Traveling for 10 days

It’s off to Shanghai and the suburbs of Guangzhou for what promises to be another sleep-deprived week of media activities. Will be in Shanghai through Thursday afternoon, then to Dongguan through the weekend. Sorry for the inevitable radio silence to come.

The Discussion: 39 Comments

Your absence sounds like an invitation for a free-for-all. Let’s try this for starters:

http://tinyurl.com/39cdgs

Sorry – perhaps someone could shorten that link for me. Apologies if it’s been talked about before. I’m mentioning it because I’ve just watched Aidan Hartley’s film. It doesn’t tell us anything new, but it does graphically illustrate the plight of millions of aggrieved citizens in China and the response of the state to their protestations as we near 2008. It also highlights what reporters can expect from Beijing’s promise of unrestricted media access.

November 3, 2007 @ 12:03 am | Comment

I wonder how many foreign and expat investors are involved in those property development projects?

You can see the Chinese residents run to the western reporters with nothing but sadness in desperation in their eyes while the boss, resembling a village pig, waves his arms and uses a group of thugs to rough up the journalist.

Bad, rotten China. Boycott Chinese goods, boycott the Genocide Olympics.

November 3, 2007 @ 3:37 am | Comment

Yay, that means I’m in charge again!@!@!@!@!

……..

Erm…………… carry on…

November 3, 2007 @ 7:48 am | Comment

Nanhe, you are a asshole. A term I rarely use here, but when the shoe fits…

I went to this factory. It is Western owned. The people there are young and enthusiastic and they work in a clean, safe environment. There are training an language classes provided. The reason for y trip is that the company is opening a new recreation park for them with tennis courts and soccer field. Now, does that mean there aren’t lots of factories down there run by cruel bosses who don’t care how any thousands of fingers are sliced off along the way? Of course not. But again, your kind of stereotyped “thinking” leads to you false conclusions. Totally false. These people are thrilled to have this work. I went to the canteen where they eat, I saw the dorms – yes, there are four people to a room but they are clean and comfortable and I think if you went back to their parents and asked if they had it better under Chairman Mao you might be surprised. And want to know something? This company is thriving and they’ve been there a long time.I hate the CCP and I hate all one-party systems. But you cannot deny the success, the optimism and the hope these people display. Well, you could, but you’d be totally, embarrassingly wrong. You sir, are an ass.

November 3, 2007 @ 9:35 am | Comment

I’m sorry. Have I missed something? What “factory” are we talking about? I thought Stuart’s link and Nanhe’s subsequent comment are all related to this Channel 4 Unreported World documentary:

http://tinyurl.com/34n84v

It’s an investigative report into the helpless situation of many Chinese residents whose homes are targeted by greedy property developers. I didn’t see any factories in that video clip. There is nothing in Nanhe’s comment that I would consider inappropriate. So what is this name calling all about?

Nanhe asked, “I wonder how many foreign and expat investors are involved in those property development projects?” – I imagine quite a few. Many property developers now operating in China are HK based. Their parent companies receive substantial investments from international conglomerates.

November 3, 2007 @ 10:47 pm | Comment

I hadn’t considered the possibility of foreign investors. You can bet that if China Daily gets permission to print a rebuttal, we’ll see a banner headline that includes the word “imperialism.”

November 4, 2007 @ 1:11 am | Comment

Sorry, I misunderstood. I am on the road and just glancing, so I apologize for not seeing the comment in context. I saw NH writing his usual sickening “bad, bad China” (which does qualify him for the term I used, especially since I have specifically asked him before not to say that here) and talking about foreign bosses and jumped to a conclusion. And I’m the only one here who does that, as well all saw in the kebab boy thread.

November 4, 2007 @ 3:06 am | Comment

You can see the Chinese residents run to the western reporters with nothing but sadness in desperation in their eyes

While wearing very good clothes.

My grand uncle gave my cousin and I the same sad story in RED GUARD style about our family house in China. Btw, the government offers very good compensation for the house and relocation. Long story short, however, he still think it is too low (my cousin who lived in Shanghai for over 7 years think his ideal price is crazy even for a house 2 block from Lake Tai). Btw, the offical resident of the house is not even my grand uncle but he wants half the money.

