March 20, 2008

Who Guards Against The Guardian?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kim @ 12:55 pm

My favourite online read had been blocked for the last few days, ever since it started covering the troubles in Tibet in fact. I groaned at this and went through good old Tor, and so could still get my daily dose of filthy western propaganda.

But – and I am wondering if this is more than a coincidence – the block just got lifted… shortly after the publication of this article, which began:

We face at least three difficulties in reacting to the unfolding tragedy of the Tibetans. We don’t know enough about what’s really going on, because the Chinese authorities are determined to prevent us finding out by expelling journalists, ratcheting up their customary censorship of the internet (including, and telling lies.

What I am wondering is whether this would be a coincidence or whether someone is employed to seek out potential PRC PR gaffes and rectify them? If the readers of The Guardian get wind of the fact that their favourite rag is being blocked in China they might think (even) less of the CCP, might they not?

Maybe. Seems a bit far fetched, and would Beijing really give a duck about what Guardian readers think? Even in the runup to the Olympics?

Well, anyways, it was a nice coincidence. And to end with, here’s a wittily snidey point that Timothy Garton Ash makes in the same article as above

It may be worth calling for United Nations observers to be sent in to Tibet, though China will doubtless veto that. As important is to insist that the Chinese authorities keep the promise they have made – and are now breaking – to allow foreign journalists free movement around the whole of China in the runup to the Olympics. (If they don’t let reporters go to Tibet, this can only mean that Tibet is not part of China.)

October 8, 2007

Mr Squeaky Creepy Clean

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kim @ 5:32 am

I’ve been reading the Guardian Online a lot during the last few weeks and it’s amazing how much they cover China these days. And a bit odd there’s so little on India.

More on that later perhaps, but first of all just a snippet from the Guardian’s coverage of the American election process. What do you make of this guy, I wonder?

Mr Clean

Unlike his main rivals for the Republican leadership who are on their second – or in Mr Giuliani’s case, third – wives, Mr Romney’s family life seems impossibly wholesome. He and his wife, Ann, have been together since their first date – which was to see The Sound of Music – and have brought up five sons, who are all now married themselves.

“Bring forth men-children only. For thy undaunted mettle should compose nothing but males.” Macbeth

I have never heard him speak, and it could well be that if I met him I would find him charming and a man of genuine integrity….but just from that snippet I found him deeply creepy and he set my “cynic’s sixth sense warning alert” ablaring.

Why is that I should distrust a man who married young, stayed faithful, looks good, seems sound, and is rich and successful…forgetting for a moment the fact that he’s a Mormon?

I think it is due to having seen “The Dead Zone” at an impressionable age. This guy even looks like Martin Sheen! And so it is that some stubborn part of me suspects that that if he gets into power he will bring about a nuclear apocalypse in order to hasten the second coming of Joseph (Jesus) Smith and usher in a paradise of chisel-jawed white men with several rosy-cheeked submissive wives. Hallelujah!

The position of President of the US is by far and away the most important in the world. If we had had Gore instead of Bush for the last 8 years I am completely sure the world would be a much better and safer place. And America would still have broad international respect, rather than the resentment and mistrust engendered by Bush.

Let’s hope the next one is a sensible (Democrat) humanist and not a religious (Republican) nutter. Please Buddha, let it be.

August 30, 2007

Red Tape

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kim @ 5:04 pm

Travelling through eastern Europe shortly before the Berlin wall came down I can remember marvelling at how much the commies were into paperwork and bureaucracy.

But this story really takes the proverbial biscuit:

In one of history’s more absurd acts of totalitarianism, China has banned Buddhist monks in Tibet from reincarnating without government permission. According to a statement issued by the State Administration for Religious Affairs, the law, which goes into effect next month and strictly stipulates the procedures by which one is to reincarnate, is “an important move to institutionalize management of reincarnation.”

Erm…how to express how ridiculous this is, and how remarkably wrong-headed on so many levels? And also how you have to wonder how they are planning on enforcing it. On the spot fines for unauthorised reincarnations? Or are they going to try to “send them back” to get their visas?

The whole half-baked scheme was cooked up as a response to the Dalai Lama’s declaration that he refuses to be reincarnated in Tibet while it is still under Chinese control. But if this is the case isn’t China going to have to send its reincarnation police to another country to bust the newly born DL shortly after the present version (incarnation) shuffles off his mortal coil? Apparently not…the point of the exercise is to disqualify any monk reincarnated outside of China, because they won’t have the right paperwork. Hmmmm, I guess they must have a lot of faith in people’s respect for temporal rubber stamps. (And what kind of rubber stamp are they going to use anyway? What is the hanzi for Reincarnation Permit?)

A commentator on religion from the British Daily Telegraph got very angry about it and wrote these harsh words on his blog

It takes a minute or two to get your head round this stuff, but essentially it’s just more disgusting bullying by a colonial power that doesn’t allow freedom of religion. But, hey, China is an EMERGING MARKET so guess: does the West (1) give a toss or (2) not give a toss?

