Michael Turton takes on the blogger the whole world turns to for insights and translations. I love reading ESWN, but just like us lesser beings on the ground below, he has his prejudices. (I think I’m the only blogger I know of with no prejudices.) Great post, funny comments. If you’re into Taiwan politics, even better.

The Discussion: 19 Comments

Nice one.

A witty and reasoned critique. My respect for the author of ESWN has diminished a smidgeon.

February 21, 2006 @ 4:20 am | Comment

ESWN has gotten a free-ride for far too long from fellow bloggers. I get the feeling people are reluctant to criticize him because he offers what no one else does: lots of translations. Also, the fact that he doesn’t have comments on his blog and virtually never posts email criticisms (like Andrew Sullivan, for example) doesn’t help his cause in my book.

Anyway, if you read ESWN for any length of time, you can easily sum up his blog like this:

– The biggest threat facing China is Reporters Without Borders.

– Hugo Chavez is a an all around great guy.

– The second biggest problem facing China is the WTO.

– The third biggest problem facing China is foreigners telling Chinese what to do.

His “who am I to tell you otherwise?” routine gets really, really old. He uses this phrase when he is defending the indefensible — on all other occasions he simply tells you his opinion with no existential compunctions.

Anyway, I’m not attacking him. I read his blog almost every day. But the fact that he is now a sort of mini-newspaper with some influence should mean that he is challanged on some of his more ridiculous arguments. I don’t think he is a “shill” for the CCP, etc., but his blog is definitely China from a (European) Left (which means even further left than richard) perspective.

February 21, 2006 @ 7:54 am | Comment

Hey, guess what, jim, Hugo Chavez IS a an all around great guy, at least far more so than the cnuts who indubitably adore. (Tosser.)

February 21, 2006 @ 8:57 am | Comment

>> more so than the cnuts who indubitably adore.

When you reach coherence, let us know.

February 21, 2006 @ 9:18 am | Comment

My dear Jim, the deliberate misspelling of “cunt”was for the delicate sensibilities of conservative American Republicans like your good self.

Cheers, mate.

February 21, 2006 @ 9:24 am | Comment

This ESWN fellow takes the socio-cultural significance of Apple Daily way too seriously. I’ll tell you why it sells: 1. bikinis. 2. grisly photos of scooter crashes. 3. lots of entertainmnet news. 4. no depressing coverage of real news, at home or abroad. 5. it is cheap.
6. There is nothing else like it on the market. All other Taiwanese newspapers are stodgy to the point of making the Wall Street Journal look like the New York Post.

February 21, 2006 @ 9:29 am | Comment

>>conservative American Republicans like your good self.

1) Try reading your sentence. I wasn’t referring to your sophisticated use of vulgarity.

2) Why, exactly, am I a “conservative American Republican” again? Oh, because I mentioned that ESWN likes Hugo Chavez. I didn’t even state my opinion on Chavez.

I guess I should match your brilliant arguments by calling you a “liberal” and a “wanker” and so forth, but since I’m not a “conservative American Republican,” I won’t bother.

February 21, 2006 @ 9:44 am | Comment

Interesting POV. jim is right – ESWN’s notoriety has led to it having a degree of immunity from criticism.

February 21, 2006 @ 2:54 pm | Comment

Another keen observation from yours truly, those who don’t like ESWN are invariably a bunch of splittists.

February 21, 2006 @ 3:52 pm | Comment

ESWN is my firs read every day. I find him indispensable. I also think, he should be subjected to the same criticism as I and all other bloggers are – I take plenty of flak in my comments, and I think it’s healthy. I don’t blame him for not having comments – it can be a fulltime job dealing with them, especially when you make “unwanted friends.” But a little criticism, and self-criticism, are good things for all boggers. I, too, disagree that Roland is a “shill.” There are certainly enough examples of his slamming the CCP. Often he does seek to give them a break, but often I don’t. We all have our prejudices. But no one should be above criticism. Except me.

