Posts tagged ‘learning’

Saturday, July 6, 2013

“China is Alright”: a Summer Camp for Overseas Chinese students from Laos

China Radio International‘s Mandarin service renders a newslet by China News Service (中国新闻社), China’s second-largest state-owned newsagency after Xinhua, on the field of public diplomacy.

Original title: Ethnic Chinese Laotians go to Yunnan to experience Chinese culture

CRI Online news: according to China News Service, the “2013 China is alright – the perfect Yunnan summer camp” has started in Kunming, with fourty campers and group leaders from Chinese schools in Laos. It is scheduled to go on for ten days. Apart from developing [an awareness or knowledge of, apparently] Yunnan ethnic culture, knowledge of China, and exchange, the overseas Chinese students will also experience Yunnan province’s local conditions and customs.


With Chinese-Laotian cooperation growing closer and the surging “Chinese language fever” in Laos, more and more ethnic Chinese and Laotians want to understand the Chinese way of life and traditional culture. Luo Bailan, a teacher and group leader with the camp, says that the Chinese schools in Laos are continuously adjusting their educational methods, to allow the students to learn by experience.


Chinese Language and Culture Education Foundation of China deputy secretary general Li Xianguo says that “China is alright” is an important part of the foundation’s “Young Ethnic Chinese Chinese Culture Heritage Project”.


Chinese fever, Kunming

Chinese fever – click pictdure for China News Service coverage

The State Council Information Office (SCIO) is more elaborate, adding that most of the students haven’t been to Yunnan before. Even though it has been rainy for days, and temperatures in the spring city [i. e. Kunming] are a bit low, this hasn’t affected the campers’ high spirits in the least. They are reading the course schedules of the camp reader, excitedly discuss the coming lessons and the tourist attractions. A student tells the SCIO reporter that he is most interested in poetry recital and calligraphy, and in touring the Stone Forest, the birthplace of Ashima:

“We also want to experience the culture of national minorities in the Yunnan Nationalities Village I don’t know a lot about national minorities and hope to experience a lot of interesting things”, Lin Yingcai says in fluent Chinese.


Many Laotians and Burmese and Cambodians and North Koreans see China as a promised land, Joshua Kurlantzick wrote in his 2007 book Charm Offensive (p. 137). And America, he warned, had earned itself a bad image in the past, and was still doing so:

For decades, the United States still did not grant Laos normal trading relations, though Laos’s human rights record was no worse than the record of China, with whom America traded vigorously. American sanctions on Laos infuriated Lao officials, who didn’t understand why such a big country like the United Stateswould punish a minnow – especially since during the Vietnam War, America had dropped more bombs on Laos than it dropped on Germany and Japan together during World War II, leaving Laos riddled with unexploded ordnance.

(Kurlantzick, p. 59)

Jiang Zemin visited Laos in November 2000, reportedly the first visit by a Chinese head of state. In November 2006, Jiang’s successor Hu Jintao followed up, and moved China Radio International (CRI) one step ahead of the BBC and the VoA, by pushing a button for a rebroadcasting FM station – the inauguration ceremony was reportedly broadcast live, as the rebroadcaster’s first program ever:

So, Vientiane listeners, for the first time, clearly and vividly heard the the warm voice of state chairman Hu Jintao, a visitor from a friendly neighbor.



A CRI official said that the friendly relations between China and Laos created good conditions for CRI’s operations in Laos. According to the official, the Laotian government’s approval of CRI’s Vientiane frequency was one of only few. Before, the BBC and the VoA had applied for frequencies to the Laotian government, but had received no approval.




Branding China, May 18, 2008
Meeting the Volunteers, CRI, Nov 21, 2006


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Confucius Institute: State Department Directive “an Untimely End to Chinese Classes”

Main Link: Huanqiu Shibao, May 24, 2012, 03:29.

Translated off the reel, and posted right away. A link to the State-Department directive can be found under footnote 2. Links within blockquote added during translation.

A notice issued by U.S. State Department officials on May 17, to all Confucius Institutes in America, has caused great controversy. The new notice requires existing Confucius Institutes to apply for American “certification”, to become part of regular courses, and bans Chinese teachers and volunteers to teach in middle and elementary schools. A Hanban responsible, on May 23, expressed “shock” to a Huanqiu Shibao reporter, as no consultations had preceded this notice. Insiders told this reporter that to date, American officials hadn’t explained to whom the Confucius Institutes should turn for certification. U.S. “Higher Education News”1) wrote on May 21 that the notice would disrupt Confucius Institute teaching activities. “People don’t undersstand the State Department’s sudden notice. Actually, Confucius Institutes have been on American campuses for almost ten years.” An insider told the Global Times reporter on May 23 that currently, Confucius Institutes were highly successful and influential in America, that many Americans learned Chinese, and that America was somewhat worried about this. In addition, it was election year in America, and political consideration could be behind the measures taken.

