Is Our Fate Tied to China's Growth?

Is Our Fate Tied to China's Growth?

Water in five of China’s largest rivers is now so polluted it’s dangerous to touch, acid rain bathes 30 percent of land, half its forests have gone, and two-thirds of major cities fail air quality standards – with officials admitting that in some areas breathing is like smoking two packs of cigarettes a day.

But the picture wasn’t always this bleak. In The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight, Thom Hartmann recalls his Beijing guide assuring him, 20 years ago, that officials were acutely aware of the precariousness of sustaining a quarter of the world’s population on just seven percent of its farmland.

“‘We have a destiny,’ he said, standing straighter . . . ‘China will not follow the mistake of the West. We have learned from our past. If the winter is coming and you have stored enough food to make it through . . . would you allow your children to eat it all in the first month? China will not make this mistake with oil.’”

A repressive political situation enables China to turn on a dime. In nations where drivers regard rising gas prices as an affront to their masculinity, it’s hard to imagine the nimbleness afforded by a government that can dictate how many children a man can father. But the results are profound and global: a pioneering green GDP, 4.8 million forest hectares replanted since 2004, a 58 percent increase in solar cells since 2003 and an interest in renewables that has cut global wind turbine prices by 20 percent.

But it’s a double-edged sword. Hydroelectric power created by the Three Gorges dam promises to generate the equivalent of 90 million annual barrels of oil. Too bad it will flood fertile agricultural lands, eliminate wildlife habitat of endangered species like the panda, and risk turning the Yangtze River into an open sewer the length of Lake Superior.

AFP Photo / Liu Jin

It’s hard to imagine how to avoid this ecological destruction. Simple mathematics dictates that it was only a matter of time before China’s 1.3 billion residents overtook 296 million Americans as the most voracious consumers of four of the five basic commodities – grain, meat, coal and steel. And they are quickly catching up on oil. From 1990 to 2002 the number of cars quadrupled and could double seven more times by 2020. As the world’s most populous nation begins importing food, financiers speculate on grain as shortages threaten shockwaves across world markets and turn farmers into sheikhs.

Washington’s Earth Policy Institute predicts that by 2031 – when incomes match Americans – China’s tipping point is likely to become the world’s. Analyst Lester Brown believes that, unchecked, China will consume two-thirds of the world’s current grain supplies, 99 million daily barrels of oil – against a global supply of 84 million – and twice as much paper as the world currently makes. If they follow Americans and amass three cars for every four people, their fleet of 1.1 billion vehicles will dwarf the current global fleet of 800 million, and would require paving an area equivalent to all of China’s rice paddies to be driven.

But despite a climate notoriously repressive of non-government interference, over 2000 green NGOs have taken root, newspaper environmental coverage has risen five-fold since 1994, and protests have increased every year for a decade, to 74,000 in 2004. Last April, 60,000 Zhejiang residents torched cars, smashed windows and injured 30 officials during pollution protests. In July, 15,000 rioters raged against an aging Xinchang pharmaceutical plant.

Ironically, the democratic spark that such protests may ignite – like in post-Chernobyl Eastern Europe – would end China’s ability to turn on a dime, hastening the tipping point.

Which leaves us in the morally odious position of wishing a continued dictatorship on others to ensure our own survival. But how can we demonize a nation whose individual citizens consume ten times less than we do? If the path that China is taking the world makes us nervous, we might want to level the criticism closer to home – at the institutions that gave China the directions.

Maria Hampton

Pollution in China

Pollution in China

According to the World Bank, six of the world’s ten most polluted cities are in China. It is also a very inefficient user of energy requiring 4.7 times as much energy to produce a unit of GDP than in the U.S., a consequence of subsidized fuel in China leaving little incentive to implement energy saving technology and lax environmental regulation. The energy subsidies and the lack of environmental regulation contribute to the cost advantage enjoyed by Chinese producers. And, according to BusinessWeek, China is becoming even less efficient in its energy usage:

China's Dirty Face, BusinessWeek Slide Show: As the Middle Kingdom's economy has grown, so have the environmental costs of largely unregulated growth. Despite a clean-up of Beijing and a handful of other big cities, most of China is still reeling from the devastation wrought by three decades of communist industrial development and the subsequent 25 years of quasi-capitalism. ... Of the world's 10 most-polluted cities, 6 are in China, according to the World Bank, which estimates that pollution costs China more than $54 billion a year in environmental damage and health problems.

The problems are compounded by China's inefficient use of electricity, oil, and coal. China consumes 4.7 times as much energy as the U.S. to produce each dollar of GDP-- and 11.5 times as much as Japan. Alarmingly, the nation is getting less efficient, not more. After making steady progress in energy efficiency for two decades, China has been consuming energy at a rate faster than its GDP since 2002.

Coal may be the biggest culprit. China has tens of thousands of small mines that pay scant attention to environmental concerns or safety ... Such neglect helps keep costs down, so most of China's electricity comes from power plants that burn high-sulfur coal. Worse, few have effective emission controls, a big contributor to the acid rain that falls on one-third of the country.

In its quest for development, China is building highways -- and cars -- at an accelerating pace. There are 26 million cars on the road today, and that number is expected to double by 2010. By then, automobiles are expected to account for nearly two-thirds of China's air pollution. Some officials, though, are trying to hold the line on auto emissions ... And Beijing has equipped more than 2,500 buses with engines powered by natural gas, at a total cost of $26 million.

Some 70% of China's lakes and rivers are heavily polluted, largely because more than 80% of its sewage flows untreated into waterways. What's more, even where waste-treatment gear is installed, some companies opt to pay fines rather than operate expensive equipment. Regulators say that while most major industrial plants have water-treatment facilities, one-third don't operate them at all and another third use them only occasionally. There's a bit of good news: China expects to invest $61 billion in city waste-water treatment facilities between now and 2010…

Sex sells. Even in Communist China.

Sex sells. Even in Communist China.

In China, sex happens.

This ought to be self-evident, since the Middle Kingdom’s population is now approaching 2 billion—and storks don’t proliferate in China. Some of the world’s oldest erotica, further, originated in China. The best-known may be the Qing Dynasty masterwork—long banned under Communist rule but widely regarded as the apex of Chinese classical fiction—The Dream of the Red Chamber. But Red Chamber was preceded by The Golden Lotus, the satirical Carnal Prayer Mat, and others—all serving the didactic purpose of enlightening readers about maximizing sexual pleasure. Shanghai Baby and The People’s Republic of Desire are simply new additions to an old genre. Not that any of this rich sexual tradition would have been apparent in modern times, post-1949. (Think baggy unisex Mao suits.) Not, that is, until quite recently. China’s publishing industry has now rediscovered sex with a vengeance, and a cursory glance at Chinese magazine covers tells just one (highly profitable) part of the story. The popular For Him Magazine, published by a government-run agency, advises readers on how to “do it in five minutes,” while Chinese bloggers have garnered worldwide attention by describing their own sexual exploits online.

Make no mistake—sex is still a taboo subject and the authorities take a very dim view of pornography, which remains illegal. But as any Western advertising executive can tell you, sex sells, and in 21st-Century China, selling is the name of the national game. Lingerie shops, sex toys, and pirated adult DVDs are selling like dumplings.

No one is publishing a mainland equivalent of Penthouse yet, but soft porn and fantasy are easy to find. And Chinese women are increasingly marketing themselves online by uploading suggestive photos, and more, onto blogs and Web sites.

People are more anonymous these days, to be sure, with far greater mobility than in the past. And sociologists speculate that the younger generation, raised under the one-child-per-family policy and often greatly indulged by doting parents, is simply more focused on its own pleasures than any previous Chinese cohort. People are marrying later in China, and surveys show a large majority of city-dwellers have engaged in sex before marriage.

“The government announces periodic crackdowns on pornography and often censors sexual content in magazines and on the Web. But since about 2000, the censors have started to look the other way,” writes Dave Barboza in The New York Times. “Political activism is still a no-no in New China. Entertainment is a different matter. Even the Web site of Xinhua, the official press agency, offers slide shows of the ‘10 Hottest Babes of 2006’ and ‘Rarely Seen Photos of Sexy Men.’”

In the blogosphere, Li Li—writing as Muzi Mei—posted a podcast of herself in the coital act that tens of thousands of people tried to download at once. “Despite government attempts to censor it, the sex diary is so popular that Li’s pen name is intermittently the most searched keyword on China’s top search engine,” writes Hannah Beech, in Time magazine. “’I express my freedom through sex,’ says Li, unapologetically. ‘It’s my life, and I can do what I want.’”

Sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancies, and divorce rates are meanwhile surging, much as they did in the West in the free-love era of the 1960s and 70s. But here’s another interesting fact: Evangelical Christianity is also on the rise. A potent cocktail of hedonism and religion, that, which begs the question whether China might be careening headlong toward a backlash resembling 1980s, Reagan-era, “just say no” America.

In China, one woman kills herself every four minutes.

Traditions weigh on China's women
By Christopher Allen

In China, one woman kills herself every four minutes.

Woman farmer working in an irrigation field in Hongsipu, Ningxia (Photo: Jonathan Lewis)
The suicide rate is three times higher in rural areas than urban

According to World Health Organisation statistics, China is the only country in the world where more women commit suicide than men.

Every year, 1.5 million women attempt to take their own lives, and a further 150,000 succeed in doing so.

The problem is worse in rural areas, where the suicide rate is three times higher than in the cities.

Xu Rong, head of the Suicide Prevention Project at the Beijing Cultural Development Centre for Rural Women, says one of the reasons is the ready availability of poisons in agricultural areas.

"It's all too easy to get hold of pesticides," she says. "Some women commit suicide impulsively. A husband and wife may have a bitter fight. When it's over, the woman just grabs some poison and drinks it."

'Business deals'

Suicide attempts may often be impulsive, but they are the result of burdens that weigh heavily on the shoulders of rural women.

Marriage is a big issue where traditional attitudes still prevail.

Many marriages are arranged and operate like business deals in which the groom's parents "buy" the bride, and she becomes part of their family.

Women will face an even more terrible future in 20 years time
Xie Lihua, magazine editor

Xu Rong believes this leads to emotional problems for young wives who leave their own family and friends to enter an alien environment.

"They have their father-in-law to deal with, their mother-in-law, various uncles, sisters-in-law and so on. She's got to gain everyone's acceptance. When there are conflicts, she's the weakest."

Particularly in arranged marriages, where the husband may sense his wife is unwilling to be with him, resentment can build up, leading to arguments and violence.

Xu Rong estimates that 70-80% of suicides are the direct result of conflicts between husbands and wives.

No way out

Xie Lihua, editor of China's foremost women's magazine, agrees that traditional values are a problem.

"If a woman goes to live with her husband's family and they treat her well, or if she's found someone who loves and respects her, she'll be all right. If not, things will be very difficult for her.

A woman carrying two buckets along a road in Shandong (Photo: Jonathan Lewis)
In rural areas where social security is weak, sons are preferred to daughters

"This is because there's a saying among men that goes: 'marrying a woman is like buying a horse: I can ride you and beat you whenever I like'."

For most women there is no easy way out of an unhappy marriage.

Divorce would mean leaving behind the financial security of the family, casting them into an uncertain future.

According to Xu Rong, some women attempt suicide as a way of asking for better treatment from their husbands.

Other studies agree that many of the women who attempt suicide each year are attempting to gain some dignity - to bring home to others their sense of anger and frustration.

The government realises the extent of the problem.

For many years, marriage laws have made arranged marriage and bride-buying illegal. However, traditional attitudes are hard to change.

Bleak prospects

Besides traditional attitudes, modern trends also seem set to place China's women under increasing pressure.

In rural areas where social security is weak, sons are preferred to daughters, as only sons will stay in the village to look after elderly parents. When daughters marry, they must move to their husband's family home.

Combine this with strict birth control policies, and the result is that many female foetuses are aborted.

For every one hundred baby girls born in China, 117 boys are born, according to the official figures.

By 2020, China could be short of around 40 million women, leaving many young men unable to find wives. Xie Lihua is worried about the consequences of this imbalance.

"Women will face an even more terrible future in 20 years time. Abduction and trafficking of women will increase. So will prostitution, as well as sexual violence against women and rape. I think this problem really must be solved from the ground up"

A helping hand

Trainee hairdressers at a centre near Beijing (Photo: Jonathan Lewis)
Women are gaining confidence and ambition from the training centres

Xu Rong's organisation attempts to prevent suicides by providing women with village-based support groups where they can discuss their feelings, and receive information on mental health.

Although these groups are limited to only a few villages they have been a success, and Xu Rong hopes to expand the project nationwide.

Other successes include a school outside Beijing where young rural women are taught the skills to build lives for themselves.

There are vocational courses on cooking, hairdressing and computing, as well as classes on marriage laws, suicide prevention and gender awareness.

It has an annual intake of around 600 young women.

Since opening in 1998, 4,000 trainees have passed through its doors, typically going on to work as restaurant cashiers or factory clerks.

City living

These projects are small, but other forces are also at work which are determining the future for China's women.

Young girls walking down a street in Beijing
City life allows girls to take control of their lives and have a career

In the manufacturing hubs of the south-east coastal provinces, up to 70% of the millions of migrant workers are women, mostly in their teens and 20s.

Although many will return to the countryside to marry, the experience of being away from home can be life-changing.

The move to the city is not without risk. Many young women have been sexually abused by their bosses, and working conditions are often abysmal.

But there are advantages.

Here, relationships are formed away from the prying eyes of parents and matchmakers, and young women experience a wider world far removed from the farms where they grew up.

Perhaps most importantly, young women away from home - whether in the factories or at the training school in Beijing - are gaining in confidence.

They are discovering their own individual worth and their own potential.

As one trainee says: "Before I came here my mum told me it was better to marry well than study well.

"But after coming here I didn't think my aim should be to get myself a good husband. I'd do better fighting for a career of my own."

What Happens....Made in China....???


When a patient arrived in the neurosurgery ward of Shanghai's Fudan University Huashan Hospital with a chopstick protruding from one eye, surgeon Zhu Jianhong was not surprised. He knew that Shanghai dinners are long affairs, lubricated with shots of 110-proof grain alcohol, and that when tensions boil over, chopsticks can become weapons. As Zhu extracted the utensil, it occurred to him to culture the brain tissue that was stuck to it. At the time, scientists thought cells from only two regions of the brain were expandable; this tissue was from neither. But Zhu's experiment worked. The next few times he was confronted with a head wound, Zhu took his work one step further, transplanting the expanded neural cells back into the patient's brain. The six patients he treated over the next three years showed better recovery than untreated patients. A delegation of British scientists who visited Zhu last year was uniformly impressed, calling the study "ground-breaking" in a government report. "There's nobody else in the world who's even close to doing that," said Stephen Minger, director of the stem cell biology lab at King's College London. Indeed, much of the work the Chinese are doing with stem cells simply could not be conducted in most other parts of the world: The proliferation of chopsticks notwithstanding, China has one of the most liberal environments in the world for stem cell research. While the ethical debate over the use of embryos in research continues to rage in much of the West, researchers like Zhu have the Chinese government and popular sentiment firmly behind them.For decades, China was barely a blip on the scientific radar. Communism's arbitrary appointments, combined with the Cultural Revolution's disdain for education, crippled Chinese science. But today China is in the midst of a scientific revolution. China's current economic and political strategy, as named by President Hu Jintao at a recent Central Committee meeting, is the "scientific development concept." The idea is to balance economic growth with attention to China's growing social issues, many of which could be better tackled with the tools that science and technology provide. On the ground, it means that China is developing the sciences now, in the same rapid, breathtaking way that China overhauled its economy. The Chinese government is pouring money into everything from biotechnology to its ambitious space program, which culminates this month in the launch of the manned shuttle Shenzhou VI. And as with most things, timing is key. The steaming Chinese economy, combined with greater opportunities for professional advancement than in the West, is convincing many of the 600,000 students China has sent overseas since the late 1970s that now is the time to return. All of the principal scientists on China's Human Genome Project team—and half of the scholars in the Shanghai branches of the Chinese Academy of the Sciences and the Chinese Academy of Engineering, the major Chinese science institutes—are returnees. The government increased its funding to domestic education by 600% between 1991 and 2001, and it continues to go up. According to research done by Rice University, by 2010, if current trends continue, more than 90% of all scientists and engineers in the world will be living in Asia, and many of those in China. Equipped with fluency in English, Chinese scientists now publish in the international journals that are the barometer of scientific success in the West. Between 1988 and 2001, article output grew by a factor of five (in the same period it only increased by 10% in the U.S.).

What happens if China’s “one child” is left behind?

What happens if China’s “one child” is left behind?

