthquake early warning system was used in Japan on Saturday, giving residents a few seconds to prepare for aftershocks that followed a strong quake.  The warning system, launched in October, kicked in for the quake in northern Japan, which registered 7.2 on the Richter scale and struck at 8:43 am (2343 GMT).  The Japan Meteorological Agency said the first warning was issued four seconds after seismic waves were first detected.  But in Tokyo, some 500 kilometres (300 miles) from the epicentre, an alert was flashed on public broadcaster NHK moments before residents of the capital felt a tremor.

(KDnet)  Here are excerpts from the 32 surveillance cameras at a Chinese elementary school at the moment when the Wenchuan earthquake.  How many seconds would those children need to get out safely?

On September 11, 2001, three airplanes were hijacked by terrorists to attack the two World Trade Centers in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, DC.  The death toll was about 3,000 people.  This series of events is the single largest concerted attack on US soil, right along with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.  The 9/11 events are made all the more visible through the coverage of modern media, such as live television broadcast of the collapse of the towers.  As such, the impact on the country are deep and wide.

Immediately after the attacks, domestic air flights were stopped immediately for several days, for fear of further attacks.  Gradually, airplanes were allowed to fly again under additional security.  Air travel volume dropped precipitously, as businesses and citizens curtailed traveling.  According to the Travel Industry Association of America, more than 500,000 travel-related industry workers lost their jobs nationally.  Other public places (malls, restaurants, movies theaters, etc) also saw decreases in attendance in the immediate aftermath because they represent potential targets for terrorist attacks.

There was a report that 30% of New Yorkers suffered post-traumatic stress disorder over the next six months in the form of sleeping disorders, nightmares, alienation/estrangement and depressions.  This is an unverifiable incidence since PTSD sufferers may not be aware.  Whether or not a person can be medically classified as such, there is no denying that there are major psychological effects for many people.  A cataclysmic event has the psychological consequence of making us aware of the fragility of our existence.  This is a moment to gain perspective on life and focus on those things that really matter.  Most prominent is the need to connect with loved ones.  Patriotism, altruism and religious spiritualism figure too. 

For most Americans, these attacks appear to have come out of the blue.  The ensuing events were also volatile and unpredictable as American troops were sent to Afghanistan and other related developments unfolded between Pakistan and India, and between Israel and the Arab world.  Media usage increased as people sought to find out about the events, understand the causes and monitor new developments.  Unfortunately, higher media usage does not necessarily translate to better understanding, given that the President's explanations consisted of naive statements such as "Why do they hate us so much?  They hate our freedoms – our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote..." and then "I'm amazed that there's such misunderstanding of what our country is about that people would hate us ... I just can't believe it because I know how good we are."

We will now cite some survey data from the 2002 MARS study.  This is a mail survey of 22,097 adults in the 50 states of the USA conducted during January-March 2002.  Within this survey, there is a section that begins with the question: "Due to the tragic events of September 11th, would you say that you are doing each of the following more, less or no differently than you did prior to that date?" followed by a list of activities.  In the next chart, the survey results are displayed.

These survey results are consistent with our prior discussion.  Decreased activities are: traveling, dining out, going to malls, going to movies/theaters; Increased activities are socializing, family visits, spending time with children, religious activities, saving money, donating to charity and usage of all types of media.

On a related note, here is a Tianya Forum page that asks the question: How has the earthquake change your lifestyle?  Here are some sample answers:

I spend money more readily than before.

I treasure everything that I have right now.

I begin to care about other people.

I want to live well and enjoy life.

I have never realized before that the Chinese people are so united!  It is good to be alive today.

I have a lovely three-year-old daughter.  Before the earthquake, I would play with her and then I get annoyed and I go to read books or get on the Internet.  Nowadays I spend as much time with her as possible.  I only read books or get on the Internet only if she doesn't want to play with me.

I don't want to buy a house anymore.  I just wanted to be happy and enjoy myself.  Sooner or later, we'll all dead.

I'm more frugal than before.  I have begun to plan my life.

I have changed.  I love China ever more.  I value the present more.

I have changed.  I'm sometimes passive but I'm active other times.  I behave weirdly to the point that I can't stand myself!  I hope that I can walk out of the shadows of the earthquake soon.

I have not changed at all!  I still live on as before.

I'm changed.  When I walk into the supermarket to shop, I check first whether something is made in China.

I care about others.  I donated money for the first time in my life.

I am no longer against Japanese goods, especially those brands that donated money to us.  When I buy stuff, I start paying attention to the brand name and I prefer those which donated money.

I'm more frugal.  I'm not picky on food anymore.  When I think of the hardship of the disaster victims, I know that any food that I can have will be better than theirs.

I didn't drink Wanglaoji herbal tea much before, but now I only drink Wanglaoji everywhere I go.


[in translation]

Certain human rights advocates in mainland China are organizing a motion to the National People's Congress for establishing a special investigative committee to hold hearings about the Sichuan earthquake.  The goal is to determine whether the State Earthquake Administration leaders are guilty of dereliction of duty and covering up.  According to information, this petition by human rights advocates is the next big one after the petition on the 3.14 Tibet disturbances.  The four persons who started the call are Zhao Yan (New York Times Beijing bureau researcher), Yu Meisun (former State Council Legal System Office official), Wang Jun (former senior editor at the overseas edition of People's Daily) and Zheng Xianli (Internet scholar).  More people are signing up.