I see his point, but I am more inclined to see the whole thing as a farce which will quickly prove unenforceable and be quietly dropped. It would makes the Chinese government a global laughing stock, surely. Wouldn’t it? I mean, even Monty Python couldn’t come up with this idea.

One thing seems certain though, when the present Dalai Lama does die there’s going to be some trouble.

July 26, 2007


Filed under: Uncategorized — Kim @ 4:58 pm

Some of the things I end up doing in China are bizarre.

This weekend I will have to put on a suit and read out 10,000 words to the camera about the proper upkeep and maintenance of some Dalian washing machines that are due for export and need an accompanying video to fulfill some new legal requirements.

I got sent the document tonight for a preview and learnt that I am going to have to try to say stuff like the following with a suit and a straight face…

Firstly inspect all the piping joints, flange connections, valve rods and shaft seal for leakage. You can use phenolphthalein test paper for ammonia system.

Adjust the oil return valve according to the oil level shown in sight glass of oil return pipe. After start of compressor, check and judge the bypass solenoid valve is closed / leaked or not by hand touch.

Over high oil spray pressure will conquer spring force to open the sealing surface of movable ring and fixed ring, resulting in oil leakage. Before start compressor, adjust the oil pressure at 0.4~0.6 Mpa. After normal running compressor, adjust oil pressure at 0.15~0.3 Mpa.

If oil temperature is too high, the oil sticky degree will reduce and oil film effect becomes weak. It will lead to leakage on shaft seal. In addition, high oil temperature will quicken the aging distortion of O type ring.

Jesus wept, this is gabbledy gobbledygook. And what the hell is a flange anyway? And how do you pronounce “phenolphthalein“?

I’m going to need a few stiff drinks after this one. The pay’s good though!

July 2, 2007

Maonster Raving Loony Party

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kim @ 12:57 pm

One of my students surprised me the other day by asking if I could pick out one big difference between Westerners and Chinese. The answer I gave her was a typical one along the lines of West = liberal + individualist, China = authoritarian + conformist, and I also mumbled something about how much difference it makes that China has a massively higher proportion of peasants.

Anyroad, I was reminded of this the other day when I was reading the – newly unblocked in China – Wikipaedia entry on Mao. It made me think that one of the big differences between most westerners and most Chinese is that Chinese still respect and admire Mao, whereas most westerners hate him and are baffled about his popularity in China.

The official verdict by the wily Deng Xiaoping, shortly after Mao’s death, had been to make it the party line that Mao had been 30% wrong and 70% right. A neat way to avoid too much controversy.

Well, how about 30% wrong and 70% absolutely disastrous?

In American right wing circles Mao is often mentioned in the same breath as Hitler, Stalin, and Pol Pot. I don’t much care for right wing America, but that seems fair to me.

And in Europe the recent hatchet job by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday has done an awful lot to make Mao a despised figure. The book, called MAO: The Untold Story, has been called “a mesmerising portrait of tyranny, degeneracy, mass murder and promiscuity”. There has been some criticism of its relentless savaging of Mao and of the accuracy or reliability of some of the sources, but not much disagreement with its broad thrust that under Mao millions and millions of people died unnecessarily. And there is not much disagreement that many many Chinese people’s dignity and opportunities for a decent fulfilling life were destroyed during Mao’s Cultural Revolution…together with a lot of Chinese culture and cultural artefacts.

In a recent pub argument I got onto the subject of Mao – and the Chang/Halliday book – with a colleague who is relentlessly and bitterly cynical about almost all things Chinese. It gets a bit wearing after a while and anyway just to shake things up a bit I found myself defending Mao…”Yes, but at least he fought well against the Japanese”, to which my sparring partner vigorously objected, and I was about to go on arguing but I suddenly remembered myself and thought “What on earth am I doing defending Mao?” He has enough Chinese defenders already!

And I hate Mao and am personally convinced that he was inhumane, arrogant, indulgent, dangerously selfish, murderous and, yes, evil. But a couple of passages I’ve recently read have made me wonder whether or not he was also a raving loony.

How about this from Wiki

during the Great Leap forward most of the dams, canals and other infrastructure projects, which millions of peasants and prisoners had been forced to toil on and in many cases die for, proved useless as they had been built without the input of trained engineers, whom Mao had rejected on ideological grounds.

And then there’s this from A student’s Asian history

In the 1960s China and Russia had a big ideological dispute about the correct way of extending world communism. China argued that “A nuclear war would not necessarily destroy the world…and it could be successful if there were enough Chinese left to rebuild a communist world.”

Both those passages speak for themselves. The man was a nutter.

In Britain there used to be “The Monster Raving Loony Party” whose slogan was “Vote for insanity. You know it makes sense.”

They were a joke party with a satirical edge, and almost nobody voted for them. Shame the Chinese weren’t able to vote out the Maonster Raving Loony while he was wrecking the country.