(1)  Christina Chan Hau-man, the University of Hong Kong student who raised a Tibetan flag during the Olympic torch relay in the city, and a friend tried to display the banned Tibetan "snow lion" flag - which they had hidden underneath a Canadian flag. As they were trying to uncover the Tibet flag, several security guards who had been monitoring them pounced and covered them with a blue sheet before carrying them out.

(2) Just before the end of last night's events, two US members of the Students for A Free Tibet group, Matt Browner-Hamlin and Brianna Cotter, also tried to display a Tibet flag. Both were escorted from the venue.

(3) Mr Leung Kwok-hung and fellow activist Koo Sze-yiu caused a stir at the end of Chinese competitor Alex Hua Tian's run in the dressage event when Mr Koo unfurled a banner reading "Human right, [sic] freedom for China, no  dictatorship". Mr Leung said he had smuggled the banner in his underpants.

Hua, who was warmly received by spectators, had already had a tough round when his horse, Chico, was spooked by camera flashes as reporters took pictures of a scuffle between activists and security guards. The rider laughed when he was asked about the protest. "I'm immensely proud to ride for my country," he said, adding that it was great to compete on home soil. "I don't have a full picture of the [the protest attempt], so I can't really comment."

Here are the relevant Chinese-language news coverage of the same incidents:

(1) (Apple Daily; The Sun; Sing Tao; Ming Pao; Ming Pao; FYJS.cn))  Yesterday, Christina Chan arrived at the Olympics equestrian event grounds with a a civic radio reporter.  They carried foam rubber boards with a Canadian flag and slogans cheering on the Canadian competitors, underneath which they hid a Free Tibet snow lion flag and protest slogans respectively.  When the Canadian rider appeared at 6:40am, they took out the boards and intended to remove the Canada-related material.  Several security guards surrounded them and covered them up with a blue blanket.

There was a wrestling match that lasted more than ten minutes before the security guards seized the flag and slogan.  During that time, Christina Chan kept shrieking while her friend yelled that they were being assaulted.  The audience members sitting behind them began to complain, even using foul language:

「搞搞震!拉晒佢地出去啦!」(Troublemaker! Drag them all away!)
「叫佢早唞啦!」(Tell her to take a rest!)
「拉×佢走啦」(F*cking drag her away!)
「喺度搞搞震」(Causing trouble here)
「俾錢佢走啦!」(Give some money so she can leave!)
「睇下佢好似食白粉咁!」(She seems to be on heroin)
「最怕吵著馬匹,選手苦練四年爭大獎,這樣影響中國和香港聲譽!」(The worst part is to disturb the horses.  The competitors trained hard for four years to win a medal.  This will affect the reputation of China and Hong Kong!)

When the Number 5 horse came near the stand, it became scared and jumped backwards.  Fortunately, this was during a warm-up and it did not result in any point deductions.  The two were carried out of the grounds by the security guards.  Afterwards, Christina Chan attempted to re-enter but her passage was blocked by a human chain of security guards. 

Christina Chan claimed to have sustained an injury to her elbow as well as getting her skirt ripped.  She also said that she felt that she had been sexually abused when she was being carried out.  "They touched every part of my body 咩地方都畀人掂晒啦."  She wondered why it was male security guards who carried her out.  She considered filing a police complaint, but she has no confidence in the police.

There is more discussion on Christina Chan at the Hong Kong Golden Forum, but it has nothing to do with Free Tibet.  Is that too cryptic?  Well, let us say that it was about her physical attributes.

(2) (Apple DailyAfter Christina Chan got blacklisted, she gave her evening tickets and a snow mountain flag to two foreign friends Matt and Brianna from the Students For A Free Tibet.  As the evening event reached an end, the two raised the flag.  The security guards surrounded them and took them away with their flag.

(3) (Apple Daily)  Legislative Council member Leung Kwok-hung and April 5th Movement member Sze-yiu entered with VIP tickets in hand.  The two were searched and their banners and clothes (which have the words Human Rights Is More Important Than The Olympics) were removed before they were allowed to enter.  When the Chinese rider Alex Hua finished his event, the two shouted slogans to vindicate June 4th.  They were carried out of the grounds by more than 10 security guards.

(Raymond Zhou's Blog)  Don't rain on parade of others By Raymond Zhou (China Daily) 2008-08-02

People all across the country are praying that it will not rain on August 8 - the day of China's biggest party. If it rains, it will be a huge wet blanket, as many special effects designed for the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics will have to be curtailed. If there were a god of thunder and rain who could arrange such things as rainy days and sunny days, what would he do? Would he want to spoil the party? Well, I would say, if he is a benign god, he would happily bestow a rain-free evening for the occasion. After all, what could he get out of disappointing a 1.3 billion population with high hopes? The only thing he would get is schadenfreude.

Rational people do not engage in activities that harm others if it does not benefit themselves. Of course, the weather is not controlled by human beings, so one cannot apply rationality to the elements. But with fellow human beings, hopefully my argument holds water.

The Olympics is a big platform where everyone wants to showcase their best. That includes people who are not happy with China, its policies, actions and pursuits. By getting China's attention or the attention of the whole world at this particular juncture, they believe they can make their statements and solve their problems.

I will not delve into their issues and grievances. Whether they are legitimate or not, the Olympics is simply not the place for them. It is not just the principle that sports should be separate from politics; it is cultural finesse that one should not ruin another's festivity.

In the West, a big crowd is fertile land for attention grabbing. You can crash parties and make mischief. In China, when the host is throwing a big party, others go along. Etiquette demands that guests refrain from outrageous behavior that may upset the host. For example, creditors are not supposed to collect their debts during the Lunar New Year celebration. What if the debts are due during that period? Well, you wait till later.

The Beijing Olympics is like a wedding. Neighbors do not show up to conduct business, but to celebrate. What do you do at your neighbor's or friend's wedding? Even if the host is your enemy, you will probably hide your hostility and be a good sport. That is what people with good manners do. It does not mean people do not have differences, but that they know this is not the occasion to touch upon these differences.

What if you have to give voice to these differences? Well, there are the three parks designated for holding protests and you can apply according to the rules. But I advise against it. If you want solutions to legitimate problems, you do not offend the other party first by spoiling his party. That will only make a mutually acceptable solution less likely. Besides, what is so urgent you cannot wait for a few weeks?

Some believe that China is "weak" because the whole world is watching and therefore it is the best time to, not just talk, but shout and yell. Unless making a dramatic gesture is your only goal, this would be a terrible tactic usually taken by those with little knowledge of cultural nuances. What we Chinese call "face" the West calls "respect", and if there is one such occasion this is the one that calls for respect. It is not just the government or a few organizations that you will rub the wrong way, but you will hurt the feelings of all Chinese people.

Okay, that sounds like a cliche, let me rephrase it: Don't rain on our parade.

Thank you, Barbra Streisand, for the inspiration.

Here is the case study:

(SCMP)  Police blow up suspicious object in Causeway Bay MTR station.  August 9, 2008.

Meanwhile, the Olympic equestrian events in Hong Kong were greeted by protests around the city yesterday, with more demonstrations expected today. At about 8am, road access to the airport was obstructed by political activist Matt Pearce, who climbed onto a 10-metre-high road sign in the middle of the Tsing Ma Bridge. His protest against China's human rights situation caused traffic chaos in the New Territories. He waved two banners demanding Beijing improve human rights and freedom. Fearing that Mr Pearce - known for dressing up as Spiderman and other characters in protests - would fall onto the road, police and firemen were called. Air cushions were placed underneath him, blocking traffic. The incident ended three hours later, as firemen managed to bring him down peacefully at about 11am using a ladder from a fire engine. He was detained for questioning.

(Photo: Apple Daily)

(Apple Daily)

The police hurried over and banned traffic on all six lanes on the upper deck.  All cars had to use the lanes on the lower deck.  The firemen set up air cushions.  Matt couldn't care less as he drank water, ate chocolate and read a newspaper.  Then he put on a horse's head, wore an Olympic shirt and performed with various equipment.  He put on boxing gloves and pretended to be boxing; he continued with the shot put and badminton; then he took out a guitar to play and sing.  Next, he took out another a bilingual banner with the five Olympic rings on freedom human rights, no rule of law, democracy, release of political prisoners, vindicate June 4th, oppose government corruption.  By 10am, the police edged up step by sped and then rushed over to arrest Matt.

(ESWN: Thanks for letting everybody know that 'We want human rights and democracy' and 'The people of China want freedom from oppression.'  The truck drivers who got held up in the traffic tie-up would never have known and they want to send their thanks in their very colorful language ...)

Please bear in mind: "When the forest is big, there are all kinds of birds."  The following is just a sampling of Internet opinions, of which there are many.  Please also bear in mind that Internet opinions do not represent those of the general population, because the people who care to comment on the Internet are a self-selected group.

Elsewhere, I have also discussed and identified Internet opinions (such as The South China Tiger Photographs) as if they represent 'public opinions.'

There is no inconsistency, because there are two types of situations.  In the matter of the South China Tiger Photographs, the vast majority of the Chinese population do not know what the case is about; even if they have heard of it, very few were truly interested.  The Internet opinions about that case really came from a small self-selected group of people who informed themselves about the case and expressed their judgments.  The rest of the population just did not care one way or the other.  This is the public opinion, with that qualification.

With respect to the Olympics opening ceremony, the TV ratings company CSM has a preliminary estimate that 190 million Chinese persons watched the broadcast.  These spectators have watched it and they have formed their informed opinions.  Compared to this audience, the number of Internet commentators is tiny and also self-selected.  That is why I made the comment.

