Category Archives: Blogs

In the land of the blind, the man with one Weetabix is king.

In a brief round up of news from the central kingdom:

– blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng might be allowed to go on a ‘gap year’ to the states

Chen had campaigned against forced abortions in his home province of Shandong and had met the brunt of provincial official brutality. Until he knocked on the US door of the US embassy….

– Weetabix are now 60% owned by Chinese company Bright Food.

The Sun have reported that the boss of Bright Food can only manage two Weetabix for breakfast…

either breakfasts in China will start getting better, or breakfast in England will be full of cadmium dihydrophosphodiesterase E4934.

I happen to like Weetabix but a head chef at the Savoy describes them as “cakes that you give to dogs”

Bright Food are also after United Biscuits, which makes Jaffa Cakes and Hula Hoops, and French yoghurt group Yoplait.

What next? Curly Wurlys and petit filous watch out..

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A tale of murder, fog, beef noodles and the ‘greatest gangster in China’

This story is a Chinese Agatha Christie style murder mystery Cluedo on crack.

The backdrop to this tale of political intrigue is Chongqing, (think Gotham with dumplings)  – an overpopulated, murky, fogged up city run by corrupt gangsters and even more corrupt officials.

Gotham

Chongqing

In November of last year a 41 year old British ‘businessman‘ Neil Heywood was found dead in a hotel room and was swiftly cremated, with the official verdict being that he had drunk himself to death. Only Neil Heywood didn’t drink. Heywood was a Mandarin speaking ex public school (Harrow) businessman, Aston Martin dealer and freelance consultant for ‘intelligence’ agency Hakluyt, who seem to be rapidly distancing themselves from the story.

The death of Mr Heyman is one of the key events in the drama of the downfall of the Communist Party chief in Chongqing, Bo Xilai.

Bo had it all. Just a year ago, he was tipped to be one of the new leaders of China and now his political career is in ruins and his wife is being accused of  murder. Bo was one of the rising stars of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and was lauded for his stints as Mayor in Dalian, Governor of Liaoniang and party chief of Chongqing. However, his stellar career has come crashing down after he was  suspended from the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) after his head of police, Wang Lijun was accused of trying to defect to the US at their consulate in Chengdu. Reports have suggested that Wang discussed the death of Heywood with Bo and suspected foul play.  Then in a frightened state he tried to seek refuge from Mr Bo by defecting to the West.  An article supposedly penned by Wang referred to Bo as the ‘greatest gangster in China’

Bo’s wife, Gu Kailai has been ‘transferred to the judicial authorities’ in relation to death of Mr Heywood. The relationship between Heywood and Bo is not fully clear. It has been reported that he was a ‘fixer’ for Bo’s family and helped his son gain a place at Harrow school in north west London.  Whether the relationship between Bo, Gu and Heywood turned sour or not is unclear.

Bo made a name for himself in Chongqing with his no-nonsense approach to corruption and organized crime. Did he broke a few eggs too many in trying to make his omelette of Chinese power? Over the course of a few months he has gone from hot prospect to hot potato and has been dismissed from the Politburo and is now being investigated for “serious discipline violations”

This is being reported as one of the most significant political upheavals in China for 20 years . The British government have added their approval to the ongoing investigations into Heywood’s death. The reactions on the Chinese blogosphere are also interesting to note. In the censored and monitored world of the Chinese internet Chinese netizens often find their freedom to use language as they please is  suppressed so they invent nicknames for people and events to make sure they can still talk about what is going on. In the internal struggles to remove Bo and Zhou Yongkang from power, bloggers reported the following:

In the 18th tugging war contest (18th National Congress) the “carrot ball” (Hu Jintao) led his team members “antenna baby” (Wen Jiabao), ‘learning machine” (Xi Jinping) and “wood seed” (Li Keqiang) to win against their rivals “Master Kong beef noodle” (Zhou Yongkang) who severely lost the game without support from “Tomato” (Bo Xilai).

