Understanding China, One Blog at a Time

An American in China

Archive for March, 2011

Newsflash China Busts Iphone Gang

Posted by w_thames_the_d on March 31, 2011

The chinadaily, below, reports that a gang has been busted by the Chinese police. The gang is accused of selling fake Apple products. My question is whehter they have made it to the Silk market on yonganli Street in Beijing. If so, then they could break gangs responsible for selling not only fake Ipods, but Rolexes and Taylor Made Drivers and Hermes bags and Gucci gear and..
When I read articles like this, the only thing I can think is who forgot to pay their bribes this month…
excerpt chinadaily
“SHANGHAI – Police said on Thursday that they have broken a gang of six people who sold fake iPhone4s, iPads and other electronic products worth more than 5 million yuan ($764,000).

The fake electronic products, with almost the exact look of the authentic ones produced by Apple Inc, were mostly priced for less than 1,000 yuan each in a market in Shanghai since December 2010, police said.”

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Interview with Kate Hinote of The Blueflowers

Posted by w_thames_the_d on March 31, 2011

Here is an article on an interview with Kate Hinote- of the Blueflowers. I had not realized it before, but Kate is the author of one of my favorite blogs and aside from a great musician/song writer, she has a unique perspective on the world and an interesting literary style. You can check out her music or her blog under my blog roll.

interview from this site:


The mesmerizing music of Detroit’s The Blueflowers brings to mind old country diners, Patsy Cline, and a heatwave romance. So, it’s not surprising that their song “In Your Shadow” is sung by Bobbi as The Homes discover the dusky side of alt-America in this week’s episode. We spoke with singer Kate Hinote about music, poetry and working on The Homes.

What was your inspiration for the song “In Your Shadow”?

It was built around the opening line, “I was walking, in your shadow, barely faded lines”. I know now what the lyrics mean to me, but I’m gonna keep that for myself. Most of my songs are pretty literal, so I like the idea of this one being vague enough that people can have different interpretations.

Have you seen Minni Jo perform your song? What do you think?

Yes — it was my first time hearing/seeing someone else perform something I wrote, so it was a surreal, exciting and excellent moment. On top of that, they are really talented people and did an amazing job. Minni Jo’s performance of “In Your Shadow” is just lovely and I’ve been dying for people to see it!

What was it like working with John Cabrera on this project?

It was terrific working with John and I hope I get to do it again! He loves music and is very thoughtful and respectful of our work, which is clear in the series. I also loved just being a part of something he created. The whole thing is an entirely new experience for me, and he made it easy and exciting.

How did you get started as a songwriter?

To be honest, I got a late start. I’ve been singing since I was a very tiny human. I vividly remember giving a “concert” (I’m pretty sure I just sang “Tomorrow” from Annie) to my neighbors from atop a fold out kitchen chair in my backyard, when I was three. Okay, maybe I don’t vividly remember it, but I’m told it happened. I wrote poetry as a teenager, most of which is super embarrassing to read now.

I didn’t get around to songwriting until about 2004 when Tony, then my fiancé, gave me an acoustic track to listen to and see if anything sparked, and we ended up with a song called “In Oceans”. That resulted in two albums as the band Ether Aura, (a dark-ish shoegaze band, with a few alt-country leanings from time to time). Tony and I eventually determined that the alt-country/Americana stuff came more naturally to me (melody-wise), and started writing more with that in mind, which ultimately led to our becoming The Blueflowers,

How can fans find more of your music?

Information about where to buy our first album, Watercolor Ghost Town, and our upcoming release, In Line With the Broken-Hearted, can be found here. And, of course, we’re on Facebook and would love to be “liked” by you.

What advice do you have for aspiring songwriters?

Don’t be afraid to seek out inspiration. I was always afraid to be influenced by anything, because originality is the goal, but when I got hit with a major bout of writer’s block last year, I had no choice but to look for help. I used an awesome app on my phone that just spewed randomly generated phrases/words, or I would read poetry or other lyrics. All it would usually take is one word or phrase to get me going and then I would just write anything that came in to my mind until the thoughts stopped coming in. I’d say the last half of the album was written from those stream of consciousness pages in my notebook, and those ended up being my favorite songs lyrically.

To buy music from The Blueflowers on itunes, go here. To hear a Songwriter’s Exclusive from the band, go here.
Photo: Marvin Shaouni

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On – Chinese, Driving, No Self-control, Near Death Experience…

Posted by w_thames_the_d on March 31, 2011

Your humble servant/author/wiseguy almost met his maker today. Why you ask? Because Chinese cannot drive, or let me clarify, it’s not that they can’t drive per se, but possessing the self control of kittens, this place has relegated walking in public to an act meriting hazardous duty pay.