If you go to Chinese Internet Reacts To Olympics Opening Ceremony, then there are some western media interviews with ordinary Chinese folks.  You can tell the difference between them and the Internet commentators, some of whom appear to be self-appointed art, social and/or political critics.  The ordinary folks seem to be able to enjoy a spectacle on its own terms.

Another difference is that some Internet commentators are harping on the costs of mounting this opening ceremony.  the actual figure is unknown with certainly, but it must run into the hundreds of millions of yuan.  They ask, why not spend this money on the needy?  You don't hear this line of complaint from the ordinary folks.  Why not?  Perhaps ordinary folks actually know the arithmetic.  Let us say that there are 400 million people living in abject poverty and let us assume that the cost of this 4-hour extravaganza is 400 million RMB.  If you distribute the money evenly, each person get 1 RMB.  If you leave it to the ordinary folks, they wouldn't mind giving 1 RMB per person to stage this coming-out party for China.

Tragedy #1: His experience was limited and he did not know many things

Actually, the Soviet Russian system and its history are still very much of a mystery up to now.  As the Hungarian historian Istvan Rev has said, many people who went through the experience only learned now about what had happened around them after the various secret files and trial records are gradually re-assembled piece by piece.  But this history is over and done with, and nobody is interested in what happened twenty years ago.  One reason is that people think that they know what happened because they have great opuses like <The Gulag Archipelago>.  But Solzhenitsyn had not seen or heard many things.  Like most dissident writers living in the totalitarian system, they have the courage to speak out but unfortunately they only knew very few facts.  This was the first tragedy of Solzhenitsyn.  Without extraordinary dignity and self-confidence, he could not have held on.  Yet precisely on account of the extraordinary dignity and self-confidence, he forgot that his own life experience was only one small piece within a huge system.  Under this system, every person can only try to grasp the totality like a blind man trying to guess what an elephant is like by feeling with the hands.  This is particularly true for those dissidents who were isolated.

Solzhenitsyn had been the hero of the "free world" and he was their best weapon to criticize their opponent in the Cold War.  But when he arrived in the United States, they discovered that this was a huge misunderstanding.  In 1978, he delivered a speech at Harvard University in which he fiercely condemned the nihilism and decadence of the west.  This was enough to stun everybody.  According to the system of dualism that continues to persist even now, when a person criticizes a Communist system for oppressing humanity and violating human rights, then he must be "pro-West" because the West is the holy grail/paradise for freedom and personal liberty.  But Solzhenitsyn turned out not be that kind of dissident.  He did not cry out "I don't want to be born Russian in my next life."  He did not say nice things about his host.  Instead, he dared to denounce the United States for being shallow and the "western world" for being morally decrepit.

Tragedy #2: Soviet Russia thought he was a traitor, while the West through he was too conservative

Now that might have been a relief to leftists in the West.  As the last intellectual who believed in Stalin, Sartre said: "Solzhenitsyn is the most dangerous one."  His work not only made the abstract concept of the "Gulag Archipelago" a concrete term, but he also set down an emotional foundation for foreign diplomacy based upon human rights.  He also shook up those western leftists who still thought that the "existing socialism" was the best way to go.  They knew about the information that was coming back from the other side of the Iron Curtain, but they were silent and hesitant until Solzhenitsyn brought the worst possible evidence.  Many people recalled afterwards that it was Solzhenitsyn who woke them up.  While he made many people turn rightist, he did not become the rightist that people imagined.  The former leftists cannot understand why Solzhenitsyn refused to embrace the capitalist value system just like they did.  The unrepentant leftists were delighted that Solzhenitsyn was not as naive as other dissidents by becoming Americans once they arrived in America.  Meanwhile, the other people are unhappy that he did not try to find a new path to carry out the genuine leftist spirit in the manner of Eastern European dissidents like Vaclav Havel.

Such was the an obstinate stubborn conservative.  Even the western leftists did not how to define him (he did not believe in the existing socialism, he did not believe in liberalism and the market economy and he also did not believe in Marxism).  No matter where it was, he just did not fit.  This should be an honor for an intellectual and not a real tragedy.  Unfortunately, he chose a path in the forest that was not well-traversed.

He lived in the countryside of Vermont where the place is as cold as in Russia.  He did not go out and he refused to take telephone call.  Instead, he lived in a house that resembled a traditional Russian rural cottage.  He did not speak English and he became a recluse in order to mourn for Russia.  Everybody knew that he hated the Soviet Russian system.  But he was unlike many other Russian exile writers and scholars, who thought that the cause was due to the dreaful totalitarian system of the Tsar and the traditional Russian cultural tradition.  Instead, he thought that the Communists caused all the problems.  He thought that the traditional Russia was not like this, that the Tsar was quite benevolent and that Russia had the grand Eastern Orthodox Church.  Then everybody finally figured out that Solzhenitsyn was an even more obstinate right-winger, a conservative on religion and a believer in the Great Russian nationalism.  He criticized the Soviet Russia not for the sake of human rights and freedom, but because they were atheists and they took apart the Russian tradition.  He criticized the West not because he had a leftist strain but because this civilization has lost the guidance of God and fallen into irreversible decadence.

No wonder Lesley Chamberlain, who is an expert on the history of Russian thought, said that Solzhenitsyn was a member of the "genuine Russian intelligentsia" because he tied his own fate with the fate of Russia.

The Final Tragedy: The conservative Reagan liked him, and the deified Putin liked him

In stormy times, he would be forgotten.  Because he was yearning for the past glory and future renaissance of Russia alone, he became an outdated clock whose sound is ignored by everybody.  For the literati, his latter works were uninteresting and the well-known works of the earlier years are only of historical interest that do not compare to his contemporary Vasily Grossman for broad vision and refined style.  When he returned to the motherland, the new elite who are too busy making money found him to be preposterous; the young generation found him to be nagging, even annoying.  He had a television commentary program, but the station managers literally pulled the plug because they lost patience.  Solzhenitsyn had been the conscience.

But two persons still appreciated him, and those two were presidents.  And that is the final tragedy of Solzhenitsyn.

Former American president Ronald Reagan liked him.  At the time, the Cold War had slowed down and there was a peaceful mood in American and European politics.  But Solzhenitsyn warned people not to have illusions because either they had to destroy Soviet Russia or be destroyed.  These ideas suited Reagan's tastes because he needed talk like this to fan the Cold War until the "Evil Empire" falls.  Even better, Solzhenitsyn's religious sentiments were a match for Reagan's neo-conservatism.  Both of them advocated a return to Christianity and both condemned the immorality of the times.  Solzhenitsyn had been unable to turn himself into a perfect political weapon, but now he was helping the Reagan-style neo-conservatism.

Former Russian president Vladimir Putin also liked him.  Putin had tried hard to turn himself into the heir of the myth of Great Russia.  On Russia, he rejected the eastward expansion of NATO and he objected to the American hegemony.  On Russia, he restored Leningrad to its original name of St. Petersburg and he brought back the authority of the Eastern Orthodox Church.  These deeds made Solzhenitsyn think that there was a change to realize his dream.  Previously, he had rejected offers of medals from Gorbachev and Yeltsin, but he accepted the honor offered by Putin.  He did not even think that Putin was abusing authority when Putin went from president to premier.  He had previously condemned the concentration of power in the former Soviet Union, but he did not think that there was any problem with Putin nationalizing the media.

We must not exaggerate the influence of Solzhenitsyn.  In the conservative revolution led by Ronald Reagan, he was a minor supporting actor; in the Great Russian renaissance started by Vladimir Putin, he was just an add-on.  If we believe that an intellectual should be completely independent of the powers, then we must feel sad for him.  In his final years, people regarded his views as absurd but the two presidents liked them (especially Putin) because they can use them for weapons.  Does Putin genuinely subscribe to the set of myths that Solzhenitsyn believed firmly in?  Not necessarily.  But they matched his political needs and the ideology that he wanted to push.

When Solzhenitsyn was alive, nobody cared about him.  After he passed away, he got a state funeral.  An intellectual can reject all the political temptations for his whole life, but he has no way to deny the political powers from using his dreams to set him up as an ideological leader.  It is even more tragic to note that his various narratives about Russian history were all fantasies no matter how they are looked at.

(The Sun; Apple Daily)

On the night before yesterday, a Number 3 typhoon warning signal was hoisted and strong gusts could be felt.  At just before midnight, a 42-year-old man started to do push-ups on a metallic bench in the physical exercise area of the Lam Tin Park which is opened 24 hours a day.  During the process, he unzipped his shorts and took out his penis.  But as he did the push-ups, his penis went into a small hole about 2.5 centimeters in diameter on the bench and got stuck.  As a result, he used his mobile telephone to summon emergency help.  The fire department rushed to the scene.  However, the man's penis was enlarged and could not be extracted.  During this time, the man pleaded: "Please don't take photographs of me!"  But of course the Hong Kong photojournalists would never let this opportunity pass.  The firemen played nice and covered the man up with a blanket.

Two doctors from the United Hospital nearby were brought to the scene.  The doctors gave him pain-killer shots as well as cutting a small opening on his penis to release blood to reduce the swelling, but those efforts were ineffective.  Finally, the firemen used electric saws to cut off a portion of the bench and carted him off to the hospital.  One rescuer said: "There are all sorts of strange people in this world."  According to information, the man had taken some potency enhancement medication just before he began to do push-ups.

The Hong Kong Police stated that they cannot exclude the possibility that someone had been engaged in an indecent act in public.  After completing his treatment, the man came out of the hospital wearing his blood-soaked shorts and yelled at the reporter: "Stop asking!  I'll f*cking beat you up!  Don't make me lose my job!"  Then he jumped into a taxi and left.