I think a lot of us think today’s Chinese have similar culture values as we do. However, this is clearly not the case. For example, most of them see nothing wrong with cutting in line infront of other people espeically outside of the major cities. My sister was having a hissie fit at someone cutting in line, and the person turn to me and asked what’s wrong with my sister. You are cutting in line idiot (of course, I didn’t say that to his face). There are many other culture differences and some of them just amazingly off the wack (or maybe we are off).

November 4, 2007 @ 5:21 am | Comment

@Richard;

Apology accepted, though right now I have my nose in the air, a big smile and my hands clasped behind my back while smacking my lips ๐Ÿ˜‰

@Arty;

Those weren’t very nice looking clothes. Chinese people living in the US are given lists of things to bring from the US to China and on that list are clothes. The quality of clothes made in China and sold abroad is far and away better than those available for domestic consumption. Even the stuff sold in the boutique stores. Why? No teeth in consumer protection.

And some friends of mine from the US and Canada came to visit me at one point and referred to the pant style the women were wearing as “clown pants”.

As for standing in line, by getting into line you recognize that others arrived before you, so you suck it up and take your place. First come first served and you weren’t first.
By not getting into line, you don’t give a crap about others arriving before you.
In the big picture, this sort of lack of recognition leads to chaos, disorder and a lack of recognition of others’ rights in society.

November 4, 2007 @ 7:39 am | Comment

A Proposal For the Creation of “Virtual Leaders”

This post will raise a hypothetical proposal for “virtual leaders”. Of course this is a product of an engineering mindset, it simply suggests tool that may be useful. In other words, this tool may be used by good people, but it may also be used by bad people. Ok, let me continue this post.

We know that for any group of organized people, good or bad, its leader is very important. Therefore sometimes I’m very perplexed as to whether it is people who create history or heroes who create history.

The attitudes, styles, mindsets, and abilities of a leader will play pivotal roles. For example, China was lucky to have Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping. The USSR was unlucky to have Khrushev and Gorbachev. The terrorists are lucky to have Bin Laden and Al Zaqarwi(sp). If those leaders die, or assassinated, then the entire course of history may change. For example, the length of Arafat’s death has great bearing on the Middle East Peace process.

On the other hand, I am looking at the development of computers. When Deep Blue defeated Kasparov, was it really a victory for Deep Blue against Kasparov? I don’t think so. I believe it is the group of engineers that designed Deep Blue that ensured the victory. In other words, it looks as if it’s a computer playing a man, the core of it is still men against men.

Nowadays, there are “virtual newsbroadcasters” in Europe. It is just a computer generated person who looks very much like a real person with real voices, facial texture, etc. Of course this virtual broadcaster is backed up by a group of experts who design its personality, face, style, etc. This is better than a real broadcaster in that the station does not need to pay it any salary, it won’t leave the newsstation, and it won’t ever retire. The cost is simply the group of experts who maintain and refine this computer image.

I believe this concept can be extended to political leaders. For example, in a country’s election, real candidates can be banned from appearing, and all candidates must be computer generated images. So the election is not a battle between 2 people, but between 2 teams of people who design their respective “images”, including its voice, its expressions, its dress, its platforms, its ideas, its everything. So it’s really not an individual leader, but a group of leaders behind the scene (If you think about it, modern US elections have already become somewhat close to that). The individual on camera is literally fake, yet its decisions and its actions are all a result of the collective decision-making by the people behind the scenes. Yet those people will not be allowed to become leaders themselves or even appear in public.

This kind of virtual leader, if made realistic enough through high-tech computers, will achieve the same purposes of a real leader without deaths or “verbal accidents” like Bush, or emotional unstability, etc. It can be as perfect as the people want it to be, and will be more effective in rousing support and morale of the people. The real policies and real busineses of governance will be left to those behind the scenes of course.