The State Earthquake Administration has declined to comment on media reports about possible dereliction of duty and cover-ups.  According to those who are starting this campaign, the Chinese people should get to learn the truth.  Therefore, they ask the National People's Congress to listen to the evidence about whether the State Earthquake Administration was derelict in its duties and choose a "do-nothing" policy.  Such a process is in accordance with the Constitutions, the Laws of Organization of the National People's Congress and the Rules and Regulations on Openness in Government Information.  By holding the State Earthquake Bureau to account, this will ensure that the tragedy will not occur again.

The motion pointed out that the State Earthquake Administration should answer the following questions to this National People's Congress special investigative committee.  (1)  Was former State Administration Bureau chief Chen Jianmin on duty when the Wenchuan earthquake occurred?  (2)  Did the former State Administration Bureau chief receive any predictions about the Wenchuan earthquake before May 12?  (3)  Did the Chinese Geophysical Society's Natural Catastrophe Prediction Committee file a relevant prediction report to the State Earthquake Administration?  (4)  Did the two researchers Geng Qingguo and Chen Yiwen of the said committee file prediction reports to the State Earthquake Administration?  (5)  Why did the State Earthquake Administration cover up the aforementioned information after the Wenchuan earthquake?

This paper is premised upon that human groups consist of individuals who maintain their individualities.  As such, it is wrong to lump all Chinese bloggers into one undifferentiated mass.  For example, some people have characterized Chinese bloggers as "... more political, volatile, aggressive and ever ready to trigger 'human flesh search engines' to get someone fired from their jobs as well as ruining their families ..."  Supposedly, the Chinese bloggers have no other medium to express personal opinions and therefore they funnel their entire rage through the Internet.  Other people have suggested that Chinese bloggers are "... more apolitical, repressed, cynical, passive, interested only in amusement ..."  The only thing for certain is that these two characterizations cannot both be true within the same individual.  However, these two characterizations can be consistent under the assumption that there are in fact different kinds of Chinese bloggers out there.

It is usually hard to create a proper segmentation of Chinese bloggers due to the lack of appropriate data.  Internet surveys are unrepresentative of the blogger population as a whole.  A general population survey would require huge sample sizes because the incidence of Chinese bloggers is very small.  The following has the results from a segmentation from a large-sample general population survey.

Bloggers can be segmented by demographics (e.g. by age, gender, education, socio-economic status).  They can be segmented by Internet/blogger behavior, quantitatively (such as by the number of hours spent or the frequency of blog posting) or qualitatively (such as news versus entertainment blogging).  But here we will be segmenting by psychographics (namely, values, attitudes and lifestyles).

For this presentation, I created a 3-segment solution based upon 32 psychographic statements about personality, motivation, society, culture, technology and so on by the K-means algorithm.  Here are the characterizations of these segments:

Segment 1: Not interested in latest technology; not interested in latest fashion; not interested in other people's opinions; don't want to told what to do ... Who do they sound like?  Fenqing (angry young people)?

Segment 2: Easily swayed by other people; want to be told what to do; first to buy latest technology; follow western lifestyle; lesser respect for tradition ... Who do they sound like?  These are groupies who follow whatever is au courant as reported on the Internet.

Segment 3: Interested in a lifestyle filled with challenges, novelties and changes; more interested in spending time meaningfully than just making money; ready to pay extra for environment-friendly products; appreciate companies which support public causes; willing to volunteer personal time for good causes ...

In the event of a catastrophe such as the Wenchuan earthquake, it should be clear how these three segments would react.  That kind of data is not available at this time, but you can fill that in yourself ... (hint: How would segment 3 react towards the companies listed in The Story of Donations Gate?)

Related Link: Session 8.1: Internet, Tibet, Olympics, Earthquake… and Sex  Chinese Internet Research Conference Blog

Postmodernism is largely a reaction to the assumed certainty of scientific, or objective, efforts to explain reality. In essence, it stems from a recognition that reality is not simply mirrored in human understanding of it, but rather, is constructed as the mind tries to understand its own particular and personal reality. For this reason, postmodernism is highly skeptical of explanations which claim to be valid for all groups, cultures, traditions, or races, and instead focuses on the relative truths of each person. In the postmodern understanding, interpretation is everything; reality only comes into being through our interpretations of what the world means to us individually. Postmodernism relies on concrete experience over abstract principles, knowing always that the outcome of one's own experience will necessarily be fallible and relative, rather than certain and universal.

I can only tell you what happened from my observational post here at ESWN.  So here is the graph of the number of hits by day at the ESWN blog.

The biggest 'hit' at ESWN this year was the Sex Photos Gate affair (aka the Edison Chen photos affair).  Surprisingly, most of that traffic came from mainland China.  I was translating case materials in Hong Kong publications that could not be accessed in the mainland (such as Apple Daily, Next Weekly, Oriental Sunday, etc).  The mainland BBS people were back-translating my posts into Chinese again while hot-linking to my photos.  This was also the first significant case in which the mainland authorities were less repressive than the Hong Kong authorities with respect to censoring Internet content.

Without prior coordination, both speakers brought up the drawing titled "The Recorded History of the Largest Riot in History" over the opinion essay by Chang Ping in Southern Metropolis Daily (see How To Find The Truth About Lhasa?).  Isaac emphasized a point that I was glossing over: this drawing showed a static situation when in fact the situation was evolving dynamically over time.  The fact that opinions were shifting meant that there was significant debate and interaction, and this drawing only provides one cross-section at a particular moment in time of an ongoing process.  The most important aspect of what is happening in China right now is that people are interacting, debating and changing their minds (in one direction or the other).  Thus, we must never take it for granted that a case is closed because the process continues.