Beijing - Tiananmen Square - Crowds waiting for duska nd the unfurling of the National flag

Based on a senior official’s remarks, it looks like China may soon relax its one-child policy. That has raised fears among some demographers that the country will experience a massive baby boom once the reproductive shackles come off, and hence “could overturn predictions of an imminent end to global population growth,” in the words of New York Times reporter Andrew Revkin.

Almost one in five human beings is Chinese (1.3 billion out of a global total of 6.7 billion), so the country matters immensely to human numbers. But there’s an assumption embedded in this discussion that deserves to be challenged. How do we know it’s the one-child policy that actually explains China’s current low fertility? Could factors outside of the heavy-handed government framework of fines and sanctions continue to keep Chinese families small even if that framework becomes less heavy-handed?

After all, families are small (and getting smaller) in lots of countries where governments don’t dictate their size. And surveys indicate that three out of five Chinese under the age of 30 want no more than two children, with very few wanting more than three. The government estimates (and not all demographers trust this) that Chinese women now have an average of 1.8 children each over their lifetimes. That alone tells us the one-child policy is ineffective at driving births down to a national rate anywhere close to one child per woman.

Paradoxically, women in Taiwan and in the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macao actually have about one child on average, and the one-child policy has never been a factor for these populations. True, they’re not fully comparable to China’s population as a whole, but their hyper-low fertility does speak to the feasibility of achieving lower fertility based not on coercive policies but on the reproductive choices of couples and individuals and good access to family planning services.

Chinese fertility rates began falling long before the one-child policy went into effect in 1979. Women had an average of more than six children in the early 1950s, and that average had fallen by more than half by the late 1970s. It has continued to fall since the introduction of the one-child policy, but less rapidly than in those earlier decades and no more rapidly than fertility has fallen elsewhere in the world.

No one would argue that China’s one-child policy has no impact at all on the country’s population growth. But to attribute a demographic “savings” of 300 million “never-born” people to that policy, as some Chinese officials have done, is to ignore the many other reasons women have fewer children than their mothers or older sisters did. These reasons—which I explore in a book available next month, More: Population, Nature, and What Women Want—include women’s aspirations to educate themselves and find satisfying employment, not to mention decent access to effective contraception.

China’s hothouse economic growth and improving social welfare programs are also likely to continue to encourage smaller families. Just possibly, so does the keen awareness among its citizens that the country’s environmental challenges are closely related to its giant and still-growing population.

Chinese women and couples undoubtedly want the same high-quality health care and contraceptive options that women do elsewhere in the world. Whether an end to global population growth is imminent has much more to do with policies in all countries that help people reach those aspirations than with policies in any one country, no matter how populous, that dictate how many children a woman can have.

Boycott China..08-08-2008....

Dog Is God Spelled Backwards!
What happens when life has a null value?

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Boycott Made In China Products K9 Killers!

The insane killing of 50,000 dogs in Red China sparks calls for an international boycott of products made in China

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Boycott Made In China K9 Killers!

This killing of over 50,000 dogs in Red China has sparked outrage among dog lovers around the world. Internat chat rooms are echoed with debate, with some people claiming that dogs in Red China have no more value than a piece of meat, given many Chinese eat dogs. Yet the value of dogs, man's best friend can not be equated with beef, pork, chickens or other animals which have been domesticated by man for food because the relationship between man and dogs is one which involve the very soul of humanity, and to break that bond risks creating people and a society that is without a conscience, indeed, without a soul.

That dogs can be so easily slaughtered with such cruelty by order of communist government officials begs the question, what is the real value of dogs? Are humans more valuable than dogs? Is this even a proper question to ask, given all animals are different and have a different value? Certainly dogs have qualities that humans can never match and in many respects may be considered both superior to humans and capable of tasks that humans could never perform alone. Thus the bond of man and dog was formed to reward each and, indeed, add to the value of each species, as greater when bonded than alone.

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Fig. 1 Officials employed by the Red Chinese communist government went door to door confiscating dogs, then beat the dogs to death upon the street, often in front of their owners, in southwest China's Yunnan province. The killing spree began on July 26, 2006 and the slughtering of beloved pets went on for five days until over 50,000 dogs were savagely killed! Photo Courtesy of EyePress/AP

One may make a good argument that humans are NOT more valuable than dogs! Some humans may be more intelligent than some dogs, but probably most, if not all, dogs have a higher IQ when it comes to their sense of smell than do people. When it comes to survival dogs and humans formed a bond which contributes to the survival of BOTH species. Thus when that bond is broken, the survival potential of both species goes down.

Killing 50,000 dogs in Red China will reduce the health and welfare of every single pet owner who had its most dearly loved companion bludgeoned to death by order of communist government officials. Such acts of cruelty always result in damaging psychological consequences, especially when children see something like this happen to a pet they cherished.

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Fig. 2 After dogs were torn from their owners and savagely beat to death in front of men, women and children who weeped and pleded for their pet's lives, their battered bodies with broken bones and skulls were thrown into trucks, the flesh to be processed for eating and the fur to be harvested for usage in commerce. Photo Courtesy of EyePress/AP

I dare say that in the eyes of God and Nature all creatures are equal! Man is worth no more than a dog and certainly some dogs (in fact MOST dogs) that I have known are worth more than some people I've known!

Quite frankly I'd not give an infinitesimal fraction of a yuan for any of those communist government officials who ordered the mass murder of 50,000 dogs! And I'd give even less for those who did the bludgeoning.

When it comes to the value of an animal what are you basing this on? There are race horses valued at millions of dollars! Even a vial of their semen is worth a pretty penny! These horses are not valued so highly because they are any more or less smart that any other horse; rather, they are so valuable because they can run fast and win races in which people gamble and risk great fortunes! In other words, they are highly valued as they make their owners rich!

Thus one way to determine the "value" of a species is to consider its market value. Some dogs have a very high market value, given they are champion show dogs and can win awards for their owners as well as prestige in dog circles. There are some people which value a good show dog much higher than any of their human counter parts. Breeding such champion dogs is big business also.

As for the worth of dogs as working animals and their bond with humans, I recall the story of Balto, a lead slid dog in the final cross wilderness trek to Nome, Alaska, in 1925 which delivered serum during a deadly outbreak of diphtheria. A statue was built in New York City's Central Park which I recall seeing as a child when only seven years old. My mother had taken me there prior to boarding an airplane to fly to France, and I remember her saying, "Balto was a great dog! He saved hundreds of lives! Don't ever forget! I never did forget Balto but apparently many people have never heard this tale, of when teams of gallant mushers and their slid dogs crossed the great whiteness through fringed storms and harsh blizzards, lead by courageous dogs like Balto and another named Togo. These were canine heros which carried life saving serum over great distances of harsh frozen wilderness with temperatures so low metal shattered like glass, enduring great hardship to save hundreds of lives. I wonder what the value of the lives of these dogs was to those whom lives they saved? Perhaps that's why a statue was erected in Central Park to Balto, that none would ever forget, dogs save lives and have a value beyond measure! I might add dogs also save souls as certainly anyone who bludgeons a dog to death has lost their soul as has their state or nation to permit such a horrid atrocities!

This is just one example of dogs having saved or rescued humans. Service dogs have aided in the rescue of victims of earthquakes, avalanches and acts of terrorism. Bomb sniffing canines regularly help secure airline systems. A bomb sniffing dog may one day help save your life! So what is the value of dogs? Are humans really more valuable than dogs or even at a "higher level" on whatever scale you want to judge people and humans?

Given the cruelty of human beings, their inhumanity to man and animals alike, I'd tend to say that at least in the eyes of God, dogs are on a much higher level than humanity. By the way, dogs spelled backwards is GOD! And for those who believe that God is Love, certainly the bond between dog and man warrants that dogs be regarded as able to love on an equal level with humanity.

To order that patrols armed with clubs go out, round up all the dogs and bludgeon them to death is akin to rounding up a nation's first born children and killing them or crucifying a band of rebellious gladiators on the roads to Rome as punishment for their desire to be free from a state which entertains itself by watching people kill each other! The mass murder of 50,000 dogs is barbaric, uncivilized and unacceptable as a form of behavior for anyone who wants to count themselves among the human race!

Certainly there are entire societies who do not value the lives of dogs any more than they do those of the people which make up the majority of their population. In Red China your life is not worth much unless you are a member of the communist party. Your life is worth nothing if you are a dissident, individual or free thinker who dares to speak out against the communist government. Your life is worth even less if you are a dog. This is true, and has been made obvious by the killing of 50,000 canines, even in the "Year of the Dog!"

