Archive | May, 2013

Deeper issues with Taiwan-Filipino sea tension

29 May

Taiwan and the Philippines are conducting joint probes in Taiwan now about the fatal shooting of a Taiwanese fisherman in disputed waters. These articles look at the issue concerning fishing rights and Taiwan’s ugly pseudo-nationalism. The second article makes some very pertinent observations about Taiwan and how it’s perceived by members of the international community, such as “Still, most Westerners and U.S. allied nations assume the worst every time there are angry protests in the PRC over some perceived Japanese transgression, taking these events as signs of a new “muscular nationalism.” Despite Taiwanese nationalism becoming so emotional and fervent during the most recent Philippines incident, it has been often perceived by these same observers as much more benign.”

HTC exodus, Chinese DIY wonders, and a Cannes victory

29 May

HTC has been trying to make a big comeback with the One, but it’s gotten into more trouble with the exodus of several executives. Not one, not two, but at least five HTC execs have left in the last few months. It’s the latest in a series of setbacks for HTC which in 2011 used to be one of the hippest Android phonemakers. Now, it’s been long left in the dust by Samsung and perhaps even by Nokia in Windows phones.

This is just crazy. Here’s a long list of DIY inventions by ingenious Chinese, including a homemade submarine, plane, robots, and even a living pod that can presumably house a family when armageddon occurs. The best one, the homemade cannon made by a farmer to defend his fields against rapacious property developers.

Finally, it’s good to see a Chinese director win a top prize at the Cannes Film Fest, along with other Asian talents as well.

Taiwan keeping up the anti-Philippines rhetoric

23 May

A few more days have passed and the tensions between Taiwan and Philippines have continued, with self-righteousness and pity starting to rear its ugly head. For decent explanations of the tension, especially where Taiwan went wrong, see here and here. Taiwan fishermen apparently have a reputation for straying into foreign waters to fish illegally, and they’ve kept this up with the Japanese despite a recent fishing agreement that grants Taiwan a wider body of water to fish in. In Taiwan, at least there are some people who like these trying to soften tensions despite the over-the-top rhetoric from politicians and the media.

Taiwan gets into it with Philippines over high seas chase and death

20 May

The most troubling news in Taiwan for the past week has been that of the dispute concerning a dead fisherman with the Philippines fisheries officials. Last Friday, in disputed waters (which are much closer to the Philippines), a Taiwanese fishing boat was confronted by a Filipino fishery patrol boat. A chase occurred, in which the Filipinos fired on and killed a fisherman on the Taiwan boat. The Filipino officials claim to have done it on self-defense, saying the Taiwanese boat tried to ram them, after which they gave chase and fired repeatedly to stop the boat. The reaction from Taiwan was pure outrage and shock, and has gradually but surely become something not unlike righteous indignation, overreaction, and inflammatory actions. Taiwan first demanded an official apology, as well as punishment and compensation. Taiwan then issued over 10 sanctions including issuing an official warning against its people for traveling to the Philippines and a ban on allowing Filipino workers into Taiwan. While a call for punishment and an investigation is very much warranted, Taiwan’s media, politicians and some of its public have already jumped to the conclusion that the Filipinos committed murder, without any consideration of the possibility of any wrongdoing on the Taiwan side. First, did the incident happen in Filipino waters rather than disputed? Second, is the Filipino account of shooting for self-defense wrong for certain? This Filipino blogger has a reasonable and well-informed overview of the whole affair. The Taiwan anger is also fueled by other factors such as anger at Ma Ying-jeou. Meanwhile mainland China has been dragged into this, due to the fact that the Philippines cannot formally treat Taiwan as a country out of respect to China (which of course infuriates some Taiwanese), but also because China is heavily sympathetic and supportive to Taiwan.

Hong Kong reality and Chinese stars against poaching

20 May

This SCMP opinion piece does a good job of describing the reality of colonial Hong Kong compared to the present. A lot of people, including a former top official, have come out strongly against the current chief executive  Leung Chun-ying and China while also expressing nostalgia for the good old days when the Union Jack flew over Hong Kong. Not so, says this columnist, who gives a bunch of reasons such as how “Britons could freely enter, live and work in Hong Kong indefinitely but Hongkongers had no reciprocal rights in Britain” and that all the top policymakers were British.

Actress Li Bingbing speaks out against poaching endangered animals like rhinos and elephants in these videos for the United Nations (UNEP actually). She joins Yao Ming, who did something similar last year and now as well.

