Censorship in China

Yes, we all know most people in China don’t mind the censorship. It’s true. Well, some do, but they look at it more as a nuisance rather than something worth fighting for. There’s the unspoken but well-understood agreement between the people and their leaders that for the sake of harmony, political expression will be controlled (sometimes violently), balanced by a relaxation of the long-time communist control of personal freedoms. And that placates just about everybody. You can’t, after all, have everything.

One great Chinese blogger, however, has always seen CCP censorship as the noose asphyxiating China’s brain cells. And after a brief respite, the noose since 2005 has only gotten tighter. Read this wonderful post about how Michael Anti views censorship in China, and why he thinks today’s generation of young Chinese is more willing to accept it than those who grew up in the echoes of Tiananmen Square’s gunfire.

Via eswn.


Vote for China Law Blog

China Law Blog, one of my favorites, is the only China blog in the running for the American Bar Association’s best law blog award. I just voted for them, and hope you’ll do the same.

To my readers who claim CLB is a neocon, fascist, CCP-boot-licking stooge, all I can say is 1. Not true, and 2. Lighten up.


Shagger in Chief

Yes, I too was disappointed that Bill Clinton lied about a blow job. But no one can say he spent hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars along the way to pay for his trysts, forcing the bill on agencies set up to help the disabled, and on the public defenders’ office.

What will it take to convince the American people that Rudy Giuliani is a criminal, a cronyist, a liar, a serial adulterer (which I can live with) and, all in all, the last thing we need after eight years of Bushism?

This should drive a stake right through his vampire heart. Just imagine if this kind of story came out about Hillary or Obama. Imagine. (And for any of you who cling to the myth of a “liberal media,” check out this lovely front-page story from yesterday’s WaPo. Read the comments, and read this. Yes, the “MSM” is just a conduit for liberal propaganda. Right.)


The Creationists’ Museum

Please, stop reading my blog and go here for one of the funniest-creepiest posts ever, a description of a blogger’s trip to the Creation Museum. And skim the 600 (!) comments for more laughs. If you are too busy to click the link, here’s a samplette:

And this is, in sum, the Creation Museum. $27 million has purchased the very best monument to an enormous load of horseshit that you could possibly ever hope to see. I enjoyed my visit, admired the craft with which the whole thing was put together, and was never once convinced that what I was seeing celebrated was anything more or less than horseshit. Popular horseshit? Undoubtedly. Horseshit hallowed by tradition and consecrated by time? Just so. Horseshit of the finest possible quality? I would not argue the point. And yet, even so: Horseshit. Complete horseshit. Utter horseshit. Total horseshit. Horseshit, horseshit, horseshit, horseshit. I pity the people who swallow it whole.

And the photos! $20 for the admission ticket! And the step-by-step description of Christianism at its looniest. Just go there. And while you’re LOLing, remember, lots and lots of Americans believe this horseshit should be taught in our public schools as an “alternative theory” to evil-ution. God save us all.

Via my favorite I-was-a-Bushie-who-saw-the-light blog.


Bad sex writing

If there are any aspiring writers out there, you will not want to miss this.


Wingnuttia run amok

Literally unbelievable. Sounds like it could have been written by one of my commenters. And they pay that guy to write this stuff.


Life in Pyongyang

A grim and grimly amusing article, beautifully written, about a “vacation” spent in the utopian paradise that is North Korea’s capitol. Some samples:

If you are very lucky and honored, you may penetrate the Kumsusan Memorial Palace. This was the home of the Great Leader when he was ordinarily alive, kept going in his later years by a special diet of extra-long dog penises. Today, it is his mausoleum, where he lives forever in the extraordinary fashion devised for him by whoever actually controls this country. This is no mere Lenin’s Tomb but a temple of awe, where devotees must have the dust blasted from their clothes and shoes before approaching the sacred body and bowing deeply.

I was not considered worthy to go there, but was allowed to lay flowers at, and bow to, the bronze image of Kim that gleams on a hill above the city – and used to gleam a great deal more before the gold leaf that once adorned it was stripped off. It is widely believed that the extravagant coating was removed in one night after the Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping remarked dryly that if North Korea could afford such a display, it surely did not really need the Chinese economic aid for which it was asking.

North Korea is a small, isolated, stagnant pond left over from the flood of Marxism-Leninism, which long ago receded. But it has nowhere to drain away. Far too many people, not all of them in Pyongyang, have an interest in keeping it as it is. It still has the capacity to do terrible things but mainly to its own citizens. A serious policy would aim to find a way to help it escape from the political and economic trap in which it finds itself. Threats, name-calling, and the pretence that this shambles of a country is a serious world power are unlikely to achieve this. It is more to be pitied than to be feared.

Do read it all; it’s long and there’s lots of good stuff. Yes, we all know already how surreal life is over there, but this is a good reminder that it’s still just as god-awful as ever, and maybe even a bit worse than the last time we checked.


Feeling too happy?

If so, you may want to read this to remember what life can be like out there in “the other China.” Devastating. And those pictures…

That said, the response of the local population and the attention this has received in the media are truly encouraging.


Is the rush to study Chinese a time-wasting fad?

The great Ken (chinesepod.com) Carroll takes on the mighty Economist in an outspoken and entertaining post on his brand new blog. He actually makes the poor reporter look pretty ridiculous.