The notice was reportedly issued by Robin Lerner, the State Department Deputy Secretary in charge of Educatonal and Cultural Matters and private-sector exchange. The notice says that while Confucius Institutes may be beneficial to promoting cultural exchange, its activities “need to be in accordance with the standards of exchange, and respect the relevant law and regulations”. “Professors, researchers, short-term visiting scholars or institutes, as well as students, were not allowed to teach in primary schools2). […] The notice also says that “to ensure that the Confucius Institute education corresponds with and maintains suitable regulations and standards, the Institutes must apply for American certification”, “on initial examination, it isn’t clear if the Confucius Institutes will get American certification”. The State Department allows currently teaching Confucius Institute teachers with J-1 visa to continue teaching until the end of the school year in June, but won’t renew their visas. If they wish, they can return to China to apply for appropriate exchange project visas.
据悉,签发这一公告的是美国国务院负责教育和文化事务局私营部门交流的副助理秘书长罗宾•勒纳。公告称,尽管孔子学院可能有益于促进文化交流,但其所从事的活动“必须符合正确的交流规范,遵循相关法规”。“教授、研究学者、短期访问学者或学院、大学学生不允许在公立和私立小、中学教学,否则便与有关交流访问项目法规相违。 […..] ”公告还称,“为确保孔子学院的教育符合和保持适合的规定标准,孔子学院必须申请美国认证”,“美国国务院的初步审视并不清楚这些孔子学院是否得到美国认证”。美国务院允许目前持有J-1签证的孔子学院教师继续留至2012年6月本学年结束,但不会为他们续签签证。如果他们愿意,可回中国再申办一种合适的交流项目签证。

There are Confucius Institutes at 81 American universities. The notice has caused wide-spread shock, confusion, and incomprehension. Confucius Institutes in all places said that the notice was “surprising” or “unusual”, and there were discussions everywhere as to how to deal [with the situation]. Huanqiu Shibao has learned that J-1 visas are a kind of non-immigration visas, issued to foreigners who participate in “exchange and visitor programs approved by the State Department”. An official survey concerning J-1 visa holders was carried out early this year.

A lady who had taught for Confucius Institutes in America told Huanqiu Shibao on May 23 that teachers sent by China to teach abroad were mainly government-sponsored, or volunteers. They all held visitor J-1 visas. She had been a volunteer, and a visa had been rather easy to obtain.

What people find most incomprehensible is that American officialdom requires Confucius Institutes to carry out so-called “certification”. Huanqiu Shibao has learned that to date, the State Department has not said where Confucius Institutes should turn for certification. By comparison, nothing has been heard of German Goethe Institutes, French Institutes or other cultural exchange bodies in America having received American certification. People in charge at the first Confucius Institutes established in the U.S., University of Maryland Confucius Institute and George Mason University Confucius Institute, express confusion, and say that the “certification” issue is currently being discussed. The person in charge at the George Mason University Confucius Institute hopes that the notification came without political considerations. After all, Obama’s initiative to have 100,000 students study in China was about encouraging American students to study Chinese.

According to explanations by a Hanban person in charge, made to Huanqiu Shibao, Hanban has sent a letter to university presidents, to carry out negotiations. The letter says that Confucius Institutes in America were established at American requests, and run in cooperation with Hanban and Chinese institutions of higher education. The Chinese side fully respected the esteemed universities’ powers to make their own decisions (自主权)3), and there had never been special instructions concerning the teaching and cultural-exchange activities carried out by the Institutes. The central office provided help, such as support in that it sent volunteers, as requested by the American side. The letter also says that the Chinese side respects American governmental law and regulations, but that in this process, we do not wish to see that volunteer projects get disrupted, as this would lead to many quickly-developing Chinese-language classes coming to an untimely end, resulting in losses for the schools and students.

The person in charge also said that before volunteers head for America, they get an invitation from the American schools, in accordance with the Sino-American school agreements, and apply for and obtain a visa. From 2005 on, China had developed Chinese language education to help America, and had sent more than 2,100 teachers. The project had always worked smoothly. It had been believed that once teachers received an American invitation, the application would lead to a visa, and that there would be no problems. No consultations had preceded the State Department’s May-17 notice, and this was felt to be very sudden and surprising by those in charge at the Confucius Institutes.

Many presidents [of universities with Confucius Institutes] were disgusted by the State Department notice, and had many objections, as they believed it interfered with their universities’ autonomy3). They currently contacted the State Department and negotiated. Huanqiu Shibao also learned that to address the doubts, a State-Department official was to be sent to Maryland University to have direct talks with people in charge at the university and the Confucius Institute.



1) This is my translation of 美国“高等教育新闻”网站 – the website’s real name may be different.

2) Quote:

Teaching positions in primary and secondary schools (K-12) are only authorized under the “Teacher” category set forth at 22 CFR 62.24. Teaching primary and secondary school students in public school systems or private schools is not permitted by professors, research scholars, short-term scholars, or college/university students.

(Guidance Directive 2012-06 Exchange Visitor Program – Confucius Institutes)

3) 自主权, which may be translated either as the right to make decisions of one’s own, or autonomy. The term for provincial or territorial autonomy in China, for places like Tibet, would be 自治区 (autonomous regions), and is therefore not exactly the same term.



» Three Eight-Hundreds, April 19, 2009


Saturday, March 17, 2012

Always with You on Shortwave: the “Firedrake”

There are good reasons to believe that in China, international broadcasters are less listened to – and especially less listened to on shortwave – than two decades ago. However, the habit is still very popular, and many posts and websites run by shortwave listening enthusiasts would also suggest that people don’t simply throw (or store) their radio receivers away, only because of the internet being available in their place. The following is a translation of a Chinese blog post, of March 14, 2012.

Sony ICF 2001 D - enemy broadcasters at your fingertips

Sony ICF 2001 D – enemy broadcasters at your fingertips

I’ve added four footnotes, and some further explanations (“further notes”) underneath the footnotes. You will also find a recording there, with a classical case of jamming.

Main Link:

China has a long history of jamming international shortwave broadcasts. I remember how I was frequently puzzled when listening to the radio – why were there those strange noises on some shortwave frequencies? It was different from others. It came through on a given frequency. Come rain or shine, this sound was there. It knew no holiday. I asked my grandmother about this, and she gravely replied: “this is to interfere with enemy broadcasters”. At the time, I didn’t understand what a so-called “enemy broadcaster” is. My grandmother told me that these were stations one must never listen to, that it was bad, and that it was something Uncle Policeman might take you away for1). Although I was too young to understand what this meant, apart from the frightening chance of being “taken away”, it certainly raised my interest in the mystery of “enemy broadcasters”.


