Posts tagged ‘cars’

Friday, August 23, 2013

Bo Xilai Trial: “Party Resolved, Nobody above the Law”

The following is a translation of a Xinhua newsagency account of Bo Xilai‘s first day in court, on Thursday. Probably because of the judicial nature of the article, I found it quite complicated. Objections and advice to improve the translation will be welcome.

Like many (online) papers and websites, Huanqiu Shibao carried the Xinhua account.

Xinhua Net, Jinan, August 22 (reporters Huo Xiaoguang, Yang Weihan). The intermediate people’s court in Jinan, Shandong province, heard the case of Bo Xilai bribery, corruption, and abuse of authority. Bo Xilai is standing trial. Witnesses appeared in court and gave testimony. Close relatives of the defendant, National People’s Congress delegates, Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference members, media journalists and members of the masses from all walks of life – more than one-hundred overall – were sitting in and following the trial.


At 8:43, presiding judge, vice president Wang Xuguang of Jinan intermediate people’s court, struck the gavel and opened the hearing.


The prosecutor read out the indictment. The indictment reads: From 1999 to 2012, Bo Xilai used his offices as Dalian mayor, Dalian municipal party secretary, Liaoning provincial governor, minister of commerce and other offices to obtain property amounting to more than 21,790,000 Yuan RMB directly or through his wife Gu Kailai and his son Gu Guagua, after accepting requests from  Dalian International Development Company general manager Tang Xiaolin (case handled separately), Dalian Shide Group Ltd. chairman Xu Ming (case handled separately) to help their companies or them individually with applying for car import quotas, reporting petrochemical project(s). The amount(s) was/were particularly big in 2002, when Bo Xilai made use of his office as Liaoning provincial governor and, together with others, embezzled Dalian city funds of 5,000,000 Yuan, and in January and February 2012, when Bo Xilai, as Chongqing municipal CCP secretary, violated regulations to obstruct investigations concerning Bo Gu Kailai’s intentional homicide, before and after the defection of deputy mayor Wang Lijun, approving the false public information that Wang Lijun “was on vacation and receiving treatment” and other ways of abusing authority. His behavior was a major cause in making it impossible to handle the above case timely in accordance with the law, and in the defection of Wang Lijun. This created a particularly abominable effect on society, major losses for the country’s and the people’s interests, under particularly serious circumstances. The prosecutor believes Bo Xilai should be prosecuted [on the basis of] crime of accepting bribes, crime of corruption, and crime of abuse of authority.

公诉人宣读起诉书。起诉书指控:1999年至2012年间,薄熙来利用担任大连市人民政 府市长、中共大连市委书记、辽宁省人民政府省长、商务部部长等职务便利,接受大连国际发展有限公司总经理唐肖林(另案处理)、大连实德集团有限公司董事长 徐明(另案处理)的请托,为相关单位和个人在申请进口汽车配额、申报石化项目等事项上提供帮助,直接或者通过其妻薄谷开来、其子薄瓜瓜收受上述二人给予的 财物共计折合人民币2179万余元,数额特别巨大;2002年,薄熙来担任辽宁省人民政府省长期间,利用职务便利,伙同他人侵吞大连市人民政府公款人民币 500万元,数额巨大;2012年1月至2月,薄熙来作为中共重庆市委书记,在有关人员揭发薄谷开来涉嫌故意杀人及时任重庆市人民政府副市长王立军叛逃前 后,违反规定实施了阻碍对薄谷开来涉嫌故意杀人案重新调查、批准对外发布王立军接受“休假式治疗”的虚假消息等一系列滥用职权行为,其行为是导致上述案件 不能及时依法查处和王立军叛逃事件发生的重要原因,并造成了特别恶劣的社会影响,致使国家和人民利益遭受重大损失,情节特别严重。公诉人认为,对薄熙来应 以受贿罪、贪污罪、滥用职权罪追究刑事责任。

Bo Xilai denied the indictment charges, made a statement and denied the charges. The court investigated the charges. Prosecutors and defenders respectively questioned the defendant, and cross-examined Dalian Shide Group Ltd. chairman Xu Ming [who attended] as a witness. The prosecutors showed evidence, testimonies, used evidence such as audio and video recordings, and prosecutors and defenders carried out ample evidence. The court put forward all permissions for Bo Xilai to to speak and to file motions.

在审判长主持下,被告人薄熙来对起诉书指控的受贿犯罪事实进行了陈述,并否认了指控。法庭就起诉指控薄熙来受 贿的事实进行了法庭调查。公诉人、辩护人分别讯(询)问了被告人,并对出庭作证的证人大连实德集团有限公司董事长徐明进行了交叉询问。公诉人当庭出示了书 证、证人证言、询问证人同步录音录像等有关证据,控辩双方进行了充分质证。法庭对薄熙来当庭提出的所有发言申请均予以准许。被告人及其辩护人充分发表了意 见。

The defendant, Bo Xilai, was emotionally stable in the court proceedings, his physical condition was normal. There was order among those sitting in and following the hearings.


At about six p.m., the presiding judge announced an adjournment, and the continuation of the hearings on August 23.


During the trial, Jinan intermediate people’s court’s official microblog channel [Weibo] covered the trial. After the morning session and the afternoon session, Jinan intermediate people’s court spokesman [or spokespeople] reported to the media.


According to the emoticons underneath, eleven reading voters are “frightened”, 37 are “angry”, 573 are “saddened”, three are “moved”, 28 “delighted”, none are “happy”, sixteen are “bored”, and 145 pushed the “ridiculous” button.

Huanqiu Shibao itself published an article today (Friday) that focuses on how the public follows the hearings, with an emphasis on international media: “Bo Xilai’s appearance in court attracts international attention” (薄熙来出庭受审引国际关注).

The BBC reported that Jinan people’s intermediate court’s offical microblog channel provided timely coverage. From the announcement of the trial and access provided to the audience, to the verification of the defendant’s identity, every step [in the proceedings] was published on the microblog.


