Wednesday, 27 August 2008


Rising costs forcing some South Korean
factory owners to flee China
Sunday, March 23, 2008

QINGDAO, China: Scores of South Korean-owned factories are closing surreptitiously in eastern China as their owners flee rising costs, leaving behind embittered workers like Li Hua.

Li and more than 200 colleagues have been fighting for a year to get the six weeks' wages they were owed when the owner of the toy factory where they worked fled during the 2007 Lunar New Year holidays.

"I went to work on the first day after Spring Festival, only to be told that the Korean boss had run away and the factory had been closed," Li, a 30-year-old mother of a little boy, recalled.

Her case is not a rarity in Qingdao, a major seaport and industrial city in eastern China that sits across the Yellow Sea from South Korea. A two-hour flight from Seoul and home to about 100,000 South Koreans, the city is a hub for South Korean factories benefiting from cheap labor.

But lately, a growing number of South Korean factories have abruptly closed down and the South Korean owners have disappeared as a slew of policies, including rising labor costs and an end to tax breaks, bite into their profit margins.

Many of the factories produce toys, garments and ornaments for export to the United States, Europe and back home to South Korea.

Qingdao mirrors, on a smaller scale, what is happening in the Pearl River Delta near Hong Kong. There, thousands of factories, mostly run by Taiwan and Hong Kong companies, are moving inland or abroad or are simply closing as rising costs undermine the assumption that China is the world's cheapest manufacturing location.

In Qingdao, Sung Jeung Han, manager of the Korean Society and Enterprise Association said 20 percent to 30 percent of the 6,000 South Korean firms in that eastern port city were losing money.

"The wage rise, yuan appreciation and higher input prices are the main reasons," he said by telephone.

The minimum wage in Qingdao has risen 43 percent in the past three years to 760 yuan, or $107, per month.

Other government initiatives to share China's growing wealth more widely and to minimize social tension are also deterring employers who are required to provide more mandated benefits for their workers and are paying higher pollution fees.

Employers are grumbling in particular about a new labor contract law, which went into effect at the beginning of this year, that makes it harder to lay off staff members.

Dang Guoying, a rural economist at the Chinese Academy of Social Science, said the law did put pressure on companies.

"But eventually it will bring a lot of benefits despite the temporary negative impact," he said.

The Korean news media quoted the Export-Import Bank of Korea as saying that 206 Korean business owners had melted away from Qingdao without going through the proper procedures to shut down a business, like giving workers their back pay, in the eight years up to 2007.

Concerned about its reputation, the South Korean government has sent investigators and held talks with Chinese officials.

"Abandoning a business unlawfully is not good for the development of Sino-Korean relations," Kang Hyung Shik, the South Korean consul in Qingdao, said. "We will work to avoid things like this happening."

The consulate has set up a team to assist South Korean investors to go through liquidation formalities and has asked Beijing to simplify the procedure.

Both Lou and Kang said red tape was one of the reasons for the rising number of stealthy departures.

The Korea Herald quoted Hong Ji In, head of the Commerce Ministry's trade cooperation bureau, as saying that South Korea would penalize firms that leave China against the rules and allow Chinese workers to take their former employers to court in Korea.

For its part, Beijing sent Commerce Ministry officials to Qingdao last month to ask exporters about the impact of higher wage and input costs, the rising yuan and tax rebate cuts.

"There's a small number of firms leaving for various reasons," Commerce Minister Chen Deming said in Beijing on March 10. "We're negotiating with the South Korean government to ensure that companies that are in great difficulties pull out legally."

Most of the Korean companies are still seeking ways to stay in Qingdao by either revamping their product lines or raising their prices, Sung said.

The world may be moving on, but for Li, the ex-toy factory worker, the most important thing is to get her unpaid wages. "It's better to get a penny than nothing," Li said.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008


Usain Bolt of Jamaica (R) poses for photos with Huang Siyu,
13, a survivor of the Sichuan earthquake (C) and Miss
World, Zhang Zilin, (L) during a photocall at the Westin
hotel in Beijing on August 23, 2008. Bolt donated US$50,000
to the Red Cross Society of China.


BEIJING - Triple Olympic sprint gold medalist Jamaican
Usain Bolt on Saturday made a personal donation of
US$50,000 to children in the earthquake-stricken Sichuan
Province, and wished people there to "get through from the
tragedy" and move forward with the inspiration of the
Olympic Games.

"We came here, tried to perform well," said the Jamaican,
who claimed the gold medals in men's 100m and 200m sprint
as well as the 4x100m relay at the Beijing Olympic Games.
"I hope people enjoy the games, forget the past and move

"You have to move forward after the disaster. And also, the
Olympics ask people to move forward," he added.

An 8.0-magnitude tremor hit the southwestern Chinese
province and its neighboring regions on May 12, killing
nearly 70,000 people and leaving some 18,000 others
missing. At least 10 million people lost their homes to the

Bolt said that he had seen reports of the earthquake on TV
for a long time. "It makes me feel sorry for the victims,
so I ask my management team to do something," said Bolt in
an exclusive interview with Xinhua, after delivering the
cheque to Liu Xuanguo, secretary-general of the Red Cross
Foundation of China.

Two children from Sichuan, confined to wheelchairs due to
quake-inflicted injuries, presented their paintings to Bolt
as gifts.

"They are kids. They deserve a better future," Bolt said,
crouching between the wheelchairs. "I hope they can still
enjoy themselves, because they are still kids. And, it's
great for kids to live in joys. I just want to help them."

"I'm looking forward (to) more people coming out and
helping them." Bolt said.

Weeks before the opening of the Beijing Games, Bolt had
trained in Tianjin, a north China port city some 120 km
from Beijing. He was given a painting there, which depicted
Chinese soldiers rescuing kids from under the rubble.

"I still keep the painting, and will definitely bring it
home," Bolt told Xinhua. "I really appreciate it."

Talking about the Olympic Games, Bolt said that he was
welcome in China, and was moved by the Chinese people. He
said he was moved to tears on the night of winning the 200m
race, when more than 90,000 spectators in the National
Stadium, or the Bird's Nest, sang "happy birthday" for him.

The Jamaican sprinter just turned 22 two days ago.

Sunday, 24 August 2008




Chinese President Hu Jintao met Nepalese Prime
Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal "Prachanda" in
Beijing on Sunday to exchange views on bilateral
relations and the Beijing Olympic Games scheduled
to close on Sunday night.

Hu welcomed the newly-elected prime minister to
the Beijing Olympics' closing ceremony and
expressed thanks for the support of the Nepalese
government and people for the Beijing Games.

Prachanda said the Beijing Games have turned over
a new leaf in Olympic history and the Nepalese
people feel proud for the Chinese.

China and Nepal are "good neighbors, good friends
and good partners", said Hu. "The two countries
have established a good neighborly partnership
and enjoyed friendship generation upon
generation," he added.

The Chinese government respects the social system
and path of development chosen independently by
the Nepalese and supports Nepal's efforts in
safeguarding sovereignty and territorial
integrity, Hu said.

He added that the Chinese government is ready to
continue to provide every possible help in
Nepal's economic and social development and
promote the long-term and stable development of
the Sino-Nepalese good neighborly partnership.

The two countries should maintain close
communication and cooperation, in a bid to
contribute to regional peace, stability and
prosperity, the Chinese president said.

Prachanda said his country takes China as a
reliable friend and expects more help from the
Chinese side in order to achieve permanent peace
and promote economic development in Nepal.

He said Nepal is willing to cement cooperation
with China and elevate bilateral ties to a new

During the meeting, the Chinese president thanked
Nepal for adhering to the one-China policy and
firmly supporting China on the Tibet issue.
Prachanda said Nepal will firmly keep to the
one-China policy and will never allow any
activity detrimental to China's interests in its

Prachanda was sworn in as Nepal's new prime
minister on Aug. 18.

"Mr. Prime Minister has come to the Beijing
Olympics' closing ceremony within a week after
being sworn in," said Hu. "This fully
demonstrates the great attention Nepal attaches
to relations with China and its profound
friendship with the Chinese people. We highly
appreciate that."


