On Notice, China Edition: 11/20


South Vietnam: Before Bush visited Vietnam, the White House website managed to use the flag of the former South Vietnamese government! Is there some strategist in the White House who says the key to dealing with Asian Communist countries is to identify them as the losing American-backed side from half a century ago? Seriously, first Hu Jintao is president of the “Republic of China” and now Hanoi is the seat of the Republic of Vietnam. What is this, some sort of preemptive face strike?

Drive-Bys: But hey, what does it matter? Bush didn’t even get out of the limo in Hanoi. Bill Clinton, we’re reminded, went to the Temple of Literature, hit the noodle shops and helped dig for the remains of US airmen. Of course, Clinton was being hounded about Vietnam at the time. Republicans today seem happy that Bush is out of town, and probably prefer he not come back. Bush could have at least acknowledge he was in Vietnam at the anniversary of Lt. Calley’s My Lai trial.

Blueberries: Wong Kar-wai is banging out a movie in America, Blueberry Nights starring Norah Jones. Hmmm… that has me in the mood for blueberry pie. Has anyone ever seen fresh blueberries in China? Or raspberries?

Alternate Side of the Street Rules: China’s making more cars than they know what to do with. “The demand will tend to shift toward fuel-efficient and middle-class vehicles,â€? said Xu Ping, the chairman of Dongfeng Motor, a large Chinese automaker. Right. That’s why everybody is unveiling more SUVs this year. Maybe the compacts are the bulk of demand, but it seems the moolah is in the Hummer with headrest flatscreens. How’s this for an emerging market in China: multi-story parking garages. ‘Cause one day there won’t even be room on the sidewalk.

Baby Blood: I’m surprised, since Guatemala is a baby farm, that no one has built an underground industry for Asian egg donation. One Chinese woman wants an Asian looking baby because she doesn’t want people asking if it’s hers. A Chinese student in NYC is donating, but doesn’t tell her family because “Chinese people pay very much attention to the blood relationship,” Serena said. “They think that’s a very, almost sacred thing. So they cannot allow that their blood is somewhere else.” Meanwhile, white Americans adopt various color babies from all over the place, as long as they aren’t from the US. Older black boys spend the longest time in the U.S. adoption system bouncing through multiple foster arrangements. Madonna really didn’t have to go all the way to Malawi to find a black kid who needed a home; she could’ve gone back to New Jersey.

Retarded Big Brother: Britain has new RFID passports, and the American ones are being printed as we speak! And the British encryption has already been cracked, by guys who already demonstrated that with a boarding pass from a dustbin, they can steal your entire identity. The British government says there’s nothing to worry about, and we all know the US government is way more competent with this sort of thing, right? Of course, you could get a World Passport and all your troubles are over – recognized by 150 countries to date!

Faces: there’s some big noises over Holland’s proposed burqa ban, but it’s really a ban against face coverings of all kinds – part of Rita Verdonk’s Giuliani-esque crackdown. The Netherlands may not have as many surveillance cameras as Britain, but obviously burqas and ski masks would screw the pooch. Imagine a similar law in China: all those clinical masks, gone! Meanwhile, as usual, no one is paying attention to the controversy about the Egyptian Culture Minister Farouq Hosni calling hijabs (not burqas, but just head wrapping!) backwards, which led to a calm hijab-ed television anchor professionally interviewing an aggressive Hosni on Al Jazeera. Al Jazeera, the voice of reason, Arabs slamming the qitab, Dutch going Big Brother, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria!

Newsom Newbies: Slate has the review and clips of a the awesome Joanna Newsom’s new album. Go check out her first album, The Milk-Eyed Meander.. Coolest harp player ever.


“Ban China”

I love the way this guy writes.

If we are going to ban so many things, perhaps it would be best just to ban China altogether? China is certainly dangerous: It’s a nuclear power, it’s full of spoilt kids pumped full of nationalism to fill their spiritual and ideological void, and it’s going to pollute the world more and more. It’s a nuisance as well: Taking our jobs, taking our food, taking our money – good thing they aren’t taking our women because all hell would break loose.

