Archive for August, 2010

Monday, August 30, 2010

Languages: no particular Constraints

The languages our elders teach us don’t constrain our minds. But when we learn our mother tongue, we do after all acquire certain habits of thought that shape our experience in significant and often surprising ways, Guy Deutscher suggests.

Die Grenzen meiner Sprache bedeuten die Grenzen meiner Welt.
(Ludwig Wittgenstein)

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Related
May the Almighty Buddha give me Faith, Nov 7, 2008
Trying to Translate, Nov 7, 2008

Sunday, August 29, 2010

2009 Report: The Lottery Players’ Pride

Point of Acceptance (Archive)

Point of Acceptance

The following are excerpts from an article by Qianjiang Evening News (钱江晚报), a paper in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, published by the Zhejiang Daily Group (浙江日报报业集团). The group’s main paper is the Zhejiang Daily, an official newspaper of the provincial branch of the Communist Party. Qianjiang (钱江) apparently serves as another name for the Yangtze River.

Recently, the Ministry of Finance published its report on the allocation of the 2009 lottery revenues to public welfare, to give the public a quick and full understanding of the lottery’s benefit to the public (让老百姓对于彩票的公益性一目了然) – to buy a lottery ticket is not only fun, but also a loving heart’s tribute (奉献爱心).

3.3 Billion go into Wenchuan Reconstruction

The report states that during the past year, lottery tickets at 132.4 billion were sold nationwide, raising 41.1 billion Yuan for the welfare funds. 56.8 billion Yuan from tickets sold came from sports lottery sales, raising 16.5 billion Yuan for the for the welfare funds. The Super Lotto fund *) drew 35 per cent of these amounts, which makes it the playing method with the highest draws on the publicly beneficial lottery market, and the one that most easily brings lucky draws for the participants.

As the presentation of the beneficial share of the lottery revenues has long been neglected, lottery players may wonder: “why doesn’t my number come in? Where does the money I’m spending for lottery tickets go? How much of it is used for the benefit of the public? The report shows that in 2009, twenty billion Yuan were taken by the central government which allocated 10.5 bn to the national social security fund; 5.2 bn to the special lottery fund; to be approved for use by organizations by the State Council after application by such organizations to the Ministry of Finance and approval by the State Council; 800 million went to the General Administration of Sport of China (国家体育总局) to be used simultaneously for the implementation of the National Fitness Program, the Olympic Glory Plan, and other sports causes.

[…]

From the funds, 4.452 billion Yuan were specifically used for earthquake relief, one billion for medical aid in rural areas, 600 million for medical aid in urban areas, 600 millions in support for students’ education, 18.87 billion for students’ activities outside school, 2.74 million for disabled people, 1.89 billion for the Red Cross, 300 million for culture, 170 million in support of the poor, 46.75 million for the 2008 Olympic Games, mainly for the National Stadium, the National Swimming Center, the National Convention Center and other temporary facility costs, and expenses for the opening and closing ceremonies. 50 million were dedicated to legal aid.

It is worth mentioning that each of the above-mentioned expenditures make important contributions to the public benefit, and that the benefits from the sports lottery can be seen in all kinds of places. This isn’t only the task of the lottery, but also the pride of the lottery players (这不仅是体彩的义务,也是广大彩民的骄傲).

[…]

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Footnotes

*) Super Lotto (超级大乐透) -

Super Lotto is issued by China Sports Lottery Management Center. Tickets cost ¥2.00 per play. You either pick seven numbers from two separate pools of numbers: five different numbers from 1 to 35, and two number from 1 to 12, or let the computer pick your numbers. You win the jackpot by matching all six winning numbers. The jackpot continues to grow until a ticket matches all seven numbers drawn.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Chinese Flag, Chinese Mining Rights

China said Thursday its domestically-made manned submersible had successfully reached 3,759 meters below sea level with three crew on board, China Radio International (CRI) quotes Chinese sources. The submersible made seventeen dives in the South China Sea, from May to July, according to the report.

One of the accompanying photos shows a red flag being planted at the bottom of the South China Sea.

The vessel named Jiao Long (蛟龙号), apparently after a mythical flood dragon, fish, or mermaid, caught foreign media attention, writes Huanqiu Shibao. The New York Times, according to the Chinese paper, compared the Chinese operation with one by Russia in 2007, when a Russian flag was planted on the seabed below the North Pole. The Russian operation then had intensified contradictions between Russia and other claimants on the Polar area. USA Today, also according to Huanqiu Shibao, pointed out that planting a flag traditionally symbolized a claim on territory, and that this was meant as a signal to other neighboring countries with claims in the South China Sea area.

