Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Yao Ming, cyber nationalists, Jonathan Levine, anger, Peng Yu, Wukan, prostitution, etc.

Picture via China Daily

You can't be as intelligent, worldly and well-connected as Yao Ming and not enter politics. I think he can have influence if he doesn't let himself get pushed around... "dunked on," if you will. Please insert your own Shaquille O'Neal/Charles Barkley joke here.


I really wish an editor could have cut half this article and just left the good stuff, such as: "I want to take up one concrete example from the 'dark side'.... Over the past four years, I have been engaged in a type of digital ethnography, which has taken me deep inside one of the small corners of the Chinese internet -- a rather dark, sobering periphery inhabited by an increasingly truculent community of Han nationalists." Although it bears noting that these nationalists are somewhat the equivalent of America's dumb YouTube commenters, so I have to ask: Is it really all that insightful plumbing these depths? "I found myself banished from Hanwang.... In response to a plea from one overseas-based members about upholding freedom of speech on Hanwang, the administrator asserted: 'Hanwang isn’t a place where 'free discussion can occur,' and that overseas members could not possibly understand the difficulties faced by those living and writing inside 'the shield.' 'In order to make sure that other netizens don’t lose out,' he concluded, 'I ask you to go elsewhere to explain yourself. Thanks for your cooperation.'" [James Leibold, The China Beat]

A response to Jonathan Levine's infamous NY Times editorial that predates him by a month: This one-post blog called is just a plain and simple takedown of Levine... but, as mentioned, written nearly a month before Levin's article came out. Imagine that.

I'm still angry because of this. "He changed history so that it would look like the Chinese soldiers were outwitting the Japanese, eschewing the much better scene -- both in terms of art and historical accuracy -- in which viewers might have gotten the faintest idea that perhaps not all Japanese soldiers were heartless homicidal pathological psychotic raping devils." [Heart of Beijing]

NOW this comes out? "But in retrospect, everyone did seem to take for granted that Peng Yu was innocent from the beginning. In Peng Yu’s original version of the incident, he was the first to get off a bus and saw the fallen woman. He accompanied her to the hospital, gave her 200 yuan and stayed with her until after her treatment – saying she didn’t need to repay the cash. The woman said that he had knocked her down while getting off the bus." [Sinostand] Also see: Adam Minter on Bloomberg.

Wukan resolved? Last month I wrote: "In a country whose citizens are as outwardly apolitical as here, no one wants to risk their livelihoods over ideology. People would much rather cooperate, get what's theirs.... Expect a compromise in which some profit while most get just barely enough to begrudgingly stop their demonstrations."

As the dust clears completely, it's probably worthwhile to note that, according to AFP (via China Digital Times), "One of the men behind a rare revolt against local Communist officials has been named party head of a Chinese village whose protest against land grabs became a symbol of public anger over corruption."

His name is Lin Zuluan, "who was named the new party chief on Sunday, replacing the businessman who had been Wukan's leader for 42 years and who was accused of stealing village land and selling it to developers." The pessimist would say let's see how long Lin lasts before he dips his hand into the cookie jar. After all, I've heard stories about officials feeling the necessity to take red packets ("bribes," if you want to be harsh) because if they didn't, they wouldn't really be "trying." You know the saying: if you don't cheat, you're not trying hard enough.

The optimist, I guess, would just shrug. Good for the villagers. They "won." I guess.

Make love, not raids.
"Well-known blogger and feminist activist Ye Haiyan, also known as Liumang Yan (Hooligan Sparrow), decided to provide sexual services to rural peasant workers on January 11 in defense of sex workers' rights after she witnessed a recent raid by police officers in a brothel in Guangxi province.... Master Meng Jianzhu [Translator note: Meng is China's Minister of Public Security]: Hope you can understand the pain of the grassroots. Don't exploit administrative fees from sex workers, especially the poorest among them. I wish that the Public Security Bureau could issue an internal notice and ask the police officers to stop raiding poor sex workers, particular as the new year approaches. A humble plea from Ye Haiyan, Chinese grassroots women's rights defender." [Global Voices Online]

Highlights of Chinese cinema 2011: A nice video by Youtube user ginsengkingdom via Shanghaiist:

... "Young mom cuts off baby's penis because she preferred a daughter" [Shanghaiist]

For you Beijing-based alcoholics, start weeping now. "A management rift at Fubar has reached the point where the police showed up tonight to deal with a dispute over one of the partners comping drinks. The incident extends to a bigger dispute late last week between original partners Chad Lager and Kevin Zhang -- some say Lager was kicked out, Zhang says he quit. In either case, the situation is a mess, and a sad one given this place ranks among the city’s success stories of the past three years." [Beijing Boyce]

Because we all like poetry, except the bad kind: The Guardian reports on Zhu Yufu, who has been indicted for writing a Jasmine Revolution poem. Excerpt:

It's time, Chinese people!
the square belongs to everyone
the feet are yours
it's time to use your feet and take to the square to make a choice

No word on whether the rest of the poem is this poor.

Rebecca MacKinnon's new blog: Consent of the Networked.

NON-CHINA READ: Not really a "read" per se, but for those who like HTML games, check this.

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