Shaun Rein’s revenge

Should I feel proud that Shaun Rein, in his new book The End of Cheap China, devotes two entire paragraphs to me? A two-bit blogger? Maybe I would feel proud if the two paragraphs weren’t a simple act of revenge. Maybe I would feel proud if Rein didn’t misrepresent the truth about me. Truth was never his strong suit. Let’s take a look at what he says.

The [Chinese] government sometimes overreacts to potential threats of instability. To Americans, especially those with limited knowledge of China, these measures can seem brutish. Critics like Richard Burger, a US-based blogger who lived in China for less than three years and who lasted less than a year working for the government mouthpiece newspaper The Global Times, wrote on June 26, 2011 on his blog The Peking Duck, that the government is “a giant squid, tentacles reaching across the nation to restrict all aspects of life in the land it liberated, silencing opposing voices and existing solely for its own perpetuation. Celebrate away, while people who know real freedom snicker…. and once again [it] has made a laughingstock of itself.”

Undercutting Burger’s claim that the government is a “giant squid,” the non-partisan Washington DC-based think tank Pew Research Center found in 2009 that 86 percent of the Chinese population supports the direction in which the Chinese government the country…. Chinese are generally happy with most measures implemented by the government.

Alright. First we have to consider the fact that the self-proclaimed China marketing guru is actually quoting in his book a guy who runs a blog as a hobby and who has never claimed any great knowledge of China. But if he is right, if I am just “a US-based blogger who lived in China for less than three years,” then why on earth is he quoting me in his book? Think about that. What’s going on here? Rein also left out the opening phrase of the passage he quotes from my blog: “Despite some of the good it has brought to China since opening up, the government…” This puts the sentence in a somewhat different perspective.

To be clear, I have said countless times on this blog that I am not a China expert. I lived in Greater China for about eight years, of which over three years were spent in Beijing. “Less than three years” is simply false. He could have written to me and asked. Then, we have the claim that I “lasted less than a year” at the Global Times. This makes it sound as though I was fired or was incompetent. The truth is, as all my friends know, that I left because of personal family issues, and that I left the paper on very good terms. (I always go back and visit them when I travel to Beijing — there are some very cool people who work there.) I also damaged my relationship with the paper when I blogged about their terrible attacks on Ai Weiwei. I felt I had to do it. Rein has also said on Twitter that I censored articles when I worked there. This too is outrageously false. I have never censored an article in my entire life. It is also a rather droll irony that the censors of the government Rein so admires have seen fit to ban his own book in China. Yes, The End of Cheap China has been banned in China, according to Rein’s own tweets. But that’s another story.

Shaun really loves that 2009 Pew Research poll. In the first post I ever wrote about Rein, I remarked on the appalling suckupishness of his writing and cited as evidence this quote from his infamous Forbes article on Google:

They [China’s leaders] have also seen how 30 years of economic growth brought happiness to the Chinese population. Let’s not forget that the Pew Center has found that 86% of Chinese are happy with the direction the government is taking the country.

Happy happy China. Well, as I’ve often said, many if not most Chinese people do trust their government and the CCP must be given ample credit for lifting all those millions of Chinese from poverty. But Rein, in refuting my comparison to a giant squid, writes, “If government policies were overly harsh surely they would not garner such a high rate of support.” Not true.

I will never state that the Chinese government is like the Nazi Party. It is not. But what I will say is that Nazi Germany is the greatest example of how people can be wildly supportive of their government, even though that government is a giant squid controlling society at all levels. Shaun, just because people say they are happy doesn’t mean their government is not brutal. There are countless episodes throughout history of people who blindly supported their oppressive governments. (My favorite post on this blog is all about this phenomenon.) The Chinese are “happy” with their government to the extent that they can make money and enjoy certain social freedoms. Once the economy sours, as it may well do at some point in the future, those poll numbers will be quite different. Meanwhile, there is no denying that the CCP does indeed operate as a giant squid, controlling all aspects of life in China. Sure, there are more freedoms there than ever before, but it is always on the government’s terms. You can always only go so far; there are red lines you cannot cross or the squid tightens its grip.

I took down a post I wrote about Shaun a couple of months ago because I felt it was too harsh, written in a moment of emotional pique. Now I sort of wish I’d left it up. You see, we all know Shaun Rein didn’t include me in his book because he thinks I am some great influencer with whom he disagrees. I’m just a blogger with a blog that I hardly even update anymore. No, this is revenge, pure and simple, for my having made a fool of him by quoting his own words and revealing his pattern of carrying water for the CCP. If you aren’t familiar with my coverage of Rein you can find the posts here, here and here. I am not alone in calling Rein out as a blatant apologist. China Law Blog, Modern Lei Feng, Fear of a Red Planet, China Geeks and others have all made similar arguments.

So back to the post I took down. It was about Rein’s need for revenge. My friend Lisa had written a comment critical of him in this thread. He immediately blocked her on Twitter, as he blocks anyone who doesn’t kiss his ring, and then he went to Goodreads and gave her highly praised novel, Rock Paper Tiger one star — the lowest rating there is. (The book got stellar reviews in the NY Times, the South China Morning Post, Time Out Beijing and many other media, and James Fallows of the Atlantic wrote a glowing post about it.) But here’s the thing: I will bet you my life savings that Rein never read the book. What a coincidence, that the day after his being offended and blocking Lisa on Twitter he went and tried to pull her book down in the Goodreads rankings. Did he read the entire book right after he read Lisa’s comment? Did he really find it so awful he gave it the lowest rating? No, this action, just like his attack on me in his book, is Rein getting even.

