Friday, May 26, 2006

The South Korean Taste

I was browsing the New York times (kinda conservative from time to time...i know...) and apparently, Wal-mart in South Korea is gonna fold. What makes me wonder is that if this is really just a matter of adjusting company's strategies to local Korean tastes. I mean, put the issues of localization aside, could it be due to the fact that Koreans just don't like Americans and their corporations? As seen in some protests in Seoul before, the university students and workers there do target the American "imperialism" when they voice out their opinions.
And possibly due to the same issues of being able to "localize", Wal-mart also closed down like .. some 1o years ago after its try out for like 2 stores. Interestingly though, the Wal-mart in China is ever growing...well, I guess it's cause most (if not all) of what they sell are made in China anyway, so why not sell to the people who make them? That will keep the machine alive you know.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

To the Leftist’s Right

So as we have all seen now, our president, Hu Jing To, the big man of the People’s Republic of China, is a real Balla. Because when our honorable president was in the US sometime in late april/early may, he was cruising with George Bush in the White House, gave a highly acclaimed speech at Yale, and had a house party at Bill Gate’s some 2000 acres house or something. True balla fo’real. I have wanted to write about this for the longest time, almost a month now since that all went down, but I didn’t cause first, I was studying for exam and I didn’t wanna distract myself by thinking about all these – and be mad – so I didn’t write it. But then now I am in between exams so whatever. Second, I was a bit concerned that I might get myself into some shxt by talking about our president. I mean, you never who’s gonna be reading this public blog. But this is not a concern anymore ‘cause apparently, according to my real good friend in Guangzhou, this blog site is blocked in China: he simply couldn’t access it. I don’t know if this is for all the blogspot site and related IP’s, or the computer force sitting in darkrooms in China monitoring their online chat rooms just doesn’t dig the colorscheme I’ve got going on here. So whatever, they can’t really charge me for anything, for I ain’t “polluting” nobody’s mind. So why did everyone in the US like president Hu so much? And when I say everyone, I mean EVERYONE. Not just the still-junior Bush who looked confused when he shook hands with president Hu, probably because he couldn’t tell if he was Chinese or Korean by his face and last name; not just Bill Gates, the savior of the developing world after all these money he’s made; but even some students at Yale. They interviewed people’s thoughts about president Hu’s speech on Yale campus, and one Arab student, who replying to an English question with his Mandarin – just to show his love for my country – said something like “oh I like him as a president. He has a hard job, but I think he is doing a good job.” I mean, this is a Yale student who probably thinks he can go to China and work in future because he has taken Mandarin classes – and this is what gets out of Yale? The reporter asked you about his speech and what you think about the content, not him, you dumb ass. But Hu was welcomed because he was there on tour to promote China’s now-on-going 11th 5-year plan (it’s 11th… I think). The aim is pretty much about improving the economy (which implies putting control on it when out of hand) and creating a “harmonious society”. That’s why he gave a speech at Yale, because apparently telling people how great China could get is an academically interesting subject, even though the reasoning behind the success will remain undisclosed. And yah, we still have 5-year plans. It never stopped since Mao’s time. Just that these plans are much easier to get through now because 5 years can be quick like finger snap when everyone is making money – that’s why all the citizens in China’s big cities are all hip happy yuppies right? So of course president Hu can ball with Bush and Gates. We moved up you know, part of the capitalists’ free trade game now. If this world trade game is NBA, our president is getting more triple double’s than Yao Ming. But do economic success, ever growing GDP, open market and lowered tariffs justify the still dictatorship-like social engineering by the authoritarian regime of the biggest population on this planet? Do improving trade relationships with American (and other developed nations) corporations, like IBM and Microsoft and numerous others, justify the numerous amount of control – the Internet being one – over citizens’ lives? During the Cold War, China was part of the “Axis of Evil” to the US because communism is supposed to destroy the free market and the idea of “democracy” and “freedom” the Americans believed in. Just a couple of decades back, in Deng Xiao Peng’s time and even Zhang Zhi Min’s, human rights issues were still on the table with the Sino-US trade talk. Now, we are old buddies man. Even if Bush mentions one word of “rights”, it’s just to show (not that it wasn’t before). After all, money is the most powerful religion to bring an atheist and a Christian together to talk. And of course China and the US are buddies now. Bush is such a good friend that right after president Hu’s visit, he declined Taiwan’s leader Chen Shiu Pin’s request to do