Agence France-Presse (opening time of the hearings) and Singapore’s Lianhe Morning Post (orderly public listening to the proceedings), Hong Kong’s Ta Kung Pao online and WenWei Po  are also quoted – none, however, with news or commentary that would add information to that provided by Xinhua (see first translation).

Two Russian sources get the last word in Huanqiu’s press review:

Russian newspaper “Independent” says that China’s trial of Bo Xilai shows that  nobody can put himself above the law. Any criminal at any level will be punished. Russian “Information” website says that the trial clearly shows the CCP’s determination to fight against corruption.


According to the emoticons, 34 (emote-voting) readers are “frightened”, 52 are “angry”, 392 “saddened”, eleven are “moved”, 45 “delighted”, seven “happy”, 58 “bored”, and 1409 appear to find the article, the topic, situation, or else, “ridiculous”.

Xinwen Lianbo, China’s main evening news broadcast, apparently carried no news about the trial on Thursday, but an (apparently) unrelated one about cleaning the internet of “rumors”.



» Trial resumes, CNN, Aug 23, 2013



» Press verdicts, BBC, Aug 23, 2013
» Censorship instructions, China Digital Times, August 22, 2013


Friday, June 21, 2013

The Railroader’s Dream‏

There’s been a lot of talk about the “Chinese dream” ever since Xi Jinping first coined the term. The following individual dream, published in a dream-collection project on the Enorth internet portal in Tianjin, probably isn’t one of those that might alarm Xi and his collective leadership, as the Economist suggested in May this year. It’s the dream of a man who works for one of China’s most detested organizations – the railroad:

Everyone is talking about the Chinese dream, but we, the railroaders, should talk about the dream of the railroad. The railway ministry is no more, but the railroaders need to continue to live, we must dream our dream, because without dreams, there is no future. I will discuss my dream of the railroad, and hope that everyone will take part and discuss their own dreams.


1. Wages must catch up with those of civil servants, because I’m reaching retirement age and wish I could buy a flat from what I saved from my wage.


2. A sense of honor. I want to dare telling outsiders that I’m a railroader without being looked down upon. When our kids go outside, they should be proud of their fathers being railroaders.


3. Tasks must not be allocated according to red, yellow, and white tickets, relations between cadres and masses should be sorted out, and work become more relaxed. Let me do what I want to do, (and pay me for the worth of it). Let everyone make his contribution for the railway’s cause, according to their hearts.


4. No more nightshifts. Retirement at the age of 55. A chance to adjust the biological clock. Give retirees an opportunity to enjoy some more years.


5. After retirement, I will always want to come back and to have a look – I care for the railroad in many ways, it gives me a sense of home [or belonging].


6. To be in a position to buy a Xiali car at about thirty-thousand [Yuan RMB].


7. A free ticket for the whole country, to travel around, to see the motherland’s beautiful and mountains, and to heighten my patriotic enthusiasm.


8. No worries about seeing a doctor and about pension.


9. There should be no need to still take the brunt of the work at the age of fifty-plus, as the physical condition and memory are declining, and things take longer. Hopefully, more young people will fill the frontline, to become the main force at work.


10. Cancel the cadres’ lifetime appointments, base advancement on achievement – everything for work, nothing for selfish ideas.


Posted by the original contributor on May 28, as a comment in the thread underneath his dream, on May 28.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

2012 in Review (2): Nothing Trivial

« original post there

There was nothing trivial in 2012, and it was still OK, except for the driver license test.
On August 20, Baobao got started elementary school, the first step into the learning career.

In early September, we bought a car and spent more than 120,000 on it, which is a big household item.

In mid-November, my husband had an accident on the expressway, but fortunately nothing serious. We spent 12,000 Yuan on the repair costs, and the insurance company refunded the full amount.

The end of the world didn’t come in December, and we continue to live on this planet.

Wimpy Kid’s Space (小屁孩的大空间)



» 2012 in Review (1): The Imperfect Photograph, Dec 29, 2012

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Press Review: “I don’t want to comment, but I guess…”

Main Topics: Senkaku Islands, Xi Jinping

Links within blockquotes added during translation.

China’s automobile market had slowed, but that the past eight months’ numbers suggested that the overall trend was good, People’s Daily quotes Dong Yang (董扬), president and vice secretary of the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (中国汽车工业协会).



For the next step in its chain of arguments, People’s Daily quotes Jin Baisong (金柏松), a researcher at the ministry of commerce’s Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation (商务部国际贸易经济合作研究院, CAITEC):

Japan must understand that if it wants to welcome bright economic prospects, it must get along with its neighbors in a friendly way. Only if there is peace, it can drive its economic development. China may tell Japan that Chinese economic sanctions could make it [Japan] pay a huge price for its provocation concerning the Diaoyu Islands [Senkakus] issue.



While the first two “voices” probably don’t follow each other coincidentally, the third is about another kind of “consumer choice” Changsha Municipal Price Bureau and Tobacco Monopoly Bureau demand controls that ensure reasonable retail prices for cigarettes, and Chen Pingfan (陈平凡), a lawyer and professor at Xiangtan University, analyzes:

As the consumer market becomes more diverse by the day, “astronomical prices” for cigarettes, wine, and similar products are actually part of consumer choices just as well. To ban cigarettes sales “at astronomical prices” spells a wrong approach on variable taxes run counter to the development rules of a market economy.


And Wang Renxiu (王仁秀), Zhejiang LQ Bamboo Fiber Company’s general manager, awakens to a new managerial truth:

In the past, I used to believe that as long as the products are getting out, everything is alright. Now I know that the company needs to successfully go out [go global, 走出去], that it first needs to train its own basic skills.

Wang is just back from a U.S. tour, and reportedly said that the first thing she needed to do now is to apply for trademarks for her company’s products.