February 21, 2006 @ 5:16 pm | Comment

What’s a “splittists”?

February 21, 2006 @ 6:05 pm | Comment

There are certainly enough examples of his slamming the CCP.
Posted by: richard

As if the CCP were a monolith? Even internally members of certain factions will slam some activities in order to bolster their faction.

And let me repost the comment I’ve left at the end of Mr. Turton’s post and note ESWN’s recent admission that he’s got no f’ing clue about the numbers of warrants issued to internet providers, while having made claims for months about the numbers and the content of the warrants. Pretty shoddy work for a trained stats man to pull numbers out of his ass to support his thesis.

it has nothing to do with democracy, only with freedom of speech. so your linkage with picking up trash is totally irrelevant.
Sun Bin

Actually it does have something to do with democracy, Sun Bin. Only one newspaper in Hong Kong is pro-democracy and specifically has their reporters banned from travelling to the mainaland.

There have also been campaigns by pro-CCP figures here to lean on Apple Daily’s advertisers to force them to move their ad dollars to Oriental Daily and other papers to affect their editorial line.

What ESWN is trying to do is state that the pan-democratic camp in Hong Kong and elsewhere are trashy liars.

Go back to Roland’s posts in the run up to Hong Kong’s LegCo elections to fully understand his pro-DAB game and slant.

February 21, 2006 @ 6:17 pm | Comment

One commonly neglected fact is, for people with Chinese heritage or coonection with China, their opinion are not liked by those self-righteous people from the west who has no connection with China.

For people from mainland, they will say, “oh, they are brainwashed.”

They can not attack ESWN author that way. So they are frustrated.

Most of those people who are attacking ESWN can not even read Chinese.

February 21, 2006 @ 8:29 pm | Comment

I think Tom can read Chinese. But even if he can’t, he’s entitled to criticize, just as you are. How do you know most of those ESWN’s critics can’t read Chinese?

Steve, you sound angrier every day. Is everything okay?

February 21, 2006 @ 8:36 pm | Comment

I also admire ESWN for his work, but his no-coments policy (certainly his prerogative) is perhaps a little too convenient, and seems to smack of something closer to an intolerance of criticism.

For instance, I recall one time catching him creating an obvious statistical “whopper” that backed his opinion. Given his expertise in statisics, I could hardly imagine such a basic error was unintentionial, but with a “no comments” policy, no feedback or questioning is possible, nor is there a way to alert other readers that a little statistical “sleight of hand” was going on in support of his “I’m not telling you, but I’m telling you” style.

My only other criticism is that at times he’s a bit full of himself, but I’m inclined to overlook that as a minor objection given the quantity and quality of his work.

I believe his view is that dealing with comments will decrease his output, but I think that conveniently overlooks the possibility that comments may actually *raise* the quality and value of his work by exposing it to criticism and alternate views (which he seems to have a distate for). Totally his choice, but not one without a price, as his credibility suffers more than he might like to think from this policy.

A really great service, but like any information source, one must never, ever forget the author’s personal agenda.

Addendum: I’m afraid ESWN’s petulant response to the Michael Turton article was very disappointing. “I do this to please me and only me”. Ha, that’s rich! If it’s just for yourself, Roland, why do you go to the trouble of publically publishing it? To me, his response just looks like further evidence that the no-comments policy is more about intolerance of disagreement, than any effect on output.

February 21, 2006 @ 9:50 pm | Comment

Roland, full of himself? Whatever could you be referring to?

February 21, 2006 @ 9:53 pm | Comment

Man, yknow Michael bothered me a few weeks ago here
when he said as an atheist he doesn’t function on
faith. Yknow what, I’m not a religious person either.
But to claim an atheist functions without faith is
bullshit. Atheists, and I suspect Michael as well,
tend to rely on science and empiricism. As far as
authority figures go, that means scientists.