an air transit in the US to go to South America. He’s one of us yo. So long as China, being the biggest Socialist regime in the world, plays the game of capitalism the way the developed nations do – i.e. if we conform economically, and maybe culturally – it’s ok, even if we are still communists by title. Even if some people in China are still suppressed, threatened, tortured – or even in exile. Even if the environment is continuously being destroyed, and people are suffering from the threat of toxic materials. Even if AIDS patients are abandoned in China, because no treatment can be provided for them (for which, China could have made a difference by being a negotiator in the TRIPS of WTO’s DOHA round, because this patent protection thing is making antiviral treatment extremely expensive and hard to be carried out in China, as known from Medicine San Frontiers sources). Even if religions are still carefully controlled in China, even though they say they support the Catholic Church. (I know so, from my experience there… which I don’t wanna talk about here…) Even if farmers in rural villages are so heavily taxed that they barely got enough to eat. Even if children in villages are not receiving any education because the local officials got nothing to pay their teacher – meanwhile, you will have city parents paying 10’s of thousands a month to send their only boy to a English-based kindergarten. Even if all these educated heads in big cities of China are nothing but believers of money, and university students seem to be concerned about what kid of job in which international firm would get them the highest pay after their graduation, rather than the question “what I can do for my country”. Where has June Forth gone? I ain’t saying that we don’t need economic reform and open market, because the truth is, all these things have done good to our country and its people. Everyone wants to live well, and it’s certain that no one wants in China wants to go back to the old times of hardcore socialist days when no private property was allowed. But do all these justify a authoritarian social engineering? What’s the difference then, between the new 5-year plan and Cultural Revolution that Mao did? Is it because this would lead us to wealth, but Cultrual Revolution didn’t? There is no difference, because they are both done in one man’s word. China today is a very interesting place, because if it’s successful then you will truly be able to see what capitalism – not just the cash, but the consumer-based style of living – could do to people. As Susan Sontag’s said, capitalism is about “consuming” so one can feel “free”. But in America, when capitalism comes with freedom and liberal education, people still feel brainwashed from time to time. So think about this: what could happen to a bunch of people who are highly educated with fact-based learning tertiary education, with the idea of education = good job = social security and good living, but lack the freedom to criticize and think alternatively because freedom per se, is simply not a word in the country’s dictionary. What the fxxk could happen to these people’s mind and soul? Would they all get their minds drained out and "consumed" by the consumerism? People in Hong Kong blame mainland Chinese tourists for being obnoxious, uneducated and uncivilized. Well they are not the one to blame, the whole government is pushing all these to happen: within the last 20 years, our GDP must have gone up by ten times, if not more, but without a concrete solid base of quality (not just tertiary) education and development and numerous others things related to physical and social infrastructure, what is there for us to be civilized? I ain’t saying Chinese people don’t have culture – our culture goes way back to 5000 years. But so what? In face of this new global cultural-economic wave, we are hopelessly and helplessly losing our cultural grounds, losing our identities, losing the battle. By now, someone arguing against me would come in and say that I am just proving his point, for an authoritarian government seems to be all we need in China now to solve this problem, because they will have to resource and methods to make our society “harmonious”. Chinese government just do it right man, you better believe it. Yah right… these methods are exactly what president Hu would never tell you – not in his speech, not at the balla’s party – because communists never care about the means, they only want the ends. From Marx to Mao, it’s always been the only way: ends regardless of the means. They all tend to think that somehow along the way, the problems will be corrected. But what is prioritized and what not? We don’t know. Plus, the lack of freedom and democracy wouldn’t do anyone any good when they are living in a upcoming capitalistic environment that aims to consume their minds – or, from the point of view of our biopolitical government and its “harmony”, would it? So is this social engineering process is better than Cultural Revolution? Who knows.
And just after I finished this post, news got that the new 2006 Amnesty International Report just came out, and you can check out China here. And Hong Kong is on the watch list too, partly because during the WTO Ministerial Conference in december 05, the SAR city decided to put enough police officers -- no, sorry, well-guarded riot control unit with pepper-spray -- so the ratio of police to protesters was roughly about 5:1.
Asia's World City eh?