The question must then be asked, what is the value of the life of Red Chinese communist officials? To me these people's lives have no value. I give their lives the same value they give to dogs! The value of the life of those who ordered and participated in this mass killing of canine companions is hereby set to null, zero, nothing!

In doing this any response is thus justified for when the value of life is set to null or zero, that life may be exterminated, just as was done by the Nazis to Jews, Christians, intellectuals and others during the reign of the Third Reich. Thus you see where this argument that the value of life, be it humans or dogs, leads when that value is set to null or zero. It means that millions upon millions of people can be exterminated without blinking and eye.

This is the reason that we who love dogs and who cherish life must never really set the value of any life, be it human or dogs to zero. It is also why we must speak out loudly and protest in any way that we can against such cruelty to animals as the bludgeoning to death of 50,000 dogs by communist government officials. It tells us that they do not value life, and that is a very frightening realization when it comes to being armed with thermonuclear warheads mounted atop ICBMs and pointed at America!

The killing of 50,000 dogs by order of communist government officials is just one more indication that life has little or no value to those who control Red China and when combined with all their other atrocities should make people quite alarmed. The idea that trading a regime which has little value for human life will somehow save up from being targeted by them for destruction is a delusion which could be catastrophic!

Wake up people! The killing of 50,000 dogs by order of communist government officials sends a clear signal that no one safe so long as any who do not value life have control of weapons of mass destruction. This applies to Red China, North Korea, Iran and any other nations controlled by dictators, despots, tyrants or other power craved lunatics.

If we let what is happening in China and around the world go unchallenged, then one day we may be the ones who are bludgeoned to death, not by clubs, but by nuclear weapons imported to every major city in America via a Trojan horse that looks like an innocent shipment of ceramic vases! We will never know what hit us and the Red Chinese will come to control the world!

Let not these 50,000 dog have died in vain! Their howling cries should alarm all humanity. Hear their howls yet in death as they are tell us to beware! These dying, crying, howling dogs are telling us that something is terribly wrong, that something has been broken, that unless we see want it is, then their cries will become our cries as we too parish being beaten, battered and bludgeoned to death by the tyrants of the world!

Let these 50,000 dogs who have perished in the Year of the Dog ring the bell and sound the alarm that Red China is still red and that red means blood flowing from the heart of all humanity, than no single life, be it man or beast, has significance and that it is only the party which matters!

This is why the United State of America and all free nations must rise up and not let the howls and cries of these 50,000 dogs which have been bludgeoned to death go unanswered. We who love life and freedom must hear the cries of the howling dogs wherever a single dog suffers, wherever a single child starves, wherever a single act of inhumanity occurs, be it upon our own shores on in far distant lands.

We are not free unless all people are free. Our lives can be taken away in a single moment without notice by acts of terrorism, be they committed by bands of radical Islamic fundamentalist or nuclear armed communist states bent upon world domination and out destruction.

The killing of 50,000 dogs in Red China has sounded the alarm. The communist officials who control the government in Red China do not value life. They trade with the United States and our allies only to gain an advantage and will one day turn against us. They are the real wild dogs, the real and present danger, that will turn upon us and destroy us, least we realize what is going on in Red China and stand up firmly against all acts of man's inhumanity to man.

Whatever the argument to the contrary, it is but an excuse to blind us, to cast a veil and hide the evil intent of communist leaders to ultimately destroy America. The death of 50,000 dogs today could be 300 million Americans tomorrow!

I therefore urge that everyone who becomes aware of the killing of these 50,000 dogs in Red China, listen to their howls and hear their agonizing cries. Just because a tree falls in the wilderness does not mean it made no sound as it came crashing to the ground. Likewise, just because these 50,000 dogs were bludgeoned to death half way around the world does not mean they died silently or in vain. Listen yet and you will hear the echoes of their anguish, for they died howling for their families, for those who loved them, bewildered and betrayed by the very state unto which they were born!

This is not acceptable. This is why all who love dogs and all who value life, must not let the howls of these 50,000 dogs go unanswered. Take a stand against this horrible treatment of animals. Take a stand against the very existence of communism as the people's government in Red China! Take a stand today, that tomorrow we will still be around to deal these people a fatal blow instead of vice versa.

I urge that everyone join with me in an international boycott of products made in Red China and a call for the overthrow of the communist government in Red China. Let us all do whatever we can to bring about the fall of the communism in Red China, in North Korea, in Cuba and everywhere else that tyranny reigns free!

Join with me and Boycott K9 Killers! Pledge yourself to not buy any products knowingly made in Red China or to do any business with Red China so long as communist control the government and there is no democracy in Red China.

This is the least that we who love life and our canine companions can do in answer to the howls of 50,000 dogs bludgeoned to death! Yet with this small beginning we shall in time grow strong and our enemy weak that on the nest tomorrow it will be the stars and stirpes still flying in the dawns early light, and the blood red flag with golden stars will have gone the way of the hammer and sickle, rusted into oblivion and blown away with the wind!

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Boycott K9 Killers!

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Bumper Sticker Size Designs

Join the movement! Boycott Made In China products to protest the killing of 50,000 dogs by communist government officials! Put these bumper sticker designs on you automobile or truck. Display these items everywhere! Do not stop until the communist goverments is ousted!!!

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Boycott Made In China Products K9 Killers!

Boycott Made In China K9 Killers Mystic Red
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Boycott Made In China K9 Killers Commie Red

Other political actions you may take

1. Refuse to go to the Olympics in China in 2008 and withdraw all support of the 2008 Olympics games in Red China.

2. Write the Chinese Embassy in Washington, DC and express your outrage over the killing of over 50,000 dogs by order of communist government officials!

3. Write you Congressman and call for a boycott of all products made in Red China.

4. Refuse to buy any products knowingly made in China.

5. Stop shopping at Wal-Mart which buys a majority of goods made in China.

6. Write the US Olympics committee and urge that the United States teams withdraw from participation in the 2008 games in Red China.

7. Destroy all products in your home that were made in China and replace them with products made in the United States. This will also boost the American economy.

8. Hold public meetings, ralleys and gatherings and burn, bash and destroy products made in China.

9. Start Internet sites promoting the Boycott K9 Killers movement and linking to the home page of the Boycott K9 Killers movement at www.byteland.org/boycottchina/index.html

10. Buy Boycott K9 Killers movement merchandise to help promote awareness and fund this project.

11. Support this project to protest the killing of dogs in Red China by communist government officials. Please take a stand and help raise $10 million to fund the Boycott K9 Killers movement and other humanitarian projects.

12. Distribute copy of this annoucement via email to everyone you know, especially dog lovers!


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Boycott Made In China K9 Killers!

You may find more great Boycott Made In China K9 Killer designs at these sites:

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Dalai Lama visit angers China

Dalai Lama visit angers China

The Dalai Lama is greeted while arriving in Washington, D.C., on Monday. He will receive the Congressional Gold Medal on Wednesday.

WASHINGTON - The Dalai Lama, after meeting privately Tuesday with President Bush, brushed off China's furious reaction to U.S. celebrations this week in his honor.

"That always happens," the exiled spiritual leader of Tibet's Buddhists said with a laugh, speaking to reporters gathered outside his downtown Washington hotel.

The White House defended the meeting in the president's residence and dismissed Beijing's warning that the talks and the awarding of the Congressional Gold Medal to him Wednesday would damage relations between the United States and China.

The Dalai Lama is hailed in much of the world as a figure of moral authority, but Beijing reviles the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize laureate and claims he seeks to destroy China's sovereignty by pushing for independence for Tibet, where the Dalai Lama is considered a god-king.

When asked if he had a message for Chinese President Hu Jintao, the Dalai Lama playfully patted a reporter on the cheek and said, "You are not a representative of Hu Jintao."

He said that during their meeting, he explained to Bush what was happening in Tibet and said he thanked the president for "showing his concern about Tibet."

"We know each other, and we have developed, I think, a very close friendship - something like a reunion of one family," the Dalai Lama said, speaking of Bush.

The Dalai Lama says he wants "real autonomy," not independence, for Tibet. But China demonizes the spiritual leader and believes the United States is honoring a separatist.

Bush and U.S. lawmakers Wednesday will present the Dalai Lama, who has lived with followers in exile in India since they fled Chinese soldiers in Tibet in 1959, with the prestigious congressional honor.

China has reacted with anger.

"We solemnly demand that the U.S. cancel the extremely wrong arrangements," said Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi. "It seriously violates the norm of international relations and seriously wounded the feelings of the Chinese people and interfered with China's internal affairs."
Presidential spokesman Tony Fratto said: "We understand the concerns of the Chinese." But he also said Bush has always attended congressional award presentation ceremonies, has met with the Dalai Lama several times before and had no reason not to meet with him again.

