Do we need an open thread…

…when I have so many new posts today? I worry that the open thread will keep readers from commenting on my lovingly crafted posts.

Let’s consider this an open thread where you can comment as much as you’d like about whatever yuou’d like – but don’t ignore those spectacular new posts! Thanks everyone.

The Discussion: 76 Comments

Quit worrying Richard. You’ll make yourself ill. I haven’t seen anything in the open threads which could possibly have been written in a discussion thread. Also, take a look down the page and look at the number of posts for threads after you started open threads. Nothing to complain about there.

Relax and enjoy the great discussions!! I know I do.

June 21, 2005 @ 8:06 pm | Comment

You’d better be right, Ben. If this thread flops, it’s on your shoulders.

June 21, 2005 @ 8:08 pm | Comment

Thread and more thread. If you go to Daily Kos or Atrios or even your favorite LGF there is always an open thread. That’s becuase there should always be one.

June 21, 2005 @ 8:17 pm | Comment

Open threads = wow.

June 21, 2005 @ 8:24 pm | Comment

I have to admit they still make me nervous. I get up in the morning and rush to the computer, wondering, “Did anyone post or did I make a total fool of myself?” Maybe this is a new kind of psychological complex, where you start to measure your self worth based on the number of comments your blog receives….

June 21, 2005 @ 8:28 pm | Comment

I just think you placed yourself squarely in the crosshairs of 95% of your, now red-faced, raging and spitting, fellow bloggers!

Pull yourself together man and enjoy your hard-earned and successful blog like the rest of us do!

June 21, 2005 @ 8:34 pm | Comment

I would say, get a grip Richard, but others have beaten me to it. But if you think about it, so what if some day no one comments on your open thread. That should not really hang you up. You have already made your mark.

June 21, 2005 @ 11:53 pm | Comment

Hmm, I don’t read atrios or Kos or any blogs with open threads, I’m not sure what they’re for.

Are they appropriate for suggestions like “put the amazon book links in the right column so we don’t have to scroll too much to get to the real sidebar” or “get rid of that black and white Bush picture, it clashes with the colors of the site and creeps me out” ?

June 22, 2005 @ 12:11 am | Comment

We truly appreciate and admire your lovingly crafted posts, Richard, but sometimes our tiny minds aren’t capable of lovingly crafted responses in return. So having this place to just sort of blab and gab takes the pressure off!

June 22, 2005 @ 12:33 am | Comment

finally got my site up and running again, with a translation on the Z—- Lin trial.

June 22, 2005 @ 1:21 am | Comment

which means i’ll probably be closed up again soon, hehe

June 22, 2005 @ 1:22 am | Comment

Kevin, that’s fascinating (and good ed1t-ng!). Where did you find that article?

I’m hoping that the post I put up about Dem0cr@cy Wall is accessible behind the Great Firewall…

Check out Kevin’s post, everyone.

June 22, 2005 @ 1:25 am | Comment

And I mean, really do go check out the article Kevin posted. I’m really curious to know the source, but it’s certainly evidence to disprove the notion that Chinese don’t care about fr33dom of sp33ch and dem0cr@cy. Also more info for your post on the guy, richard.

June 22, 2005 @ 1:26 am | Comment

and as my final p.s. of the evening, getting the word on things like Kevin’s post is exactly why having these open threads is a real public service for our little…dare I say it?…community.

Though Kevin, you lost me with B—– Co—

June 22, 2005 @ 1:30 am | Comment

sorry about that,
that stands for Bengbu Intermediate Court.
i was amazed, the first time i sent the post through, it wouldn’t go through. i had to delete all references to Bengbu before it would post. very strange. Sorry for any confusion, but i figured this would be better than having my site closed again…
the article is from Peacehall/ Boxun, and was written by someone in the Peacehall online dissident crowd, although I must admit I really haven’t heard of the piece’s author before he wrote this.
I don’t go to peacehall for objective news, i go there for opinion pieces, like this one.

June 22, 2005 @ 2:16 am | Comment

sorry, i mean references to the Bengbu court.
one or two references to the city itself are still there.

June 22, 2005 @ 2:18 am | Comment

Hey Richard, if it wasn’t for the open thread I wouldn’t have be able to read some great articles on other sites.