As for the first two “voices” quoted by People’s Daily, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) quoted a more explicit statement by China Association of Automobile Manufacturers’ Dong Yang, as long as five days ago:

While August had otherwise been positive for auto sales in China, some Japanese auto makers bucked the trend, the WSJ wrote on Monday.

At a press conference on Monday, Dong Yang, secretary general of the state-backed China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, linked slowing sales of Japanese cars to the countries’ growing diplomatic tussle over islands in the East China Sea, called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China.

“I don’t want to comment much but I guess Japanese brands sales slowed in August mostly due to the Diaoyu issue,” Mr. Dong said.

Meantime, Xi Jinping (习近平) took a botanical tour of the China Agricultural University to celebrate Science Popularization Day on Saturday. The activity is to continue until September 21, and one of its main topics is “food and health”. Television reports all seem to show the same officially-published two pictures, but no motion pictures of Xi.

The BBC‘s Mandarin website quotes Xinhua as the original source of the latest Xi coverage. The BBC quotes Boxun with sources that didn’t want to be named as saying that Xi had cancelled public appearences during the first half of the month as he had been too busy with assuming party-leadership tasks from Hu Jintao, and with managing Beijing’s reactions to the Senkaku Islands issue.

It can hardly be denied that an incoming CCP chairman is very busy indeed, and this information will probably never turn out to be unfounded, but it should also be said that not every bit of news that Boxun publishes turns out to be correct.



» Physical and verbal insults, Ministry of Tofu, Sept 15, 2012
» 在华日本公民人身安全依法得到保护, Xinhua, Sept 14, 2012


Saturday, July 21, 2012

Is this (German) Soft Power?

Maybe. Sort of.



» Not so Spy, March 5, 2011


Friday, April 20, 2012

Class Struggle from Above: How Well-To-Do is the German Commuter?

A Guest Post by Tai De

car dashboardThomas Straubhaar heads the Hamburgisches Weltwirtschaftsinstitut, or Hamburg Institute of International Economics, a not-for-profit research institute, an enthusiastic buyer of local goods, he says. Clearly, he doesn’t like long-distance rides – and he doesn’t like the commuter tax allowance. It only helped well-to-do sole earners. Families weren’t the real beneficiaries, and society had to bear costs from traffic jams, greater risks of accidents, and urban sprawl. Rather, commuters should pay an additional tax, to compensate the urban population for the harm commuters inflicted on them (“damit könnten Städter für das Leid entschädigt werden, das ihnen Auto fahrende Pendler antun”).

I don’t believe that Straubhaar is really targeting the commuter tax allowance – if any political party supports it his move, it would be the Greens, but the allowance won’t go away. The Free Democrats (FDP) rather favors an increased allowance, to compensate commuters for rising petrol prices. And the two big parties, the Christian Democrats  (CDU/CSU) and the social democrats (SPD) won’t dare to alienate their classical voters – even if Straubhaar doesn’t believe it:

“Wouldn’t a commuter tax go down well with the millions of urban people? Why don’t politicians seize the opportunity?” (Wäre nicht die Pendlersteuer eine Forderung, mit der sich bei Millionen von Stadtmenschen politisch punkten ließe? Wieso nutzen Politiker(innen) diese Chance nicht?)

Who is well-to-do may be a matter of definition – but those targeted may not feel that they were well-to-do (with or without reason). However, it is easy to label your target well-to-do before making unpopular suggestions, and Mr. Straubhaar’s suggestion isn’t popular. Maybe it is because people don’t buy the allegation that the beneficiaries of the allowance are generally well-to-do. Maybe Mr. Straubhaar himself is way too well-to-do to be believed. At any rate, it seems to me that in Mr. Straubhaar’s view, the Hamburg city is too chique to tolerate all those country bumpkins there. After all, the German word for “harm” is “Leid” – and Leid is something a perpetrator inflicts on a victim.

The comments underneath the Welt article with quotes from Straubhaar seem to confirm my impression that politicians who would “seize the opportunity” and scrap the allowance wouldn’t do themselves a favour. There is no real discussion. Straubhaar seems to hate his audience, and his audience hates him back.

Straubhaar may not like it – and the Free Democrats, at odds with him concerning the commuter tax allowance, but not in general – may not like it either, but West Germany’s post-war consensus was built on exactly the allowances and financial transfers (welfare state) which he calls into question.

This comment by “Systemkritiker” (system critic) is indicative of the general mood on the “Die Welt” thread:

Great. New taxes. Then we will get even more big cities because everyone needs to go there, and even more welfare recipients, because people are jobless. That guy is deranged. Just like all politicians. Said it and boarded his fat [Audi ] A8. Blithering idiots give us counsel. (Richtig so. Neue Steuern. Dann haben wir endlich noch mehr Großstädte weil alle hinziehen müssen und noch mehr Hilfsempfänger weil sie keinen Job mehr haben. Der Typ ist doch gestört. Wie alle Politiker auch.
Sprachs und setzte sich in den fetten A8.
Dummschwätzer regieren und beraten uns.)

And that’s still sort of an optimistic interpretation, because Straubhaar is hardly giving “Systemkritiker” advice. He  doesn’t even notice “Systemkritiker”.

It’s a general mood. People everywhere may be chronically angry at those who rule their countries. But Germans don’t occupy Wall Street, or the Frankfurt city. They vote – and as every leftist or rightist member of parliament seems to cause the moderate democrats huge pain, they’d better take the anger seriously.

If property on the Elbchaussee or in Bremen-Schwachhausen should need big fences and alarm equipment in future, this won’t do their value any good.

P.S.: I don’t agree with “Systemkritiker”. I’m almost sure that Mr. Straubhaar goes t work by bike. But the bike needs to be locked away at his working place, because it’s too good to get stolen.


Previously by Tai De:

» No Communists at Deutsche Welle, but… March 11, 2012


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Ignorant, Incompetent and Shameless, Han Han as a Writer

By Huo Long

Huo Long is a translator and blogger in Beijing. Originally posted on his blog on March 12; reposted by permission.