Only later I understood that those “enemy broadcasters” were VoA, BBC, NHK, and other countries’ international broadcasting stations. As these countries were fundamentally different from China, in terms of ideology and social systems, their broadcasts carried their own countries’ political colors, and were therefore called “enemy broadcasters” by China. It was sort of an extension from the cold-war years. With the reform and opening, and continuous progress of society, the “enemy broadcasters” weren’t mysteries any more, and an unknown share of Chinese people who listened to the radio would also listen to these [international] stations. Of course, after listening, they weren’t found to be as terrible as legend would have it. They were just ordinary radio stations. From listening to international broadcasters, I learned a lot of things that weren’t to be found in the books, and about other countries’ customs and manners, and most importantly, I learned to look at problems from different perspectives, to think independently, rather than to let the media lead my by the nose. I learned from different surces, and drew my own conclusions. Therefore, I believe that international shortwave broadcasting is very helpful and beneficial.


For various reasons however, China has still not lifted the jamming of the “enemy broadcasters”. It deserves attention that the methods of jamming have become more and more “humanized”. Rather than just producing a big noise, Central People’s Radio interfere with the international stations on the same frequency, and this later evolved into the current “folk music” interference. Obviously, as the cause our country’s modernization moves on, our jamming technology has also improved step by step. It is said that the “folk music” system used is military equipment bought at high costs, from a France. From that you can see that the Chinese authorities in charge of jamming “enemy broadcasters” are willing to make great sacrifices, with unyielding vigor.


If you aren’t familiar with how this works, let me give you a short introduction.


All shortwave radio programs are broadcast from their own countries to the target area. Of course, if the distance is rather long, like from America to China, the signal will certainly lose some strength, and therefore, more distant countries will build relay stations closer to the target area. That’s to say, through their stronger signals, listgeners in the target area country can get a clearer signal.Of course, every broadcasting station has its own frequencies, and depending on atmospheric conditions in summer or winter, these frequencies aren’t always the same. So how does China jam them? That’s quite simple. It only needs to interfere on the same frequency, by noise, or by the current “folk music”. As the interfering stations are definitely domestic, and the international shortwave stations are broadcasting from abroad, the interfering signal is stronger, and this makes it easy to brush the foreign signals out of the door2). (Apart from those, even the signals from Taiwan – the inseparable part of our motherland – can’t escape this calamity.)


According to the International Broadcasting Commission’s3) agreement, no signatory country must interfere with or interfere with other countries’ broadcasts. China also signed this agreement, but has not stopped jamming foreign shortwave frequencies. Therefore, every years, it is met with protests from some countries, but those are of no avail. These years, China spends a lot of money to buy advanced and updated equipment to update its jamming system, which is incomprehensible. However, as this is equipment bought from France, it signed an agreement not to jam Radio France Internationale. Therefore, we can listen to a clear Radio France Internationale signal here in China, without any jamming4).


It should be said that China doesn’t jam all shortwave broadcasts. Stations without strong political messages, for example, aren’t jammed. Australia’s CVC Chinese programs etc. aren’t jammed.





1) Uncle Policeman may not care anymore, but he probably did until 1976. According to a thesis presented to the Faculty of The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, by Erping Zhang in 2003, listening to foreign radio stations was considered a capital crime of treason in those days.

2) The challenge isn’t necessarily that small. As Kim Andrew Elliot pointed out in May last year,

Shortwave arguably remains the medium most resistant to interdiction. It is the only medium with a physical resistance to jamming, because radio waves at shortwave frequencies often propagate better over long than short distances.

3) This may refer to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), which would more frequently be translated as 国际电讯联盟, though. One of the three ITU divisions is in charge of allocating frequencies – both terrestial and satellite frequencies.

4) I can’t verify if there is such an agreement.


Further Notes

The French company accused of having sold jamming equipment to China, Thales,  stated that “standard short-wave radio broadcasting equipment” sold to China by a former subsidiary in 2002 had been designed for civil purposes.

I’ve uploaded a jamming sample to Soundcloud. The broadcaster is Sound of Hope (希望之声), recorded in Northern Germany on June 17, 2011, between 13:20 and 13:32 GMT. The topic covered is the Zengcheng incident, and you can hear how the station’s signal is  beginning to drown in the jamming station’s carrier signal, before the “folk music” chimes in.

Soundcloud logo

Click here for recording

Again, this may not be exactly what listeners in China got to hear on that afternoon or evening – the “Voice of Hope” signal may have still been better there, despite the jamming, or worse, because of the jamming, depending on propagation conditions – see footnote 1 2) above.

A Shortwave America blog post contains some interesting links about Chinese jamming, including a CD quality sample of “Firedrake”, i. e. a jamming tune. The jamming station is supposed to be based on Hainan island.



北京业余无线电爱好者的故事 – Ham Radio, Beijing hobbyists’ documentary with English subtitles (June 2008)


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.



Please comment on the original post


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party Decision Concerning Deepening Cultural Structural Reform

One day after I had posted the sixth installment of my “Decision” translation (see headline of this post), a complete (as far as I can see) translation went online at China Copyright and Media, a blog run by a sworn translator of the Chinese language at the Courts of Hasselt and Leuven  (the Netherlands).

I’m feeling no temptation to continue my own series of translation (there would have been another quarter of the document to be translated here), but I think it has been a good training, as far as the nomenclature is concerned – to lighten things up, I translated some older cultural.-soft-power documents along the way, and knowing the way the CCP refers to these issues has been useful.

