Archive for August 21st, 2012

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Doing Business with North Korea

The following are excerpts from an unverified account by a Chinese national who manages (or more probably managed, in the past) food business with North Korean agencies. It doesn’t seem to be a very recent one and was probably written years ago, but the way it got into the forum where I read it more recently seems to suggest that it was originally only accessible on another website, and only by password. I therefore left most names and other circumstantial descriptions out.

I guess that this was written during the North Korean famine, i. e. during the 1990s.

I’ll provide the link to those readers of this blog who I seem to know well, be it from the blogosphere or from the real world, under the condition that the link remains between us (unless you convince me that there is no need for this kind of caution).

Sino-North Korean relations appear to be uneasy on the official level. The following excerpts from the – unverified, see above – account of personal experience seems to suggest that things aren’t any easier on the level of everyday routine and cross-border contacts.

So, every time I’m doing transports [into North Korea], I will bring some boxes of bread and biscuits, and before unloading, first give these to the women who do the work, so that they can eat their fill first. But they don’t eat; they put the bread into their clothes to take it home for their children. The bad thing is that the officials in charge there frequently search them, and then use the bread by themselves, or to allocate it in their own ways. When I became aware of that, I was really angry. These trade organization bosses are rich. We do business with them, give them many presents, and they get sales commission for every transaction, paid in U.S. dollars. But still, they won’t let the women off with the bread. Next time, I will have to bring more boxes of food, to give some to the bosses first, and to the women next, and then I’ll make sure that they eat first. After work, I will give them more boxes to take them home to their children. In the past, I suffered from hunger myself. I know how it feels. Although I will have to spend a few hundred yuan more each time [to buy food for the North Korean women], it will make me feel better.

The women in North Korea do heavy manual labor at work, and the chores at home. A man sees it as a joke that he should do chores. They do nothing once they are at home. Women carry their child on their back when they are cooking, or doing the laundry. Once the dishes are ready, she has to serve the men and children first, and may have some food next to the stove. Thousands of years of tradition have led to a situation where these women work without complaining. They never quarreled with their fate which is so unfair to them. Every day, they do their hard work.

[…]

On leaving a restaurant, the author sees a middle-aged man clutching food residues out of a gutter.

I went back inside [the restaurant] and got him two mantou. He took them with both hands [an expression of politeness, not of hastiness] and cried as he expressed his thanks. He walked backwards several meters, bowing towards me, then turned away and left. As I watched him walking away, my eyes were also full of tears.

[…]

Despite the hardhips, North Koreans don’t blame the government. They say that American imperialism is responsible. It’s the American blockade, they create these difficulties. The common people in North Korea know nothing about the outside world. They can only listen to their own broadcasting stations, and watch North Korean television. Once, in a conversation with an old man, I said that you live like this, and he said, our lives are just as in paradise, it’s all given to us by our kind fatherly leader… […]

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Related

» Nightmare Investment, Sino-NK, Aug 15, 2012

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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Huanqiu Shibao: (Bo) Gu Kailai Case Completed

The Chinese and international press cover the Gu Kailai case as if there were real knowns. Maybe there are, and I just haven’t paid close attention anyway, but I seem to understand that Neil Heywood‘s remains had been cremated when the Chinese authorities suddenly found it opportune to look into the matter. It’s strange to see how this is reported as a case of murder, when a totalitarian state decides to appoint a court and to order a verdict.

Anyway, Huanqiu Shibao, in an editorial, explains that if (Bo) Gu Kailai had been an ordinary citizen, she would have received the same sentence (如果薄谷开来就是个普通人,发生同样的案子,她同样被判了死缓), that the killing of an alledged bank robber and killer, named Zhou Kehua (周克华), by Chongqing police may be a fake, that the police had been compelled to deny the rumor, and that China’s public opinion’s opening up to “freedom of speech” (in quotation marks there, too) was still a rather young story.

OK - let's get back to the South China Sea, shall we?

OK – let’s get back to the South China Sea, shall we?

Either way, it’s time to declare another victory in the run-up to the 18th National CCP Congress:

As long as the officials respond conscientiously, and stand the test of governing for the people, public opinion will react calmly. This year’s public crises have been many, public opinion had been rising and falling, but as the past six months passed, and when looking at it carefully and in detail, the authoritativeness of official information has grown. This has already become society’s expectation: that the government actively answers to important public views, and when such views are very strong, the government will make [the necessary] adjustments.

然而只要官方认真回应,为民执政经得起考验,舆论的回调实际也会悄悄发生。今年以来公共危机很多,舆论质疑此起彼伏,但大半年过去,如果我们仔细评估,官方信息的权威性还是增加了。比如社会现在已经有这样的预期:政府会对重要公众意见积极做回应,公众意见很强烈的时候,政府也会做调整。

Zhou Kehua became a topic on the Chinese internet because he had been cited as “a commoner who could be shot dead without trial”, basically.

Huanqiu Shibao:

Many things are hotly put into doubt by netizens, but in the end, what gains the trust of a majority, is still official information.

很多事情互联网上的质疑很热闹,但最终赢得多数人相信的,还是官方信息。

In short, the article suggests that officialdom should be “more self-confident”, in the face of rumors.

We encourage such self-confidence, because only when the officials are self-confident, information transparancy will be applied more naturally, and a few unnecessary misgivings won’t affect the handling of sensitive issues, there won’t be questions emerging within society because of certain aspects [or links] which then enters into tense interactions. These breakthroughs have already been achieved, and are gradually becoming the norm.

我们鼓励这种自信,是因为只有官方更自信,信息公开才会被执行得更加自然,一些不必要的顾虑才不会影响敏感事情的处理,社会才不会因为某一个环节出问题,就堕入一连串紧张的互动。这样的突破已在中国出现,它们需要连成片,逐渐成为常态。

Four “votes” via an emoticon board express shock, 26 express anger, 14 are hurt, 271 are moved, 1,240 delighted, 112 happy, 22 bored, and 598 find the editorial ridiculous.

Latest comments, too, suggest that Chinese public opinion is a beautiful garden (if no irony is meant):

When there is good freedom of speech, the sly dogs can’t hide their traces (还是言论自由好啊.让偷机摸狗无处遁形 – 18 minutes ago)

And a netizen who urged freedom of speech is replied to:

China can’t do the separation of powers yet; it would tear the country apart which would make China suffer. The former Soviet Union is an example! (中国还真不能搞三权分立,到时候权是分离了,国家就四分五裂了,那中国就惨了。前苏联就是榜样!)

The commenter thread only loads occasionally, and is apparently undergoing heavy editing.

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Related

» How the Horse Broke itself in, March 22, 2012

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