The drama continues….

Bo, Gu and Neil

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Filed under Blogs, Bo Xilai, censorship, Communist Party, corruption, Dispute, media, News, Politics, Propaganda

Stop Tony 2012

Tony 2012

Tony is one of the world’s worst war criminals and I support the international effort to arrest him.

On 2 May 1997, millions of disillusioned middle class parents were taken in by his charming smile and persuaded to join him on his series of religious wars/crusades.

Who is Tony?

Tony is one of the world’s worst war criminals. In 1994 he took over leadership of an existing marginalised rebel group (Labour) and renamed it the New Labour (NL).

The NL has earned a reputation for its cruel and brutal tactics. When Tony found himself running out of members of his own cabinet, he started abducting non elected officials to be ‘advisers’ in his army or “gurus” for his officers.

Guru

The NL were encouraged to take over media, spend money on flat screen TVs, and deceive civilians–often with fake dossiers.

The NL is no longer active in northern Westminster but it continues its campaign of deception in Western Wales, the Central Republic of Stockton on Tees, and the People’s Republic of South Sunderland. In its 18-year history, the NL has abandoned more than 50,000 children and displaced at least 2.1 million people.

What is the goal of TONY 2012?

Invisible Classwar has been working for 9 years to end the UK’s longest-running unarmed conflict. U.S. military advisers are currently deployed in Central London on a “time-limited” mission to stop Tony and disarm the NL. If Tony isn’t captured this year, the window will be gone.

Sign the pledge to help us bring Tony to justice in 2012.

please watch the video. Get the bracelets, retweet this post. Get it on facebook, Bebo, Myspace, CBeebies, the lot.

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Panda Dogs

Apparently the latest craze in China is to make your dog look like a Panda.

I really feel like I should be condemning this sort of behaviour, but I think if someone offered me a panda dog I would probably take it.

For those of you that don’t know,

Differences between a panda and a dog:

Dogs crap everywhere and have a massive sex drive. Pandas eat bamboo.

Here are some panda dogs being exhibited:

The mail also write about the wild tiger dog too:

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The protest that didn’t happen

Journalists love a good protest. Even when they don’t happen. Recently they have been at the front line of the middle east protests, they were in the thick of the student protests and they seem to play a bizarre role in the way movements develop. Protestors get excited by the presence of cameras (as do most of the general public) and often become wilder and more provocative in the knowledge that they have a wider audience. In the age of rolling 24 hour news we can also expect news crews to hover about near the more extreme ends of a protest trying to capture something juicy for their viewers. Indeed I was present at last years student protest in London and at the ‘fire extinguisher’ incident at Millbank. This utterly stupid incident, the poking of Camilla and other acts of vandalism were repeatedly shown on the news and coverage was dominated by these isolated events rather than the fact that tens of thousands of protestors were pleading with their government to think twice about their rash policy decisions on education for future generations.

I am not naively suggesting that news broadcasts should avoid these events (that would be dull), merely they should try to present them in a balanced way. Having said this, I believe that the existence of live news streams has created compulsive viewing. I now watch news to see what might happen as opposed to seeing what has happened. It is a bit like staying up til 3 in the morning watching Big Brother to see if Chantelle and Wizzo fondle each other in the outhouse jacuzzi (I made those names up as I haven’t watched it for years).  But the idea of news before it has happened isn’t actually news and shouldn’t really be broadcast on a news channel.

I have watched live coverage over the last few weeks of protests in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya and I have clearly tuned in at all the wrong moments. Far from the highlights package of the days events that you get in the 10 O clock news – I seemed to tune at the more mundane moments  – a few people were standing near a camel, a man smoking a cigarette, a white man in flannel trousers. Maybe this is bad timing on my behalf, or maybe I should just wait (like we used to) for things to actually happen and for journalists to provide an insightful report after the incident has occurred.