Of course there are disadvantages to this. One of them is the possibility that terrorists might create their virtual leader as well. If that’s true, then they may create “Omasa La Binden”, who does not exist in real life but will go on TV everyday and give speeches, or made to visit certain areas, and he can be made to look very charming, or sound very brave, or have any favorable traits that the people like. So it will provide the exact same inspiration and drive for the terrorists’ movement as a real leader would. This will be a big trouble for the US because Omasa La Binden, unlike Osama Bin Laden, cannot be captured, and will be there forever.

Today, there are software like 3Dstudio, Photoshop, Maya that can create very realistic renditions of human faces and bodies. But the realism is not good enough. Perhaps in 20 years the technology will be there. As for the voices, it’s feasible to just let one person be the voice of the virtual leader, or computer synthesized voices may be used. In fact, I will be willing to work for such leaders if selected.

Of course this is a hypothetical idea, and will have a lot of issues to overcome for real implementation.

November 4, 2007 @ 1:20 pm | Comment

“Of course this is a hypothetical idea, and will have a lot of issues to overcome for real implementation.”

Nonsense. Millions of automotons have been paying homage to a wax dummy in Tiananmen Square for three decades.

November 4, 2007 @ 2:51 pm | Comment

“Those weren’t very nice looking clothes. Chinese people living in the US are given lists of things to bring from the US to China and on that list are clothes. The quality of clothes made in China and sold abroad is far and away better than those available for domestic consumption. Even the stuff sold in the boutique stores. Why? No teeth in consumer protection.”

Geez, Chinese bringing clothes from the US? You have got to be kidding me. You mean clothes sold at Walmart, Target, Macy’s etc? Geez. Some terrible taste you have, nh.

The smelly Uighur guy wearing ugly clothes, that’s nh.

๐Ÿ™‚

November 4, 2007 @ 3:05 pm | Comment

Hm, ultimately you have to realize that China’s development hinges more on the FDI of foreign investors than on the grievances of citizens kicked out of its homes. So long as the government can keep a lid on discontent through a combination of hard and soft measures, and manages to make sure that such instances are not too widespread, it means that nothing really will happen and the economy can keep humming along.

November 4, 2007 @ 3:56 pm | Comment

“Chinese bringing clothes from the US? You have got to be kidding me.”

Nope, they have to bring home gifts anyways, and those gifts include clothes and anything brand named.

November 4, 2007 @ 4:47 pm | Comment

“The smelly Uighur guy wearing ugly clothes…”

That comment demonstrates the supremacist attitude of Han Chinese towards minorities and typifies the way Beijing seeks to promote certain groups, the Uighur people for one, as somehow less than Chinese.

The interpreter was called a “traitor” for helping to highlight cases of extreme injustice, and you call one of the victims a “smelly Uighur.” This is a proud day for the CCP propaganda machine.

November 4, 2007 @ 8:37 pm | Comment

Those weren’t very nice looking clothes. Chinese people living in the US are given lists of things to bring from the US to China and on that list are clothes.

Those are very nice cloth for Chinese standard. In Shanghai you can clearly tell who is an illegal migrant and they don’t wear clothes like that. Btw, as far as Chinese has bad clothes, I went to the following store in China (didn’t buy any of course), Lacoste, Armarni EX, H&M etc. In addition, my mother and my aunts brough custom tailor made cashmere sweaters in Shanghai, and brough them back to the US (very nice sweaters). Maybe because I was in Shanghai and the triagle area so it may not be true. Btw, I didn’t bring back anything to China. I must be a bad relative.

November 5, 2007 @ 4:53 am | Comment

The brand is not the key, the quality of the stitching and dye is, and those famous name clothes in China have shorter lifespans than identical styles and brands exported. The prices are also higher in China thanks to Beijing’s big duties on foreign brands.

November 5, 2007 @ 6:25 am | Comment

Arty wrote: “In Shanghai you can clearly tell who is an illegal migrant and they don’t wear clothes like that. ”

I beg your pardon. Did you ACTUALLY watch that video clip? Those “underdogs” in the video are not “illegal migrants”. They are residents of Beijing, as well as residents from other Chinese provinces, who travelled all the way to Beijing to petition their case against unfair compensation and illegal land confiscation. I repeat: this is not a story about “illegal migrants” or the “floating population”, as they are sometimes called. So all these comments about clothes are absolute bullocks and a distraction from the real issue.