The Hong Kong Leisure and Cultural Services Department spokesperson said that the push-up/sit-up boards meet American safety standard ASTM F1487.  The holes in the bench were designed to let rain water run off.  The manufacturer is presently preparing a set of guidelines for proper usage which will be installed next to the equipment.

Related video


Today, the Executive Council of the Hong Kong SAR convenor C.Y. Leung addressed this case on his personal blog:

... Over the past decade, I have always advocated Hong Kong to improve its "internal exchange."  This is about the relationship between the two systems of Hong Kong and mainland within China.  The systems and cultures of Hong Kong and the mainland are different, and they require both sides (including Hong Kong) to directly, actively and systematically work to improve mutual understanding.  In recent years, Hong Kong has encountered certain setbacks, and the central government definitely supported Hong Kong.  We should acknowledge that and be grateful.  But Hong Kong has also contributed towards the development of the mainland over the past several decades.  Thirty years ago, Hong Kong professionals worked on the mainland for no pay, and Hong Kong citizens from various sectors donated money to build schools and hospitals on the mainland, included the large donations for the recent Sichuan earthquake.  There were all selfless contributions.  In March this year, Chairman Hu Jintao said that the "contributions of Hong Kong are undeniable."  The relationship between Hong Kong and the nation are mutually complimentary and developing.  We know that very well.  But certain mainland compatriots still misunderstand that.  The SAR government should systematically improve "internal exchange" to explain the past, present and future roles and contributions of Hong Kong; the people from various sectors of Hong Kong should carry about "exchange among between the citizenries" and continue to advance the friendship between Hong Kong and the mainland.

(Those Were The Days)


If I were to criticize this mainland tourist as being arrogant, opinionated, overbearing, uncultured and supercilious and then elevate the criticisms to all mainlanders, then I would be behaving at the same level as this chap!  Instead, I want to reason calmly.  When there is a typhoon and airline flights are canceled, all passengers are affected.  The camera showed that all the passengers were patiently queued up.  People were not rushing at the counters, and they did not complain about certain people getting special treatment.  Foreigners and locals all do that.  This shows Hong Kong culture: everybody follows the rules to do things.  It is true that queuing takes time and nobody wants to stand in line.  But everybody understands that these are the rules of a fair society and therefore they don't complain too much.  Except for this mainland tourist!

Of course, I don't blame him for complaining.  Perhaps he is a big shot in the mainland, or a senior government official who can use money and position to enjoy special privileges without having to queue up.  But he went on to equate this matter with the helplessness of Hong Kong (as in "If it were not for the Central Government taking care of Hong Kong, your Hong Kong is finished").  As a Hong Kong citizen, wouldn't I feel that his criticism is overbearing?  What has this matter got anything to do with the central government looking after Hong Kong?  Apart from him, everyone else was patiently waiting in line.  There was no chaos and people were not pushing and shoving.  This shows the quality of the Hong Kong people.  This is the valuable social asset accumulated over decades, and its nothing to do with the central government taking care of the people of Hong Kong.  If this mainland tourist does not like it, then there is an issue with this quality.  When we have a society with the qualities of Hong Kong, our Hong Kong will not be finished!

Over the past few years, has Hong Kong relied too much on the mainland and subsequently forgotten its superiority?  I have always thought that the economic relationship between Hong Kong and the mainland is about mutual cooperation as opposed to Hong Kong relying on the mainland.  For example, when the Chinese corporations seek public offerings at the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, it may seem that Hong Kong is being benefited.  Conversely, if they didn't come to Hong Kong and go to New York and London instead, would they have the same convenience and effectiveness as they do here?  This is about mutual benefits, and not just benefiting Hong Kong!

Even without the central government providing special care for Hong Kong, our lives may be harder but we aren't necessarily finished!  The Hong Kong people should keep their own dignity without having to rely on the motherland all the time.  They should face the world as a truly competitive cosmopolitan city instead of being a baby tugging at the coattail of the central government!  The people of Hong Kong should have their own dignity!

The most popular online game in Hong Kong this summer is the Facebook application 古惑仔Online (translated as Street Wars Online).  This is a game with unique Hong Kong characteristics that will be incomprehensible in other Chinese-speaking areas.

This is a role-playing game in which the player is a minor criminal at first.  In that sense, this may be considered similar to the Grand Theft Auto series.  The player earns money by parking cars for clients, selling pirated DVD's, collecting bad debts, providing security for mahjong parlors, etc.  In other words, this is just what a minor wannabe does in Hong Kong.  The money earned is then used to arm oneself (e.g. beer bottles, spanners, baseball bats, foldable chairs, choppers, watermelon knives, guns, etc), because one way to get rich is to rob others who are less well-armed.

At the home page, the options are:
- Mission (make quick money)
- Turf (expand your influence and establish profitable domains)
- Battle (attack other criminals and improve your battle skills)
- Equipment (purchase special equipment to improve your battle capability and carry out special tasks)
- Underground banking (safeguard your assets and avoid being robbed by your enemies)
- Companions (recruit other society members and expand your power)

One user wrote: "I have invested in two soccer fields, two food stalls and one Internet cafe.  I beg everybody not to beat me silly!"  Other user wrote: "Hey, don't forget to deposit your money with the underground bank.  Even if you get attacked, they can't take your money away."

Since this is a Facebook application, this game has a social networking dimension.  There is strength in numbers.  One user wrote: "Please be my companion.  We can enhance each other's strengths.  We won't be afraid to make battle with others, and we can rise to higher levels of the game and make more money!"  The top users has more than 1,000 'friends.'

Another factor that leads to obsessive behavior is that one can be robbed even if one is offline.  When one gets online, one can find that all assets are gone and one is near death after a severe beating!  That is why people have to check in constantly.

The user Ms. Leung said: "Friends recommended this game strongly to me, even calling me up to try it.  It is fun when I play it.  When I am bored at work, I check it out.  I am very wealthy now!  I have attained Level 20, and I can carry out serial robberies of jewelry stores with my AK47 semi-automatic rifle!"

It is estimated that more than 200,000 persons play this game every day.  The company 6waves derives no direct revenue from the players.  Instead, it has earned money from banner ads (between HKD 7 to HKD 50 per 1,000 impressions depending on the complexity of the advertisement and the targeting).  The company currently makes HKD 500,000 per month from its various games.

[in translation]

"To go to China" was the long-time dream of British reporter Tania Branigan.  She was born in England and has one-fourth Chinese blood.  She is called "BBC" (British Born Chinese).

"To foreigners, China is huge and strong."  When Tania lived in England, almost all her clothes had "Made in China" labels.  She said, "It is impossible to avoid China when living in London."

In January 2008, Tania became a China correspondent for The Guardian posted in Beijing.

The Beijing Olympics let Tania experienced a different Beijing.  On August 3, The Observer (which is the Sunday edition of The Guardian) published an essay that she wrote about the opening of the Internet by the Chinese government on the eve of the Olympics.  Tania told the Southern Weekend reporter: "I hope that this kind of openness will continue after the Olympics are over."

For a long time, The Guardian only had one China correspondent compared to six or seven in the United States.  After the American website for The Guardian was established, even more reporters were hired in the United States.  Last year, The Guardian increased the number of China correspondents to three -- two writers and one photojournalist.  Originally, The Guardian planned to sent out 15 sports reporters to cover the Olympics.  On August 5, The Guardian decided to increase the number of special correspondents to more than 20.  At the same time, their three regular China correspondents will be reporting on related events outside of the Olympics.

"I really want to know what the ordinary Chinese person think of the Olymiics.  I want to know if the Olympics will light up the patriotic passions of the Chinese people," said Tania.

It was not easy as Tania though to find ordinary Chinese people, even though they are more open than she expected.  "But I still sensed that people here are not as willing as the British people to be interviewed by us."

But Tania was able to find some ideal "ordinary Beijingers,"  including a Beijing taxi driver who left a deep impression with her.

Tania "picked up" this taxi driver a month ago during a taxi ride.  The driver is around 40 years old.  Tania used her raw Chinese to chat about his family life.  He said that his wife is not working, so the family is relying on his income as a taxi driver.  Tania politely responded: "Then your wife must have dinner ready when you get home."  Unexpectedly, the driver said in pure English: "No, she is lazy bone."

"I was very surprised at the time.  'Lazy bone' is very much colloquial English.  His English pronunciation was perfect, with every syllable just like a London taxi driver."  Tania said.  "He took out a <English for Olympic transportation service> booklet from the Beijing city department of transportation and told me that this was his English-language textbook."

She invited the reporter to visit The Guardian's bureau office and made a video for the website.  During the interview, the taxi driver faced the camera and used English to introduce the fine spots of Beijing and Chinese cuisine to the readers.  He also taught several simple Chinese sentences.  This video was edited by the production staff of The Guardian and will be published before August 10 on the website of The Guardian.

During the pre-Olympics coverage, Tania was most astonished by the large throngs who queued up for Olympic tickets on July 25.  She said: "The Chinese people are so enthusiastic about the Olympics."

On the evening of August 8, Tania will seek out a group of ordinary Beijingers and watch the live broadcast of the open ceremony of the Olympics.  She will listen to their real opinions about the Olympics.  Meanwhile, her colleague Jonathan Watts will be at The Guardian's Beijing bureau and monitor the various instant news related to the opening ceremony and maintain contact with the London headquarters.

Edmond Wong has an identity similar to the "BBC" Tania Branigan.  He is an ABC ("American Born Chinese").  He was born in Washington DC and he presently a reporter with the Beijing bureau of The New  York Times.  His parents immigrated to the United State from Hong Kong in the 1970's.

