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Bring ’em on

Actually I’m not sure if China is preparing for a sports event, i.e. running around in circles, jumping over obstacles, throwing things, generally fooling around and having a good time, or about to go to war. Reading websites such as the China Daily [CD] and the Shanghai Daily [SD] you might be excused for believing the latter and that China is under threat of imminent attack.

“Missile launchers have been assigned to the Bird’s Nest National Stadium. Any perceived threats to Games venues from the air will be shot down.” in this bulletin.

“The Navy will ensure security at sea as the coastal city of Qingdao hosts sailing events.
Special task forces have also been trained to deal with nuclear or biochemical attacks.”

Nothing is being left to chance; land sea, air, nuclear, biological or chemical attacks have all been planned for and will be dealt with summarily. There is obviously a very powerful enemy afoot.

Sniffer dog patrols are out on duty as far way as Anhui province. Road security is stepped up, as shown in this bulletin, and in the Shanghai Daily report referenced above –

“From the beginning of next week every vehicle coming to Beijing will undergo a security check.

Hundreds of check points will be set up at the road entrances to Beijing, ring roads and downtown to ensure a safe Olympic Games.

Each vehicle entering the capital during the Games will be checked electronically and by sniffer dogs.

Bus passengers traveling to Beijing will have their ID cards and belongings checked from July 20.

If just one passenger fails to show a valid ID card, the bus and all its passengers will be refused entry to the city.”

The government has taken its fight against terror overseas and set up a cooperating body, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation [SCO] with neighbouring countries – Russia, Kazahkstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. The first thing to notice about them is that they are all pretty dodgy regimes and all have little or no regard for basic human rights; not exactly the sort of freedom-loving partners most western governments would want to line up with.

If all this were just for show then why fuss over it, but the PRC government seems to be taking its own propaganda very seriously indeed – one might almost be lead to think it actually believes it – and these measures could cause a lot of hassle for any visitors to Beijing. Just take the last statement in the SD report regarding the possibility of a passengers being refused entry because one ID card/passport doesn’t look quite right. A whole busload of people brassed off in one fell swoop. That’s efficiency for you. There is more than ample scope for rubbing people up the wrong way and knowing the government’s enthusiasm and skill in these areas it is more than likely there will be a few toes trodden on in the coming weeks. But the most exciting little gem is the promise of a reward for anyone who provides information “about a planned terrorist attack, possible sabotage by an illegal organization, such as the Falun Gong, murder of Olympic-related personnel or foreigners, or some other major crimes“ [notice how the scope widens with each phrase] see CD again. The bulletin says “The tip-off must include accurate and detailed information“, but offering money on this scale [a minimum of 10,000 yuan and a maximum of 500,000 yuan] may be just a little too tempting. Here is an ideal opportunity to settle old scores with anyone you dislike and line your pocket at the same time. Let’s see how many ‘denouncements’ are made this summer and how many victims of this scheme end up behind bars as terrorists.

This question has been asked before but it needs to asked again, and again, and again until we have a real answer, otherwise how can we take China’s War on Terror seriously. What evidence, beyond the political rhetoric, is available to show that “’the three evil forces of terrorism, separatism and extremism” [Mr Chen’s words] really do exist in China? None, so far. Maybe one day the government will surprise us by showing police records, photographs and paraphernalia relating to these incidents, but until then we must reserve judgment. Just one more little question; according to the governments own reports, most of these alleged gangs are armed, principally, with knives, so are anti-aircraft missiles, naval deployments and one of the biggest land army mobilisations that has been seen for years [there are as many personnel tied up with this operation as the USA deployed in Iraq] really justified?

Welcome to Beijing 2008.

Related posts  A question of security


A question of security?

The PRC government is making an effort to systematically clear out foreigners residing and working in China, particularly those in Beijing. That the clear-out is widespread is not disputed and no one with a non-Chinese skin is safe no matter how long they have lived in China and no matter what they are there for. For any government to expel illegal immigrants is not unreasonable; there are expatriates living in China with no visa, expired visas or inappropriate visas, so they should not be too surprised when the PSB comes knocking on their door, but this goes much further. The rules regarding the issue of visas have been changed drastically and extensions to existing visas and residency permits are becoming very hard to obtain. Read through almost any blog written by an expatriate in China and you’ll soon get a feel of the problem. What is not so easy to ascertain is why this is happening.

