China vs USA

Here is an interesting comparison from a Lithuanian "Guy" in China, in the comment field of a blog I stumbled upon.
  • Hello Nick,
    I’m Lithuanian. I lived for a fairly long time in the US (Minnesota and Massachusetts) and now I live in China.
    The similarities between the two countries are downright scary. (Especially visible here in the American-inspired, newly-built, fast-living city of Shenzhen.)
    1) Large-scale economic migration (though Americans don’t call that half of their nation that changes house every two years “migrant workers”, that’s basically what they are).
    2) Over-reliance on trucks and cars (though the Chinese seem to be getting a little, just a little smarter with their railways). Governments of both countries arguably care little about the environment.
    3) Cultural insularity - near impossible to make a friend in China without speaking some dialect of Chinese (preferably putonghua). And you just try to live in the US without speaking English… Beyond language, both nations tend to view themselves as, ahem, simply superior. (Because by and large, both have ill-defined inferiority complexes. Americans are often defensive when they compare themselves with Europe, and the Chinese… with America - )
    4) Both the US and China have bafflingly large populations immune to reason. I won’t say anything about the US apart from reminding you to read Nick’s previous editorial. China: just think that most Chinese are not even aware there is censorship in their country. Just… wow.
    5) Lack of social safety nets. Culture of fear quite visible in both countries (though for vastly different reasons). Health care and pensions (I mean mostly lack thereof) give headaches to both Chinese and Americans.
    6) Geographic size. The surface of China is almost precisely that of America (though the landscape is hugely different).
    7) Gated communities for the rich. (And in China, increasingly, the middle class - which is of course vastly richer than the people living on under a dollar a day.) Oh, the joys of life behind armed guards!
    8) Patriotism, support for the army. The Chinese think their army is, ahem, “pure”. I am kidding you not, this is the word they most often use to describe the PLA. Pure.
    As to America, a more flag-waving country there will never be.
    9) Cut-throat capitalism. (Though to be honest the Chinese labor market is similar to the one America had in the 19th century… not now.)
    10) Astounding hypocrisy with regard to sex and mores in both countries. For instance, both the Americans and the Chinese are too virtuous to gamble, that’s why the first only do it in Indian reservations and on rivers, and the second in Macau I won’t even talk about sex ed (Though, again, the US is subject to strong regional variations and China’s cities are light-years away from the hinterlands).
    And lest you think I am a sour European:
    11) People from both nations tend to be hospitable and quite sweet. All you need to do is shout “China is the best”! or “USA no 1″! and you are treated to endless rounds of beer or bai jiu! Then business is going very, very well - it’s amazing!
    I find both nations endlessly and hopelessly and equally weird, but I’m quite fond of both… and their quaint little ways.
    kind regards,a Lithuanian
    — Posted by Guy in China

As for the owner of that blog, this is part of his resume, "...He's also one of the very few Americans to be at least a two-time visitor to every member of the Axis of Evil. ..." Huh? Axis of Evil? :)

Anyway, here is my take

  1. Migration in US is perhaps because it is a 'big' country; for China, a bit articificial/temperal because of the economic special zone (the average distance of migration has significantly shortened in the last few years, when the Sichuan girl is not able to find work in Chengdu, instead of Shenzhen, resulting in (cheap) labour shortage in the sweatshops in Guangdong
  2. May I also add mega-stores (Wal-marts!) on top of car
  3. "insularity" is common to 'big' countries, I guess. But I am sure there is more Chinese who speak English than American who speak Chinese :)
  4. True. Though I would like to argue that it is unfair to use total number as a measure. Perhaps in terms of % population they are on par with the Lithuanians
  5. Hmm... social safety net. Nice observation. I know this but never really make the comparison. Perhaps this is related to #9 below
  6. China = dry + dry + wet; USA = wet + dry + wet. Geographically, USA is like China with an Ocean to its west, hence twice as much of arable land
  7. I saw walled community in Shanghai. But urban China is a much much safer place than the US (Inner city, I mean)
  8. Agree
  9. Couldn't agree more. They are both the most capitalistic countries in this world
  10. This one is even nicer observation. Chinese gamble in Las Vegas and American find sex in Shanghai!