No media access was allowed to Bush's meeting with the Dalai Lama in the private residence section of the White House. In an exception to normal practice, the Bush administration did not release any pictures of the meeting or put out a formal statement on it.

"We in no way want to stir the pot and make China feel that we are poking a stick in their eye for a country that we have a lot of relationships with on a variety of issues," press secretary Dana Perino said. "And this might be one thing that we can do. But I don't believe that that's going to soothe the concerns in China."

Perino did say that Bush would be photographed with the Dalai Lama at Wednesday's congressional ceremony.

The Dalai Lama's visit here came as China was holding its important Communist Party congress.

Congress has long championed the Dalai Lama; lawmakers also regularly criticize Beijing for human rights abuses and a massive military buildup and claim that China ignores abuse by unsavory foreign governments in Sudan and Myanmar in its pursuit of energy and business deals.

The administration also finds fault with China but is usually more measured as it seeks to manage a booming trade relationship and a desire to enlist Chinese cooperation on nuclear standoffs with North Korea and Iran.

Blogs Loosen shackles in China

Blogs loosen shackles in China


Speaking of Chinese bloggers, The New York Times has an appealing piece on the impact of online freedom of expression (for now) in China. Its cover girl is 25-year-old Shanghai resident Mu Mu, who happens to like posting pics of herself in a bikini.

The Times describes Mu Mu’s blog (possibly NSFW) as one of the country’s most popular and goes on to feature several others, most of which prefer more orthodox methods of self expression, including taking potshots at the mascots for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, which we condone whole-heartedly.

The Official Mascots of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games

The Official Mascots of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games

Like the Five Olympic Rings from which they draw their color and inspiration, Fuwa will serve as the Official Mascots of Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, carrying a message of friendship and peace -- and good wishes from China -- to children all over the world.

Designed to express the playful qualities of five little children who form an intimate circle of friends, Fuwa also embody the natural characteristics of four of China's most popular animals -- the Fish, the Panda, the Tibetan Antelope, the Swallow -- and the Olympic Flame.

Each of Fuwa has a rhyming two-syllable name -- a traditional way of expressing affection for children in China. Beibei is the Fish, Jingjing is the Panda, Huanhuan is the Olympic Flame, Yingying is the Tibetan Antelope and Nini is the Swallow.

When you put their names together -- Bei Jing Huan Ying Ni -- they say "Welcome to Beijing," offering a warm invitation that reflects the mission of Fuwa as young ambassadors for the Olympic Games.

Fuwa also embody both the landscape and the dreams and aspirations of people from every part of the vast country of China. In their origins and their headpieces, you can see the five elements of nature -- the sea, forest, fire, earth and sky -- all stylistically rendered in ways that represent the deep traditional influences of Chinese folk art and ornamentation.

Spreading Traditional Chinese Good Wishes Wherever They Go

In the ancient culture of China, there is a grand tradition of spreading good wishes through signs and symbols. Each of Fuwa symbolizes a different blessing -- and will honor this tradition by carrying their good wishes to the children of the world. Prosperity, happiness, passion, health and good luck will be spread to every continent as Fuwa carry their invitation to Beijing 2008 to every part of the globe.

At the heart of their mission -- and through all of their work -- Fuwa will seek to unite the world in peace and friendship through the Olympic spirit. Dedicated to helping Beijing 2008 spread its theme of One World, One Dream to every continent, Fuwa reflect the deep desire of the Chinese people to reach out to the world in friendship through the Games -- and to invite every man, woman and child to take part in the great celebration of human solidarity that China will host in the light of the flame in 2008.

The Official Mascots of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games

In China's traditional culture and art, the fish and water designs are symbols of prosperity and harvest. And so Beibei carries the blessing of prosperity. A fish is also a symbol of surplus in Chinese culture, another measure of a good year and a good life.

The ornamental lines of the water-wave designs are taken from well-known Chinese paintings of the past. Among Fuwa, Beibei is known to be gentle and pure. Strong in water sports, she reflects the blue Olympic ring.

The Official Mascots of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games

Jingjing makes children smile -- and that's why he brings the blessing of happiness wherever he goes. You can see his joy in the charming naivety of his dancing pose and the lovely wave of his black and white fur. As a national treasure and a protected species, pandas are adored by people everywhere. The lotus designs in Jingjing's headdress, which are inspired by the porcelain paintings of the Song Dynasty (A.D.960-1234), symbolize the lush forest and the harmonious relationship between man and nature. Jingjing was chosen to represent our desire to protect nature's gifts -- and to preserve the beauty of nature for all generations. Jingjing is charmingly naïve and optimistic. He is an athlete noted for strength who represents the black Olympic ring.

The Official Mascots of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games

In the intimate circle of Fuwa, Huanhuan is the big brother. He is a child of fire, symbolizing the Olympic Flame and the passion of sport -- and passion is the blessing he bestows. Huanhuan stands in the center of Fuwa as the core embodiment of the Olympic spirit. And while he inspires all with the passion to run faster, jump higher and be stronger, he is also open and inviting. Wherever the light of Huanhuan shines, the inviting warmth of Beijing 2008 -- and the wishful blessings of the Chinese people -- can be felt. The fiery designs of his head ornament are drawn from the famed Dunhuang murals -- with just a touch of China's traditional lucky designs. Huanhuan is outgoing and enthusiastic. He excels at all the ball games and represents the red Olympic ring.

The Official Mascots of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games

Like all antelopes, Yingying is fast and agile and can swiftly cover great stretches of land as he races across the earth. A symbol of the vastness of China's landscape, the antelope carries the blessing of health, the strength of body that comes from harmony with nature. Yingying's flying pose captures the essence of a species unique to the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, one of the first animals put under protection in China. The selection of the Tibetan Antelope reflects Beijing's commitment to a Green Olympics. His head ornament incorporates several decorative styles from the Qinghai-Tibet and Sinkiang cultures and the ethnic design traditions of Western China. Strong in track and field events, Yingying is a quick-witted and agile boy who represents the yellow Olympic ring.

The Official Mascots of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games

Every spring and summer, the children of Beijing have flown beautiful kites on the currents of wind that blow through the capital. Among the kite designs, the golden-winged swallow is traditionally one of the most popular. Nini's figure is drawn from this grand tradition of flying designs. Her golden wings symbolize the infinite sky and spread good-luck as a blessing wherever she flies. Swallow is also pronounced "yan" in Chinese, and Yanjing is what Beijing was called as an ancient capital city. Among Fuwa, Nini is as innocent and joyful as a swallow. She is strong in gymnastics and represents the green Olympic ring

Το Άλλο Πρόσωπο της Κίνας...


Η άλλη Κίνα... Η Μητροπολιτική!!!

I had another few moments in China this week that left me amazed and slack-jawed.

The first came in the city of Nanping, inland from Fuzhou in coastal Fujian province. I wandered into the hotel gift shop and saw an array of stuffed animals -- pheasants, an eagle, a badger or wolverine, a marten and a sharp-fanged thing that looked like a lesser panda. I was told it was a local bear.

Then I set my eyes on these stuffed creatures. They are about eight or nine inches tall. The markings on the back make them look sort of chipmunk-y. But they have cloven hooves and otherwise look like mini-deer. The clerk had no idea what they were called.

It reminded me of the time I went to the Beijing Zoo and saw an animal I had neither seen before nor ever heard of. It looked like a dog-goat combination. It was either from Central Asia, or a mutant creation of a bioengineering lab.

I later looked on the internet and wondered if these creatures might be something called a "Mouse deer" endemic to Southeast Asia. Anyone know?

Now here’s another curiosity. On our way to Fuzhou yesterday, the woman conductor (conductress?!) in the train began to shout loudly. I turned to look, listened for a few seconds and realized she was selling insole cushions for shoes and also socks. Many passengers looked rapt at her spiel. She described the socks as long-lasting, then did a neat trick trying to tear them apart. Obviously, they were indestructible. A passenger enthusiastically chimed in that he’d bought a pair before and they were great. I wondered if he were part of the sales team. Then he said the socks don’t xi han, or “suck sweat.” I immediately decided they must be 100 percent polyester and went back to my book.


More fireworks with the Vatican

Any hope that China and the Vatican might soon heal their rift are vanishing.

And while Pope Benedict XVI tours Turkey this week, you can bet he's keeping an eye cocked on China.