The process started, in a low key way, some time last year when the PRC government began rounding up and deporting evangelists and missionaries [foreign evangelists are illegal in China], as reported on several websites, click here for one of them. Then early this year foreign students in Beijing were told they would have to vacate their quarters during the summer months. At the time a few people thought this a little odd, while others, myself included, felt there was probably a rational explanation somewhere and this was nothing to fuss about. During the Spring the process was extended to illegal migrant workers from neighbouring countries such as North Korea. Several of these ended up in the UK as asylum seekers as they dared not return to face Kim Jong-Il’s regime; several passed through the reception centre not far from where I live. Since then the net has spread and no one seems to be beyond its reach.

As work [‘Z’] and business [‘F”] visas have expired renewal has been denied or the application process made so long and tortuous people have given up and gone away. When ‘Z’ visas have been issued they have been limited to single entry only. Travel visas [‘L’], which once were available in a variety of formats have been reduced to one type only, 30 days, single entry. The days of multiple entry visas are over for now. One very odd rule of thumb has emerged, no one born after 1984 has been granted renewal of a ‘Z’ visa. So if you are a tourist and just wish to make one visit of 2 or 3 weeks this summer, no problem, but if you require anything else be prepared for a long wait and possible disappointment.

If it were just the ne’er-do-wells, who occasionally land up in China, who were affected I would have no qualms and might even applaud the government but this simply isn’t the case. This report on the Cup Of Cha weblog gives a general outline of the picture and this, this and this report from Simpson’s Paradox details the departure of, first, two of the blogger’s friends and not long after, her boyfriend’s sudden departure which will be followed soon by her own. Another well-known blogger has had to return to his home country to go through the visa application process, to the amusement of one or two of the commenters, as detailed in this report on The Opposite End Of China blog. A 71 year old man who who has been running his own company in China for several years has had to leave at short notice, as reported on the Wall Street Journal. And this report on the TIME magazine website outlines the problem and details a few more cases. Root around on the web long enough and you will accumulate a list as long as your arm of expulsion stories.

Another clearing out process has been taking place which doesn’t involve foreigners but could be equally relevant to this question. Dissenters and other trouble makers have been locked up, petty dissenters, petitioners and other undesirables who were a regular feature of the Beijing streets have been moved as far away from tourist areas as possible. This has all been part of the campaign to tidy up the streets and make them more agreeable for western eyes. Walk along any city centre street in Beijing and how many beggars do you see? See Ben’s Blog.

One of the effects, which I find hard to believe was intended, has been a downturn in international tourist traffic. Bookings this year are lower than for the same period last year and even for the month of August itself the figures are not good – see this report on the Economist website.

As to why this has happened we can only theorise. The official reason is ’security’. Whether this makes any sense or not doesn’t seem to matter as the Chinese authorities are determined to put on a show of strength, as shown on this China Daily report. Some of the measures shown are ideal for TV/Photo-ops but not a lot use for dealing with real terrorism or civil disturbances. In previous months the PLA and police have been hard at work undertaking training exercises and now it all comes to fruition in the form of a massive mobilisation and a string of spectacular displays of Chinese strength and prowess. Click on to any Chinese media website [e.g. Xinhua, QQ news] and you will see propaganda photos showing the PSB, PLA, PLAN and almost anyone else who wears a government uniform, going through their paces valiantly defending the motherland and fighting off the evils of the outside world. The PRC government claims to be fighting insurgents in the far west province of Xinjiang in the form of the East Turkistan Islamic Movement [ETIM] which in turn is claimed to be linked to Al’Qaeda. While resentment against the governing Han people does exist amongst the Uygur people of Xinjiang no-one seems to know if ETIM itself genuinely exists. Early this year Xinhua reported a raid on an ETIM gang in Urumqi – click here – and during the spring an airline hi-jacking/sabotage incident was reported – click here. A search on the internet will produce alternative reports of the same incidents but in not one of them is there one item evidence, photographic or otherwise, cited or referred to to prove that these incidents occurred. Even the Xinhua reports themselves, usually published some time after each incident, are devoid of any reference to evidence that the incidents took place. One incident was purported to have taken place in a residential neighbourhood and was said to have resulted in several deaths, but none of the neighbours knew anything of it. All of which calls into question just how real terrorism in China is. Even if it were real, in what way does expelling foreign residents make the Olympic games any more safe? Or is it, as some suggest, just an excuse for a continuing crackdown on anyone the authorities don’t like?