I would like to see more other bloggers use this thread to alert us to new posts, like rwillmsen does.

It’s also good to come here and alert others in our community to a particularly good blog piece/newspaper article etc.

I think this is one of the best things about OTs. Cheers.

June 22, 2005 @ 2:40 am | Comment

Also books, I would really like to see people come on here after they’ve finished a book and let us know what it’s like.

I’m reading StevenMosher’s Hegemon at the moment.

It’s a fairly one-sided read so far, the kind of thing the nuke-China people might use to justify their China-threat views.

He makes some valid points, definitely, but he chooses to ignore many, many more things that don’t quite fit into his overall assessment that China yearns to re-take it’s place as the world’s sole superpower and is therefore on a direct collision course with America.

However, not finished yet!

June 22, 2005 @ 2:57 am | Comment

Yes Lisa, you can read all of your site here behind the Silicon Curtain. Thanks for the Democracy wall article. Where can I find other stories about that time?

I’ve just added my two Mao/Jiao to the debate about the New Left. in the usual place!

June 22, 2005 @ 4:48 am | Comment

Incidentally, can anyone explain how that Watching China site works? My blog is listed, but it’s six days out of date.

June 22, 2005 @ 5:27 am | Comment

rwillmsen, you’ve surpassed yourself with your article about the CCP and the New Left.

There aren’t many places where one can enjoy seeing the glorious comm*nist par*y of China compared directly to the Catholic Church and the American Mafia, with the British Labour party thrown into the mix for good measure!

As you say, how can the CCP be a political party when debate is strictly limited to the elite party cadres?

Peng Dehui and Lin Biao, however, are two good examples, of the consequences of engaging in a good old debate, a bit of trouble-shooting, constructive criticism if you like.

It’s not very surprising given China’s autocratic history that even a bloody party of the people almost immediately became despotic, elitist and very naturally sought to a zero-tolerance for dissent or opposing views.

I should be posting this on The Three T’s shouldn’t I? I will.

June 22, 2005 @ 5:27 am | Comment

Thanks! As I said in the article I think it’s a really complex issue. But I think that if it comes to the crunch between those who are calling for the removal of Mao’s portrait from the square, and those who actually believe the Party can even now be a force for positive change…I think it’s a much harder road to follow, but New Left politics have in mind an idealised social democratic China, and what they’ll end up with at most is a society almost identical to this one, but very slightly better. I think people deserve more than the Party.

June 22, 2005 @ 5:41 am | Comment

Check out the latest Time magazine’s China: By The Numbers. Cool statistics and graphs by the bucketful.

218 billion mobile text messages sent last year.

170,850 cadres charged with corruption last year.

66% of all counterfeit goods seized at the US border last year which came from China.

1 in the world for automobile deaths.

500 million rural Chinese that have enver brushed their teeth.

June 22, 2005 @ 5:48 am | Comment

There are rural Chinese with teeth?!?

– 218 billion mobile text messages sent last year

That’s hard readin’ for the spies!

June 22, 2005 @ 5:53 am | Comment

…and you must check out an amazing map of China highlighting the population centres and densities!

I love all those cool graphics!!

June 22, 2005 @ 5:53 am | Comment

…just one more cool statistic!

Skyscrapers in Shanghai 2005: 300+

Skyscrapers in Shanghai 1985: 1

I must go and have a lie down now.

June 22, 2005 @ 5:56 am | Comment

Thanks a lot for the stats. I might have to stick a paper bag over me head and buy a copy of Time magazine on Saturday in London. Maybe buy some chewing gum and a Can of coke too to ‘disguise’ the purchase!

June 22, 2005 @ 6:03 am | Comment

As we’ve recently been debating the F*L*G on Peking Duck as well as press freedoms, I thought I would alert everyone to this article.

Written by Rupert Wingfield-Hayes, BBC Beijing Correspondent, it details his recent arrest in Beijing following a Tian*nmen Skware demonstration carried out by foreign F*L*G members.

