Brother Shao, We're No Longer Friends!

The soccer gods must have placed a curse over China, the country (and the team), yesterday as both games played here resulted in 0-0 goalless draws, but at least in China's case (I didn't see the 2 Koreas face off), it was far from boring. Australia definitely failed to answer a lot of the prematch questions about their side and China took things to the Aussies, showing a good deal of fight.

China's lineup was as expected, though Sun Jihai started instead of Shao Jiayi and the youngster Jiang Ning got a runout over Wang Dong. The first half was full of bluffed chances by China, namely one by Zheng Zhi and two horrible misses by Zhu Ting toward the end of the half, while the Aussies had some chances of their own, though Zong Lei came up with some great saves.

The second half was where things really changed. I think the Aussies failure to get on the board and China's near misses in the last 5 minutes of the first half helped the Chinese believe that this game was definitely winnable for them. They had some great chances through Zhu and Han Peng, but again misses and saves kept them off the scoreboard. In the closing minutes of the match, China was given a penalty when the Aussie keeper brought down Qu Bo and Shao Jiayi, who is typically spot on for China stepped up, only to have the penalty saved. A flurry of action in the last few minutes, chances for both teams, but all for nought, as the final whistle was blown on the 0-0 draw.

If you told me beforehand China would get a point out of the match, I'd be happy, but being so close to 3 points in the last minutes and ending up with 1 is a disappointment. If China fails to qualify, many may look back at Shao's penalty as the difference. As it stands, it is the difference between China topping the group and being in their current position, 3rd. The Aussies played very physically and the refs weren't blowing the whistle, but China didn't back down, they can be proud of the result, but they still have to be kicking themselves.

For the Aussies, away draws aren't a bad thing, but most Aussie fans expected a clear victory in this one. Nothing has been said yet, but one wonders how much the impact of the altitude and the daytime start impacted their side as they looked like the lesser side for much of the match and failed to attack with regularity. Of course, the injuries they were dealing with was an important factor as well.

This really is the group of death, Qatar was able to score a home victory over Iraq, defeating them 2-0 and showing they aren't going to be pushovers in this group. Chinese coach Petrovic has made some interesting squad selections, including bringing up Jiang Ning and his consistent use of older players like Qu Bo and Xiao Zhanbo who haven't featured in the national team for many years. China's next test will be in Qatar on June 2nd and while its sure to be a fight, a win will be important for keeping China's dreams of South Africa alive.


Eyes of the Soccer World Are on China

Tonight, China hosts 2 very important World Cup Qualifying matches, the most interesting of which doesn't even feature the host country. Because North Korea refuses to display the South Korean flag and play its anthem, FIFA has moved their match from Pyongyang to Shanghai and whenever those two hook up, its bound to be a grudge match.

While that match deserves attention, Asian soccer fans will be focused on Kunming, where China and Australia will do battle. China has always considered itself one of the better teams in Asia, maybe just below the likes of Japan, Korea, and Iran, however their results haven't always backed that up. Australia (strangely) joined the Asian region hoping for an easier path to the World Cup and automatically deserved adding to the list of Asian powers, yet the Asian Cup provided a rude awakening that Asia wouldn't be a cake walk for them.

Both teams have something to prove and both teams failed miserably in their prep for this match, Australia with a goalless draw against Singapore and China with a 3-3 draw against Thailand. Australia seems to struggle getting up for some matches, though they were able to cruise through their first qualifying match against Qatar, while China struggled to score a late goal to manage a draw on Spring Festival eve against Iraq.

Lucas Neil has chosen to whine, "It's going to be a real challenge," West Ham defender Lucas Neill told Australian media. "Altitude, China away. Probably a dodgy hotel, dodgy food, a dodgy ground — they'll try and do everything they can to test our character" and Australian coach Pim Verbeek tried to take the pressure off his side, saying this game was far more important to China. How China could be eliminated after only playing 2 of 8 matches and with 2 teams going through is anyone's guess.

It's not realistic to expect a win, but the Aussies are missing some key players and it has yet to be seen how mentally prepared they are for this one. While the optimist in me thinks China could pull out a victory, especially if the Aussies aren't up for this one, I really think (or hope) we're looking at a 1-1 draw with the Aussies being unprepared and effected by Kunming's altitude while the Chinese finally come out ready to play. There's a lot of experience in China's lineup and hopefully they can figure a way to get a result.