Parchanda and Premier Wen meet
'Brothers gonna work it out'


Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao met in Beijing on
Sunday with new Nepali Prime Minister Pushpa
Kamal Dahal, known as Prachanda, discussing
bilateral relations and the Beijing Olympic

Congratulating Prachanda on his swearing in as
prime minister, Wen said China respected the
social system and way of development Nepal had
chosen according to its situation.

He believed it would realize political stability
and economic development through joint efforts of
all political parties and under the leadership of
Prachanda, who was here to attend the Games
closing ceremony on Sunday evening.

China and Nepal were good neighbors and China was
satisfied with the current development of
bilateral relations, Wen said. He noted China
would work with Nepal to further the reciprocal
cooperation in various fields and benefit the two

Prachanda said the friendship between China and
Nepal had endured the test of time. Historic
changes were taking place in Nepal's domestic
situation. The Nepali government and people were
striving for national stability and economic
development, and hoped to get support and
cooperation from China. Nepal would, as always,
supports China's efforts to maintain national
sovereignty and territorial integrity, Prachanda

Saturday, 23 August 2008


Mainstream Western media stages new
virtual sport of
“Blemishing China
Marathon” outside the venues of

By James Shen


Ignoring outpouring hospitality of the Chinese people,
Mainstream Western media has waged a negative campaign
against China recently to punish the country’s failure to
comply with Western requests at the Beijing Olympics. This
article examines the roots of the mainstream Western
media’s anger towards China, exposes its hypocrisies and
double standards, and advocates the development of a
positive-spirited media system that is built on the basis
of upholding Chinese public welfare and interests.

Full text

If you google “China” or “Olympics” on any given day in
recent months, with the exception of the few weeks China
was stricken by deadly earthquakes, you will be overwhelmed
by the shower of negative coverage from the mainstream
Western media against China and its hosting of 2008 Beijing

For months leading up to the Beijing Games, China has been
put under the Western microscope with accusations and
complaints against the country and its government sweeping
across all terrains, from big political issues such as
Tibet, human rights, protest rights, press and religious
freedom; to social problems including air pollution,
government relocation of Beijing residents; to conspiracy
stories about special visual effects of the opening
ceremony and ultra performance of Chinese athletes; and to
more trivial displeasures about losing a pair of expensive
sunglasses, difficulties to access Olympic Green, English
standard of volunteers, and over-eagerness of residents to
help the foreigner visitors. The list goes on and on.

As if that is not enough, an NBC correspondent went on a
live TV hunt for Chinese foods in Beijing. Let’s take a
look at what she found: giant scorpions, lizards, silk
worms, seahorses, iguana tails and dung beetles. Other
Western reporters also cited rabbit head, pig brain and
animal penis. Being a native of Beijing with 20 plus years
of living there and a food lover myself, I have little
knowledge where to look for these exotic things, not to
mention ever eating them. Come on, China has a civilization
of 5,000 years – Western reporters can’t be seriously
thinking about portraying the Chinese as barbaric
aboriginals or man-eating cannibals, right?

In fact, Dave Barry of Miami Herald admitted to a blog
“” that “The Chinese people I saw all
seemed to be buying things like lamb kebabs and fruit. On
the other hand, the people gathered around the centipedes
and scorpions on a stick were, in almost every case,
tourists or American TV reporters doing fun features on
weird Chinese food…. The Chinese don’t eat scorpions. They
feed their scorpions to TV reporters. I would not be
surprised to learn that the Chinese word for scorpion is
“TV reporter food.”

Granted, China is not completely innocent from many of the
aforementioned allegations and criticisms, but it is
neither an evil host which deserves no credit at all. As
the world’s fastest growing economy and one of the world’s
most ancient civilizations, there has got to be something
positive to report on.

You can be easily frustrated, however, if you are looking
to read something more positive or, at the least,
constructive about the country and its hospitable people.
Sure, there is always the official Xinhua News or China
Daily one can read for a change, but any praise from
self-proclaimed independent and objective mainstream
Western media is surprisingly hard to come by.

Meanwhile, for average Westerners, it is hard not to be
misled by the drowning negative coverage on China. A
homemaker in the US told reporters that she does not want
to “legitimize the Chinese government” by supporting the
Beijing Olympics.” Didn’t President Bush just open a bigger
US Embassy there? What are we talking about here exactly? I
am as puzzled as an Atlanta man who demanded an online
answer for not seeing Russian tanks there .

As much as I disagree with President George W. Bush on many
things, I have to applaud his recent TV interview in
Beijing with NBC in which he stressed that the US and China
as two very different countries and cultures are bound to
have agreements and disagreements on a range of things, but
it is important to have a constructive relationship which
will help each other communicate disagreements.

Wow, how I wish that he had possessed this wisdom before
starting the Iraq war – lives of estimated 1.2 million
Iraqis and 5,000 US soldiers could have been saved.

Should the 2008 Olympics be awarded to Beijing in the first

Although the closing ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games
is coming up in a matter of few days, the arguments
surrounding if IOC had made a mistake in letting China host
the 2008 Olympics and if China had fulfilled its relevant
promises seem to have just started.

Why pick a heavily-polluted country that is dictated by
“free market Stalinists” which suppresses human rights,
religion and press? China broke its promises to IOC for all
of these areas, charges the mainstream Western media.

However, according to the IOC, its mission is “to build a
peaceful and better world in the Olympic Spirit which
requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship,
solidarity and fair play - Olympic Spirit strives to
inspire and motivate the youth of the world to be the best
they can be through educational and entertaining
interactive challenges. Olympic Spirit seeks to instill and
develop the values and ideals of Olympism in those who
visit and to promote tolerance and understanding in these
increasingly troubled time in which we live, to make our
world a more peaceful place.”

Does China deserve to be awarded the hosting right of
Olympics? Apparently, the Chinese people said a loud “yes”.
The whole world witnessed how much grass-root support China
got from its people when it applied for and won the hosting
right of the event.

As a country with more than one fifth of the world’s
population – should it not be given a chance to host one of
the many games? With 1.3 billion people not represented,
can any Olympic Games truly promote its mission of
“building a peaceful and better world with mutual
understanding”? That is why the IOC made its decision and
it is undoubtedly a correct one.

By comparison, I have serious doubts if the mainstream
Western media truly understands and honors the spirit of
Olympics – questioning China’s legitimacy to host such an
international event only gives away its arrogance,
self-righteousness, entitlement and cultural supremacy in
international affairs.

If the mainstream Western media is still the true believer
of human rights and continues to uphold the universal
belief that “all men are created equal”, it should
acknowledge the birthright of any country including China,
for hosting the Olympic Games.

While China needs improvements in many areas as every other
country on this earth does, the changes and progresses made
by the country in the past 30 years are unmatched in the
its own history, which can not be hidden from view by the
mainstream Western media.

China should not be forced to make any concessions or
promises to any interest groups in order to be “bestowed”
the hosting right of Olympics, thanks to the downfall of
colonialism and imperialism! The country’s pursuit of
reform in all domestic political and social-economic
fronts, including but not limited to human rights and
freedoms of its people, can and should only be driven by
desires of its own people, rather than being imposed on by
external forces.

In addition to disputing China’s hosting rights, the
mainstream Western media also has aired many conspiracies
about China’s intention for hosting the 2008 Beijing
Olympics. Show of power? Self-interiority? Promoting
China’s development path to replace the US model? Bla, bla,

We all are humans and predictably we all want similar
things in life at the end of the day. Splendid displays,
inflated egos or decorated ideologies can not replace
people’s basic needs for food, clothing, shelter and

For hundreds of years, the Chinese people have craved for a
peaceful environment where they can focus on making a
better living for themselves rather than laboring for
self-serving emperors or greedy foreign opium traders. They
have been quite successful in the past three decades and
now they simply wanted to party and celebrate with the
world through Beijing Olympics. Is that so hard to
understand? Why is the mainstream Western media so angry
with China?