Huanqiu Shibao quotes Song Xiaojun (宋晓军), a Chinese military commentator with CCTV, as a well-known Chinese commentator on military affairs, as saying that the Jiaolong operation was searching for high sea resources, but as America and other countries hadn’t seized those by themselves, they now made accusations against China (中国著名军事评论家宋晓军在接受环球网采访时表示,中国此次行动其实是为了寻找公海资源,而美国等媒体主要也是因为自己“没抢着”才有了对中国的这番横加指责). In international waters, the mining rights went to those who took a place first (谁先占到谁就拥有开采权). America, Japan, France, Russia and other countries all operated in a similar way.

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Related
Hermit: the Stupid Little Mermaid, March 12, 2009
Russia plants Flag under North Pole, BBC News, Aug 2, 2007

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Night of the Dandong Flood

In the northeast Chinese city of Dandong, more than 64,000 people were evacuated, the Xinhua state news agency reported. About 230 homes collapsed and some transport, power and communication links have been cut off,

Agence-France Presse (AFP) quoted the official news agency last weekend. Dandong is a Chinese border city of 2.4 million people, on the Yalu River, which forms the border between China and North Korea. The river began to rise to “untenable levels” during the night from August 20 to 21.

Under such unsettled conditions, an American guest in town found shelter in an inn which was hardly licensed to harbor foreigners.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Arunachal Pradesh: Two Divisions Wanting to Die

Huanqiu Shibao – quoting an Assam Tribune report (阿萨姆论坛) via Eastday) – reports that India deployed two additional army divisions in Arunachal Pradesh, a state of India which China claims under the name of South Tibet.*) Sanjoy Takam (Chinese transcription: 乔伊), a member of parliament from Arunachal Pradesh, and the state’s chief minister Dorjee Khandu (Chinese transcription: 多杰坎杜) had recently met with prime minister Manmohan Singh and defense minister Shri A. K. Antony, to discuss the security situation in their state. One division includes ten- to twelve thousand troops, writes Huanqiu Shibao. Arunachal Pradesh had already designated the places which were to serve as military bases for the two divisions.

Huanqiu Shibao also quotes demands by MP Sanjoy Takam for a higher degree of surveillance on the border with China, a demand also reported by the original Assam Tribune article on Sunday.

At present, one division of the Army with its headquarter in Tenga valley is looking after the international border, while, parts of the division based in Dinjan are also deployed in Arunachal Pradesh,

writes the Assam Tribune.

Sanjoy Takam said that for years, the Government of Arunachal Pradesh has been demanding creation of Arunachal Scouts in lines of the Ladakh Scouts to improve vigil along the international border and the Government of India has sanctioned one battalion recently. He said that the recruitment rallies of the battalion of the Arunachal Scouts have started and 50 per cent of the posts of the battalion would be filled up with local youths and the remaining youths would be recruited from the rest of the country. The Government of Arunachal Pradesh has demanded that the youths of the North East should get preference in recruitments to be made from the rest of the country.

Arunachal Pradesh’s development is hampered by corruption, but also by military restrictions on movement within the state. The Arunachal Scouts are a project to create employment for Arunachal Pradesh’s youths,  familiar with the terrains in the international border along the state, within the Indian army. Arunachal Pradesh’s chief minister sought support for this idea from the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) more than a year ago, too, when meeting with a delegation from the organization. The commission is in charge of supporting the interests of  certain Communities suffering from extreme social & economic backwardness – like untouchability, primitive agri-practices, lack of infrastructural facilities, geographical isolation.

The Government of Arunachal Pradesh has also demanded that the Government should construct a road all along the McMahon Line to improve vigil and to facilitate movement of troops all along the international border, but the Government of India is yet to act on that,

the Assam Tribune quotes Sanjoy Takam. After the Sino-Indian war of 1962, India adopted a policy to not develop the border areas, according to Global Security. The idea had been that if India developed the border areas, the Chinese could easily use these facilities in the event of a war. India had changed this policy by 2008.

Chinese efforts to strengthen its international position concerning Arunachal Pradesh by isolating the state from international development aid suffered a setback in June last year, when the Asian Development Bank (ADB) approved a US$2.9 billion loan for a project which included a $60 million flood management, water supply and sanitation project in Arunachal Pradesh. In October and November last 2009, a visit to the state by the Dalai Lama sparked controversy between New Delhi and Beijing.

While Huanqiu Shibao report mainly quotes from the Assam Tribunal report, netizen commenters spice the story up with death certificates, for the two additional Indian divisions in Arunachal Pradesh or for China’s rule over Tibet respectively:

20,000 [Indian soldiers, two divisions] wanting to die are still too few! (来找死的20000也太少了吧!),

writes one of them, and another worries that

another 50,000 may control Tibet – today, you concede Tibet, and tomorrow, you may lose the entire country (再增加5万人就可以管理到西藏。今天让了西藏,明天你可能丢掉全国。).

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Footnote
*) Huanqiu Shibao refers to Arunachal Pradesh as “China, South Tibet” (中国藏南地区), in line with China’s claim on the territory (or part of it), but doesn’t put titles such as chief minister into quotation marks, as is custom when it comes to Taiwanese authorities.