It’s been more than a month since I started following the rivalry between Fang Zhouzi (方舟子, real name: Fang Shimin, 方是民) and Han Han (韩寒). Fang graduated from Michigan State University with a Doctor’s degree in biochemistry. He is a scholar and a popular science writer and is better known for devotion of his spare time to exposing academic and scientific fraudulence in China. Han was a high school dropout. He is widely extolled as a once teenage literary genius, a popular novel writer, an accomplished car racer, and, most recently, an advocate of freedom and democracy. Fang accuses Han of being a fake writer and having most, if not all, of his works ghostwritten.

I wrote a Chinese blog post titled Closing of Han Han’s Ghostwriting-Gate that didn’t pack much punch. In the post, I tried to produce a point-by-point analysis of too many contradictions and inconsistencies found in Han Han. He has long ago demonstrated writing talent as a teenager (as shown in his early award-winning compositions) and a sought-after writer of bestsellers. However, in his video interviews, he showed a surprising ignorance of literary writing, traditions, and even his own works. It later occurred to me that the message of the post I wanted to get across could be as simple as one sentence:

Everyone should rely on their sound logics, common sense and life experience to make sure they are not enchanted or fooled.

And of course, as I later figured out, this message had been intended for people in their right mind, not those who are muddle-headed. For the latter, they won’t listen to anything they are told.

Couples of days later, I made another attempt in vain to create a powerful post. Suffering this “blogger’s block” not uncommon to me, I turned to read other Han Han-bashing articles. Their writers presented their well-thought-out, insightful, and evidence-rich arguments so eloquently and amazingly.

Looking at People through a Glass (杯中窥人) by Han Han at the age of 14 and Three Important Things (三重门) at 17 are already far beyond my current writing capabilities. As if it were not enough, after reading some student composition books on offer in a supermarket, I found that even today’s ten-year-olds write better than me.

I have no intention to complete that unfinished post. So I decide to paste its fragments here for the entertainment of my blog readers:

Is now Han Han dead as a writer?

Answer in Han Han’s casual writing style he used in a Sina Weibo private message to one of his supporters (It’s hard enough for me to mimic Han Han’s untrained and uneducated writing style in Chinese. So I decided to give up trying to do so in English. I’ll just write in normal English, at least as I define it):

Though he as a writer is already stone dead, Han Han as human being is still alive and thrives. His father, Han Renjun (韩仁均) who used to write in the pen name of Han Han before his son was born, is hale and hearty. They are now secretively planning their doomed strategies with which to strike back at Fang Zhouzi and his supporters.

Han Han is a character I cannot possibly fathom. Casting my eye to the rest of the country, I can find no one like him, so divided in personality. This only makes him seem even more mysterious to me.

For that matter, I’m almost as good as Han Han. I taught myself to translate from scratch. Also a drop-out from an occupational school where accounting was taught, I’d just finished junior elementary school. While at the accounting school, I joined a nationally accredited, but not nationally appreciated and often discriminated part-time self-study program (自学考试), and later earned a diploma of English. It is roughly equivalent to a two-year college degree. My ten years of hard work in Beijing paid off. I now have a happy family living in an apartment we call our own. When asked about how she thought of my looks, my wife would say “You’re so very handsome, honey”. About my height, she would say “You must not be taller. If taller, you’d be a perfect man I’m not worthy enough to have you as a husband!” Not being completely convinced, I brought the questions to my son. He simply answered, “en!”, “en!”, “en!”, with which he meant he approved very much of how good I look and how tall I stand. Well, both my wife and son speak so highly of me. So, I have no other choice than to believe their words! … Oh, sorry, I forgot to mention that my son was just one-year and three-month-old this February. [Note: With this almost disgusting narcissism also found in Han Han’s book Just Drift Like This (就这么漂来漂去), I’d wanted to quip in later paragraphs: “Some supporters of Han Han are like men or women who are head over heels in love with him and they won’t be able to see his true self; others are like one-year and three-month-old innocent babies who only know it’s fun to stir their fresh pee with dirt and know nothing of what’s bad or good for them.”]

A man called Mai Tian (麦田, or apparently Wheat Field) wrote a blog post entitled Man-made Han Han (人造韩寒). In the post, he accused him of being a fake writer and a product of only commercial packaging, and having his award-winning compositions and bestsellers ghostwritten. Angered by this accusation, Han Han offered CNY 20,000,000 and the future loyalties from his books as a reward to anyone who can prove a line or even a single word was done by people other than Han Han himself. He made clear his seriousness about this offer by writing out all the 7 zeros in the award amount. He was even willing to die before his daughter grew up if any of his works had been ghostwritten, according to one of his blog post which was later edited to exclude this oath. However, in an interview with Hunan Satellite TV that followed hot on the heels of his prize offer, Han Han, who dressed himself like a trend-setting actor with a scarf around his neck and wore a charming smile, said calmly: “The award I offered was a joke. [I didn’t have any better idea than that offer. I wanted to show how angry I was about being accused of having my works ghostwritten]. I cannot possibly prove I don’t have a team [to ghostwrite for me].” (“我又没有办法证明我没有团队,所以才开玩笑的,拿出了这个悬赏。“)

Han Han’s inability of keeping his promise did not stop there. The award caught the attention of Fang Zhouzi. He then read through Han’s early, recent and new books, as well as a biography “My Son Han Han” (我的儿子韩寒) by the older Mr. Han, and watched absorbedly Han’s video interviews. By doing so, he did find clues that made him believe some of Han’s articles and books were ghostwritten. He then posted his findings and textual analyses on his Sina blog. However, Han Han again found this infuriating. He accused Fang of “libeling” and brought his grievance to a court in the Putuo District, Shanghai against Fang and another man named Liu Mingze (刘明泽). No one seemed to know who this faceless Mr. Liu was – Mai Tian is not surnamed LIU. It later turned out that Han Han’s “extra-luxury” lawyers’ team sued that poor Shanghai-based Mr. Liu because they wanted the court to have jurisdiction over the case. To achieve that end, one defendant had to be domiciled in Shanghai. His lawyers’ team makes being an innocent onlooker a very dangerous thing: Just because Liu was in Shanghai, of all the people against Han Han in the controversy, he was chosen to be a privileged defendant in a libel case doomed to be so high-profile. [Han later dropped the case against Liu.]