I should feel in good company, as Rein also goes after James Fallows, Paul Krugman and Nouriel Roubini, though not with nearly the same degree of viciousness he reserves for me. Once again, he proves my initial impression of him was correct: that he is deeply insecure and a serial falsifier of fact.

I had vowed not to post about Shaun Rein anymore, as I thought I had said it all. And then I discover this act of personal character assassination, this smear, and I can’t be silent about that. Rein’s book may become a bestseller but that won’t make him any less of a brat and a hatchet man.

The Discussion: 59 Comments

A relevant quote from Rectified Name:

JEREMIAH: Okay, um…before the team heads up river, they stop in Shanghai. And they come across this seemingly deranged figure who walks the streets, muttering the same thing over and over and over again.

BRAD: What’s he saying?

BRENDAN: “FYI the book ‘The End of Cheap China’ surprised Economist didnt mention as they know about it…”

HARVEY: What the does that even mean?

JEREMIAH: That’s the beauty. Nobody knows. Is he a lunatic? Is he just some unhinged narcissistic self-promoter with an axe to grind? Or…is there an even darker secret?

March 29, 2012 @ 10:08 am | Comment

haha,you’re famous~ Thanks for his free advertisement

shame on him Shaun Rein(雷小人)

March 29, 2012 @ 10:09 am | Comment

Rectified Name had it right:

HARVEY: I’m thinking “Fredo Corleone as interpreted by Jay Chou.” Who else? We’ll need quirky characters for stunt cameos. I owe Rob Schneider a favor, anything he can sink his teeth into?

JEREMIAH: Okay, um…before the team heads up river, they stop in Shanghai. And they come across this seemingly deranged figure who walks the streets, muttering the same thing over and over and over again.

BRAD: What’s he saying?

BRENDAN: “FYI the book ‘The End of Cheap China’ surprised Economist didnt mention as they know about it…”

HARVEY: What the does that even mean?

JEREMIAH: That’s the beauty. Nobody knows. Is he a lunatic? Is he just some unhinged narcissistic self-promoter with an axe to grind? Or…is there an even darker secret?

Rein is borderline crazy.

Maybe this book will bring on his Mike Daisey moment – one of his interns will reveal that one of much quoted surveys of 5,000 people in China was actually based on a sample of 10 people or something like that.

March 29, 2012 @ 10:18 am | Comment

Don’t worry about it, Richard. You’ve got twenty times the class and none of the bad math skills.

March 29, 2012 @ 10:24 am | Comment

Hi Richard

Long time no see. I don’t know if you remember me, I used to comment a lot on this blog back in the day (2005/06 particularly). Interesting article.

“Rein has also said on Twitter that I censored articles when I worked there.”
Surely that is defamatory and you can sue him? Is the burden of proof in the US on him to prove his allegations or for you to prove they are false?

“I should feel in good company, as Rein also goes after James Fallows, Paul Krugman and Nouriel Roubini, though not with nearly the same degree of viciousness he reserves for me.”
That is good company indeed. I don’t think he goes after them with the same level of viciousness because they are not such easy targets. I think if he seriously crossed swords with Roubini for one, he’d end up looking a fool.

Regarding Rein’s basic thrust which is China onwards and upwards, I think this type of argument has been amply dissected and dismissed by Pettis. China has middle income trap slapped all over it, IMHO.

March 29, 2012 @ 10:41 am | Comment

Congratulations on the criticism, Richard. Your inclusion in this elite club is impressive. If this guy were praising you, that would be a problem.

March 29, 2012 @ 10:43 am | Comment

Someone thinks this story is fantastic…

This story was submitted to Hao Hao Report – a collection of China’s best stories and blog posts. If you like this story, be sure to go vote for it….

March 29, 2012 @ 11:02 am | Trackback

Si, of course I remember you and good to see you back. Shaun’s lie that I censored articles in the GT was made on twitter. And you know what Shaun does with all of his controversial tweets? He deletes them shortly afterwards. He is very careful to cover his tracks. And I don’t think I could successfully sue him for a tweet, and it wouldn’t be worth the trouble.

Bob, good point; I should be flattered.

This episode is a wonderful case study of pettiness.

March 29, 2012 @ 11:03 am | Comment

Gosh, Shaun Rein basically sucks off the Party in every column he writes, and then his book is banned in China? Gotta love the irony.
He can’t openly express his confusion and perplexity at such issues (which confuse and perplex us all), so he tries to take it out on you. That’s petty. But now that you’ve shown how wrong he is about everything, just have a good laugh about it!

March 29, 2012 @ 11:14 am | Comment

Shaun Rein is a prick and a suck up. I read your blog from time to time and find it even handed and thoughtful. I have also lived in China for over three years and am not a China expert. It seems “China Experts” have developed into some sort of cottage industry in China. China is a vast and rapidly developing country. In my experience, many foreigners views of China are not necessarily shaped by their experiences, but quite often by their personal hopes, goals, and opinions. When I lived in China I found these “Experts” to be insufferable.