We’ve tried to get rid of China before, and if it weren’t for those damn Commies we might have succeeded. Back to the gunboats men! You there, go stir up the Boxers! You, gather all the opium you can find! And you, go find an Emperor and instruct him to spend all his money on marble boats! For Queen and for country, my loyal legion, for Queen and for country!

The bulk of the post is on China’s “one-dog policy” and is, predictably, funny as hell. (Stylistically, he reminds me of this former Hong Kong blogger, who is still a panic to read.) And be sure to click the link he provides about how foreign women all seem to agree that Beijing is “a wasteland” for female expats looking for a hot date. It’s not the first time I’ve heard that complaint, not just about Beijing but China in general.

If this post wandered somewhat aimlessly, apologies in advance.


“The Chinese Mindset”

One of the more interesting threads floating around out there this week. I won’t take sides, but I will say I completely agree with Janet and completely disagree with Joseph. With some important caveats. Check it out for yourself.

Update, via ESWN I see another excellent blog is talking about this thread.


Taiwanese food

Today marks a true first. For the first time ever, Prince Roy and I more or less agree on something. I say “more or less” because while he says Taiwanese food is considerably overrated, he also says it’s “good,” and I can’t really concur. It can be good – it can sometimes be marvelous – but most of the time it just isn’t.



A heart-wrenching story of a young man from Fujian province whose family unknowingly bought him a ticket to hell.

Chen Rong, a 19-year-old coach passenger on a flight from Paris to Miami, wasn’t the person his passport said he was. The man described in the passport was older, married, born in Hong Kong and a British citizen.

The teenager in the seat was baby-faced, naive and, given that he was about to enter the United States illegally, understandably nervous. But he remembered the specific instructions he received before boarding the plane.

So Chen got up from his seat, stepped into the bathroom and, as he recalls, tore the British passport into little pieces and threw it in the trash, eliminating the last shreds of a paper life that had cost his family $65,000 to obtain. Somewhere over the Atlantic, Chen became a man without papers and without a country, all his possessions contained in a single carry-on bag. He was apprehensive, but he was ready to start a new life in the United States, like so many other successful Chinese emigrants he had heard about back home.

If Chen had known at that moment what he knows now, he would have wished for the plane to turn around. He did not know that, less than two years later, in 2006, he would be working more than 80 hours a week at a small Chinese restaurant in downtown Baltimore, with little chance of ever living a normal American life. He did not know that one day he would be crying on the telephone to his parents in southeastern China, asking, “Why did you send me this way?”

He didn’t leave home out of desperation. The son of a businessman and a doting mother who sent him to one of the better high schools in the city, he had prospects in China that would almost certainly have been better than those he has here.

The long article looks at what moves these people to seek out snakeheads and pay them huge sums of money, and how afterwards they are left helpless and hopeless, forced to live as indentured servants. There’s no happy ending, and it sounds like Chen is a dead man walking, still alive but with no hope of a life. Alas, man’s inhumanity to man….if you can call a snakehead a man.


Firewall Check: Vox.com

Vox is a new MySpace type social networking website from the folks at Six Apart, whose Movable Type software powers Peking Duck. I checked out Vox a week or so ago, but now I can’t access it. Could everybody on the Mainland give it a look and leave a comment on whether you could access it? I’d appreciate it.


Frank Rich: It’s Not the Democrats Who Are Divided

Word file.


OJ Simpson makes a new “stab for notoriety”

It’s quite an amazing story – unbelievable, really. But why bring it up on The Peking Duck? Visitors who haven’t been here longer than 2.5 years might not know that the Simpson topic ignited one of the strangest and longest-running threads in this blog’s history, the last comment being entered just last month. For a long time, that thread was like flypaper for OJ conspiracy theorists, and still brings in a lot of readers (many of them quite, um, peculiar.) Anyway, read the aforementioned post – it’s stranger than fiction.