In his recent article “Are the Media Being too Mean to
China?” published on, Prof. Tim Wu of Columbia
University wrote that “China’s idea of what makes for a
better Olympics for foreign consumption—tightened security
and cleaning up marginal elements—is exactly what makes
Western reporters crazy.” While Prof. Wu’s observation only
touched on one of the surface symptoms that irritated the
mainstream Western media, it does shed some light on the
current tension. What he described is in fact a cultural
difference in how the Chinese and the Western people
receive and entertain their guests. But the root of problem
is the ethnocentric mindset of the Western reporters to the
cultural differences and their entitlement that things
should only be done in their ways.

Similar examples are abundant, whether it is about
different ways under which Chinese and Western athletes are
trained or about how they differ in keeping their personal
appearance or etiquettes. I am particularly disappointed
with Prof. Wu’s comments that “China doesn’t have the
manners and grace of the richer countries, even if it has
increasing economic and political clout.”

While making noises during eating is a taboo in many
Western cultures, being openly confrontational in social
interactions is a sin in many Asian cultures. These are
simply cultural differences that should not be judged as
superior or inferior, or we risk entering the boundaries of
cultural supremacy.

Unfortunately, it is this arrogant mindset that has led the
mainstream Western media to judge China by its own
culturally biased standards and self-centered expectations.
It is not a surprise they drew the conclusion that China
broke its promises for hosting Olympics, an allegation
China has denied.

What followed was an irrational unleash of anger by the
mainstream Western media towards China in an attempt to
force the country into the direction the Western media
desired to see. The collective media assault on China,
however, is more based on self-interests and ethnocentrism,
rather than fairness, objectivity and independence which
the mainstream Western media often preach.

Let he who is without sin cast the first stone!

A recent issue of Newsweek carried an article, “Rise of the
Sea Turtles”, that found “Westernized Chinese people” tend
to be more resentful to the West. Although I wasn’t
particularly impressed with its analysis of the root
causes, the article does provide us with a good pointer to
an emerging trend. I can probably qualify as one of the
“Westernized Chinese people” the article was referring to,
although I prefer to identify myself as a Chinese American
after becoming a naturalized US citizen for many years.

I think it is unfair and simplistic to conclude that the
“Westernized Chinese people” are more resentful to the
West, because the situation is far more complicated than
portrayed. The resentments, in fact, are not the towards
the West in its entirety but more targeted at the double
standard and intolerant attitudes often adopted by the
mainstream Western media and Western governments towards
China and other non-Western countries. “Westernized Chinese
people” tend to be elites who are educated in the West and
their advanced training and intellect make them independent
thinkers. They are sensitive towards the hypocrisies of the
mainstream Western media which scrutinizes China with one
set standards while closing its eyes to the same problems
at home. No one person or one country is perfect and the
Bible tells us that everyone is a sinner. If we (Americans)
can allow ourselves make mistakes and accept skeletons in
our own closets, why should we dissect other countries
under our tinted lenses and punish them for not satisfying
the standards that even ourselves often can not meet? We
should pursue “constructive dialogues” rather than endless
“regime changes” by using force - ironically both
strategies were supported by President George W. Bush. I
salute his newly-found wisdom which helped him reach a
peaceful resolution with the North Koreans and hopefully
the same can be done with the Iranians. If we desire
international solidarity against terrorism, why is the
mainstream Western media always so reluctant to condemn
those who terrorize China? Read its coverage of recent
terrorist attacks in Xinjiang and you know what I am
talking about.

If the mainstream Western media wants to be the role model
for its Chinese peers, why does it conveniently distort
facts, use phony pictures and brush away people who have
different opinions and deny their right to have their
voices heard? A Chinese American confronted a CNN
journalist a few months ago in LA when she and many other
pro-China protestors were denied chances to be interviewed,
the journalist responded harshly - “don’t tell me how to do
my business!”

We teach every citizen in the West to respect laws and
regulations, yet the mainstream Western media participated
in cheering the illegal protests and vandalism in Beijing.

Personally I had a painful experience demonstrating on
London streets in 1989. It was cold in that morning and I
stepped out of the picketing line for a few minutes to get
some desperately-needed sunshine. I was subsequently
handcuffed by force and arrested by the London police. When
my petite wife disputed their action, she was also
handcuffed and arrested. We were locked into separate cells
for hours with no food and water, not to mention access to
a phone and legal advice. We were only released after the
demonstration organizer intervened and after being forced
to sign the British equivalent of confession statements.

If being out of the picket line for some sun is a crime
that deserves to be handcuffed and thrown into jail in
London, why should the Chinese be criticized for expelling
illegal protestors in Beijing who purposely climb
lamp-posts, buildings and advertising billboards to display
unauthorized banners? Why should an American “pastor”, who
proudly vandalized the two Beijing hotel rooms and then
cowardly sneaked away, be cheered as a “righteous
protestor” by the mainstream Western media?

If a Chinese protestor goes to the 2012 London Olympics to
protest against the British suppression of Northern Ireland
and hang banners on the Big Ben – can he or she count on
the mainstream Western media for the same “heroic”
coverage? Should we also question the right of London for
hosting Olympics and its commitment for press freedom if
its police arrests the protestor?

Food for thought - “Do unto others what you wish to do unto
yourself” (Confucius) and “let he who is without sin cast
the first stone!” (Jesus)

Is Western-styled press freedom what China needs?

A highly-respected US scholar once told me that the Western
media is founded on the spirit of challenging authorities
and it is the media’s job to be cynical, vigilant,
critical, defiant and negative. I am a strong believer of
the fundamental principles on which the US political system
is founded. Besides many merits of the system, media stands
out as an indispensable component designed to supervise, on
behalf of the public, the three branches of the federal
government. This is almost a perfect setup except three
potential flaws – firstly, there is no mechanism in place
for the supervision of the media itself; secondly, there
are serious conflicts of interests between the two
contradictory roles of media both as a representative of
public interests and, at the same time, as self-serving
profit-making enterprises; and thirdly founding media on
the basis of cynicism and negativity has its own social

For media to fulfill its role to supervise the government,
it needs to serve public interests, rather than its own
interests. It needs to be unbiased, objective and

Nonetheless, it is well-known that the mainstream Western
media has long blended its role for public welfare with
relentless pursuit of ego, power and profits. As the world
enters the information age, the mainstream Western media
has become a new rising superpower with ever-increasing
influence on domestic and international politics, economy,
social structure, value systems and people’s everyday life.

Does Americans really have as much freedom as the
mainstream media would like us to believe? As the
mainstream Western media pursue freedoms in other
countries, Americans are losing so many freedoms that once
made them so proud.

In the past few decades, America has experienced a string
of serious challenges and setbacks including the breakdown
of family/social structure and value systems, falling
religious influence and freedom, popular abuse and
dependence of narcotics and prescription drugs, rising
violence across the country, escalating racial tension and
police brutality, widening gap between the rich and the
poor, dropping standard of literacy and basic education,
failing healthcare system that denies coverage of 23
million Americans, and a tendency of resolving
international disputes with “regime change” by military
force rather than diplomacy, violations of on
constitutional civil and human rights under the cover of
anti-terrorism, to name just a few.

Our children can no longer walk to the school bus by
themselves for fear of drug pushers and child snatchers on
the way. By the time they arrive in their schools, metal
detectors await for them in some inner city schools. They
have to leave their bags in lockers and no colored drinks
are allowed for fear of bombs. Their teachers are not
allowed to mention any religion or teach morals in schools.
Even “Christmas trees” must not be called “Christmas trees”
but “family trees”. They have to go through evacuation
drills often to remain vigilant because school shootings
are spreading. Now people are even more scared because a
school district in Texas took the lead to allow teachers
carrying guns to the classroom. But can we trust the
teachers? Do we have to outsource our teachers from India
or China one day?

As an American citizen, nothing is more valuable than my
voting right. But even that has depreciated. Why? Because
the mainstream media is not doing its job of dissemination
of objective information. Instead it confuses me with a
constant stream of selectively edited, distorted and
manipulated information in order to advance its own
preferences, agendas and commercial interests.