As for the question "What happens next in the remaining half of the year?"  I had no answer.  If you had asked me on January 1, 2008 to predict what would happen in the next 6 months, I could not have come up with these four once-in-a-life events.

P.S.  The PowerPoint presentation will eventually posted at www.circ.asia.

Related Link: Session 3: Roland Soong  Chinese Internet Research Conference Blog

After the Sichuan earthquake occurred, I wondered how affected were the Tibetans.  After all, the heavily hit epicenter of Wenchuan was inside the Aba Autonomous Prefecture for the Tibetan and Xiang ethnic groups.  Readers who are concerned about the Tibet issue will recall that there multiple large-scale protests that were suppressed in the Aba Prefecture after the Lhasa incident in March.  So the two biggest news stories in China recently converged here.  Although numerous reporters were out there, very few reports linked the two together.  This was perplexing.

After waiting for a long time, I finally spotted a related news story in Ming Pao on June 1.  The headline was striking, with each word about 3 centimeters big: "Armed Tibet Independence elements robbed disaster relief materiel."  This news story had originated from a mainland news and the Ming Pao reporter made an independent verification.  But the report did not explain the basis by which the armed robbers were "Tibet independence elements."

In a large-scale disaster, it is not surprising that someone might take advantage of the situation to loot.  Very often, these criminal elements are disaster victims who did not receive anything in relief.  In Southern Weekend, there was a detailed description of such an incident.  Since the earthquake took place in the Autonomous Aba Prefecture for the Tibetan and Xiang ethnic groups, it is no surprise that the robbers look like Tibetans (note: the Xiang people look like Han people).  The newspaper did not remind the readers that the earthquake took place in a Tibetan area and the unknowing readers may think that the "Tibetan independence" parachuted in from above.

If there have been Tibetan independence guerrilla activities in this area or if the robbers were shouting "Free Tibet" slogans during the robbery, then there is some basis for calling them "Tibet independence" elements.  But the news report did not contain any such information.

There are many news reporters about looting after the earthquake.  If certain Han government officials stole disaster relief materiel, and the newspaper headline is: "Han government officials stole disaster relief materiel destined for Tibetan and Xiang people," you would think that this newspaper is prejudiced and intent on inflaming antagonism between the Hans and the other two minority ethnic groups.  The headline is literally correct, because those government officials were Han and they misappropriated the disaster relief materiel earmarked for the Tibetan and Xiang people.  However, the headline is misleading.  First of all, the Hans account for 92% of all Chinese and it is nothing unusual for these particular government officials to be Han.  But there is no evidence that other Han government officials were abusing their job authority.  An individual case is not necessarily typical.  Secondly and more importantly, there is no causal relationship between the fact that these officials are Han and their dereliction of duty.  Tibetan and Xiang cadres are also capable of abusing their positions.

In truth, each person has multiple identities.  We often unintentionally connect the objectionable behavior of someone with one of his many identifies.  An obvious example is to connect the terrorist activities of Middle East terrorists with their identity as believers in Islam.  It is the same type of error to say that a Han government official abused his jon because he is a Han just as it is to say a Tibetan-looking robber is a Tibet independence element.  In truth, a Free Tibet supporter can be an advocate of violence, or he can be a pacifist.  In the case of Mahatma Gandhi, he supported India independence on one hand and he opposed violence on the other hand.  I don't agree with the notion of Tibet independence, but I also do not agree with the terrorist label.  Because this is not only contrafactual but also does not help to relax the tension between the Han and Tibetan groups.


The Hong Kong Television and Entertainment Authority and the Obscene Articles Tribunal had been going from one scandal to another --- they declared that Michanengelo's statue of David was indecent and had to be covered up; they declared a book of Greek fables featuring Cupid and Phoebe was indecent and the publisher was forced to withdraw it from exhibition; the award-winning movie <Autumn Tale> was classified as indecent when it appeared on television; ...  Part of the problem was the adjudicators of the Obscene Articles Tribunal were self-selected and tend to represent conservative opinions that are more extreme than the mainstream.  Another part of the problem was the lack of standards and transparency as the same article can be classified into different categories by different adjudicators (who work in pairs on the cases) without explanation.

The reforms includes (1) an initial administrative review of the articles submitted by citizens or the Television and Entertainment Authority; (2) a set of detailed guidelines will be published for the government agencies and the general public to consult; (3) the Obscene Articles Tribunal panels of adjudicators will be expanded to recruit members of other sectors of society and they will work in panels of four to review the cases; (4) the decisions will be made transparent because the applicable standards and reasons will be published.

There will also be a new classification system.  Presently, the articles are classified into one of three categories:
I.  Neither Indecent Nor Obscene (which can be published freely)
II.  Indecent (which can be published with a warning label that minors are not allowed to read it)
III.  Obscene (which cannot be published)

The new categories are:
I. Family friendly
II. Not suitable for children (contains mild foul language, sexual and horror content)
III.  Adults only (for persons age 18 or over)
IV.  Beyond Category III (not publishable)

According to a blogger named Zhu Guangbing, he called the Guangya Schol in Dujiangyan city at around 8pm on June 14 and found out from a female on duty that the school has just formally dismissed Fan Meizhong, because "the Department of Education has formally notified us that the teacher license for Fan Meizhong has been cancelled.  He is like a driver without a license.  We cannot employ him any more."