But back to the expulsions. If security is not the real reason for this, what is? Millions of tourists are expected to arrive in Beijing during the Games and along with them will be thousands of news reporters. The authorities want them all to see China at its best and to this end they have been beavering away for several years preparing the infrastructure, the amenities, environment and the people. Over all these elements the government has some degree of control and the authorities have good reason to feel reasonably confident about the preparations, e.g. the people have been put through many re-education programmes, such as how to queue in a civilised manner, how to not spit, how to clap harmoniously, etc, but the one thing the government cannot control is the foreign population [said by some to be around quarter of a million in Beijing]. To speak to a native Beijinger [北京公民] a reporter will probably need an interpreter, and the native Beijinger will probably already know what he must [and not] say to foreign reporters. To speak to a foreign resident would not be quite so irksome – and finding foreigners is remarkably easy, just stand in the high street of any large city and see how easy it is to spot the laowai amongst the surrounding sea of jet black hair and tanned faces – and if the questions were to become too probing who knows what might be said and then reported? Could there be a risk here? So, to present the world with a picture of an unflawed harmonious society the way ahead is to make sure that the only people available on the streets are re-educated natives and first time tourists, that way there will be no embarrassing stories to deal with.


Beijing welcomes you.

No favour

An interesting article in The Guardian newspaper here. Just cast your mind back to the fuss over Sharon Stone’s comments, the storm in a teacup over the tea stains advert, the fiasco of the poster showing Tibetan monks on a rollercoaster, and a few other recent ‘insults’ to the Chinese nation. In every instance someone apologised unreservedly for each of these slurs against the Middle Kingdom and there was some kind of step-down – but why? Ms Stone’s comments were foolish, but did they matter? She is an actress not an intellect; did anyone genuinely expect intelligent comment? The slogan used by Procter and Gamble to advertise their Ariel detergent employed an idiom commonly used in English, ‘all the teas in China’, which somehow came to be seen as an insult to China. And the [mis]interpretation dreamt up by the Chinese blogger who stirred the brown stuff to set off the furore over the Coca-Cola poster is so stunningly far-fetched it borders on the surreal. Isn’t it time this great nation learned to accept that not everyone in the world is going to say nice things about it, that not every reference to ‘China’ amounts to a slight upon their motherland and, most important of all, learn to discriminate between trivia and serious comment?

Ma Jian argues that constantly apologising is not the way to deal with these over-reactions. According to the teachings of Kongzi there are three types of good friends and three types of not so good friends and Ma argues we are rapidly setting ourselves amongst the unreliable ones, but that is only part of the story. Not only are we pandering to a bunch of over-sensitive, nationalist halfwits but we are doing ourselves even fewer favours by encouraging them to become ever more vociferous and demanding. By repeatedly telling them, in effect, that we are wrong and then giving in to their demands are we not making future dealings with the Chinese people, and government, more difficult? If there was some truth in the complaints made an apology or change of stance would be in order but that has not been the case, and caving in to hysteria does no-one any good.

As a general rule people, and governments, respect those who are honest, they have more respect for those who are strong and more still for those both honest and strong. The Chinese people and government have the right to hold their own views on the world, about everything from the cosmos down to which is the best football team, and they also have the right to know that there are other viewpoints in existence in the world but must accept that not all of them are parallel with their own. If they are to regard us with respect, just as we should with them, there has to be a reason for that but our present kow-towing is not it.

The PRC government has a point when it says that it is unacceptable for outsiders to interfere with matters which are purely internal to another nation – and by that I mean no-one has any more right to dictate what sort of posters are pinned on hoardings in other countries than they have to dictate what colour socks we wear.

Related posts: The Hurt Feelings Of The Chinese on China Rises

Torch Fatigue in Suzhou

Thank you to Beijing Olympics FAN for bringing this posting on the This Is China blog to my attention.

Every country which hosts the Olympics adds a little extra flavour which is all its own, but no one has done this on such a grand scale as China with the resulting outcome that the Olympic element is almost lost beneath that added by China. These games are ‘owned’ by the Chinese people and don’t you, the waiguoren, forget that – and don’t even think of making any negative comments about them.

Full post here.

