Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Traditional or Simplified?

I have a lot of commentary on this issue. But for the moment, I will simply put up this news story and a couple links that help orient the question. (Now I must go study for an exam).

Almost at the two-month mark, my friends. Strange to think that it was only a few weeks ago that everyone was still here.

Taiwan President urges cross-strait consensus on Chinese characters

Technology as friend of tradition!

Simple arguments for character standards

Sorry to our friends on the Mainland, but I don't think "etaiwannews" is available there... But then again, Blogspot itself is blocked (see Erica's entry below), so perhaps this is a moot point.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Tiananmen and Democracy

James Kynge of the Financial Times has an excellent and revealing take on the relationship between Tiananmen and Chinese democracy without all the media hype.

In other related news, The NYT's photoblog, Lens, did two incredible posts about the iconic "Tank Man" photographs. The first tracks down the photographers who shot the original photos and gets their comments. The second, even more incredibly, reveals a second version of the Tank Man that has never been published before.

For more coverage of Tiananmen, see Danwei.org's June 4 Roundup.


Well, today is the day. Hope everyone who wants it can find a moment of quiet reflection.


Twenty years after courage, and ideals, and the beautiful expression of the human spirit. Remember, don't forget, those earlier generations and what they stood for.

The dream that they believed in still lives in the hearts and minds of people all around the world.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

China Blocks Twitter

China blocks Twitter and other social media sites before Tianamen Square's 20th Anniversary on June 4th! Check out the full article at http://tinyurl.com/pdx3dm.

The original post was by Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/06/02/china-blocks-twitter-ahea_n_210177.html

There's also a Google spreadsheet of all of the sites that have been blocked: http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=rcz-FpRKSsvyQUnLL1UMjcg&single=true&gid=0&output=html

Post by Erica Swallow

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Copenhagen, ho!

NEVER MIND. The Guardian took some liberties with its reporting, and the talks were neither so "secret" (just "off the record") nor monumental as the article made them out to be. Aargh, the sensationalizing press! It was 1 a.m. and I was too eager to hear optimistic news (I guess skepticism wanes in the early morning hours), so I just posted the links and went to bed. I guess I should have waited until the blogosphere and news agencies weighed in.

Thanks for the tip-off, Bobby!




Huge news on the environmental front! According to the UK newspaper The Guardian, the US and China held secret negotiations on coming together to help fight climate change (even as the world criticized them for inaction... a criticism that wasn't unwarranted, because we still need action).

From the source:

China and US held secret talks on climate change deal

• Negotiations began in final months of Bush administration
• Obama could seal accord on cutting emissions by autumn

Key points from the article:

  • The first communications took place in autumn 2007 and were initiated by the Chinese. “Xie Zhenhua, the vice-chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission, the country's central economic planning body, made the first move by expressing interest in a co-operative effort on carbon capture and storage and other technologies with the US.”...
  • “The two sides began discussing ways to break through the impasse, including the possibility that China would agree to voluntary -- but verifiable -- reductions of greenhouse gas emissions. China has rejected the possibility of cuts” which “it sees as a risk to its continued economic growth, deemed essential to lift millions out of poverty and advance national status.”

  • During the second trip to China by the Americans, Xie suggested a memorandum of understanding between the two countries on joint action on climate change. William Chandler [of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace] and Jon Holdren [now Obama’s chief science advisor] drew up a list of three points including:
1. Using existing technologies to produce a 20% cut in carbon emissions by 2010.
2. Co-operating on new technology including carbon capture and storage and fuel efficiency for cars.
3. The US and China signing up to a global climate change deal in Copenhagen.

  • By the time Xie visited the US in March, the state department's new climate change envoy, Todd Stern, and his deputy, Jonathan Pershing, were also involved in the dialogue. But the trip by Xie did not produce the hoped-for agreement. Those involved agree it was premature to expect the Obama Administration to enter into a formal agreement so soon in its tenure.” But they “believe the effort will pay off in a more comprehensive deal between the two governments.”
So it’s just the start and it’s looking optimistic that there will be a real climate deal coming soon! Anyhow, I am just ecstatic and amazed.

Monday, May 18, 2009

I'm a Gilman Scholar! Are you?

Above is an interview that I did with the Institute of International Education about my experience as a Gilman Scholar. I discussed my Gilman experience as an NYU in Shanghai study abroad student in China and offered advice to current applicants for the Gilman Scholarship. Wish I was more interesting! I need to start reading a dictionary!

I mentioned that I had just been accepted to FACES, as well!