In April 2008, he came to Beijing and rented a quadrangle house.  He often rides a bicycle around the back streets (hutongs) of Beijing.

"Beijing is a very dynamic city," said Edmond Wong.

Edmond Wong once covered the Winter Olympics as a New York Times sports reporter.  This will be his first Summer Olympics.  He told the Southern Weekend reporter that the New York Times will be sending more than 20 sports reporters to cover the Beijing Olympics, and they are arriving separately in Beijing.  "We are still discussing the plan to cover the open ceremony.  I am concerned about the changes in Chinese social life during the Olympics.  But I personally feel that the Olympics is first and foremost a sports competition."

Edmond Wong also witnessed the enthusiasm of the Chinese people for the Olympics.  "He said: "When the Olympics were held in an American city, those people who don't like sports don't get interested."

He interpret this as the relationship between the Olympics and the host city: "The Olympics is a symbol.  In some Olympics host cities, the memories are facing away in people's minds.  But we will forever remember the relationship between Beijing and the Olympics."



(DWnews)  Comments to the YouTube video.

- Pandering white bums.  Pointless.

- So what? The Olympics still will be held up on time! (note: in English).  Agree with first commentator.

- good job, support you!

- Americans go around advocating freedom here and independence there, as if they are worried that the world has not lapsed into chaos.  This chap ought to go climb up a electricity pole in Washington DC and ask for Hawaiian independence.

- The first two commentators above are lackeys who come here to lose face.

- Long live human rights in China, long live human rights in Tibet.  The conscience of those who act deaf and dumb has been eaten by Hu "dog"-tao.

- Long live human rights in China, long live human rights in Tibet.

- This is about belief, character, righteousness and justice.  The repulsive-looking Chinese youth would never do something as "stupid" as this.

- May he be electrocuted by the high-voltage cable

- What is wrong with China?  Why do they even bother sending police out to deal with these "pandering white bums'?  They must not have seen too many of those.

- Do the Tibetans want independence or do westerners want independence?  Why are westerners climbing electricity poles and hanging out banners in western language?  Who is doing what with whom?

- The Chinese police are too polite.  If this was overseas, the police would have tacked them and applied an electric gun.

- Western dogs!  Punishing all of them to die (note: in English)

- He will be shot down if he is in America (note: in English)

- If you regard protests as normal, then protest scenes won't draw as many eyeballs.  In reality, there are many types of protests all over China and the people are accustomed to it.  The 'wheelers" sneaked out every day to paste posters on electricity poles and public restrooms.  Who is going to look at them?

- US police will come to Beijing to catch you. (note: in English)

- The way to get instant fame is to raise the snow lion flag in Tiananmen Square

- The pandering white bums are lucky that they were not beaten to death by Beijing citizens

- Electrocute him.  "Beijin rost duck" (note: in English)

- The Beijing police should be thanked for protecting these clueless western young people.  Otherwise, the Beijing citizens would have given them a sound beating.

- The public security people are too lenient towards these anti-Chinese elements by charging them only with destruction of public property.

- They were there for more than an hour and no Beijing citizen went to beat t hem up. Do you think all Beijing citizens are "50 cent commentator" like you!

- Long live human rights in China and Tibet.  Thank you for traveling from afar to offer your support.

- The Brits should return the Malvinas to Argentina first.  These are two clowns, very stupid ones.  They are delighted with picking up a stone and dropping it on the foot of the British government.

- Let them climb up.  It is best if they don't come down.

- Punish the young man for breaking traffic rules!

- Usually this type of people have no sense of where their lives are heading, so they want to do something like this to make themselves feel they are doing great things and they are better than most others. Simply speaking these people have got lost in living a meaningful lives. Instead they believe this type of perversive behaviors can give meaning to their wasteful lives. How sad it is for them. (note: in English)

- While the "50 cent gang" here are upset, the Chinese people think it is interesting.  It is so good to have someone articulate a contrarian view.  Why should it be just like one big Communist prison?

- If he wants to climb up, let him.  He can put a hat on the ground to collect money.  We can watch the monkey from afar and give him some money.  Strangely, the evil Tibetans have undergone genetic mutation?  Oh, they forget who their ancestors if they get some American dollars.

- What protestor?  Isn't this just a spoiled American boy?

- The Beijing police should all be fired.  Are the Beijing people all   dead?  How could these people climb so high to make a show?

- Some people feel justified in calling others "50 cent gang" because they take "one dollar" themselves, and that is worth more than 0.50 RMB.

- Let's see which laws they broke and deal with them accordingly.  Then they can be deported.  There is no need to make such a big deal.  These people want the attention of others.  When they are ignored, they can do nothing.  If they go too far, they will be punished heavily.  The sky won't fall down in China.

- The Chinese people, the Beijing people are too soft.  When these monkeys climb up the electricity pole, why don't they shot them down with slingshots?  Why wait for the police to come?  The people of Beijing are disgraceful.  No guts.

This story would be hard to find on the Chinese Internet, and it would not be totally the result of censorship.  The comments above are taken from DWnews, which is a Chinese-language website based in the United States.  There really isn't much of a story here.  The detractors launched some personal attacks about spoiled western kids.  The 'supporters' (if you can call them that) chanted "long live human rights" and accused the detractors of being "paid pro-CCP commentators."  This is just lame.  What is there to discuss?  If you want to discuss Free Tibet, then the issue has been debated ad nauseum over the past several months without any clear consensus.  There is nothing new in these banners that will change things.

On May 12, there was a big earthquake in Wenchuan (Sichuan province).  At 22:30 on May 14, the Dazhou city Earthquake Administration issued a SMS to citizens through China Mobile: "Notice from the Dazhou Earthquake Administration: We have not received any earthquake predictions due tonight.  We asked the citizens not to be scared by these rumors ..."

Liu Changchun was an employee of a certain telecommunications equipment company.  When he received this SMS, he decided to play a joke with office colleagues.  On the next day, he modified the SMS to read as follows: "Notice from the Dazhou Earthquake Administration: Dear citizens, there will be a huge aftershock tonight.  We have received the prediction report from the higher ups.  We ask the citizens not to be scared.  They should rationally deal with the situation based upon scientific approaches and spontaneously maintain social order.  May 15, 2008."  He sent this SMS to 12 people at his office, who unknowingly forwarded it to others.  On that night, many Dazhou citizens were scared and slept outdoors to escape the aftershock.

The Dazhou district court determined that Liu Changchun had deliberately modified a government notice and then sent it out to society under the name of the government department.  The result was a serious setback on earthquake relief effort, a major disruption of public order as well as erosion of public trust in the government.  Based upon Article 291 of the <Criminal Code of the People's Republic of China>, the court sentenced Liu Changchun to two years in prison.

Raise the flag and progress with the times!
Guide the direction and innovate!

Hongxin brand microwave oven

Authoritative education at the Ji'an School of
Thinking and Physical Education

Download mobile phone ring tones
for songs such as "Loving you was a mistake"

Jay Chou endorsing eye-drops

A game of cards

(ESWN Comment: In the mid 1990's, there was a saying in the discussion of the convergence of television and the Internet -- There are 500 channels, but there is nothing to watch)

[in translation]

Recently, Go chessmaster Nie Weiping made some comments that created a huge storm.  Through the media, he attacked Chinese coaches such as Lang Ping and others who are leading foreign teams.  He said that he "was very much displeased" that these coaches are training the opponents of the Chinese women's volleyball team.  Nei Weiping told these Chinese coaches in charge of foreign table tennis and badminton teams: "Don't forget that you a Chinese."

Many people objected to what Nie Weiping said, with at least 60% of the comments going against him.  In my view, Nie Weiping's views are the residues of history and the epitome of narrow patriotism.

Several months ago, the British and American mainstream media (BBC and CNN, respectively) made some criticisms of China.  When reports are inaccurate, they should be deplored.  But if the protests go too far, it only shows insecurity.

We always say things like "it is no crime to make complaints which should be heeded when they make sense" and we bill that "we welcome all critical and dissident opinions."  But when someone actually does criticize us, we jump sky high in outrage and we lack the magnanimity to tolerate.  We do not tolerate different viewpoints, we do not tolerate critical opinions and we do not tolerate wrongful criticisms.  This is the "narrow nationalism and patriotism" that the outside world makes fun of.

Narrow nationalists and patriots will not tolerate criticisms and contrary opinions.  They also make certain types of behaviors and values more extreme.  For example, their "patriotism" means that there can be no criticism of the nation, much less to offering assistance to the competitors and opponents.  This is what Nie Weiping was saying.

Actually, the viewpoints of Nie Weiping are popular within certain circles because they confuse the relationship between "competition" and "hostility."

Hostility means the use of force or other acute methods of conflict in a life-or-death fight over core national interests (such as territory, population, economic interests, etc); so-called competition involves mutual encouragement and criss-crossed development, which are normal relationships.

Nei Weiping was criticizing Lang Ping and others for coaching foreign sports teams.  First of all, in sports, we emphasize "participation and competition."  The relationship among the various national teams is the classical competition and not hostility.  When a certain national team does better, it is not based upon preventing other teams from developing or improving, much less to destroy or crush them.  Secondly, when a person goes overseas to coach, it increases the exchange of experience and leads to mutual advancement.  This is good for the development of sports around the world.  Thirdly, when the Chinese coaches improve the performance level of foreign athletes, it gives credit to the level of Chinese expertise and encourages the Chinese team to continue to improve.  In this sense, Lang Ping and others are going overseas not to aid and abet the enemies.  Instead, they are providing the best proof for the maxim of "improving through competition" in sports.  According to the logic of Nie Weiping, the foreign sports teams are enemies when they meet the Chinese team.  If so, why are we welcoming these foreign teams to come to China?