November 5, 2007 @ 1:06 pm | Comment

I watched the video, and as Fat Cat said, a lot of the “underdogs” are Beijing residents who have been forced out of their homes and are petitioning for redress.

Anyone who has spent any amount of time in China has seen stuff like this, and the rampant destruction of communities in the name of progress is surely one of the uglier aspects of China’s “economic miracle.”

I wish the reporter hadn’t grandstanded so much, but you would have to be an absolute fool or mouthpiece to deny the reality of what he’s reporting on.

(okay, everyone – wait for it – “But, but…Guantanamo!!! The slaughter of the Native Americans!!! Slavery!!!!”)

November 5, 2007 @ 3:59 pm | Comment

as well as residents from other Chinese provinces, who travelled all the way to Beijing to petition their case against unfair compensation and illegal land confiscation.

You do know without proper papers you can’t travel freely within China, right. However, this is another debate.

As for your so call real issue, there is no illegal land confiscation because China’s land system is based on land tenure. How can you confiscate “their lands” when they don’t own any. More than 50 years ago when they chose communism, their give up their lands except CCP didn’t really tell them that. I remeber when I said when you buy a property in China, in theory, you really don’t own it. Most of you seem to be confused by that. My family owns (rents is more fitting) houses in Shanghai, the deeds clearly state that we only own the structures above the lands with set depreciation value (we are actually gambling on the law to change of course but it is a gamble). Also, I did mention they get compensation for moving although may not be what they want. Is there injustice been done? Probably. Is it illegal? I would sya no. Western judge China’s action based on their laws and their values. When Chinese laws and values are clearly different from theirs.

November 6, 2007 @ 1:29 am | Comment

“More than 50 years ago when they chose communism, their give up their lands except CCP didn’t really tell them that.”

Chinese have never had a choice in gov’t and they didn’t choose the CCP, the USSR helped the CCP overcome a WW2 weakened KMT.

“Also, I did mention they get compensation for moving although may not be what they want.”

They MIGHT get compensation, and might not. But they won’t get FAIR MARKET VALUE for their apartment or land, and that is typically what they want. These people read the classifieds, may know someone in real estate and know how the value of their square footage.

November 6, 2007 @ 2:10 am | Comment

Chinese have never had a choice in gov’t and they didn’t choose the CCP, the USSR helped the CCP overcome a WW2 weakened KMT.

This is one of the reasons. Personally, I don’t even think is the major one. Most of the battle were lost because of out right defection to the CCP. When PLA moved into Beijing people cheered. Most of liberation armies were made up of formerly Nationalist troops. Btw, I am fully aware that CCP didn’t fight the Japanese during WWII. However, nationalist alienation of average Chinese people had even greater effect. My great grand-mother actually moved back to China after initial retreat to Taiwan because she believed CCP more than KMT.

They MIGHT get compensation, and might not. But they won’t get FAIR MARKET VALUE

What’s FAIR MARET VALUE? For example, do you believe that the current price set by the so call experts, REALTORS, in California fair with DOM over 200 days? Everyone want more money but getting it is another matter!

November 6, 2007 @ 5:09 am | Comment

The value of a property can be assessed by alot of people, assessors hired by banks, real estate agents, developers and buyers. But local gov’ts do their own assessments for tax purposes and even in China (at least in the top and second tier cities) if you dig around you can find out what the taxable value of the property is. And you can always pay for someone to find out that information for you. Lots of real estate people in China already make most of their money outside of their home office, doing a little research for someone isn’t a big deal.

If not, you can take the average sale value of new developments in your neighborhood. With the exception of the really high end places (which are few) and the low end places (built out in BFE) the price doesn’t change much, and when you are being offered less than 30% of the average resale value, you know you are being screwed.

Who cares about the Cali market.

November 6, 2007 @ 6:21 am | Comment

taxable value of the property is

There is property tax in China?