Fan Meizhong signed a two-year employment contract in 2007 with the Guangya School, with more than a year left at this time.  The reason that his license was cancelled was "mainly due to his speech, because there is nothing unusual about his teaching and his work.  Basically, the school and the students found him acceptable."

After this news spread across the Internet forums, a new round of debate ensured.

Guangya School principal Qing Guangya was interviewed by Southern Metropolis Daily yesterday evening.  He confirmed that the school has dismissed Fan Meizhong.  On June 11, the school received notice from the Department of Education that the teaching license of Fan Meizhong has been cancelled.  He then contacted Fan Meizhong.  The principal said, "The Guangya School no longer has any ties with Fan Meizhong."  He said that as the department in charge of education, the Department of Education clearly has the authority and ability to do this, "just like the Motor Vehicle Administration can suspect the license of a driver."

Fan Meizhong was interviewed yesterday by Southern Metropolis Daily.  In his view, the cancellation of his license was a direct interference by the administrative authority.  "It was a unilateral decision on their part without giving me any chance to explain."  He said that he has received a written notice yet.  He does not preclude the possibility of suing the relevant departments.

According to the regulations on teacher qualifications, Article 19 said that the People's Government Department of Education can disqualify a teacher due to (1) the practice of deception to obtain the license; (2) bad conduct, insulting of students and bad influence.  When the license gets suspended, the teacher cannot re-apply until five years later.  It is not clear whether the "bad conduct, insulting of students and bad influence" was due to Fan Meizhong running away during the earthquake or his subsequent Internet posts.

(1)  A letter arrived from Benxi (Liaoning province) ...
(2)  This letter provided a predictive opinion ...
(3)  It says that China and Japan ...
(4)  The magnitude is 7.5 on the Richter scale ...

Would you believe the Benxi teacher?  This could be a case of sheer luck with a claim of a large earthquake somewhere in a broad area (NE China/Japan) some time soon.  What was the methodology?  It was based upon sensory cues from the body of the teacher.  When this teacher makes another prediction in the future, will you move into a tent if you happen to be in the predicted area?

YouTube Links:

(Global Times via Lianyue's Eigth Continent)

At about 8:43am on June 14, a magnitude 7.0 earthquake occurred in Iwate and Miyagi prefectures in northeastern Japan.  Japan's Meteorology Bureau successfully issued predictions of the earthquake and its magnitude before the main shock arrived.  According to the Kyodo Agency, Japan's Meteorology Bureau began to supply "emergency earthquake warnings" to the citizens via television and other media as of October 1 last  year.  Based upon the small foreshocks, the magnitude of the main shock will be predicted.  On January 26 this year, the predicted magnitude of the Ishikawa earthquake was lower than the actual magnitude.  On April 28, the predictions at the Miyako Island (Okinawa) and Kanto district were issued after the main shock arrived.  This shows that there are some limitations to the system.

(Lianyue's Eighth Continent)

From the above news report, (1) Japan's Meteorology Bureau has been doing work on earthquake predictions; (2) the earthquake predictions were made several months ago, after which the Japanese society did not fall into the kind of chaos that some of our experts predicted ("the damages would be no less than in a real earthquake").  Disaster prevention can take place under normal social circumstances.  When the disaster arrives, the number of casualties will be a lot smaller if we are prepared.  That is obvious.

(Fang Zhouzi at XYS.org)

... Japan does not have ability to predict any earthquake several months ahead of time.  No country in the world has that kind of ability.  But Japan is the first in the world to install a nationwide earthquake warning system, and they have the ability to issue emergency earthquake warnings at the moment that an earthquake occurs underground.  This system has nothing to do earthquake prediction.  This is not the kind of earthquake prediction made from a series of foreshocks (as in the mythical Haicheng earthquake prediction).  Instead, the warning system leverages the fact that there is a time gap between different types of shock waves which propagate at different speeds through the earth.

After an earthquake takes place, two types of shock waves emanate from the epicenter that is under the ground.  The P-waves are less damaging and they propagate more rapidly.  The S-waves are more damaging and cause most of the devastation but they propagate slower.  The earthquake warning system exploits the difference in arrival times of these two types of waves.  When the earthquake detection instruments detects the arrival of P-waves, an estimate of the magnitude is made and an emergency warning bulletin is issued before the S-waves arrive.  The time difference is often just a few seconds and it is not enough to evacuate the population.  However, the natural gas system can be shut down, electricity supply can be halted and the expressways can be closed in order to avoid secondary damage.

This is a matter of trading space to gain time, and it has many limitations.  The farther away a place is from the epicenter, the more time it takes before the S-waves arrive.  But is also means that the force of the earthquake would be less powerful.  Locations that are far away from the epicenter may not even need the warnings.  The warning is most needed near the epicenter, but the system is useless there.

According to the report in Global Times, the previous cases were unsuccessful.  At the Miyako Island (Okinawa) earthquake on April 28, the warning was issued 10 seconds after the P-waves arrived, but that was 5 seconds after the S-waves arrived.  At this latest earthquake, the emergency earthquake warning was issued 4 seconds after the P-waves were detected.  This may be said to be successful.  But in the area within 20 to 30 kilometers from the epicenter, the S-waves were already there within those 4 seconds.  Thus, the most seriously affected areas did not have time to do anything.  However, this is still the best earthquake warning system available in the world at present.  The US Geological Survey is testing a similar earthquake warning system in California right now.

