Out-to-lunch thread

China news is pretty slender today, and I’ve been consumed with clearing our my desk and my cache and saying goodbyes. I left on good terms with everyone and will be doing freelance writing for my former employer starting next week just to pay the bills. It’s definitely an odd feeling, liberating and exciting and totally scary.

I am planning my trip back to Asia, probably in about a month. My target citites are Taipei, Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen. If any of you will be around and want to meet up, just let me know.

Let’s consider this an open thread. (Sorry if my writing lacks its usual wit and sparkle tonight — it’s been one hell of a week.)

The Discussion: 43 Comments

anyone able to get to this web site ::

according to an article in the people’s daily (yeah, yeah, but it’s worth a try) one will find there the financial records and work reports of the Shuilong villiage in Zhejiang…only I can’t seem to access it, even with the proxy shuffle

July 8, 2005 @ 9:59 pm | Comment

Cannot open.

July 8, 2005 @ 10:01 pm | Comment

This is slowest nght I ever saw at peking duck. Maybe you are losing popularity.

July 8, 2005 @ 10:11 pm | Comment

Richard, if you decide to pass through my hamlet while on your China Whistlestop Tour, be sure to let me know!

July 8, 2005 @ 10:15 pm | Comment

It’s friday! We should all be out, you know, partying or something…ugh. I had a kind of stressful week myself, though not so much as richard…I’m going to shut the computer and read a damn book…

July 8, 2005 @ 10:55 pm | Comment

if you come to beijing, my wife and i would be happy to take you out to dinner. we know alot of good restaurants.

July 8, 2005 @ 11:52 pm | Comment

I noticed uncensored IHT, 7/9, has Rebecca MacKinnon’s article entitled www. (censored) about China’s internet censorship. Not earthshattering news.

July 8, 2005 @ 11:56 pm | Comment

Just thought I would let everyone know that the letter I sent to my Senator a couple of weeks ago did not necessarily fall upon deaf ears.

I just received an email from Senator Evan Bayh’s office requesting a personal discussion on this matter upon my return to the United States.

We’ll see what comes of it.

July 9, 2005 @ 12:08 am | Comment

Great work Gordon.

July 9, 2005 @ 12:23 am | Comment

Thanks Martyn. I’m going to remain optimistic about it since his office contacted me requesting further discussion on the matter, rather than just sending out a “thanks for writing” letter.

I doubt that I will hear anything from Sen. Richard (liver lips) Lugar.

July 9, 2005 @ 12:31 am | Comment

Gordon, you are way too sensible to be a Republican…

July 9, 2005 @ 1:08 am | Comment

I’m not really a Republican, LIsa.

In fact, I don’t consider myself to be a member of any party. I just have to vote that way sometimes.

I actually voted for Bayh and as you know he is a Democrat.
Unfortunately though, I think he’s been in Washington a little too long..it seems to be clouding some of his judgements lately.

Anyway, I don’t like either party. Their both selling us up the river.

July 9, 2005 @ 1:28 am | Comment

I spent a very interesting evening in Chengdu with Gordon about a month ago, and I can report that his politics are, indeed, too subtle and complex to be simply labeled “Republican”. It was a thoughtful discussion.

I would like to state for the record, however, that downtown Chengdu is a crappy place to look for food after 10PM, and Gordon needs to address this problem immediately.

July 9, 2005 @ 1:32 am | Comment

Thanks Will.

I’ll get my people on your complaints right away. I don’t know what happened, I told them you were coming, but they all closed up anyway. ๐Ÿ˜›

July 9, 2005 @ 1:50 am | Comment

Typical. Man, you are so unreliable. That’s it. I am never coming back to Chengdu. The movie deal is off. ๐Ÿ™‚

July 9, 2005 @ 1:53 am | Comment

ggod job gordon. make sure you do your homework on this one. might end up making some real change.

July 9, 2005 @ 1:53 am | Comment

That’s right, also, are you planning on going home anytime soon? If not then an info-packed email might be called for while this topic is, er, topical.

By the way, I’ve just been reading angrychineseblogger, he’s posted another of his “Things not to say in China” pieces. Hilarious as usual.


โ€ข Hello
โ€ข Would you like to practice your English with me?
โ€ข 你说英语,是巴?
โ€ข GO DIE
โ€ข 蠢子,你有问题
โ€ข くたばれ

Correct Answer: SILENCE

July 9, 2005 @ 3:12 am | Comment

Good grief, if this is the best the party can come up with in their battle against massive corruption at every level of government, then: China, you have my deepest sympathy.

