Censorship Thread

I’ve been working on a freelance project the past couple of days and have several more hours to go. So the best I can do is a thread, and a link to this new article on censorship that just caught my eye. Can the party really stand up to China’s Internet community?

The Web has become a forum for public activism that would be speedily suppressed, or widely ignored, if it occurred offline. In recent months, a spate of vigilante campaigns have been waged against low-level officials accused of corruption or unseemly behavior.

In one notable case in December, an ostensibly harmless photograph of Zhou Jiugeng, a Nanjing housing official, found its way onto the Web. Sharp-eyed bloggers could not help noticing the $15,000 Swiss watch on his wrist and the $22-a-pack cigarettes on the table in front of him. Two weeks later, Mr. Zhou was fired after investigators determined that he had led an improbably lavish lifestyle for a modestly salaried civil servant.

Two weeks earlier, a Communist Party official in Shenzhen resigned after he was accused of abusing an 11-year-old girl in a restaurant bathroom. What tripped him up was a security camera video, widely circulated online, that showed him waving off the girl’s distraught family as he taunted them with his lofty rank.

Then there is the case of a Wenzhou government delegation whose publicly financed junket to Las Vegas, Niagara Falls and Vancouver was exposed by a blogger who found a bag of incriminating receipts on a Shanghai subway. After the documents were published on the Web in December, two top officials were ousted from their jobs; the other nine travelers were forced to write self-criticism essays.

None of these stories is new (except for the Shanghai extravaganza fiasco used as the story’s news hook), but the pattern and velocity is what’s interesting. Looking at the Shenzhen example, I hope the official did more than resign – he should be drawn and quartered, very, very slowly. (Disclaimer: US politicians have done some bad things, too. Yes, I know.)

This is a thread for any and all topics.

The Discussion: 56 Comments

Wow… Take a look at this paranoid article, OK Pravda is a bit of a tabloid, I agree. But still…

Why do the Chinese increase the capacity of the national nuclear arsenal?

“The initiative carries a direct threat to both Russia and the United States, although Russia can suffer from this danger more. Russia’s border on China runs for over 5,000 kilometers. China is an overpopulated nation which needs to get rid of excessive people. Russia seems to be the only way out at this point. China is in a very good shape now, and Russia is unable to put an end to its growing nuclear initiatives.”

February 6, 2009 @ 12:21 am | Comment

Commenting on Blogs for Dummies

1. Read the blog post
2. Before commenting, think to yourself: “Is what I am about to say in any way related to what the blogger wrote?”
3. If not, find a thread where what you want to say may actually be relevant
4. If no such thread exists, start your own blog.

February 6, 2009 @ 12:40 am | Comment

“This is a thread for any and all topics.”

And if you can’t read English, don’t even bother commenting…

Thank you Si

February 6, 2009 @ 12:43 am | Comment

I’m not even mentioning ADD symptoms here…

February 6, 2009 @ 12:45 am | Comment


February 6, 2009 @ 12:49 am | Comment

Hahahaha 😉

February 6, 2009 @ 12:51 am | Comment

I Believe the Chinese Language Is Simply A More Superior Language Than English

I started learning English when I was in college in China. And I very much hated English when I was studying it. I remember I once threw an English book at the professor in my classroom, and was punished to write an apology letter and read it through a speakerphone to the entire University.

I think that first, English language has very weak “deductive”, or “summarizing” powers. For example, in English the days of the week are “Monday”, “Tuesday”, “Wednesday”, etc etc. The months are “January”, “February”, etc. To a learner, or even a native speaker, you have no choice but to mechanically memorize those 7 days of the week and 12 months, because each word has no relation with each other. I may as well be asked to memorize January as “asfasfsd”, February as “9jaskfs;l”, etc etc.

But in Chinese, Monday is “Xing Qi Yi”, Tuesday is “Xing Qi Er”, etc etc. “Xing Qi” means “week”, “Yi” means 1, “Er” means 2, etc. So you can list out all 7 days of the week yourself without even knowing the rest, of course you have to learn the phrase “Xing Qi” first, and all the numerals, but you can use what you already learned as “building blocks” to form most of the more complex words. January in Chinese is “Yi Yue”, Februrary is “Er Yue”. “Yi”, as I said before, is “1”, “Er” is “2”. “Yue” simply means the Moon. So, you see, not only does it make it easy for you to “summarize” and “deduce” new words, the literal appearnce of those words make sense as well.

Other examples are: “Huo Che”. “Huo” means “Fire”, “Che” means vehicle. So Huo Che means the train. What about “Gong jiao Che”? Well, Gong Jiao means public, and Che is vehicle. So “Gong Jiao Che” means “Bus”. Now let me ask, in English, can you deduce the meaning of “train” and “bus” without going to a dictionary. And also, do you have any choice but to mechanically memorize the word “Train” and “Bus” in English?

When a village folk goes to a hospital in China, he sees signs such as (literal English translation): “Ear Department”, “Nose Department”, “Children’s Department”, etc etc. Unless he is a total illiterate, he can take a very “wild guess” and knows what each of those mean. But if a village folk goes to a hospital in USA, and he sees “Opthamology”, “(I don’t even know what is the term for Nose Department)”, “Pediatrics”, I think he will be flustered and don’t know where to go. So he has to go to the dictionary and memorize the words “Ophthamology” and “Pediatrics”, which mean absolutely nothing to him. While the Chinese villager needs not memorize anything, unless he’s a total illiterate and does not know the words for “Ear” , “Nose” and “Children”.