Today as I approached my place of work, I was nearly bowled over by a local who in a fit of glee at spying an empty parking space, had floored the gas on his beat up VW , and aiming its dingy nose at the empty spot, came within inches of taking me out. Bashing his window with my fist, I tried my best to humiliate the monster, who shouted ‘dui bu qi’- excuse me- through scattered teeth the color of a nuclear reactor.

But as he nestled the car snugly in his spot, we both knew how little the incident meant to the man, as at least he’d gotten his parking space. While the rest of the world looks to find a deeper meaning to life and our place in the universe, we can be assured of this one constant…China is a ‘what’s in it for me’ country

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China and Angola- Financing the World’s Dictators

Posted by w_thames_the_d on March 31, 2011

Here is an excerpt from the Beijing Consensus. The book is pretty good and the author describes what is happening in terms of China and her rise. One of the things he points out is that China is funding despotic governments around the world and increasingly so in Latin America and Africa. His point is that as the world apparently wishes to impose some type of humanitarian controls on the world vz offering loans but with the stipulation that the money be used to help the common person, China has no such desires. The Chinese, to whom rights and human do not even belong in the same paragraph let alone side by side, have no desire nor design on increasing the quality of anyone’s life- or so it would seem. The Chinese government will offer attractive loans to dictators the world over, all with the stipulation that the dictators by cheap chinese goods and or projects-kinda like what they do with the USA and Wal-mart…
The result is the world now has a counterweight to the supposed good of the WTO or even world bank. Dictators can continue abusing their people as sanctions from the world will not have the same impact now that China has cash. As long as there is a need for cash, the Chinese will offer it, and just like the mafia, they ask little or no questions, in the beginning at least….

The Beijing Consensus (Stefan Halper)

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC As Angola prepared to jump horses from the IMF to China, a civil war was raging in the Central African Republic (CAR). UN peacekeepers had been forced to withdraw amid the escalating violence. They were replaced by a UN peace-building office, which was intended to be the first step in negotiating a political settlement for a transitional government that would include the warring factions. In 2003, however, a violent coup brought François Bozizé to power. The United Nations, the African Union, and various Western governments condemned the coup and urged General Bozizé to help international agencies restore order and political stability to the war-torn country. Weeks later, following preliminary negotiations, Beijing extended an interest-free loan and invited Bozizé for an official state visit. Shortly thereafter, Bozizé dissolved parliament and suspended the constitution ahead of “democratic elections,” which he “won” in 2005. As the UN Refugee Agency reported in 2007, the CAR’s civil liberties rating has since declined, humanitarian conditions have worsened, the country’s already scorched economy has further contracted, corruption has remained pervasive, and the government has practically taken over the judiciary.14 As Bozizé announced in 2007, China had been a “reliable friend” to the Central African Republic, having stepped in and “offered the support his country needed when it faced its most difficult times” with assistance in building a new mining and telecommunications structure to stimulate the economy.15

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China Joins the 90’s- China to Ban Smoking in Public Places

Posted by w_thames_the_d on March 31, 2011

See below, China is banning smoking in public places like they ban prostitution and corruption and everything else. Lets see how this works out for them…

BEIJING, March 31 (Xinhuanet) — China has enacted a new rule to ban smoking in enclosed public spaces. The new rule will take effect on May 1 and has been added to the revised regulations on health management in public places from the country’s Ministry of Health.

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China Messing with Japan Again

Posted by w_thames_the_d on March 31, 2011

The Japanese are upset with the Chinese flyiing a little too close to their boats and disputed territories. In the excerpt below, Japan is claiming that the Chinese buzzed them or got too close.
I find it interesting that now due to China’s economic rise, they wish to flex an atrophied military muscle. I know we all hear about the stealth aircraft etc, but in reality its all vapor ware, I mean it’s untested. The bottom line is that the Japanese can be ferocious warriors and the Chinese can be… well, their track record, absent the little incursions by Genghis Kahn who was a Mongol, are pretty weak. They historically have not invaded vast land masses and have had the Japanese eat their lunch for them. They may hold a grudge against the Japanese, but they should probably brush up on their history before picking a fight with them again.
To me the Japanese are kind of like some cagy old MMA legend and the Chinese are some guy fresh out of the gym and pumped on steroids. Sure the guy is cut and has some muscles, but has he any experience? Also, when you start to flex, or attempt to flex like the Chinese are doing, someone will want to take you up on your offer and ‘bump your nose for you”. The Vietnamese did it to us a while back, and it looks like China could be next.

from xinhuanet
BEIJING, March 31 (Xinhua) — China on Thursday dismissed Japanese claims that a Chinese helicopter Saturday flew too close to a Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyer in the East China Sea.