In March 2007, Guangzhou began a series of "Courtesy Days" to promote civilized behavior among citizens.  The series of photo blogging turned out to the most popular.  At this time, 2,937 photos of uncivilized behaviors (such as spitting) have been taken by citizens and submitted.

On this day, the next in the series of photo blogging begins.  This one is known as "Flashing Red and Green Light."  Photo bloggers are told to use their cameras to record uncivilized behaviors that occur near traffic lights.  Those photos will be uploaded to the website especially created for the campaign.  Afterwards, the Guangzhou City Youth Association will use the website hit rate to determine the top 10 most popular photos.  Those photos will be used to mobilize the volunteers to act as "human flesh search engine."  The campaign will continue until the end of the year.


(Hecaitou's Blog)

After the confrontation between Jumper Guo and Runner Fan was broadcast on Phoenix TV, many people pointed out: There are many people who can defend morality, so why choose Jumper Guo?

Putting aside moral considerations, any other program director would have chose Jumper Guo and not someone else.  This is because Hu Yifu's talk show is a SHOW and not a real debate.  The director has the responsibility of providing explosive scenes and twisting plots, or else the audience won't be satisfied.

This means that a program that lasts several dozen minutes must have conflicts and it must have a strong sense of drama.  The so-called sense of drama requires that the expectations of the audience not be met.  At the very least, the audience knows that its expectations will not be met, but nevertheless this has to be done in a satisfactory manner.  The simplest example is a romantic movie.  Why are there always so many plot twists?  Man meets woman, they kiss and they get married.  Isn't that nice?  But the problem is who wants to see such a plain plot?  There has to be misunderstandings and there has to be obstacles.  Anyway, it cannot proceed smoothly.  So the man shows up with flowers in hand and the woman greets him with a big slap in the face.  This is the kind of film that you will want to continue to watch.  Because it is contrary to your expectations, you are interested in continuing to watch it in order to learn why she greeted him with a slap in the face instead of a kiss.

... Runner Fan has been the target of criticisms of netizens around China.  Everybody knows that.  Suppose the program invited a guest with unmatched debating skills and impeccable moral credentials.  That person may disarm Runner Fan in a few sentences and have him condemned on the spot.  That would be one of the worst TV programs ever.  Everybody expected this to happen, and it did happen.  So who needs a program director?  Therefore, this expectation must not be satisfied!  If Runner Fan loses, it is of no interest; if Runner Fan turns the table around and comes out ahead, then it is A1 headline news.  Everybody wants to know: How did Runner Fan turn the table around?  The TV ratings will soar.  The viewers will be satisfied, and they will even look forward to the sequel to see if another person can defeat Runner Fan.  If this continues and Runner Fan wins five in a row, the viewers will hold their thumbs up and ask for the life of this gladiator be spared.  But by that time, that TV program would probably be red-hot popular all over China and the amount of betting in Macau would exceed over 1 billion RMB.

If Phoenix TV actually planned it this way, then the program producer is very smart.  If this whole thing was sheer coincidence, then this can only be said to be sheer luck.  If they find all outcomes acceptable and they are merely going along with the flow, then that is known as professionalism.

(The Myth of Natural Disasters)  An old essay collected in the book <In Search of China>.  May 2008.

Small disasters are daily occurrences, but big disasters should not be taken lightly because they contain certain big warning messages (which is either the beginning or the end of something).  Unfortunately, very few people understand it.

So what do we need to understand from the Great Tangshan Earthquake?  I think the following.  People are usually full of themselves.  In order to gain a little power, fame and money, they will endlessly and limitlessly instigate class struggles and group hostilities which result in large numbers of human tragedies.  This earthquake at least makes it clear that no person is in charge of everything.  As soon as Nature flexes, all the hubbub about the campaigns, criticisms and anger become a trifling joke.

Nature has its almighty powers, and even a slight twitch is enough to create fear and trembling.  The fearful display in Tangshan is clearly here to end a certain episode of history.

(Against The Theory of the Wrath of God)  A conversation with netizens.  May 24, 2008.

It is truly loathsome for anyone to propose this absurd theory, which treats the 1.3 billion people as the target of the "wrath of God."  We are mad as hell that the 50,000+ dead compatriots should be regarded as the target of the "wrath of God"!  What did the 1.3 billion Chinese people do wrong?  What did the 50,000+  compatriots do wrong?  What kind of "God" is punishing them?  If this were really truly the case, I will have to quote Guan Hanqing to yell out to Heaven: "Heaven!  The way that you kill people means that you are not worthy to be Heaven!"

Anyone can hold different political positions and social ideas.  I respect that.  But I cannot tolerate that certain seemingly cultured and thoughtful people could be unmoved by the deaths of several tens of thousands of compatriots and they even dare to make up reasons to turn nature's violence into the embodiment of justice.  I have nothing to say to them.  I only want to tell netfriends:  Anyone who is untouched by any human tragedy cannot possibly have any political viewpoints worthy of your attention.  We will test the astonishing variety of political ideas, points of view, academic schools, groups and so on according to humanitarian bottom line: Do they save lives?  Do they defend the people?  Do they praise the good and condemn the evil?  Do they have loving care?  If they can't even pass this bottom line test, then I am not interested in listening to the rest of their words!

When the Internet first entered into our daily lives, many people imagined that this would be the mythical "public space": there are no entry/exit requirements to this public space; there is no central authority to regulate the space; personal backgrounds do not matter; all information is exchanged freely; and everybody discusses rationally.  Disagreement is allowed to exist and, through discussion, a consensus will be formed gradually.  This open platform that is unfettered and distorted by any authorities will soon bring a unprecedented democratic era to humanity.