As science progresses, English has to invent totally new word for new concepts. For example, how would I know what “laser” is???? If I were to see that word for the first time in English, I might think it’s a type of food. Well in Chinese, “laser” is “Ji Guang”. “Ji” means “Excite, stimulate”, “Guang” means “light”. So even poor village farmer sees that word for the first time, he can take a wild guess and know approximately what it is, or at least he knows it has something to do with excitation and light, and is definitely not for eating. This situation is even more typical in the medical field. Memorizing terms in medical school is a big headache for English speakers, but for Chinese speakers, the job is 1000 times easier. Because all those medical terms in Chinese do not sound “technical” at all, any Chinese can look at those words and roughly guess their approximate meaning.

In Chinese, there are about only 2000-3000 “basic”, “building-block” words, and all other words are formed by those building blocks. And you will have learned all those basic building blocks by 5th to 6th grade. So a 5th grader in Chinese can read 95% of the articles on Chinese newspapers without any problems. They can read modern Chinese novels, read world literatures like War and Peace, Anna Karenina, Tale of Two Cities, etc. (Chinese translation of course). And they can read them smoothly without any difficult whatsoever. Can a 5th grader in USA or Britain read the New York Times comfortably, can they read Anna Karenina comfortably?
To continue, let me give you a list of words in English: Theostat, Psychrometer, Nephrolithiasis. If you a native English speaker, do you know all of the above 3 words, what about your high school children? Well, the Chinese version of those three words are easily understood by a 6th grader in China. Here is what illustrates this:

To an American 6th grader (or even college student): “I have Nephrolithiasis”. American 6th grader: “Wait, I’ve heard of that word before, let me look up that word in the dictionary. Oh, wait, my pocket dictionary does not have that word. I need to use a medical dictionary”.

To a Chinese 6th grader: “I have Shenjieshi”.
Chinese 6th grader (hearing the word ‘Shenjieshi’) for the first time: “Shenjieshi? I assume it means there’s a stone that’s formed in your kidney? Oh, I’m sorry, that’s terrible”.

In fact, even English speakers are being annoyed by that, and the “ordinary folks” instead call it “kidney stone”.

Of course the 6th grader may not know “exactly” what the word means in a technical sense, but when they see that word, they’ll know what it means effortlessly, and feel that it is a “common” word like “apple” or “pear”. No wonder there are so many “experts” and “knowledgable” people in USA, they are simply “vocabulary” experts! When some Chinese students are studying for the SAT or the GRE test to apply to USA schools, they were often puzzled as to why Americdan students are still being tested on vocabulary, they often ask the question “Shouldn’t vocabulary already be tested upon graduating middle school? Those students are almsot adults, yet they are still learning ‘new words’ in their native language”?

In fact, I remember several years ago, I went back to China for a visit, and my families are discussing their children’s English learning. And one of my nephews asked me, “How do you say a “blood-pressure-meter” in English.”. I thought for several seconds, and could not come up with an answer, other than “blood-pressure-meter”. My nephew was so shocked, he could not believe that someone who has been speaking English fluently for so many years would not know a word as simple and “every-day” as “blood-pressure-meter.”. In Chinese, if you do not know that word, people will think you are either from MARS or you are a non-Chinese. It turns out, the English word is: Sphygmomanometer.

I also think it is ‘telling’ to point out that the English vocabulary has exceeded 400,000 and is predicted to exceed 1 million by the mid of this century. Some people want to suggest that this is a good thing, that English can “change and adapt”. Perhaps you are right, but I do not think any of you wish to see the above “dialog example” happen too many times. And I don’t think you wish that 50% of your children’s “verbal” test on SAT or GRE becomes a matter of knowing lists and lists of new words.

In fact, even English speakers are unknowingly liking Chinese. What do I mean? Well, microsoft and IBM used to have the “DOS” operating system, where it’s all “text-based” and you enter commands as a string of letters. And soon, people find that kind of communication with the computer is too cumbersome and too slow. So they created the concept of “GUI”, where words are replaced by “graphics” and “icons”, and you communicate not by inputting a “string” of things in sequence, but by clicking on the icons. And everyone agrees that it’s much easier to memorize a picture than it is to memorize a string of words. So, to put it more bluntly, the moving from DOS to Windows is a move from “English” to “Chinese” !!!

February 6, 2009 @ 6:17 am | Comment

Nephtolithiasis……having to do with kidneys (nephro) lith (stone) asis (inflammation). Opthamology…..optha (eyes, vision) ology (knowledge of)
Blood pressure meter is a perfectly acceptable way of expressing the concept of sphygmomanometer. A well educated person will have knowledge of root words and can easily determine the meaning of other words. Something I find very interesting about Chinese is the very limited way in which one can express concepts of past and future. Also, slight nuances of meaning are virtually non-existent. If all one is concerned about is to discuss today’s work, yesterday’s meal or tomorrow’s football match, then Chinese is adequate. If, on the other hand, you actually want to produce literature that is evocative, nuanced and detailed, English does a pretty good job, too. Is Chinese and easier spoken language to learn? I think so. Can one completely express complex ideas? I doubt it.