This is narrow patriotism shows that some Chinese people are insecure, they are vain, they don't like to see different opinions and they want to live in an atmosphere of lies.  When they encounter criticisms, they usually become angry and they treat the well-meaning critics as enemies.  This narrow-minded tone reminds us that in an increasingly competitive globalized world, the Chinese people have to put their vanity and conceit behind and accept the critcisms and challenges in order to make even better progress.

Hong Kong Island
30.5%: Tanya Chan/Audrey Eu Yuet-mee (Civic Party)
25.9%: Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee/Louis Shih Tai-cho (independent)
13.3%: Kam Nai-wai (Democratic Party)
13.1%: Tsang Yok-sing (DAB)

Kowloon East
28.3%: Alan Leong Kah-kit (Civic Party)
25.0%: Wong Kwok-kin (Federation of Trade Unions)
20.1%: Chan Kam-lam (DAB)
16.3%: Fred Li Wah-ming (Democratic Party)

Kowloon West
19.6%: Frederick Fung Kin-kee (ADPL)
19.2%: James To Kun-sun (Democratic Party)
17.5%: Claudia Mo Man-ching (Civic Party)
10.3%: Michael Tien Puk-sun (Liberal Party)
  9.9%: Raymond Wong Yuk-man (League of Socialist Democrats)

New Territories East
22.6%: Lau Kwong-wah/Gary Chan Hak-kan (DAB)
20.2%: Ronny Tong Ka-wah (Civic Party)
15.9%: Andrew Cheng Kar-foo (Democratic Party)
12.7%: James Tien Pei-chun (Liberal Party)
11.7%: Emily Lau Wai-hing (Frontier)
  6.7%: Leung Kwok-hung (League of Socialist Democrats)

New Territories West
18.1%: Tam Yiu-chung/Cheung Hok-ming (DAB)
17.5%: Albert Ho Chun-yan (Democratic Party)
14.0%: Lee Cheuk-yan (Confederaton of Trade Unions)
11.7%: Leung Yiu-chung (Neighborhood and Workers Service Centre)
11.6%: Selina Chow Liang Shuk-yee (Liberal Party)
  9.3%: Lee Wing-tat (Democratic Party)
  5.4%: Chan Wai-yip (League of Socialist Democrats)

Note: 18 of the 30 are pan-democrats

It was 4pm on May 20 in the earthquake disaster county of Liyuan in Sichuan province.

The Number 3 Military Medical University Xinqiao Hospital rescue team was down on its supply of antibiotics.  The workers were hapless as more and more people came to seek treatment.  The deputy director Sun Hanjun tried to search for medical supplies.

Suddenly two cars drove in and four young men jumped off to unload twenty boxes of antibiotics.  Sun said: "I hugged one of them!"  These donors did not want to cause any trouble for the hospital, so they ate instant noodles that they brought with them and then they drove off.  No matter how the workers tried, the donors just refused to disclose any personal information.

When the workers opened the boxes, they found a handwritten letter from "The Army of Bums."  The letter referred to the medical team as "The Most Lovely People" and explained: "We are just a group of ordinary Chinese young people.  We are not able to help at the frontlines.  We heard that there was a shortage of antibiotics.  Our group collected these medical supplies which are assured to be good quality.  We hope more people will benefit ..."

Sun Hanjun was still wistful as he told what the situation was: "On the road to Liyuan, there were sheer cliffs on one side and the roaring Minjiang River on the other side.  The rocks kept sliding down from the mountains.  These four young men risked their lives to drive two days and two nights to deliver the live-saving medicine."

During the brief contact, the workers had learned that the four donors came from Shaping Dam, Chongqing city.  They were on vacation when the earthquake struck.  When they returned to Chongqing, they heard on radio that there was a shortage of medical supplies at the frontlines.  So they returned to the disaster zone and brought antibiotics that they purchased with their own money.

In late July, Sun Hanjun returned from the earthquake zone to Chongqing and he went to the Xinhua office there.  He wanted to contact the four donors because he was concerned about them: "Did they return safely?"  "Who were they?"  The only clue was a small five inch photo.

On that day, the Xinhua Froum featured a post entitled: "We thank your help during the earthquake relief effort; Chongqina Xinqiao Hospital director is seeking : The Army of Bums."  Within half a day, there were more than 5,000 page views and almost 100 comments.

On that afternoon, a young person called up the hospital to say that he recognized one of the young man and provided the contact information.  Soon, Sun Hanjun was able to make contact with the four donors.  "I want to gather the medical team and meet with these four good young men."  The four donors are now the target of the other media, although they still do not want themselves identified: "We were only doing what we ought to.  We did not realize that they kept remembering it.  We are very touched."

The term "human flesh search engines" is often regarded as having negative connotations.  But in this case, it was useful in a positive sense.

Q1. Do you believe that Hong Kong is a harmonious society?
  3.1%: Agree a lot
34.4%: Agree
41.4%: Half-half
18.4%: Disagree
  1.9%: Disagree a lot

Q2.  How much do these factors affect social harmony in Hong Kong? (Very seriously/seriously)
61.9%: Conflict between rich and poor people
48.4%: Conflict between citizens and big financial interests
44.1%: Family conflicts, lack of mutual love among family members
38.5%: Political disputes
36.9%: Lack of tolerance, discrimination against vulnerable groups
33.2%: Conflict between employers and employees
31.0%: Conflict between citizens and government

Q3. How much do these factors contribute towards the achievement of social harmony?
92.4%: Maintaining a clean and fair government
88.3%: Maintaining a good legal system and protecting personal freedom and property
84.5%: Developing the economy and creating jobs
82.4%: Protecting labor rights
80.1%: Promoting diverse values and respecting other cultures
78.3%: Promoting fair competition and stopping monopolization
75.1%: Taking care of the interests of the lower social stratum
73.4%: Increasing family cohesion
49.4%: Promoting democratic governance

Q4. How would you assess the performance of the government on promotion social harmony? (on a scale of 0-10 with 6-10 being the passing grade)
71.4%: Maintaining a clean and fair government
68.5%: Maintaining a good legal system and protecting personal freedom and property
52.4%: Developing the economy and creating jobs
48.7%: Promoting diverse values and respecting other cultures
37.1%: Protecting labor rights
35.2%: Increasing family cohesion
35.0%: Promoting fair competition and stopping monopolization
34.3%: Taking care of the interests of the lower social stratum
32.0%: Promoting democratic governance

Q5. Which direction would do you want society to develop towards?
11.1%: Democracy and freedom
25.8%: Economic development
60.2%: Social harmony
  1.3%: All three are equally important
  1.6%: Don't know/hard to say

Q6. How do you view extreme methods of making the government respond to demands?
57.0%: Disagree/Disagree a lot
18.2%: Half/half
21.4%: Agree/Agree a lot
  3.3%: Don't know/hard to say

Q7. How do you view extreme methods of making the government respond to the following demands? (Agree/Agree a lot)
31.5%: Democracy and freedom
24.7%: Economic development
18.0%" Social harmony

And here is the real thing ... (via China Military Power Mashup)

(New York Times)  The Trolls Among Us.  By Mattathias Schwartz.  August 3, 2008.

In the late 1980s, Internet users adopted the word “troll” to denote someone who intentionally disrupts online communities. Early trolling was relatively innocuous, taking place inside of small, single-topic Usenet groups. The trolls employed what the M.I.T. professor Judith Donath calls a “pseudo-naïve” tactic, asking stupid questions and seeing who would rise to the bait. The game was to find out who would see through this stereotypical newbie behavior, and who would fall for it. As one guide to trolldom puts it, “If you don’t fall for the joke, you get to be in on it.” Today the Internet is much more than esoteric discussion forums. It is a mass medium for defining who we are to ourselves and to others. Teenagers groom their MySpace profiles as intensely as their hair; escapists clock 50-hour weeks in virtual worlds, accumulating gold for their online avatars. Anyone seeking work or love can expect to be Googled. As our emotional investment in the Internet has grown, the stakes for trolling — for provoking strangers online — have risen. Trolling has evolved from ironic solo skit to vicious group hunt.

“Lulz” is how trolls keep score. A corruption of “LOL” or “laugh out loud,” “lulz” means the joy of disrupting another’s emotional equilibrium. “Lulz is watching someone lose their mind at their computer 2,000 miles away while you chat with friends and laugh,” said one ex-troll who, like many people I contacted, refused to disclose his legal identity.

Another troll explained the lulz as a quasi-thermodynamic exchange between the sensitive and the cruel: “You look for someone who is full of it, a real blowhard. Then you exploit their insecurities to get an insane amount of drama, laughs and lulz. Rules would be simple: 1. Do whatever it takes to get lulz. 2. Make sure the lulz is widely distributed. This will allow for more lulz to be made. 3. The game is never over until all the lulz have been had.”

(Sing Tao via Manguo Net)

On July 28, a post by netizen "huhuhu8hu" titled <Chosin Ilbo: Sun Yat-sen was a Korean> appeared at the Tianya Forum.  Supposedly, there was a report in the South Korean newspaper Chosin Ilbo stated that a Sungkyukwan University history professor named Park Fenqing 朴芬庆 (!!!) has researched the family tree of Sun Yat-sen, the founding father of the Republic of China, and determined that Sun descended from Koreans.