Projected lineup (as per sina), with 3 changes from the Iraq match and it appears China will use a 4-4-1-1:
Zong Lei
Sun Xiang---Li Weifeng---Feng Xiaoting---Zhang Shuai
Shao Jiayi---Zhou Haibin---Wang Dong---Zhu Ting
Zheng Zhi
Han Peng


Once Again Big Brands Look to China Style

For sneakerheads out there and those interested in the “bigger picture”. Complex carried an interesting entry about Nike’s usage of “Chinese designs”, especially in the leadup to the Olympics. As an example, it points out a limited edition version of Jordan 1’s that only dropped in China and also the recent launch of “a line of sportswear carrying a Chinese slogan that translates to ‘arise and advance’”. Along with that line, Nike has also released the "1984 line" which honors Chinese Olympic triumphs in LA. From what I’ve heard, there will be additional launches focuses on other Olympics as we get closer to this year's Games.

The line I liked the most was that “So far it seems, Nike’s one-upping the three-stripes in quantity, but look for Adidas to push hard on Chinese-heavy apparel as the Olympics draws closer.” Adidas has an obvious advantage to begin with in that they’re the official Olympics sponsor and will be outfitting the Chinese squad (as well as all volunteers), but the Nike line is less athletic based and more streetwear. Of course, Adidas learned a lesson some foreign classmates learned back when I was at Fudan, never put anything on the Chinese flag, which has bogged down their streetwear release and created a controversy before it even dropped on the mainland. The WSJ article (that spurred Complex's entry) mentions that as well as Adidas' collection which contain "elements such as clouds, dragons, fans and bright colors evoke tradition and allow young Chinese to express their identity" although all those items carry the Beijing Olympics logo.

Then again, Nike had its own problems with China during Lebron commercial-gate, so a lesson for all, be very careful how you choose to incorporate “Chinese design” in your products (though why doesn’t this effect Shanghai Tang and its $50 Mao tshirts? Is it because no Chinese would be caught dead in them?), especially when dealing with things that have deep historical significance. For those who are just interested in fashion, make sure to check out larger Nike shops in China to get your hands on the collection.


Step 1: Aim Gun At Foot, Step 2: Pull Trigger...

Why, why, why? Chinese government, Xinhua, why do you do this to me? I do my best to try and defend you logically against all comers and then you do something, some idiotic PR mistake, that is just shooting yourself in the foot and making things next to impossible for me.

So here we go, I come into the office and see the headline: International Community Supports China's Handling of Lhasa Riots. Okay, I'm interested, but I see its from Xinhua, oh well, I'll read it anyways, maybe some foreign leaders have started thinking logically about the situation in Tibet.

Great, leaders are coming to their senses, but who are they? The leaders (or foreign ministers) of Madagascar, Antigua and Barbuda, and Burundi top the list. Nope, that's not a list of major world powers or influence makers, unfortunately. Oh yes, most of all, China has the strong support of, sound the trumpets, the Sudan, read on:
A spokesman for the Sudanese Foreign Ministry said that to maintain social
stability and safety, any country is obliged to respond when overseas forces
instigate domestic separatists to resort to violence.
Why? Why does Xinhua want to publish this tosh, especially in English? Don't they know that people who read this, even their supporters, are simply going to laugh at them? Don't they know what the world thinks about Sudan? Do they just not care?

(Almost) Definitive Beijing Shopping Guide

So with the big show about to begin, let's go over one of Beijing's greatest pleasures, the shopping...

Wangfujing - This has long been a shopping street in Beijing, dating back before there were such things as malls, but now, its bookended with the huge Dongfang Plaza at one end and the almost as large XinDongAn (or APM) at the other. In between are a bunch of Chinese brands, official Olympics souvenir stores (including the Flagship store), and foreign sportswear brands. It's a must see for any tourists and is sure to be hopping nightly during the Olympics.

Xidan - It often gets compared to Tokyo's Shibuya, but its nowhere near as stylish, however it is where Chinese teens while away the weekend hours and plop down their (parent's) cash. My love of Joy City has been well documented, but there is also Time Square and the oldy but goody Zhong You. Also Xidan Shopping Center and 77th Street are good for a younger, more Korean/Chinese version of Silk Alley. There will also be large screens set up as the plaza in front of Zhong You has been designated an Olympic Culture Square, a site for taking in all the festivities.

Sanlitun - Surprising that this would be on a list of shopping destinations, but in a small area there is Yashow (more on this later), the newly opened up Villages of Sanlitun with a lot of mid-priced foreign brands and the huge Adidas store, and then the interesting 3.3 and Nali. The last two offer high quality copies of very hip, trendy clothing, but the prices aren't exactly cheap (by Chinese standards at least.