Postmortem of Taiwan election

Just as I had thought, according to Ma's aide Su Junbin (English translated by ESWN)
  • The extremist/fundamentalist (i.e deep greeen and deep blue) had already made up their mind. It was the moderates who were swayed. Actually, not just be swayed into voting, but also into NOT voting
  • 苏俊宾:我们的支持率其实没有上升,因为讨厌庄国荣的人本来就支持我们,他讲了更令人讨厌的话,对我们来讲没有任何帮助。
  • Q. Six days before the election, Ministry of Education Secretary-General Chuang Kuo-jung used foul language at a Hsieh-Su rally. Even the normally intransigent Hsieh-Su campaign headquarters issued an apology. The media believed that this incident affected the Hsieh-Su campaign. After the election, certain pan-green voters thought that Chung Kuo-jung and Chen Shui-bian were the culprits for the election loss. According to the KMT internal polls, how many percentage points did Ma-Siew get as a result of Chung Kuo-jung?
  • A. Our support level did not rise, because all those who detest Chuang Kuo-jung are our supporters already. Even if he said something worse, it would not have helped us.
  • Q. That is to say, the Chuang Kuo-jung affair had no impact?
  • A. There was an impact. While our support level did not rise, the Hsieh-Su support level fell by 2% because even the greens found it intolerable. The Hsieh-Su support level was low to begin with, and this made it even lower. The Chuang Kuo-jung enabled us to defend our territory and ensure that they cannot attack us. Therefore, Chuang Kuo-jung made a contribution.
  • It was the economy, stupid. And it was the China market that matters the economy, stupid!
  • “民进党过去八年来的两岸政策是封锁的,它没有办法解决中层的问题,导致台湾没有办法跟韩国、日本、新加坡去竞争,它们跟大陆的经贸是正常的,我们则是有重重限制的。在这样的前提下,我们当然想改变。所以我们的一个议题抵得上他们20个议题,最后从选票也可以反映出来。”
  • DPP was caught with surprise and become inconsistent at Ma's reaction to Tibet. When you got inconsistent and put aside your values and your principles at an all out offense, you lose (take heed, pan-Dem in HK!)
  • 过去民进党政府抵制奥运圣火到台,民视、三立电视台等亲绿的媒体都拍手鼓励。TVBS跟其他的媒体则讲:政治归政治,体育归体育。但是这次马英九发表声明之后,三立电视台就错乱了,他们开始讲“政治归政治,体育归体育”了
  • 所以那天很有意思的,过去民进党政府抵制奥运圣火到台,民视、三立电视台等亲绿的媒体都拍手鼓励。TVBS跟其他的媒体则讲:政治归政治,体育归体育。但是这次马英九发表声明之后,三立电视台就错乱了,他们开始讲“政治归政治,体育归体育”了。当你听到民进党和亲绿的媒体也在讲“体育跟政治分离”的时候,你就知道他们无法操弄“统独”意识了。我们把它逼到理性那里,有什么不好?我们把它逼回正轨,它就无法操纵了。选举最怕什么?最怕情感。投票是个感情的动作,是个情绪的动作。而现在,它要挑战我们,它必须理性。在这种情况之下,很简单就达到了我们想要的效果。

Good lesson for HK. Particularly the last point.


The Tibet mystery - updated

Read this WaPo story. The conspiracy theorists tried to extract information from this as well.

I had been pondering about this, pundita spelled out most the mysteries I had been trying to write (though I do not necessarily agree with his theory) (update: now pudita has more conspiracy theories out. IMHO he is pushing it too far. ESWN has a post that refuted some of the 'evidence'/'photo' he quoted. see below for more (in red fonts))
  • There's just one problem with those images: they don't document the protest marches in Lhasa that took place on March 10 and 11, and yet those were the key protests -- the biggest in almost 20 years in Tibet.

  • But when it came to reporting on the peaceful attempt to march on March 10 and a smaller attempt on the next day, news organizations and websites outside Tibet had to rely on anecdotes. The wording used by Reuters news and the Phayul Tibetan website to describe the attempts at peaceful protest marches is typical of the game of blind man's bluff that news organizations were forced to play: "Radio Free Asia cited a source as saying..." "According to sources within Tibet..."(8)(9)

  • But if activists inside and outside Tibet had years to prepare for a historic protest march in Lhasa, and if the monks had been waiting almost 20 years to stage a mass protest, where was the network to record the attempted march and the inevitable crackdown by the authorities?

-- via ESWN

Pundita, refuting many of the wild guess/speculation/conspiracy theories, reached his own conclusion, which seems quite plausible (and if that is true, Hu has really mastered the media war against the D.L./TYL 'clique')

  • So, following Ruan's attempt to explain how Hu done it is very frustrating, yet this doesn't mean the gist of his accusation is wrong. There is still not much to go on, but from the mosaics available so far, a highly suspicious pattern has emerged:

  • Draconian measures were used to halt all peaceful demonstrations by the Tibetan monks in Lhasa, while no measures were taken to halt Tibetan rioting against Lhasa's Han Chinese and Hui Muslims -- not until after the rioting was clearly fizzling out and widespread damage had been done to Han businesses.And unlike Ruan,

  • I think there is indication to suggest that the "spontaneous expressions of resentment" in Lhasa got big help. The same kind of help made famous by Soviet Communist Party bosses under orders from Moscow to turn East European democracy marches into deadly mob violence

My take is that there is some truth in this, but seems too seamless. I highly doubt if Hu (or his incompetent bureacrats in Tibet) can engineer such a complicated 'coup'. Much more likely, though, is that things happened, and went out of control, there was not sufficient police force, there are some militants/planned among the Tibetans, and when Hu/etc saw the riot going bad, they decided to let it on its own path for a while (knowing this presents a golden chance to win the media war), while waiting for reinforcement to ensure they won't have to fire in the crack down.