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Oh man... there is this dude in Hong Kong dedicated his whole apartment to Michael Lau, a world-famous toy/figrue/comic artist. Pictures of the crib designed by this #1 fan is on nitrolicious.
Michael Lau's most famous work is probably Gardener, which is from his own comic series 8-10 years ago, about skateboarders in HK... see i was a skater then and was really into those figrues too. These toys had been exhibited world-wide... proud to see someone from HK made it (and made it better than the Japanese).
Though this #1 fan got some crazy custom made furnitures and... um... bathroom, it's kinda weird that he dedicated the crib theme to not just Michael Lau's figures/work, but Mr. Lau himself ... kinda makes you wonder, you know.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Life is a constant battle

As I am now struggling for my own battle --- exams, I came across something a little more important to know than the medical/scientific facts i learnt in class. yeah we know that the genocide is still going on in Darfur, Sudan. And we also know that big nations like the US is unwilling to give a hand, and UN peace keeping is done minimally there due to the devastation. But what I didn't know is this organization for rallie, And apparently this was started by George Clooney ... (yeah he is a cool leftist in the hollywood now, after the movies he produced.... or rather, just cool not to be a republican if you are in the US.) Something else related to Africa is about a water-project in Mozambique that I heard of today, which apparently will be an ecological disaster. Things like this remind me of the book by Nareen Hertz called I.O.U., in which she argues how detb and funds from IMF and World Bank have become a new currency for the developed nations to make money. In fact, when most of the developing (or as WTO now put it, Least Developed Countries) nations ask for money, they have stipulations: open up market, ease the trade barriers and tariffs, commit to an interest that the country themselves cannot even pay up within the time the current president is in the house. So a lot of these desparate nations then do anything they could to make money, then start to forget about the basic infrastructure, or worse, their basic production/industry and natural resources, and end up ruining the "motherland", which is arguably the continent with the richest resources. Debt indeed, is a new form of exploitation and colonization. Indeed, when I was reading the book I almost gave up reading halfway 'cause some of the things said are so disgustingly depressing. Like how some Wall Street traders would "trade" some countries "debt": in other words, all those debts of these countries, which include all nations between Uganda and Peru, were put on market as bonds so buyers can buy them like stocks, all around the world. This was one way that some developing countries make a bit more money...or for most of the time, forced to do so cause of the economic pressure. It's because of this kinda shit that we saw the crying mothers in Italy sometime ago in late 90's after they had known that all their pension were gone after being put on the Argentinian debt bonds, 'cause Argentina's then-new-leader refused to pay up. Or the East Asian Crisis in 1997, when this dude named Soros and others decided to "attack" our asian currency, and screwed us all up over here. That impact was just as damaging to Indonesia as the Tsunami. Yeah you gotta wonder what those traders in their cubicles were doing when these things happened. Punk ass capitalists. It's disgusting.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Something nice this week is that i finally got my ears on the 3rd Kobayashi album, straight up form Montreal. The Jazz grooves over the electro-beats are gonna be the only force that carries me through my upcoming two weeks of constant brain-stuffing. I would write about this album and my love for this Kobayashi sounds if I have time...just not now.... (i got a lot of things to write about when I finish exam, don't I). You know I would lend it to anyone who is interested, cause their sounds are just better be heard than said. (But if you are in Canada, just go get it. Don't be cheap on this one.) Peace out. Phil