You may either enjoy comparing the two translations now, and make me aware of contradictions between them, or you may simply use the translation there as a source of information. I’m not going to compare all of my translation to date with Rogier Creemers‘, (the China Copyright and Media blogger), but I’ll probably do so when making use of certain paragraphs of the central committee document in new contexts.

My (incomplete) translation series, from October to February:

1 – “Culture” Document published »
2 – Part 2 »
3 – Part 3 »
4 – Part 4 »
5 – Part 5 »
6 – Correct Guidance of Public Opinion »
7 – Beautiful Melodies »
8 – Online Guidance of Public Opinion »
9 – Arranging the Classical Records »
10 – Linking Cultural Industries to Nat. Economy »
11 – Go Global, and no Porn »

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The BoZhu Interviews: “I’ve Become more Aware of How Easily People Adapt to new Circumstances” –

FOARP about Democracy, Arguments between Memory and Ego, and the End of Reform in China

FOARP (Fear of a Red Planet) is a blogger from Britain who lives and works in Poland. He has also lived in China and Japan, and his first long-distance flight took him to Taiwan, ten years ago. The following interview is all about the past ten years.
His blog’s homepage can be found here.

The interview –

Q:  Most foreign China blogs seem to get started at the beginning of an expat’s stay there, or at some time during their stay. Your first post says, “It’s Good to be Back”, in October 2007, after your return to Britain. Why the delay?

A: Until 2006 I had never even looked at a blog, much less comment on one. I guess like a lot of people I saw such things as a giant time waster (which they are) and as inconsequential (which they may or may not be). The change happened after I started working for Foxconn, where my job consisted of periods of intense activity interspersed with the occasional period of inactivity, in which I turned to reading/commenting on blogs as a way of fighting the boredom.

Q:  Not too long after your return to Europe, you became an expat again, a Briton in Poland. How did you get there? Had you been there before? Do you speak Polish? And does life in Poland have an effect on how you view the world?

A: Actually I left the UK back at the end of 2009, when I travelled to Japan and worked for a patent firm there. I came to Poland at the start of this year to work in-house for a Finnish MNC where I get to use my Chinese, my knowledge of intellectual property, and get to travel a lot. Coming to Poland for the job interview was my first time in the country. My Polish classes are funded by the company – at the moment I can speak some Polish, ale niezbyt dobrze.

I would say that both my experiences in Japan and my experiences in Poland have affected my view on the world. Working in Japan taught me a lot about people, some good, some bad. I made some very good friends, but also worked incredibly long hours, alongside people who basically sacrificed their personal lives on the altar of work. Poland is almost the polar opposite. Perhaps it is the communist inheritance with its emphasis on work-to-rule, but the Polish draw a very solid line between their personal lives and their work lives and clearly distinguish between them.

Living in both these places also put a different perspective on my experiences in China. Japan obviously has many cultural similarities with China (although I think the idea of a genuine ‘Confucian’ world is an incredibly dangerous oversimplification). However, Japan’s cultural inheritance has not cursed it to eternal dictatorship.  Poland’s story as a country which has emerged from dictatorship is also obviously relevant.

Q:  Relevant in which ways?

A: Poland managed to successfully ditch communism without harming economic growth, or even ever suffering a real recession, and without excessive bloodshed after the end of the martial law period. It hasn’t had the same exposition that East Germany experienced due to the activities of the Gauck commission though. Perhaps the ideal post-communist liberation would be economically Polish and politically East German, but then East Germany had the rest of Germany to assist it.

Of course, the experience of Taiwan is perhaps more to the point.

Q: When did you decide to go to China? Did you study the language, along with law, before going there?

A: I graduated with a degree in Physics and Astrophysics and no idea of how I was going to use it to find a job back in the summer of 2001. The one thing I was certain of, however, was that I wanted to see the world and to learn a language that would be useful. It was basically a toss-up between Russian and Chinese, and Chinese won.

Before I arrived in Taiwan in November 2001 I had studied Chinese for about 3 weeks but that was about the limit. Firstly in Taiwan, and then later at a university in Nanjing, I taught English and used the money from that to pay for my studies. It was only after studying Chinese for a few years that I felt confident enough to take on a job in the patenting department at Foxconn at the start of ’06, which was also my first introduction to patenting. After working there for about 18 months I decided that I wanted to try to get some qualifications related to patenting, and so returned to the UK where I studied my master’s in intellectual property as well as a diploma in law. The job market being as it was in ’09, I ended up going back overseas after graduating.

Q:  Did life in China have an effect on how you view the world?

A: Since I was 21 when I went to Taiwan, and 22 when I arrived in Nanjing, it’s kind of hard for me to distinguish between the changes that naturally occur after 21 and the effect that China had. Compared to most of the people I knew back home, though, I would say that I’ve become more cynical, and more aware of how easily people adapt to new circumstances and get used to them.

Some experiences which I had in China which had a big effect on me:

  • SARS – my interesting life in China was converted in a very short time into something approaching semi-apocalyptic within a few days of the government switching from cover-up to over-reaction.
  • My boss in Nanjing’s attempted murder of his secretary, his subsequent suicide, and the response of party authorities to it.
  • Learning the language – a great confidence-booster and something I will use the rest of my life.
  • The sight of the hundreds of new recruits who showed up from the countryside every day at the gate underneath my office windows at Foxconn.
  • The expat community – put simply, my fellow expats included some really clever, smart people, as well as some real scum-bags. The real shock was discovering that the two were not as mutually exclusive as I had previously thought.
  • A friend of mine crying when she described the poverty of her home town. It had never occurred to me before that that people could be that ashamed of a poor background.

Reading the above it sounds like I had a really bad time in China, actually I had a ball, it’s just that I also had to take the rough with the smooth – and in China there’s a lot of both.