... The Internet is an infinite treasure trove of information.  We seek out that information that we need and we develop our own interests; but the Internet does not necessarily make us understand each other better.  On the contrary, it may disrupt the potential for that.  When the Internet replaces the one-to-many mass media, we may have more freedom and we may become the expert in specific fields; but we may also lose the so-called "public space."

The biggest difference between "netizen" and "netfriend" is the emphasis on 'friend.'  An ideal Internet forum allows anyone to enter, peruse and perhaps comment.  In so doing, they become netizens who articulate their various concerns and lines of thinking.  But like any other group, an Internet forum also has its "group dynamics" that evolves according to the principles of the sociology of organizations.  Eventually, the forum will become a club for "netfriends."

In the discussions at this club, the theory is that the various diverse opinions will interact with each other from which some kind of a consensus emerges to form a mainstream opinion.  At first, people disagree with a certain viewpoint.  Then someone declares that they "despise" those people who hold that viewpoint.  Then someone uses foul language.  Finally, someone issues an Internet warrant to hunt down the dissidents.  On one hand, anonymity protects everybody.  On the other hand, it allows the speeches to become more extreme as people try to outdo others.  Over the years, we have seen innumerable examples of the process.  We have seen how a forum can turn from a national affairs discussion forum into a megalomaniac fantasy paradise intent to conquer the world.  We have also seen another forum going from the ideal model of rational discussions into a small circle of people who wants to toss all angry young people into the ocean.  Like any closed group, the extreme voices dominate the direction of the group and moderation becomes a heresy that must be eradicated.

In the end, the formerly open world becomes a collection of small self-absorbed, self-enclosed sects.  The members of each sect have found their true homes in their little groups.  Every day, they react to the comments of their own kind and their ideas are consolidated and reaffirmed.  Ultimately, we become the "netfriends" of different clubs and we no longer perceive the presence of a "public space."  Nevertheless, we are each sure that we are the ones who possess the ultimate truth.  We are no different from ancient tribes.

Q. Do you know that the netizens are talking about you negatively?  Are you feel wronged?  What is you response?
A: I have not personally seen it on the Internet, but I have heard about it.  I definitely feel wronged.  Most people do not don't the truth.  You say that I was smiling.  It depends on the circumstances.  The Secretary-General and the Premier came here.  I went to meet them.  Of course, I feel happy inside.  I must accept this sort of commentary.  If I cannot take the heat, it would affect the progress of the relief work.  I am a city party secretary and I am a political figure who must endure criticisms and rumors.  Such are the characteristics of political figures.

Q: How would rate the rescue and relief work of the party cadres since the earthquake?  After the Beichuang Political and Law Committee secretary got buried, he called out to the rescuers: "Save me quickly.  I am Secretary Zhang."  Many netizens scorned that this was the "most awesome bureaucratese talk in history."  How do you assess this phenomenon.
A: I think that the various levels of cadres performed outstanding work.  There were individual cases in which the cadres retreated from the frontline or failed to perform, and they have been relieved of their duties.  The Beichuan mayor Qing Dazhong had five deaths in his family, but he reined his feelings and stayed at the front line.  The Beichuan party organization department director, the Beichuan Middle School principal, ..., their heroic actions are legendary.  As for the "most awesome piece of bureacratese talk in history," I only learned about this one from your proposed outline of this interview.  I asked other comrades.  The Beichuan party organization department director was buried for 75 hours before being rescued.  He stayed in the hospital for one day, and then he went back to the front line.  I think that he is a good comrade.

Q: Since the earthquake, how are your daily living conditions?
A: I did not sleep for the first three days.  All of the cadres refused to sleep.  They just would not listen to advise.  I had to order them to get some sleep, because they can't do this forever.  I have been sleeping very little recently.  I tried to sleep while I am in the car.  I come back here in the office at night and I sleep over on that sofa.  Things are slightly better now.  I hold meetings and I eat here too.

Q: During the earthquake, you are a father who is an ordinary person and a city party secretary.  The first role may be sorrowful for you, but the second role requires you to stay calm.  How do you balance those two roles?
A: On that day, I went to Beichuan Middle School at around 8pm.  I saw people burying the bodies.  The bodies were lying across the ground.  My heart was filled with sorrow.  I am a father too.  When I see the bodies of the children on the ground, I understand the sorrows that the fathers feel.  But I am almost the commander of the Mianyang city Earthquake Relief Headquarters.  I am the commander-in-chief over several million people.  Sorrow does not help.  I must suppress my feelings and I must act out my role to command calmly.  I must show the strength and steadiness of a leader.  When I see the commanders underneath me crying with me, I sometimes criticize them.  I told them not to cry, because we must be strong and calm in the face of the disaster.

Q: Did you cry?
A: I cried many times.  On March 13, I went with Premier Wen Jiabao to see the victims at the Jiuzhou Sports Arena.  I could not help myself and I cried.  Firstly, it was such a sad scene.  Secondly, when I saw the Premier, it was like a child seeing the father.  I felt that I had someone to rely on and the pressure was suddenly released.

Related Link Chinese bloggers slip censors' net to attack smiling party boss.  Jonathan Watts, The Guardian, June 1, 2008.

