Please keep your comments on topic

I started deleting off-topic comments in the last thread and realized that there would have been virtually no comments left if I’d continued.

Well, maybe two. 

Consider this an open thread if you must. 


Facing the facts

The fact is, I may not be able to post regularly until September. I am that busy, with meetings through the night and a constant deluge of tasks, some annoying, others pretty exciting. I go on vacation next week and will try to get back into blogging. But I haven’t been able to read any of the blogs on my blogroll, or even the comments on my own blog, for about three weeks now, and it’s only going to get worse. All dressed up, with this fantastic new site design, and no place to go.

In the meantime, for some light reading, I recommend you check out this brief post and Kaiser Kuo’s excellent comment. For the record, Michael Ledeen is the Antichrist. That is unarguable.


Introducing Xujun Eberlein

Xujun Eberlein is an e-friend of mine. She grew up in Chongqing and moved to the US in 1988 to study at MIT. She gave up hi-tech for writing and has won a bunch of literary awards. Her first book, Apologies Forthcoming, a collection of stories based on her childhood growing up in China during the CR, was just published (you can buy it here), and we’ll be talking about that at length in a couple of weeks.

In the meantime, I’d like to direct you to a recent post of hers about the Sichuan quake. I think you’ll enjoy her perspective as a Sichuan native on both the tragedy and the changes in China that have taken place since her childhood.

Go have a look.


(by Other Lisa)


The Duck’s New Feathers

As Richard’s a bit busy at the moment, I’m stepping in to throw out a post outlining a bit about the new blog design – as comments about it have appeared in other threads – and comments at The Peking Duck NEVER go off topic!


I won’t sully The Pond with much on who I am, nor my feelings about working on this project – you can read about all that in this post at my blog.

So, new features of


1. Variations: As a long-time reader of the site, I always disliked the unvarying uniformity of the comments. Not the opinions carried within mind you, but the box/box/box feel of it. As such, I’ve included an alternating colour scheme that should help break up the rather long threads.

2. Gravatars: Additionally, all comments now include Gravatar support. Gravatars are Globally Recognized Avatars – which essentially means it’s a picture of you that follows you around the Web. Sign up for a free Gravatar and help personalize your comments here (and a number of other sites).

3. Moderation: There is some pretty heavy-duty spam protection to help keep the comments clean of everyone’s favourite canned ham. Generally you shouldn’t get sucked up by it, but should you post a comment and it not appear right away, it’s likely it’s just been put into moderation and will appear in its proper place as soon as it is checked. If you post more than two links in your comment, it automatically goes into moderation.


You can now view all posts by an author. Simply click their name in any of their posts.

Tags & Categories

As Richard and the other authors get comfortable with the new blogging platform (WP2.5), you should see an increased use of categories and tags to help organize the rather wide-range of topics covered here. A post’s tags and categories can be found in the posts footer.

Spread the Word

I’ve also included easy access to add the Duck’s best posts to a variety of social bookmarking platforms (including Hao Hao Report – shameless plug, I know, but I’ve got the microphone now!). I’ve tried to include the most popular ones, but if you know of any that really should be included, let me know.

RSS Feeds

The RSS feed has been changed. I (crosses-fingers) think I’ve got it set to automatically redirect old feeds, but am not sure feedreaders will pick up on that. To be safe, please update your feed to:

See a problem?

We’re still tweaking things ’round here, so if you see a problem with the new design, please let me know. I can be reached via my blog, my biz site, or just by contacting me at ryan *at* daobydesign *dot* com.

Hope you all like the new look – all comments offering praise accepted, all others will be swiftly deleted. 😉


Just Read This

I hope you are all playing nice as I don’t have time to serve as Net Nanny. But I wanted you all to see this uplifting IHT article about how “ordinary” Chinese citizens have mobilized to help quake victims:

Hao Lin had already lied to his wife about his destination, hopped a plane to Chengdu, borrowed a bike and pedaled through the countryside in shorts and leather loafers by the time he reached this ravaged farming village. A psychologist, Hao had come to offer free counseling to earthquake survivors.

He had company. A busload of volunteers in matching red hats was bumping along the village’s rutted dirt road. Employees from a private company in Chengdu were cleaning up a town around the bend. Other volunteers from around China had already delivered food, water and sympathy.

“I haven’t done this before,” said Hao, 36, as he straddled his mountain bike on Saturday evening. “Ordinary people now understand how to take action on their own.”

From the moment the earthquake struck on May 12, the Chinese government dispatched soldiers, police officers and rescue workers in the type of mass mobilization expected of the ruling Communist Party. But an unexpected mobilization, prompted partly by unusually vigorous and dramatic coverage of the disaster in the state-run news media, has come from outside official channels. Thousands of Chinese have streamed into the quake region or donated record sums of money in a striking and unscripted public response.

This is a hopeful piece about the blossoming of civil society in China. It points to the vital role of journalists (professional and civilian) in raising public awareness of both the scope of the disaster and the conditions in China’s countryside.