To learn more about my time abroad, check out my China Adventure website.

Post by Erica Swallow

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Dani Rodrik on China

One of my favorite economist/writers is Dani Rodrik, who is currently a professor at Harvard's JFK School of Government.  He has a new blog post out about sustaining China's growth rate while simultaneously relaxing the exchange rate peg, which is accompanied by a more general paper on the topic.

The reason that I like his writing so much is because he makes everything seem so simple.  The whole knot of interacting economic factors falls apart under his analysis, as if he found that magical thread that, when pulled, unravels it all.

Also, in related news, The Economist has a story about China's first quarter GDP growth of 6.1%.  Not quite 8%, but definitely not bad compared to the Euro Zone's -2.5%.

Monday, May 11, 2009

National Palace Museum

Here is an intriguing piece on the National Palace Museum(國立故宮博物院)in Taipei. If you ever get a chance to visit, you should definitely go. The museum, which counts the Louvre and the British Museum in London as peer institutions, houses the world's finest collection of Chinese cultural artifacts, including jades, bronzes, ceramics, paintings, ancient books and documents, and calligraphy scrolls. Fortunately, the collection was saved from the Japanese during WWII and then from the ravages of the Cultural Revolution in later years on the Mainland.

The museum itself is also a wonderful place. It is situated against an idyllic, forested mountain backdrop, and the building follows the style of classical Chinese architecure. Upon entry, visitors step into a calm, tranquil atmosphere charged with the beauty and grandeur of China's 5000 years of civilization. Much care and deliberation was put into the displays that showcase the ingenious, the intricate, the intellectual, the innovative. I remember that as I walked through each display, somehow the past became much more real -- I gained a palpable sense of connection with our history and traditions. Wandering through the exhibits, one feels wonder and amazement, and an immense pride that this is our culture.

National Palace Museum official Zhuang Yan reviews art from the collection, in Taipei in 1948. (Courtesy of the Zhuang family via AP)

Full article available here.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

One year after earthquake

We went to Sichuan a couple days ago and interviewed people in different places for their life after one year. At the places that we went, most of the people still live in the temporary houses and wait for the loans of the bank to start to build their new houses.

In Zundao Village, Deyang city, people need at least 50,000 yuan to build a one floor house but they only earn 5000yuan a year and because they don't have the ability of paying back the loan from bank, it's hard for them to apply the loan and only when the new house is ready, they can get the subsidies from the government.

In Beichuan county, Mr.Mu started to sell the pictorials and vedios 12 days ago to the tourists who went to visit the village which will become a museum of earthquake afterwards. Everyday before going back to his temporary house, he offers three incenses to the three family members that he lost in the earthquake.

We found a father who lost his only daugher in the earthquake, and here below is the reply of the interview about his point of view on the silence of the government on the quality of the school buildings:

The catastrophe taught me that the goodness of human being is the most valuable and important thing! The ugliness of human being is the most outrageous! The tragedies of those beautiful kids in the tiles can not be described! Most people have saw the excruciations in TV programs, but the sufferings of those kids at that day are way more cruel. Every kid is cultivated by the love, hardship and painstaking efforts of his family and parents, maybe also by the society, facing the disaster, in front of the humanity (someone under the sunshine, someone in the corner, someone in the shade), maybe everybody will feel the same thing, at lest be reflecting. But as parent, we only have tears in the eyes and blood in the hearts.

That week was very hard.....C'est trop dur pour le moral.....


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Welcome Taiwan to the WHA! — a calm and neutral comment

Welcome Taiwan to the WHA!
— a calm and neutral comment

Recently the World Health Assembly announced that Taiwan will be admitted into the organization as an observer under the title “Chinese Taipei.” As a citizen of Taiwan (officially the Republic of China, and in the subsequent content I will alternatively use either R.O.C. or Taiwan) I am extremely excited about such invitation, and this is especially meaningful to us when now the world is facing a new pandemic.

As many would know, the R.O.C. has always been eager to return to or to participate meaningfully in all international organizations for decades since it withdrew from the United Nations in 1971. However in the previous 8 years under former President Chen Shui-Bian and his aggressive pro-independence Democratic Progress Party (DPP) administration, the cross-strait relation was in a stalemate and there was practically no constructive dialogues between Taipei and Beijing. Such harsh situation first reached a climax when the outbreak of SARS, both Taiwan and China were serious victims of that disease, yet during the crisis the Chinese Communist regime rejected any involvement of Taiwan in relevant WHO meetings, also blocked essential information on the pandemic for Taiwan. Accompanied by even more harsh and cold-blood comments from Chinese officials, the public in the nearly helpless and isolated Taiwan was upset by China’s hostile gesture. And the rest of A-Bian’s term, we saw more difficult times in cross-strait relations.

