Unhinged Chinese Blogger

No, that’s not a takeoff on “ACB.” This is another blogger, a living, breathing example of CCP mind control in action. I read his post in a state of shocked fascination, wondering just how he came into being, what forces shaped his tortured reasoning and ignited such deep hatred against America. And such contempt for the most successful form of government the planet has ever known.

As usual, the blogger seizes on a piece of idiotic anecdotal evidence to “prove” his point that America is as guilty of imprisoning people who post anti-government stuff on the Internet as China. (The old “I-know-you-are-but-what-am-I bullshit.) Of course, if this were true, The Peking Duck would have been shut down long ago. But it’s not true. Take a look at the story he cites to back up his argument.

There may be new fallout after a University of Louisville student posted an internet message stating that New Orleans residents should do anything to survive — including shooting police, National Guard members or President George W. Bush if they get in their way….

Bailey was responding to another posted message about the turmoil following Hurricane Katrina. In his recent online response, Bailey wrote that families stranded by the storm should take and do anything necessary to stay alive, adding, “shoot every cop, National Guard (member) and politician who stands in your way, including George W. Bush, if need be.

On Tuesday, a Secret Service agent interviewed Bailey, and a spokesman for that agency said Bailey could face a federal charge of threatening the president.

Everybody get that? This cretin is actually comparing the arrest of “cyberdissidents” in China (you know, monsters like Liu Di, and the cyberterrorist who posted a punk rock song) with someone who is inciting people to pick up arms and shoot police officers and the president of the United States.

I thought about arguing but then decided, what’s the point? It’s like arguing with someone who equates the Taiwanese independence movement with a few crackpots in Hawaii who want to secede from the US. Logic and facts only go so far with these people (which isn’t very far). You can’t win.

More pearls of wisdom from Unhinged Chinese Blogger:

We all know how effieient Chinese cyberspace police are safeguarding the welfare of the regime and to crack down those political rebels, who dare to use their little hidden-agendas to explore the wide wide west opportunities existing in the World Wide Web to try to sent some provoking tailored information to the outside world and then hope the outside recipients can use the big stick of Human Rights to hit Chinese goverment right in the face. The rebels pretty much give up overthrowing Chinanes goverment from inside since 1989, and they hopes that kind of countries like America will receive their messages and help them subvert Chinese government from outside. Blogging and other internet facilities let these rebels see “a new way to organise people and therefore make a mounting threat to the government.”

You see, it’s all a big conspiracy. Those who want Internet freedoms in China, like blogger Isaac Mao, have a sinister ulterior motive: they want bloggers to incite the US to topple the glorious Chinese government.

I want to say no, it can’t be serious. Unfortunately, anyone who’s hung out at the China Daily forums can tell you it’s really not that unusual. God help us.

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Let 1,000 comments bloom

A new day, a new thread.

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Chinese with Taiwanese Characteristics

Maybe I should request an audience with Chen Shui-bian. Taiwan has really got to reform. No, not its politics, but its mangling of the Chinese language.

I received my first dose of language culture shock when I realized they use different characters here than in China. All that time I spent learning, on my own, the characters I felt were fundamental –- wasted. Instead of the elegantly simple hanzi known as simplified Chinese (one of Mao’s few positive achievements), here they use “traditional Chinese,” which is a code word for clumsy, hard-to-read characters. It’s hell. It makes life needlessly frustrating.

For example, the first character I had to learn in China was the one that would help me find an Internet cafe. In China, the character for shang wang (surfing the net) is so distinctive, it jumps out at you – a nifty and stylish box with two big X’s in the middle. Here, it’s hopelessly different. It looks like a script version of the letter “E” with three squiggly lines underneath it. Maddening. Isn’t it time to make things easier for everybody? Isn’t it time to leave traditional Chinese to the calligraphers and allow the people to exult in the ease and clarity of simplified characters?

But that’s not all. It’s bad enough that the hanzi here is all wrong, but even the pinyin is screwed up! My bus is on Fuxing Lu — but here the sign says “Fushing Lu.” I live near Xinyi Lu, but here, they spell it Hsin Yi. I am told that this is a political hot potato. Everyone knows the mainland-style pinyin is way better than Wade-Giles, but changing it would be nearly impossible, as it would be a symbolic hat tip to the PRC, and face would be lost. And so the mediocre, antiquated system remains.