Silk Alley/Hongqiao/Yashow - These are all pretty much 1 place in that they all sell the exact same stuff for the same price, so a trip to one of them is enough. They all sell the same fake everything (shoes, clothing, bags, electronics, you name it), though while their electronics are all brand new (find fakes of the latest iPods and iPhones), the majority of the clothing and bag designs at these places hasn't changed in 10 years. Prices are cheap and of course, everything is to be bargained for, but buyer beware, almost everything you buy at these markets IS NOT REAL and depending on your luck can last anywhere from a week to 5 years.

High End Shopping - Why are you shopping for high end things anyways? If you are from the US or Europe, you'll be met by shockingly high prices for designer labels as there is up to a 30% import tax on a lot of luxury items. However, if you find that special someone during the Games and want to impress, the best choices are the new Central China Mall (Hua Mao) at Da Wang Lu; Guo Mao; and Season's Place (with mainland China's only Lane Crawford), just north of the Fuxingmen subway station (while you're over there, check out Parksons as well).

Nanluoguxiang - This popular alley has gotten a lot of (deserved) press over the past few years with a number of great bars, restaurants, and interesting boutiques. Shops that are particularly worth checking out are Plastered and NLGX for interesting, very Beijing tshirts and Woo, for beautiful cashmere scarves and shawls. Also, while I'm not a fan of the Grifted designs, many are.

The Place/Solano - The Place is a very nice, new mall located a little north of Silk Alley and it carries a lot of mid range Western brands, including Beijing's largest Zara, and an NBA Store. It is serving as an Olympics Culture Square, so expect crowds, and hopefully its mega overhead screen will be showing Olympic events. Solano is an even newer mall north of Chaoyang Park's West Gate (not far from the beach volleyball entrance and that area's Culture Square) and carries a lot of the same brands as The Place, but in a setting seemingly straight out of California.

One store that may be of particular interest to foreign shoppers is "Hotwind". They have outlets around the city and sell a wide variety of men's and women's clothes that carry the labels of popular western brands that are all made in China but end up there instead of outlets. Expect to brands like Hilfiger, Paul Smith, Abercrombie, Hollister, Zara, and Polo to name a few, all in much better shape and quality than what you'd find at Silk Alley. There's no bargaining here, but the prices are pretty good. Whether or not the items are real or not, I leave that for you to decide.

Some other great options are Panjiayuan for antiques and other knicknacks as well as Liulichang for a similar selection of merchandise as well as some local art. Many foreigners love to have tailored clothes made while in Beijing, but don't go bragging too much about that RMB800 suit that you got made overnight for you, as the old saying "you get what you pay for" holds true. I would avoid these cheaper tailors, but if you insist, make sure you are clear about your design and try to bring pictures, as this will help guarantee you get exactly what you want.

Most of all, I want to wish all you shoppers a great time and lots of great buys during your time in Beijing.


Now Serving: AIDS Kebabs?

I love Beijing's yang rou chuanr (ie lamb kebabs) and have had many memorable drink filled evenings in which they've played a major role (as Common said "drunk nights get remembered more than sober ones"). It is almost necessary dining after a night at one of Gongti's clubs or a Houhai bar.

Yangrou chuanr have sort of been adopted as a Beijing food (alongside jianbing and kungpao chicken) like curries have become a part of British cuisine. They are found all over the city and despite foreigners often denouncing them as "hepatitis on a stick", other than one incident, in 15 years of eating them, I've yet to get sick. Its the food that when Beijingers leave the city, especially to go overseas, they miss the most. The kebabs are great as a quick snack, an impromptu sandwich when put between some naan or shaobing, or as the best accompaniment to beer and good conversation.

However, as of late, fears have been spreading due to a text message and a nationwide rumor that some Xinjiang terrorists have been combining AIDS blood with yangrou chuanr and serving them to unsuspecting people around the nation. Other than Liuzhou Laowai's entry, this has gotten little play in the english China blogsphere (I guess people are sort of concerned with something else), though Chinese bbs' are going crazy. The only serious news article I could find after a very quick search was this one, debunking the story, from a paper in Fuyang, though Beijing Evening News carried an article in its paper the other night.

There are two things at play here, one is China's extremely limited knowledge of AIDS (hell, a few years ago a rumor was spread that eating watermelon could lead to AIDS) and realistic fear of food safety (even before the cardboard baozi scandal, Chinese (especially older people) regularly would comment about the dangers of dining at smaller establishments).

Anyways, this rumor has been debunked, so go out and enjoy yourselves tonight and have plenty of yangrou chuanr!