March 29, 2012 @ 11:15 am | Comment

“”Let’s not forget that the Pew Center has found that 86% of Chinese are happy with the direction the government is taking the country.””
Ooooh I love that line! Appears everywhere, right up there with “5000 year history” and the Opium War. Of course, no one ever mentions that when people disagree, they get “harmonised”. Chinese have a choice of 1 party and that choice appears to be a “HongXing choice” (see his post of North Korean freedom of choices…). Just to make sure, the press is censored so only the Party opinion is given. Any dissenting opinion is…well, another arm of the Party and it’s not really dissenting. And just to make doubly sure, any dissenting information or opinion that is expressed privately is also, well, censored and topics are steered to more Party friendly views.
If only Coca Cola made a black fizzy drink ad only McDonalds were sold as a burger chain, I dare say 86% of Americans would be happy with the direction of the products. That’s the only choice you have – the alternative is, well, chaos. The Gubmint says so, so it must be true. You once got a text about something called….ummmm, P-something. Dunno – can’t find that message and there’s no reference to it anywhere else (shit, might have dreamt it). 🙂 Think I might have over egged the comparison, but really, statistics will prove what you want, depending on how you translate them 😉 Surely even Shaun knows that.

Anyway, Richard – for inconsequential blogger, you must’ve hit home hard to get such a reaction. Kudos, man!

March 29, 2012 @ 11:37 am | Comment

What an amazing guy…

BTW, after Richard’s original post ran (that mentioned me), I got a new review on GR — from a user who had joined that day, who had reviewed one book (mine), a “review” that was partly plagiarized from other sources. I’ll be curious to see if I get any new Not-Fans out of this. GR will pull accounts if it’s a person creating sock puppets, btw…

March 29, 2012 @ 11:40 am | Comment

Nice to see you blogging again, Richard.

So just going with an analogy. A lot of Turks are voting for the current Islamic government in a historically secular country not because they want to be a more religious society, but because that party has been in power during amazing economic growth.

Think that that Pew report might align with the better economic realities in China, and opportunities? Nah, can’t be that.

March 29, 2012 @ 12:52 pm | Comment

Brilliant, Richard, just brilliant. Shaun Rein has been sliced and diced and he has no way out. You hoisted him on his own petard. I’d love to see you review his book on Amazon.

March 29, 2012 @ 1:06 pm | Comment

Boo, I have no intention of shelling out money for this book and I will not review it here or on Amazon. I also want to request that readers refrain from reviewing the book on Amazon based on posts like this. Only review it if you’ve actually read it. I’m not going to read it, so I’m not going to review it. Frankly, I’ve seen all I want to.

Jeremy, thanks for the prescient comment. I love the analogy.

Lisa, that’s a pathetic story. There are a lot of people out there who need to get a life.

March 29, 2012 @ 1:10 pm | Comment

Yep, sad.

I won’t be reviewing Rein’s book either.

March 29, 2012 @ 1:54 pm | Comment

It always amuses me when CCP-lovers quote that Pew Survey with glee and hope to take it to the bank. It is junk science at its worst, and to accept the by-line “results” as the gospel truth belies a glaring lack of critical appraisal skills and the inability to grasp basic research methodology. It still surprises me that Forbes would have someone with such limitations writing under their banner.

March 29, 2012 @ 2:39 pm | Comment

[…] I’ve taken a passing interest in the feud that has developed between Richard Burger from The Peking Duck, a long-running and popular blog about China, and Shaun Rein, who is a successful marketer based in Shanghai.  (You can begin catching up on their feud here). […]

March 29, 2012 @ 3:48 pm | Pingback

It’s not a case of Rein or Shine. With Sean it’s Shoe Shine all the time.

March 29, 2012 @ 4:46 pm | Comment

Or should I say Shaun.

March 29, 2012 @ 4:47 pm | Comment

Should you be proud to draw some fire from “Shaun Rein’s latest book? Not necessarily. But for sure you shouldn’t be unhappy about it. It’s publicity which may or may not be useful, but it certainly won’t hurt.

Re that Pew survey, I’m sure that an even bigger share of North Koreans are happy with their country’s direction.

March 29, 2012 @ 5:17 pm | Comment

With Sean it’s Shoe Shine all the time.

That’s a derogatory kind of joke about a decent profession, Mick. Shoe shiners aren’t decently paid, but they do something useful.

March 29, 2012 @ 5:20 pm | Comment

“Undercutting Burger’s claim that the government is a “giant squid,” the non-partisan Washington DC-based think tank Pew Research Center found in 2009 that 86 percent of the Chinese population supports the direction in which the Chinese government the country…. Chinese are generally happy with most measures implemented by the government”

Let me count the errors –

– the 86% figure was for the 2008 poll, not the 2009 one.

– The survey did not purport to be a representative sample of the population. Here’s what Pew had to say:

” The sample, which is disproportionately representative of China’s urban areas, includes eight major cities, as well as medium-sized towns and rural areas in eight Chinese provinces. The area covered by the sample represents approximately 42% of the country’s adult population.”

it would have been true to say that 86% of those interviewed were satisfied with the country’s direction, but not 86% of the population.

– The result Rein refers to is related to those satisfied with the direction the country was going in, but did not mention the government.

– The survey made no mention of whether or not the government is a “giant squid” and no conclusions can be drawn as to whether it is or not from this result.

And that’s just for starters. This guy’s supposed to be in business research? Actually, I’m beginning to think my original assessment of Rein – that he’s the new CDE – was quite fair. Let’s see:

– A supposed expert on surveying who writes an article about a survey of 12 people, and somehow manages to get a 60% response from them (i.e., 7.2 people).

– Constantly refers to his supposedly skin-tight government connections.

– Writes long articles advising people ‘how to invest in China’, but has no business record for doing so, and in which the only facts mentioned are a couple of annecdotes about people he’s talked to and the price of a pair of Gap jeans.