A variation to this may be some under-cover may have discovered certain faction with the "general clique" are planning something. Hu/etc then decided to give them a free hand (while confining the monks in Jokhang). The Ruan story is not credible. Ruan comes from the C-C.P himself, these people are not very rigorous when it comes to claims and rumours. You may remember there have been wide-spread rumours about army mutiny in Sixth month of 19-8-9. In fact, perhaps 99 out of 100 rumours from the ex-C-C.P informants turn out to be false.

This is why I advocate the government to pay full compensation to the victims, and what I meany by "毕竟国家在那两天与蔵= 独势力的公关战中选择了牺牲他们" (Update: China took the heed)


More comments about Pundita

  • Pundita also claimed the the notorious ET was among the "first" to report SARS in 2003, he wa TOTALLY wrong. I was in HK then, HK media reported that at least a few weeks prior to ET. ET just recycled it
  • Regarding the PAP around the temples prior to March 14. IT was quite clear that they tried to confine the monks there, perhaps believin they were the leaders and confining the leaders means the stopping the mob, largely. What they did not expect is that there are more monks, from elsewhere (or some of the major temple monks were outside). The stories of the Johkang monks told the western reporters last week are consistent with this explanation
  • The line of police blocked has been photoed and reported by Kadfly long ago
  • White scarfs were needed to identify the shops/houses. The mob includes some Tibetans from outside Tibet for sure. Even Tibetans in Lhasa are not able to remember every single shop especially when they pulled down the gates. Pundita himself became a conspiracy theorist when he made that scarf 'expalnation' (our views diverge from that post)

  • Finally, if C-C.P really want to 'stage' this. All it needs to do is to arrest a few monks, spread some rumours to incite discontent. It does not need to go into such 'conspiracy' length, assuming such degree of widespread discontent among the mob. On the other hand, if there is no such discontent, do you really believe a few agents can create such a scene?

Having said all these, if one believes in the (indirect) account from WaPo and the Phoenix TV reporter Chen Lin, then there were indeed someone who organized the riot (it was not "spontaneous). And these people are Tibetans from outside Lhasa. Though it is unclear whether they are exile Tibetan, or Tibetans from the countryside, or C-C.P spies in disguise.

Mysterious symbols on most of the burnt shops in Lhasa (source: Chen Lin's blog)


Youtube shooting its own feet

Not sure if this is related to the T-related media war, youtube has disabled search by rating or by view count. (some commentators say it is about artificial view counts of those scientology mockers, others said it is the big "do evil" google strategy of controlling the way we search with their critera, i.e."relevance" )

But here are the temporary fixes, as youtube will soon close these loopholes. Longer term fix should be to bring competition to youtube, tudou/etc are well positioned to take this role, unfortunately the PRC censorship means they have to forgo this golden opportunity.

  • 1) ***MOST VIEWED****
    To Search by MOST VIEWED, SAVE THIS BOOKMARK and REPLACE the word "KEYWORDS" with your search term (i have inserted a 'return' to make them appear on the blog:

    To Search by DATE ADDED, SAVE THIS BOOKMARK, and REPLACE THE WORD "KEYWORDS" with your search term:

    3) ***BY VIEW COUNT****(diff than most viewed)
    To Search by VIEW COUNT, SAVE THIS BOOKMARK, and REPLACE the word "KEYWORDS" with your search term:

Thank you Mr Tusk, we have one more ticket!

1) It was said that the Olympic principle is for the people, not politics. Yet many politicians were invited to attend the Olympics. This is against the Olympic principle

2) A few western politicians are talking about not attending the Olympic, for whatever reason (Tibet, human right, anti-China, anti-C.C-P, or anti-Chinese people, pick one). Polish Premier Donald Tusk is the first one of them, though it is unclear if there is follower. (Czech Havel is also not going, for "personal reason")

3) I am glad that Mr Tusk is not going. Because, after all, he should not have been there. Nor should any of these politicians, western or Chinese. Their coming have made the Olympic opening ceremony such a scarce commodity, expensive and impossible to buy

4) Their absence will leave the tickets available to the people, Chinese or foreigner, which are what the Olympic is truly for

5) The Chinese goverment should not have sent out teh invitation for these politicians from the outset. The Olypmpic committtees of various countries should have reserved the tickets for the people, not their own politicians

Finally, since the Ollympic is for the people of the world. And that this year China (as a country) is hosting it. The chinese people (at least the overwhelming majority) believe they are hosting it. The government is organising it. So if you have issue with the government (so do we the people), take it up with it, and do not send your politicians there. Fine with us.
But the people, the shop owners, taxi drviers, average citizens believe they are the hosts themselves, as far as we can hear from the street. So boycotting the Olympic is also boycotting the Chinese people, not just the governement (which are different concepts).

However, it is consistent with the Olympic that politicians should be left out of the Olympic. So thank you Mr. Tusk, for leaving your dirty politics out of the Olympic, and leaving one more tickets to us tourists.


Maps: Qing dynasty and other old maps

See more in this blog. The blogger used these maps to show that Tibet was part of the Qing Empire (to counter claims that it was independent all the time before 1951).

IMHO all these history talks are trite. To us geographers (with better knowledge in history) we are more interested in these old maps themselves.

