Archive for December, 2010

Number Crunching

December 26, 2010 Leave a comment

700,000: the number of cars licensed in 2010 in Beijing.

240,000: the number of cars allowed to be sold in Beijing next year to alleviate traffic congestion.

30,000: the number of cars licensed in the last week of December 2010 after new traffic laws were introduced.

15km/hr: the average traffic speed predicted for 2011.

Categories: Number Crunching

Black Ghosts

December 23, 2010 Leave a comment

News broke today of the China-Africa Friendship Award – given out to companies, promoting, er, China in Africa.  One category in 2009 included “Five African People Who Deeply Moved the Chinese People” one of the recipients of which was Kenneth Kuanda.

Who he?

As well as being the first President of Zambia, he’s the guy who established a one-party state in Zambia in 1972 – going so far as to hold elections during which he was the only standing candidate – and also crippled the country in the 1960’s through a misguided attempt to nationalize the copper mining industry.  Oh, yeah and he also did deals with Saddam Hussein to supply oil to Zambia in the 1980’s.

Categories: Gongwatch, Uncategorized

Chinese Officials: Wikileaks Cables “best interdepartmental communication we’ve had for years”

December 16, 2010 Leave a comment

Emergency meetings have been convened this week in Beijing in a special effort to “seriously study and analyze” the leaked cables from US embassies.

“There’s a lot of information to go through, and we should make an effort to properly analyze it,” said a spokesman surnamed Zhang at a hastily arranged press conference in the capital.

Surrounded by members of the local Chinese press, Zhang went onto say that “We’re stunned.  This is really the only time that we’ve been able to actually see what’s going on the country – this is best interdepartmental communication we’ve had in 30 years.”

Over the past few weeks, the cables have shown in minute detail the inner workings of the usually secretive diplomatic and political behind-the-scenes wrangling.

“They really were eye-opening.  Sure, we go out for parties and stuff, and we get official memos, but this is just above and beyond what we all imagined modern China to be like.  It really makes us proud to be Chinese – to think that local Chinese officials are having lunches with American diplomats really gives me hope for the future, “ a security guard at the Canadian embassy surname Zhang told us.

Categories: Politics, Uncategorized

A Chinese Journalist Writes…

December 14, 2010 Leave a comment

“Censoring the Internet by pushing for charges against Assange would only inflict more damage on the US. While the leaked cables may have damaged some trust between the US government and foreign governments, the crusade against WikiLeaks and Julian Assange would destroy people’s trust in the freedom of the press preached by the US.

Remember, Assange is a fellow journalist, or a citizen journalist in the age of new media, and uncovering the secrets of governments, corporations and interest groups is part of a journalist’s job.”

Chen Weihua, WikiLeaks’ Ordeal Tests Internet Freedom, China Daily

Quote/Unquote is an occasional column dedicated to gems from the Chinese press.


Categories: Quote/Unuquote

A Lawyer Writes…

December 14, 2010 Leave a comment

The law doesn’t ban our presence at interrogations. But since nobody ever initiated it and asked for it, you just follow what others do, and don’t ask to be present.

– Zhang Yueming, Beijing based criminal lawyer on why lawyers are never present during criminal interrogations that often include torture as a way of securing a confession.

Quote/Unquote is an occasional column dedicated to gems from the Chinese press.

Fantastic Prizes to be Won!!

December 14, 2010 Leave a comment

Taiwanese animators at the Apple Daily and NMA weighed in with their satirical short film “China Creates Peace Price to Rival Nobel” and “Li Xiao Bo: A Story of Hope and Struggle” both of which skewer the political miswranglings of China’s finest diplomatic minds.

Not wanting to be outdone, the Chinese responded to pressure from, er, the Norwegians, by awarding a it’s own citizens with prizes for outstanding achievement in the fields of harmony and peace.  The World Harmony Award, created by the World Harmony Foundation was awarded to none other than Chi Haotian, a Chinese general who had orchestrated the troops at Tian’anmen Square in 1989, encouraged Chinese people to fire on women and children on the battlefield (although what women and children are doing on the battlefield is anyone’s guess), and drew up plans for a Chinese invasion and occupation of the USA:

Our military battle preparation appears to aim at Taiwan, but in fact is aimed at the United States, and the preparation is far beyond the scope of attacking aircraft carriers or satellites. Marxism pointed out that violence is the midwife for the birth of the new society. Therefore war is the midwife for the birth of China’s century.

Er.  Go China?

U.N. Undersecretary General for Economic and Social Affairs lent a certain weight to the award ceremony to the insane old man honorable CCP cadre, by gently handing it to him, rather than smashing him over his wrinkled old noggin with it and doing us all a favour by putting him out of our misery.  Needless to say, the UN’s Human Rights High Commissioner, Navanethem Pillay, declined to attend the award ceremony for Liu Xiaobo in Oslo

Furthering the cause of peace in the troubled province of Taiwan was the aim of the Confucius Peace Prize, which was duly awarded to Lien Chan of the KMT – who promptly denied ever hearing of it, as was told to the Taipei Times:

“We’ve never heard of such an award and of course Mr Lien has no plans to accept it,” said Ting Yuan-chao (丁遠超), director and spokesman of Lien’s office.

The KMT yesterday also denied having any knowledge of the the award, but defended his contributions to cross-strait developments.

“The KMT is not aware of the news and it would be more appropriate to comment on the matter after we make sure there’s such an award and learn the details,” KMT Spokesman Su Jun-pin (蘇俊賓) said.

Since Chan wasn’t sure if the award even existed, he didn’t attend the award ceremony (described as “chaotic” and “hastily organised” by attendees) so the glass…thing was given to a young Chinese girl with ponytails instead, because, of course, Chinese girls “symbolize peace and future”.

The whole pointless, posturing fiasco is best summed up by the inimitable James Fallows at The Atlantic:

South African officials eventually looked back with regret on the years in which they jailed Mandela; while racial inequalities are still with us in America, even Glenn Beck pays honor to Martin Luther King. Let’s hope Liu and his family live to see the day when official China can look back with regret on its decisions at this time.

Beijingle Bells

December 7, 2010 Leave a comment

Christmas in China pretty much has to be seen to be believed.  Christmas, Christianity and most of the other imported ideas here are at the mercy of Chinese interpretation, that is to say, they’ll all do it so long as it’s cool and fashionable, but no one will really know what they’re doing or why.  That said, not really knowing what or why are pretty much the default settings for most Chinese people.

The festive period is a particularly isolating time for expats in this neck of the woods, not least because of the largely government sanctioned Good Times™ dictate when and where people can have fun beyond a late night card game in a smoky restaurant.  Perfectly rational people call themselves Christian without ever have attended mass, even midnight mass on Christmas Day, and quite frankly as someone who was raised Roman Catholic, and is still dogged by the incumbent guilt, shame and lack of self-worth that those dogmatic teachings instill, I understandably feel more than a little cheated about this.  The Chinese have approached the Christian celebration of mass and the Eucharist as they have approached everything else – pointlessly attaching a myriad nitpicking laws, unnecessary surveillance and legislation that wouldn’t look out of place in 14th century Cardiff.  Nevertheless, people do try their best to enter in the spirit of things, albeit, they’re a little wide of the mark sometimes.

Take, for example, the large, crass and downright vulgar Garfield statue that sprung up near my office in Chongwenmen.

The connection between celebrating the birth of Christ a and orange lasagna loving cartoon cat?  Well that’s anyone’s guess…

Categories: Beijingle Bells