Noting China’s stance on the East China Sea was consistent and clear, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said a Chinese State Oceanic Administration helicopter was conducting regular patrols and maintained the necessary safety distance from the Japanese destroyer.

News media allegedly reported that Japan regarded the Chinese helicopter’s maneuvers as “extremely deplorable”, because such actions occurred when Japan had been focusing on recovery efforts after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, and Japanese side had lodged protests to China.

“The helicopter’s activity is not relevant with the disaster relief efforts in Japan,” Jiang said.

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Chinaman Set off Bomb Targeted at Foreigners

Posted by w_thames_the_d on March 31, 2011

From here

BEIJING, China – A Chinese state newspaper says a 22-year-old man charged with setting off a homemade bomb that injured an American student in central Beijing was targeting foreigners.

The China Daily said Thursday that Lei Sen told a Beijing court he detonated the bomb using firecrackers, wires and a battery in October as the American approached. The victim suffered minor leg injuries.

Lei told the court he “intended to target foreigners.”

The report said the motive was “to avenge a personal grudge against society,” but it did not elaborate

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More on China and Sudan

Posted by w_thames_the_d on March 31, 2011

From The Beijing Consensus(Stefan Halper)

SUDAN In recent years, Sudan has provided one of the higher-profile demonstrations of the China effect. Beijing has maintained strong economic relations with Khartoum since 2002, focusing on Sudan’s considerable natural resources. The terms of the relationship are a classic example of China-Africa relations. Khartoum provides drilling and exploration rights to Chinese oil companies, along with markets for cheap Chinese goods. In return, Sudan receives low-interest loans, aid, and extensive contracts with Chinese construction companies to build roads, bridges, and highways at a lower price than most Western companies would charge. In 2003, rebels from Sudan’s Darfur region began to attack government military targets, arguing that the Islamic government in Khartoum was oppressing black African communities by distributing the country’s resources unequally. The government responded by mobilizing a progovernment Arab militia called the Janjaweed. This group began a program of systemic attacks against Darfur as a whole, killing civilians and raping women by the thousands. Within three years, the conflict had killed over two hundred thousand Darfurians and displaced more than 2.5 million. As the killing escalated after 2003, a steady flow of news reports and editorials appeared in the international press calling on the UN Security Council to intervene and halt the violence. From the other direction, however, China appeared as Sudan’s chief diplomatic protector.19 From early 2004, international pressure, exerted by both the press and governments, built on the Sudanese to modify their policies. But rather than comply with the gathering outrage, Khartoum took shelter behind Chinese diplomatic protection. Each time the UN Security Council attempted to pass a resolution to act against Khartoum, the Chinese either blocked it, diluted it, or abstained. UN Security Council Resolution 1556, for example, originally demanded that the Sudanese government disarm the Janjaweed completely and allow humanitarian assistance into the Darfur region. After China threatened to use its veto, all enforcement mechanisms in the proposal were removed, rendering the resolution essentially useless.

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China and Wedding Rings

Posted by w_thames_the_d on March 31, 2011

Chinese don’t typically wear wedding rings. I don’t know if it is a cultural thing or because they were poor for so long that they have not piced up the habit. Maybe back when they had an emperor, he was the only one who could wear one …

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China and Sudan

Posted by w_thames_the_d on March 31, 2011

From The Beijing Consensus- (Stefan Halper)

Months later, the Chinese government publically condemned the indictment of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir by the International Criminal Court (ICC). Meanwhile, behind the wall of Chinese rhetoric, a team of investigators from the BBC News program Panorama released a damning report that documented persistent and recent evidence that Beijing had grossly violated the UN arms embargo against Khartoum. The Panorama team found Chinese army trucks in Darfur; Chinese A5 Fan-tan fighter jets being used to strafe civilians by Chinese-trained Sudanese pilots; and artillery pieces and anti-aircraft guns being used to destroy civilian houses, with up-to-date factory codes, model numbers, and registration numbers that led straight to Chinese factories. It comes as no surprise that the Chinese government declined to comment on the BBC’s findings.23

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