The Dark Side of China 19/6/05


“Two men and a woman leapt out. “What are you doing?” They demanded. “Nothing,” I said. “You must come with us,” they insisted. “Why?” I asked, my hackles be- ginning to rise. “I haven’t done anything”. “It doesn’t matter. You must come with us.” I was taken to a nearby police station and frog marched in to an interrogation room. Several other foreign journalists were already there. I began chatting to one. “Stop talking,” one of the po- licemen shouted. “What do you mean?” I said. “You can’t order me to stop talk- ing.” “I can tell you what I like,” he shouted back. “I am the police!” I told him he was being stupid – probably not the most sensible thing to do. He strode up grabbed me by the throat and shoved me against the wall glowering. My stomach tightened. For a moment I really thought he would hit me. “Who are you calling stupid?” he sneered, his face inches from mine. “You have carried out an illegal activity. “Did you apply to go to Tian*nmen Sq**re? Why were you there? Who told you to go?”

June 22, 2005 @ 6:37 am | Comment

Thanks for posting that. I’d never cme across that site before, there’s some reallly good stuff on there.

June 22, 2005 @ 7:21 am | Comment

Like this for example:

– Starting with my childhood memories, I have always linked fresh red blood with the Party; this is my first impression of the Party. I would also often see in movies “the honorable revolutionary soldier” who would hold a “big box” gun and point it at the “rebel” or “traitor of China.” He would speak in a righteous and stern tone, “I condemn you to death on behalf of the people and the Party.” After he finished, the “traitor” fell down to a sound of “bang!”

June 22, 2005 @ 7:24 am | Comment

From the same article (

-Today, exaggerated and false language praising the Party and socialism come from the mouths of low and high-ranking CCP members, while at the same time their hearts pour out admiration and worship for the materialist capitalism of the West. They think of western-style houses as a symbol of success. They send their children to America, Canada, Australia and England to fulfill their own parents’ goal of success. Through crooked means, they send their flesh and blood overseas so when they retire they can happily enjoy capitalism and prosperity. This to them is their journey home. . The Chinese see Party leaders raised on “Mao Zedong’s Marxist thought” digging a grave for their own “God” — the Party.

June 22, 2005 @ 7:27 am | Comment

I’m glad I can do something for you for a change Richard W. After all, I just started reading The Three T’s as well.

Yes, I only stumbled on that site by chance not so long back. If you haven’t read it before then, as you say, there are dozens of great articles to dig up.

Try this site as well for all sorts of mainstream as well as unusual China news:

This site updates several times a day so there’s plenty on there. Good luck.

June 22, 2005 @ 7:28 am | Comment

question: do you think Jim yardley and Joseph Kahn are actively in danger when they move around China looking for pieces to report on? Do you think Jung Chang and her husband were actively in danger when they collected their material for the Mao book?

wondering how much danger book writers/journalists are in when in China.

June 22, 2005 @ 7:31 am | Comment

By the way RW, you’re off to do a stint at a summer school back home I take it and then off to Madrid?

Any idea whether you’ll be back in China or are you moving onto pastures new? The Three T’s is a great new addition to the China blogashpere and it would be a shame to see it go, or to turn Spanish! (same thing really).

I was lucky enough to live in Madrid for 3 months once and it’s probably my favourite city in Europe. Fabulous place and the food is something else. Of course, you can’t compare it to Dalian though!

June 22, 2005 @ 7:35 am | Comment

“Severe pollution blights China’s Pearl River Delta”

“BEIJING (AFP) – China’s Pearl River estuary is so badly polluted the fish that once thrived in its waters have virtually vanished, state media reported.”

China is truly turning into a environmental wasteland.

June 22, 2005 @ 7:44 am | Comment

I haven’t been to Madrid, but Barcelona is where I want to retire, if given the chance!

June 22, 2005 @ 7:53 am | Comment

Someone posted yesterday, martyn I think, about simonworld’s intention to strongly oppose Richard’s recent article and views regarding China’s New Left.

Simon has already come up with the goods! Go to:

Richard, put on your crash-helmet and head over there now!

June 22, 2005 @ 7:58 am | Comment

Yes Lisa, you can read all of your site here behind the Silicon Curtain. Thanks for the Democracy wall article. Where can I find other stories about that time?