Q:  I guess if there was something that would boost my confidence, it would be earning a degree in Physics and in Astrophysics… One of the purposes of your blog, as stated in October 2007, was to keep your Chinese polished. How closely do you follow Chinese and non-Chinese blogs on China respectively? Do you (as a reader) or they (as bloggers) focus on certain, recurring kinds of news and topics?

A: I try to keep up my Chinese by watching the occasional soap-opera and reading news articles, as well as the stuff I translate at work. Chinese bloggers who I follow have dwindled – Song Qiang and Wang Xiaofeng only post about once a month. On the English language side, blogs I’ll look at at least once a day include the Peking Duck, China Geeks, China Law Blog, Imagethief (when he posts) and, of course, Just Recently’s Beautiful Blog.

As a reader I’m not so interested in the business/legal side of things – outside of work, anyway. Politics and history are the things I like to read the most. A couple of new (to me, anyway) blogs I’ve been getting into recently: Sinostand, Seeing Red In China, and Roll, Roll, Run. Why not any with a more positive spin on the Chinese government?  Well, I simply don’t believe such a spin reflects the truth.

Q:  Have you seen big changes in your own blog or blogs, and in the Chinese, or foreign “China blogosphere” since you started blogging yourself?

A: The biggest change happened between 2006 and 2008, with the introduction of comprehensive blocking. Put simply, this destroyed the expat blogosphere in China, since the humorous complaining that had made up 90% of what was posted about life in China became impossible to access without a proxy, thus preventing people finding them by accident the way people did with websites like Talk Talk China. These blogs fed off comments, so without them they withered and died.The growth of the nationalist movement since 2008 and its effect on the Chinese internet has been well enough described elsewhere that I don’t need to go into it.

In my own blog, I’ve found out that the best use for it is as a sort of log book of what I thought about something in particular at a particular time. Nietzsche said something about how, when your memory and your ego argue, it is your memory that eventually gives way. I like to use my blog as a way of counteracting the temptation to unconsciously re-write what you really thought about something at the time. You see this a lot when you ask people if they supported the Iraq war – my friends accuse me of it.

Q:  In your view, has China changed since you started blogging? Has Britain? Has the world? How so?

A: The biggest change in China has been the ditching of reform – combined with the predicted slow-down this could spell big trouble. Or it might not.For the UK, the economic crisis has had a big effect, but I believe in the long term there will be some positive outcome from it. I’m hoping that the crisis in the Eurozone will teach people that they are much better off having their own economic destiny in their own hands, and not decided for them by Frankfurt, Brussels, or Athens. The death of the idea that continuous borrowing on the never-never is an acceptable way of running the country is also something I hope the current crisis will bring about.

For the world in general, I see two changes this year. The first is the re-emergence of democratisation as an engine of change. From 9/11 until this year it seemed that democracy was on the retreat in Russia, the Ukraine, Belarus, Central Asia, the Middle East and elsewhere. The Arab Spring will, I hope, change this. The second is the all-enveloping economic crisis has also had an effect, destroying confidence in many of our financial institutions.

Q:  Besides a return to, let’s say, the subsidiarity principle within the EU –is that what you mean? –, would you like to see a smaller role for organizations such as the IMF or the World Bank, too? If so, why?

A: I’m afraid it rather revolves around the current dispute between Mr. Cameron and Mrs. Merkel. Mrs. Merkel’s solution is more Europe, Mr. Cameron’s solution is less. The UK at least signed on to the European Economic Community after a referendum in which it was promised that the EEC would be a trade union first and foremost, you could argue that things have developed from there, but there was never really any mandate given for this change. My hope is that whichever way things go, some reference is made to the people of Europe and what they actually want, preferably through a referendum.

The IMF and the World Bank have something of a mixed record, but a lender capable of imposing conditions is certainly something that is necessary at the moment.

Q:  Have you ever stopped reading blogs because you felt they were becoming boring, or because they angered you?

A: Never because they angered me – I even still read Hidden Harmonies. Some blogs that used to be good have gone downhill however – Danwei being an example.

Q:  What’s the worst online article or post you have ever read about China (that you remember)? And what’s the worst online article about Britain that you remember?

A: China – well, there’s so many. It’s really a toss-up between Shaun Rein’s “Real poverty is pretty much gone” piece, his piece proposing that the Nobel prize be given to Deng Xiaoping, and Paul V. Kane’s piece suggesting that the US sell-out Taiwan in the NYT last week.

Britain? Well, there was a lot of stupid rubbish written in the US about “imperial decline” after the 2007 Iranian hostage crisis, but that’s the only thing that comes to mind. I guess you can also include the nonsense Mark Stein used to peddle about Europe (and Britain in particular) turning into “Eurabia” because of Muslim immigration – something with no statistical basis.

Q:  That’s to say, you don’t believe in that life-cycle – rise, decline and fall of empires?

A: Well, very few countries admit to being empires any more, do they? But any theory of history based on things being cyclical overcomplicates the point – things change, except when they don’t, and that’s it.

Q:  An interview about your blog wouldn’t be complete without a question about your online brawl with Chris Devonshire-Ellis. In November 2008, you wrote a post stating that Chris Devonshire-Ellis wasn’t a lawyer, and that it annoyed you that he was treated as an expert by people who ought to know better. Were you the first blogger to make that statement? Wang Jianshuo, a Chinese blogger, wrote in December 2009 that he had previously run into Mr. Devonshire-Ellis, too (also online, and not in real life). Did you expect what followed – i. e. this kind of correspondence? This followed almost two and a half years after your actual post, and it probably caused you some trouble. Would you have written the post anyway, knowing the aftermath? Why, or why not?