I wish that were the end of my lament. But no. My first week here I was conversing in my pidgen-Chinese when I said I wanted to improve my Mandarin, which I referred to as “Putonghua,” as I always did in Beijing. “Oh no, we never say ‘Putonghua’ here,” my interlocutor said. I said, “Oh, I see. I guess you say ‘Hanyu.’” No, he said, aghast. “Here it’s always ‘Zhongwen.’” In the same conversation, I referred to my plans to buy a bicycle, “zixingche,” and again was corrected – they don’t use that word in Taiwan (he told me the word they use but I forget). Everyday it seems I discover a new word that I memorized for naught.

So I definitely want Chen to consider language, reform, and fast. God know it’s long overdue. If he does, I’ll link to the government Web site on my blog.

[Note: I am totally self-taught in Chinese aside from an utterly worthless six-week summer course at Fudan Daxue. Those of you who are proficient, please don’t laugh at my bastardizations and mistakes and multiple ignorances — at least I’m trying to learn.)

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T1betan ‘fashion’ threatens Indian Tiger with extinction

Posted by Martyn

A new Environmental Investigation Agency report claims that rising demand for Indian Tiger skins, sold openly in T1bet, Sichuan and Gansu is rapidly pushing the Indian tiger to the brink of extinction.

T1betans prize the skins as trimming for their traditional ‘chuba’ costumes, worn twice a year during the New Year and Horse Festivals. A new class of rich T1betans have recently made fortunes selling a local caterpillar fungus and a rare mushroom, both used in Chinese medicine.

Traditionally, demand for tiger bones used in Chinese medicine fuelled the poaching trade but this new desire for clothing is driving demand to unsustainable levels. For instance, a famous nature reserve in Sariska, India, now has no more wild tigers because of recent poaching.

“This is it. The end is now in sight for the Indian tiger. The sheer quantities of skins for sale is beyond belief. As the Sariska scandal so clearly showed, the Indian tiger is now being systematically wiped out.”

At horse festivals in Tibet and Sichuan, dancers, riders and spectators wandered about, openly wearing the traditional chuba, generously trimmed with tiger and leopard skin, while organizers and local officials joined in.

The skins are smuggled along well- established Nepali trading routes into Tibet where they are sold openly in shops in the capital, Lhasa.

As the tiger skins sell for approximately 100,000 yuan (US$12,000) in China, the authorities will be hard pressed to prevent the illegal trade as the amount of money being made by poachers and smugglers will ensure a steady supply.

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Smoking out the Internet subversives

[This post is further amplification of Martyn's post below.]

As reforms continue and the CCP continues to loosen restrictions on the media, I couldn’t help but feel encouraged when I read this.

China announced a fresh crackdown yesterday on the internet amid further revelations of a plan by Hu Jintao, the president, to suppress dissent.

“The state bans the spreading of any news with content that is against national security and public interest,” said a statement from Xinhua, the official news agency. The announcement called for blogs and personal web pages to “be directed towards serving the people and socialism and insist on correct guidance of public opinion for maintaining national and public interests“.

The statement was just one of a series of initiatives by the government to root out politically sensitive news from domestic and foreign media.

On Thursday a Chinese journalist and former professor was given a seven-year sentence for “inciting subversion” by writing hundreds of articles for banned overseas news websites.

Last month the government tried to implement a scheme to pay journalists according to how much Communist party officials liked, or disliked, their articles. In July a political activist was given five years for posting a punk song on the internet deemed to be subversive, and in April a journalist was sentenced to 10 years for sending an email overseas about restrictions on freedom of speech.

Providing further evidence of an organised national crackdown, the New York Times reported yesterday that Mr Hu called for a “smokeless war” against “liberal elements” in China during a secret leadership meeting in May.

Can anyone remember back to the halcyon days following the dramatic press conference on SARS in 2003, the one where Hu Jintao answered questions and promised transparency? The one that CCP defenders pointed to as proof that China had turned an important corner and could never go back? A free press was only a stone’s throw away.

I got into some of the bitterest fights over this topic, insisting that no one-party state can survive with a free press, let alone a state that is mired in corruption and criminality, and that the “New transparency” would be fleeting and ultimately meaningless. I just want to ask, does anyone stand by the 2003 assertions that true media reform was unstoppable and imminent? Does anyone still contend that Hu is the man to end the choking of China’s media?

The interesting thing is that they have suckered a lot of people around the world into believing there is true reform. So they have it both ways: they use smoke and mirrors to make it appear to the novice eye that they have a free press, while at the same time they tighten their chokehold on public expression and ramp up the repression. (Five years for posting a “subversive” pop song??)

So by pointing this out, am I being “anti-China”? There are two main participants in this story, the repressors and the repressed. Both are Chinese. I happen to side with the repressed, and I see that as distinctly pro-China.