China is about to allow the ordination of a new Catholic bishop without the blessing of the Holy See, the third time this year it is defying the Vatican.

For half a century, China has said it can name its own Catholic bishops. The Vatican considers such an act heresy and threatens excommunication.

So a lot will be at stake this Thursday at 8 a.m. in a small diocese in Xuzhou, Jiangsu Province, when the vicar general, Wang Renlei, will be ordained as a bishop.

There certainly must be frictions in Beijing over this. Diplomats at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs would love to strike up relations with the Vatican after a 55-year hiatus. After all, Taiwan’s only ally in all of Europe is the Vatican. It has no diplomatic relations with any other European nation.

That means Taiwanese President Chen Shuibian has to jump through all sorts of diplomatic hoops if he wants to transit through Europe on any foreign trip.

Blocking any move on the diplomatic front, though, is the Patriotic Catholic Association, an entity that exists only to run the Catholic church of China, a task the Vatican is more than happy to do. If relations with the Vatican were renewed with a stroke of the diplomatic pen, a lot of jobs and bureaucracy at the association would vanish.

According to an Italian news site, the Patriotic Catholic Association "is trying to ordain dozens of bishops without the approval of the Holy See, for the purpose of destroying all the work of reconciliation carried out so far between the Chinese Church and the Pope."

Most bishops in China have quietly sought reconciliation with the Vatican.

Rise of Cosmopolitan Shanghai

I’m reading a wonderful book, a highly readable account of life in Shanghai in the early part of the 19th Century. I can hardly put the book down. It’s called Carl Crow – A Tough Old China Hand, and I thoroughly recommend it.

Crow, a Missouri native, was an adventurer, newspaper proprietor and groundbreaking advertising man in Shanghai from 1911 until the late 1930s.

Crow’s firm was partly responsible for coming up with the “sexy modern girls” that adorned the cigarette and face cream ads that went up around China.

In the 1930s, he wrote the book 400 Million Customers, setting off a rush into China’s market, not unlike what is happening again today.

I find Crow’s story, and the description of Shanghai, really compelling. Perhaps it is because Crow was once a reporter for United Press, the precursor of UPI. So was I. Or because he once worked for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, which also happens to be one of the papers in the McClatchy chain that supplies my paycheck.

But at the same time, the book only underscores the differences with modern China. I happen to be visiting Nanping, a small city in Fujian province where my grandparents lived from 1922 to 1926 as Methodist missionaries. As I look at old photos of the raging Min River that was the main transportation route, and hear stories of the pestilence, war lords and other plagues of the era, I can’t help but think how much greater an endeavor it was to live half way around the globe then compared to now. You’ll read more in an upcoming article about what kind of impact early missionaries, like my grandparents, have left on modern China.

Hong Kong University Press, by the way, publishes the Crow book, and its author is Paul French, a modern-day marketing analyst in Shanghai

More from the auto show


I constantly check out the types of cars I see on Chinese roads. Yet I found myself staring at some of the stands of domestic automakers at the Beijing auto show, seeing models completely new to me.

Some of these automakers will not only survive, they will thrive. They may even become global household names. But which ones? Others will flame out.

One of the ones that came close to fizzling is Jiangling Motors Corp., maker of the Landwind SUV you see in the above photo. The company tried to export abroad way too soon, learning an abject lesson. Last year, a Belgian importer got exclusive rights to the company’s Landwind SUV.

It sold about 100 of them in the Netherlands. Then, word of an independent crash test in Germany came out. The Landwind SUV, a large vehicle, utterly failed in the area of passenger cabin protection, scoring zero out of five. Even airbags were deemed useless in protecting passengers in the collapsed cabin. After publicity about the tests broke, sales stopped overnight.

Then there are others, like Chery and Geely. We have an American friend with a Chery QQ and she loves it. It’s economical and fairly comfortable inside. I rode in the backseat for two hours once and had no problem.

Some brands I’ve hardly heard of, in part because China’s auto market is not really national. Hondas and Toyotas do particularly well in Guangzhou, near factories there, while VWs sell heavily around Shanghai, where many are produced. I had never heard of the brand in the photo below, Huang Hai, or Yellow Sea.


Lastly, check out this Roewe auto below. I don't have the details at my fingertips, but I recall that one of the big Shanghai automakers, maybe SAIC, obtained designs for the British Rover sedan but than did not win a bid to actually manufacture it. So it did the next best thing: It produced this knockoff, and the name is pronounced almost like "Rover" in Chinese. I was in Shanghai last month, and Roewe advertising was strung everywhere. By the way, the finishing looked top-notch to my untrained eye.


Two steps ahead...

Welcome to the club of big boys! Chinese engineering companies are snatching ever bigger projects overseas.

I was speaking last night with a European executive who helped arrange a recent deal – the world’s largest road project in Algeria. It’s a $7 billion project, and the China Railway Construction Corporation is part of the consortium that won the bid earlier this year.

The Chinese consortium beat out huge U.S., Japanese and German firms to clinch the contract for a 330-mile (528 kilometer) stretch of the Algerian East-West Highway.

Chinese contractors are all over Africa, of course. In Algeria, one Chinese company just finished construction of a terminal at the Houari Boumedienne airport in the capital.

On China’s African ventures, here’s what Chinese Commerce Minister Bo Xilai said earlier this month during a Sino-African forum in Beijing:

“In the past 5 years, Chinese enterprises undertook contracts of more that 6,000 kilometers highway construction, over 3,400 kilometers railway construction and reconstruction, establishment of 7 power stations with total generating electricity capacity of 3.4 million kilowatts. The reconstruction of Nigerian railways, Imboulou Hydropower Station of Congo, natural gas pipeline of Libya, telecom network construction of Angola and newly established roadway project of Algeria build up a bridge connecting China and Africa.”

... and one step back

But there are setbacks in China’s rise.

A major Chinese satellite has failed barely 10 days after launch. The SinoSat-2 direct-to-home satellite was to transmit signals directly to 100 million people in rural areas with no access to cable.

It was a domestically made satellite. According to press reports and an outside monitor, the satellite’s solar power panel failed to unfold Nov. 7 after it reached orbit, dooming it.

“SinoSat-2 can no longer send any signals; it's gone out of operation,” an engineer at Sino Satellite Communication, the company that operates the satellite, told the South China Morning Post.

The Hong Kong-based Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy said an “abnormality” in operation was detected nine days after the satellite was sent into orbit from the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre in Sichuan province.

The center said China could lose $12.7 billion of potential revenue over the next five years if the satellite indeed fails.

London in 1952? Or Beijing now?


The smog is bad this morning in Beijing. These are views from the 14th floor balcony of my office looking across Beijing's principal avenue.

To the southeast, I can see the twin LG towers across Jianguomen Wai Street and the street lights on the corner, but not much further.

To the southeast, everything fades out into murkiness after about a block, where the Friendship Store is located.

Actually, the smog seems to me to have improved somewhat this year. We had quite a pleasant autumn.

But there's no denying that days like today are terrible. I sometimes click here to see what actual pollution levels are. But if you look, note that authorities don't want to tell you how bad it is if levels arise above 500, which is dangerous to your health. The figures are updated once a day.

Sometimes it can be really bad in the morning, then a wind picks up and blows off the smog, leaving the afternoon lovely.

When we first arrived here three years ago, my throat was scratchy for the first four or five months. Now, I think I'm used to it. It doesn't bother me at all. Scary.


Space launches and the Olympics

Here’s what to expect in the run-up to the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympic Games: China will link its growing prowess in space with its success at the Games.

Here’s the chronology. In 2007, as excitement builds around the Games, China will launch an unmanned lunar orbit and give it major national press coverage.

Then in 2008, some time before the Games begin, China’s space agency will carry out a manned space walk, a huge achievement that will certainly increase national pride.

A gentleman closely involved in aspects of space promotion laid out the plans for me this evening, on condition of anonymity.

“China is branding itself as an innovation country, and space is the reflection of that,” he said. He noted that China’s leaders are already using the space program successfully in casting themselves as the architects of China’s rise.

“Every time a rocket goes up, the president (Hu Jintao) is at the launch site and the premier (Wen Jiabao) is in Beijing at the control center,” he said.

The manned space walk, he said, will “be around the same time at the Olympics opening” and the leaders “will create an association in people’s minds” about the two events.

Selling to China's gentry



Beijingautoshow_047 As you can see from the post below, China's annual auto show is opening. And not a single global luxury automaker stayed home.