Yet when now the world is fighting with a new flu altogether, there is also a new condition between Taipei and Beijing. Taiwan under pro-unification Kuomingtang (KMT) President Ma Ying-Jeou has accelerated the negotiation with China on a wide range of issues from economic cooperation, promoting tourism, and of course, Taiwan’s participation in international organizations. President Ma’s foreign policy is based on “外交休兵”, or in English, cease fire in the diplomatic arena, which suggests that both Taiwan and China won’t work on luring countries currently maintaining official diplomatic relations with the other side, and such policy has proven to be effective (at least as of this moment). The improvement of cross-strait relations contributes to the admission of Taiwan into WHA, which Taiwan needs most urgently and is the most important test for Ma’s foreign policy. President Ma puts cross-strait relations above foreign affairs, which even the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the R.O.C. Mr. Ou Hong-Lian admitted that publicly. Yet from my point of view, as a normal independent nation (the Republic of China is de facto independent from the People’s Republic of China yet somehow not deemed as a de jure independent state due to the lack of abundant official diplomatic recognition), Taiwan of course should put foreign affairs above the relation with any other fellow member of the international community, and the cross-strait relations should only be a part, albeit it surely would be an important one, even the most important, in Taiwan’s overall foreign affairs.

After a series of debate and careful negotiation, we see Taiwan and China finally reached a consensus for Taiwan’s participation in the WHA under Chinese Taipei, which is acceptable and does not harm Taiwan’s important national interests (although for the R.O.C. its national sovereignty is surely damaged for it is not allowed to retain its official title). Yet it is somehow doubtful on Taiwan’s other efforts to either “rejoin” or “meaningfully participate” in other international organizations. For example, speaking of Taiwan’s attempts to participate in the UN, it is a sensitive issue for the P.R.C. and with a very nostalgic sentiment for the R.O.C. The Republic of China was a founding member of the UN and was one of the five permanent members of the Security Council, yet in 1971 all of it just changed in favor of the PRC. Now that Beijing would not likely to let Taipei be a full member of any international organization whose membership is limited to “sovereign states,” whether Taiwan will still be admitted to other coveted organizations or be offered observer status is not at all cheerful from my perspective. WHA is less political when compared with the UN, which nevertheless also invites observers in its general assembly, and most of all, Taiwan has demanded observer status even more strongly after being harmed by China in the SARS crisis, and Taiwan’s efforts are supported by friendly US, Japan, and the EU. Therefore Beijing, always seeking to make Taiwan public feel more positive towards itself, may think that WHA is a better option to offer to Taiwan as part of the “exchange gifts” for the improvement of the cross-strait relations. However, when there are rumors that a few Taiwan’s friends are seeking to establish diplomatic relationship with China, it is really unlikely for Taipei to persuade its friends not to embrace a huge market and of course also huge foreign aid likely to be provided by the PRC or for Beijing to continuously dissuade others from befriending it. Sooner or later those who seek to establish an embassy in Beijing will seal their deals anyway, and on the other hand Taiwan’s involvement in other international organizations might still be blocked or limited by China, for example PRC won’t open the path for the R.O.C. to be a full member of the WHO, so from my perspective (i.e. a calm citizen of Taiwan), receiving an observer status to WHA is worthy of our praise and brief celebration, yet we should not look forward too eagerly on other victory in the main battlefield of diplomacy in the struggles between Taiwan and China.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Science and Democracy

Happy May Fourth, student friends!

Today, we can give a rousing cheer to the spirit of 5-4 and 民主與科學.

Say "hello" to the gentlemen「德先生 + 賽先生 」.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Follow-up for the Tank Man documentary PART II

Your London correspondent met with the girl that Abby mentioned in the earlier post last evening, together with another friend of us, who is indeed a FACES2007 alumnus. We had a nice chat over Chinese politics and legal philosophy for the whole evening (despite all of us are now $-minded corporate lawyers, haha).

We think that Beida students know 64, although it is doubtless that people have diverse opinion on the incident. But we generally agree that students outside Beida know much less about 64.

Back to that documentary, your correspondent learnt that the 4 interviewees did already know what that picture means. But as they were alert of its sensitivity (and they were told that they could just say "I don't know" if they did not want to answer), they whispered to each other (as seen in the documentary) before responding to the interviewer. This created a sense in front of the camera that they knew nothing and looked ignorant.