The Storm of the Chinese Tea Stain In A Tea-cup

After I posted the item about the tea stain remover [yesterday’s post] I did a search, using the slogan, to see if I could find who might have instigated this heinous campaign. The results were disappointing with only this site and QQ News returned with the full slogan, all other hits were irrelevant. Out of curiosity I repeated the exercise today and was presented with 117 hits, each containing the slogan. Here are a few of them


The first on the list is Baidu, listing another 2 further pages of sites, I didn’t investigate these and assumed they will be duplicates of those already found. Most of the others are on Chinese websites and simply reproduce the QQ news item, but others add a few comments. Here are a few selected from the thread of a forum, arguing over the possible meaning of the ad and all of them completely missing the point. Bear in mind these are Google translations so the English is not very good.

Absolutely Yiyushuangguan mean. 现实生活中,china这个词常用么? In real life, china used the word Mody » 如果一个装饰性的瓷器还说得过去,而喝茶的杯子谁管它叫china? 我听说过have a cup of tea,却没听说过have a china of tea. If a decorative porcelain also justifiable, and the tea cups Who Guanta Jiao china «I’ve heard about have a cup of tea, no one heard of have a china of tea. tea这个东西,本身就很容易联系到中国。 tea this thing in itself can easily link to China. 欧美人喝茶的比例毕竟是少数,如果做广告,更应该说,洗咖啡垢,可乐垢。 Europe and the United States, after all, the proportion of people drinking tea is one of the few, if advertising, should also be said that the scale washing coffee, cola scale. 偏偏选了一个茶垢,真是别有用心。 Unfortunately the election of a tea scale, is an ulterior motive.

再看排版,后面感觉就是Made in China。 Look at publishing, is the feeling behind the Made in China. 是在打击中国制造的东西有污圬。 In the fight against Chinese-made things have sewage masonry. 不知道这个广告是什么时候放上去的,如果是毒玩具毒狗粮那段时间反中国制造的高潮时期,那它100%有反华的意思在里面。 The ads do not know what the time-boost, if the drug is toxic Gouliang toys made in China at that time the anti-climax period, it is 100 percent anti-China mean inside. 更可恶的是,这里字母全都是大写,所以也没办法区别是不是一个专用名词。 More heinous is that here are all in capital letters, so it can not distinguish is not a special term.

The English do not quite understand people not to speak, Procter & Gamble this ad is a shame, for advertising, his advertisements have two customs justice, CHINA can refer to China, was criticized when sophistry can be said that the porcelain, but if they are That the porcelain, the use of cleaner bit too narrow, because the cleaning agents can not just wash porcelain, can also wash the glass. Shing and tea in general is in the cup, porcelain flush toilets is done, but by who heard that Flush toilet to drink tea,
所以正常情况下, 他的这个广告词应该说”除去任何杯中的茶垢”,而不是”除去瓷器中的茶垢”他难以自圆其说的.他这个广告直意是”中国茶可以造成污垢”, 暗讽中国的东西都是污垢. Therefore, under normal circumstances, his words should be said that this ad “cup of tea to remove any scale”, not “get rid of porcelain tea scale,” he difficult to justify. He This ad is intended straight, “Chinese tea can cause dirt” , An Feng of China things are dirt.

. . . . and so it goes on page after page

Another starts with the heading “Westerners also declared war on the Chinese people! !“, the article is pasted below it, and ends “ Brothers, how do we fight again » » » » »”

If the students who reported this to QQ had not been so touchy . . if QQ had used a bit of common sense or employed a competent translator to check the ad out . . if the ‘news’ item had not been published . . . . probably no one would have batted an eyelid.

Am I right in thinking we have an expression which might sum this up, something about a lot of rain in a cup? Or creating a large mound of humous from the labours of a small black animal?

Ireland Joins The Anti-China Rage

On QQ news is an item of complaint about a bus stop advertisement, found in Ireland. The ad is for a detergent and the slogan makes use of the expression ‘all the tea in China’ – a common idiomatic expression meaning ‘much’ or ‘a lot’ – and reads, “Gets Out Stains Made By All The Teas In China”. I cannot read or make a reliable translation of the QQ item but, using the online Google translator, I gather that some Chinese students living in Tallaght, Ireland [Tallaght, for anyone who doesn’t know, is a suburb of Dublin], have seen the ads and have felt ‘very uncomfortable with them’. There is a hint in the translation that one student suspected that this incident is ‘another disgrace’.


Can I just make sure that I’ve got this right –

  • The advertisement is racist as it singles out Chinese tea.
  • This has some connection with violence in Tibet.
  • An Irish detergent company is joining in the international conspiracy to slight and slander China.
  • The whole business is a joke disgrace.