Let’s take a look at the tainted media pictures of
presidential candidates. John Edwards is a wife cheater,
but that has been kept from the public until now; Hillary
is a liar who believes she is entitled to be the President
and her husband Bill is hostile to the mainstream press;
John McCain is a patriot but a war monger who knows nothing
about economy; and finally Obama, alas, is actually a
celebrity, radical of racial politics, Muslim (not that
there is anything wrong with it) and “Anti-Christ”! For
God’s sake, stop harassing me with all this sensational
talk designed to boost ratings and I want to vote for Paris
Hilton, but unfortunately she is not on the ballot. So my
pathetic one vote looks quite useless, well, at least for

Moving back to topic of Beijing Olympics. A Western
journalist was quick to point out his disagreement with the
slogan, “One World One Dream”, which is meant by the host
nation to stress the commonalities all peoples share.
Nevertheless, this reporter chose to emphasize the
different values he has from the Chinese host.

Fine, let’s talk about the differences. If the mainstream
Western media can acknowledge that peoples on this earth
are different and that there are vast differences between
them in the geographic landscapes, population structures,
social-economic hierarchy, cultural values, beliefs,
religions and ideologies, it should not be difficult to
appreciate that their political, legal and media systems
also need to differ from each other to accommodate for the
specific needs of each country. It is dangerous to assume
the systems of the West are somehow superior which can be
transplanted to other countries.

Does China need a Western-style media system? I doubt it.
While fundamental Western media principles of cynicism,
defiance, negativity and confrontation may or may not work
well in the Western cultures, they most-definitely will not
be successful in the Chinese cultural environment which
values hierarchy, harmony, benevolence and tolerance among

However, it is the Chinese people who should decide
eventually what political, economic and media systems are
the ones they need. I have faith that with five thousand
years of civilization, China has the wisdom to draw from
the strengths of the West, avoid its fundamental flaws and
ultimately develop a positive-spirited media system with
Chinese characteristics that is built on the basis of
upholding public welfare and interests.

Final conclusion

By blemishing a hospitable nation, which worked hard and
sacrificed dearly to be a good host, mainstream Western
media only exposed the self-interest and ethnocentric
facets of itself to the whole world. Such irrational and
frantic behaviors will only serve to bolster more media
scrutiny by the Chinese government, further alienate the
Chinese people and erase any remaining credibility and
relevance of the mainstream Western media in the
post-Olympic China.

I love the motto of Beijing Olympics - “One World One
Dream” - the dream of the Olympic Spirit under which all
peoples of the world will be united with mutual
understanding, friendship, solidarity, fair play and
tolerance to build a peaceful and better world together.

The author is an US-based independent business analyst
supporting multinational companies that seek cohesive
growth in China. He is a native of Beijing and a
naturalized U.S. citizen. He studied in the UK in the 1980s
and has lived in the US in the past 19 years.

Thursday, 21 August 2008


Coming Soon: A Post-American World

Aug. 17, 2008(CBS)

Millions of us have been swept up in the color and drama of
the Olympic Games. But the Beijing Stadium isn't the only
arena for global competition. Now, after decades of
dominance, will the U.S. soon be "passing the torch"?
Here's Martha Teichner: Consider the Olympic Games a giant
exclamation point … a fanfare announcing a message from the

They're putting the world on notice, that they are players
playing to win, and not just Olympic gold. They want you to
know that China is a power to be reckoned with, and proud
of it, that it's bearing down on the United States … fast.

"The implications are that China will be the commercial
leader of the world," Albert Keidel, an expert on China's
economy, told Teichner. "It will also deserve and demand
leadership in global institutions."

Keidel is the author of a startling new study for the
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, "China's
Economic Rise: Fact And Fiction."

"We can model the economy and show that by 2035, it will be
as big, if not bigger than the United States' economy will
be at that time, and by the middle of the century it will
be twice the size of the U.S. economy at that time," Keidel

"That's staggering," Teichner said.

"That's conservative," Keidel said.

In cased you missed that - within the next 50 years China's
economy will double the size of the United States' economy.

So where will that leave the United States? Are we
slipping? Are we reaching some inevitable tipping point
that will change the world as we know it? Is the golden age
of America coming to an end?

Fareed Zakaria, editor of Newsweek International, said,
"What's happening right now is, the world is moving beyond
America. The future is, in many ways, being shaped in
distant places by foreign people."

Zakaria is author of "The Post-American World," which is a

"That's a big shift from a world in which America was at
the center economically, financially, culturally,
militarily, politically, to a world in which there are more
centers and many forces, from India to China to Brazil to
South Africa that have to be taken into account," Zakaria

The meltdown in the U.S. economy at the moment isn't
helping: The price of gas, the mortgage crisis, the weak
dollar, the cost (both monetary and political) of the wars
in Iraq and Afghanistan. But the shift, according to
Zakaria, is more fundamental.

"This is not happening because America is failing or
declining," Zakaria said. "It's happening because the rest
are rising, and it's happening because the natives have
gotten good at capitalism."

And it's happening right under our noses. America's
beverage, Budweiser beer, is now owned by Belgians.

The government of Abu Dhabi last month bought a 90% stake
in New York City's iconic Chrysler Building.

And isn't the United States supposed to be the place with
the biggest and best of everything?

The tallest building in the world isn't in New York or
Chicago anymore. It's in Taipei.

The Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, once the
world's largest, isn't even in the top ten now. The biggest
one's in - surprise, surprise - China.

Alan Wolff, an international trade lawyer and former U.S.
trade negotiator who specializes in china, said we're not
used to foreign competition.

Coming out of World War II, we had a lot of breathing
space; the rest of the world's economies were devastated,
"but they're catching up," Wolff said.

"Worldwide, 179 countries are growing faster than we are.
As our manufacturing jobs have moved offshore, the United
States has counted on innovation to keep its edge, but how
much longer will that be possible?"

Take the iPhone. The idea, the genius, was American. But
the phones themselves are made in China, where the
government is determined that the next generation of
geniuses will be Chinese.

"Actually, that's a stated national policy," Wolff said.
"They have a medium- and long-term science and technology
policy, 2006-2020, and in that policy one of the
statements, one of the parts is to establish global brands,
with indigenous technology, with Chinese technology behind
those brands."

Think Japanese cars. When they arrived here in a big way in
the 1970s, Detroit didn't see what was coming. Today
Toyota, not GM, is the number one-selling car company in
the U.S. And find an American community that wouldn't like
a Toyota plant putting people to work.

China wants to be next.

Michael Jemal is president and CEO of Haier America, told
Teicher that innovation and having its own patents is the
"life blood" for Haier. "Haier applies for two patents
every single day, every day of the year. In fact, it's more
than that."

Never heard of Haier America? Just wait. Right now,
Chinese-owned Haier is trying to buy GE's appliance

When it entered the U.S. market nine years ago, the company
sold three products. Now it sells 3,000. You name it, Haier
makes it, everything from little dorm refrigerators to air
conditioners, washing machines to flat screen TVs.

"Haier is the number one brand in China," Jemal said. "In
asia, we're in the top ten. The objective here in the U.S.
is also to build a market share, to be in the top three in
the U.S."

Haier is a pioneer, the first big Chinese manufacturer to
build a plant in the United States, a $40 million dollar
refrigerator factory outside Camden, South Carolina.

There the Chinese flag hangs alongside the Stars and

"This is an American plant," said Joe Sexton, president of
Haier America Refrigerators. "It's run by Americans, and it
is staffed by Americans. It is owned by the Chinese."

They employ 125 hourly employees, and 30 salaried employees
at Camden. Half these people used to work in the textile
industry. They lost their old jobs to lower-paid workers in
Asia. In other words, this is globalization in reverse.

South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford said, "We've been, I
mean, really whacked in textile job loss. We lost about
95,000 direct textile jobs in that process."

Sanford said that thanks to foreign investment, the state
has made up those losses and then some. The 600-plus
foreign companies operating in South Carolina account for 1
out of 5 manufacturing jobs. They employ nearly two hundred
thousand workers.

"Capital goes to where it's loved, and we try to be very
inviting on that front, and not just in terms of tax policy
and regulatory policy and other things, but also in terms
of direct relationship," Sanford said.

"That's happening at the local level in the United States,"
Wolff said, "but the federal government is oblivious to

Wolff said the president and Congress must face the new
reality of global competition.