30% of the average resale value, you know you are being screwed.

Would you mind providing some references for this statement?

November 6, 2007 @ 6:28 am | Comment

There is income tax in China too but you wouldn’t know it judging by how hard wealthy Chinese try to avoid a Forbes listing.

30% of resale value or less = screwed? Try experience. In the US, if you can’t take the time to go to Public Records you deserve to get screwed.

November 6, 2007 @ 2:45 pm | Comment

I’m still treating this as a free-for-all thread.

Let’s kick this one around:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7080300.stm

Some brutish Taiwanese fishermen have had their boat seized by Filipino workers who are claiming mistreatment. Here’s the thing: if this was a Chinese boat, regional and worldwide coverage of the story would cause a good deal of embarrassment to the Chinese government.

Hey, wait a minute – (they claim) Taiwan IS part of China.

If there is no official word from Beijing can we assume that they are happy for Taiwan to be considered independent when it suits them? No word so far.

November 6, 2007 @ 6:24 pm | Comment

http://www.edmontonsun.com/Comment/2007/11/04/4629775-sun.html

New documentary aired tonight in Canada, This article is about how the CCP is against peoples beliefs and find freedom of thought terrifying to the point that they make themselves look like big buts by ordering other countries to also supress fredom of belief and rights…

November 6, 2007 @ 9:54 pm | Comment

I wasnt aware that comments were closed in a thread below but I took my time to say this to pfeffer, so please dont mind, thatnks.

Pfeffer,

Okay, well, I am not an economics expert, I also am not in a position where I have too much time to get into the details of industry… But I will say a few words to let you know why I have said that…

The Chinese economy is mismannaged. I’m sure others can add to this substantially, i’ll just list a few problems.

1. Social unrest due to breakneck development tactics such as robbing people of their property leads to instability.

2. Breakneck tactics with no holds barred in terms of pollution leads to the most severe form of unsustainability.

3. Breakneck tactics with no holds barred in terms of safety neglect does not help the reputation of the government and can hurt trade. (thats on top of danger to citizens, but were talking economy)

4. Breakneck tactics with no holds barred in terms of backstabbing, immorality, copyrite infringement and corruption leads to tremendous social instability. This kind of behaviour may work inside a country where people dont care about eachother, but heaven help us if the CCP actually manages to export this culture of absolute struggle for material gain.

5. Taxpayers money and state funds used for to ensure the survival of facist regime. Peoples money is being spent to persecute innocent people, to ensure the denial of rights, to deny access to information. This money could be used to balance out the rich poor relationship.

6. Sole dependance of petrochem industry hurts the environment and is unsustainable. If the CCP continues to focus only on petrochem, the economy will collapse very soon.

7. Mismannagement of human resources. Treating people like crap, like rats in cages, using propaganda to control peoples minds is not exactly a recipe for motivation to create and innovate. People in China are more likely to rape and steal economically. Raping and stealing from fellow citizens and natural resources is engrained by the partys culture and is a gross mismannagement of human resources. Totally unsustainable and unappealing in the globalized world.

People might compare the size of China’s economy to that of Italy or Germany, but its totally wrong. Those countries are stable since they have been implementing sustainability on all or most fronts, granted there are not any countires that I am aware of that are not overpolluting, but China is in serious danger in terms of unsustainability on all fronts.

November 6, 2007 @ 11:10 pm | Comment

30% of resale value or less = screwed? Try experience. In the US, if you can’t take the time to go to Public Records you deserve to get screwed.

I am still waiting your source of 30%….1…2…3…

November 7, 2007 @ 1:54 am | Comment

Typical of the internet generation, if it ain’t on google it don’t exist. I’ll sell you my house :-)))))))

November 7, 2007 @ 2:13 am | Comment

Typical of the internet generation, if it ain’t on google it don’t exist. I’ll sell you my house :-)))))))

I have UC library access, feel free to give me a hard reference. I bet you don’t have that either. Btw, there are tons references are not on the internet, I am asking for references, any reference.

November 7, 2007 @ 2:50 am | Comment

There are some things in life you can’t learn by reading a book. Hard to accept for a stereotypical student but it is true.