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Related
“Subservient to his Indian Masters”, January 24, 2010

Monday, August 23, 2010

Press Preview: The Rivals

Der Spiegel, Rivals

newsstand, Bremen, Aug 2010

“The Rivals. China against Germany: the Struggle for the Global Markets”, is Germany’s news magazine Der Spiegel ‘s cover story this week.

It shouldn’t surprise me if it is much in line with another story – “China’s Soft Power is a Threat to the West” of July this year -, and if it uses some of that English story’s arguments, too. In the context of the July story, the “soft power” title seemed to be somewhat misleading to me anyway.

The primary currencies of soft power are an actor’s values, culture, policies and institutions—and the extent to which these “primary currencies” as Nye calls them, are able to attract or repel other actors to “want what you want.”*)

It’s business or business opportunities that drive China’s influence on Western decisionmakers. If money – or the – real or perceived – chance to make money in a country’s markets – doesn’t belong to the primary currencies of such a country’s soft power, soft power is not the issue when it comes to China. There are no such currencies, with the exception of Chinese policies, which are coordinated by the CCP.

Der Spiegel is much more critical of China, than they have ever been – in my memory, that is – of the Soviet Union. I appreciate their current critical coverage and wish it had started years earlier. But I have my doubt about the paper’s motivation. For sure, the title will catch the attention of  bypassers – sales, i. e. money, will be the issue here, too.

And obviously, it caught my attention. I’ll probably by a copy later this week, once I feel that I have the time to read thoroughly. I’m curious if Der Spiegel will show some soft power of its own.

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Footnote
*) Soft Power, Wikipedia of Aug 23, 2010

Related
Old Friend, younger than ever, July 22, 2010

Friday, August 20, 2010

Huanqiu Shibao: for a more Rational Discussion

Huanqiu Shibao refers to a Wall Street Journal survey which had found that the countries whose populations hows the lowest degree of acknowledgment of China’s economic development and its overall impression are France, Germany, India, and Turkey, while Russians, Pakistanis, Nigerians, and Indonesians and others showed high levels of appreciation. American and British viewed China’s overall impression rather highly, but not China’s economic development. Japanese people showed little acknowledgment of China’s overall impression, but expressed positive views of its economic successes.

Huanqiu quotes netizens as pointing out that the WSJ hadn’t published its standards of assessment and he numbers and arrangements (or gradation) of the interviewees it chose and was therefore not instructive. Some had said that “this doesn’t explain anything and is of no real meaning”, or “this kind of every-person-takes-a-stance-in-accordance-with-his-stance*) kind of statistic could be done by anyone”.

Others ask if this is “really about big trees catching a lot of wind (树大招风, inviting trouble), and isn’t it that they envy us for our economic growth”. Others say that “the more opponents belittle you, the more they fear you”. Some ask “what’s the meaning of this survey? Why don’t they make one of this kind about America? Let’s see how other countries view America.” And still others say that “China is a great country and doesn’t bully others, even though it was bullied by others during the past centuries. Now that the path of economic development which wasn’t easy has made us stand tall, others immediately envy us and make malicious remarks – there’s no need to pay attention to that.”

Apparently intent on channeling feelings into more dispassionate directions, Huanqiu Shibao takes an approach similar to one taken by Xinhua‘s International Herald (国际先驱导报) at times, by stating that

More users however believe that compatriots should look rationally at the affirmation and criticisms from different global regions, concerning our recent development. They should face up to the realities and actively seek solutions. Development is the way (发展才是硬道理), and the backward will take a beating. The statistics may not be comprehensive, but can serve as a warning (引以为戒). […] We Chinese people ourselves should look at China, the economy, people, and at ourselves, from various perspectives. And others say that “this isn’t about history, and only about real considerations of interests… China hasn’t yet completed the process of its rise, and the lack of acknowledgment from the advanced is only natural. We must not find fault – what we must do is to slowly strengthen ourselves, to let the whole country become stronger, so that when the advanced become aware of it, they will no longer be able to stop us.”

But not all commenters are in agreement with the latter quotes made by Huanqiu Shibao:

Turkey? They have the nerves to show themselves up! (土耳其?弹丸之地也好意思出来献丑!),

and 34 minutes later (either written by the same commenter, after some scientific consideration, or by another one):

Turkey is still nostalgic for its short-lived empire! (土耳其还在思念他历史上短暂的帝国梦!)

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Footnotes
*) literally: the benevolent takes a benevolent view; the knowledgable takes a knowledgable view (仁者见仁,智者见智).

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Related
“Growing National Arrogance”, BBC News, Aug 11, 2010

Friday, August 20, 2010

North Korean Military Plane crashes in China

A North Korean military aircraft crashed into a cornfield in northeastern China about 100 miles from the border, the Chinese government said Wednesday. Analysts believed the flight was a failed defection attempt, reports the L. A. Times, in what is believed to be a defection attempt

Some Chinese netizen reactions »

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