"We need to change our tax policies, change our immigration
policy. We made the U.S. a magnet, an attractive place for
the best and the brightest in the world, and we frustrate
that by saying, 'You get a Ph.D. here and that doesn't
matter. Right now, we're throwing you out.' That's very
self-destructive behavior."

"We save too little, we consume too much, we borrow too
much from the rest of the world, we use energy in a
profligate and wasteful fashion," said Zakaria. He says the
U.S. must change its ways, and soon, if we want to hang on
to the wealth and influence we have.

"I think that our window for policy change is very short,"
he said. "I think if we don't, in the next few years, four,
five years, make the necessary adjustments, what you'll see
is something that looks a little like the trajectory of the
British empire in the 20th century. It's not that Britain
collapsed, it's that it just slowly faded away in
significance, in power and wealth."

Halfway through the Olympics, the enormity of China's
ambition is a wonder for all to see - and for Americans, a
sobering wake-up call.

"At one level a post-American world is a sign of American
failure, and at another it's a sign of glorious success,"
said Zakaria. "Why is this happening? Because countries
around the world are doing what we've been telling them to
do for the last 60 years: open yourself up to capitalism,
to free trade, to technology."

But Zakaria worries that one day historians will write
about how the United States globalized the world, but
forgot to globalize itself.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008


China's state enterprises aren't dinosaurs

Rowan Callick, China correspondent
August 11, 2008
The Australian

THE Olympic Games comprise China's most prominent
state-owned enterprise.

In some other countries, including Australia, the Olympics,
and sport in general, are chiefly the realm of volunteers,
of corporations, of a discrete professional world.

But there is no disguising that these Olympics are
inseparable from China Inc.

This is a good time, then, to take a look at the realm of
state-owned enterprises (SOEs), mostly set up under Mao
Zedong, which a few years back some portrayed as dinosaurs
about to pass into extinction.

Instead, as Barry Naughton, professor of Chinese economy at
the University of California, San Diego, says in the latest
edition of the influential China Economic Quarterly: "Since
their low point in the mid-1990s, China's SOEs have made a
stunning return to profitability."

In 1997 the entire state-owned industrial sector returned a
net profit of just below 0.6 per cent of China's gross
domestic product.

Ten years later, the sector's profits constituted 4.2 per
cent of a much, much larger GDP, while the non-industrial
SOEs scored a further 2 per cent of GDP in profits.

One of the reasons, Naughton points out, is that "the
Government has been willing to subordinate other agendas
such as privatisation to the quest for a robust state
enterprise sector that was financially self-sufficient and
able to contribute to the government revenue base as well".

This quest began with the closure of thousands of
loss-making SOEs, described by economists in the mid-1990s
as "zombie firms", the living dead, kept alive mainly
because no one else could think what to do with the
millions of workers they employed.

Crucially, the Government removed from SOEs the
responsibility for providing social welfare for their
workers, the old "iron rice bowl". The process of
reinstating adequate provision of such services outside the
workplace remains an arduous one, barely begun, but that's
another story.

The number of industrial SOEs dived from 80,000 to 26,000
in 10 years.

This enabled the Government to concentrate on a number of
strategic sectors, in which it intends to retain a firm
--even monopolistic, but more commonly, oligopolistic
--grip. They include energy, power, industrial raw
materials, defence, large-scale machinery, transport and
telecommunications. Financial services are state dominated.

In some areas, non-government competitors are banned. In
others, says Naughton, "high capital requirements combine
with discriminatory regulatory treatment to discourage
non-state entrants even when they are theoretically

The core 153 enterprises answer to their Chinese
shareholders via the state-owned assets Supervision and
Administration Commission (SASAC), which reports to the
State Council led by Premier Wen Jiabao.

There are now three national oil companies, four telcos,
and three airlines that carry 82 per cent of domestic

China's 31 provinces, regions and municipalities also each
operate a large number of local SOEs, though their numbers
have been pruned and their efficiency raised in a parallel
drive to that at the national level.

Overall, in 1995 China had 7.6 million SOEs, more than 80
per cent of all businesses, of which two-thirds were
collective enterprises, the others traditional SOEs.

In 2006, PetroChina, Sinopec, China National Offshore Oil,
China Mobile, China Telecom, Baosteel, Chinalco, Shenhua
Energy and the state Electricity Grid produced 69 per cent
of the profits of all 153 centrally owned SOEs.

In Australia, a misleading perception has emerged, that we
have been the winners out of the commodity boom and China
has been the chief victim, having to cough up for the
inputs of its insatiable industrial machine.

But Naughton points out the situation on the ground in
China is very different.

"Control of resource extraction and processing sectors by
central SOEs has meant that they have profited handsomely
from the global resource boom, which in turn is largely a
result of the Chinese investment boom that SOE
restructuring helped to create, and changed global relative
prices massively in favour of raw materials."

Chinese SOE resource companies are also expanding
production overseas, as Australians know.

Treasurer Wayne Swan says that every nine days he has
approved a Chinese bid to invest, with China's investment
here as a result tripling from $3.5 billion in 2006 to $10
billion last year and being set to triple again, to $30
billion, by the end of 2008.

It is China's retail manufacturers that pay, in squeezed
margins, for the commodities boom and they are being forced
to pass their higher costs on to global consumers.

As long as this does not cause massive job losses or
inflation driven by food and oil prices, China's Government
is prepared to stand back and watch the trend continue.

Because manufacturing in China, unlike the resource
industry, is increasingly privately owned, and the export
sector involves substantial foreign ownership, about 60 per
cent of China's exports come from sources fully or
substantially foreign owned.

All SOEs have been corporatised to a large degree, with
boards that include an outsider or two. Managers mostly
operate under three-year contracts with a performance
component. In 12 years, the debt-to-assets ratio of
industrial SOEs has been reduced from 68 per cent to 57 per

This year -- the icing on the cake for the Government
--Premier Wen has succeeded in forcing almost all sectors
to pay the state dividends, rather than retain their
profits to boost management and board perks, and to
reinvest them, sometimes before the equities collapse this
year in the share market, sometimes resulting in
overcapitalised assets. Most are now paying 5 per cent of
post-tax profits back to the Government.

But although SOEs mostly lack accountability to the holders
of the minority stakes sold on share markets, pressure to
perform continues, from the Government itself.

Only the top three businesses in each sector will survive,
SASAC has warned.

Thus in some paddocks of China's Animal Farm, it's dog eat

Naughton says that SASAC "encourages firm strategies
organised around commercial, service or investment markets,
not just traditional industrial production".

Under dynamic chairman Huang Tianwen, Sinosteel,
principally a provider of logistic and technological
services to China's steel industry, propelled its revenues
to $US15 billion in 2007, placing it fairly firmly on high
ground if and when SASAC starts its next cull. Every one of
the 22 Chinese corporations on the Fortune 500 list is
state owned, 16 by SASAC, five financial institutions and
just one -- Shanghai Automobile -- by a local government.
Arthur Kroeber, managing director of research firm
Dragonomics, and Rosealea Yao, research manager, say:
"Chinese policy makers have succeeded in the task they set
themselves in 1995 to zhuada fangxiao (keep the big, lose
the small)".

It is the fast-growing private sector, flourishing in areas
like retail and manufacturing, that has sucked up many of
the jobs shed by downsizing SOEs.

From 1995-2006, the state sector of employment fell from 77
per cent to 35 per cent. The private share soared from 20
per cent to 60 per cent. But, Krober and Yao stress that
"economic power remains firmly concentrated in the hands of
the state".

In 2006, the top 10 SOEs were eight times bigger than the
top 10 private firms.

They point out that the state share of revenues in banking
is 94 per cent and in insurance 97 per cent.

Jonathan Woetzel writes in the latest McKinsey Quarterly:
"The line between SOEs and private companies has blurred.
Over the next five years their ownership structure will
matter much less than their degree of openness, their
transparency and receptiveness to new ideas."

This is true to a degree.

The Chinese central Government has proved itself an
adaptable and subtle manager of its own assets. But
ownership and control continue to count a great deal.

Is there a real prospect for change?