Richard W., I did a post with links to the stories that I’ve already posted…and I think there’s another one on the main page, below the Dem0 Wall story.

So were you able to access the Harvard article on Dem0 wall? That’s surprising if so!

Off to the Three T’s now…

Oh, great responses to Simonworld’s rebuttal of Richard’s New Left post. I put in my 2 cents as well…

June 22, 2005 @ 11:53 am | Comment

So much great stuff here, and so many good links. Starting these open threads was the greatest inspiration I ever had, and proof of my ingenuity. (Not even a little bit; it was Lisa’s idea.)

About the site format and book reviews and aesthetics: I, too, want to move the book ads off the left sidebar, probably onto a separate page dedicated to books. I also want to link them to book reviews written by us. Echo has offered to help me out a little, and I just need to find the time to sit down and do it. Zoe, I like the black-and-white creepy Bush graphic on the left — it speaks volumes about this creepy, hollow little man.

Kevininpudong, I like your site, but the bright orange is out of an Austin powers movie. Can’t thank you enough for the translation of the article on Zhang Lin.

Thanks to all for keeping this going.

June 22, 2005 @ 1:28 pm | Comment

wasn’t that article something? it’s really impressive that in spite of all the censorship and threats of arrest and very real dangers that there are people in china who are willing to speak out that way. Kudos to Kevin for tracking it down and making it available.

June 22, 2005 @ 4:26 pm | Comment

laowai : it probably depends quite a bit on whether they walk in and announce what they’re doing. are they there as reporters or ‘tourists’. what did it say on their visa application. has the embassy guy put the visa name together with the big name? have they been flagged? I’d think that while some famous journalists on a press pass get tailed, at least for a while, you’d have to score pretty high on the ‘we don’t like what you’re saying’ list to qualify for what are likely limited amounts of surveillance people.

probably wouldn’t help if they visit the house of someone under house arrest/surveillance.

can one visit the house of someone under house arrest? that’s an interesting question….

June 22, 2005 @ 7:24 pm | Comment

on open threads. notice that a lot of new people have popped out of the woodwork? looks an awful lot like most of them started posting on the open threads, then some worked their way into the topical discussions.

it’s like introducing yourself at a party, come in, get your feet wet, then jump into the big conversations. instead of just walking across a public square and entering the first heated conversation you run across. the latter is likely to get you yelled at at first, no matter how interesting what you have to say might be. they simply don’t know who the hell you are.

June 22, 2005 @ 7:29 pm | Comment

thanks for the compliments on the site, glad you enjoyed it.
i hope to find time today to do a translation of another article, written by Zha–Lin himself, that touches on a topic discussed here recently: No Chinese and Dogs.

June 22, 2005 @ 7:32 pm | Comment

Kevin, can’t wait to see your No Dogs post — please alert us when it’s up.

Echo, you’re right, it’s a good place for newcomers to get their feet wet.

June 22, 2005 @ 7:45 pm | Comment

…speaking of getting their feet wet, Echo, I see your recent article, “Why I Cannot Unilaterally Hate The CCP” made it into simonworld’s Daily Linklets earlier this week.

Is that the first time for Echoes?

Just wanted to say congrats and that if it is.

June 22, 2005 @ 8:32 pm | Comment

tossed off a quick translation, might have some grammar problems cuz no time to check it, but up at

June 22, 2005 @ 9:29 pm | Comment

it did? missed that, thanks. wondered why I got so many hits on that article all of a sudden ; )

not the first time, though. we trackbacked each other on the huaxi thing and iirc it was also daily linkletted.

ooh, just looked for myself, apparently I made a telling point. roflmao, I should get a book jacket for myself and partially quote him

June 22, 2005 @ 9:33 pm | Comment

Thanks Kevin, I’ll pop over now. BTW, you’re American I notice, you must be, otherwise you wouldn’t have said “tossed off” just now(!).

Echo, ah so you’ve been there and done that…and bought the book jacket. I seem to make the mistake that if a site, like yours, is new to me then it must be new for everyone else as well.

On a seperate issue, I see that Beijing is suffering a heatwave, 37-39 Degrees (sorry don’t know f’heit, 100?). It’s thunder and lightning most days in Guangzhou.