February 6, 2009 @ 7:12 am | Comment

I Believe that Math Has An Inferiority Complex

This would explain his lack of maturity, judgment and control, exemplified by his assault on a hard-working teacher because he didn’t like the subject.

February 6, 2009 @ 9:42 am | Comment

Richard, does the internet’s ability to spot low-level corruption really mean anything? The PRC government doesn’t care; making scapegoats of low-level officials serves useful social functions, and there an endless supply of equally corrupt officials to replace them. Such individuals and those around them will merely think: “I got caught, was bad luck.” Not “I got caught because I was bad.”

Also, has the government retaliated against people who expose this stuff? I’d be curious to know.


February 6, 2009 @ 10:16 am | Comment

Based on my observation, Chinese language can’t express thoughts so precisely and subtly as English, because it hardly has rules of grammar and has not tense, which is uniquely irrelevant to Chinese. The fact that Chinese language requires much less words than English for its usage leads to very limited availability of synonyms. If you can’t remember one word, then it is difficult or even impossible to find an alternative one to use. As the result, you depend on your memory rather than thought flexibility when expressing yourself in Chinese . If you forget the Chinese term for Nephrolithiasis, then you are stuck and left without another term for it, in contrast to English, by which you may say Kidney Stone. People in the U.S. more often say eye doctor or kidney doctors than ophthalmologist or nephrologist, For the same reason, Chinese language is not very fit for speech. With English, you can say the same thing in more than a dozen ways and colorful way too. But you are really restricted when speaking Chinese to influence people. This may be one of the reasons that democracy can’t flourish in China. Just watch the Chinese leaders talking, you find their talk very boring. It is not their fault. It is the fault of the language they use.

Also, English, as other alphabetic languages, is very convenient for use in sciences and technology.

Chinese language is as good as English for making jokes and definitely superior to English when it comes to cursing and obscenity.

February 6, 2009 @ 11:23 am | Comment

don’t put much hope on CCP for self-discipline. the priority of CCP is self-preservation as the lone communist regime, not self-discipline. Obviously the corruption cases were exposed by the ordinary people, not by the party insiders. Once it is exposed, the CCP would take advantage of it and turn it into a showcase of its anti-corruption efforts.Otherwise, why does it have to hurt its own image and interests?

Without the bipartisanship of the democracy, corruption within CCP is destined to be more prevalent and less scrutinized than in a democracy. What is seen by the public eye is so little that it is even less than the tip of a iceberg.

February 6, 2009 @ 12:51 pm | Comment


RE: all these bailout packages

Just offering this up to share, not necessarily saying that it proves the bailout won’t work, China is developing and still needs roads, but I think it at least provides some much needed perspective for those who might want to compare the efficiency of the US bailout vs. the Chinese bailout, and how these two economies need structure these things very differently. Anyway, just wanted to share definitely interesting to a non-economist like myself.

February 6, 2009 @ 4:22 pm | Comment

I have been reading this blog so long I am starting to recognise it when Math reposts 🙁 He has stuck this one up before.

February 6, 2009 @ 4:40 pm | Comment

He’s probably running out of ideas. Time to retire him.

February 6, 2009 @ 5:12 pm | Comment

Michael, at least it’s a start. Most of the atrocities against the disenfranchised occurs at the local level, and if the Internet can help bring justice I’m all for it. About retaliation, I’m not sure – I’m sure if the CCP saw something on the Web they didn’t like they could crush it, but if it starts to take hold it would be like playing wack-a-mole. I’d like to se this tested.

el c, obviously a dictatorship is not as accountable as a democracy. What else is new?

Andy, we’ll see. Maybe there’ll be an excuse for a war down the line; nothing jumpstarts the economy like a good war.

February 6, 2009 @ 5:59 pm | Comment

Foreigners get Shanghai-ed

The party is over…

This is sad to see, taking into account that Shanghai has been booming in the recent years, especially in the IT and finance sectors along with a multitude of SME.

I’ve witnessed it first hand, many IT companies are going to Cheng Du now (or planning to do so), digging their hole deeper into the cheap labor world.

It’s a bit pathetic to see these big companies come to Shanghai and then as soon as Shanghai gets fairly good wages and quality of life for many Chinese White collars, they cowardly escape to generic city #134874 that promises cheaper wages and better tax incentive.

Reminds me of Pac Man…

Gulp gulp gulp… And then what’s next?

Are the different provinces cannibalizing the global development of China?

On the other hand, it might help to develop other non coastal regions as well. But then, what’s left for these Shanghai workers?

Of course it’s not a phenomenon exclusive to China, but it seems that here it might have a bigger impact than in the US for example.

Loot and run scenario…

February 6, 2009 @ 7:28 pm | Comment

Can the party really stand up to China’s Internet community?

Perhaps the better question is what China’s internet community is going to do about the Party’s censorship. Angry comments can be deleted or ignored if nothing happens subsequently.

Anyone know what proportion of the US stimulus package is set for infrastructure? That’s something that could really be done with – it should be the priority.

February 6, 2009 @ 11:48 pm | Comment

Angry comments can be deleted or ignored if nothing happens subsequently.

If nothing happens subsequently, then the government doesn’t care. If nothing happens subsequently, it’s not a part of this conversation, What this is about are stories that get posted on the Internet that then move the public to demand justice. Of course, so much gets posted on the Internet, not every article is going to drive the public into a frenzy. This article is about those stories that resonate and are so outrageous that the public cannot just sit back and ignore them. And when the public gets infuriated, governments listen, for their own greedy sakes.