I do not wish to downplay the role of the journalist or broadcast media in protest. They often play a vital role. In the protests in Tiananmen Square in 1989 the foreign media acted as a catalyst for the escalating protests and gave protestors an international platform on which to voice their concerns. The foreign press had all arrived in Beijing to cover the Soviet presidents Mikhail Gorbachev’s state visit. The presence of the foreign media encouraged the protestors to play up to the cameras and capture the attention of their world audience. The media savvy students created huge embarrassment for the government by writing banners in English and creating symbols that an international audience would instantly recognise such as the Goddess of Democracy. The Tiananmen Square protest was huge and involved students, writers, some Communist Party moderates such as Zhao Ziyang and most importantly workers. It has been argued that the workers joining the movement was a crucial factor in bringing about the government’s violent reaction.

This is why I believe that the protest movement in the middle east will not spread to China. Both the people protesting and the situations are different. As well as demanding political reform, many of the protests in the Arab world have centred on job creation and anger at long term unemployment. The Chinese government does have cause for concern over rising inflation, however, it does not have the same stagnant unemployment seen in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya. The media nonetheless, seems convinced that protest will spread to China. With their cameras poised, they waited this weekend on Wangfujing street, one of Beijing’s major shopping thoroughfares to report on the rumoured “Jasmine Revolution.” ‘Protests’ also apparently occured in other cities in China. the Guardian reported that:

‘Shanghai police used whistles to disperse a crowd of around 200, although it was unclear if the people were anything more than onlookers. It said officers detained at least four Chinese citizens in the city and two others in Beijing. It was not clear, however, if those detained had tried to protest’

photo of entirely different protest unrelated to this article (standard practice -see below)

This is hardly ground shaking stuff. The protests that didn’t happen(?) were reported/initiated by US based blog Boxun who claim that their site has been under cyber attack in the last week. Their website contains a series of youtube clips of people standing around and staring at police and military cordoned off areas. It is not really clear if any protest actually took place. The protests were meant to be a response to the state’s increased suppression of human rights activists and bloggers who have been suppressed. The telegraph are also reporting on the “Jasmine revolution” in Beijing,  although their leading photo is bizarrely one from Taiwan. They state that crowds of people were dispersed by street cleaning vehicles and that reporters from the BBC were ‘bundled into a van by police’. I guess we can assume that we wont be getting any rolling news pieces then? The telegraph’s photo is not the only example of deceptive photos. Anti CNN suggest that a number of news organisations have been ‘borrowing’ photos from other protests and claiming that they are part of the ‘Jasmine Revolution.’

The heightened police and military presence could indicate a growing fear amongst government officials, or it could not. Journalists in China, both domestic and foreign have always had limited access and the government are particularly sensitive if a journalist even catches a whiff of unrest. Excessive human rights abuses by the Chinese government are reported in foreign media but often this leads to Chinese accusations that the foreign press only focus on the negatives in China: a sort of nationalist self-defence mechanism. Heavy military and police presence on the streets of the capital do not indicate that there is growing unrest. It may just be a flex of muscle to show that a ‘blog uprising’ does not scare it.

Either way it is certain that ‘protests’ are a hot ‘trending topic’ at the moment so even protests that don’t happen are going to get serious news coverage.

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Filed under Blogs, Jasmine Revolution, News, Propaganda, protest, Uncategorized, Wangfujing

Learning from Han Han

Han Han (韓寒) is the most popular blogger in the world, included in New Statesman’s “The World’s 50 Most Influential Figures 2010” and a rally driver – but is his blog actually that good?  And why does he get  millions of hits per day while Brush Duck has only had 198 ever?

To find out I have translated his latest post from his blog Too Cold So Warm, a thriller with a social conscience:

Who are you, why are you asking this?

I remember last summer, when I went to a competition in Chengdu, I passed the City Government buildings.  Of course I did not know for sure that they were City Government buildings, but Chinese administrative buildings have a very distinct quality that you can recognise them.  Like when a girl stands on the side of the street you always know she is a prostitute.  At this time I said to my friend, who have these buildings been auctioned to?  My friend said one word; fart.