I’m British I notice, or I wouldn’t be blathering about the weather…….

June 22, 2005 @ 10:02 pm | Comment

here’s an interesting link, found of all places on the ‘sponsored ads’ section of google. they seem pretty new, or at least don’t have much up yet

June 22, 2005 @ 10:18 pm | Comment

Thanks Echo, according to the bumpf, Talk Talk China is a blog by 3 China expats who’ve been in Beijing, China for “long enough”.

All that white makes me think I’m reading a Word document. The easy-on-the-eye Peking Duck colours spoil us methinks…or does it have something to do with my horrendous colour-blindness?

I like the tongue-in-cheek way the posts are written but I just read the article on rude Beijing cabbies and I couldn’t disagree more. 6 years in BJ and I never had a single problem.

I’m amazed that one post received 18 comments, pretty good for a brand new blog. Still, after 3 consecutive comments by ‘Peng’ ‘Meng’ and ‘Deng’ I’m a trifle suspicious…….

June 22, 2005 @ 11:10 pm | Comment

noticed, and agreed.

only thing I know about bj taxi drivers are the rogue ones who always try and pick me up at the airport. had an amusing, if broken, conversation with one once. didn’t want to take his cab, but offered him and cig and tried to strike up a conversation. which was amusing for a while but ended once he realized I really wasn’t getting into his cab, I was just hangin out outside the airport catching up on my smokes before getting on the bus.

June 22, 2005 @ 11:21 pm | Comment

Amen to catching up on the smokes……

June 22, 2005 @ 11:24 pm | Comment

hehehehe…best cheap smokes in china thread anyone? 😉

June 22, 2005 @ 11:35 pm | Comment

I’m a Mild Seven Lights man as they are available everywhere I’ve lived in Asia. You can get them for RMB8.00 from any small shop in GZ which buys Vietnamese cigs from the duty-free smugglers.

Zhongnanhai are ok, they are made up north I believe and, of course, you have Yangcheng (Sheep City!) cigs in Guangzhou, the Marlboro of Guangzhou, according to the Cantonese. A bargain at RMB2.20 a pack.

June 22, 2005 @ 11:57 pm | Comment

I’ve posted some interviews with my students, I hope it’s interesting enough to be worth the effort of downloading. I can assure you that it seemed like a really good idea at the time!!! Apologies in advance to anyone who thinks it’s just, you know, shit.

June 23, 2005 @ 12:04 am | Comment

can you still get soft pack Great Walls at RMB 1.5?

June 23, 2005 @ 12:16 am | Comment

You’re going back a good fews years there KLS. Great Wall’s are still around of course but I doubt for RMB1.5 a pack. Mind you BJ is cheaper than GZ like.

Richard W, “In case, it’s just, you know shit”. Good one. Let’s see if your Sheffield accent is as awful I as suspect…..

June 23, 2005 @ 12:23 am | Comment

Oh dear me. I’ve just started laughing again at your earlier post which included the below ‘conversation’ with student:
“That’s bollocks, Jamily.

“Thank you, sir”

No, I mean it’s preposterous. It’s one of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard in my life.

“But sir, just think how much better things would have been! And just imagine all the wonderful things he could have done on behalf of other gay people in Ch-”

Jamily, I never said that Zhao Ziyang was gay!

“Well, sir, maybe just a little bit bi-”

Jamily! This is just too silly for words. Sit Down! Stop calling me Sir!

And change your name!”

June 23, 2005 @ 12:27 am | Comment

Just listened to the first one, Richard W. It’s not shit mate. I’ll comment on The Three T’s.

What’s going on with the posh accent? What’s that all about?

June 23, 2005 @ 12:39 am | Comment

I teach my students to speak proper Henglish like what I do.

June 23, 2005 @ 1:05 am | Comment

Richard W., the student interviews are fascinating and are good illustrations of why that Mao portrait hanging above Tiananmen won’t be going anywhere soon.

Zhou Enlai was the favorite back in 79 as well. It was both a genuine sentiment and a deliberate propaganda campaign designed to shore up Deng Xiaopeng’s leadership.