A: Actually someone left a comment on a thread on Wang Jianshuo’s blog outing him as early as 2006, and people knew about it before even that. It’s just that he had managed to silence them through intimidating tactics such as those Wang Jianshuo (and also Ryan McLaughlin) describe on their blogs. People were also discussing his disreputable tactics – particularly giving out that he was a legal professional when he had not even finished his A-levels – on various defunct expat blogs back in 2006, which is where I first heard of him. I checked out his story myself after I got back to the UK, and after hearing from some more people who had been hassled by him, I decided to write a post on him to encourage those who were being hassled to stand up to him by showing that there was actually nothing, legally speaking, that he could do to stop them telling the truth about him.

Do I regret outing him? Absolutely not! Yes, the old boy certainly knows how to hold a grudge, but as far as I’m concerned, he can go and whistle for all I care. I’m in the right, and he’s in the wrong. It’s that simple.

Even having my real identity outed by him, to me, was not such a problem. For years I had been planning to out myself  but the correct moment never seemed to present itself. He solved the problem for me. The negative consequences of being outed have so far been precisely zero.

I would, however, like to give a shout-out to everyone who wrote comments on my blog supporting me.

Q:  Your most beautiful post, you said when it was your turn in a blog-nomination-snowball initiative in August this year, was one about Taiwan. At the same time, it seems, you like to tease Taiwanese nationalists, once in a while. Why is that? Does your sympathy for Taiwanese (or expat-Taiwanese feelings) depend on the way they are expressed?

A: When I lived in Taiwan I had a lot of sympathy for the pan-greens. I still do. It’s just that sympathy does not extend to uncritically swallowing scare-stories about a KMT-CCP conspiracy to annex Taiwan to China over the heads of the Taiwanese electorate without evidence. It’s also striking how Taiwanese independence is the lens through which some of these bloggers see everything. They’ve become far more committed to Taiwanese independence than the average Taiwanese person, and far more committed to the pan-greens than the average Taiwanese voter, a commitment not unlike certain US officials and the former South Vietnam – which is why my first post on this was entitled “Taiwan Expats and the Saigon Syndrome“.

Also having followed the last ten years, it’s become obvious that for some people war is always just around the corner, and they always write accordingly. The Chinese invasion is always in the next election year, the KMT is always trying to fix a deal (for which there’s no evidence) , the CCP is always carrying forward its plans etc. etc. etc. Sure, “the boy who cried wolf” and all that, but there’s a difference between warning people to maintain vigilance, and essentially trying to sell scare stories on the basis of rumours.

The goal of demonising the KMT is to de-legitimise them as a political party. Any vote they win is put down to dirty tricks. Their manifesto is portrayed as a tissue of lies. The idea that, by de-legitimising one half of Taiwan’s democratic balance, they are also delegitimising Taiwan’s political system, does not seem to occur to the purveyors  of such propaganda. It does not matter that propaganda from the other side has the same effect.

I’ve kind of mellowed on the Taiwan blogs, though, firstly because the DPP has changed it’s policies over the past few years – particularly since Tsai Ing-wen become leader – and a lot of the blogs have followed their lead. I’m certain that the CCP will try to paint her as an extremist – it’s what they do to everyone – but this is neither here nor there. I just hope that, if she loses, she, or someone like her, gets another chance.

Q:  Is there an unasked question you’d like to reply to?

A: I’ve been asked a lot how I ever could have worked for Foxconn. The answer is that I joined them before the major scandals came out. Actually, for me, it was quite a positive experience. I know I’ve been critical of people who have worked for outlets like Global Times and it may look like I’m applying a double-standard, but to me it does not seem that way.

Q: Foarp, thanks a lot for this interview.

The interview was conducted by an exchange of e-mails.



All BoZhu Interviews


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

17th Central Committee 6th Plenary Session “Culture Document” – 4

« part 1
« part 2
« part 3

The three preceding legs of this translation are linked to above.

b) Strengthen the common ideal of socialism with Chinese characteristics. Socialism with Chinese characteristics is modern-day China’s fundamental direction of development and progress, and built upon, it embodies the people’s fundamental interests and wishes to the widest degree. Education in ideals and beliefs must be deepened, cadres and the masses must be guided to deeply understand that the Chinese Communist Party and the system of socialism with Chinese characteristics are a historical necessity and superiority, deeply understand that the road of socialism with Chinese characteristics is the only way for accomplishing the modernization of socialism and the Chinese great rejuvenation [or comeback to former glory and prosperity – 中华民族伟大复兴的必由之路], and the only way to create a good life for the people’s good life, consciously blend individual ideals into the common ideal of socialism with Chinese characteristics, and, to the greatest possible extent, unite and to cohere the people under the great banner of socialism with Chinese characteristics, closely connect the cadres’ and the masses’ ideology and practice, closely combine the successful accomplishment of socialism with Chinese characteristics, counter social hotspots and problems,  and from the combination of theory and practice, provide convincing answers, guide the cadres and the masses to mark a clear line of distinction between right and wrong on major ideological and theoretical issues, clarify blurred understandings, and vigorously sanction wrong and decayed ideological influences. Deepen education on situational policy-making, on national affairs, revolutionary tradition, on reform and opening, defense. Organize the learning [effect] that the recent history is particularly the history of the party and the people carrying out the revolution, construction, and reform, and to expand cadres’ and the masses’ confidence and belief in socialism with Chinese characteristics.