– Can’t stop mentioning his company, although the fact that he appears to be one of very few – perhaps the only – permanent long-term employees of that company makes me wonder how its surveys are carried out.

– Incredibly thin-skinned (the first time I ever heard from him was a comment by a mutual aquaintance who said he felt particularly miffed by a comment I made on this blog).

At any rate, I’ve given up criticisng him – if anyone still takes him seriously after reading his articles then it’s on their head.

March 29, 2012 @ 7:58 pm | Comment

F#€% the haters.

March 29, 2012 @ 9:22 pm | Comment

If Beijing chooses to to circle the tanks in response to any post-Bo Xilai turmoil, it would be just perfect if Rein got run over by one — ideally while holding hands with Godfree Roberts. I was offered a review copy of Cheap China and I turned it down.

The Pew people pointedly were unable to ask political questions in China.

March 29, 2012 @ 11:12 pm | Comment

@ Richard:

From what I have read of your posts on Shaun Rein, and his posts of you, the two of you try to sling mud at each other at every opportunity. Only this round, the medium he uses is different (a book). You bash him via blog, he bashes you via book. Same type of crap, different type of weapon / modus operandi / delivery method.

All I can see from my limited reading of yours and his posts are that the two of you are on the opposite and extreme ends of a view spectrum. You think the CCP is da shiete. He thinks the CCP is da shizzle. You have your reasons for thinking your way. He has his reasons for thinking his way. You bash his reasonings. He bashes yours. You call him an ass-kissing apologist. He calls you a.. whatever. Both of you can’t (and refuse to) reconcile your views of and on one another.

So seriously, if I were to call a spade a spade, then at the end of the day, I can only say that both you and him are, in essence, persons cut from the same cloth – two people with very strong (but contrasting) viewpoints, going all out to defend your own viewpoints, and lacking tolerance of one another.

I don’t know much about the background of your spat with Shaun Rein, but this is just my impression from the limited knowledge, reading and observations I have of the two of you. And I beg your pardon if I am being too frank, direct (and maybe harsh), but since most of the regular commentators on this blog are in “straightforward” mode, I think I can be forgiven for doing the same then.

@ Mike Goldthorpe and S.K. Cheung:

The two of you claim that the Pew Survey results re China are, in actuality, bovine excrement. Thus indirectly, you are inferring that the Chinese are actually not happy with their government / the CCP. More importantly, from the way you both have framed your posts, you infer that you know this as a matter of fact. Pray, can you tell me the basis for your convictions? Does it come from your interaction with various ordinary folks from China? From various areas? From the cities and countryside? From your observations of daily life in China? Over a long period of time? I am just curious about the grounds that stand behind your counter stance to the Pew Survey results.

And on that note, please do not assume I am a CCP apologist (…. like, er… Shaun Rein?). I have my own viewpoints and thoughts that are derived from my own experiences within China, outside China, with folk of China and non-folks of China (from several parts of the world). I am just curious at how you arrive at yours, and why you are so certain you know the facts on the ground.


March 29, 2012 @ 11:48 pm | Comment

FOARP, big thanks for putting that survey into perpective. And that’s a key foundation of his claims that China is a “happy” country.

Slim: If Beijing chooses to to circle the tanks in response to any post-Bo Xilai turmoil, it would be just perfect if Rein got run over by one

Please do not give Rein ammunition to say people here are haters who want to do him physical harm. I realize it’s a joke, but it’s still inappropriate.

March 29, 2012 @ 11:49 pm | Comment

TE, say what you will. I have laid out my arguments with facts and quotes and believe I prove my case, even if I do so with passion. If Rein’s own words are mud, then yes, I do sling mud at him. And many others in the Chinese blogosphere have joined in, each criticizing Rein at least as meticulously as I do. I know of only one blog that has rushed to his defense, and it’s a blog that cannot be taken seriously. So it is not a one-on-one feud. Rein is under siege from many sources, some of which truly are China experts. Rein invites this criticism by altering the truth and making outrageous claims, such as the “fact” that there is no real poverty in China anymore, and that China is “like a teenage boy” flexing its muscles and should be given space to do awful things as it’s just going through a phase. And he really did say those things, nearly verbatim. I have no qualms about calling him on such nonsense, and a lot of knowledgable China hands agree with me (I’d love to show you the emails I get from real experts who, for professional reasons, can’t comment about it here.)

March 29, 2012 @ 11:57 pm | Comment

The more I look at it, the worse it gets. You weren’t responding to the CCP “over-reacting” to a “potential threat of instability”. You were criticising the CCP ordering state employees and students to watch a movie made in its honour whilst censoring negative reviews in an effort to artificially make the film (and by extension, itself) appear more popular than it actually is. Does Rein really think that a bad film review threatens China’s stability?

March 30, 2012 @ 12:36 am | Comment

To TE Low,
“you claim that the Pew Survey results re China are, in actuality, bovine excrement”
—it’s more than a claim. It is a statement of fact based on any of the usual rules one might employ in the process of critically appraising “research”.

“Thus indirectly, you are inferring that the Chinese are actually not happy with their government / the CCP.”
—not true. The Pew Survey is methodological garbage, and its results are meaningless in terms of generalizability. However, I can’t (and don’t) say that Chinese are unhappy with the CCP. The simple fact is that it is unknown whether Chinese are happy with the CCP or not, since the question has not been asked in a scientifically rigorous manner.

“you infer that you know this as a matter of fact.”
—you have inferred…poorly.