I still have a hard time accepting the negative views of Zhou gaining currency in recent Chinese scholarship. I know he was always a more ambiguous character than portrayed in official CCP histories, but I think some of the really negative recent interpretations don’t quite get him either. Though certainly his actions in the CR were much more mixed than the official historians (and romantics among us) would have it.

another random thought: when I was teaching English conversation (I was way unqualified to teach full-on English as second language), we had these sentences to try and work on pronunciation. The one I will always remember is: “English women always have butter with their eggs.”

June 23, 2005 @ 1:41 am | Comment

In 1997 I was invited to and did go to the home of twp professors who had been discharged from a large BJ university and where under some sort of movement restriction. There son had been missing from T square for 9 years. I was approached some what ackwardly and never had the confidence that it was a straight up deal. The parents wanted me to help them with an appeal to the UN so they said. But then again I thought I was being monitored all the time I was teaching.

If someone really wants to find out see if Ding ZiLing is under house arrest. She is the mother of one of the mis*ing. Be sure you don’t jeopardize her situation if you try.

June 23, 2005 @ 1:42 am | Comment

Other Lisa, I was intrigued that one of my students thought that Zhou was better known around the world than Mao! I didn’t realise what she’d said until I played it back. I would have gently picked her up on that point if I’d noticed at the time. Glad to hear you like the interviews.

June 23, 2005 @ 1:54 am | Comment

Re: pete’s comment
yes, from what I know DZL cannot leave home at the moment and is difficult to reach

June 23, 2005 @ 3:11 am | Comment


I’ll have a listen to the downloads in a minute. If Lisa says they’re fascintaing, then that’s good enough for me!

BTW, I just saw your Three T’s post about China’s New Left linked on Simonworld!!

You’ve hit the big time, from now on in, it’s dinner jackets, celeb parties, champagne and a foxy lady on each arm for you my lad!!!

June 23, 2005 @ 6:55 am | Comment

Well I have just been for a Chinese meal! Oh, the glamour…

June 23, 2005 @ 8:29 am | Comment

If anyone is interested in joining in, 3 of us are engaged in a discussion on the merits or otherwise of monogamy. Not China related, and I still haven’t made any posts of my own, but I’d welcome anyone else’s input into the debate. It sure gets lonely on other blogs … nothing like Richard’s incredibly successful one (*** does that give you enough face Richard? 😉 ***)

June 23, 2005 @ 8:51 am | Comment

FS9, I’ll try to pop over later today. Off to work right now and all that, hi-ho!

June 23, 2005 @ 10:14 am | Comment

pete, intriguing, don’t suppose you blogged that conversation. thanks for satisfying my curiosity

rw, can’t seem to access the files. probably a browser incompatibility (that I’m entirely too lazy to deal with at present). but just so you know that site might not be cross platform friendly

hongmei…yunnan red beauty at 3 kuai a pack. wow I’m cheap.

June 23, 2005 @ 11:02 am | Comment

despite my Great Wall soft pack machismo earlier, I must confess a real preference for Hong He (hard pack only please Lao Vendor) for a round wu kuai qian. really really did like Hong He, would’ve taken them over a Marlboro red any day, even preferred to the 20 kuai extra special gold shiny box Huanghelou.

June 23, 2005 @ 11:58 am | Comment

What are those awful 4-yuan-a-pack cigarettes that are part tobacco and part herb? Everyone I knew in Shanghai smoked them, as did my friend Jeremy of danwei, if I remember.

June 23, 2005 @ 12:07 pm | Comment

Double Happiness? Shuangxi, red packet. Reek to high heaven but those who smoke ’em swear by ’em.

June 23, 2005 @ 12:23 pm | Comment

I was partial to the dama that grew wild around the Temple of Heaven and Beihai Park, personally…

June 23, 2005 @ 12:51 pm | Comment

I used to like the China White.

June 23, 2005 @ 1:08 pm | Comment

I’ve fiddled around with audio downloads on my site now, so anyone who was interested in getting hold of those files shouldn’t have any problem.

June 23, 2005 @ 6:33 pm | Comment

interesting your reference to i just read a comment on there refering back to peking duck. went on and on about some german guy that pissed the writer off.

June 25, 2005 @ 2:53 pm | Comment

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