This can be likened to an imagined challenge invitation in the colonial days of Shanghai. Han Han, who was a much acclaimed and self-styled kungfu master, invites Fang Zhouzi, a taiji boxer who questions Han’s worthiness as a kungfu fighter, to a contest in which Han wanted to show his power. Then the much anticipated duel started with a fanfare. In the first round, Fang soon confirmed his suspicion by finding Han’s lack of strong kick power. Without meeting any effective resistance, Fang casually took advantage of one of Han’s many weaknesses and swept Han off his feet. Han hit head-first against the ground and suffered a bleeding head. The referee whistled and the first round ended. Han complained to his father, “Dad, we provoked the wrong man. He’s not to be intimidated. I’d thought he’d back down. I cannot possibly defeat him!” The older Mr. Han had a better idea, “Sweet. Don’t panic. If you cannot win him in the duel, just don’t go back to it. We can report him to the Shanghai International Police and accuse him of physically assaulting you in the duel!”


Some people cannot figure out why Han Han would want to bring the case to a Chinese court. “Hadn’t he criticized the Chinese court system as a mockery of justice?” “That’s exactly the reason why he wanted his case tried there.”

If you’re not interested at all in the argument over these seemingly trivialities, or just don’t like the way in which Fang Zhouzi seems so intent to do injustice to an innocent man.

Think twice. Is this that trivial or simple?

An ignorant and incompetent writer, Han Han has gone so far as to be admired as a talented adolescent, a bestseller writer, an advocate of democracy and freedom, a social and government critic, and a public intellectual (公知, yet another stigmatized Chinese term after 小姐, Miss, young lady, which now often means a prostitute; and 同志, comrade, which now can mean gay men.). His ascent reflects the distorted values of the present-day Chinese society, in which fake, attractively packaged and effectively promoted, sells well as the real McCoy to the unsuspecting consumer.

The ongoing rivalry between the two sides is very much like the elections on Taiwan. Almost half of its voters support the Democratic Progress Party (DPP), as corrupt and deceitful as it use to be, simply because they don’t want the Kuomintang in power. The problem for Han Han now is: Can he also reinvent himself like the DPP has done and prove his worthiness?

The Chinese people always admire the Germans for their strictness and rigorousness in their work, the Japanese for their great attention to details in their manufacturing, and the Americans for their love of freedom and democracy in their politics. However, when it comes to the crunch, some of the Chinese refuse to do what their role models have done. In a split personality, they only drift along in their work, are not ashamed of the jobs they’ve botched up, or take sides in disputes only by judging what’s good for them, instead of what’s right or wrong.

Essentially a contradictory, impossible presence, Han Han can only be true if he meets two criteria: a) he’s a genius; and b) he’s an average man. However, these two are mutually exclusive. If one is true, then the other is false, or vice versa.

For example, in the Three Important Things he supposedly began writing as a 16-year-old and finished a year later, the books and people he cited and made reference to include, according to an incomplete list compiled by an unidentified source:


Guanzuibian (管锥编), a study journal in which QIAN Zhongshu annotated ancient Chinese books; Huainanzi (淮南子), a collection of Taoist writing in the Western Han Dynasty (206 B.C. – 25 A.D.); Shangshu (尚书), a collection of imperial archives before China’s first unified Qin Dynasty (221 B.C.-206 B.C.); Wanli Yehuobian (万历野获编), a compilation in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644); 康河里的诗灵, Google yields no immediately relevant or definite search findings in the first few pages; 《西学与晚清思想的裂变》, Google yields no immediately relevant or definite search findings in the first few pages; Quintus Horatius Flaccus (贺拉斯), a Roman poet and critic (65 B.C. – 8 B.C.); 流浪的人生, Google yields no immediately relevant or definite search findings in the first few pages; Eight Travel Records of Yongzhou (永州八记), including The Travel Record of the Little Stone Lake (至小丘西小石潭记), written by LIU Zongyuan (柳宗元, 773 – 819); The Analects of Confucius (论语), a Confucius classic; The School of Huitong Says So (会通派如是说), by WU Mi (吴宓, 1894-1978); From Chaos to Order (从混浊到有序), Google yields no immediately relevant or definite search findings in the first few pages; Formal Logics (形式逻辑学), Google yields no immediately relevant or definite search findings in the first few pages; Stories of Searching for Gods and Spirits (搜神记), attributed to GAN Bao (干宝, Eastern Jin (317-420)) but mostly modified in later generations; Everlasting Regret (长恨歌), a love poem about Tang Emperor Xuanzong and Imperial Concubine Yang by BAI Juyi (白居易, 772 – 846); 本 • 琼森与德拉蒙德的谈话录, Google yields no immediately relevant or definite search findings in the first few pages; 心理结构及其心灵状态, Google yields no immediately relevant or definite search findings in the first few pages; On the Death of David Hume (论大卫•休谟的死), David Hume (1711-1776), a British philosopher, historian and economist; Madame Bovary (包法利夫人), by Gustave Flaubert ( French writer, 1821 – 1880); A Chronicle of Zuo (左传), a Confucius classic during China’s Warring States (403 BC – 221 BC); 铁轨边的风, Google yields no immediately relevant or definite search findings in the first few pages; 教学园地, Google yields no immediately relevant or definite search findings in the first few pages; Flowers in the Mirror (镜花缘), a novel written by LI Ruzhen (李汝珍, 1763-1830); 佳人, Google yields no immediately relevant or definite search findings in the first few pages; 美女赋, Google yields no immediately relevant or definite search findings in the first few pages; 江南的水, Google yields no immediately relevant or definite search findings in the first few pages; Guangyang Zaji (广阳杂记), by LIU Xianting (刘献廷, 1648 – 1695); Being Digital (数字化生存), by Nicholas Negroponte (1943 – ) in 1995; Xianqing Ouji (闲情偶寄), by LI Yu (李渔, 1611 – 1680); Chushibiao (出师表) by ZHUGE Liang (诸葛亮, 181 – 234); Three Character Classic (三字经), a traditional Chinese primer book; 李敖快意恩仇录 by LEE Ao (李敖, 1935-), a mainland-born Taiwanese writer; Shehualu (舌华录), a collection of witty remarks by CAO Chen (曹臣) in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644); Romance of the Western Chamber (西厢记) by WANG Shifu (王实甫, ca. 1260 – 1336); Chinese Literature History (中国文学史), Google yields no immediately relevant or definite search findings in the first few pages; A Dream in Red Mansions (红楼梦) written in the Qing Dynasty (1616-1911); All Men Are Brothers (水浒传) by SHI Naian (施耐庵, 1296-1371); Four Generations Under One Roof (四世同堂) by Lao She (老舍, 1899 -1966); Shiji (史记) by SIMA Qian (司马迁, ca. 145 BC – 90 BC); Zhanguoce (战国策) by LIU Xiang (ca. 77 BC – 6 BC); Master Sun’s Art of War (孙子兵法) by SUN Wu (孙武, birth and death dates unknown, a contemporary of Confucius); Shuowen Jiezi (说文解字) by XU Shen (许慎, ca. 58 – 147); The Metamorphoses (变形记) by Roman poet Ovid (43 BC – AD 17/18); A Biography of Chinese Writers (中国作家传), Google yields no immediately relevant or definite search findings in the first few pages; Mencius (孟子), a Confucius classic by Mencius (372 BC – 289 BC); Journey to the West (西游记) by WU Chengen (吴承恩, 1501 – 1582); Liaozhai Zhiyi (聊斋志异) by PU Songling (蒲松龄, 1640 – 1715); Boule de Suif (羊脂球) by French writer Guy de Maupassant (1850 – 1893); QIAN Zhongshu Who Has Walked Out of the Magic Mirror (走出魔镜的钱钟书), a biography of Qian by WANG Yinfeng (王吟凤) in 1999; The Carnal Prayer Mat (肉蒲团) by LI Yu (李渔, 1611 – 1680); and Liezi (列子), a Taoist classic.


Oscar Wilde; Martin Heidegger; Auguste François Xavier Comte; Franz Kafka; Gregor Samsa; Zhu Tao-sheng (竺道生), a Chinese Buddhist thinker; LI Liangping (栗良平), a modern Chinese writer; Émile Zola; Guy de Maupassant; Gustave Flaubert; ZHANG Junou (张俊欧), not found in Google search; ZHU Guangqian (朱光潜), a modern Chinese scholar; Denis Diderot; Ortega; van der Sar; Socrates; Athena; DAI Wangshu (戴望舒, a modern Chinese poet); Takashi Kashiwabara (柏原崇), a Japanese actor; Yosuke Eguchi (江口洋介), a Japanese actress; TANG Yin (唐寅, also known as 唐伯虎 in Chinese), an ancient Chinese painter; CAO Juren (曹聚仁), a modern Chinese writer; LI Yu (李渔), an ancient Chinese writer; DU Mu (杜牧), an ancient Chinese poet; LU Xun (鲁迅), a modern Chinese writer; CAO Zhi (曹植), an ancient Chinese figure; DU Fu (杜甫), an ancient Chinese poet; Laotze (老子), the founder of Taoism; QIAN Zhongshu (钱钟书), a modern Chinese scholar and writer; WU Mi (吴宓), a modern Chinese scholar; George Yeh (叶公超), a modern Chinese diplomat; LEE Ao (李敖), a modern Chinese writer on Taiwan; Hu Shih (胡适), a modern Chinese scholar and liberal; Han Feizi (韩非子), an ancient Chinese thinker; HsunTzu (荀子), an ancient Chinese thinker; Zhuangzi (庄子), an ancient Chinese thinker; Xu Zhimo (徐志摩), a modern Chinese writer; LIU Yong (柳永), an ancient Chinese poet; Mao Zedong (毛泽东), a modern Chinese politician; SONG Yu (宋玉), an ancient Chinese poet; HAN Yu (韩愈), an ancient Chinese poet; LIU Zongyuan (柳宗元), an ancient Chinese writer; LIU Yong (刘墉), a Taiwanese writer; Mozi (墨子), an ancient Chinese thinker; LIN Huiyin (林徽因), a modern Chinese writer; CHEN Yanque (陈寅格), a modern Chinese scholar; Paul-Marie Veriaine; Li Yu (李煜), an ancient Chinese poet and emperor; Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsch; GUO Moruo (郭沫若), a modern Chinese writer and politician; Benito Mussolini; Arthur Schopenhauer; Filippo Tommaso Marinetti; Napoleon; Hitler; Madame Curie; James Watt; Thomas Edison; ZHANG Haidi (张海迪), a modern Chinese writer; Confucius; LIANG Shiqiu (梁实秋), a Chinese writer on Taiwan; LIU Yazi (柳亚子), a modern Chinese poet; Montesquieu; ZEN Guofan (曾国藩), a late Qing Dynasty (1616-1911) politician; LI Baichuan (李百川), an ancient Chinese writer; Kong Xiangxi (孔祥熙), a modern Chinese politician; Empress Dowager Cixi (慈禧太后), a late Qing Dynasty ruler; XIAO Fuxing (肖复兴), a modern Chinese writer; Nikita Khrushchev; William Shakespeare; JIANG Qing (江青), Mao Zedong’s wife and Chinese politician; Romain Rolland; SU Shi (苏东坡), an ancient Chinese poet; YANG Wanli (杨万里), an ancient Chinese poet; and SHAO Jiaxuan (邵稼轩), an ancient Chinese man.