“I am just curious about the grounds that stand behind your counter stance to the Pew Survey results.”
—I’ve disemboweled the Pew Survey results before, and since FOARP has done the same here, i’m not going to reinvent the wheel again. But suffice it to say that a survey that only accounts for 42% of the population (note that they didn’t survey 42% of the population; they sampled people from areas that in total account for 42% of the population) is useless for trying to say anything about China as a whole. Also, as FOARP notes, the survey asked about “direction of country”, not satisfaction with CCP per se.

Note also that I am not disputing what Pew did, or suggesting they fudged results, or anything like that. In fact, they probably did the best they could under the circumstances and restrictions of the CCP (some irony there). But to suggest that “Pew Center has found that 86% of Chinese are happy” is simply wrong, no if’s/and’s/but’s about it. Could 86% of Chinese actually be happy? Yep. Can you make that claim based on Pew? Nope.

March 30, 2012 @ 12:40 am | Comment

FOARP, Rein needed something to seize onto to prove his argument while smearing me, so he cherry-picked a couple of paragraphs out of context, and edited out the parts that weakened his premise. He’s a class act.

SKC, good smackdown of the Pew survey. They were honest about its limitations, but Rein presents it with no context, as though it speaks for all China.

TE, I suggest you look up the difference between “infer” and “imply.”

March 30, 2012 @ 12:54 am | Comment

Well , for fun , you shouid do what I do every year of so – Call Sean’s Shanghai office and ask to speak to all the people listed on his company website – hysterical – “Oh, he’s not in right now” , “Oh , he’s travelling right now” – Sean runs a shanzhai research agency. All bluster, but no substance – I wonder if he has more than 2-3 people on a full time payroll. God bless the fact he can create what he has from nothing.

March 30, 2012 @ 12:54 am | Comment

ROFL this shit is hilarious, please pass the popcorn.

March 30, 2012 @ 12:57 am | Comment

Apologies for the off-color joke, Richard.

March 30, 2012 @ 2:06 am | Comment

“Thus indirectly, you are inferring that the Chinese are actually not happy with their government / the CCP”
Nah, mate. Inderictly, you are inferring that I am inferring that the Chinese are not actually happy with their government. My inferrence was that the Pew research was used as a fact that many Chinese are happy with the government but to me the results of said survey should be taken with maybe a more scientific mind and that the bias inherrent in the answers might, maybe, not be the whole picture.
What I was trying to say was put much better by Jeremy Pepper at comment 13.

Now, why were you inferring that the key to a harmonious society was stringent censorship and the occassional forceful crackdown, as well as a secretive authoritarian government? 😉

March 30, 2012 @ 4:58 am | Comment

Forget Shaun Rein’s Revenge. Read about Wen Jiabao’s 30 Year Revenge on
Foreign Policy

March 30, 2012 @ 10:37 am | Comment

To TE Low,
listen, if you have a scientifically valid argument for how extrapolation of the Pew results onto China as a whole is…ummm….scientifically valid, you really should share. But you should note that the next time someone offers up such an argument would be the first time…so good luck.

March 30, 2012 @ 1:49 pm | Comment

Tony Saich from Harvard surveyed 4000 respondents on how satisfied they view the central, provincial, district, and township/village government from 2003-2009:

March 30, 2012 @ 2:02 pm | Comment

On the surface, no big surprises. People are less satisfied with the local governments than they are with the central government. That seems consistent with prevailing wisdom. This study might be useful for reaffirming such trends. However, as for the veracity of the absolute numbers themselves…one only need to look at the comments at the bottom to identify the pertinent issues ie. where did these “4000 respondents” come from, and what cross-section of Chinese people did they represent. Without that information, this study is not much different than Pew in terms of scientific merit.

I also enjoyed how the y-axis of the graph at the bottom went up to 120%. I guess the author was leaving room to visually demonstrate supernatural satisfaction if the need arose.

I wonder, back in the day, what the results would have looked like if people were surveyed about whether they were satisfied with the colour of their Ford Model T’s (and in case you didn’t catch the reference, Model T’s only came in black).

March 30, 2012 @ 2:39 pm | Comment

I do wonder why people take this man seriously. He comes across as a rank amateur. The first and last article I read of his was entitled something like “Why Apple Will Fail in China”. There are some China commentators who seem to thrive despite being ill-informed and just plain wrong in their predictions. Their failure doesn’t seem to deter editors and bloggers from commissioning them and linking to them. Gordon Chang is another one, from the opposite end of the spectrum – China is doomed to fail. Maybe they are just telling people what they want to hear.

March 30, 2012 @ 5:14 pm | Comment

It doesn’t matter, anyway. Apparently, Shaun’s days are numbered: (and he, for one, thinks it’s funny)

March 30, 2012 @ 8:50 pm | Comment

[…] Fight! Fight! Fight! “I had vowed not to post about Shaun Rein anymore, as I thought I had said it all. And then I discover this act of personal character assassination, this smear, and I can’t be silent about that. Rein’s book may become a bestseller but that won’t make him any less of a brat and a hatchet man.” [The Peking Duck] […]

March 30, 2012 @ 9:28 pm | Pingback

Thompson, thank you for that wonderful link. Everyone should go there now. Absolutely hilarious.

March 31, 2012 @ 1:48 am | Comment

It’s going to be very hard for the Party to replace the Rein with something equally misguided.

I recommend Godfree Roberts. He may not even run a marketing company, and can focus solely on party achievements.

March 31, 2012 @ 3:23 am | Comment

I honestly wonder who is paying Shaun’s bills.

