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Normal Service Resumed

Sunday, July 5th, 2009

After a terrible weekend in front of the computer I have managed to re-open my site on a new URL. I am fed up of the internet right now and I am going out to enjoy the Shanghai Sun for a few hours.

I will try not to write more about this for a while, one never knows who is watching, and I don’t want to sound like I am rubbing it in. For those of you whose sites have the same kind of problems send me private message, I might have some useful tips.

Actually, the general idea is very simple. There is not such a thing as internet censorship, it is just a well-known bug on the internet that apparently trips on some keywords and then makes some URLs and some IP addresses inaccesible…

All very annoying, these internet bugs! ehzrg7f6xk

UPDATE: This afternoon/evening I still had an intermittent block, but I have finally figured it out. Some of the elements in my blog were still pointing to the old /eng/ directory, and for some reason my Regex search was unable to find them. Thanks to my friend and IT genius Giom I have found a firefox add-on to see the traffic from my site, and corrected all the references. Blog should be completely “debugged” now.


Monday, June 29th, 2009


So guess what now:  I am blocked.

I am banned, prohibited, harmonized, river-crabbed. Censored, in short, by the Great FireWall of China. If you are reading my blog now and have not noticed anything strange, it is because either:

1- You are reading the blog from outside China and therefore you are not going through the GFW (Chinayouren is hosted outside China, you are on the same side of the Wall). Or else,  2- You are reading this from mainland China and you are using some means to connect anonymously and pass through the wall. Most probably a web proxy or  VPN, which is what I am using now. Click to continue »

The Goose is Hot

Friday, May 22nd, 2009

The mysterious ways of computer science.

Today for example, I completely panicked when I stumbled into one of the bugs of wordpress. For some reason, when you add a “click to read more” tag next to a section in bold, it goes and turns the whole blog to bold, including sidebar, titles and header. So yes, I think I have gone bold for a few hours,  but it was not intended. I hope I didn’t hurt any feelings.

The Goose Huggers

But this bolding effect is nothing compared to the vicious attack that this blog is suffering from an international band of Goose Huggers. 





I have been wondering for a while what is going on with my Goose post. It is attracting more clicking action than anything else around here, and by now it has become already the most popular of my posts. 

Click to continue »

Crisis seen from the Sinosphere (II)

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

From the post left unfinished last week. Some of the main arguments read (or heard) in China Crisis discussions:

The Time

Economies don’t grow indefinitely.  Low cycles follow high cycles and after 30 years it is about time. China cannot break the laws of economics, so the recession must necessarily come in the next X years. The country hasn’t prepared itself politically and psicologically to face this period. In the end, we are sure to have trouble.

Of course, this argument is of little value without the X, and many proponents of a time limit have failed in the past. This is the field of technical analysts and other mystical thinkers. Mythology also plays a role:  In Chinese history, cataclysms mark the end of a cycle. An earthquake preceded this crisis, and a solar eclipse is coming in July, the dynasty has lost its virtue. These arguments tend to work better with a bit of hindsight.

The Markets

The World’s economies are interdependent today. China’s economy is largely dependent on exports and FDI. The weight of these external factors in China’s growth has been much discussed, but regardless of the exact numbers, few doubt that it is a significant motor of the economy. External motors failing, China turns to internal ones: investment and consumption. Today, strong public investment, mostly in infrastructure and energy, is making up for the loss. Click to continue »

The Crisis seen from the Sinosphere

Friday, May 8th, 2009

It’s been half a year since the first announcement of the Chinese stimulus package, and the time has come to look back and ask ourselves: how is the Crisis doing to-day? Well, we don’t need to surf very far to find some hints. Judging by the attention she gets  in the media, the Crisis is still in tip top form, barely upstaged by a drove of sneezing pigs, and plotting her next move in the People’s Republic.

And in the meantime, we have read so much about her that the debate gets old, the initial guessing game we merrily joined some months ago giving way to a phase of weary expectation.

So, finally, is there going to be trouble in China or not - Will the Wall Fall? I have my own opinions about this, but I’ll keep them clear off this post. Instead, I want to  summarize some ideas appeared in the sinosphere, list the main arguments from each side, and let the reader choose which make sense.  Luckily, this is the kind of discussion where the same arguments are fluently used to support all views, so the list can be made manageable.

But first of all, let’s examine the parties. In this business of Chinese Crisis Watching there are 3 main schools of thought,  which can be roughly classified as follows:

A. The Optimistic Executives:  Old China hands with long memories, bullish consultants with short ones. Optimistic people with or without a stake in the optimism of their clients. Just to list some recent ones.

B. The Academics of Doom:  Everybody knows the highest fulfilment of a dismal scientist is to announce doom and then have doom come. On the other hand, there might be something in what they say…  some examples.

C. The Rosy Men of the Republic: This 3rd group is endemic to China. It consists of a set of highly prepared bureaucrats who resolutely believe in the Feelings of the Motherland, in Santa Claus and in the Theory of Scientific Development. You can see here some of their latest achievements.