Q1.  How attentive are you towards the Hong Kong Legislative Council elections in September this year?
  2.5%: Completely not attentive
17.6%: Not very attentive
63.6%: Somewhat attentive
14.9%: Very attentive
  1.4%: Don't know/hard to say

Q2.  Do you want the incoming Legislative Councilors to monitor or cooperate with the government?
52.7%: Monitor the government
36.9%: Cooperate with the government
10.3%: Don't know/hard to say

Q3. Would you like the incoming Legislative Councilors to emphasize on economic growth or fair economic distribution?
33.6%: Economic grwoth
58.4%: Fair economic distribution
  8.0%: Don't know/hard to say

Q4. In implementing "one country, two systems," would you like the incoming Legislative Councilors to keep a distance away from mainland China or work together closer with mainland China?
11.7%: Keep a distance away
83.0%: Work together closer
  5.3%: Don't know/hard to say

Q5. In terms of democracy, the pan-democrats demand double universal suffrage in 2012 whereas the National People's Progress has determined 2017 for universal suffarge of the Chief Executive and then later for the Legislative Council.  Which proposal would you like the incoming Legislative Councilors to support?
39.1%: Pan-democrats' proposal/2012 double universal suffrage
45.5%: National People's Congress' decision/2017 universal suffrage of the Chief Executive to occur first
15.4%: Don't know/hard to say

Q6. How important to you are the candidates' positions on these issues? (%Very important/important)
93.0%: Raise the quality of education
92.7%: Supervise the government to improve environmental protection
90.2%: Maintain Hong Kong's competitiveness in finance, tourism and shipping
90.0%: Improve the impoverished conditions of low-income folks
89.3%: Stop price rises
83.8%: Supervise the government to improve urban planning
83.3%: Reduce rich-poor gap
75.6%: Solve the medical care funding problem
72.2%: Enact the fair competition law
69.7%: Establish the minimum wage
55.9%: Work towards achieving double universal suffrage in 2012

 Q7. How important to you are these attributes of candidates?  (%Very important/important)
76.2%: Previous experience in politics and/or public service
74.8%: Personal background (such as professional specialty or academic degree)
56.3%: Acceptable to the central government
50.9%: Have good speaking skills
38.0%: Is a current Legislative Councilor
34.4%: Is supported by a political party
26.3%: Relatively younger

Q8.  Among the Hong Kong political parties, which do you tend to identify with?
17.0%: Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong
15.5%: Democratic Party
15.0%: Civic Party
  4.5%: Liberal Party
  3.5%: Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions
  2.3%: Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions
  1.4%: Association for Democracy and People's Livelihood
  0.8%: Front Line
  0.7%: League of Social Democrats
  0.3%: Civil Force
  0.3%: Neighbourhood & Workers' Service Centre
  0.3%: Pan-democratic groups
  0.1%: Savantas
27.6%: None
10.7%: Don't know/hard to say

Q9.  If the Legislative Council election were to be held today, which type of person are you likely to vote for?
33.7%: Pan-democrat candidate
14.7%: Pro-China establishment candidate
25.7%: Independent candidate
24.4%: Don't know/undecided
  1.5%: Won't vote/will cast blank ballot

When the Wenchuan earthquake occurred, blogger Li Shihui could not wait to state that "Geng Qingguo had clearly warned about a magnitude 7 or higher earthquake in the ten days before or after May 10 in the Aba area of Sichuan based upon the intensity of the magnetic storms."

What are magnetic storms?  The earth is surrounded by a magnetic field, of which the majority of the force (80% to 90%) comes from the earth itself which is very stable.  The remainder of the magnetic field is due to the sun, which fluctuates a lot more but it only accounts for a small change against the total background.  For example, the magnetic field in Beijing is measured at about 46,900 nT and the change induced by an earthquake is of the order of several nT.  This is not a reliable precursor for earthquake.

Instead, the grandmasters of 'earthquake prediction' count on using magnetic storms, which are induced by solar activities.  Those storms can result in fluctuations of several hundred nT in the earth's magnetic field.  According to "national treasure" Shen Zongpi, the engineer Zhang Tiezheng noticed that magnetic storms often occurred before earthquakes.  By analyzing the magnetic storm and the earthquake data, it was determined that out of 168 magnetic storms, 127 had occurred within one day of an earthquake.

The brilliance of the theory of magnetic storms is that you don't have to predict a location for the epicenter, since magnetic storms are global disturbances and earthquakes can occur anywhere on earth.  Whenever a magnetic storm occurs, you look and you will find an earthquake somewhere on earth within one day.  You will always find an earthquake somewhere, because hundreds of earthquakes occur each year around the world.

If Li Shihui asserted that "Geng Qingguo had clearly warned about a magnitude 7 or higher earthquake in the ten days before or after May 10 in the Aba area of Sichuan based upon the intensity of the magnetic storms," then the location could not have been determined from the magnetic storms alone.  Grandmaster Geng Qingguo is also famous for his theory of drought-earthquake relationship.  But since there was a drought affecting the entire Sichuan province, he could not pinpoint the Aba Prefecture on that basis alone.  So Grandmaster Geng Qingguo is likely to have reverted to the old theory -- earthquakes are more likely to occur in places where earthquakes have occurred before (and conversely, earthquakes are less likely to occur in places where earthquakes have never occurred before).