March 31, 2012 @ 5:25 am | Comment

They are an inalienable part of China’s territory according to historical facts and international law; Japan’s claim untenable –

Situated in the East China Sea, due east of Fujian province and northeast of Taiwan, the Diaoyu Islands are the farthest eastern islands of China. They are about 190 nautical miles from the Dongshan Island of Fujian province, 90 nautical miles to the northeast of Keelung city of Taiwan, and 78 nautical miles from the Yunaguni Island of the Ryukyu Islands. The Diaoyu Islands refer to a group of islands that include the main one, Diaoyu Island, and some smaller islands and reefs like Huangwei Island, Chiwei Island, Beixiao Island, Nanxiao Island and three other islets. They are scattered in a sea area at 123 degrees 20 minutes ~ 124 degrees 45 minutes east longitude and 25 degrees 44 minutes ~ 26 degrees north latitude, covering a total land area of 6.5 square kilometers. The surrounding waters of the islands have rich fishing resources and have long been an important fishing ground for people in Fujian and Taiwan of China since ancient times. The well-known Emery Report pointed to the existence of abundant oil and natural gas resources on the continental shelf of the East China Sea.

(1) The Diaoyu Islands are an inalienable part of China’s territory.

China was the first country that discovered and explored the Diaoyu Islands and obtained sovereignty by occupation. Since ancient times, the Chinese have fished, collected medicinal herbs and sought shelters on these islands and in their surrounding waters. No later than the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), the islands had been discovered, explored and named by the Chinese. Ancient Chinese books, such as the Book on Voyage Routes and the Voyage with a Tail Wind, kept a complete record of the navigation routes used by Chinese fishermen in this sea area. Due to the natural conditions at sea and the possession of technology such as ship-building at that time, only the Chinese military and civilians could reach the islands during the monsoon season. They navigated through the islands and sought haven there in stormy weather.

They carried out economic activities such as fishing, collecting herbs and picking fruits. For about five centuries until 1895, China had never been interfered in its exercise of these rights.

One cannot speak of the Diaoyu Islands without mentioning Ryukyu Kingdom. Ryukyu Kingdom was a vassal state of the Ming and Qing dynasties to which it paid tributes, while the latter sent envoys to grant honorific titles to the kings in Ryukyu in recognition of their rule. The Diaoyu Islands were on the navigation route from China’s mainland to Ryukyu Kingdom. Chinese officials on mission to Ryukyu all referred to these islands as their navigation marks. They put down in the official documents such as the Record of the Mission to Ryukyu with detailed descriptions of their voyages through the Diaoyu Island, Huangwei Island and Chiwei Island and repeatedly confirmed the boundary between China and Ryukyu. Historical facts tell us that the Diaoyu Islands do not fall into the domain of Ryukyu. China’s historical records and official documents all show that it was the Chinese people who first discovered, developed and utilized the Diaoyu Islands. According to the international law of that time, discovery means occupation and occupation means obtainment of territorial sovereignty. Therefore, China obtained sovereignty over the Diaoyu Islands by occupation.

The Chinese government exercised effective rule and administration, and strengthened its sovereignty over the Diaoyu Islands. Successive Chinese governments all included the Diaoyu Islands into the confines of China’s territory and exercised sovereignty and effective rule by taking measures to develop, utilize and administer the islands. In 1171, General Wang Dayou guarding Fujian established military camps on Penghu Islands and sent officers to station in the islands. Taiwan and its affiliated islands including the Diaoyu Islands were under the military command of Penghu and, in terms of administration, they were under Jinjiang of Quanzhou, Fujian province. Both the Ming and Qing dynasties incorporated the Diaoyu Island and its affiliated islands into their territory and designated them as part of the maritime defense areas.

The Book on Managing the Sea (1562, Ming Dynasty) and Imperial Map of Chinese and Foreign Lands (1863, Qing Dynasty) made clear descriptions about the area. Historical facts show that the Chinese government has administered the Diaoyu Islands in various ways and effectively exercised and strengthened its sovereignty over the Islands.

(2) Japan’s arguments about its claim of sovereignty over the Diaoyu Islands are untenable.

There are mainly two legal arguments that Japan has evoked to justify its occupation of the Diaoyu Islands: First, occupation of so-called terra nullius, second, acquisition by prescription (prescriptio acquisitive). Both arguments are untenable.

By international law, the object of occupation shall be limited to terra nullius. Terra nullius refers to land which has never been subject to the sovereignty of any state or over which any prior sovereign state has expressly or implicitly relinquished sovereignty. The fact is that Diaoyu Island and its affiliated islands have been subject to the sovereignty of the Chinese government as its sea defense area since the Ming Dynasty. They are an inalienable part of China’s territory. Due to the inhospitable natural environment, these islands are not permanently inhabited and fishermen only take up abode on these islands for seasonal activities. But having no permanent residents does not make these islands terra nullius. The Diaoyu Islands are not terra nullius. They are China’s territory. The Japanese government and society are well aware of this fact.

The official archives of the Japanese government and documents and correspondence of Japanese officials all record and give evidence to this. For example, in the letter to Home Minister Aritomo Yamagata, then Japanese Foreign Minister Kaoru Inoue wrote in explicit terms that these islands had already been given Chinese names by the Qing government and that the Japanese government had been admonished by the Qing government for coveting these islands. Since the Diaoyu Islands are not terra nullius, Japan’s so-called occupation is non-existent. Ex injuria jus non oritur (A legal right or entitlement cannot arise from an unlawful act or omission) is a fundamental principle of international law. Japan’s so-called occupation is mala fide, illegal and unjustifiable; it therefore does not have the legal effect as what may arise from occupation recognized by international law.