The whole point is that when China’s Internet community is outraged enough it turns into much more than noise on a blog – it jumps into the mainstream and then translates into demands, like firings, investigations, maybe even punishment. The Internet is the vehicle that lets everybody know, and then we see action, at least some of the time. Of course, this can work both ways. The hysteria over Starbucks in the Forbidden City is a classic example, or various outbreaks of anti-Japanese and anti-US fervor. Internet rage can further the CCP’s agenda or undermine it.

Even the most evil regimes can be swayed by public opinion. In the mid-1930s, Germany’s churches mounted a strong condemnation of Hitler’s forced euthanasia policies for the mentally ill. The result: the program was dismantled, much to Hitler’s disappointment. However, he had to weigh that against the threat of losing the fanatical devotion of the people he would soon convince to march willingly to their own doom.

Tradeoffs. The CCP will continue bowing to Internet outrage when it feels the pressure cooker is about to burst and scald the party. At best, pressure from the Internet may force the government to be more and more accountable, much as it detests that idea. At worst, the Internet will only make a difference when it comes to expendable lower-level officials who can merrily be thrown under the bus to make the party look magnanimous. Either way, the Internet is definitely making a difference, and the government is highly sensitive to the outrage it can spark.

February 7, 2009 @ 1:48 am | Comment

There is a special term Americans use. It is kind of an advanced word so you may not have heard it before. It is “thang”. Here is how it is used: A Sphygmomanometer is a “thang” you use to measure your blood pressure. “thang” has such a wide range of uses. You can refer to the sky as “That blue thang above our heads”. The riots in Lhasa can be referred to as “that thang that happened in Tibet” pretty much anything can be referred to as a thang. When your chinese relatives ask you what is the english word for the instrument that people use to measure their blood pressure every day. You can nod your head knowingly and pronounce “It’s just a thang”.

February 7, 2009 @ 2:06 am | Comment

I don’t think the party can stand up to the internet community forever. it is impossible for the CCP to control the internet and information technology. the CCP’s own geeky kids with their webcams, cellphone cameras and the proliferation of the internet will make it mathetically impossible for the CCP to control all the information. all the chinese traveling overseas and sending pictures and emails home to the mainland will also make it impossible to completely limit what the people learn about the world outside china.

they will focus less on censorship and start focusing on spin and manipulating how the public reacts to stories that are leaked out.

February 7, 2009 @ 2:19 am | Comment

And when the public gets infuriated, governments listen, for their own greedy sakes.

Very often, but sadly not as often as they should – an example of this would be the Labour Party’s ratification of the Lisbon Treaty despite the public wanting a referendum (and being promised one at the 2005 election).

February 7, 2009 @ 5:06 am | Comment

Lindel, agree with your point that the party can’t possibly control Net content, and will have little choice except spin/manipulation. In cases of serious outrage some heads may even roll.

Raj, obviously Internet outrage doesn’t translate automatically into resolution of the problem in question. It’s easy to point out things people got enraged about that went on to be unchanged. But there is no denying that Internet pressure is real and that governments are sensitive to it. Not quite sure what your point is in singling out that Labor Party example, but most of us understand that if the Labor Party did it, it was probably in the best interest of the people.

February 7, 2009 @ 12:28 pm | Comment

But there is no denying that Internet pressure is real and that governments are sensitive to it.

Of course – I wouldn’t dispute that (apart from the most repressive regimes). Even before the internet, polling, demonstrations, etc could cause a shift in government policy. New technology makes this more possible.

Not quite sure what your point is in singling out that Labor Party example

I meant it as an example of how, at least sometimes, governments may “listen” but still ignore people’s views. It was just one example of many, but I didn’t want to write a long list.

if the Labor Party did it, it was probably in the best interest of the people

I’m sure they thought it was the best thing to do, but that’s not the same as it being in our best interest.

Putting aside the treaty (which has strong arguments on both sides), there are other policies like ID cards, the recent VAT cut and general approach to rescuing the economy that clearly aren’t what we need and are unpopular. Yet the government pushes them forward regardless.

Anyway, the thing to remember is that although we would like to think governments will listen us they aren’t under an obligation to do so and are willing to put their own best interests ahead of the people’s. Thus I think it’s important to ensure we don’t put all our eggs in one basket when it comes to getting a message across. Joining demonstrations, signing petitions, voting for an opposition party at non-national elections (more regular) are also influential. As useful as the internet is, we mustn’t get stuck behind it.

February 7, 2009 @ 6:10 pm | Comment

Once again, I think we’re talking about two entirely different things, with no relationship except they are both about government. I marvel at how you took the conversation off in a totally different direction, ending up as a critique of England’s Labor Party. Awesome.

The article is about how the Internet is being a pain for the Chinese government, forcing them to take action on crimes that in the past the public would never have learned about because there was no Internet. How this leads to a polemic about how petitions and other forms of protest are important as well (numbingly self-evident and unchallenged by all) I will never understand. “All our eggs in one basket” – where is this coming from? Who ever even hinted that we should do such a thing? These are sincere questions. How did we end up here?