They are all here. You can see the photos I took at different stands. Maserati is here, and Ferrari, too. The Lotus stand drew a good crowd.

Many people were snapping pictures of every little automotive detail at the Rolls Royce exhibit, seen below. Porsche is also here.



Making luxury cars in China


Beijingautoshow_012 The annual auto show in China is one of the major automotive exhibits in the world today, up there with Detroit, Frankfurt and Tokyo. It opened to journalists this morning, and I went to hear what some global auto executives had to say.

You can see Dieter Zetsche, the Daimler Chrysler chairman, in the photo above, posing with an opera singer who descended from a luxury Maybach sedan.

Zetsche, like other global execs, was busy pointing how many of their models are now produced or assembled in China.

The company’s Mercedes Benz E-class sedans are now manufactured here.

“We built a state-of-the-art plant together with our partners in Beijing,” Zetsche said, adding that he sees the premium auto market growing threefold in China in the next three years.

Earlier, Tom LaSorda, Chrysler’s chief executive, told a small group of us that his company began assembling local versions of the Chrysler 300 C luxury sedan last week.

Lasorda also said Chrysler will decide “by the end of the year” whether to go with Chinese manufacturer Chery Automotive or another unnamed non-U.S. manufacturer to produce a lower-cost car, rather than producing itself in the U.S. market.

That’s another sign of the huge pressure on U.S. automotive companies. One reporter asked LaSorda if he’ll feel a lot of pressure to come up with a turn-around plan before a Daimler Chrysler board meeting in late December.

He chuckled. “I don’t need to wait for the fourth quarter to feel pressure. I feel pressure every day,” he said. Other executives around the table laughed nervously.


The old is out, the 'new old' is in

Heritage7 Heritage8

The above pictures are from Shanhaiguan, a former garrison city in Hebei Province near the eastern terminus of the Great Wall. The first photo is taken atop the Great Wall near the East Gate, which leads into the old walled city. Looks new, doesn't it? The second photo shows a little walkway under a not-yet-renovated part of the walled city.

Like numerous other places in China, Shanhaiguan is undergoing massive redevelopment based on its imperial heritage. If you want to learn more about whether this mammoth $330 million plan is good or bad, click here to read my story.

In more shameless touting, click here to read how China is finally sharing bird flu virus samples with foreign researchers, and here to find how Japan wants China to shoulder more of the financial burden for the United Nations. Also, there is an article about the recent Sino-African summit and one about the richest man in China. This one is about the Shanghai pension fund scandal.

My favorite recent article was about the travails of the large ethnic Korean population in Japan. Did you know there are schools in Japan where children are taught to adore Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, the founder of North Korea and his son, the current leader?

Chinese vendors far and wide

Chinese merchants are traveling farther and farther around the globe.

I just stumbled across this Spanish-language blog about Chinese merchants arriving in Santiago, the Chilean capital, and setting up shop in the Alonso de Ovalle Shopping Center.

I’ll translate a little:

“The shopping center in San Diego is now replete with stands selling Hello Kitty, cosmic cats, shoes of all kinds of colors and unusual designs,” it says. “Wherever you walk, you hear unintelligible language from people with oriental features who only know how to say the size and price (in Spanish).”

“How much is this handkerchief?” a woman looking through clothing asked an oriental vendor. Faced with such a ‘complex question,’ the Chinese woman could only pull out a calculator and punch in 2,500.”

“Even though the globalized world appears to be without borders, there is a language barrier in dealing with these people because none can handle Spanish, which makes the relationship a little anxious between clientele and vendor.”

Certainly it’s ethnocentric. I can’t help but put the shoe on the other foot and think of the bravery of Chinese merchants traveling to regions so far away and trying to make a living without understanding the language. My hat is off to them.

Blocking of Wikipedia lifted

Sometimes authorities in China squeeze with one hand and caress with the other.

In the last few days, they've relaxed their grip on the internet in a notable fashion: They've stopped blocking online access to the Chinese-language version of Wikipedia, the user-generated encyclopedia.

Last month, they unblocked access to the English version as well.

For an interesting commentary on why China may have made the U-turn, click here. It is commentary from Andrew Lih, the former Columbia University professor who first reported the lifting of the censorship.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Chinese users are already flocking to the site.

China began blocking both Chinese- and English-language Wikipedia in October 2005. Social commentarists complained that the ban hindered the ability of Chinese intellectuals to put a Chinese perspective in Wikipedia articles, which are written by users.

The yin and yang of trains

Sedanchair China: Like it, or don't, or both at the same time.

It happens to me all the time in China.

Usually on the same day, I’ll experience a sensation of how well China is doing in some aspect. Then within an hour or two, something else occurs giving me the opposite feeling.

This afternoon, my assistant and I were returning by train from Qinhuangdao, a coastal city on the Bohai Sea. I commented to her how pleasant and clean the train was. We had “soft seats” in the most expensive car – which means we paid about $8 for a three-hour journey. The train had high ceilings, big windows, bucket seats and a table for my computer. It was as nice as any train I’ve taken in Japan, or the U.S.

Between cars, touch panels lit by modern-looking diodes opened and closed the doors.

I remarked how pleasant the train was. She joked that I should offer to pay more for my ticket if I liked it so much.

But the satisfied feeling disappeared when I went to the bathroom, which also was relatively modern. I looked down to discover the toilet was a straight pipe down to the track below. Uggh! No processing of waste. Just dump it along the rails across the countryside.

Pre-summit conflicts

President Bush and other leaders from around the world are departing for the APEC summit this coming weekend in Hanoi.

And almost like clockwork, strange frictions are arising around Asia.

First, China’s ambassador to New Delhi, with particularly poor timing, declared Monday that China believes the whole of India’s Arunachal Pradesh state belongs to China. The region is 90,000 square kilometers, or 34,750 square miles.

Sino-Indian border frictions date back to a brief war in the early 1960s, and this remark set back recent improvements in the relationship. India reacted with alarm.

President Hu Jintao of China will visit India Nov. 20, as soon as the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit wraps up in Hanoi. His reception will be cordial but I imagine the Indians will want an explanation.

The second incident involves the revelation that a Chinese diesel-powered attack submarine was spotted near Okinawa lurking within torpedo range of the USS Kitty Hawk, an aircraft carrier of the U.S. Seventh Fleet.

The Oct. 26 encounter was first reported by the Washington Times newspaper and confirmed by Adm. William J. Fallon, chief of U.S. military forces in the region.

This is what Fallon told a news conference in Kuala Lumpur Tuesday:

“The fact that you have military units that would operate in close proximity to each other offers the potential for events that would not be what we would like to see -- the potential for miscalculation. Now it turns out that the aircraft carrier and its escorting ships were out doing some exercises. I am told they were not engaged in anti-submarine exercises, so they were not looking for submarines. But if they had been, and this Chinese submarine happened to come in the middle of this, then this could well have escalated into something that was very unforeseen.”

There is a third bit of news that tosses a wrench in U.S.-Vietnamese relations.

The House of Representatives on Monday rejected legislation to normalize trade relations with Vietnam, just days before Bush is to arrive in Hanoi. The vote went down 228 votes against to 161 votes for. The opposition surprised Republicans, who were hoping to hand Bush a victory before his trip.

Maybe all this is coincidental. But it gives Asia Pacific leaders some things to talk about.

Tom Friedman on China's smog

I was at a talk this evening by the New York Times foreign affairs columnist, Thomas Friedman, author of The World Is Flat, and his anecdote about arriving in China’s capital drew chuckles:

“I was really struck in landing in Beijing this morning – I came from Shanghai. We landed, and it was just comical. The stewardess said, the flight attendant said, ‘Welcome to Beijing. The temperature is . . . 37 degrees Fahrenheit, and it’s a clear day.”

The audience laughed, aware of the heavy smog in Beijing today.

“You could not even see the terminal,” Friedman noted.

Those of us who live in Beijing know there is collective delusion going on about pollution here. Authorities readily blame bad air days on smoke or mist or suspended dust particles. Rarely do they admit that it's all of that and more, adding up to choking smog.

Friedman had quite a bit to say about China’s environmental problems. I’ll transcribe some of it, beating Friedman to the ideas in his next column in an irony he might enjoy. His column only appears twice a week, while this blog is immediate.

“Every time I come to China, it strikes me that people here speak with greater ease and breathe with greater difficulty. I think China is rapidly approaching the point where the environment, and the degradation and the pollution will become a real constraint on its growth.”

The constraints may be felt with little warning, he said.