Maybe it’s time to put that 麻 木 stereotype to bed.

HT to Shanghai Slim.


Three Minutes of Silence

Everyone in my office just stood silently with perhaps a billion others here, while outside drivers sounded their horns and sirens in unison. I was by my office window and could see people stopped in their tracks on the sidewalk, all standing still. The traffic stopped dead while the horns blared. The migrant workers in the concrete and steel pit alongside my building all stopped their work and stood up as well. Everyone faced the same direction, their heads lowered. The three minutes seemed to last a long time. For the first few seconds, it seemed a bit meaningless, and then with each passing second it took on greater gravity. There is still a hushed silence throughout the office, everyone keeping their thoughts to themselves, everyone on the verge of tears.

For all its warts, China is a spectacularly beautiful country, and I will never make the mistake again of falling for the generalization that the people here “only think about themselves.” I wish I could put into words all the grief I’ve seen here in the past several days, and the efforts of everyone I know and work with, regardless of their financial status, to give and to help. It is literally impossible not to be deeply, deeply moved.


Citizen Journalists Report on Quake

No time for a proper post, but this McClatchy article is very interesting:

Amid a national outpouring of grief over a huge earthquake, China has relaxed its grip 鈥?perhaps briefly 鈥?on the Internet and some media outlets.

Chinese witnesses to the devastation in Sichuan Province have flooded internet websites with homemade videos of their own, filled chat rooms with commentary and let text messages fly from their mobile phones.

The disaster has provided an opportunity for 鈥渃itizen journalists鈥?to disseminate tidbits of information at a furious pace rarely seen before, experts said.

China鈥檚 conventional media, initially lagging behind bloggers and users of instant messaging services, have also found greater freedoms, showing often-distressing images of quake ruined areas without the sanitizing that censors usually demand.

The Central Government seems to be dealing with this crisis in a forthright, efficient and compassionate way.

Here is the link for Oxfam Hongkong to donate to their China earthquake fund.

Here is the link for Oxfam USA.

UPDATE: Here is a list of relief efforts”via China Law Blog.


If winter comes, can spring be far behind?

No, not if you live in Beijing. Here it is, May 12, and it feels like March 12. Winter here is semi-permanent; you get a couple days of sandstorms to tell you spring is here, and then summer crashes down like a hammer (though it’s late this year). Then you get a couple of impossibly short weeks of incredibly beautiful autumn weather, followed by a lethal frost on or around October 15 and the whole cycle starts over. And I do like it here. It’s just that weather-wise, Beijing is not the world’s most hospitable place. Any reason why they can’t move the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square et. al. to Kunming, the way they moved the huge Dortmund steel plant?


Chongqing, the next big thing?

Build the city, and the people and businesses will come. Or so the government hopes. Watch this video, Chongqing, City on Steroids, to see Chinese capitalism at work, for better or worse. The video is long and clearly intended for an audience that isn’t very familiar with China (lots of China 101) but certainly well worth a look. Some of it is quite fascinating.

On top of the usual job stress, I have a pretty bad cold and this coming week will be a killer. So this blog will continue to have lots of peaks and valleys, from the flood of posts and comments from a few weeks ago to the slow trickle you’re seeing now.


Was Tibet the Storm Before the Calm

Via a link this great blogger left on Facebook, I found this very entertaining article. Is it based in any reality? I have no idea. My first instinct is to believe BOCOG and their PR people (my competitors) could never begin to have the PR acumen to choreograph such a delicate operation, but who knows? Definitely read it, especially if you are interested in the PR, Olympics and fairy tales.

The final section made me smile; the picture it paints is awfully rosy:

….China now has stakes in some of the great symbols of the western corporate world – such as Merrill Lynch and BP. China is starting to push back. Many young Chinese know that the likeliest outcome for the short-to-mid-term future is for Chinese companies and organisations to initiate a fresh and startling process of globalisation. More and more of the international agenda is now in China’s hands to shape.

So as western journalists write the Olympic stories they had already planned months before, delivering them to an audience who are already suspecting them – and thus deprived of their element of surprise and shock – the Chinese people, like sensible people anywhere, will be relaxing, sitting back, looking at this event and seeing it for what it is – a mere three weeks of corporate frenzy, redeemed by a few sublime moments of sporting excitement, which will dissolve almost as soon as it is over. When it is, the Chinese people will be able to continue the remarkable journey they began many decades ago – and which, unlike the Olympics, really can and will change the world.

No doubt their journey has been remarkable, and it’s already changed the world, painful as that is for some to acknowledge. Whether it’s sustainable or ultimately built on sand no one can say. What I can say with authority is that the author is a little bit giddy about China’s rise, which, as much as I want it to go on, is a lot more tenuous than you’d know from reading this article.


As a lot of you know, I’ve been too busy and in too many airports and hotels to give this site any attention the past few weeks and my heart definitely isn’t in it. I’m trying to get back into it, but it just can’t be a high priority for me right now.