From today’s subscription-only South China Morning Post:
Cadres put their partners on graft watch


More than 200 cadres in Lanzhou, Gansu province, have signed a pledge to keep watch on their spouses in the latest Communist Party strategy to curb corruption.

The cadres made the pledge after watching a party “educational” film entitled Pillow Alarm on Thursday, the West Economic Daily reported. The movie tells the story of a party leader’s fall from grace after his family persuaded him to take bribes.

The cadres promised to never take bribes and to follow party discipline in watching over their spouses. They also promised not to engage in business activities that involved taking advantage of their partners’ official position.

Party leaders have repeatedly vowed to crack down on corruption but have mainly relied on self-discipline among cadres to stem the tide, despite recognising it as a threat to the party’s very survival if left unchecked.

Yesterday, Li Zhilun, a vice-secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, gave a lecture to more than 800 cadres at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing to remind them that they should follow party rules and avoid temptation.

“Every cadre must have the self-awareness to say no to corruption and resist temptation,” Mr Li was quoted as saying. “[If we do that], then the party will show a new face.

“There are already many examples of how our cadres have become corrupt. Most started when cadres failed to control themselves and fell deeper and deeper into the trap. The cadre not only ruins himself, he also brings great disaster to the party and the people.”

Despite the rhetoric, Beijing-based professor Hu Xingduo said unless the party greatly strengthened the development of the judiciary and allowed a free press, small steps such as the pledges in Lanzhou would hardly achieve anything.

“It was such an absurd and helpless form of regulation,” he said, referring to the pledges signed by the Lanzhou cadres. “The party is scared that it could lose power.”

Professor Hu said the pledges were gimmicks by Lanzhou to appease the leadership in Beijing rather than evidence that the authorities took fighting corruption seriously.

“When the press becomes a political propaganda tool; when an independent judiciary means [a threat] to the party’s authority, corruption can never be wiped out in our country,” he said.

Professor Hu said similar pledges had been tried in other mainland cities, with little effect.

Lanzhou residents were similarly unimpressed. “I don’t think signing a pledge can really prevent corruption,” one said, adding that the authorities needed to come up with concrete measures to stop the rot.

Party’s over for corrupt officials

Zhang Yushun , Lanzhou’s acting mayor in 2000. Expelled from party for accepting 400,000 yuan in bribes. Faces criminal investigation.

Yang Zaixi , former vice-mayor in charge of Lanzhou city’s construction projects from 2000 to last year, was expelled from the party for accepting 1.4 million yuan in bribes. Also faces criminal investigation.

Gao Jixun , director of Lanzhou’s Construction Bureau from 1996 to 2001, accepted gifts worth more than 181,000 yuan from various businessmen. Has since become a vice-chairman of Lanzhou People’s Congress. The Communist Party has asked the congress to disqualify him but has allowed him to keep his party membership.

Zheng Weimin , a former vice-director of the Finance Department of Gansu province , has confessed to accepting more than 320,000 yuan in bribes from 11 companies and was unable to explain an extra 2.3 million yuan in his possession. Has been expelled from the party and faces criminal investigation.

July 9, 2005 @ 3:24 am | Comment

Now this is interesting. Today’s SCMP published a letter from Mark Kitto in Shanghai. China residents might not have heard of him but you are all familiar with his company’s product: the “That’s Beijing/Shanghai/Guangzhou” etc. magazines.

His comments refer to his experiences as a publisher in the mainland. His is neither flattering nor optimistic:
Publishing in mainland harder than ever

I read with interest your article, “That’s business” (July 6), in which I am quoted, and there is also a picture of me at the top. My thanks for showing the light of day to that “separatist” book review I wrote a couple of years ago.

I do have an issue with the angle of the article. The stated aim of Kathleen Lau is to “put the record straight”.

The main point of Ms Lau seems to be the liberalising of media in the mainland. In fact, publishing there is not “getting easier than ever before”, as she claims. At best it is just as difficult as it ever was, but probably harder.

The purpose of media in the mainland is to promote the Communist Party, maintain social stability and support the government. All media is rigidly controlled by the government and party, and published or broadcast by government appointees. In print media, nothing gets published without a publishing licence, as the writer points out. Those licences are issued by the government, to the government, which is the only “body” permitted to publish.