Meanwhile, here is a full collection on Harvard Yenching Publication on old China maps. There is a 1939 map published in Japan, where Manchukuo, Mongolia and Tuva were independent, while Tibet was labeled part of China. (Apparently Japan did not recognize USSR's annexation of Tuva)


Youtube unblocked but strong filter is still on

Well, yes, many sites were unblocked here in China. I believe it is mainly because the situatiuon has "stabilized". But the strong filters on keywords such as "T\bet" are still on.

As a result, even videos on youtubes such as videos such as "Riot in T/bet: True face of Western media" and "T/bet Was, Is and Always Will be a Part of China" are still blocked. Because they contain the "keyword".

What this means is that the theory (as reported/hinted by many bloggers and MSM) that the unblocking of youtube was related to these 2 videos are without base. So far the only site that has managed to pass the strong filter test is anti-cnn.com (which was still blocked some 30 hours ago by the strong filter). The nanny has been very selective.


Light reading: how KMT lost the previous election

Q: How did KMT lose the previous election in 2004?

A: Because some of its supporters used their personal seals to chop vote!

The "Greatest Beaty" in the "Greater China" is not alone, an influential writer (MYJ had to answer her question about setting example for 6 year old in his winning speech on Saturday) implied she did the same, and probably four years ago as well. Our Greatest Beauty also told the press that a few of her friends also made the same mistake. Plus another actress Chang Ting, and some others, all pan-blue voters.

(UDN alleged our GB probably did the right thing 4 years ago, but he personal seal might have been a round one then -- she said she carries 3 seals with her)

MSM biase in the West - and the cnn refutal

(Update: comment on the CNN statements in p.s.)
...in a row.

I am just pasting the "p.s." from my previous two posts.

For Taiwan, the notorious Bradsher from NYT tried to connect his judgment on riot in Lhasa and the Taiwan election, while the same NYT and other MSM coincidentally omitted the important text accompanying a picture from KAdfly's orginial post (and this picture that was taken a few minutes later).

The photo above is my homage to cnn, the full picture is the one below (source: Kadfly. The nyt/cnn cropper wouldn't tell you that. He wouldn't even select this picture.). In this picture one can see clearly the plastic shield, and also the watching crowd behind the line of shield. The crowds (both side of the shield brokade) looks relaxed and joyful at that point of time.

Update on the CNN bullshit
"The CNN spokesperson said that in order to fit the page layout, that controversial photo had to be made smaller. This it was impossible to keep both the demonstrators and the burning vehicle in the photo. "

The CNN spokesperson lied shamelessly. If you examine the screenshot below (source: anti-cnn.com ) you will see that cnn has

(1) chosen to keep the white car (which is arguably peripheral in terms of news value), and

(2) cut down the height to retain the aspect ratio. Yes, CNN cropped the picture but then had to also crop the top to fit the aspect ratio, while it could have simple shrinked the whole picture as the more or less same ratio!

(3) referred to an entirely different AFP cropped-out when it mentioned the burning car. the burning car was not in the cnn picture either!

(4) Is cnn saying the 2 people in the front are 'demonstrators', while that dozen to the right aren't? (I had always thought that "a bigger crowd of", is always more powerful than "a couple of", demonstrators)

Aspect Ratio

  • The cnn image has a resolution of 292x219 (i.e. 4:3). Fitted for a traditional TV screen. The CNN spokesperson claimed that if one includes the mob on the RHS, it wouldn't fit. Whether CNN lied is easy to test. So I took this from Getty Image. This is how it looks at approximately 4:3. I am sure one could even include the white car on the left as 4:3 if one also takes the top of the building, as CNN did.

and here is the infamous cnn picture

Now what about the white car? I do not have the original photo, so I tried to merge the two photos I was able to locate and see if it could fit on a 4:3 screen. Yes, it could, with every single object in that cnn picture included. The mob was not that far away from that army truck. I suppose cnn needs to come up with another excuse?

- At this point, I need to admit that I do not know who cropped the 4 photos in getty's website. AFP, Getty or CNN (i.e. CNN archived the cropped picture in such case). But the fact that cnn admitted that it did the cropping job seems to suggest that it did obtain the whole picture from Getty/AFP and hence could not blame AFP for this.

Burning Car

When cnn referred to a "burning car", I believe it was referring to this picutre, where is another burning car to the left of the white car. But that was not the picture CNN chose/cropped. Perhaps the cnn person was really confused when he made up that lie,but my speculation is that cnn was looking for an excuse, but used this photo instead of the one it has actually used (with only the white car).

Lie cannot be covered by another new lie. While cnn could have just admitted to being insensitive and being lazy in picking one random pictures from the several crops AFP/Getty provided (such mistakes are minor and excusable), it chose to deny and degenerated itself into the same class as the propaganda machine of the C-C.P. One has to, again, admire the German way. The German media can now proudly denounce both cnn and the PRC media.

related links (p.s.)

Bias over Tibet cuts both ways

Some Retreat, Others Push Forward


Perhaps we could build casinos

Tibet through the eyes of American Peter Kessler (1999).