February 7, 2009 @ 7:15 pm | Comment

U.S. Debt Default, Dollar Collapse Altogether Likely

Think about what this would mean for China if he’s right… The equivalent of the atomic bomb from the US to their Asian friends once again, 2009 version. In terms of analogy, this would be a major virtual strike in an “economic war”, most probably the last one… Until we switch to real bombs.

Notice how each new concept is being introduced every weeks in the medias, slowly and gradually picking up steam until it becomes real. From rosy to very somber. Very tiring pattern.

I’m totally talked out of this crisis, but every time I’m about to put it aside, reality strikes again, pushing the scenario further along its (seemingly so far) inevitable catastrophic path.

February 7, 2009 @ 8:14 pm | Comment

How this leads to a polemic about how petitions and other forms of protest are important as well.. I will never understand

First, I don’t think it is fair to call my comment a polemic. Second, at the start you said “This is a thread for any and all topics”. I thought that gave more scope to the comments on this thread than just discussing how the internet is a problem for the Chinese government/CCP.

Who ever even hinted that we should do such a thing?

I never alleged they had. But (on the subject of the article) Chinese people need to consider how they can follow up on internet complaints. At the moment I’m not sure to what degree they do. Perhaps they’re happy to just express opinions online (and anonymously), but they would see more action taken if they followed up with other activities. Though that does carry a risk to themselves that those of us living in America or Europe do not face, so it’s easier said than done.

February 7, 2009 @ 8:52 pm | Comment

Not-a-Sinophile said:

“Can one completely express complex ideas? I doubt it.”

You obviously harbour this fatuous opinion because your level of Chinese profiency is at a rudimentary level.

The opinions of el Chino AIP do not warrant serious consideration. I distinctly recall that he bragged in another post about the quality of the women that Westerners date in China. When an expat boasts about the attractiveness of the Chinese women are available to him, you know he’s a sucker, and a frequent object of ridicule to those around him.

February 7, 2009 @ 10:17 pm | Comment

In the mid-1930s, Germany’s churches mounted a strong condemnation of Hitler’s forced euthanasia policies for the mentally ill. The result: the program was dismantled, much to Hitler’s disappointment.

Alas, that is incorrect. In fact the program was no longer operated as a centralized killing machine but was decentralized to the local level and continued throughout the war, along with an extensive propaganda program to support it. The equipment for the centralized killing program (the T-4 program which I believe you are thinking of), which Hitler halted in 1941 due to public protests, was transferred over to the Jewish extermination camps. Local level killings of the mentally and physically handicapped continued for weeks after war even in allied-occupied areas, so ingrained was it. From the Jewish Library:

“In response to such pressures, Hitler ordered a halt to Operation T-4 on August 24, 1941. Gas chambers from some of the “euthanasia” killing centers were dismantled and shipped to extermination camps in occupied Poland. In late 1941 and 1942, they were rebuilt and used for the “final solution to the Jewish question.” Similarly redeployed from T-4 were future extermination camp commandants Christian Wirth, Franz Stangl, Franz Reichleitner, the doctor Irmfried Eberl, as well as about 100 others – doctors, male nurses, and clerks, who applied their skills in Treblinka, Belzec, and Sobibor.

The “euthanasia” killings continued, however, under a different, decentralized form. Hitler’s regime continued to send to physicians and the general public the message that mental patients were “useless eaters” and life unworthy of life.” In 1941, the film Ich klage an (“I accuse”) in which a professor kills his incurably ill wife, was viewed by 18 million people. Doctors were encouraged to decide on their own who should live or die, Killing became part of hospital routine as infants, children, and adults were put to death by starvation, poisoning, and injections. Killings even continued in some of Germany’s mental asylums, such as Kaufbeuren, weeks after Allied troops had occupied surrounding areas.

Between the middle of 1941 and the winter of 1944-45, in a program known under code “14f13,” experienced psychiatrists from the T-4 operation were sent to concentration camps to weed out prisoners too ill to work. After superficial medical screenings, designated inmates Jews, Gypsies, Russians, Poles, Germans, and others were sent to those “euthanasia” centers where gas chambers still had not been dismantled, at Bernburg and Hartheim, where they were gassed. At least 20,000 people are believed to have died under the 14f13 program.

Outside of Germany, thousands of mental patients in the occupied territories of Poland, Russia, and East Prussia were also killed by the Einsatzgruppen squads (SS and special police units) that followed in the wake of the invading German army. Between September 29 and November 1, 1939, these units shot about 3,700 mental patients in asylums in the region of Bromberg, Poland. In December 1939 and January 1940, SS units gassed 1,558 patients from Polish asylums in specially adapted gas vans, in order to make room for military and SS barracks. Although regular army units did not officially participate in such “cleansing” actions as general policy, some instances of their involvement have been documented.”

I often reflect on this particular program and allied wartime skepticism of the Nazi extermination operations when people tell me the idea that the Chinese are systematically harvesting Falun Gong organs is crazy.


February 7, 2009 @ 10:37 pm | Comment

Michael, I’ll concede the program wasn’t dismantled, but it was reduced, dramatically changed from what Hitler wanted it to be, and remains one of the few examples of Hitler being rebuffed by popular opinion and forced to change a policy very dear to his heart. I often imagine what would have happened if enough church leaders had stood up to the yellow stars in the same way. I cited this solely as an example of how public opinion can indeed affect and influence even the most evil of dictatorships.