I love the Economist, but it ran an incredibly weak article today – False Eastern promise whose sub-heading tells us that the ‘craze for teaching Chinese may be a misguided fad’. The craze for teaching Chinese may just be a fad? May be a fad?

Of course it’s possible that this is a fad, but what precisely is that saying? There’s a lot of things that may or may not happen out there, that may or may not be fads, no end of things we could speculate wildly upon without providing data. Why this particular issue? The premise is so vague, speculative, unsubstantiated, and out of the blue, that you have to wonder where the author suddenly got the idea from. It’s bizarre.

That said, I think for many people caught up in the “we must learn Chinese” mass movement it really is a time-wasting fad, because there is no love for the language and no deep-hearted commitment to it: Based on wildly exaggerated articles they’ve read about China being on the verge of becoming the next superpower, they think it’s a necessary business decision, that by the time their kids grow up all business will be conducted in Mandarin and those who can’t read a Chinese newspaper with perfect tones will be left in the cold. Which is a complete snow job.

Learning Chinese is great. It is hard for most people, but not at all impossible. Everyone who is interested in China and who wants to live here or who loves languages and wants to expand their horizons should give it a try. But if you’re jumping onto the bandwagon because you think Chinese is the way of the future, you’re in for a double surprise. 1. Chinese is not going to become the international business language anytime while we’re still alive (if ever); 2. If your heart isn’t really in it, little of the language will stick and you will give up frustrated and annoyed at yourself for wasting so much time you could have spent learning macrame or other more practical things.

I only have time nowadays for about two hours of Chinese lessons a week. At this rate, I’ll probably never be above an elementary level. But every day I spend at least an hour studying, and I have Chinese Pod and other lessons playing in my apartment rather constantly. Over the past year I learned a few hundred characters and doubled my vocabulary on my own. Because I love the language and feel that with each phrase I learn the more rich my experience here can be. I have no illusions that I will ever conduct business in Chinese or write proposals in hanzi. But I am still completely committed to it, and I spend the majority of my time when I’m not working studying Chinese.

So yes, there is a fad element to the learn-Chinese stampede. But it’s also a great undertaking and everyone who really wants to learn it should go for it. If, however, you think it’s going to make you rich, or if you think it’s a magic bullet for survival in the age of “China rising,” you’re going at it for the wrong reason and will most likely give it up and feeling kind of bitter about it.


Reporters in China, watch out

This just out from the Foreign Correspondents Club:

Dear Members,

Recently some foreign correspondents have been detained, harassed and physically roughed up — two incidents Tuesday alone. The FCCC board thought you’d want to hear about what happened. One of the journalists who experienced problems had not been aware of previous problems in the area; information such as this therefore might help you plan your travels.

Here are summaries of yesterday’s developments….

1) Barbara Luthi, correspondent for Swiss TV and her cameraman and local assistant were roughed up and detained for seven hours in Shengyou Village, Dingzhou County, Baoding City, Hebei Province on
20th November. One of their tapes was erased by the authorities. They had been interviewing villagers at the site of a land dispute in 2005 that resulted in a pitched battle that claimed six lives. “I have been interrogated by police before, but this was on a whole different scale,” said Luethi. “It is the first time I have been physically beaten.”

She said six cars drove up containing 10-12 men,who claimed to be local villagers. She believes they were plain
clothes police. Two of their cars did not have number plates. They were “quite brutal”, twisting her arm painfully, grabbing a camera and bags. In the struggle that followed Luethi fell to the ground.

The issue was eventually resolved when the men who detained them called local foreign affairs bureau, who were “ok”.

2) Mathias Braschler & Monika Fischer, Swiss photographers were detained for three hours in Wuchang, southern area of Wuhan on 20 November. They were being told about a property dispute.

Residents told them they had been beaten up and threatened. Braschler and Fischer were only talking to locals. They didn’t even have a chance to even take camera out of the car when uniformed police arrived.They were held in a police station off Heping road. There was no violence, no property confiscated. But they were held back when they tried to return to their car. It was the third time the couple have been detained during their travels around China. They said it was the most unpleasant experience.” They were much rougher in the way they treated us,” said Braschler.

“After two hours, we said we are just going to leave. Then the chief of police came. He was very unfriendly and threatened to detain us for12 hours if we didn’t go back to police station. He seriously threatened us. They said we couldn’t go until they checked us.Eventually someone from foreign affairs department of police came,said all fine, wanted to invite us to lunch to clarify. We said no.Then they got tough again. They said they want to check all our film, cameras and notebook. I said two options – either we are free so we can go. Or we are arrested so we call the swiss embassy. Eventually they let us go.”

It’s a nice place to live over on on this side of the tracks. But it’s still China, it’s still a thugocracy, and there are still huge holes in the legal system that let goons, plunderers and murderers off the hook. It really is getting better (I’ve been tracking these stories for years, and since 2003 there’s been a steady drop in the number), which means it’s maybe gone from zero to three on a scale of zero to ten. Or maybe it just means the media’s gotten complacent.

The Olympics are a stone’s throw away, and stories like this could turn what the government plans to be the most spectacular dog and pony show of all time into a global media roast of heavy-handed old-fashioned communist thuggery. Nine more months. Tick-tock, tick-tock….