Chen Zhiwu, finance professor at Yale school of management,
says privatising China's assets would "unleash a wealth
effect and boost domestic consumption", transforming the
growth model from the present drivers of investment and

Unlike eastern Europe and Russia when they embarked on
their convulsive privatisations, he believes "China is
operationally ready" for a change of ownership. That makes
sense. But don't hold your breath.


Taking China’s Side

by David McReynolds

There has been an enormous amount of China-bashing in recent months, leading up to the Olympics. I’d like to put in a good word for China, something not that politically correct these days. Sure, I wish the Chinese did not eat dogs, but we have pigs on our menu, and they are just as smart as dogs. Yes, I wish the Dalai Lama could return to Tibet, though the issue of Tibet is more complex than either the Chinese or the Dalai Lama make it out to be. And the history of Tibet under the Buddhists not as ideal as some in the West believe.

Perhaps most of all I wish the Chinese would use strong pressure on Sudan regarding Darfur. And, of course, as a member of the American Civil Liberties Union, and a lifelong American dissident, I support the full and complete extension of human rights to every human being on this planet.

However, much of the coverage I’ve seen overlooks some painful Western history. I fell in love with China as a kid in Los Angeles, before ever tasting Chinese food. Why, I’m not sure. Perhaps it was reading Pearl Buck’s Good Earth. Perhaps it was because I loved fireworks and firecrackers, and the ones we bought for July 4th were made in China. Whatever the reason, it certainly wasn’t the culture of California, riddled with anti-Chinese and anti-Asian attitudes.

Let’s remember, as Americans, the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which was “progressive racism”. At the time of our Gold Rush there was a flood of poor Chinese who came here, provided low wage labor, built our railways, did our laundry, but also became a scapegoat for low income workers who saw Chinese labor as competition. Some of the slogans of the time are chilling to remember:

“We want no slaves or aristocrats

The Coolie Labor System Leaves us No Alternative
Starvation or Disgrace Mark the Man who Would Crush Us To the Level of the Mongolian Slave
We All Vote Women’s Rights and No More Chinese Chambermaids”

These were slogans carried by anti-Chinese demonstrators. In 1882, after decades of such agitation, and with the support of the progressives of the day, the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed, making it all but impossible for Chinese to come to this country.

But this was small change compared to what the rest of the world was doing to China. The Opium Wars of 1839 and 1856 resulted from a struggle between the Qing Dynasty of China, which sought to suppress the use of opium, and the British who had a monopoly on the opium trade and were determined to push that addiction on the Chinese.

China lost both wars, and had to grant the British “extraterritorial rights” (similar to the rights the Americans in Iraq enjoy today). So the civilized British who, like our own half-civilized President, today lectures the Chinese on human rights, have forgotten that, for a profit, they were delighted to deal in opium.

The Boxer Rebellion at the turn of the last century saw an uprising by members of the “Chinese Society of Right and Harmonious Fists” against foreign influence. (They took the name “boxer” from the martial arts they used). The rebellion against foreign influence was serious enough. According to Wikipedia “In June 1900, the Boxers invaded Beijing and killed 230 foreign diplomats and foreigners.”

Chinese Christians - who had also been targeted - and Westerners retreated to the legation quarter, putting up a two month struggle until a “multinational coalition rushed 20,000 troops to the rescue”. The Boxer Rebellion was a serious challenge to outside influence and those outsiders (including Japan)
were enthusiastic in sharing the burden of crushing the Chinese. There were 51 warships sent in (18 of them being Japanese, 10 being Russian). At least 55,000 troops were sent (Japan, with 20,300, sent the most, the Russians with 12,400 were second, and the British with 10,000 came in third. The Americans,
not yet a world power, sent only 2 warships and fewer than 3500 troops.

China was crushed, humiliated, the last Chinese dynasty ended. Let me quote Kaiser Wilhelm II’s July 27th order to his troops: “Make he name German remembered in China for a thousand years so that no Chinaman will ever again dare to even squint at a German.”

Western intervention paved the way for the rise of Sun Yat-sen, who overthrew the Mancu (Qing) dynasty and established the Chinese Republic. But the Chinese Republic had a short and turbulent life. World War II did not begin in Europe - it began on July 7th, 1937, when the Empire of Japan launched a full scale invasion of China. It was this which I remember as a child, when our bubble gum came wrapped in horrific (and pro-Chinese) illustrations of Japanese atrocities. (Perhaps the chewing gum was made in China?). The infamous Rape of Nanking, in which thousands of Chinese civilians were raped and murdered by the Japanese military forces, still rankles in Chinese minds.

For a time Chiang Kai-Shek, who had succeeded Sun Yat-sen, cooperated with Mao and the Communists in fighting the Japanese. But at a crucial point Chiang turned on the Chinese, massacred thousands in a surprise attack, and the Chinese Civil War began in earnest. continuing until 1949, when Chiang retreated to Taiwan and the Chinese Revolution was complete. (Throughout that war, the US sided with Chiang Kai-Shek, supplying him with weapons and using US air power to move Nationalist troops into position against the Communists).

My sense is that there is a general agreement by military historians that Mao and his forces did a better job of fighting the Japanese than Chiang’s Nationalists.

But the West was hardly ready to deal with China, a nation far more civilized than our own, or any nation in Western Europe. We denied China its seat in the Security Council. The US refused to “recognize” China. It was not until the famous visit to China by Richard Nixon that relations were finally normalized.

My view of China is not shaped by an enthusiasm for Maoism. (I do recommend Edgar Snow’s Red Star Over China for a sympathetic view of the Chinese Communists, and I know my father, who served with Army Air Force Intelligence during the war, and was in China more than once, was deeply impressed by the Chinese. More than that, my father, a devout Christian and political conservative, was baffled that the Chinese, in all their poverty and hunger, had a dignity and “sense of worth” that impressed him).

It is not the current Chinese State I endorse, but the long history of China, its remarkable accomplishments over thousands of years. I am embarrassed when the West chides China today, at a time when NATO is killing civilians in Afghanistan, and the US and Great Britain have, between them, laid waste to Iraq, one of the cradles of civilization in the Middle East.

It had long been my hope to visit China. I know, as the years pass, that goal won’t be achieved. But from afar, and long before the Chinese Revolution, I was on the side of China. I don’t even like sports, but I am glad the Olympics is a success. I compare the speed with which China dealt with the horrible disaster of its great earthquake this year with the total failure of George Bush to cope with Katrina.

I believe in human rights - but one of the most basic of human rights is the right to eat. China has paid a high price for its swift industrialization but it has given many of the people of China a chance at what we would call “the good life”. I live in a country with the highest number of men and women behind bars of any nation in the world - I hesitate to make human rights in China my first priority. China is now one of the emerging great powers. It would be to our advantage to treat it with a sense of respect to which its several thousand years of civilization entitles it.

David McReynolds worked for many years for War Resisters League, was at one time Chair of War Resisters International, and was the Socialist Party’s Presidential candidate in 1980 and 2000. He retired in 1999 and lives on New York City’s Lower East side with his cats. He can be reached by email at:

Monday, 18 August 2008


Olympics and Opium Wars

By Richard L King
Asia Times

In a few days, the XXIX Summer Olympiad will be held in
Beijing. The opening ceremony will begin precisely at 8:08
am on August 8, 2008 or 808.8.8.08. The number 8 is an
auspicious number in China , equivalent to lucky 7 in the
West - July 7, 2007, saw a rash of weddings all around the

Hundreds of thousands of foreign visitors - not to mention
more than 20,000 journalists - will be descending on China.
They will marvel at the ultra-modern architectural wonders.
Most will arrive by air, landing in the new Terminal 3 of
Beijing International which was designed by British
architect Norman Forster.

In the city, visitors will be able to gaze at the "Bird's
Nest", the main stadium designed by the Swiss firm Herzog
and de Meuron. There are other outstanding buildings such
as the National Center for Performing Arts, nicked named
"The Egg". Its architect is Paul Andreu of France. There
are other outstanding buildings such as China Central TV (
CCTV)'s headquarters, designed by Dutch architect Rem
Koolhass, and the whimsical Beijing National Aquatics
Center nicked named "The Water Cube".