The only way for an outsider to publish is to rent a licence. This is an illegal, yet common, practice. Because it is the government breaking its own rules, it can get away with it. But also, that means the government can reimpose the rules, that is, break the partnership, whenever it wants to.

My company’s key security was the ownership of the trademark “That’s”.

But while protection of trademarks does seem to be improving, the government publisher whom I used to work with has now been infringing that trademark for almost one year. I am locked in a battle to keep one of the few pieces of a publishing operation that a foreign company can legally own. Needless to say, my opponents are employing some tactics that are worse than underhand, as well as the full extent of their power.

Thanks to a combination of factors – increased interest from outsiders, which is pushing up the price of licences, increased fear of social instability, which means tighter controls on content, and a booming advertising market, which encourages the government publishers to keep the licences, and potential profits, to themselves – publishing by independent or professional publishers who are outside the government is definitely getting harder.

I would like to state that I knew the risks I was facing, and those risks are still there, and will be for a very long time, for anyone who is brave enough to invest in media in the mainland. Good luck to them.

MARK KITTO, Shanghai

July 9, 2005 @ 3:44 am | Comment

shouldn’t it be the wives watching the husbands? or is there a thou shall take care of your wife portion of the prc constitution

July 9, 2005 @ 4:43 am | Comment

Thanks Laowai!

Believe me, I intend to do a serious amount of homework and I also invite anyone else to email me with suggestions.

I am going to email Senator Bayh’s staff and ask them to provide me with some of the key points they would like to discuss and if Richard or Will have the time, I would like to have their assistance in preparing for this.

July 9, 2005 @ 7:12 am | Comment

Gordon, I missed the issue you are presenting to the Senator. Would you post a short comment on that.

July 9, 2005 @ 7:55 am | Comment


It is displayed on my site under ” Letter to the Editor”.

For others, do a Google on ”
Dedric J. Mortelmans”.

He is the man who contacted me.

July 9, 2005 @ 8:07 am | Comment

I don’t know if this helps, but Cisco is a major player in a lobbying group called TechNet. Maybe some of the members of its executive council might be interested in this story.

Does anybody know a seasoned high-tech PR professional, preferably one with a bit of time to spare?? ๐Ÿ˜‰

July 9, 2005 @ 8:22 am | Comment

Here’s another idea: Enlist the geeks. For example, WashTech. This issue is tailor-made for them.

From there, it’s only a small jump to local alternative weeklies… and don’t misunderestimate them; it was the Stranger that broke the story of the Microsoft flip-flop on the Washington gay-rights bill. Two weeks later, MSFT flipped back.

July 9, 2005 @ 8:33 am | Comment

actually, Gordon, I wouldn’t have thought you were a republican except for the B4B sticker on your blog. I’m not much for labels either.

July 9, 2005 @ 11:00 am | Comment

Say, about this creative commons thing. I went to the site, thought that the “Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License” fit my purposes. I look at Gordon’s site and he has the 1.0. they seem to set out exactly the same terms but have different numbers. Why is this, any ideas?

July 9, 2005 @ 6:09 pm | Comment

Slim, Chris – I would love to get together. I’ll keep you posted on my plans.

Martyn, thans for those unlinkable stories. There’s myth out there that it’s easier to publish in China than before Hu took over. I’m glad to see it exposed.

Vaara, send me an email when you can; I didn’t quite understand your suggestions re. Cisco.

July 9, 2005 @ 8:59 pm | Comment

Tell me when you’re planning to be in Taipei, and I’ll be happy to meet up and give you the lowdown on life out here!

July 9, 2005 @ 11:31 pm | Comment

Okay, I posted another loonngg historical anecdote about the visit of Roosevelt’s envoy to Yenan during WW2. It’s interesting (to me, anyway) because said envoy was, not to put too fine a point on it, bat-sh1t crazy…

if you are not in PRC, the blogspot blog is easier to read (http://papertigertail.blogspot.com)

July 10, 2005 @ 1:41 am | Comment

Lisa, first an article on the economy and now one on Chinese history. A person after my very own heart you are!

Sounds good and I’m in a commenting mood this afternoon. I’ve just finished my next piece for Horse’s Mouth: Are Chinese Companies Getting Sick?

A right rip-roaring rollocking rollercoaster of a read that’ll both shock and delight, make one laugh and cry and……and…..I’m too excited to finish!