c) Carry forward patriotism as the core of the national spirit, and reform and innovation as the core of the spirit of our times. Patriotism is the Chinese nation’s most profound ideological tradition, which is, more than others, able to move and inspire the sons and daughters to unite and struggle, reform and innovation are contemporary China’s most vivid characteristics, most able to drive the sons and daughters of the Chinese nation forward with acute minds. Education in national spirit must be expanded, patriotism, collectivism, and socialist ideology  vigorously be promoted, the national sense of self-respect, self-confidence and sense of pride be strengthened, the people must be invigorated with enthusiasm1) to the practice of rejuvenating the Chinese nation, to fervently love the motherland and to devote all ones strength to the building of the motherland must spell the greatest honor, and harm [done] to the motherland’s interests or dignity must spell the greatest shame. Widely develop education in the spirit of our times, guide cadres and masses to forever maintain and their advancement with the times, a pioneering and innovating state of mind, never self-satisfied, never rigid, and never stagnant, to promote the cause incessantly and to maintain development. Vigorously carry forward what serves the country’s prosperity, national rejuvenation, the people’s well-being [or happiness, 幸福], society’s harmonious ideological and consciousness, vigorously enhance the struggle against privation, the glory of work, and apply the apply the fine tradition of retrenchment and thriftiness. Strengthen the education of national unity and progress, promote the identification with the great motherland and Chinese nation, advance all [PRC] nationalities’ united and combined struggle, and their glorious development. Strengthen the construction of patriotic education bases as a base [corrected on Sept 17, 2012], make good use of red tourism resources, and let these become important classrooms for cultivating a national sonscience and a conscience of our times.2)


Continued (Nov 5) –
part 5 »


1) 热情化 (rèqínghuà) would literally mean something like “enthusiasmation” (if such a word exists in English). It seems to stand for a kind of process of “making people enthusiastic”.
2) resources (资源) refers to “red tourism’s” travel destinations.



» Li Changchun meets All-China Journalists Association, CMP, October 31
» Sinopec Holds Meeting to Study the Sixth Plenary Session of the 17th CPC Central Committee, Sinopec website, October 20, 2011
» Truthfulness is Everything, April 8, 2011


Thursday, October 27, 2011

The BoZhu Interviews: a Translator and his Blog –

the internet’s blessings, the uphill battle battle of practicing foreign languages, and an old novel’s lasting relevance

Huolong started blogging eleven years ago. During the earlier stage, in Harbin, he mostly wrote about everyday life, his reading experiences, his work, hopes and fears, about childhood, classmates, and friendship. He originally started blogging in Chinese, but his blog soon became a blend of Chinese and English-language posts. Somewhere in the process, translation became another topic, and has by now segregated into his main topic. He lives and works in Beijing.

Huolong’s complete blog can be found here, and it also contains a category with English posts only.

The interview:

Q: You have been blogging for more than a decade, and for much of the time, you have been a bi-lingual blogger. Why do you blog? Was there a key moment where you felt that you should share your experiences and your feelings, which got your blog (or blogs) started?

A: Firstly, I want to express myself. A blog, or rather the broader Internet with all its applications built and flourishing on it, is a blessing for people like me. Secondly, I want to help. I’m a professional translator with Chinese as native tongue and English as a foreign/second one. I’ve been in this trade for more than a decade and have learned a great deal I want to share to do some good. Last but not least, I want to build some online brand for myself. My website helped me land my first and second jobs in Beijing and even played a great role in making my wife (just a classmate back then) believe I remained a not-so-bad person in 2004 after the long 14 years during which we’d lost each other.

Q: What’s the worst online article or post you have ever read about China (that you remember)?

A: The article or post I can’t remember. But I still remember a China blog that never fails to repulse me: In its newest post, he called the Chinese police officers “monkeys” and implied that their brick-breaking palms are useless for performance of their duties. This only further enhances my belief that Mylaowai has an unbalanced mind. For example, he couldn’t seem to understand that physical sturdiness is a small but key part of their overall capabilities. Only Mylaowai seems to assume that the Chinese officers don’t think high-tech is crucial to modern police actions.

Q: A number of your readers have subscribed to your translation training serial. How many persons are taking part? Do you know some of them personally? Do you feel that they are making headway, and do you get feedback which you put back into your courses?

A: Currently, there are about 300 subscribers to my newsletters, with some of them being my office colleagues. Most of them are only casual subscribers. I’ve seen no meaningful results since I started the newsletter more than a year ago.

[Update, Oct 28, follow-up question 1]:

Q: Are you mulling ways to guide subscribers to more efficient problem-solving?

A: Yes. I’ve tried in vain and found that it’s extremely difficult to change how they think about translation learning or that they are not dedicated enough.

[End of update follow-up question 1]

Q: How did you learn English? Which approach was most helpful? School? Work? Reading? “Real Life”?

A: Generally, I taught myself to use the language. I owe my English to a now controversial man named Li Yang, an English-language teacher-businessman whose teaching and motivation approach is characterized by crazy shouting by large English-learning crowds. I haven’t met him personally. But I bought some of his books in 1996. And in his books, he showed how people could learn good English in a non-English-speaking environment. According to his teachings, if I speak English well, I can then understand it well both spoken and written and write it well. Another secret he revealed is that reading is the shortest-cut to wisdom and knowledge accumulated over the years. I then went almost crazy practicing speaking English and became a devouring reader. As every language professional understands it, learning and studying a language involves everything associated with it and is a never-ending uphill battle. His methods make the process easier for me. My problem is the same as that of most other English learners in China: I have listened and spoken too little. This is where I must and will improve.

[Update, Oct 28, follow-up question 2]:

Q: Baike Baidu describes Li Yang’s approach as one that would tear down psychological barriers, when it comes to speaking (or shouting) – the fear of making mistakes and losing face (false shame). Does this explain his concept correctly?