At the time of the 2008 earthquake of Wenchuan, the Chengdu Government proclaimed that the newly established Government buildings would be auctioned, with all the proceeds being put towards the recovery process in the disaster area, and this news had evoked a great level of interest and good feeling in the people.  I am a very naïve person, I thought this type of situation and this type of talk was genuine.  At that time I thought there must be a hundred large corporations that would purchase the buildings, to base their headquarters there, not only for the convenient traffic links, but also because if there were another earthquake they would certainly not collapse.  My friend said that the Government had already secretly snuck in.

Han Han wishing he wrote for a blog with film reviews based on trailers

Consequently I wanted to ask in the second issue of 独唱团 (Han Han’s magazine, Party, which seems to have folded after one issue) what the true reason was for the failure to auction the Government buildings, hoping to find a clear answer.  But in order to save the environment I will post it here.  Thanks go to student Cai Lei (蔡蕾) for his help.

I truly feel that if they wished to occupy the building they just should have. But to claim to donate more than 20亿* of Government building, but then only to contribute one piece of seemingly positive news is totally unfair.

At this point Han Han posts his article intended for独唱团

问知情人

At the time of the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake, the Chengdu government said that it would put to auction its brand new buildings, with the proceeds going towards the disaster relief.  I wanted to know what had happened to the buildings – how much money had been raised?

The Chengdu journalist Zheng Mou (郑某) answered not one wisp of cloud.

The construction of the Chengdu administration’s new headquarters began in 2004, and was completed in 2007, occupying 255 亩**, costing around 12亿元*** (reportedly not including the price of the land), and incorporating a high grade conference centre, visitor centre etc.  Based on pictures leaked on the internet, it has been called ‘China’s most luxurious Government building’.

According to plans, the Chengdu City Committee, the National People’s Congress, City Hall, Municipal Administrations Courts, Prosecutor’s Office, close to 70 departments, would move into the centre in 2008.  However just as the relocation process was commencing, the Wenchuan earthquake struck.  On the 15th of July, a Chengdu City Committee member stated that the new Government building would be auctioned, with all the proceeds given to the disaster relief programme, but this was the last that Chengdu residents would read in the media about the new office building.

Ordinary companies would not be able to afford an office space taking up 255 亩, and ones who could would not be unlikely to deal with such a difficult situation, as the auction was by no means formal and seemed already to have fallen through.  At the current time, Chengdu City government departments have already stealthily occupied the building, while it is clear that the media has been forbidden to report on the Government building and the moving arrangements.

In the last few days I have telephoned the Chengdu administration’s general office, the dialogue was as follows.  Question: ‘When will the entire City Government more into the new building?’ Answer: ‘We are not clear about this’.  Response: ‘After the earthquake wasn’t the building to be sold, what’s up with that?’ Response: ‘Who are you? Why are you asking this?’ I respond: ‘I am an ordinary citizen, I want to understand the state of affairs’.  Response:  ‘We are not too clear’.  Question: ‘So who is clear?  I ought to speak with that department?’ Respons: I don’t know. (Phone hangs up).

Soon after I dial the Mayor’s hotline, 12345.  After hearing the call back tone, the phone informs me ‘the line you have called is busy’.  I called again in the morning, afternoon and at night, and everytime ‘the line you have called is busy’.   I also sent SMS messages to the Mayor’s inquiry mailbox, and at the time of writing have yet to receive a response.

* what? um think that’s 20 x 100 million rmb, so maybe £20,000,000,000

** mu! Unit of area equal to one fifteenth of a hectare.  So 38250000 square metres.

*** £12,000,000,000

At this point 6327 of the readers post their comments.

So does he deserve to hold onto his crown as blogger #1?  One comment would make me happy.  And not on the mistakes in my translation!

More thrilling yarns are available at http://blog.sina.com.cn/twocold

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