Putting my epistemologist hat on for a moment, any
scientific rationalist has to give serious thought to
the questions raised against empiricism. You can go to
Descartes Meditations for this, or to get something a
little more positivist and without the total BS
move of retreating to God that Descartes employs
(professionally known as the Cartesian Circle), you
can check out WVO Quine’s Two
Dogmas of Empiricism. We have faith that our
mental world and the physical world have quivalents,
which a way of saying we believe words mean real
things. We have “synthetic truths”, which are really
just premises. Without these things, we couldn’t
communicate. But when you’re talking about religion,
aka the meaning of everything, you’re talking about
the same stuff. What grounds us in making sense of the
perceivable world.

Point being, if you get nitty gritty, atheists have to
believe in things they can’t prove too. And we should
keep that in mind, so we stay humble.

How does this relate to ESWN? Michael has pointed out
*gasp* Soong has a POV. Shock and horror. Suddenly
there’s alot of comments about a “free pass” for
Roland. I didn’t give him this pass. I don’t know
where these passes come from. I’ve always read ESWN
like a skeptical rationalist, like Michael Turton has
argued himself to be.

I don’t really know about Taiwan’s political climate,
or media business. And those aren’t things I usually
go to ESWN for, so I’m neither in a position to speak
about who is biased in what way or any of that. And I
think it’s great if Michael wants to write a post that
analyzes some of ESWN’s slant on Taiwan. But two
things about Michael’s argument turn me off: one is
that he seems to read the tea leaves about ESWN’s true

In Chinese culture it is the stereotyped
Myth the organizes the way people think about the
present day, and can be pithily summarized as “No
Matter What, Things Were Better in the Past.” The
author of this piece simply betrays his own political
and social prejudices, not his actual knowledge of
anything (I should hasten to add that one sad fallout
from this is that Chinese tend to be excessively
critical of their own societies, often not recognizing
their own successes).

Frankly, I don’t see how the passage Michael discusses
here demonstrates ESWN has such a clunky view of the
past. Honestly, it would be accurate to say that
Michael suspects ESWN tends to romanticize the
historical past, but I don’t really see how he can
peer so confidently into another bloggers head. Our
virtual selves are not the same as our real selves,
and I’d think PKD readers would readily know that from
the wacky characters we’ve got around here. The other
part of this quote that bothers me is the word
“betrays”. This is written, ironically, like some
tabloid story in itself: THE REAL ROLAND SOONG

The other quote that bothers me in that post is in the

is your post directed at roland, yazhou
zhoukan, or apple daily?

It’s directed at Roland, of course, who attempts to
justify his contempt for Taiwan by backing them by
poorly-written articles from snotty, uninformed,
democracy-despising unreconstructed conservative
Chinese assholes

Yet Michael criticizes one passage from ESWN as a
“mere engagement in emotional appeals.”

If Michael made his points like the detached rational
atheist he claims to be, then maybe he would’ve
avoided the heated rhetoric, ad hominems and
insinuation that ESWN has a devious plan. Then maybe
I’d be more inclined to praise, rather than shake my
head, over his post.

February 21, 2006 @ 9:57 pm | Comment

ESWN is one of my must reads, but his blog is increasingly taken up with self praise, and his constant mentions of how many people are interviewing/quoting/paying homage to him. He does a great job of trawling through the Chinese-language online media and providing immediate translations. I just wish he’d spare us the “look how great I am” stuff. And the recent defence of his “no comments” policy could have come from China Daily.

It may be called East South West North, but Roland’s compass always points to himself.

February 22, 2006 @ 4:40 am | Comment

I was being more or less facetious when I said that. Anyways a splittist is a separatist is a schismatic is a traitorous quisling. It’s Xinhua speak for Green Taiwanese.

p.s. I SWEAR TO GOD that Xinhua has began using schismatics to describe the DPP and Chen which I swear was something I pioneered! Priorly they had used the somewhat clunky splittists as a pejorative.

February 22, 2006 @ 7:33 am | Comment

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