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Mooncake Thread, part 2

The thread must go on.

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China announces stricter controls on Internet news

Posted by Martyn

On Sunday, China’s Ministry of Information Industry, together with the State Council, announced a new set of regulations aimed at further controlling content on Internet news web sites. The regulations, details of which are yet undisclosed, are expected to impose even stricter control on news content than the last set of rules issued in 2000. The report also warned that the new rules would take effect immediately.

The regulations are intended to “standardize the management of news and information” and only allow web sites to post news about current events and politics. However, the announcement did not elaborate on what would be acceptable and unacceptable in these two categories, as AP reports:

Only “healthy and civilized news and information that is beneficial to the improvement of the quality of the nation, beneficial to its economic development and conducive to social progress” will be allowed, Xinhua said.

It added: “The sites are prohibited from spreading news and information that goes against state security and public interest.”

The new rules will “satisfy the public demand for receiving news and information from the Internet as well as safeguard public interest,” Xinhua said.

We should perhaps reserve comment until full details of the new regulations are officially announced. However, the report, with its references to ‘healthy news, conducive to social progress and safeguarding the public interest’ sounds ominous. Any further tightening of news and information would certainly be consistent with the gradual increase in censorship in recent years.

UPDATE: details of the new rules are now becoming available, check out this Joseph Kahn story. Chinese portals like Sina.com will only be able to feature op-eds from official state media sources. Also, groups must register as “news organizations” before they can operate e-mail distribution lists, effectively preventing legal distribution of news via email. Existing online newspaper and magazine sites must also “give priority” to news and commentary pieces from official state media, rather than non-official/foreign news sources.

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“How to get around the censors” – in Chinese

If you are waging war against China’s Cybernanny, go here for some valuable links.

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Shanghai’s new ‘bogus beggars guide’

Posted by Martyn

If you’re like me, then you never give money to beggars in China because you assume that they are all part of an organized gang and not genuine beggars. As identifying the real and the fake beggars is next to impossible, the Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau has, according to this report, published an handy illustrated manual, aptly named Recognizing Phonies, to help the city’s residents and visitors recognize the most popular begging swindles! From women faking pregnancy to counterfeit monks to bogus students begging for tuition fees:

‘Amid the great army of city vagrants, there is a cadre of professional beggars who prey on the sympathies of citizens. There isn’t a trick they won’t try,’ it adds above a drawing of a kindly-looking elderly couple handing over money to a grinning beggar.

In some cases, parents rent out small children to professional beggars who put the children to work on dangerous and crowded streets.

The guide is just one of the ways in which Shanghai and other Chinese cities are struggling to cope with an influx of beggars and vagrants following a 2003 decision to eliminate police powers to detain them.

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The tragedy of education fees for China’s poor

Posted by Martyn

A tragic story made headlines this week in the Chinese and English language press and also the international media, regarding the suicide of a working mum of modest means who despaired that she could never afford to pay her daughter’s university fees. The Chinese press concluded that this situation is far from unique in China, a country still undergoing a difficult transition from free education and healthcare to fee-based systems. The transition, however, takes a heavy toll on China’s poorer families, of whom many see education as their only way out of poverty.

The deceased, Mrs. Li Fenxiang, had supported her paralyzed husband, his mother and her two daughters since 2002. As a result of medical fees, debts had amounted to over 10,000 yuan (US$1,235), a huge amount of money for a poor rural family. The college fees were 7,000 yuan (US$853) per year. Mrs. Li’s income was less than 1,500 yuan (US$183) per year. Her daughter dreamed of attending the Kunming Medical College, however, as soon as notification arrived informing her that she had passed the entrance examination and would be offered a place, her mother hung herself rather than face further anguish.

This story also has a terrible final twist: the following day, the official enrollment notice arrived together with a statement promising government financial aid and a list of education grants available to needy families. Mrs. Li was not aware such aid existed, nor was she aware that Chinese banks had offered loans to needy students since 2000.

There are approximately 13.5 million university students in China of which 263,000, or 19%, are from poor families.

In the 80s the government made financial aid available for only three categories of students: gifted students, those specializing in selected degree subjects (like agriculture) and students willing to work in remote areas. It also offered aid at teacher training colleges on condition that graduates worked in a state school for 5 years in order to pay off the loan.

In addition to the above, the government must now expand and publicize the bank loan and financial aid scheme. In order to ensure that all money is repaid, the government could perhaps insist that recipients of student aid report to a government labour office after graduation and work in an assigned government job for a few years in order repay the loan. Needy students must have a lifeline to financial aid in order to prevent further tragedies.

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