A: His concept is more than tearing down the barriers, which I think is the only the first step. It also includes practical methods about how learners can learn English better, e.g. tongue muscle training and special English-pronunciation techniques for Chinese speakers. His concept also includes a key component: Learners should learn the language sentence by sentence, article by article, and book by book. This is a very effective antidote to the bad habits of most English learners in China, who tend to learn and study English vocabulary, grammar, listening, speaking, reading and writing as completely separate components. They dream that the components will fall into place automatically and then their English will be good one day. That day will never come.

[End of update follow-up question 2]

Q: Do you expect a broader readership to pay attention to your articles – about translation, or about your personal life -, or is yours rather a niche blog for a small circle of specialists? Would you mind if a broader readership got strongly involved in your commenting threads? Would you mind controversy?

A: I’ve only recently – that’s about one year ago – shifted my blogging focus to translation and languages. So now I only expect a much less-varied audience. It’s always good to have a bigger and more participatory readership for any types of blogs. I don’t mind controversy as long as I consider it constructive.

Q: Do you have a policy on trolls? Can you think of a reason to ban a commenter from your threads?

A: No. I don’t need any currently maybe because my posts don’t attract those people. I don’t like off-topic, abusive, or meaningless comments, to name a few.

Q: How closely do you follow Chinese and non-Chinese blogs respectively? Do you (as a reader) or they (as bloggers) focus on certain, recurring kinds of news or topics?

A: I like blogs with meaty contents. I’m a subscriber to quite a few Chinese and English blogs and read them every day. Most of them are in English. Their topics include translation, language, Internet, history and quotations.

Q: Being a bilingual blogger, you seem to follow both Chinese- and English-language blogs, and blog posts written by Chinese and foreign bloggers alike. Do you see anything their blogs would have in common? And what makes them different from each other?

A: The blogs I read are too diverse in topics and styles to have any commonalities. If there is one, I think it’s the dedication with which the bloggers write great contents.

Q: Have you seen big changes in your own blog or blogs, and in the Chinese, or foreign “China blogosphere” respectively since you started blogging yourself? Have you seen changes in the mainstream media?

A: For my blogs, I have changed to focus on language and translation topics. Sorry, I haven’t read enough China blogs or pay enough attention to changes, if any, to the mainstream media to offer useful inputs.

Q: Which is your favorite blog? (Please don’t name mine.) What’s the most informative online source about China?

A: My favorite is EB Blog because it’s written by experts and very informative and intelligent. I only casually read “China blogs”, and this is not enough for me to come up with any informed answer to the second question.

Q: Have you ever stopped reading blogs because you felt they were becoming boring, or because they angered you?

A: Yes. Mylaowai, for example.

Q: In your view, has China changed since you started blogging? Have your feelings changed? Has the world changed? How so?

A: Ten years have passed since I began my first website. A great many things have happened. China now is a polarized and layered society and people in it don’t always know or bother to know what’s happening in the rest of the society. That’s about the case for me, my peers, and those within my close and remote social networks. During the past decade, we worked hard under great pressure in competitive cities and thankfully our life got better year by year. And now we still see hope for even better life. This must be a unique feeling or observation from a global perspective because China is only one of the few countries that have generally succeeded in achieving its ambitious economic and social development goals that have lifted the country out of poverty during the past decade and positions the country for greater prosperity in the future. Politically, China is no better than ten years ago and might be worse. Government power still runs unchecked while the officials can have their own way in most cases. I’m not sure this is good for China’s future even though they have driven the economic growth for the past several decades.

[Update, Oct 28, follow-up question 3]:

Q: You mentioned the Britannica blog earlier in this interview. The blog looks somewhat like the equivalent to BBC Radio 4 (a station you once had on your blog roll, I believe). This is what a British commenter once wrote:

Really, you must understand that Radio 4 is the nearest thing the British middle class has to Pravda. It dispenses a particular kind of wisdom which distinguishes one from the vapid upper class and the benighted working class. Its effect on the minds of the British public is to create an image of middle-class respectability which no evidence to the contrary can dispel.

In the context of Chinese society having become a more layered society, can you think of something similar to BBC Radio Four – a Chinese website or a broadcaster – who would cater to a similar middle class in China?

A: It’s hard to define what the Chinese middle class is. If they are well educated, have professional or technical jobs, and earn enough money, I think they will like CCTV’s movie channels and

[End of update follow-up question 3]

Q: Besides your main translation/personal blog, you have also run a blog devoted to the Dream of the Red Chamber (or Mansion), since 2007. It seems to be hibernating. Why is that?

A: This blog is mainly one for collecting posts by other bloggers or writers. Maybe I’m looking in the wrong place, but Google searches yield few articles about that novel that I think warrant reposting. That novel is encyclopedic in scope and depth: life and death, life experience, history, philosophy, literature, food, health, architecture, and so on. Writing good articles about it requires lots of “been there, done that” stuff, acute observation, expansive thinking and great dedication. I view the novel as a description of a declining society in which the enlightened few saw no way out but still had hope in their heart. Historically, the novel described the decaying Chinese life and society in the 17th and 18th centuries during which time Europeans started to produce great science, technology, art, and literature, explored overseas and experienced drastic changes that led to the Industrial Revolution. China missed them all. This, I think, makes the author one of the most-visionary Chinese people in history.

Q: Is there an unasked question to which you would like to reply anyway?

A: Yes. I would like to say something again about the future of my blogging. I want it to be a source of useful information, a place where my readers find seriously written contents related to language and translation. I have learned to focus and concentrate in blogging. And finally thank you very much for this interview.

Q: The pleasure is all mine.

This interview can also be read here. This interview was conducted by an exchange of e-mails, October 27 – 28.


» Dream of the Red Chamber, a translation by H. B. Joly, 1891
» All BoZhu Interviews

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