However, despite the regime’s efforts, the program met with enough public outcry that it was forced to cease its operation in August of 1941 and go underground after killing more than 100,000 “patients.” Officials reported that “the euthanasia program had become an open secret. The population, including Party members, the report added, reacted with revulsion and horror” (Lewy 264). Popular support against unfavorable actions of the Nazi regime could still be mounted even in 1940. In August of that year, Cardinal Bertram objected to the program believing that “such destruction of the innocent not only violated the Christian moral law, but offended against the moral sense of the German people and threatened to jeopardize the reputation of Germany in the world” (Lewy 264). Protestant Pastor Paul Braune issued a memorandum regarding the program in July of 1940 citing a lack of “legal, medical, ethical, and political” acceptability (Matheson 88). Bishop Clemens von Galen was perhaps the most effective of clerical protesters to the Euthanasia program.

This isn’t necessarily analogous to the Internet protests in China; I brought it up solely as an example of an evil tyranny responding to public outcry. (And I got the date wrong in my earlier comment; I thought the end of T-4 came earlier.)

February 8, 2009 @ 12:20 am | Comment

Raj, you can start a discussion on whatever topic you want here. If you want to comment here about how bad the Labor Party is or how the great hope would be Sarah Palin or whatever, fine. But we were having a discussion about a specific article I posted, you entered that discussion and somehow threw it off. And your contribution to that conversation was symptomatic of why I sometimes get impatient. You throw something in that’s a complete non sequitur. In case you forgot, here is where I patiently and compassionately point it out to you. Somehow, this morphs into a polemic about the Labor Party in the UK.

February 8, 2009 @ 12:43 am | Comment

I rather agree with some of Math points about Chinese language. Of course I did not read the whole thing…

It’s things like the coolness of the language, and things like Richard wrote about his new years evening, that make me wish Chinese people were more confident about the power of their culture and inner beauty and did not feel the neediness toward the regime… I think the regime has mainly supplanted the peoples real pride and glory and changed their good nature to bitterness and fear… I think China would be in a much better position if they used their true and good qualifications to make and actual peaceful rise to the forefront of the future. The way it is as been led by the party is a ridiculous slight to the people’s, the nation’s and the culture’s true potential. What is happening with Tibet, and Taiwan are good examples of the way the regime leads people into retarded politics, running round in circles pretending to deal with an issue, when really, these places are just places who recognize some form of liberty and the mainland people don’t seem to be in the position (that they should be in) to recognize reason, or to act on it.

This is of course not absolute. As is shown by the internet voices of justice. I definitely think if more Chinese people get talking, get thinking and make with the caring and reason, that this will definitely improve, corruption will be stemmed in the true sense, and the party will see the end of it’s power of mind control.. I think people just have to not be so afraid. and they can become less afraid when they realize that they are not alone.

February 8, 2009 @ 1:15 am | Comment

Richard, I can safely say that there is no chance of me saying anything nice about Sarah Palin in this thread – perhaps on this blog for the rest of the year (unless she is replaced by a pod person).

Ok, I should have focused more tightly on points regarding China rather than go off on a tangent. I agree with much of what you said in #19 on the matter of Chinese using the internet to express their views. At the moment I am cautious in guessing what the results of calls for “justice” will be. The political establishment will prefer to take action on particular cases than make significant overall changes, unless some sort of tragedy occurs that leads to nation-wide outrage (of a sort not seen in recent years).

Is this better than nothing? Certainly. You have to start from somewhere. Perhaps in future years Chinese politicians with more progressive political attitudes will come forward and seek to harness Chinese opinion in a positive way. But I think that (as I mentioned earlier) Chinese people will need to pluck up the courage to protest more if they want to see action taken sooner. It’s up to them, but arguably the big reason the proposed chemical plant for Xiamen was moved was that residents took to the streets. Interestingly I wonder whether people living in Zhangzhou, where it will now be built, will do anything about it and if they do, what will happen as a result.

February 8, 2009 @ 1:47 am | Comment

Also, slight nuances of meaning are virtually non-existent.

It relies on a level of abstraction. Higher level Chinese literature is probably beyond your grasp.

February 8, 2009 @ 6:07 am | Comment

deleted for personal insult

February 8, 2009 @ 6:09 am | Comment

obviously a dictatorship is not as accountable as a democracy.

Take a look at Brazil, India and Russia. Even though Brazil is richer, they are still horribly corrupt and commit an astronomical amount of crime. The incident of a disgusting CCP official molesting a girl in a restroom (probably picked the habit up from their European and American buddies) is a day to day event in Brazil.

As for Russia, all you need to do is talk to a former KGB.