The other argument that Japan presents is “long and continuous effective administration”, that is, to obtain sovereignty over the Diaoyu Islands based on acquisition by prescription (prescriptio acquisitive).

“Acquisition by prescription” of territory has been all along an extremely disputable issue in international law. Those against it totally deny the legitimacy of prescription as a way to obtain territory. They are of the view that this is “merely a legal argument serving expansionist countries for occupying others’ territories”. Those for it see prescription as a way to obtain territory, it is defined as “the acquisition of sovereignty over a territory through continuous and undisturbed exercise of sovereignty over it, and during such a period as is necessary to create under the influence of historical development the general conviction that the present condition of things is in conformity with international order.” International judicial practice has never clearly confirmed the status of “prescription” as an independent way to acquire territory.

As for the exact time span of the “period as is necessary”, international law has no final verdict to make it 50 years or 100 years.

If we put aside the legitimacy of “acquisition by prescription” and merely examine the key factors, it is clear that both the Chinese central government and the Taiwan local authority have been firm, explicit and consistent on issues concerning China’s sovereignty over the Diaoyu Islands and in opposing Japan’s attempt to steal them. They have launched protests, especially diplomatic protests, against official and government-supported civilian activities, including setting up a lighthouse on the Diaoyu Island by Japanese right-wingers, “nationalizing” the lighthouse by the Japanese government, paying the “rent” for land on the Diaoyu Islands to those so-called non-governmental owners, and submitting a chart specifying the so-called baselines of the territorial sea of the Diaoyu Islands to the United Nations by the Japanese government. Japan can never gain legitimate rights over the Diaoyu Islands through occupation no matter how long it may last.

(3) Agreements between Japan and the United States cannot grant Japan sovereignty over the Diaoyu Islands.

In the wake of World War II, the Cairo Declaration and the Potsdam Proclamation, the outcome of the Anti-fascist victory clearly defined the territory of Japan. According to the Cairo Declaration issued by China, the US and the UK in December 1943, their purpose is that “Japan shall be stripped of all the islands in the Pacific which she has seized or occupied since the beginning of World War I in 1914, and that all the territories Japan has stolen from the Chinese” shall be restored to China. “Japan will also be expelled from all other territories which she has taken by violence and greed”.

The Potsdam Proclamation issued in 1945 reaffirmed that “the terms of the Cairo Declaration shall be carried out and Japanese sovereignty shall be limited to the islands of Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu, Shikoku and such minor islands as we determine”. On Jan 29, 1946, the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers Instruction No 667 explicitly stipulated the range of the Japanese territory, which included the four major islands of Japan (Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu, Shikoku) and the approximately 1,000 smaller adjacent islands, including the Tsushima Islands and the Ryukyu Islands north of 30 degrees north latitude.

The delimitation of the Japanese territory by the Cairo Declaration and the Potsdam Proclamation is clear-cut. The Diaoyu Islands are not included in the Japanese territory in any way.

On Sept 8, 1951, Japan and the US concluded the San Francisco Peace Treaty in the absence of China and the Soviet Union, two victorious countries in the war against Japan, putting Nansei Shoto south of 29 degrees north latitude (including the Ryukyu Islands and the Daito Islands) under the US trusteeship. The Diaoyu Islands were not mentioned in the treaty, nor by the Japanese government’s later explanations thereof. On Dec 25, 1953, the United States Civil Administration of the Ryukyu Islands issued the Civil Administration Proclamation No 27 on the geographical boundaries of the Ryukyu Islands and defined the areas administered by the US government and the Ryukyu Civil Administration as the islands, islets, atolls, rocks and territorial waters along 24 degrees north latitude and 122 degrees east longitude. This proclamation included the Diaoyu Islands, China’s territory, into their areas of administration. These islands were also included in the areas to be returned to Japan under the Japan-US Okinawa Reversion Agreement signed on June 17, 1971. The Japanese government takes the above-mentioned agreement as the legal ground for its claim of territorial sovereignty over the Diaoyu Islands.

On Dec 30, 1971, the Chinese Foreign Ministry pointed out in its statement that “the incorporation by the United States and Japan of China’s Diaoyu and other islands into the area of reversion under the Okinawa Reversion Agreement is totally illegal. It does not in any way change the territorial sovereignty of the People’s Republic of China over the Diaoyu and other islands”.

The US government also stated that returning the administrative authority over these islands gained from Japan to Japan does not in any way undermine relevant sovereign claim. The United States cannot increase the legal right Japan had prior to its handover of the administrative authority over these islands to China, nor can it undermine the right of other claimants because of the return of the administrative authority to Japan. All the conflicting claims over these islands are issues that should be resolved by the parties concerned among themselves. On Sept 11, 1996, US State Department spokesperson Nicholas Burns said further that the US neither recognizes nor supports any country’s sovereign claim over the Diaoyu Islands.

On Sept 1951, the Chinese government issued a statement regarding the San Francisco Peace Treaty signed by the US and Japan without the involvement of the Chinese people and the lawful government of China. It pointed out the illegal nature of the treaty. The “trusteeship” and “reversion” deriving from the treaty included the Diaoyu Islands, thus violating China’s territorial sovereignty and becoming the source of the territorial dispute between China and Japan. The San Francisco Peace Treaty and other relevant documents have no right to cover or determine the ownership of the Chinese territory, and cannot have any legal judgment that extends the sovereignty of Diaoyu Islands to Japan.