On July 29, a blog on China.com carried the same Tianya Forum post verbatim.  On July 30, Ta Kung Pao Net of Hong Kong carried this China.com report.  The source was identified "as reported by Chosin Ilbo" with a postscript that the story had come from China.com.  On the same day, the Sing Tao Global Net also cited this report.

On July 31, China.com reported this item also sourcing Chosin Ilbo.  Various other Chinese media followed suit, including Sina.com, Sohu.com and CCTV.  But they had different sources for the story, including China Times (Taiwan), New Express (Guangzhou) and even Wen Wei Po (which actually only reported the item on August 1 citing a report from EastDay.com).

The key here is: Did Chosin Ilbo actually report this?

Sing Tao investigated and found that there was no such story in Chosin Ilbo.

With respect to the China.com report, there was an additional item appended at the back: <Famous Korean contemporary history scholar researched for three years: Mao Zedong had pure Korean blood>.  That report was sourced to reporter Xu Yaying of the Honghua Daily News of Hong Kong in a story written on January 19.  According to information, there is no such newspaper in Hong Kong.  This item was also carried by iFeng.com.  The story states that no only was Mao Zedong Korean, but so are: Buddha, Yao Ming, acupuncture, the compass, ...  The research was conducted by Seoul University vice-chancellor Nan Zhengying.

Sing Tao investigated and found no such vice-chancellor by that name at Seoul University.  All relevant information about Nan Zhengying came from Internet forums or blogs.

The key details from our investigation showed that Sun Yat-sen and Mao Zedong being Korean was a piece of fake news.  Even though there were many key details missing in this story, it was able to achieve a big impact through the circulation on the Internet media.

(ESWN Comment: The circulation alone would not be enough.  It was the 'anger' that followed the initial reports that made created the bandwagon effect.)

Related Link:  孙中山是韩国后裔?非常搞笑 无耻者无知 无知者无畏 YouKu.com

(Xinhua)  Police station raided in west China's Xinjiang, terrorist plot suspected.  August 4, 2008.

The raid of a border armed police division, which killed 16 policemen and injured 16 others, in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region Monday morning was suspected as a terrorist attack, according to the local police. Two attackers drove a tip lorry to hit a team of policemen who were jogging outside the police division in a morning exercise in Kashi at about 8 a.m., police witnesses said. Fourteen policemen were killed on the spot and two others died on the way to hospital. The two attackers got off the lorry after the vehicle veered to hit on a roadside wire pole. They threw two grenades to the barracks, causing explosion. They also hacked the policemen with knives. The police said the two attackers had been arrested, and one of them got a leg injury in the raid. Police suspected a terrorist plot behind the raid.

Of course, we mustn't forget the people who make stuff up ...


Radio Hong Kong reports that the public security officers on duty in Kashi responded to their inquiry by saying that the incident is still being investigated and therefore no comments can be made at this time.  The Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy reports that a vehicle carrying dynamite charged into the Kaishi police divisioo building at around 8am and initiated a suicide bomb attack that resulted in more than 100 casualties including the persons in the vehicle.

Boxun also has special information:  There is a high alert at this time, but the detailed cause, time and casualties are shrouded in mystery.  CCTV reported that it was a suicide car bomb that killed 16 armed police officers.  There was also a gunfight in the street.  At this time, the scene has been cordoned off and the case is being investigated.  Two attackers have been arrested.


(Xinhua Update)

Terrorist plot was suspected in the violent attack targeting border police in China's westernmost city of Kashi, which left at least 16 policemen killed and 16 others injured Monday. The attack occurred in the front of the Yiquan Hotel, which is nearly 200 meters away from the Kashi border armed police division, Xinhua correspondent reported from Kashi. The reporter said the police investigation found that two attackers drove a tip lorry to hit a team of policemen who were jogging to pass the hotel in a regular morning exercise at about 8:00 a.m. The suspects then got off the lorry to throw explosive and hack the policemen with knives, after the vehicle veered to knock on a roadside wire pole, said the Kashi police.

The reporter corrected the previous account of the raid of the border armed police division, saying that the attackers did not break into the division station and the explosion took place outside the station. Fourteen policemen were killed on the spot and two others died on the way to hospital, according to the police source. Xinhua reporter saw blood stain left on the sidewalk, although the accident site had been cleaned by police. He also saw a broken wire pole and three tree stubs left from the accident. No civilians were hurt in the attack so far. Customers in the Yiquan Hotel said that they thought it was a blast, because they were wakened up by an explosion from outside. The police said the two attackers had been arrested, and one got a leg injury in the raid.

(Ta Kung Pao)

Here is the information that our reporters learned from relevant sources.  At 7:55am on August 4, 70 Kashi border armed police were doing their morning exercises togather.  When they reached the Yiquan HOtel, a dump truck hit them from behind.  After causing dozens of injuries, two men got out of the truck shouting slogans.  One slashed the police officers with this knife while the other set off explosives on the truck.


Here is some additional information from Xinhua that is not included in the English-language item above.  The police officers had exited the division courtyard and they jogged towards the Yiquan Hotel.  Suddenly a man drove a dump truck onto the 30 mm high sidewalk and ram the group from behind. After hitting a electricity pole and several trees, the driver quickly got out and attacked the police officers with his homemade weapons.  One of his arms was amputated when a homemade explosive device went off.

Another perpetrator hiding nearby threw a homemade grenade at the division building, but there were no casualties.  This person charged into the courtyard with a knife in hand, but he was subdued and arrested.

The police found 10 explosive devices, one homemade gun and four knifes of various lengths.  According to the preliminary police investigation, the two men were 28-year-old and 33-year-old Uighurs respectively.

At the hospital, the amputated arm of the perpetrator has been re-attached.


(ESWN Comment)  For the record, it is appropriate to get familiar with the notion of a "trifecta."  The term comes from gambling and is "A system of betting in which the bettor must pick the first three winners in the correct sequence."

(New York Times)  Hitting the Trifecta.  Paul Krugman.  December 7, 2001.

Shortly after Sept. 11, George W. Bush interrupted his inveighing against evildoers to crack a joke. Mr. Bush had repeatedly promised to run an overall budget surplus at least as large as the Social Security surplus, except in the event of recession, war or national emergency. ''Lucky me,'' he remarked to Mitch Daniels, his budget director. ''I hit the trifecta.''

Well, they've got inflation (which is an economic problem like a recession), they've got an earthquake (which is as devastating as a war in terms of economic costs and lost lives) and now they've got a national emergency due to terrorist attacks. What is their agenda then?

(ESWN Comment)  In the case of Yang Jia who murdered six Shanghai police officers, some netizens even consider them to be a righteous knight.  But there won't be any snide remarks about the police officers who died in Xinjiang this time.

[in translation]

Suddenly, it is possible to visit the BBC Chinese-language website from China.  BBC has set up a special interactive section on this occasion.  But when I saw the comments, I didn't know whether I should laugh or cry.

At the BBC's <Speak As You Wish> forum, the two posts at the top are <Concerning the monitoring standards> and <The forum rules>.  These posts explain that the posts are reviewed before publication as well as the reasons to reject some posts.  Underneath those posts are people hollering: "Is this your freedom of speech?"  My guess is that these netizens must be super-netizens who are above and beyond all rules.  Alternately, they believe that "freedom of speech" is a magical charm which guarantees free passage everywhere ...

Then there is a lot of educational posts in which people are teaching BBC how to produce news.  They also warned that BBC should not be "too CNN."  I feel that there must be a space-time warp -- the first decade of this century is almost over but there are still strange beings on this earth who believe in the formula:

Nation = Government = Party = Me

When BBC criticizes the policies, conditions and problems of China, they are criticizing the nation of China and therefore they are criticizing 'me.'  Therefore, 'I' must firmly and resolutely counterattack and rebut.  The problem is that if you don't even want to f*ck with your own government, party and prominent persons, why are you f*cking with a foreign media?  If you want to complain and criticize, you can do so individually without acting as if you are the spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  To be blunt, you do not carry enough weight to represent China.  When I read those self-righteous comments and empty-headed ideas, I am reminded of the super-sized condoms handed out by government units during the 1980's.  The condoms were so big that your dick was suspended in air inside.  This is probably where the term "swinging d*ck" comes from.

I don't understand the logic of these actions.  The reason why they can go and curse BBC is that these media applied pressure to open up a crack in the firewall.  As soon as they get out, they immediately curse out BBC and others.  This is a strong case study to show that the greatness of freedom of speech is that even the right to be a "stupid c*nt" can be realized.  When they get this freedom, they go outside and show people that there is the freedom to "curse Bush anytime" in China.  This time, they can put on an even more realistic show by using an Internet connection to make the invectives on someone else's server.

The exercise of this right should be guaranteed.  The only unfortunate thing is that Internet has to be put to work and bandwidth has to be used up.

A congresswoman said Thursday that her "jaw dropped" when military doctors told her that four in 10 women at a veterans hospital reported being sexually assaulted while in the military.

A government report indicates that the numbers could be even higher.

This was translated into Chinese (People's Daily Net via 163.com)


[back-translation into English]

According to a CNN report, an American congresswoman said Thursday that military doctors at a veterans hospital told her that four in 10 female American soldiers were sexually assaulted on the average.  She said that this figure was shocking.  Yet a government report hints that the proportion could be even higher.

As the blogger "Rusty Sign" at My1510.cn pointed out, there is a huge difference between "military doctors at a veterans hospital told her that were in 10 female American soldiers were sexually assaulted" and "military doctors told her that four in 10 women at a veterans hospital reported being sexually assaulted while in the military."

A simpler comparison would be between "doctors at the hospital say that 100% of people are ailing" and "doctors say that 100% of people at the hospital are ailing."  The latter is tautological because people go to hospital when they are ill.  It is all about where that "at the hospital" is being placed.