February 8, 2009 @ 6:15 am | Comment

I’ve finally managed to find out Ferin’s (yourfriend’s) real identity. His original name is Ephraim Wanker Junior, grandson of Ephraim Wanker Senior and nephew to Peggy Bundy nee Wanker (wife of Al Bundy). He was born in a place called Wackolooney Town in Wanker County in Wisconsin, not too far from the city of Superior where Little Ephraim always wanted to go, but never quite made it.
From early childhood on, Little Ephraim showed a strong inclination to swearing and verbally abusing people. His first word was not “Mom” or “Dad”, but – can’t repeat that here, there are ladies visiting this blogsite from time to time. No matter what pedagogic measures his parents and other family members tried to make him stop using cuss words – nothing worked. His father, Rambo Wanker, at the time the local sheriff, punished him by locking him up in his room and forcing him to memorize FBI statistics for hours. His mother, Lolita Corleone-Wanker, a more than devout Catholic, even employed the services of an exorcist, but that only made it worse. Because of his habit of shouting abuse at everybody, Little Ephraim was a very lonely boy. When he grew older, like every other boy he started having an interest in the other sex, but because of his shortcoming never even got close to dating a girl. His cousin Bud Bundy could be called a womanizer by comparison.
So little Ephraim had to play all by himself, until, one day, he made the acquaintance of a chef originally from Taiwan whom everybody only knew as Old Wang. Old Wang had spent the better part of his life working at the Wackolooney Town branch of KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken), but one day had decided that he could do better than his employer and opened his own restaurant – the CCP (Chinese Chicken Parlor) which according to the first page of the menu served “chicks of all kinds”, including a special version of coq au vin drowned in Wuliangye. The advertising slogan was “Best cock north of Arkansas”. Monica Lewinsky was invited to verify this statement, but that’s another story.
Anyway, Little Ephraim became Old Wang’s kitchen maid and learned from his boss not only how to cook Gong Bao Ji Ding, but also other things related to Chinese culture which he grew very fond of. Little Ephraim loved Old Wang so much that he started to think of him as his real father and the CCP as his new home and decided to assume a new – Chinese – identity which he took very seriously. Old Wang also gave Little Ephraim a Chinese nickname – Fei Ling非灵, which later in English became Ferin. After some time, however, Old Wang had to throw his new family member out, because he upset customers by sneering at people who used knife and fork instead of chopsticks and calling all Asian women accompanied by Caucasian men “traitors”.
After that, Ferin had a few other jobs, but none for too long, because sooner or later employers and workers would get tired of him accusing them of “anti-Chinese work ethics”. He joined the army, but there he didn’t last long either. After a few months, he was dishonorably dismissed, because he had destroyed the troop’s morale by constantly shouting: “Down with American imperialism!” during manœuvers.
So there he was, no job, no girlfriend, no mates, left to drowning his sorrow in Red Star Vodka. Then, in the Year of the Dragon, everything changed. An unemployed engineer called Mathew Knowsitall whom everybody referred to as Math opened the first Internet Bar in Wackolooney Town – the DSL (Desperate Sinophile Loners) Café. Ferin went there, sat down in front one of those strange apparatuses resembling a TV-set and never got up again. The rest is known.

February 8, 2009 @ 7:11 am | Comment

Take a look at Brazil, India and Russia. Even though Brazil is richer, they are still horribly corrupt and commit an astronomical amount of crime. The incident of a disgusting CCP official molesting a girl in a restroom (probably picked the habit up from their European and American buddies) is a day to day event in Brazil.

As for Russia, all you need to do is talk to a former KGB.

This of course is true. The corruption level in latin american “democracies” like Brazil, Argentina, and Russia etc are not a bit less than in China if not much more. And street crimes and mobsters, those countries have much high levels than in China.

Of course this is a sensitive spots for many Westerners, if I bring up this topic, they always change the topic.

Why not face this question openly? Why all those democracies failed to reduce corruption and crime, and instead increased them?

[Editor’s query: Russia is a Latin American democracy?]

February 8, 2009 @ 8:48 am | Comment

Anyone who hasn’t seen it yet should go and see “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”.

As for Russia, all you need to do is talk to a former KGB.

Sure, and for the equivalent of $1000 he’ll ensure your problem is disappeared (note use of “is disappeared” rather than “disappears”).

February 8, 2009 @ 8:49 am | Comment

Interesting article by Henry A. Kissinger – January 12, 2009

The chance for a new world order

Fascinating to see how it’s becoming common public knowledge. Also, it seems that they are juggling with the two main possibilities as well (are they?) such as a standard confrontation between nations or an hand in hand scenario.

Some excerpts:

“A frustrated China may take another look at an exclusive regional Asian structure, for which the nucleus already exists in the Asean-plus-three concept.”

“At the same time, if protectionism grows in America or if China comes to be seen as a long-term adversary, a self-fulfilling prophecy may blight the prospects of global order.”

“An international order can be permanent only if its participants have a share not only in building but also in securing it. In this manner, America and its potential partners have a unique opportunity to transform a moment of crisis into a vision of hope.”

…crisis into hope = Bring the people to their knees and they will beg and thank you for whatever solution you come with.

Really, what a chance all this is, an incredible coincidence. Kissinger sounds a bit like a used car dealer, doesn’t he?

February 8, 2009 @ 10:25 am | Comment


That is not a sound argument. There are lots of factors other than form of govt which affect the level of corruption. I can find plenty of authoritarian govts which are a lot more corrupt than any given democracy. If you look at the average level of corruption in all the worlds democracies, it is much less than the average level of corruption in all the world’s authoritarian govts.

February 8, 2009 @ 12:10 pm | Comment

Mor, your very creative reporting on Ferin’s background somehow got caught in the spam filter. Sorry about that; it’s up now. You should get that onto wikipedia.

February 8, 2009 @ 12:10 pm | Comment

,Interesting article by Henry A. Kissinger – January 12, 2009

Bao, the Kissinger article is the usual self-serving crap. The description of Kissinger at the end leaves out the fact that Henry K runs a consulting firm that makes the big bucks in China. In other words, he’s not a disinterested observer, but an interested party shaping policy for money.