 

Taiwan tries to catch up in consumer electronics

16 May

Taiwan has several major electronic brands such as Asus, Acer, D-Link, and of course, HTC. But lately these firms haven’t been doing well with a lack of innovation and a big dependence on PCs as strong factors. This NY Times piece focuses on Asus and its dapper 60-year-old chairman as trying to help boost its brand but otherwise the article doesn’t really describe how Taiwan is trying “to regain its lead in consumer electronics”. One can even say that Taiwan never ever had a lead in any consumer electronics field, though Acer has long been a top-five PC producer. The article isn’t very optimistic in its conclusion, and it’s not hard to understand. Rising competition from mainland and Korean companies, an overdependence on manufacturing, and a corporate culture of being too frugal, exploitative of employees, and afraid to take risks, as well as a younger generation that may not be as enamored of technical fields nor as hardworking as previous ones, are what Taiwan companies face.

Cantonese football might, “diaosi”, and Taiwan-style violence

15 May

The coach of Guangzhou Evergrande is an Italian, Marcello Lippi, who just so happened to have won the 2006 World Cup as his country’s coach. He arrived in Guangzhou last season and won the domestic double, and he’s now aiming for continental success. Indeed Guangzhou has a strong team and is favored to go far in the Asian Champions League. They beat Australia’s Central Coast Mariners 2-1 in Australia in the first leg of the second round knockout stage.

Absurd events are a staple of life in Taiwan, but these recent incidents go beyond the usual level, with a little bit of mainland-style violence thrown in as well.

Life is tough for a lot of people in the mainland, and it’s not just the old or uneducated, as young college graduates are also finding things tough. It’s bad enough that it’s compelled many young people to spend most of their lives online as a refuge and a place to thrive (which many of us not in the mainland, including myself also do). These people have even proudly termed themselves “diaosi” (loser) as an ironic and defiant way to define themselves.

 

Chinese influence overseas

13 May

Chinese influence is spreading across the world, and contrary to what some would say, it’s not all negative and in many cases, welcomed and perceived with a sense of optimism. In China’s Himalayan neighbor Nepal, more people are learning Chinese and China is becoming a more important neighbor, which the article tries to give a negative angle by highlighting that this worries India. In Uganda in East Africa, a former government minister runs a community library to help inform people about China, while speaking about the ways Chinese investment is helping her country, such as in the fishing and aquafarming industries.

Cantonese cuisine is widely known, but it’s not all just dim sum and fried rice, as this article about Guangzhou’s Lychee Bay illustrates. Yet even with a Cantonese heritage, I admit I don’t know about some of these foods but I’ll make sure to try some in future.

Remembering the 2008 Sichuan quake

11 May

It’s been five years since the massive 2008 earthquake in Sichuan (with a bad one having struck again just a few weeks ago), and this BBC feature shows just how destructive it was. It was one of the costliest earthquakes and forced the most people in history to be displaced.

Punks, ballers, artists, and Mo Yan

11 May

This is a nice piece about two budding teen basketball giants, one from China, and one from India! It’d be easy to want to guess that this Chinese guy can be the next Yao Ming, but it’s premature and unfair to do that. Also, there’ve been other big Chinese ballers like Wang Zhizhi and Yi Jianlian who’ve played in the NBA and had modest careers. Yao Ming was special and his solitary success among Chinese NBA players proves that size by itself is no guarantee. I wish this kid the best though he better bulk up, like his Indian counterpart.

Take a look and listen of the punk music scene in Beijing at the Guardian. A bunch of youngsters give some decent reasons why punk is so appealing, similar to other youths around the world living with a lot of stress, angst and rebellion. Beijing is one of the main music centers in China, and it’s encouraging to see different types of music sprouting there.

Moving from music to art, this article looks at how Chinese artists are trying to boost the visibility and creation of arts. There’s a big hunger for good art, no doubt, but modern Chinese art is still not very famous or popular. With time it’ll change and we’ll all know more modern Chinese painters, sculptors, dancers and so on.

One very famous Chinese artist who many of us do know, recently made a very reasonable personal appeal. Leave me alone, and just let me write, said Mo Yan. His views may disappoint some people, but he’s blunt and honest. He’s not pretending to be a savior of China, much less humanity, as he’s chosen to focus what he can influence, which is his writing.