[ESWN Comment: If there were the equivalent of fenqing (angry young people) in America, would they have pounded the keyboards to complain at the Anti-CCTV.com website?  Alas, young Americans have better ways of spending their time.  Besides, a truly grand nation will just shrug of this sort of slur, intentional or otherwise.]

In order to proper appreciate the scope of the practice at BBC, you should look at the very extensive research done at the "Alone in the Fart" blog (in Chinese).  The blogger found 14 instances of the same photo beginning in August 2000. 

Each item is about the Chinese authorities monitoring and controlling the Internet.  That blogger points out that just because a photo appears by a story should not mean that the photo was the evidence that backed up the story.  The photos are often there as visual diversion or illustration.  Normally the photo is sourced as "FILE."  In this case, BBC was not clear but that does not mean that BBC was faking it.

That blogger also provided two other stock photos that were used multiple times by BBC.  These photos accompanied stories about the Internet in China.  The first one was used five times between 2002 and 2005, and the second one was used eleven times between 1999 and 2002.

Among the rules for using stock photos in news stories, two should be obvious: (1) label it clearly as such; (2) it is only meant to be illustrative and it should not dominate or overwhelm the story itself.

Here are an example of the second rule from a recent incident:

(Wenweipo)  In the aftermath of the Kunming bus bombings, the city public security bureau information office spokesperson announced that six individuals have been penalized for disseminating false information.  Three of these individuals had used QQ groups to distribute photos which were determined not to be related to this case.  They were let off with warnings.  One person published "some instructions on how to build a time bomb" on MSN Spaces and has also been given a warning.  One person claimed that "it has been established that the bombs were placed by three Uighur persons" and he has been given five days in administrative detention.  Another person claimed to know who set off the bombs and threatened the police with more explosions; he has been given ten days in administrative detention.

By now, it is standard practice for some Chinese netizens to exploit the photos from The Fuzhou Bus Explosion for a bus explosion anywhere in China.  This is using extremely gory photos from another real incident as if they happened here this time.  That is clearly wrong.

Here is another example of the second rule for a hypothetical situation.  The written report is a real one published by BBC:

(BBC)  US prison population peaks.  April 7, 2003.

The number of people in jail in the United States rose to more than two million for the first time ever last year, the government has said.  Official figures show the US has the biggest prison population in the world, and the highest number of inmates as a proportion of its population.  A report from the US Justice Department also estimated 12 per cent of black men in their 20s and early 30s were in jail last year. Just 1.6 per cent of white males in the same age group were locked up. The overall increase - almost double the number in 1990 - has been pushed up by a "get tough" sentencing policy that has led to longer sentences for drug offenders and other criminals.

According to the report, the 50 US states along with the District of Columbia and the federal government held as many as 1,355,748 people as of June last year. Another 665,475 inmates were under lock and key in municipal and local jails.  In total, one in every 142 people living in the United States was in jail last year. That figure would be higher if inmates handled by the US Immigration and Naturalization Service, and others from institutions such as military jails were included.

The US currently incarcerates more people than any other country in the world. In China, which has a population of about 1.3 billion, there are more than 1.4 million inmates, according to Britain's Home Office. The US has a population of 286 million. Russia, which has a population of 144 million, has a prison population of about 920,000.

What if I were to use the following photos to accompany the story?

Caption: Guards and prisoners at the American prison in Abu Ghraib

Again, the photos evoke visceral feelings that go far beyond the story itself.  You are bound to cry foul for the blatantly unfair use.  So how is this different from using photos of Nepalese policemen beating Tibetan protestors in Kathmandu to accompany a story about the alleged bloody crackdown taking place in Lhasa?  Is this a case of the coward who ran fifty steps and then laughed at the other coward who ran a hundred steps?

July 29, 2008: American Congressman: China is secretly monitoring Olympics hotel guests

July 23, 2006: China established "Internet black lists"

September 23, 2002: China enhances firewall for monitoring the Internet

July 20, 2001: China acts on net 'addicts'

Related Links: 唯恐天下不亂之 BBC 相片循環再用事件  Alone in the Fart; BBC lambasted for stock photo inaccuracy  John Kennedy, Global Voices Online; BBC使用“假照片”事件  鬼剃头

(Those Were The Days)

...  According to the Hong Kong Trade Development Council which organized the Hong Kong Book Fair, 830,000 persons attended the event to set a new record.  Business volume grew by 20% for HKD 160 million in total.  Based upon the data, the booksellers should be wallowing from the book-loving people of Hong Kong.  But what is the truth behind the numbers?

I spoke to a bookseller about the sales figures, and he complained that situation has worsened!  I was perplexed because how could sales be worse when the organizers' data point in the other direction?  He explained that this was a question about what people are buying.  This year, the bestsellers are the books written by female movie stars and celebrities.  He checked out a book by a new female star and saw mostly pictures and very few words.  But that book outsold other words-only books by plenty.  And this is not to mention the photo books from the new "fleshy" girls.

What about the books with words?  He said that many years ago, a famous young author can sell more than 1,000 copies at the book fair.  Today, they sell half as much.  It would be lucky to have one or two hits among all those types of books ... Last year, the popular books were about financial investments.  This year, this segment has shrunk as a result of the environment for financial investments.

As for the popular books by bloggers last year, this depends on the specific cases.  He heard that some of them are doing so-so, but others are doing well.  He said that there has to be a selling point when a blogger collects his blog posts into a book.  This cannot depend solely on getting celebrities to write forewords, or writing sentimental material, or rubbing off the aura of celebrities.  At least, this bookseller would not dare to publish such books because while he does not think that he was going to make people rich, he did not want to lose any money himself!

He attributed the lackluster sales for word-oriented books to the increasing graphic nature of media, which caused young people not to read word-oriented books.  Instead, the picture-illustrated books with very few words are increasing popular.

(Yazhou Zhoukan on Chu Tirn-Wen 朱天文)

The Taiwan authoress Chu Tirn-Wen devotes herself to writing and seldom makes public appearances.  This was her second Hong Kong book fair.  Her first took place 13 years ago.  After staying put in Taiwan for eight years, she came over to this year's Hong Kong book fair.  Her previous impression was that Hong Kong readers liked short, light books with small chunks of words.  This time, she was very astonished to find readers who have deep understanding of the authors.  She said: "Over the past few days, I kept thinking.  How can there be so much change after just over ten years?  I am moved by the fact that people flew from Shanghai or took the train from Luoyang to listen to the writers speak.  Hong Kong has a huge hinterland when so many people come here from mainland China and Taiwan.  Previously, it is known that Hong Kong plays a major commercial role.  Now, Hong  Kong can also take an important cultural role.  In mainland China, many books cannot be published.  Hong Kong holds an advantage."

(ESWN Comment) 

Why does a writer write?  Either for oneself and/or for the readers.  If you write for yourself, then it is about ego, money, catharsis, etc.  But some writers do so for their readers.  Most of the time, the writer does not know who the readers are because they are most often numerous and faceless.  The writers can hold certain hypotheses, but it is likely that the readers are more diverse than imagined.  Therefore, it becomes a matter of astonishment sometimes when the writer encounters certain readers. 

I can tell you about one reader who astonished Chu Tirn-Wen this time in Hong Kong.  Me.  It is well-known that Zhu Tianwen had a long acquaintance with the first husband of author Eileen Chang and her own literary style is supposedly to be heavily influenced by Eileen Chang.  Knowing that I am the literary executor for Eileen Chang, she dropped in for a visit to my home this time.  I showed her the materials related to Eileen Chang in my home and I explained the stages of the work on them. 

Then I showed her my own reading materials.  I pointed to a stack of books and asked, "Do you recognize this?"  It was the complete works of Chu Tirn-Wen.  She blushed in astonishment and she asked: "Why would you have these books?"

Before she came, she probably had some idea about my background.  She would know that I have lived in American most of my life and that I had never written anything in Chinese (with one exception).  She would know that I write an English-language blog of some sort but it is more about politics and society than literature.  This was not a case where I had rushed out to purchase her books knowing that she was going to come over, because it occurred at the spur of the moment (and I could not get those books from a bookstore that easily).

I had a simple response for her: "Why wouldn't I have those books?"  I am therefore an example of an unexpected reader.  And possibly the kind of reader that will make a writer feel rewarded.]

The South Korean television channel SBS has apologized to the BOCOG for airing the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony rehearsal.  Actually, although SBS claimed to own an exclusive, the opening ceremony rehearsal had been filmed by other media.  For the accredited media, it is not hard to film this event.  First of all, the broadcasters were taking the opportunity for testing.  Secondly, anyone in the media village next to the Bird's Nest can film it from above too.  Thirdly, during the rehearsal, there may be security holes that allowed some media to bring their cameras in.  There are too many entrances and the volunteers are sometimes not sure whether the media with yellow badges can enter.  Fourthly, there were more than 70,000 spectators.  While they had been told that filming was not allowed, someone might have done so secretly without being detected.

The question is, Who dares to air these films?  I know that some media have filmed the event, but they did not dare show it.  According to the contracts, when a broadcaster shows contents that are not supposed to be shown, they face disqualification as broadcaster.  For the non-broadcasters, they can be fined by the BOCOG for doing so.  After studying the IOC information on broadcasting for a long time, it is not clear whether a rehearsal is allowed to be shown.  Perhaps it is as IOC press commission chairman Kevan Gosper said: Broadcasters were allowed to bring their equipment in to test during the opening ceremony rehearsal, but the Olympic custom and understanding are that the opening ceremony should not be exposed beforehand.  SBS set a precedent in Olympic history.  Not only did they violate the understanding, but they have "deprived" people of the joy of surprise.