1. The cadres' idealism
2. Education and the language problem
3. Perhaps we could build casinos

Hat tip: China Law Blog

p.s. a message to the 'nationalists' (tibetan or han) remember we are the closest cousin linguistically (or implicitly, genetically), i.e. closer than with Mongolian, Korean, Vietnamese, Thai, Uighur, or even the native Taiwanese. So stop the fight or persecution, please.

See Linguistic map below from wiki

西|奘 - 暴乱之后



2)受害人民的损失,应该由国家来赔偿。而且是100%的赔偿。这数目对于今天的中国财政只是九牛一毛,可是对于那些无辜的平民意义重大。毕竟国家在那两天与蔵= 独势力的公关战中选择了牺牲他们,国家是应该给他们应得的赔偿的。何况,要保持该地区的稳定,就必须维持其经济发展。若没有这些受害市民,或他们的投资得不到保障,经济是发展不起来的。经济不发展,当地的奘=民也难以安居乐业(下一点)

  • There were moments when everything -- the ethnic tension, the rugged individualism, the hard, bright sun and the high, bare mountains -- seemed more like a Jack London story than a real society. One day some American friends and I hired a driver, a twenty-five-year-old Sichuanese named Wei, who was nursing a defeated 1991 Volkswagen Santana. He had a two-year-old son at home, and he hoped to earn enough money by carrying passengers -- though he wasn't registered to do so -- to buy a new car in six months. We agreed to pay him $36 if he drove us to Damxung, five hours north of Lhasa. Drive he did -- past the police checkpoint, where he faked his credentials ("It's simpler that way," he explained), and past a Land Rover full of foreigners driven by a Tibetan, who, realizing our driver wasn't registered, swore he'd turn him in at Damxung. "It's because I'm Han," Wei said grimly. "And at Damxung the police will be Tibetan." He drove faster and faster, racing ahead of the Land Rover, until finally he hit a bump and ruptured the fuel line.
  • The car eased to a stop in the middle of nowhere. To the west rose the snow-topped Nyenchen Tanglha Mountains. The Tibetan driver cruised past, glaring. Wei cut a spare hose and patched the leak, and then he addressed the problem of injecting fuel back into the carburetor. He unhooked the fuel line and sucked out a mouthful of gas. Holding it in his mouth, he plugged the line back in. Then he walked around the front of the car and spit the fuel into the carburetor.The car started. I could see Wei working the taste of gasoline around his mouth, and then, a few minutes later, he took out a cigarette. Everybody in the car held his breath -- everybody but Wei, who lit the cigarette and sucked deeply. He did not explode. He stared ahead at the vast emptiness that stood between him and $36, and he kept driving.
  • That was the way a Sichuanese did things in Tibet. Gasoline was bitter but he ate it, the same way he ate the altitude and the weather and the resentment of the locals. None of that mattered. All that mattered was the work he did, the money he made, and the promise that if he was successful, he'd go home rich.



  • PERHAPS the most hopeful moment in recent Han-Tib=etan relations came shortly after 1980, when the Chinese Party Secretary, Hu Yaobang, went on a fact-finding mission to Tib=et and returned with severe criticisms of Chinese policies. He advocated a two-pronged solution: Chinese investment was needed to spur economic growth in Tib=et, but at the same time the Han should be more respectful of Tib=etan culture. Cadres needed to learn Tib=etan; the language should be used in government offices serving the public; and religion should be allowed more freedom.
  • There's no question that such respect is sorely needed, especially with regard to language. I never met a single government-sent Han worker who was learning Tib=etan -- not even the volunteers who would be there for eight years. And in Lhasa at the Xinhua bookstore, the largest in the city, I found not one textbook for Chinese students of Tib=etan -- books for foreign students, yes, but nothing for the Chinese.

Update: A PR challenge for China (see all comments below the post)

- Kamm's suggestion are along my thoughts. China really do not need a PR firm, as it has done so badly that anyone could help it fix the mess


Taiwan election: the game is over, Ma wins

票數拉大到80萬 雙邊總部兩樣情 藍HIGH 綠低迷
  • 2008年 03月 22日 17:39 ╱ 壹蘋果網絡

As of this moment, the announce vote is 2,851,495 vs 2,052,158 , with Ma Ying Jeou in the lead (as predicted). Unlike 4 years ago, this is the data from the Central Election Committee, not some pro-Blue media. The game is already over for Hsieh. The Blue can celebrate. So will Taiwan's economy and peace across the strait for the next 4 years.

Viva democracy! Taiwan has set a model to the the rest of Asia that democratic transition from a dictatorship is possible, such that even after ceding power to the opposition for a total length of 8 years, the incumbent could regain power -- as long as it is able to win back the people.

p.s. Too busy for blogging recently, but I have been updating the reading list on the top of the right column.

p.s.2. The NYT prophet Keith Bradsher wrote, "The suppression of Tibet protests by Chinese security forces, as well as missteps by the Nationalist Party, which Beijing favors, have nearly erased what had seemed like an insuperable lead for Ma Ying-jeou, the Harvard-educated lawyer who has been the front-runner in the race." -- this has to be the most hilarious prediction of the year. :) Note that he did not bother to clarify what he referred to as 'missteps', and how he measured 'nearly erased'. But this is how our supposed unbiased and free media try to sway our opinion.