The Diaoyu Islands are an inalienable part of China’s territory. The so-called administrative authority the US “got from” and “returned to” Japan is unjustified. Japan’s claim over the sovereignty of the Diaoyu Islands on that basis has no legal ground in international law.


Japan has never given up its attempt to gain sovereignty over the Diaoyu Islands. It first destroyed China’s markings on the islands, then renamed the islands, and built a heliport and other facilities. In recent years, Japan went even further. It abetted what it called “civilian actions” to create a fait accompli of “actual control” of the Diaoyu Islands, followed by government renting and “takeover” actions. All this aim to pave the legal grounds for its occupation of the Diaoyu Islands and gradually win recognition from the international community.

However, Japan’s claim to sovereignty over the Diaoyu Islands and its encroachment are illegal in the first place. Therefore, its carefully designed “government actions” have no legal ground and do not constitute the execution of state power. They never had, and will never have, any legal effect.

Article II of the Law of the People’s Republic of China on the Territorial Sea and the Contiguous Zone promulgated in 1992 makes clear that the Diaoyu Islands and other islands are Chinese territory, and reaffirms the legality of China’s ownership of them.

In 2009, a Chinese marine surveillance and law enforcement ship was sent to the Diaoyu Islands in repudiation of Japan’s “acquisition by prescription”. This was also a concrete action of China’s exercise of sovereignty over the Diaoyu Islands.

March 31, 2012 @ 6:45 am | Comment

Um, Tron, I’m not sure of the relevance of your comment to this thread, but an even more important point I’d like to make is that everything you wrote has been copied and pasted. What are you up to?

March 31, 2012 @ 7:41 am | Comment

# 37. Thanks for the Garnaut link. Garnaut has a great file on Bo and his sleazy money men. Garnaut is also the best Sino observer today alongside Barbara Demick.

March 31, 2012 @ 11:40 am | Comment

That’s the best story on Bo I’ve ever seen. A primer on modern Chinese politics. Superb journalism.

March 31, 2012 @ 11:51 am | Comment

@t_co “I honestly wonder who is paying Shaun’s bills.”

His Chinese wife.

April 1, 2012 @ 11:52 am | Comment

“but it seems that you guys have a strong command of the… facts”
No – we just don’t accept everything as… facts.

April 2, 2012 @ 7:41 am | Comment

Going back to Just Recently’s comment above, I can’t urge everyone strongly enough to visit the link he cited.

Some excerpts from that masterpiece, which I assure you I had nothing to do with:

SHANGHAI (China Daily Show) – The “Shaun Rein” spinbot has been cancelled due to “complications,” according to a source in the Chinese government.
A one-line statement on Xinhua, the official news agency, stated simply that the Rein has been “discontinued” and will be phased out over a five-month period. But others suggest the reasons may be more complicated.

Unknown abroad, the Rein is nevertheless familiar to Chinese media circles as a popular media troll. Its columns, which invariably regurgitate the government line in the face of overwhelming evidence, are produced using WuMao 2.0 – state software that most observers believe is hopelessly out of date.

“The Rein has served the Party well but modern times call for a modern approach,” said a WuMao spokesman who refused to give his name. “Our internal studies showed no one ever actually listened to anything the Rein had to say, anyway.”

Insiders point to more public signs of cognitive dissonance, however.
According to some reports, the Rein was briefly detained last month after being found “naked and masturbating” at 3am on the Shanghai Bund. Witnesses report the Rein was “gesticulating wildly,” while clutching a tattered copy of an infamous 2009 Pew research poll, which claimed 86 of Chinese are “happy with the government.”

“The cops had to gently prise it from its fingers,” said one eyewitness. “It was covered with crazy-ass doodles but the Rein just wouldn’t let it go.”

Sources close to the Rein explained that the bizarre breakdown was brought on by stress and an impending sense that it was being “judged by God.” But the Chinese government is also said to be increasingly displeased by the Rein’s descriptions of itself as a “marketing guru.”

And it goes on. I just want to know who’s behind this. He/she is brilliant.

April 2, 2012 @ 10:38 am | Comment


April 2, 2012 @ 3:03 pm | Comment

I just want to know who’s behind this. He/she is brilliant.

The Rein probably wants to know, too.

April 2, 2012 @ 9:59 pm | Comment

Don’t know but found (eventually) an email address on the site (

If The Rein is as connected as he/it says he is, he/it surely already knows and the meatwagon is on its way…

April 3, 2012 @ 2:22 pm | Comment

Wonder if “Tron Vokoyo HonoH” is some kind of Rein-replacement software?

April 3, 2012 @ 2:23 pm | Comment

which means I support the author xD

April 4, 2012 @ 2:38 am | Comment

Man, that CDS article was awesome!

April 8, 2012 @ 6:40 am | Comment

Your friend Lisa will not be alone in being blocked by that moron. I guess I am blocked as well, just because I disagree everything he said on the economy and that I like to call him a moron.

Shaun Rein is simply ridiculous. His arguments on China’s economics make no sense, yet he has been bashing those who are bearish on China like Jim Chanos, even though Jim Chanos and the likes have been making huge money by betting on economic slowdown. Shaun Rein has absolutely no legitimacy in trying to criticise China bears when the bears were right.

Not to mention that he has been sucking up to the Communist Party, regurgitating every party line no matter it is on the economy or in politics, and basically trying to argue that he knows better about China and everyone else because he lives in China and you don’t.

April 13, 2012 @ 7:02 pm | Comment

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