bridge blogger browsing by tag


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 »

My Handshakes, I like them Double

Thursday, February 19th, 2009

Finally, we have a new blogger in the community who has moved all the way to South America to bridge-blog about the Chinese expansion there and other interesting stuff.

Tom Pellman is Double Handshake. He was an editor in a well known economics magazine in Shanghai, he is almost trilingual in Chinese and he is now in Peru to see that Latin America’s largest population of Chinese are enjoying their Pisco.

Have you noticed that, in China, most of the people you hear speaking Spanish are not European, but overwhelmingly Latin American? Did you ever wonder why so many Chinese are flocking to the Salsa Dancing schools, and why in Shanghai there is a latin night scene more active than the one in Barcelona, for example?

Well, in some places, language is not the only means of communication. And if you want to smell the Juan Valdes, you better keep and eye on these two continents, because things are moving fast under our very noses.

Double Handshakes.

Chinese FDI in Barcelona. This is the end.

Saturday, February 14th, 2009

I have a bunch of friends back in Spain who are always quick to send me the juiciest China news coming up over there, and to supervise that I’m fulfilling my duties as a bridge blogger.

This time I have received a couple of links from Spanish newspapers El Pais and El Mundo where there is evidence of at least two different Chinese industries that continue their cheerful expansion to the West in spite of the World Crisis: These are the industries of Shady Barber Shops and Mahjong Gambling Dens. Fourteen of them have been closed down in a recent police raid in Barcelona.

These are the two articles, one very recent, one from last year:

In recent months local residents of the districts of Eixample, Sants-Montjuïc, Gràcia, Horta-Guinardó and Sant Martí, had brought to the police their suspicions that many hairdressers opened recently by Chinese citizens were something more than to cut and dye hair.

Yes, how perspicacious. I never knew of these things  during the three years I lived in Barcelona. For linguistic reasons I had quite a few friends in the Chinese migrant community over there and I frequented the Chinese areas of the city. As far as I know these FDIs must be very recent.

Anyway, so much for the Chinese hairdressers’ expansion. Although gambling and prostitution are not among the Rights that this blogs stands for,  I can’t help feeling a bit sorry for those Chinese that see their  business seized by the police. Something must have gone wrong with their otherwise perfectly profitable business model. Perhaps they didn’t remember to “glocalize instead of globalize”. Perhaps the local police superintendent is not keen on Asian chicks, or maybe they chose the wrong hand to oil. Who knows.

The New Iceland?

Since we are at it, and on a completely different subject, check out below this scary chart of Spanish unemployment that newspaper El Correo published this week. Two little thoughts:

First, I am seriously afraid that Spain is going to turn into the next Iceland. The growth of these last years was so based on the real estate bubble that troubles could be smelled all the way from China. Am I going to turn into a poor immigrant in Shanghai working my ass off to send money back to homecountry? It would be an interesting role reversal, after all the Chinese I met doing exactly that in Barcelona. Oh well, it was  inevitable at some point, I guess, I just never imagined it could come so soon.

Second, as an engineer I note again how numbers and charts are powerful tools of manipulation. The chart below  goes so high on the Y axis that it almost needs logarithmic scales to fit in the paper. A mere problem of the units chosen, of course… or of the number of copies the newspaper wishes to sell.

Inversely, it would be very easy to make this graph look flatter with a more harmonious  objective in mind… CCTV, take note, you might consider hiring a specialist like me to re-engineer your charts and numbers for harmonious results. But then, what do they care, they simply would not publish the negative charts.

(yes, it is CCTVbashing week this week)


Chinglish is dead, long live Spanish?

Monday, December 8th, 2008

One more from the Bridge Blogger:

Lately I have received by email these pictures that are widely circulating on the Spanish speaking internet. They apparently originated in Colombia, so they are referred by some as Colombianadas.

Colombianadas are the Latin American equivalent of Chinglish: signs and other pieces of writing with a twist of unintended humour. What makes Colombianadas even more amazing is that they are written by people using their own mother tongue!

Chinese toilet keepers and sign translators: you better get moving fast,  watch more Marx brothers movies or revert to using older dictionaries. A whole new continent of talent is on the rise, and your monopoly of world sign humour is going to be seriously challenged.

Someone needs to open a website urgently to collect these gems:

Sexshop and Seafood / Ladies with O please do not use swimming pool / No urinating, fine: machete/ Cold ice available / We paint houses, home delivery service/ Carrefour Supermarket

The quiet rise of China News

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008

These last years we’ve seen many of the big newspapers scanning and digitizing their historic archives, and sometimes even allowing full access to non-subscriptors. Such is the case of the NYT, Atlantic Monthly, Guardian and many others. These archives constitute great tools for research, and provide irresistible eye candy for history nerds like Uln.

But thanks to Spanish blog Chinochano I found yesterday the new archives of La Vanguardia, the newspaper that was my daily read during my 3 years in Barcelona. The difference with other archives is that the interface looks much better, it shows the scanned articles, AND it comes with a cool graph showing the incidence of the search word over the years since 1881. This is in itself a fantastic tool for bloggy research:

The search for “China” gives the following graph:

Number of entries in paper issues containing "China"

Here we can see the rise of China in the European press. It is interesting to see the sudden lack of interest in some periods, for example when Hitler was invading Poland, or when the dotcoms crisis set all the eyes looking to Silicon Valley around 2000. The sudden peaks also make for a good guessing game. Especially interesting to see is the sharp rise from 2000 to 2008, which matches the observations of many China analysts, like Mark Leonard.

2008 is still not over but I’m betting it will beat 2007 by a fair stretch.

Re La Vanguardia: It is a mainstream catalan newspaper that has in my opinion the best Foreign Affairs section in Spain. If you speak Spanish don’t miss “Diario de Pekin”, the blog of La Vanguardia correspondent Rafael Poch in China. His articles are entertaining and he has an original point of view on Chinese affairs. Unfortunately Rafael is leaving China now after 6 years so we’ll have to wait and see if he gets a worthy successor.

PS: Hey, now I have really earned the title of BRIDGE blogger !