Click here for the original page; the original wording and an unedited Google translation is below. –


中新网55日电 爱尔兰《新岛周报》近日收到一名热心华人投稿,这名华人在爱尔兰Tallagh和市中心多个公交车站发现一则广告,这是一则清洁剂广告,广告主体是一只绿 色的茶杯,在杯子上印着Gets out stains made by all the teas in China(从中国出产的茶都能挑出毛病)。对于该语句的翻译也许有多个版本,但是许多留学生和华侨看到这行字时都非常不舒服,甚至有学生怀疑这是又一起 辱华事件。


May 5, Ireland, “the new Island Weekly” recently received an enthusiastic Chinese Contributor, this Chinese city centre in Ireland Tallagh several bus stops and found an ad, this is a cleansing agent advertising, advertising Green is one of the main cup in the cup on Yinzhao Gets out stains made by all the teas in China (from the tea produced in China are singled out problems). For the translation of the statement may have multiple versions, but many students and overseas Chinese saw the lines are very uncomfortable when, or even a student is suspected that this incident, another disgrace.

Since the end of March early April, China’s Tib@t burning of violence and vandalism Western media reports is not the same issue of Chinese people around the world make the voice of protest, many Chinese with the Chinese on all kinds of things are very sensitive, a number of Chinese compatriots on the After seeing the advertisements that are “uncomfortable.”


Is neutrality all it’s cracked up to be?


I’ve always had an open mind regarding China preferring to not take sides and view what goes on from, what I felt was, a neutral position. The recent events in Tibet were something of a test to keeping that position as we didn’t know exactly what was happening but my neutrality survived. However, after what has happened since then and reading and hearing articles in the media I have been pushed off my smug neutral perch. The position has simply become untenable.


The China-baiting has started and the anti-China hysteria is getting so loud it is hard to hear yourself think. Slagging from the media goes on and politicians continue to pontificate and make judgments based on supposition. None of which augurs well for good relations, healthy debate and discussion.


During my years of working in China I met many Chinese people [I hope that isn’t too much of a surprise] of many ages; students, their families, parents and their grandparents. Of the older people every one of them had a story to tell of the old days of China; of the Japanese invasion, the civil war, the liberation of the people, the calamities of the 1960s and 1970s and the Cultural Revolution in particular. None remembered the hardships, injustices and cruelty of those days with any fondness as many had suffered very badly during those years and some had lost friends and relatives, either to famine or to darker means. Amongst the students, who had grown up free of these problems, there was a determination to not let it happen again and a fierce loyalty to both country and government. Everyone was conscious that the modern China came into existence as a poverty-stricken nation, almost doomed to failure through lack of resources. An expression often heard is that ‘it was built on a bowl of rice’, and that’s not far from the truth. Looking at their recent history it seems that peace, freedom and prosperity had been within reaching distance of the people many times but on every occasion something or someone had snatched it from them and turned good fortune into disaster or worse. Their labours were rewarded by yet more misery. Yet despite these memories every one of the people I spoke to had confidence in their lives, in the future and in their country. Life is no longer supported, or restricted, by the Iron Ricebowl [a principle established shortly after the CCP came to power], people are free to set up their own enterprises and to earn a living the way they choose. The people of China have good reason to be proud of their county as the PRC has lifted more people out of poverty than any other nation. There is still a long way to go but their record stands tall against that of other countries in the west [e.g. USA, UK] where the prevailing system now does the opposite. Most of those I taught are no longer students and some run businesses of their own employing others; in the same way as their parents and grandparents struggled to find an existence in the rice fields, they strive to find their place in international markets. The China of today is not the same as the China of 5,000 years ago, 500 years ago, 50 years or even five years ago. Even in the few years I knew it there were visible changes occurring around me and most were for the better [actually I don’t recall any which were not but I’ll assume ‘most’ for the record]. China may not be on a par with western countries with their unstinting drive for perfect democracy and an unblemished record of respect for human rights, but it is probably much closer than most western people realise, a lot is a matter of perception and interpretation.


Meanwhile, if we want the PRC to move forward and continue to open out to the world possibly dialogue may prove useful. It certainly holds more promise than name-calling, mudslinging, assaulting torch carriers and demonising all things Chinese.




Related posts – The b-word, Xizang, Take Note,

Posts of a similar vein on other sites – Violet Eclipse, San Francisco Chronicle,