Does this commercial unfairly stereotype China?

Read the post, watch the video, then read the comments. Then let me know what you think. (Personally, I don’t have a problem with it, but am willing to consider other viewpoints.)


China’s Foot and Mouth Epidemic Spreads Worldwide

Even Peruvians are suffering from the Chinese contagion. Photo courtesy of Hugo VT@Flickr

I mean really, why don’t they just make the entire Blue Team China’s diplomatic corps? Let’s recap recent events, shall we? In the past three months alone six Chinese officials have done more to make China look like it’s run by a bunch of humorless hermit dictators who don’t know the difference between honest, open diplomacy and a tank rolling over your grandmother than all the hordes of the Reverend Moon combined.

* August 16: Zhang Qingli, CPC Secretary of Tibet, told Der Spiegel that the Dalai Lama “deceived the Motherland” and compared him, implicitly, to a retarded dog.
Possible gains: domestic nationalists feel he’s a tough hero.
Possible losses: everybody else thinks China looks like a big bully, loses face. Dalai Lama book sales increase.

* August 17: Sha Zukang, Chinese Ambassador to the UN, told the BBC that the United States should just “shut up”. Result: looks unprofessional and overly defensive.
Possible gains: Those with anti-American sentiments feel some schadenfreude, slap China on the back.
Possible losses: China looks undiplomatic, unprofessional, overly defensive – not unlike a petulant 6 year old.

* October 31: Yang Xiaoqun, attached to the Chinese Embassy to the UN in Geneva, tells the Internet Governance Forum there is no censorship of the Internet, while on a panel moderated by a BBC reporter, no less.
Possible gains: I can’t think of one.
Possible losses: Chinese diplomats believed to be bald faced liars with way too much chutzpah. Lose MySpace friends.

* November 10: Jia Youling of the Agricultural Bureau told AP in a statement there is no Fujian-like virus variant, which is a dumb idea, as Imagethief made clear.
Possible gain: look authoritative?
Possible losses: look like idiots and/or bald faced liars if such a virus does emerge. Allow deadly virus to wipe out one quarter of humanity.

* November 14: Sun Yuxi, Chinese Ambassador to India, repeats China’s claim to the disputed Indian province of Arunachal Pradesh on CNN-IBN,
Possible gains: Chinese nationalists, Party appreciate toughness.
Possible losses: Nuclear war with India.

* November 16: Jiang Yu, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, said the report of a Chinese sub surfacing near the US Kitty Hawk carrier group was “not in line with fact”. Meanwhile Chinese officials told Admiral Roughead, PACOM commander, that the sub was there, but it was international waters and within its rights.
Possible gains: none.
Possible losses: Foreign Ministry looks like it issued a knee-jerk denial, doesn’t talk to the navy. Fuel Bill Geertz’s delusion that he somehow makes meaningful, intelligent contributions to the human race.

During the Cold War, Soviet and American subs played cat and mouse all the time, and there’s a good argument to be made that submarine espionage reduced tensions more than it heightened them because it allowed each side to better judge the other. It’s the lack of knowledge of the opposing side that leads to fevered imaginations dreaming up implausible scenarios – like, say, the Soviets testing nuclear weapons on the dark side of the moon. The Foriegn Ministry, making denials simultaneously contradicted by naval officials, simply feeds the “China Threat” drum beating of a hack like Geertz. It feeds into the idea that the Cold War continues on between China and the U.S. and can easily spiral into a self-fulfilling prophecy. The goal ought to be making Bill Geertz look like an idiot – not the other way around.

Luckily, unlike Bill Geertz, US Pacific Command understands this. Admiral William Fallon, according to The Australian, “said the description of the Chinese submarine as “stalking” Kitty Hawk was “rather sensational” and urged an end to Cold War concepts of China.” You hear that Geertz? The US Navy says STFU.