Here are some first hand account from an American in Lhasa. (to be read in order, i.e., chronologically). It has been very peaceful on 13th when Kadfly arrived at Lhasa, while the demostrator and police were courteous. My hypothesis is that a few radicals among the protestors eventually became impatient and incited more aggressive actions, and that escalates. (One can also say this is the government tactic, i.e. to wait for them to get tired or impatient, which is the most convenient strategy and makes sense. Though it might well be just ignited by one push too strong by a police)

I would also recommend ignoring the comment field underneath, as it is no different from any other discussion forum full of "angry netizens" from both sides.

Our hearts go to those who suffered, Tibetan or Han.

In the government report "most" of the 10 victims are unarmed citizens (presumable Han/Muslim non-Tibetan).


It seems that there us no way for the government to count the Tibetan casualties (if there is). If the government is confident that there is no excessive violence on its side, perhaps the best appraoch is to release the name list of casualties, and challenge Daramsalla to substantiate its claim of 30 or 80 casualties with real names and informations (the dead cannot be persecuted so there is no reason not to release names)

Related: Chinamatters discusses/speculates on what may have been going on. Very interesting read.

P.S. From Kadfly (read his whole post)

  • And on the subject of the shield formation photo that made it to the front page of the New York Times: I don't think any news outlet that has used it has also reported that moments after the photo was taken, Tibetans charged and the line broke, with the soldiers dropping their shields and helmets. A few minutes later when I was taking pictures of their gear and was prepared to follow the crowd that had broken through towards Ramoqe Monastery, a Tibetan woman on her way back told me not to go as someone had been stoned to death there. A few seconds after she said this, the crowd returned and declared their intention to go towards Jokhang Monastery. I never saw any bodies so this, like many other things on this blog, is just speculation: but if what the woman said was true I believe that the first death of the day on the 14th was likely a soldier from that line who was cut off from his comrades.

As a homage to CNN, I cropped to show the piece of stone on the fly.


Stephen Cheung on the new "labour laws"

What he objects most is the "automatic iron bowl" when one works for over 10 years.

This is the 9th on his long series. You can read the other 8 at his blog. But this one illustrated more initial impacts with real data. For details see below. Here I would like to illustrate the 2 key principles of the "market" in his last paragraph, with the eBay business model (or internet in general)

"这里我不能不重提我对市场研究得到的两点贡献,否决了传 统之见的。一、市场的存在是为了减低交易费用,没有交易费用不会有市场,而市场的合约自由选择是减低交易费用的重点。二、严格而又广泛地看,一个经济只有 一个市场,没有什么劳动市场与产品市场之分。后二者的分别只是合约的性质不同——在同一市场内合约的安排有别。新劳动合同法是全面地干预市场的一种重要合 约,牵一发而动全身,整个市场会受到严重的损害。"

1) The purpose of a 'market' is that it will lower transaction cost. Without transaction cost there will not be a market. The free choice of contracts in a market is the key to lower transaction cost.

2) To be more rigorous, there is only one market for one economy. There is no so-called difference between 'product market' and 'labour market'. the difference between them is just the difference in the nature of contract, i.e. the different arrangement in the very SAME market. the new 'labout law' intervenes a very important contract in the market, and this will hurt the function of this whole market.

Take ebay as an example. it lowers transaction cost (it will cost 1000s of dollar to find the right buyer for your Priesley Candy collectibles, ebays lowers that into just a 'ebay commission' plus some credit card and shipping costs. But there is still cost (commision) otherwise there won't be ebay, and the market won't exist. ebay performs an economic function (like a head hunter or a real estate agent), it gets rewarded for the market price of this activity.
Because we have free choice, we will choose the agent/buyer/seller which offers the highest value in return for what we sell (be it the collectible or the job as a match-maker). Because we have the choice of going to craiglist, trandition newspaer classified and ebay, the total cost in our society is lowered (i.e. people can spare the time effort for something more contructive and produce more (other stuff) for our society. Also, since ebay allows us more choice (i.e. collectible buyers across the world, vs those who happens to drive by your yard sales), we have more choice in terms of contracts.

The contract between an employer and an employee is a buy and sell contract, no different from any other purchase contract of physical products (eg collectibles).

The new labour law basically takes out a large category of choice for both the buyer and the seller, i.e. the employer and employee.

Now, imagine if China thrives on ebay and the migrant workers are the Presley
collectible sellers. And all of a sudden the government said eBay needs to protect the Presley collectible sellers and pay all the damage if there is fraud in the buying side, or it forces all the buyers to pay 10 more dollars for each collectible it buys. Will the sellers be better off?