Your correspondent has a few extended questions after the chat, and would like to invite you to think.

1) The producer of the documentary clearly wanted to portrait current Chinese youth as ignorant about Chinese past history. Should that justify him for manipulating the documentary?

2) Chinese says American media (e.g. CNN, BBC) are biased (at least when reporting China-related stories). While at the same that American says Chinese media are biased (e.g. People's Daily), and Chinese are "brainwashed" by the meida. How should we view the "independence" of media? And how should/can we bridge the gap between people who read such different newspapers?

Michael @ (Sunny!) London

Monday, April 27, 2009

Until next time...............

This title might sound a bit repetitive, but it truly put all my words in a nutshell. It’s been a week since the end of the OCG PART I and I hope everyone is doing well dealing with FACES withdrawal. I miss everyone and really look forward to seeing you all again in November, or even earlier.

The best moment on Friday night was when we formed a circle and sang Tong Hua (Fairy Tales) and Peng You (Friends) together. Here is one more song that I want to share with you guys which also expresses my feelings and emotions. I posted the link and lyrics here, and we will KTV more cheesy songs when we are in Beijing!

祝福 (Best Wishes) by 张学友 (Jacky Cheung)


不要问 不要说 一切尽在不言中
这一刻 偎着烛光让我们静静的渡过
莫挥手 莫回头 当我唱起这首歌

几许愁 几许忧 人生难免苦与痛
失去过 才能真正懂得去珍借和拥有
情难舍 人难留 今朝一别各西东
冷和热 点点滴滴在心头

伤离别 离别虽然在眼前
说再见 再见不会太遥远
若有缘 有缘就能其待明天

Saturday, April 25, 2009

"Chinese People Need to be Controlled" (Part 2)

Here is some of the backlash regarding Jackie Chan's comments:
  • "He's insulted the Chinese people. Chinese people aren't pets," pro-democracy Hong Kong legislator Leung Kwok-hung told The Associated Press in a phone interview. "Chinese society needs a democratic system to protect human rights and rule of law."
  • "His comments are racist. People around the world are running their own countries. Why can't Chinese do the same?" another Hong Kong lawmaker, Albert Ho, told the AP.
  • "He himself has enjoyed freedom and democracy and has reaped the economic benefits of capitalism. But he has yet to grasp the true meaning of freedom and democracy," Taiwanese legislator Huang Wei-che said. (Associated Press)
  • “It’s easy to sacrifice freedom when you’re treated like a V.I.P. or some high-level official every time you come to China,” said Hu Xingdou, an economics professor at the Beijing Institute of Technology. “I’m sure Jackie Chan has never thought about the suffering of the little people who have no power.” (NY Times)
A few other commentators are also taking a crack at this situation, including John Pomfret, and there's a running debate at the New York Times with Gordon Chang and Russell Leigh Moses.

By the way, Yuan Xiang and Wai Kit, you don't get to walk away chuckling. Apparently the comments are not just about Hong Kong and Taiwan:

"Jackie Chan: Singaporeans have no self-respect" (AsiaOne News)

"Jackie Chan slams S'poreans" (Straits Times)

"Chinese People Need to be Controlled"

Last week at a panel during the BoAo business forum, Jackie Chan made certain comments that might raise a few of your eyebrows:
  • "I'm gradually beginning to feel that we Chinese need to be controlled. If we're not being controlled, we'll just do what we want."
  • "I'm not sure if it's good to have freedom or not. I'm really confused now. If you're too free, you're like the way Hong Kong is now. It's very chaotic. Taiwan is also chaotic."
There's been quite a bit of backlash from both Hong Kong and Taiwan (see here and here), as well as in China itself over these statements. Here's a good round-up of the whole situation from the New York Times:

"Jackie Chan Strikes a Chinese Nerve"

So I'm wondering, what do you guys think about his comments? Is there some merit to the claimshe made about Chinese people needing to be "controlled"? Or is he mistaken, and even feeding into some problematic stereotypes?

Secondly, why do you think he said these things, and how should people respond to them? (By the way, has anyone seen discussion of this on Chinese websites that you can share with us?)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Follow-up for the Tank Man documentary

Thanks for Wilson's last entry, I totally enjoy it:)

Remember the Tank Man? Ok, I mentioned to some of you that 2 out of 4 Chinese students who appeared in that documentary are actually my friends:) Many of us including me doubted whetheter they were telling the truth when they said that they had no idea what the photo was about. So one of my friends replied to me, and here is the direct response from her:

"I bet the four of us looks sooo stupid...esp by saying that we didn't even know what the photo was about~~~the story is that:

1. the producer didn't tell the truth, he said thathe came to China to film about China's development and he actually asked lots of other questions but the bit in the documentary seemed to be the only part that was used in the end. He should have told us honestly about his true purpose in the first place (but understandably, if he said so, he may be denied the chance of talking to us in the first place by the school~~ but still, this is not a decent way to obtain info!)

