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Archive for October, 2010

Dog-onomic Indicator

The New York Times recently published an article on the increasing number of pet dogs in China – “People used to be focused on improving their own lives, and they weren’t really acquainted with raising dogs…But with the improvement in the economy, people’s outlooks have changed. There’s a lot of stress in people’s lives, and having a dog is a way to relieve it.”  The number of dogs I’ve seen walking around Beijing would seem to echo this trend, no doubt as a consequence of the rise of China’s middle-upper class and their increasing discretionary income.

The article also makes an interesting point that “Many owners also say China’s one-child policy has fanned enthusiasm for dog ownership as a way to provide companionship to only children in young households and to fill empty nests in homes whose children have grown up.”

BEIJING — Xiangzi — Lucky, in English — is aptly named. A trim Siberian husky, his owner, a sports marketer named Qiu Hong, pampers him with two daily walks, a brace of imported American toys and grooming tools, $300 worth of monthly food and treats and his own sofa in her high-rise apartment. When city life becomes too blasé, Ms. Qiu loads Xiangzi in the car and takes him out for a run — on the trackless steppes of Inner Mongolia, seven hours north.

“It’s a huge grassland. Very far, but very pretty,” she said. “He really likes to scare the sheep and make them run all over the place.”
Metaphorically speaking, Xiangzi is not just a dog, but a social phenomenon — and, perhaps, a marker of how quickly this nation is hurtling through its transformation from impoverished peasant to first-world citizen.

Twenty years ago, there were hardly any dogs in Beijing, and the few that were here stood a chance of landing on a dinner plate. It remains possible even today to find dog-meat dishes here. But it is far easier to find dog-treat stores, dog Web sites, dog social networks, dog swimming pools — even, for a time recently, a bring-your-dog cinema and a bring-your-dog bar on Beijing’s downtown nightclub row. Rest of Article

The 10% annual growth in number of dogs in Beijing is a little unsettling mostly because I find the dogs in the city to be rather annoying – they’re about the size of pigeons and they yap at the sight of anything that moves. I frequently have to dodge dogs on the street while riding on my bicycle and find that owners often fail to clean up after their animals. But I suppose with an increasing income gap the “logical” next step for these wealthy dog lovers is to hire some cheap labor to clean their mess.

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The Silenced Laureate

On October 8th, Liu Xiaobao, a Chinese political dissident currently serving an 11 year jail sentence for anti-party and pro-democracy writings, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The reaction to this news in China has been fascinating to say the least. From the AP

Anticipating the award, Chinese circumvented Internet controls and called friends overseas to learn the news. Supporters and friends gathered outside Liu’s central Beijing apartment, where his wife was kept inside by police. At a park, a civil rights lawyer, a retired official-turned-blogger and a dozen other people cheered and waved placards saying “Long Live Freedom of Speech.” The demonstrators were later taken away by police.

A buzz of congratulations coursed through Chinese instant messaging sites before censors scrubbed postings and blocked cell phone text messages that contained the characters for Liu’s name.

The government’s reaction to Liu Xiaobao’s recognition highlights the extent of state control on media. For the entire week following the announcement of the award, there was a large blackout on the Liu Xiaobao story in all websites, TV stations and print news. The only statement that was officially released by the government was one that expressed disappointment and warned that the award may strain diplomatic relationships with Norway.

Furthermore, the government has recently pushed some Norwegians to discredit the actions taken by their Nobel Committee. Recently published in the China Daily are two articles that offer a dismissive attitude toward the committee’s award. The first was from a Norwegian legal professional who called the decision to award Liu Xiaobao the award “wrong and illegal.”

On Oct 10, Heffermehl criticized that the selection of the peace prize winner by the Nobel Peace Prize Committee has violated Nobel’s intended purpose….Nobel established the prize for “the champions of peace” to support their efforts at disarmament and peace movement. “With all due respect to Liu Xiaobo, this is yet another example that this is no longer Nobel’s prize, it is the peace prize of the Norwegian Storting (the supreme legislature in Norway).

The second article, in a clear attempt to promote the Chinese Government efforts, the Daily quotes a Norwegian Entrepreneur (a CEO of a big shipping company with a significant business interests in China), who claims that “maybe it is CHINA that truly deserves the Nobel Peace Prize” for the “the greatest economic development we have ever seen.”

Though, during the past 20 years, the living standards of the Chinese people have been greatly improved, many are still struggling hard for a better living. Yet China has undoubtedly performed impressively in many areas, such as improving its education system, increasing productivity, constructing nuclear power plants and high-speed railways, and developing Internet technology. As for green technology, Chinese companies are striving to explore the domestic market and play a leading role in the world. Of course China still has a long way to go, and there is no denying it has many problems that will require great wisdom to solve.

This of course isn’t the first time China has reacted negatively to the selection of Nobel Laureates – notably, Tenzin Gyatso (the Dalai Lama) and the writer, Gao Xingjiang were two prominent (former) Chinese dissidents to have recently won the prize. The reaction to these awards along with Liu Xiabao’s, continue to show that the government is content to censor events even of this magnitude for fear of the public reaction to the awards.

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Spreading around China’s cyberspace, namely through QQ and Baidu is the following post. I especially enjoy #2

The Most Interesting Ten Types of People in China

1. The most anxious Chinese is the wife of a corrupt government official. She dare not overspend, for she’s afraid to show her wealth. She’s anxious that superiors, especially those from Discipline Inspection Bureau and Procuratorate, might come talk to her husband. If her husband doesn’t return home for several days, she goes crazy. Her dream is to go somewhere unknown with all the money, and start everything from scratch.
最苦恼的中国人是贪官太太:她不敢大把花钱,怕露富;怕领导找老公谈话,特别是纪检、检察院的人;如果老公有几天突然不回家,她就会发疯。她的梦想是,带着钱去一个谁也不知道的地方,一切从零开始。

2. The most stupid Chinese is the soccer fan. Chinese soccer fans are so stupid that if you sympathize with them, you turn into a fool too. They’ve spent their money, cried their tears and wasted their time. But the Chinese soccer team still has made zero progress over the past 20 years.
最傻冒的中国人是球迷:中国的球迷傻得让你觉得再可怜他们,自己也会变成一个傻子。钱也出了,泪也流了,时间也花了,二十多年来,中国足球却一点进步也没有。

3. The richest Chinese are children. It’s hard to believe that children are the wealthiest in China. From the perspective of their parents, easily spending ten RMB is like a crime. But if you put ten RMB before a child, he would dismiss it.
最有钱的中国人是孩子:说起来没人相信,中国人中最有钱的是孩子。在他们父辈眼里,轻易地花掉十块钱就有犯罪的感觉。可如果把一张十元大票放在一个孩子面前,他的眼神是不屑一顾。

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