But there is another landmark sight that visitors should
see: the burned ruins of the former Summer Palace, or Yuan
Ming Yuan. It was a collection of palaces containing more
than 200 buildings that housed irreplaceable works of art
-paintings, sculptures, porcelains and manuscripts. It is
located only minutes away from the Olympic park.

But it's a world apart. In the 19th century, when Britain
forced opium on China, the Chinese government rightly
resisted and this precipitated two so-called "Opium Wars".
The Treaty of Nanking in 1842 gave Britain the right to
continue to sell opium to China, and China was forced to
open five treaty ports granting extraterritorial rights to
Britain, ceding Hong Kong to Britain in perpetuity. But
Britain still was not satisfied; it once again invaded
China, this time with France, in 1860.

On the order of Lord Thomas Elgin the Summer Palace was
burned down. The Hindi word "loot" entered the English
lexicon at that time when Anglo-French soldiers stripped
the palace of its treasures. China was forced to make
further concessions and to pay a huge indemnity to the

The clash between the two empires in the 19th Century was a
total mismatch. Britain was at the zenith of Pax Britannia,
and China was at the nadir of its long history. Britain had
advanced modern weapons, while China was still fighting
with bows and arrows. The resulting destruction and
slaughter of tens of thousands of Chinese will always be a
blot on Britain'’s history.

Some may say that these events took place more than a
century and half ago and that China should let bygones be
bygones. However, these injustices were righted only
recently, especially from the Chinese perspective of its
long history. When asked in 1972 what he thought about the
success of the French Revolution, the late Zhou En Lai's
response was: "Don't you think it's too soon to tell?" The
elimination of extra-territorial rights took place only in
1943, a century after being forced on China. And China did
not recover Hong Kong until 1997.

If anyone, especially those from the West, wishes to
criticize China about human rights, religious freedom and
corruption; they should be sensitive to China 's sense and
sensibility. Forcing opium on China enslaved a generation
of Chinese and caused corruption on a scale that dwarfs
anything in present-day China or even current chaos in

Quoting Travis Hanes and Frank Sanello's excellent book,
Opium Wars:

"Imagine this scenario: the Medellin cocaine cartel of
Columbia mounts a successful military offensive against the
United States, then forces the US to legalize cocaine and
allow the cartel to import the drug into five major
American cities ... plus the US has to pay war reparations
of $100 billion for the Columbians' cost of waging the war.
That scenario is of course preposterous. However, that was
exactly what Britain forced on China . Along with opium
came Christian missionaries whose zealous attempts to
convert "heathen" Chinese destroyed indigenous religions in
the process and served as a helping hand to the colonial
exploits of the West."

If the new buildings represent China 's renaissance, the
burned out Summer Palace remains a symbol reminding China
of its past weakness and humiliation. In the 1800s, China
paid Western imperialists' thirst with blood. Now in the
21st century, China is paying Western thirst for profits in
cash, and it can afford to. There is certain irony that two
of the main attractions are designed by Forster and Andreu
whose forbears were the ones who burned down the Summer
Palace .

The West, with this stain on its past, lost its moral high
ground a long time ago. It will have to earn that trust
from China with acts of constructive engagement, not
lectures, if we are to see a world that is truly global,
and not a continuing clash of civilizations.

Richard L King, PhD, has been in the investment industry
for more than 30 years. He received his PhD in nuclear
physics from New York University in 1970 and also attended
Stern Graduate School of Business at NYU. He is currently a
venture partner at GRP Venture Partners, a large
partnership based in Los Angeles which manages more than
$600 million. He is also an adviser to Next, the Finnish
venture partnership firm specializing in wireless
technologies with offices in Helsinki and in Silicon
Valley. Originally from Shanghai, Dr King is a grandson, on
both sides of his family, of two of the founders of the
Bank of China.

Sunday, 17 August 2008


UN official: Beijing Olympic games
"leave valuable legacy for China"

BEIJING, August 15 (Xinhua)

The biggest legacy of the Olympic Games for China is the
promotion of the country's long-standing and sustainable
development, a leading UN official said on Friday.

For the past eight years, China has made great efforts to
prepare Beijing and other cities for a world-class Olympics
with an emphasis on environmental sustainability, and the
public awareness of environmental protection is growing
with it.

"The next focus of China is to further promote the concept
of Green Olympics and finally realize the goal of making a
Green China,"said Malik, who also showed appreciation for
China's efforts to make a smoking-free Olympics.

China's changes brought by the Games should be evaluated by
the eight Millennium Development Goals by 2015, said Khalid
Malik, the UN Resident Coordinator in China.

He also noted that the Games had played an important role
in boosting gender equality and helping women to get rid of

He cited Chinese Weightlifter Chen Xiexia of women's 48kg
class as an example.

Chen, who won the first gold medal for China at the Beijing
Olympics, grew up in a poor rural area, but she finally
became the world champion with the support of All-China
Women's Federation.

Malik said the spirit of Olympic volunteerism is also one
of the legacies.

"Their work demonstrated the spirit of humanity, and that's
what the Olympics legacy really is," He said.

Friday, 8 August 2008


Charles Robinson
Yahoo Sports

BEIJING – The sky was on fire, and the security guard standing next to me inside the bowels of Beijing’s majestic “Birds Nest” wouldn’t stop elbowing me.

He nodded toward the hundreds of booming drums carpeting the stadium deck below us, and sounded out a word.


Indeed. Awesome.

Friday’s Opening Ceremony was one of the few moments in the fantastical world of sports when superlatives had no shot. Brilliant. Powerful. Gripping. Take your pick. String them all together and they can’t exaggerate this one. Maybe the only way to understand how fulfilling the 2008 Opening Ceremony was is to think four years in advance to the 2012 games, and pity the city of London. The planning committee from those Games was in attendance last night. And you can bet whoever is in charge of the ceremony there was sitting on a floor with his head in his hands.

Here are the five things I sure hope NBC shows on Friday night, building from memorable to unforgettable:

1. The singing of the Chinese national anthem

This might seem like an odd pick to Americans. But part of the remarkable nature of these games is the continuing exploration of the people of China, and a deeper look into their national pride. Never was that self dignity and absolute affection more apparent than the singing of “March of the Volunteers.”

After having been in many, many stadiums and having heard anthems belted out in every conceivable way, it was fascinating to see the Chinese singing in such an emotional way. There was no restraint whatsoever – every voice was maxed out, and every word was given an equal measure of passion. It was such an abundant harmony that almost anyone I could see who wasn’t Chinese was looking around at the people standing next to them, enjoying the spectacle.

2. Kobe Bryant

This was the oddity of the night. Behind the Chinese president and the entire national team, the one athlete who appeared to get the loudest ovation was none other than Kobe Bean Bryant. The moment was so odd that even U.S. journalists were looking at each other in puzzlement. The Russian, Chinese and American presidents were here, but Kobe was the head of state tonight.

3. Costumes and props

The sheer number of human beings incorporated into the ceremony was staggering. The government put the tally at more than 10,000, and it didn’t appear to be an exaggeration.

But the array of costumes and props was like nothing an Olympics has ever seen. The sets produced were unending, from a titanic scroll to an undulating stadium floor that produced Chinese symbols to a planet that rose from beneath the stadium deck – the sets took you through a 5,000-year time capsule of China’s history. And the costume designs (there were over 15,000 costumes used) were flawless, vivid and colorful, whether it was the thousands of ancient robes or space-age suits that contained countless flickering bulbs.

4. Percussion drums

The first moments of the ceremony were signaled by the amazing rhythmic rumble of 2,008 percussion drums that produced a pulse-pounding start. The drums also turned into a giant set of cascading lights, shuffled from one end of the bird’s nest to the other, as a roaring crowd climbed to its feet. There was something primal yet elegant and powerful about the drums at the start.

5. The lighting of the torch

You know an Olympics has gotten off on the right foot when the torch lighting ceremony really grabs you. Muhammad Ali at the 1996 games in Atlanta was a proud and heartfelt moment. The flaming arrow in the 1992 games in Barcelona was inventive and daring. But Beijing set a mind-bending standard that defied belief.