The English-speaking sinosphere is a little world, and we rarely see the big names that populate other provinces of the internet. But we do have a great advantage: debate here is relatively free from partisan politics.  There is not much in the way of left-wing China blogs, for instance, and American republicans don’t go about throwing  green tea parties just because grandpa Wen announced a healthcare plan. 

In fact, the left and the right in China are conveniently concealed behind the red walls of Zhongnanhai. There are few leaks, and the real data which analysts use is pretty much available to anyone with an internet connection and some notions of mandarin. This is a level field where you can browse around, draw your own conclusions, and enjoy your tea leave reading with Armstrong’s great cover of  ”La vie en rosy“.

But enough if the rosy chit-chat. Here’s the points.

Han Han and the post-80s

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009


Chinese ultra-blogger Han Han is starting a magazine. He announced it before on his blog, and his last post is already giving the details to send in article drafts and job applications. I learned this last night from my friend 2Ting, who was eagerly preparing her CV and intro letter. The literati of the post-80s are very excited, it appears.

Han’s magazine, which still doesn’t have a name to avoid imitations, is presented in this blog post. A very Chinese and a very  “hanhan” announcement, interesting for several reasons. But before I speak of it let me give some background on Han Han. I’ve been planning to write about him for ages, and never found the time until today.

The man

Han Han is 2Ting’s idol. He is also the idol of thousands of others post-80s Chinese, and he has become - in spite of himself-  a symbol of this often caricatured generation. His bio is interesting: while attending middle school he won a first prize in a famous literary festival, then he dropped out of high school and started writing  popular novels and driving race cars. By now he has become one of the best selling authors in China, and, if I got my stats right*, the biggest blogger in the World. Click to continue »

The cat got my blog!

Friday, April 24th, 2009

Oh dear. This is a disaster. I haven’t written anything for a month!

Now is when I have to come up with some good excuse.  Like:  Spring has finally come to China; I have been travelling a bit in the dusty real-sphere of Shanxi; a band of homeland friends cheerfully invaded Shanghai, bringing with them some good Rioja wine.

The cat got my blog, what.

Of course, the real blogging spirit never dies. The blogger mind is a highly evolved mechanism, constantly absorbing stimuli from the environment and processing them into hot controversy.  When not at the computer, he will continue to blog the pub over the old pint of Tiger, moderating the comments of his table-mates whom he suddenly addresses as “subscribers”…   This behaviour led to some critical situations, and soon several of my friends were inviting me to kindly  get back online. At my earliest convenience.

And now that I’m back, the creepy thought:  what has China been up to all this time? 

Be advised, reader, that I haven’t opened a newspaper for the last 3 weeks. This is more than enough for a  fast country like China to change itself beyond recognition. For all I know, we are still in a socialist system with Chinese characteristics, governed by a mysterious CPC oligarchy, still doing quite OK  in a World crisis that somebody else started, and glad to point this out at every possible occasion. God, last time I checked we were asking the US to dump the dollar and start using some World wide currency. Like in Star Trek!

I hope I can get back in the loop over the weekend, and normal service will resume promptly.  Thanks for sticking around.

NPC and the internet Thunders: Browsing Tour

Wednesday, March 11th, 2009

fireshot-capture-29-e4b8ade59bbde694bfe5ba9ce7bd91-www_gov_cn_zlftThere was some buzz last week on the Chinese internet about this supposedly new concept of  Online Democracy. The excitement started with the weird “elude the cat” story, and then continued when Premier Wen JiaBao chatted online with “internet friends” .  David Bandurski of the China Media Project, who has been watching these things for a long time, was rather sceptical, although  some interesting ideas appeared in his comments.

I go back to this because I am surprised there hasn’t been much said about the internet chats that for the first time have been organized with legislators participating in the NPC-CPCC Annual Sessions. Where has all this gone?  Not even the Chinese language internet seems to be very interested, judging by the search 网络民主.  It is obvious that without a strong push of the propaganda machinery the “internet friends” don’tpay much attention to these initiatives.

And why didn’t the State Media push it this time? Perhaps they are bored of it already, or perhaps  not everyone was very hot for the idea of “online democracy”. For example,  NPC chairman Wu Bangguo, one of the strong men in the politburo standing committee, who made these encouraging statements yesterday.

In the end, it is not so much about democracy (that’s too big a word for the NPC), but more about trying to give it some sort of role in participatory politics that would allow the legislators to take into account at least some requests of the public. The problem is, this year again, the NPC has given an image of being just a big annoying “Carnival”,  where the guest’s only role was to clap at the words of Mr. Wu.

Did I say the only role? No wait, the deputies  also have the duty of making proposals, and some of them must be pretty talented, judging by their phrases “amazing like thunder”.

ULN takes you for a browse

But follow me for a minute as I browse the Chinese internets, see what interesting things we can find on this subject. A good place to start is izaobao, with their daily roundup of bloggy stories: Click to continue »