But such an understanding is probably in a grey zone.  The spectators at the event had signed legal documents and therefore they have to maintain silence.  If they distribute any video images, there are legal consequences.  For the media, there is only an understanding and it becomes an issue of self-discipline.  Those media that had the films but declined to show them have a strong sense of discipline.  It requires courage to resist the temptation to screen the opening ceremony beforehand.  As soon as the SBS film came out, many websites immediately carried it.  Even I had thought about showing it during my program, because I can call this as a news story and righteously use the film.  But this was a violation of intellectual property rights and I put the idea away immediately.

The SBS action showed that its decision-making editor was seeking audience ratings without considering journalistic ethics.  Or perhaps there is total lack of any concept about copyrights.  Of course, this may be someone who knew about the risks but was willing to take a shot given that it is a gray area.  In South Korea, the Olympic broadcasts are shared by two broadcasters including SBS.  The other broadcaster KBS thinks that SBS should be published for its action.  Some people think that KBS is using the opportunity to attack its competitor.  I think that punishment is appropriate, because an apology is far enough.  This was very unfair to those media who respect the copyrights, the rules and the understanding.  There is no cautionary message without a penalty and this may be become the start of a bad trend.  When the cost of an error is too low, other media will see this as an example ...

[in translation]

Today, I found out that I could reach directly many of the websites that I could not before (such as the BBC Chinese service, Voice of America, Radio Free Asia's Mandarin service).  It seems that the power of the Olympics is great.  When did our Party become so obliging?  Yesterday, foreign reporters were complaining and the foreign media were reporting on that.  Today, the so-called "reactionary" websites are opened.  Although I don't actually use most of these websites, this is still a pleasant surprise.  It is also said that Amnesty International and other websites can be accessed directly too, but I have not tried them.

But Wikipedia (in Chinese) is still not open.  I think that this is because foreign reporters rarely use it.  The information there is even more significant for those Chinese readers in China, because our Party do not like their own people to learn about true history and information.


But what I don't get is that while those websites that I can't normally get are accessible, I am unable to access the English-language blog ESWN which I normally do.  I needed a proxy to access it (which meant that it was not a technical problem).  Why is that?  The contents of this website is not regarded as very "reactionary"?  And there isn't anything special in the contents posted over the past couple of days.  Perhaps it was a mistake by the relevant department (or software)?  Or are unharmonious voices being taken out during the Olympic period?  Or are foreign reporters in China being prevented from getting "harmful" information?  Or has its hidden threat just been detected?  Or ...

Perhaps this is how our Party is great: You can never understand what they do!  This place is frightening with its totalitarian system precisely because it is unpredictable!

(Washington Post)  IOC Allows China To Limit Reporters' Access to Internet.  July 31, 2008.

The International Olympic Committee and the Chinese government acknowledged Wednesday that reporters covering the Olympics will be blocked from accessing Internet sites that Chinese authorities consider politically sensitive.

The avowed censorship, although standard procedure for China's millions of Internet users, contradicted pledges made earlier by IOC and Chinese officials that the estimated 20,000 journalists and technicians due in Beijing next week for the Olympic Games would have unfettered Web access. It was the latest in a series of steps taken by Chinese authorities reneging on promises they made seven years ago, when Beijing was granted the Games, to allow free reporting during the Olympics.


(ESWN Comment: It is hard for me to say what is happening, because I live in Hong Kong.  The WebSitePulse test gives the following:

The status may be OK but the file size is smaller.  What gives?)

(Update: The problem has gone away after one 'naughty' link was phased out at the top of the table.  That link was about the latest Batman movie???)

Related Link Why was EastSouthWestNorth blocked in China?  Black and White Cat

Q1.  Overall, do you support the successful completion of the Beijing Olympics?
  1.3%: Very much not supportive
  1.2%: Not supportive
45.0%: Supportive
50.2%: Very much supportive
  2.3%: Don't know/hard to say

Q2. Which of the following standards are the most important in your opinion to judge whether the Beijing Olympic Games are successful or not?
  4.9%: The number of gold medals that China wins
57.1%: Beijing can safely finish the entire Olympics
  2.0%: The number of foreign dignitaries who attend the Beijing Olympics
31.1%: The media can freely report the Olympics as well as the situation in China
  0.6%: Other
  4.4%: Don't know/hard to say

Q3. Do you think that these Olympics have made the image of China better? worse? or the same?
  2.8%: Worse
18.5%: The same
74.7%: Better
  4.0%: Don't know/hard to say

Q4. Are you proud of China hosting the Olympics?
31.3%: Very proud
47.2%: Somewhat proud
15.4%: Not very proud
  4.3%: Not proud at all
  1.9%: Don't know/hard to say

Q5. At this time, some foreign groups are proposing a boycott of the Beijing Olympics in order to apply pressure on China to improve human rights as well as dealing with the Tibet problem.  Do you agree or not?
38.6%: Disagree a lot
46.8%: Disagree
  8.5%: Agree
  1.3%: Agree a lot
  4.9%: Don't know/hard to say

[in translation]

Several years ago, Sima Nan played the role of "hero" in exposing the activities of the FLG.  On the eve of the Beijing Olympics, Sima Nan has come out again to criticize Southern Weekend and Southern Metropolis Daily for promoting "universal values" and denying the achievements of China.

Sima Nan said that he does not totally approve of the Olympics.  However, the Chinese people have invested seven years of effort to prepare for these festivities and that should be affirmed.  Recently, the Southern Weekend Internet forum published an essay titled <The Olympics is just an excuse for a cover-up> to defend the criticisms made by Amnesty International about the condition of human rights in China.  Sima Na immediately posted a rebuttal on the Internet to say that this was an attempt to criticize the Chinese people using the Olympic opportunity.  Even if this essay was carelessly allowed to be posted on the forum, Southern Weekend should be criticized for its political stance.

Actually, Sima Nan started this debate some time ago before the Olympics.  He has always been dissatisfied with Southern Weekend's promotion of "universal values."  He believes that Southern Weekend is using universal values as pre-determined standards to evaluate everything about China, especially in the political realm.  After the Sichuan earthquake, Southern Weekend published an article titled <The pain of the Wenchuan earthquake created a new China> in which it said that the quick arrival of Premier Wen Jiabao into the earthquake zone and the smooth relief effort showed that the Chinese government is fulfilling its promise about universal values.

This conclusion made Sima Nan very angry.  He said: "Since when or where has the Chinese government ever promised anything about universal values?  Why are these universal values claiming credit for the earthquake rescue/relief effort?  What about the traditional Chinese values and the sense of solidarity, sympathy, humanity and socialist values?  Where do these unfamiliar universal values come from?"

Sima Nan believes that Southern Weekend means that when China realizes the universal values, it will reconcile with the world and its people.  In addition, they also mean that China should build its national honor on the basis of these universal values.  Sima Nan think that this thinking is very ridiculous: "Anyone who wins the Nobel Peace Prize is displaying the universal values of humankind.  Since the Dalai Lama has won the Nobel Peace Prize before, is he displaying universal values?  He is just a representative of a feudal system of peasant slavery in which government and religion are merged into one.  Even today, there are still people who think that this was just some people singing pastoral songs in the countryside and some lamas meditating silently."

Former China Youth Daily Freezing Point weekly supplement chief editor Li Datong does not think that the universal values are identical to western values.  The United Nations Declaration On Human Rights and basic citizen political rights have their requirements which serve as the basis of universal values.  He said: "These are treaties that the nations have discussed and agreed to sign.  Didn't the Chinese government sign these treaties and regard them as the goals to aim for?  ... These are the universal values."

Concerning the debate between Sima Nan and the two newspapers, Li Dadong thinks that the important thing is not what either side has said, but the fact that these should be free expressions and debates which are not subjected to political interference.  He believes that the problem with Chinese media is that they are subject to restrictions.  He said: "Within the existing political system, the media are not allowed to carry out their duties in according to journalistic practice."

But Sima Nan thinks that while the media have the function of being the watchdogs, they should also publish certain positive things and offer some constructive solutions to problems, instead of focusing solely on falsely ugly aspects.  He drew an interesting analogy to summarize his views about this debate over universal values: If a fly drops on the face of a person, you can do many things -- you can inform me, you can chase the fly for him, you can use a fly swatter, but you cannot raise a hammer known as "universal values" and smash the fly along with the skull of this person.

China leads the world in numbers of web users, with the government claiming more than 253 million (ahead of the US, with 223 million), a lead that will increase, given that only 19 per cent of China's population is online (compared to 70 per cent in the US). Much of this growth can be attributed to the popularity of blogs, of which, according to the government, there are some 107 million. (The most visited blog in the world is that of the Chinese actress Xu Jinglei, which has received more than 174 million visits over the past few years.) Most are in Chinese, but a thriving English-language blogosphere has developed.

Roland Soong is the undisputed doyen of bloggers. Based in Hong Kong, which, unlike the mainland, is relatively free of censorship, Soong spends four to eight hours a day translating other blogs, Chinese media and poetry. His weblog, EastSouthWestNorth (www.zonaeuropa.com/weblog.htm), is an indispensable resource for any journalist, activist or tourist wishing to get to grips with the fluid unpredictability of Chinese politics and culture. Soong is a digital megaphone for a nation's bloggers, vastly expanding their audience by making it available to English speakers. See, for example, his post-earthquake output of eyewitness reports (www.zonaeuropa.com/20080602_1.htm).  EastSouthWestNorth is a first port of call.