July 10, 2005 @ 1:53 am | Comment

By the way, the latest news with regard to the number of vistims from the recent bombings in London are “in excess of 70” or so I read this morning.

Lisa, did you read that comment from some troll on Richard W’s latest post on The Three T’s? Something about “As for the bombing of your capital Ha haha HA HA ha!”. I tell you, he does his country no favours by leaving comments like that.

I know it’s only one person but if China is ever bombed I certainly won’t be laughing. If we can’t unite in the face of indiscriminate terrorist attacks without people playing politics, MAJ included, then we’re not much better than animals I think.

July 10, 2005 @ 2:04 am | Comment

Martyn, no, I didn’t. I’ll check it out.

Like I commented on Laowai’s blog, I remind myself that you can read similarly hate-filled posts on Little Green Footballs every day. But still…

Chinese nationals were among the victims in London, btw…

July 10, 2005 @ 2:16 am | Comment

Chinese nationals? I didn’t read that. In fact I ‘m almost sure I read the opposite although that was very quickly after the bombings obviously before all victims were identified.

They’re still not all indentified.

Re LGF, I read the comment that Brian pasted on TPD and that was enough for me. I can’t be doing with that kind of stuff. I don’t like that kind of talk full stop whether it be from mainlanders or anyone else. Same as yourself I imagine.

I’ll go off and try and get the latest on the victims including Chinese nationals. Let me know where you read that in case you hpppen to remember. Thanks.

July 10, 2005 @ 2:23 am | Comment

Dang, Martyn, I don’t remember where I read it, but I’m pretty sure about it. Chinese died on 9/11 too.

I just commented at Richard T’s, I think I had that same troll, the “christian bigot” one. Which is weird, because I’m not a Christian. I am a raging secularist!

But you know, I am full of despair about the situation in Iraq. The number of innocent Iraqis who are getting killed every day is just staggering. I firmly believe that the invasion of Iraq will go down as the biggest foreign policy disaster in modern US history.

July 10, 2005 @ 2:30 am | Comment

I think my above post sounds like either non-sequitors or some kind of excuse/justification for what happened in London, which isn’t what I meant. There’s no excuse or justification for it. I read the stories and I just want to weep.

But I keep thinking about the daily carnage in Iraq, which somehow seems to be slipping off the front page. And it shouldn’t.

July 10, 2005 @ 2:38 am | Comment

I can see that too but I’d never imagine you saying something like that.

What you say is true enough but it’s ,of course, partly inevitable in a way as bombs and killings have been going on in Iraq for a very long time but the London bombing was the first time London was attacked by the Islamic terrorists.

July 10, 2005 @ 2:57 am | Comment

And as has often been commented, there’s simply no way to prevent terror attacks in an open society.

Regarding Iraq, I don’t know…if you added up the numbers of Saddam’s dead and the dead since the invasion, I don’t know where the balance would be. But this sort of random bombing and bloody chaos they are experiencing now is a direct consequence of “our” invasion. I put that in quotes because I was one of those protesters who was very much against the war from the beginning. But as an American, am I responsible regardless? I really don’t know.

July 10, 2005 @ 3:04 am | Comment

I should also add, as a raging secularist, the fundamentalist sentiments driving the bombers are utterly repugnant to me.

July 10, 2005 @ 3:07 am | Comment

Now that IS a hell of a question.

July 10, 2005 @ 3:10 am | Comment

This is what I mean – from an AP article posted 6 minutes ago: “Suicide bombings struck Iraq on Sunday, killing at least 23 and wounding dozens more in three attacks on an army recruiting center, a police convoy and civilians, authorities said.

The attacks pushed the death count to over 1,500 people killed from violence since April 28, when Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari announced his Shiite- and Kurd-dominated government in a country under attack from an insurgency led by Iraq’s Sunni Arab minority.”

July 10, 2005 @ 3:50 am | Comment

Yes, isn’t is a sad irony that the longer something like this goes on for and the more people that are slaughtered etc, the less interested most people become.

People are bored with Iraq, thinking that there’s little difference between 50 suicide bombings and 500 suicide bombings. That’s the truth of it.

Re the “Evil Christian Bigot” troll on The Three T’s, yes, that’s the first time I’ve heard mainlanders throw that sort of abuse at westerners.

July 10, 2005 @ 4:36 am | Comment

A new thread’s started above….

July 10, 2005 @ 7:25 pm | Comment

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