“You know, if you jump out of an airplane at 30,000 feet, you can actually feel like you’re flying for about five minutes until you have this really brief encounter with the ground. And that’s true with growth as well. You can grow at 10 percent a year for 30 straight years and think you can fly. The thing about Mother Nature . . . is that Mother Nature always bats last. Never think you can fool Mother Nature.

What strikes Friedman about China’s leadership “is the degree to which they have no clue what is required to make Red China a green China. And if Red China doesn’t become green China, this is not going to scale because if you do this much damage to your environment, taking people from a dollar a day to 10 dollars a day per capita income, and you want for them to do it for 20 more years . . . this place is going to be a moonscape.”

Let's flock to Tibet!

The rush to Tibet is on.

In early July, the first rail link to Tibet was inaugurated. As a result, Chinese tourist throngs are arriving.

According to the state Xinhua news agency, Tibet has seen a 31.8 percent rise in tourist arrivals this year.

A total of 2.25 million tourists went to Tibet in the first 10 months of the year, 93.5 percent of them Chinese tourists traveling domestically.

Before the advent of the train, tourists could only visit Tibet by air or via an arduous land journey.

So the predictions that the railway would lead Han Chinese to flood into Tibet appear to be turning into reality.

Some Tibetans worry that their cultural identity will become further diluted as more Han Chinese arrive _ and settle _ in their homeland.

By the way, my sister-in-law just went to Tibet last month on the new train and highly recommended taking Diamox if you go. She bought it over the counter in Beijing, although it is generally a prescription medication. You begin taking Diamox two days before the train journey to Tibet and keep taking it twice a day until you've been at high altitude for at least 48 hours. I don't mean to be pushing drugs but Diamox is the common pharmaceutical for increasing respiration and allowing adequate oxygen absorption during sleep.

As someone who has made the flight at least a dozen times from Lima, Peru, which is at sea level, to La Paz, Bolivia, which has the highest commercial airport in the world at more than 4,000 meters above sea level, I can attest to the shock of arriving at high altitude.

I once walked out of the La Paz airport, hopped in a taxi and made the journey into the city without realizing that I had forgotten to pick up my suitcase. That's what oxygen deprivation can do to you.

I also remember waking up in hotel rooms in La Paz in the middle of the night, my heart pounding and a sudden sensation that I couldn't breath fast enough gripping my body. Not even coca tea could alleviate that sensation.

One other thing: Don't eat much at altitude. And don't drink alcohol unless you want that pounding in your head to worsen. Click here for more high-altitude tips.

Election jitters in Taiwan

Most of the world's eyes are on election results in the United States but Taiwan is fretting about a different election . . . in Nicaragua.

Daniel Ortega, the former Sandinista revolutionary leader, looks like he'll be taking the reins of Nicaragua again, reliving his 1979-1990 rule. Ortega has made no secret of his indication to drop diplomatic recognition of Taiwan and renew relations with China.

It would be a major blow to Taiwan, which has only 24 diplomatic allies in the world.

Nicaragua is in the heart of Central America, the only region that supports Taiwan in a bloc. If Nicaragua topples, the other countries of Central America may not stay in Taiwan's camp much longer, especially if China starts waving around fistfuls of cash.

Taiwan issued a carefully worded statement today, quoting the foreign minister as saying, "We hope the two countries can maintain friendly ties."

I wouldn't count on it. Ortega's government recognized China in 1985, and when Violeta Chamorro won office in 1990, ending Sandinista rule, she switched to Taiwan and sent her eldest son, Pedro Joaquin Chamorro, there as ambassador.

The last time I was in Managua was in the summer of 2004. I was astounded by all the Taiwanese money that had poured into the country. Taiwan built a vast presidential palace in the former Revolutionary Plaza in Managua, and helped finance a number of other projects. It even reportedly paid for 115 Nicaraguan troops to deploy to Iraq in 2003.

Ortega has ideological reasons, though, for wanting to ally with China, and I'm sure China will reward him handsomely.

Transparency in government

When it comes to Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, China views itself as the very big and wise elder brother. It offers a lot of free, unsolicited advice.

But it can't hold a stick to those places in terms of good governance, according to the latest annual survey from Transparency International, the Berlin-based group that ranks nations on corruption.

China came in tied at 70th place this year. Hong Kong ranked 15, Macau 26 and Taiwan 34, all perceived as far less corrupt than the mainland.

Among the countries above China in the listings are Bhutan (32), Botswana (37), Malaysia (44), Namibia (55), Bulgaria (57) and Colombia (59).

China can take heart, though, that in 2005 it was tied for 78th place, so it's climbing.

China and sex

It’s not uncommon to wake up in China and see racy matter in the newspaper or on a government-run website that you’d never see in a U.S. newspaper.

One of the ways China may be changing the fastest is in its usage of sexual content in advertising and in media. One local wag refers to Xinhua, the state-run news agency, as Skin-hua because of its habit of putting cheesecake photos on its website, obviously to draw traffic.

Another tactic is to run a fairly tame story on changing sexual norms and slap a photo on there with other aims. A headline in today’s China Daily website drew my attention to a convention in Guangzhou on a three-day “sex culture expo.” Curious, I clicked. (Don’t click yourself if you aren’t willing to see what Chinese newspaper readers see all the time. The content on the site may be what appears in a British tabloid but not a family-run U.S. newspaper.)

On the face of it, China still seems rather prudish. After all, it’s only a couple of decades since everyone, men and women, covered up in woolens or cotton suits.

But prostitution is everywhere. I can’t count the times I’ve received late-night phone calls in a hotel room in the provinces and hear the following simple sentence barked in my ear: “Wanna massage?” Often, the hotels that offer such services are actually owned and run by government entities. The rake-off seems to be a particular perk of certain cadres.

In-your-face sexual advertising is also getting more common. Even big multinationals, like McDonald’s and Haagen Dazs, have Chinese-language advertising now with suggestive content. McDonald’s ads indicate eating beef is good for virility. Haagen Dazs also came under criticism. Click here to see one story.

Elephants and zebras in Beijing


Beijing has gone safari. You would not believe the number of billboards and banners around the city to celebrate a two-day China-Africa summit now wrapping up.

In just a brief drive around the eastern part of the city I counted at least two dozen huge billboards. Around the whole city, the number must be in the hundreds. The cost is rather extraordinary. I presume the billboards were commandeered for the publicity campaign.

The media here says it is the biggest diplomatic event since 1949, and observing the resources spent on this thing it does not surprise me. I’ve seen President Bush come and go, and numerous European heads of state arrive. But nothing matches the display of pomp and pageantry for this summit for 40 or so African heads of state.

One can’t watch it without thinking that it is a stage rehearsal for the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, and by my reading authorities are showing that they can stiff-arm any problem that might arise. The transit police have gotten really stern. They are everywhere, posted up and down every major thoroughfare. Beijing drivers, normally chaotic and ill-behaved, are now behaving meekly.

Taiwan Strait troubles may loom

Times keep getting harder for Taiwanese leader Chen Shui-bian and his family, and that could lead him to roil the Taiwan Straits.

On Friday, prosecutors said they would file corruption charges against Chen’s wife in an ongoing probe into misuse of about $450,000 from a special budget.

This case has been simmering for four months, and has led to large-scale street protests in Taiwan calling for Chen’s removal. Chen still has 20 months left in his four-year second term.

Chen's son-in-law was indicted in June for alleged insider trading.

Faced with the turmoil, Chen has been making noises in recent days about pushing ahead with his pro-independence agenda. That could help him rally his supporters. But it would undoubtedly worsen tensions with mainland China, and strain ties with Washington.

Where are all the cars?

Some are calling it a 2008 Olympic Games traffic rehearsal, and so far, so good.

For days, those of us living in Beijing have been hearing warnings that traffic would be a nightmare about now. Some 48 heads of state and delegations from Africa are visiting Nov. 3-6 for a summit meeting. That means the airport thoroughfare is sealed off.

Other roads are also restricted to official caravans or diplomatic vehicles.

Given the usual gridlock around here, I’d been imagining the worst. We packed off a friend to the airport on a shuttle bus this morning, fearing a drive on back roads to the airport might take two or three hours each way.

But it seems all the warnings have scared drivers off the roads. Traffic is lighter than usual. Normally, Beijing has two million private cars on the roads, and a total of three million motor vehicles. But the government has issued a six-day ban on the 490,000 cars from government agencies. So right there, it’s 15 percent less traffic. Moreover, another 250,000 drivers are heeding calls to stay off the roads and ease congestion.

Now, if only the African leaders would stick around for longer…