There is a 2005 journal article which analyzed the historical relationship between magnetic storms and earthquakes.  In 1979, none of the 18 earthquakes in China took place on the same day as a magnetic storm.  In 1998, there were 16 magnitude 7 or stronger earthquakes around the world, and only one occurred on the same day as a magnetic storm.  In 1999, there were 20 magnitude 7 or stronger earthquakes around the world, and one only one occurred on the same day as a magnetic storm.  In March, July, August and November of 1999, there were no magnetic storms anywhere but there were eight large earthquakes.

At a Qingdao news forum, a post titled <Qingdao School Vice Principal Dismissed For Refusing To Make Earthquake Donation> appeared and received more than 10,000 hits within hours.  The post was then circulated to the major portals.  The post alleges that the vice principal named Zhao told the teacher in charge of the donation campaign that he has no money to give.  In spite of pleas, he was adamant that he won't donate a single cent.  When the school staff and students learned about this behavior, it created bad influence.  "The school leaders spoke to Zhao but he insisted that it was his choice to donate and it was nobody else's business.  Zhao had also been derelict in his duties, showing up late and leaving early.  The school board has made the unanimous decision to dismiss Zhao.

Zhao was interviewed by Southern Metropolis Daily.  He said that he had previous disagreements with the school principal named Ma over working styles.  Zhao preferred to be practical but Ma was apparently more flamboyant, including throwing one RMB notes into the air for people to grab.  Zhao had unsuccessfully tried several times before to quit, but he was persuaded to leave.  When the Wenchuan earthquake occurred, Zhao asked Ma to organize a donation campaign but Ma refused.  So Zhao made two separate donations totalling 1,200 RMB through other channels.  On May 21, the school began to organize donations.  Zhao received a telephone call from a worker and said that the school principal required middle-level managers to donate at least 100 RMB.  Zhao resented the use of "required" and "at least."  Zhao said, "I was born in the 1980's.  I have my own personality and views.  I don't think people should be forced to donate money.  This is a personal matter.  What was he doing when I was making my donations?  This school principal wants to use the workers' money to accomplish his own goals.  That is why I refused."  He said that Ma used his departure to hype up the topic, and that was really disappointing.

Ma was also interviewed by Southern Metropolis Daily.  "I left the delegated the donation campaign to the school workers.  I did not force anyone to donate any fixed amounts.  It does not matter if it is 10 RMB or 20 RMB, but isn't it unreasonable not to donate even one cent?  We have two vice-principals.  One donated 2,000 RMB while the other gave not one cent.  This is hard on me.  You make more than 4,000 RMB per month.  Is it too much to ask you to donate one or two hundred RMB?"  He thought that Zhao had talents, but he lacked character, responsibility and concern.  Therefore, the school board decided to dismiss him.

Approval of President Ma Ying-jeou's job performance
50.8% approve (down from 71% on April 7)
42.7% disapprove (up from 22.5% on April 7 to 32.2% on May 27)

Among middle-of-the-road voters, approval went from 61.3% on April 7, to 36.1% on May 27 to 30.1% on June 5.  Their disapproval rates went from 18.9% on April 7, to 37.6% on May 27 to 57.8% on June 5.

The poll also showed that the loss in approval ratings was due to the new cabinet policies and the loss of sovereignty for Taiwan in cross-strait relationship.

Q1.  Would you like to see us enter international organizations under the name of Taiwan or Chinese Taipei?
54%: Taiwan
25%: Chinese Taipei
21%: No opinion

Q2.  Do you prefer Taiwan independence, unification with China or maintain the status quo?

Dark purple: maintain status quo; bright purple: independence; red: unification

Q3.  If you can choose, would your prefer Taiwan to become an independent country, or unify with mainland China, or become a state in the United States of America?
58%: Independent country
17%: Unified with mainland China
  8%: Become a state in the United States of America
17%: No opinion

Q4. If you can choose, would you prefer Taiwan to become an independent country, or unify with mainland China?
65%: Independent country
19%: Unified with mainland China
16%: No opinion

Q5. In our society, some people think that they are Chinese while other people think that they are Taiwanese.  Which do you think you are?
68%: Taiwanese
18%: Chinese
14%: Don't know/refused

Q6.  Do you think of yourself as Taiwanese? Chinese? Or both?

Green: Both Taiwanese and Chinese; Blue: Taiwanese; Purple: Chinese

Q. How do you think the the mainland Chinese government feels towards the people of Taiwan?
39.0%: Friendly
37.9%: Unfriendly

Q. What should President Ma Ying-jeou do first with respect towards mainland China?
55.8%: Economic cooperation
38.4%: Put a stop to diplomatic war
27.3%: Put a stop to military hostilities
19.4%: Social and cultural exchange
13.6%: Political negotiations

Q. What will the two sides of the traits eventually become?
50.2%: Friends
12.5%: Family members
11.8%: Relatives
  5.9%: Strangers
  4.5%: Enemies

Q. In his inaugural speech, President Ma Ying-jeou said that the people on the two sides of the Taiwan Strait are all Chinese and he referred to the mainland people as compatriots.  Do you identify yourself as ...?
84.9%: A member of the Republic of China
77.2%: A member of the Chinese people
72.5%: Both a member of the Republic of China and a member of the Chinese people

Q.  Do you agree that the people on the two sides of the Taiwan Strait are Chinese?
59.7%: Yes
27.9%: No

Q. Under what name would you like to see Taiwan join international organizations?
36.7%: Taiwan
30.9%: Republic of China
15.5%: Chinese Taiwan
  8.5%: Chinese Taipei

Q. If forced to choose between the two ...?
64.2%: Chinese Taiwan
19.6%: Chinese Taipei