Toughts, news and small talk mainly concerning China from a berlin perspective


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Kafka in Shanghai

Here is a story Kafka would have liked:
A guy composes a text called "A detailed instruction on the Protest Against Right Wing Japanese" (with some quite humorous parts), sends it to some colleagues, and goes on with his work. The message spreads via e-mail and SMS. The following weekend a lot of people come together to protest against Japans handling of history in their schoolbooks. Some weeks later the same guy, Tang Ye is sentenced to 5 years of prison. Where is Kafka, you ask, just a normal thing to happen in China.
T-Salon has the answer:

It turned out that the instructions Tang wrote were intended for circulation internally at his workplace only. But someone from his company posted it to the world wide web without omitting Tang's name and contact information. Once the word was out, the message was unstoppable. By noon time, it was wide-spread. Mr. Tong, a white-collar worker in Shangha
i, landed a five year jail term for what he wrote.

Its quite hard to believe this, but if its true this is a really sad story.
There also is a reaction in the netsphere:

The author of the above email also urged people to, from now on until May 16th, put a yellow ribbon on trees in Shanghai's People Square, "to express our best wishes" for Tang Ye. He asked people to forward the email.

More Info and Tang's whole message you can find at T-Salon.



Desertification and the cashmere goats

a cashmere goat nibbled of by its fellow herd members, photo by Lu Tongjing

Last week I heared a speech about desertification in China at the Heinrich Böll Foundation (foundation of Germany's green party). It was given by Lu Tongjing, a photographer and grassroots environmental activist. In recent years he traveled northwest China and his pictures give testimony about the desertification that takes place there. There are several causes, of which one is the breeding of cashmere goats. They seem to have an insatiable appetite and even start eating their neighbor's fur when there is no grass left (see picture above). From the website of the China Environment and Sustainable Development Reference and Research Centre (CESDRRC)

The root of this unfortunate situation stems back to 1982, when Japanese investors initiated a cashmere project in the Alashan region. According to the Environmental Bureau of Inner Mongolia, Alashan itself has traditionally not been an area of goat

a cashmere jumper!breeding, and it has been estimated that, in order to allow for sustainable animal husbandry, no more than 200,000 animals should be kept in the region, while at present, there are some 1.6 million (80% of which are goats). In 2001, there were some 2600 cashmere processing plants in China, paying goat owners up to 300 RMB (36 USD) per kg of cashmere wool. A cashmere jumper of high quality can fetch up to 1000 US Dollar a piece on the world market. As a result, the sensitive ecosystem of these arid regions is destroyed by keeping too many goats.

So next time think twice when you are about to buy a new cashmere jumper!



Halo Scan Error

Does anybody know what's wrong with Halo Scan? Doesn't work anymore since a few days.

And Blogger seems to have problems too, since I can't edit my posts correctly.

Anybody any idea?



Self-Criticism 21. century style

What troubles teachers at schools and universitys all over the world now also becomes a problem for the CCP: The cut and cast option starts to become a popular tool among CCP members, when they are asked to write their ritual self-criticism, TIME ASIA reports:

... "But the exercise isn't taken as seriously as it was during the Cultural Revolution, when self-criticisms could involve public humiliation or worse; these days, some cadres are finding it easier to download sample texts from websites like and submit them as their own. A few excerpts:

"Sometimes when I watch TV or read newspapers and magazines, I see corruption stories and I am really angry. But afterward, all the passion and rage drain out of me and I don't have the
appropriate feeling of pain in my body. I totally forget that I myself am a Communist Party member."
—For a government official

"Although I care about international and domestic affairs and actively participate in Communist Party activities, I study other things in a passive way. In my leisure time ... I rarely study Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought and Deng Xiaoping Theory and the Three Represents."
—For a student

"Given our emphasis on putting people first, I found it more practical to be humane, give my staff more benefits, increase their incomes and to solve their problems such as housing, employment, schooling, health and social insurance instead of merely talking about the usefulness of Communism."
—For a media official" ...



Another schoolbook issue

Expressindia reports about the confusion of some Japanese legislators about Anti-Japanese sentiment in China. Why do they hate us, is the question. Now the Japanese embassy has collected several Chinese schoolbooks and is not happy with what they found:

... "Chinese high school students learn that "a crisis in the world capitalist economy" sparked the invasion of northeast China in 1931. Japan used the northern China economy and local workforce as "service for the invading Japanese."
No Chinese text mentions Japan's post-war changes, such as its constitution, adopted in 1947, that renounced war and its democratization process that led to a free press and free assembly. There is no mention of Japan's official development aid to China or any other Japanese efforts to help post-war Asia." ...




Protests, what protests?

While the Anti-Japanese protests attracted huge attention in mainstream media and the blogsphere, other protests by students held in March run unnoticed.

Ethical corporation reports:

... "The announcement comes as a mass student protest in China stage a Day of Action in six cities to call on the company to cease their "destructive logging practices", according to a statement." ...

... "The students will be boycotting APP products and will be asking companies to follow. Protestors took up positions in front of supermarket shelves featuring APP products in Beijing, Hefei, Nanning, Lanzhou, Harbin and Chengdu. Passing shoppers were told of the company's forestry operations in Yunnan and elsewhere." ...

Background is, a report by Greenpeace-China on the illegal loggings committed in Yunnan by the Singapore-based logging giant APP. Some months later the State Forestry Administration has taken official action:

... ""The investigation is not finished yet, but we have indeed spotted illegal logging in an APP project after initial investigation. We believe that both APP and local governments are responsible for the violation," Wang Zhuxiong, a senior SFA official told the official newsagency Xinhua.

The news comes in the wake of a damning report by Greenpeace on the company's tree felling practices in Yunnan, which was released last November. The environmental group claims that APP sequestered a 1.8 million acre plot in, intensively clear-felled it and replaced it with plantation crops." ...

I don't know if the protests really where "mass student protests", but such news showing a growing concern about environmental protection, an emerging civil society and the cooperation of environmental NGOÕs and the gobernment too easily stay unnoticed, leading to an incomplete picture of China.

Some more Links on the topic: (Chinese)

greenpeace (Chinese) (Chinese)

Xinhua (English)


NGO with Chinese characteristics

A new environmental NGO has been launched recently, Ethical Corporation reports (via CDT). Though de jure a NGO, the All China Environment Federation (ACEF) looks more like a branch of SEPA, the State environmental Protection, as its ties to this organization are more than close:

... "Government news organizations insist on calling ACEF a non-government organization. This is a curious position, as it is clearly a government-affiliated body. ACEF has significant numbers of ex-officials and party apparatchiks among its members and has received major government backing and funding, which is unheard of for a non-official "NGO" in China." ...

Li Hengyuan, ACEF's founding vice-secretary-general, for example is the former Director General, Policy and Law Department, SEPA (if my information on that is correct. Would be thankful for any further information or correction, i.e. couldn't find the ACEF website due to my poor Chinese).

The article concludes that as the number and the activities of green NGO's increased heavily, and the relationship between government and these organizations became closer,

... "These relationships, forged over recent years, may yet be superseded by ACEF - where the government may feel it has more of a controlling influence." ...