He managed to write this complex long novel with only slips of the pen the needed correction. At such a young age, he could make references to the books and the people and integrate their elements in the creation of the novel. His manuscripts are as clean as transcripts, as shown in a photo of his “manuscripts” he posted in his blog trying to convince the public he was indeed the creator of the novel.

Han is no doubt a genius as it comes to writing. However, to the great surprise of the least literarily minded, such a well-read genius admitted repeatedly and strongly in an interview with Hong Kong-based Phoenix TV that he has never read A Dream in Red Mansions (红楼梦). However, in his novel Three Important Things, he made reference to the Chinese novel classic in at least three brilliantly written paragraphs. In the novel, he has also demonstrated great knowledge of and familiarity with things and witty talks even in his father’s generation. Moreover, in the interview, he said to the effect that “There is no such a thing as a classic book; it’s only an average book that has later become classics after much reading by generations of people who had nothing better to read”.

Furthermore, he couldn’t even distinguish between an embassy and a consulate. In a blog post about Wang Lijun (王立军), Han referred to the U.S. consulate as the “US Embassy in Chengdu[, Sichuan province]”.

Additionally, he committed a laughable anachronism in a TV interview. He accused Fang Zhouzi’s tactics of “being like those of Yao Wenyuan (姚文元)” (1931-2005), who, according to Han, locked up his comrades in dark rooms in the Yan’an Rectification Movement (延安整风, 1942-1944, a purge that reportedly claimed the lives of 10,000 Communists).

It’s hard to believe that the Han Han featured in the video interviews is truly the one who has personally written all his award-winning student compositions and early books.

According to Han Han, a “little notebook” helped him write the intelligent and almost pedant books as a very young high school dropout. But he claimed that he later lost such capabilities. In the notebook he kept all the quotes and references he used in his book. This makes me wonder whether the booklet was a synthetic steroid, Viagra, or the helping hand of God: Why couldn’t Han Han perform the functions as a skilled writer in the absence of a compilation of mysterious notes?

What else Han Han said in video interviews:

As shown by these revealing video interviews, Han’s actually an “honest” man who often speaks his mind unwittingly. It must be his father or someone else who chose for Han a path that leads to his today’s fame and fortune he doesn’t deserve.

In the above Sina interview, he showed his unfamiliarity with a book he wrote recently. He reacted with surprise, saying (12’26”) that he “didn’t weep”, when answering a question the hostess asked for the audience, “In your book you wept because of a loss you suffered in racing… Have you ever wept because of a racing loss?”

In a interview with Netease in 2005, Han Han personally confirmed that a paragraph conspicuously advertised in the book covers and chapter introduction of Just Drift Like This (就这么漂来漂去) was not written by him. When asked about what he thought of the paragraph, a quite surprised Han said (16′ 12″), “[…] I didn’t know where my editor got the words and put them there. It’s not written by me. It’s totally not written by me. They are particularly not my words. […]” Han last month argued in a separate interview that he “did write those words”, but he “did not agree with them”.

In the video, in his broken, hesitating, off-topic, and sometimes rambling language, he said to the effect that,

“I don’t love writing at all. Neither do I like being called a writer. I write only because I have to. To me, writing is a job I have to do and is something that brings me the money I need.”

My comment: Writing is what makes Han Han. And yet he doesn’t like it. He only talks about writing like a high school dropout who can’t seem to understand why he’s now a writer.

“How well a writer writes depends on what books he or she has read in the past.”

My comment: In other interviews, he said that reading books by others is not necessary for the writers and they can always rely on information they get on their own and then builds it into his books.

“All books are created equal. There is no such a thing as one being better than the other in terms of the thought they can provoke. The priority of a book is not the message, big or small, its writer wants to convey, but the feelings it can arouse in the reader.”

My comment: Bill Gates and Steve Jobs had been outstanding students when they decided to leave school. However, Han Han was mighty different. He was virtually kicked out of high school because of his extremely poor academic performance (seven subjects failed, including Chinese). His words can be translated as follows: Though I was kicked out of high school because of poor school scores, I’m as good as or better than those who have attended college or university because I’m now nonetheless just as rich, famous, and successful.

As I see it, the essence, or the message, of a book is more important than its other aspects. Great books can be read by generations of thinking readers who are willing to read them several times. Han’s ideal books are for people who prefer sensual pleasures and don’t want to use their brain too much while reading.

“I don’t like the pretentious or affected way of writing. Writers should be themselves and write directly what they actually feel and think.”

My comment: He says so simply because he doesn’t know how to write like a real writer. To him, putting words on paper itself is writer’s writing. If this was the case, an illiterate person could dictate a long epic.

“My books are not perfect. There are lots of loopholes I intentionally left there to be found.”

My comment: This is very true indeed. His biggest loophole is that some of this books published under his name were not written by him.

“I don’t know what Confucianism is. I don’t know what it or other traditional Chinese isms are about. I’ve even never read A Dream in Red Mansions (红楼梦). I don’t know who is who in the novel.”

My comment: He knows nothing about them. So his ghostwriters helped him incorporate those isms and classics into the works published under his name.

“I spend thousands of yuan each month in buying newspapers and read them.”

My comment: Calculated at 2,000 yuan, 2 yuan per copy of newspaper, and 12 pages per copy, that would be 12,000 pages. Then, he would have no time for writing, racing or womanizing.

“I like the books by writers active after the May 4th, 1919 Movement because of their particular attention to writing elegant and charming Chinese.”

My comment: The period leading to and several decades after May 4th, 1919 Movement was a transition of written Chinese from Classic to Vernacular. It’s a period of experiments and nothing was perfect. Though the new ideas introduced in the early Vernacular Chinese from abroad were transforming, the language itself was anything but elegant or charming.