February 8, 2009 @ 3:04 pm | Comment

Kissinger = evil.

February 8, 2009 @ 3:14 pm | Comment


Kissinger = evil.

I’m not sure, if you are serious about that, but I happen to agree. Kissinger sort of represents everything I dislike about America (like George W. and his running dogs). There are a lot of things I like about the evil US of A, but Kissinger certainly doesn’t come to mind there.

Mor, your very creative reporting on Ferin’s background somehow got caught in the spam filter. Sorry about that; it’s up now. You should get that onto wikipedia.

Good idea, but maybe we should create a new website for that. We could call it wikiloonia, where wanna-be-Chinese trolls living snug and safe in bad, bad America are exposed.

February 8, 2009 @ 4:25 pm | Comment

There’s no doubt it’s self-serving and that it represents the dark side of America. Kissinger is the death’s messenger. Bringing peace and “harmony” and collaboration to China and all the world. He’s the poker face of America.

And it’s easy to note in his discourse that there are dissonances at the white house about the subject, otherwise he would not speak about the “self-fulfilling prophecy”.

A very good architect he is.

“Intellectuals are cynical and cynics have never built a cathedral.”

February 8, 2009 @ 6:47 pm | Comment


February 8, 2009 @ 7:27 pm | Comment

mor, I was quite serious. Kissinger stands for secrecy, obfuscation and behind the scenes crimes and misdemeanours. Bush isn’t evil; he’s too stupid to be evil. Kissinger is evil.

February 8, 2009 @ 9:18 pm | Comment

Totally agree with you, Richard. George W. really is too stupid to be evil, but Kissinger certainly is evil. If anybody deserves being called “Lord of War”, it’s him.

February 9, 2009 @ 1:51 am | Comment

Here is something interesting, about transparency.


February 9, 2009 @ 9:44 am | Comment

Interesting but not at all surprising. China is notoriously secretive about how it spends its money. A terrible thing, but essential to protect the party from being accountable.

Ferin, I don’t want to hurt your feelings but you’re out, this time for a long time. Each of your comments the past two days (now deleted) are an angry rehash of “America is worse,” supplemented with a few personal insults of other commenters. Too disruptive and hostile. I’ve given you huge latitude but can only go so far.

February 9, 2009 @ 10:00 am | Comment

Of all of these posts, I think I enjoyed your essay the most (not to deny the inherent fun in a theological debate on the status of Henry Kissenger, of course). You make some excellent points on the relative difficulties of learning and using Chinese and English. But, just for fun, I wanted to ask if you had any opinion on the relative utility of either language in poetry. Say we compare Li Bai’s Night Thought to the first verse of Alfred Noyes’ the Highwayman.



Bed before bright moon shine
Think be ground on frost
Raise head view bright moon
Lower head think home

(sort of literal translation from http://www.chinese-poems.com/lb4.html)

The Highwayman

The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees,
The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas,
The road was a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,
And the highwayman came riding—
The highwayman came riding, up to the old inn-door.

Any thoughts from you, or Snow, or anyone else at the relative merits of how the two languages can be (and are) used in these two somewhat similar poems?

February 9, 2009 @ 2:52 pm | Comment

somehow got caught in the spam filter

Richard, I don’t know if you have control over it but perhaps certain words like “w@nk3r” set it off.

I will admit that my knowledge of Kissinger is limited, but I will not challenge the overwhelming negative views of him here even though I often like to ask questions such as “was X really that bad”. Gentlemen, I will go and read up on him to find out all about it. Thanks to Michael for the tip-off about his business interests. I think I read about that somewhere, but it’s always good to have it reiterated clearly.

Finally I read about a 100 yuan a week “challenge” that has been floating around the internet in China – some sort of austerity “chic”. Despite the fact that this would require big changes to how they live, apparently a large number of middle class Chinese have pledged to get as close to it as they can. They’ll ditch their cars, get rid of the luxuries, etc. Of course one has to wonder whether it’ll be like a New Year’s Resolution – good intentions but soon ditched.

Of course the Chinese government doesn’t like this because it wants people to spend-spend-spend! to keep the economy going. Anyone know people who have signed up to this and taken some active steps to cut back their lifestyles?

February 9, 2009 @ 9:05 pm | Comment


I have been reading this blog for about 4 years. Math only ever writes essays and does not get involved in discussions. He once posted on the forum that used to be attached to this site an essay explaining his actions in response to a boycott of his threads until he “joined the fray”

So I wouldn’t expect an answer (the essay is a wind-up anyway)

Regarding your point, I don’t follow how the poems are related given that the Chinese one is about homesickness and longing, whereas the Noyes one isn’t. I wouldn’t bother doing comparative literature on it if I were you. To my mind, classic Chinese literature is not translatable into English and vice versa.

February 9, 2009 @ 11:27 pm | Comment

Wow, huge fire in Beijing tonight… Hotel right next to the CCTV towers. I guess you saw or heard about that Richard?

I hope there’s no casualties. They say the hotel was not opened yet.


February 10, 2009 @ 12:09 am | Comment

Bao, the hotel was unopened. I heard about it earlier and just posted about it.

Si, quite right about Math. I think in the whole history of his trolling here he only once replied to a comment challenging him

February 10, 2009 @ 1:05 am | Comment

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