November 7, 2007 @ 11:34 am | Comment

There are some things in life you can’t learn by reading a book. Hard to accept for a stereotypical student but it is true.

So do you just put out the 30% from your bottom? There are tons of people with UC library access including its faculties who usually has a Ph.D. I have my degree for years. I am simply asking a source of reference since you give such precised answer, 30%. You didn’t tell your committee that during your candidacy exam that right, and is that why you only have a master :). And of course, there are tons of things you can’t learn it from books (a concept I think is very obvious), that’s why we do real life research. I can give you an example I know. Even today, no one can give you a full picture of how does iron is transported in bacteria and in animal cells, we only know that it is reduced from iron(III) to iron(II) for sure after it enters cells. Hack the mechanism of a single protein responsible for the iron homostatsis in pathogenic bacteria has been debated for close to 20 years. You don’t learn that in books.

November 7, 2007 @ 3:14 pm | Comment

Then you simply strengthen my argument, arty. Typical of a chinese student to regurgitate memorized information on something known as some kind of retort.

Like I said, experience is a great teacher.

November 8, 2007 @ 1:43 am | Comment

Like I said, experience is a great teacher.

Only if the learner is smart enough to learn from his/her experinces. I have seen a 55 years old man cry because a judge took everything from him for his wrong doing. I guess at 55 he hasn’t learned at all.

Yea, but I am not chinese educated am I? Also, even in Western education, we always tell our students to go to library first before any planned research because it is going saving them tons of time (and actually that’s how research should be conducted). So where is my reference. Wait, I don’t think you have one. You just grab the 30% out of thin air. Man, you got to tell me your Ala Mater, so I can try to talk to your advisors about your degree (NOT, I am just joking of course).

November 8, 2007 @ 4:16 am | Comment

You are one sad sack if you only rely on books for your knowledge.

In China, everyone recites from the book, in the West, where China’s architects, financiers, managers and engineers are created, the school of hard knocks teaches you what works and what doesn’t outside of what a textbook says.

November 10, 2007 @ 3:42 pm | Comment

You are one sad sack if you only rely on books for your knowledge.

In China, everyone recites from the book, in the West, where China’s architects, financiers, managers and engineers are created, the school of hard knocks teaches you what works and what doesn’t outside of what a textbook says.

Apparently you can’t read, I always advice my students to do some researches before their own. It serves two thing at least. First, you damn make sure that no one have done it already (or you just wasting your time). Second, you may find useful information that will save you tons of time. No wounder you only have a master degree, did someone already done what you have proposed? I do agree with you that I see a lot of Chinese submissions for per-reviewed journals (well there is a fair bit of Japan and Euro one, too) that are easily denied without review because someone already published multipule times.

Again, did you find the “30%” reference? You only need to give me a source and I will go look for it. Why don’t you admit that you pull that number out of your @ss? ๐Ÿ™‚ Just incase one day you decide to get a Ph.D., here is a suggestion. If you don’t know something when asked in defence, just say you don’t know (rule number 1 of doctoral defence).

November 11, 2007 @ 6:00 am | Comment

@Arty;

I know China has no “rule of thumb” because that is something you can only get from experience. It’s hard to see the real world from your little office in your ivory tower, but it is out there.

If/when you do buy any real estate and you wonder why the seller is so eager to agree to your offer, ask yourself “why?”

November 11, 2007 @ 12:17 pm | Comment

If/when you do buy any real estate and you wonder why the seller is so eager to agree to your offer, ask yourself “why?”

I own my own house fully paid brough it in 1999. My colleages are calling me a vulture because I am wishing SD real estate to fall to the ground so I can pick it up. Btw, I am waiting for Shanghai real estate market to drop dead, too (personal prediction). Currently I am doing something called low ball long short offer by giving an offer at 40% discount to the REO bank. Unfortunately, none of them are so eagered ๐Ÿ™ , but hopefully they will wake up next year.

Btw, China has rules, it just a lot harder for Westerners to understand due to culture differences.

November 12, 2007 @ 1:58 am | Comment

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