2. We were told by the school shortly before the interview that we do not need to answer/ just say do not know if any questions reagarding ** arise (and so we did...)

3. As a personal defence, that was indeed my first time seeing that picture and I have never ever heard of that story before, had it not been the reminder of my fellow interviewees, it would take me some time to realize that this has sth to do with the event.

4. I think the producer just used us to make his point that Chinese young generation is no longer interested in politics and ingnorant about the country's very near past although I bet that he knew that we cannot be sooo ingnorant as to not be able to recognize what all this is about, but also that we would not tell him what we actually know (otherwise he didn't need to hide his true intention and ask so many other irrelevant questions). Again, not decent as he is just telling the audience what he thinks, rather than providing objective evidences and let the audience to decide for themselves, but nontheless, probably that is how journalism works??!

5. My parents saw itas well and they didn't think the documentary was wholly true, there seem to be some obvious errors regarding the sequence of events and timing etc."

I really appreciate my friend's response, and I hope you find it helpful.
As for the documentary itself, I appreciate its effort of drawing attention to China's democracy and human rights concerns. However, I certainly did not agree with the biasd perspective that the producer brought up in it. If a documentary loses its neutral standing point, I would rather call it movie.

Miss and love you all,
Abby 扶阳
Washington DC, USA.

I'll never forget...

The Admit Weekend of Stanford has put up lovely posters of students around campus describing something that they will never forget about their time here at the university over the past week. The goal of these posters is to showcase the diversity and uniqueness of the student life here at Stanford, hoping that accepted students will choose Stanford as their first choice school. This particular picture is taken outside the bookstore, where some of us actually spent a lot of time =p

As a soon-to-be graduate, I cannot help but feel sentimental about some of my experiences here at this amazing institution. Definitely, one of the most significant event that has happened to me over the past year is the FACES Conference. None of the other conferences that I have attended/organized in the past can compare with this one in terms of the level of conversations, caliber of the participants {delegates, execs and officers}, and the amount of fun I had.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank each and everyone of you who contributed to this amazing experience. Kevin is one of the most passionate person I have met, and he does many things with an unparalleled enthusiasm, something that you have probably already noticed. I will like to urge you all to follow his lead on this project to make this blog something that will live on till the November conference and beyond, to serve as a bridge between all of us, the FACES class of 2009.

So, following the lead of Stanford Admit Weekend, this is my terribly uncreative version -

I'll never forget... the cheeky handshake between Alex and Christian during the press conference, the 'what the hell did i just eat?' expression on Matt's face at the cookout, the Condy keynote, the amazing conversations with so many of you, the game of KINGS that Waikit is going to bring home to China as 秦始皇, the numerous 杀手s, and getting chased out of the party house after singing 童话 at the top of our voices at 2am - in short, the FACES class of 2009.

-Wilson 远祥

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Kick Off for Eight Melons Forum

Eight melons = 八 + 瓜
Gossip = 八 + 卦

The spring FACES conference at Stanford has ended, and we've all returned home -- but everyone still wishes for FACES to go on.

So instead of moping around, we thought a collective blog might
be an interesting outlet for all that latent FACES energy. This can be a site for delegates to share articles & commentary, upload entertaining photos, give their opinion on current events, recommend music, or post lively bits of "personal news".

For example, many of you are writers (Yale Globalist!) and journalists, or just have extremely intelligent things to say about US-China relations, China's role in Africa, domestic politics, environmental challenges, etc. So please share your expertise with all of us! Feel free to post your own work and to comment on what your fellow delegates have written.

FYI, some of us are imagining a special section for weekly updates on delegates' lives (heh heh), but we'll leave that to our enterprising gossip columnist in Claremont-McKenna to spearhead.

This isn't a CP project, but it's another way for us to stay in contact. We're sitting here missing you all desperately, of course.

By the way, according to hudong.com, the eight melons 八瓜 are:
冬瓜、西瓜 、南瓜 、北瓜 、黃瓜 、絲瓜 、苦瓜 、甜瓜.

Hey, don't look at me, I've never heard of a 北瓜 either.