I have been told not to give it away, but I can honestly say that nobody in the building could have guessed what ultimately happened. Expect something that breaks the laws of nature, but manages to be both graceful and awe-inspiring at the same time.

If those are the right words to describe it.

Thursday, 7 August 2008


American cyclists apologize for masks

Wed Aug 6, 2008

By Deborah Charles

BEIJING (Reuters) - Four U.S. cyclists who arrived in Beijing for the Games wearing masks to counter bad air have apologized to Olympic officials and the Chinese people.

Track cyclist Bobby Lea said the riders had sent a letter to Beijing Games organizers (BOCOG) to make sure they realized the masks were not meant to be any kind of statement or protest.

"We didn't realize the impact that wearing the masks would have," Lea told Reuters on Wednesday. "From our standpoint it was to take care of a perceived health risk.

"In reality it came across as offensive. We don't want to insult BOCOG or the Chinese public. Had I known it was going to be perceived as an insult I wouldn't have done it."

Lea, Sarah Hammer, Jennie Reed and Michael Friedman wore close-fitting masks covering the nose and mouth as they got off their plane.

U.S. Olympic Committee chief executive officer Jim Scherr said about one third of the U.S. team, some 200 athletes, had been issued with the masks before arriving in China but said the cyclists were "a bit overcautious".

He said athletes were understandably concerned about anything that might impair their performance in sports where a few hundredths of a second could mean the difference between gold and fourth place.

"We did not ask the athletes to apologize (and) we would not forbid our athletes from wearing masks," Scherr added.


Lea said the cycling team used masks when they came to Beijing in December for a test event at the velodrome and it did not cause a stir.

"It was an oversight on our part to think that showing up at the Olympics we wouldn't be so scrutinized," he added.

Lea said one of the reasons he believed there was a health risk in Beijing was because when he came in December he got a respiratory illness and was unable to compete.

He said Olympics organizers had done an "incredible job" cleaning up Beijing and the air since last December.

Beijing's chronic pollution, a source of respiratory illness, has been one of the biggest worries for Games organizers who have had to deflect international criticism over air quality.

The city was covered in haze on Wednesday, two days before the Games begin.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008


Time to stop criticising China - we've already come so far

Those who attack the Chinese regime miss the point. There have been huge advances in personal and economic freedoms

When I was at school, sports lessons included an exercise where we threw hand grenades (made from wood topped with metal to resemble the real thing) against a wall over which a red slogan had been stretched offering the reason for such a militaristic pastime: 'Exercise our bodies and protect our motherland.' We feared that China might be invaded one day by the American 'imperialists' or Soviet 'revisionists'. Indeed, the whole West held evil intent towards us. Living in a closed country, we had little idea about the outside world.

I went to school in Nanjing in the early Seventies, when the revolutionary fever of the Cultural Revolution was calming down. A few years earlier, my father had been banished to the countryside for criticising the government. My grandfather, a small-time grain dealer, had committed suicide, as he worried his not-so-politically-correct background would land him in trouble. These were the darkest of times for my family, as well as for our nation. China has come a long way since then, yet the image of those dark days remains deeply imprinted on Western minds. I wonder whether the West is a little too keen to report the negative stories. Or perhaps the West feels more comfortable hearing such stories?

That's my impression, as a Chinese who has lived abroad, but has returned to Beijing. Even during those days throwing grenades, I dreamt of becoming a journalist and writer. That dream was shattered when I was 16 and my mother dragged me to work at a state-owned missile factory.

My journalistic career started with the Olympics. In 1993, on the night when the result of the first bid was announced, I was at Tiananmen Square. I recall the fountain going off as we thought China had won the bid. It was heartbreaking to interview the bitterly disappointed crowds. But, in truth, China wasn't really ready. The memory of the bloody crackdown in 1989 was still fresh.

I was also in Beijing eight years later when China did win the bid. In our neighbourhood, grannies spent the whole afternoon practising their dance steps and their husbands beat drums and gongs. This time, we were not disappointed. The wild celebration, the deafening noise of fire crackers, laughter and ecstatic cries went on the whole night. I was interviewed by the BBC. I said: 'In the ecstatic cries, I heard Chinese people's longing for the recognition and respect from the world.'

I was just as happy as everyone else. Ever since the economic reforms, China has lifted millions of people out of poverty. An incredible feat. As a child, I used to roast cicadas to satisfy my craving for meat; now my 19-year-old nephew, a student in Nanjing, drives his own car. People are enjoying a great deal more personal freedom. As a girl in the rocket factory, I had to endure so many rules. I worked there for 10 years. I was never promoted, partly because of my naturally curly hair - my boss thought I wore a perm. Back then, only those with a bourgeois outlook would curl their hair. These days, young women curl their hair, shave off their hair or change the colours of their hair whenever they want. It's not a small thing.

Over the past few years, I have seen how the capital has been transformed. State-of-the-art buildings - not just Olympic buildings such as the Bird's Nest' and the Water Cube - have popped up like mushrooms after a spring rain. With only a few days to go before the opening ceremony, Beijing, having undergone a facelift, has never been so beautiful, clean and quiet.

Huge efforts and sacrifices have been made. To ensure the best possible air quality, polluting factories around Beijing have been shut down, construction work has been halted and cars have been taken off the roads (the results, admittedly, have been mixed). Other measures are excessive: beggars, the homeless and migrants without documents have been driven out. Petitioners who bring their grievances to the Supreme People's Court have been stopped from entering the capital. Potential troublemakers are being monitored or are under house arrest. Such has been the stance the authorities adopt while dealing with uncertainly.

Yet Beijing's Olympics will be a success because the majority of the population want them to be, not just because the government wants to use Olympic success to gain legitimacy. Xia Fengzhi, a 67-year-old retired worker and a volunteer, told me how happy and excited he is about the Games: 'I want foreigners to see what China has achieved. We were called the "sick man of Asia". Now we are strong and rich enough to hold such a major international event.'

No doubt there will be many more negative stories abroad, criticising China's human rights abuses, the lack of media freedom and the over-tight security. Of course, some Chinese have no access to the reports, but those who do tend to dismiss them as grumbles from anti-China forces. In a survey conducted by the Pew Research Centre, China's people ranked first among 24 nations in their optimism about their country's future, buoyed by the fast economic growth and the promise of the Olympics.

There is, I believe, another factor - the timing. The survey was conducted this spring, just after the unrest in Tibet and during the troubled Olympic torch relay, when China experienced a surge of nationalism in response to what many Chinese regarded as an 'anti-China feeling' in the West and 'biased' Tibet reports.

I have no problem with the negative stories, but I think it's wrong for the West to stand in moral judgment, especially when some of the accusations are not true. For example, what happened in Lhasa, in my view, was far more complicated than 'the Chinese government's ruthless crackdown on Tibetan protest'. There was a peaceful protest, but there was also a violent racial riot, one I doubt that would be tolerated in any country.

As a journalist, most of my stories criticise the government, which seems to have little idea as to how to present itself. Blessed with such domestic support and armed with skills in mass organisation, the authorities could have taken a more relaxed approach to this festival of sport. Why didn't it make the Olympic Games a fun event - China's big coming-out party? It didn't need to cause so much interruption to people's lives. It would have been far better to let the world to see China as it actually is.

I can't help feeling there's been a missed opportunity on more important matters, too. Our leaders could have made use of this to address the real issues: cracking down on corruption, improving the rule of law, relaxing media control and opening the country further.

But don't doubt our support of the Beijing Games. The Olympics are meant to be an occasion to bring different people with different views together. It'll provide a chance for China and the rest of the world to understand each other. Although I can understand how China's undemocratic political system and lack of transparency make the West uneasy, especially when matched with the country's rise, much of the fear is generated by ignorance.

Today's schoolchildren enjoy far more sophisticated sports than throwing hand grenades. They know a lot more about the outside world. I wonder if Western children know as much about China? And if they did, would there be still be the same fear? Maybe the Olympics will bring us closer.

· Lijia Zhang is the author of 'Socialism Is Great!': A Worker's Memoir of the New China