(一)广州在新春后举办的招聘会,找工作的精英特 别多。所谓「精英」,是指那些工作了相当时日,履历有可观的中年职业人士。两个原因,皆起于新法第十四条——在一个机构工作了十年可获终生雇用。其一是工 作近十年或去年底逾十年的精英被炒;其二是见十年将届,精英先找新工,有可取的就炒老板而另谋高就。后者类同美国昔日的大学教师,工作六年后校方要决定是 炒还是给予终生雇用合约,引起教师抢先找新职的行为。读者要知道,到了限期员工被炒不容易找到新工作,因为在履历上被炒是个污点。因此,与其被炒,倒不如 自己算一下,认为没有把握可获终生雇用,先觅新工炒老板为上也。


(三)工厂老板面对的最大困难,是提供食宿不能再 在工资扣除,而超时及假日工资从加半倍升至加一倍。如果没有超时及假日工作,员工一般不干,但他们乐于接受不加工资而干,所以一般的工厂,在旧法下是不依 法定的超时及假日工资的。如今推出新法,工厂老板还是忙顾左右,提供超时及假日工作但不支付加倍工资,工人也是得过且过地干下去。然而,有了新法但不依新 法,工人罢工或投诉或上街的机会急升,使老板们不知怎样处理才对。按新法支薪要关门,员工同意不依新法,但老板的意识,是早晚会闯祸,非关门不可。

(四)不少老板正在越南等廉价劳力地区建造厂房, 打算一年半载后在中国关门他往。尤其是成衣制造行业,走得七零八落是肯定的了。北京当局似乎没有重视我说过无数次的,主要是为反对人民币升值而说。那就是 中国工业发展的一个主要困难,是越南、印度等地区的工资比中国的低得多,是中国的主要竞争对手。新劳动法的推出,是火上加油,未富先骄的让赛,是让得太多 太多了。


好些人认为,中国要走高科技的路,廉价劳力的工业 是箩底桔,我们不要。这想法是大错特错。走向高科技的发展已经起步,不用担心,但这发展需要后浪推前浪,要让贫苦的劳动力在下面把上头的科技推上去。换言 之,中国发展的重点,是要顾及对工商业知识低下的农民。农民的生活改进得好,改进得快,中国的所有经济问题都解决了,科技的发展更不用担心。农转工出现了 问题,农民不能继续改进生活,上帝也帮不到忙。我反复计算,依照二○○○年起的生活改进速度,中国农民的收入会在十年后达到城市中等人家的水平,这推断给 新劳动法化为乌有。

(五)如果新劳动法严厉执行,加上封杀所有漏洞, 中国的经济改革进境会止于二十九年!目前的情况,是地区政府只眼开只眼闭,得过且过地忙顾左右,或视漏洞如无物。这样的做法不成体统,更重要的是新劳动法 有九十八条,写得那样全面,若有若无的执行劳方早晚会吵起来。资方的左避右避,这里出术那里出术,无疑会大幅增加交易费用,而轮到劳方坚持依新法而上街或 罢工,北京要怎样处理才对呢?

有人说,如果取缔由国家主席批准的新劳动法,国家 体面何在?我的回应,是体面换不到饭吃。做错了就改,有什么不对?可能我过于乐观:新劳动法的杀伤力那么广及,没有多少劳工的支持,取缔不会引起大动乱。 另一方面,北京当局可以考虑我建议过的,让机构选择依新法或劳动合约绝对自由。再另一方面,北京可以考虑另一些协助劳工的安排,安抚一下。

中国今天有钱,他们的钱要怎样花,尤其是花在穷人 身上,只要不是重复性的,我们不容易反对。我反对的重点,非常重要的,是北京不要干预市场的合约自由选择。这样看,最低工资的安排也是违反了合约的选择自 由,要取缔。说过无数次,我永远站在穷人那一边。任何人相信最低工资可以帮助穷人,是不懂经济的运作。在西方,劳工是给工会及利益团体的压力误导了。

据说中国的新劳动法主要是从德、法抄过来的。最近 与一位瑞典的经济老教授谈及中国的新劳动法。他说瑞典搞福利经济,是大麻烦,但今天的发展是胜于德国及法国的。主要原因,是德、法左右劳动合约,使失业率 多年高企,但瑞典则在上世纪三十年代起,执行的原则是政府不干预劳动合约的选择自由。

这里我不能不重提我对市场研究得到的两点贡献,否 决了传统之见的。一、市场的存在是为了减低交易费用,没有交易费用不会有市场,而市场的合约自由选择是减低交易费用的重点。二、严格而又广泛地看,一个经 济只有一个市场,没有什么劳动市场与产品市场之分。后二者的分别只是合约的性质不同——在同一市场内合约的安排有别。新劳动合同法是全面地干预市场的一种 重要合约,牵一发而动全身,整个市场会受到严重的损害。

Sinophobia in HK


English translation now available on ESWN

【明報專訊】恐懼「外部勢力」 也恐懼「赤色中國」














The Spielberg story

According to people close to the Olympic Opening Ceremony team, who has worked with Zhang and Spielberg, there is another reason for the resignation, i.e. besides that infamous pressure from that poorly acted Daisy who was responsible for taking our great Gatsby from this world.

While the PRC claim that Spielberg's contract has never been sign was true, as we all know, it was just an excuse and make his resignation easier, i.e. without contractual/legal consequence.

The Olympic Organising Committee was actaully in chaos, as bureacrats were running it (instead of businessmen, or professional event organizers). Progress was slow, and while budget was not stingy at all, the funding process has been sluggish (as a result of bureacracy).