“If I don’t like a writer, I won’t like his works.”

My comment: So Han can refuse to eat the egg simply because he doesn’t like the hen.

“I don’t know the intention with which I write my books.”

My comment: Because it’s not he who wrote them and he has never carefully read them.

“As a writer, I don’t need to read novels by others. What I need is information. I have my own brain and I know what novel I want to write. I don’t need to read novels by others to get some inspirations about how I can better write my novels.”

My comment: As a genius, he never needs to learn from others. And yet as an average boy, he must read books by others so that he can write.



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Saturday, May 21, 2011

Press Freedom in Germany: Who’s afraid of Tilman Spengler?

Christian Y. Schmidt comes from a city which, according to a popular conspiracy, doesn’t even exist. From 1989 to 1995, he was an editor with Germany’s satirical paper Titanic. His wife is from Beijing, and they both live in Beijing. As a free author, he writes for the Berliner Zeitung, Konkret, taz, Jungleworld, and for the Riesenmaschine blog.

In a speech to the German-Chinese Students Forum at Beijing’s University of International Business and Economics, on December 4, 2010, he addressed the issue of press freedom in Germany, and pointed out that there were several limits to it.

In legal terms – Schmidt quoted from the penal code (Strafgesetzbuch) -, paras 86, 89, 90, 90a, 91, 111, 130 and 131 dealt with anti-constitutional organizations and activities, disparaging the federal president, the state or its symbols, constitutional institutions, and depictions of violence.

All that, he said, was nothing he would object to, adding that there were no governmental guidelines about what the press should or should not cover, but while the German press was freer than the Chinese, there were more limits to it German law would suggest.

  1. The press was depending on its advertising customers. Practically every paper had an automobile supplement. Provided that a car wouldn’t fall to pieces during a road test, it would be judged in a benevolent way. Besides, journalists who wrote about cars would get a car for reference, possibly for months. “Travel agencies offer trips free of charge. When I lived in Singapore, some German journalists would drop by, as they travelled to Bangkok on the Eastern and Oriental Express. That trip costs some 2,300 to 4,700 dollars, currently. Of course, the German journalists didn’t have to pay. […] Either way, I have never read something bad about the Eastern and Oriental Express in German papers’ travel section.”
  2. Political dependence played a role, too. Even though the German press criticized the government – and the opposition – frequently and with pleasure, there were limits. Germany’s economic order wasn’t questioned. The idea that banks could be nationalized, as a result of the recent financial crisis, had never been discussed. This was especially true for national television or radio, where political parties wouldn’t determine the contents of broadcasts, but members of the board of governors, plus the editors-in-chief. Besides, being close to politicians was rewarded in that journalists received information that others wouldn’t get. Whenever government and opposition agreed in parliament, the press would hardly criticize a narrative – the Yugoslav war in 1999, when the federal government argued that there had been a particular operation within a plan of ethnic cleansing by the Milosevic government, the Operation Horseshoe.
  3. Dependence on readers, listeners, and viewers was trickier, in that there was less obvious evidence for it. Not only would the media shape the ways the public thought, but there would also be more public demand for certain issues, and less for others. Bad news sold better than good news – unless it was news about certain trouble at European or German doorsteps, such as refugees dying at the European Union’s borders to the outside world. These deaths, Schmidt argues, were human rights violations, too, but none of the kind the average German newsreader would be particularly interested in. After all, more refugees within Germany would hardly be welcome.
  4. Economic pressure was created as fewer journalists had to cover a growing number of issues. That was leading to inaccuracies. Besides, investigative journalism was almost absent in Germany.

All this was referring to mainstrem news coverage, Schmidt pointed out, and the fundamental freedom to cover issues, too, shouldn’t be underrated.

But if German coverage of China had to be critical, why would this criticism spare German companies, which, after all, relied on excellent relations with Chinese authorities?

Schmidt came back to China’s German business friends in a Spiegel Online interview on Wednesday. Distortions in the choice of photos, for example, were no indication for governmental guidelines, as Chinese people would sometimes believe, as they felt the German press was synchronized.

Schmidt: “I always tell them in such cases that here, this happens in a rather informal way (Ich erkläre ihnen dann immer, dass das hierzulande eher informell geschieht).”

Spiegel: Come again?

Schmidt: I’ve just seen another nice example, concerning  the sinologist Tilman Spengler, who was disinvited from the Art of Enlightenment show’s opening ceremony. There was a press conference about this issue in Beijing. It is reported that a journalist was booed at by business leaders  as he asked a question about Tilman Spengler. I do believe that it happened – but none of these business leaders is mentioned by name. It’s interesting to see how the Chinese government is demonized, but that German business leaders who side with that government’s propaganda aren’t mentioned by name. I’m asking myself: why not? Could it be out of fear for losing advertising customers? My impression is that in Germany, too,  those who call the shots are only confronted reluctantly, similar to China. But of course, this works differently from how the Chinese imagine it to happen. Nobody needs to give directions to this end.

Schmidt made his speech in Beijing some five months ago, while his interview with Der Spiegel was published this week. As a former Titanic editor, he surely developed a fine sense for the limits of press freedom – every monthly issue is carefully checked by an attorney before it goes to press. The central question, every time, isn’t that much if the paper will get sued, but how chances are that it will be acquitted.

The SPD’s (social democrats) politicians had been particularly quick to anger, and to sue, at least before 2003, and according to the attorney herself. Late Johannes Rau, for example, Northrine Westphalia’s prime minister from 1978 to 1988, and federal president from 1999 to 2004, tried to make sure that they would never refer to him as the time-bomb from Wuppertal (Wuppertaler Zeitbombe) again.


The too-friendly Maikefeng, April 28, 2011
Is the Internet the Enemy of the Intellectual, May 23, 2009
Why are Mass Media losing Relevance, Febr 26, 2009

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