While many artists are willing to sign up even if there is no pay (just for getting the resume credit), they were not being paid for about 6 months. But Mr S does not need this credit and there is no reason for him to do volunteering work. This is why the contract has never been signed, and why he finally got Daisy as an excuse to get out.


The cossack analogy for Hong Kong

In WWII, the soldiers and weapons manufactured in Siberia have replenished the loss in tghe battlefield for Soviet Russia. This seeminly unlimited supply of new resources has shifted the balance and finally led to the defeat of Nazi Germany.

Applying this in 'democratic politics', the young generation is the "cossack" for the candidate who can appeal to the young generation. Every 4 years, some 3% of the populations cross the age of 21 and become eligible to vote. Given the voter base is only around 70-75% of the total population (excluding the under-age), about 4% of the voters are first time voters. Moreover, the newly eligibles are more likely to vote because it is a new right for them. (All these are my rough estimates. I would appreciate if someone knows the actual stats, I am sure such research has been done somewhere).

I have discussed in another post that this has been fuelling the success of DPP in Taiwan, though the trend might have been reversed recently.

In Hong Kong, this is something which has been long ignored as well, especially by the "pan-Dem" and the Nextmedia clan of "old pigeon". It has been more than 10 years since the old colonial masters have left, and more than 20 years since the British government had announced HK residents belong to the second class colonial type. What amused me is that the Nextmedia propaganda machine continue to use the colonial nostalgia reminder to tell us how bad the current government is, and how good the old colonial masters were. It seems that these writers, including the infamous writing hand (写手 aka "才子") and the various editors of Next and AD, are in the belief that such comparison could prove their points that the current bureaucrats are inferior and help them win supporters for pan-Dem. But the more likely case, in my view, is that they are really talking about what they believe and how they feel. What they do not know, or fail to realize, is that the younger generation do not share any of such experience or emotion with them (i.e. even if their ideals are mostly agreeable). Not only are they not the beneficaries of the old colonial masters, they do not have the vaguest idea what they are (well, except for a few). The Nextmedia way is just going to turn people away even if some (or many) of the ideals they preach are agreeable to this generation.

What does this new generation believe? I do not know. What I know is what would not work on them. e.g,
  • The anti-mainland card does not work. They grow up in an environment where the HK economy is suported by the growth in China. Many of them are new immigrants from the mainland
  • To another extreme, the new voters were too young to remember what happened 19 years ago. The radical approaches by many of the AD preachers do not resonate with them
  • They do not know what the hell you are talking about when you tell them what the Brits would have done. (Frankly, in my opinion, many AD articles committed the crime of lying or exaggeration when they made the pre-colonial comparision)
As a result, the defeat of pan-Dem is inevitable, if they are still toeing this party line (i.e. the Martin Lee/Jimmy Lai) line. Because, simply, they are turning away the army of cossacks to their opponents.

Perhaps the sky in Taiwan will change now

I have been very cautious when asked about the election in Taiwan all these times. I thought Ma Ying-jeou should win, and will most likely win. But the DPP election machine and strategy has worked very well in the past 8 years, and no one can really be sure.

More importantly, it is the trend of 'localization' that have put MYJ/blue in a disadvantageous position. In words, the new generation, who are borned and raised in Taiwan, will inevitably find the Green's "local appeal" more appealing. Every 4 years, there are some 3-4% of the total population becoming eligible to vote. It is this cohort of newly mint voters who has shifted (and will continue to shift) the election balance. Just like Russia in WWII, with the endless suplly of cossacks and tanks from Siberia, Russia had finally defeated Nazi Germany. This younger cohort of voters has been the cossacks for DPP -- as long as DPP can maintain its appeal to the young generation.

However, things have changed over the last few months. MYJ has taken one very important and strategic step, by taking the middle path of being ambiguous about the sensitive topic of unification vs independence, and declared it is the people who can decide.

With this important shift in 'ideology', Ma has finally won the support of "All People Clan" (全民计程车, aka Chuang Min), which is a major taxi driver organization in Taipei. Taipei has always been a KMT and pan-Blue base, one can say that Chuang Min is only a minor player. However, if you have been to Taiwan for the past 15 years, you will know how "deep green" Chuang Min has been. These die hard supporters have been fighting (literally, with bartons and fist) with the blue supporting drivers, and they will kick you off their cab if you fail their test in your conversation. When I first went to Taiwan, people warned me not to answer any question regarding politics a taxi driver may ask, if I did not want to be beated up. They were warning me of Chuang Min and told me to watch out for their flag.

The significance of the change of mind by Chuang Min is profound. It means
1) CSB has actually turned off quite some deep green supporters
2) in the Chuang Min statement, they said it was the economy that made them abandoned DPP. If that applies elsewhere over the island, I believe many others will reason in similar way.
3) Most importantly, this shows that MYJ has successfully shifted to the center, and was able to win some green supporters (not only the colorless voters)

This is the first real indication that MYJ will win.

It is time to be bullish on Taiwan's stock market. The Taiwanese business will finally be able to ride the China boom.