UPDATE: Having just read Shanghaiist's story on the proposed information security law currently being discussed, one wonders if these rumors, which typically spread through sms, will be a thing of the past.

note: while I love yangrou chuanr, I regret the name has been spoiled by the infamous troll...

Crime in China (alternative title I Call Bullshit!)

Slate used to run a great series entitled the "bogus trend story of the week", and this entry will be in that vain. Looked at in a different way, this could be viewed as classic China-bashing and piling on, as it came out on Monday when China was definitely in the news, but for something a little more important and even more negative.

The title of the story says it all, Foreigners Grapple With Crime in China. Events in Xian a few weeks ago weren't exactly positive, but circumstances were brought to a quick ending with no injury to the foreigners involved. The article leads with that incident, certainly a scary situation, but an incredibly unusual one.

It then goes on to state: "But anecdotal evidence suggests foreigners are increasingly targeted, as a booming economy erodes old taboos and some Chinese grow bolder." It's always wonderful to be able to hide behind "anecdotal" evidence, but because its only anecdotal, its impossible to use to establish a trend.

Go on you say? The author follows with some of that "anecdotal" evidence: "In cosmopolitan Shanghai in recent months, a foreigner had a knife put to his throat and his money taken. Another was tricked into paying up to $1,000 for a $7 taxi ride. Four thugs surrounded an English boxing star, Ricky Hatton, and stole his $8,000 Rolex." The knife incident in Shanghai can be counted, but the guy who was "tricked", I simply can't understand and rarely have sympathy for and while its a scam and embarrassing for China, whether its criminal is another matters. With all the play that has been given to the 2 recent scam incidents on Nanjing Rd, I'm really shocked that there has been no coverage anywhere else of this $1,000 for a $7 taxi ride.

As for the Hatton incident, it has me really shocked that 4 thieves could overwhelm a world champion boxer, I could see it being possible after he was beaten to a pulp by Money May, but this wasn't the case. In fact, while a search of English sources turns up no hits other than the author's story, Chinese sources (and they are only bbs') put the event in August 2006. Since when is almost 2 years ago "recent months"? I wonder how "recent" the other 2 incidents were.

The author follows all that fear mongering up with "Shanghai and Beijing are still safer than most foreign cities of their size. Punishments for crimes against foreigners are heavier, police-linked neighborhood watch groups are highly vigilant, and Chinese can't own guns." Probably the first logical thing she wrote in the article. If they are so safe, why are foreigners "grappling" with crime (sorry, I linked to the IHT version which uses a better headline, but I used the AP headline, the AP version (headline is the only difference) can be found here)?

Despite how safe these cities are, probably far safer than any major city in the US, the writer still claims that "The U.S. government now warns Americans against muggings, beatings and even carjackings, especially in the nightlife and shopping districts of large cities." Umm, they do? Where? A quick look through the State Department website shows no travel warnings or alerts for China in the past 6 months, with the glaring exception of the one issued for that certain region in western China, though that was issued 2 days before the article came out and has nothing to do with crime.

I'm not going to go through the rest of the article as it is just more babble and "anecdotal" evidence, but finally, mercifully the article comes to a conclusion with:

Consulates warn people to beware of Chinese who invite foreigners to a teahouse,
ostensibly to practice their English, then present them with a huge bill and
sometimes threaten violence.

Such crimes are a byproduct of a freewheeling economy and more mobile society. "The ability of control in China now is a lot less than it was," Broadfoot said.

But he added, "Gee, on the security side, I'd rather have the Olympics in Beijing than in L.A. Though both cities will get you with pollution."

Ahh, the teahouse scam which has been around since foreigners have been coming to China. I think Marco Polo fell for one of those even, but since they've been around for so long, it's also virtually impossible to come to China without knowing to be careful of people who come up to you at tourist spots speaking English and claiming to be "art students." Finally, the conclusion says it all, Chinese cities are some of the safest in the world for foreigners and while crime exists, what's the point of this story, coming over a week after the Xian incident, the only recent newsworthy China foreigner crime story? I hate being a conspiracy theorist, but this looks to be another example of kicking China when its down. The story is already cold, why couldn't it have waited another week? As for a "rising trend"? Yeah, right...

Scary Stat of the Day or Why the Paralympics Needs to Be the Disabled's "Coming Out" in China 2

Per Xinhua, "43.29 percent of disabled people aged above 15 are illiterate, well above the national average of 6.27 percent for the same age bracket."


On the Subway 1: Not Actually On the Subway

Strange things happen on the Beijing subway, I guess that's true of the subway anywhere in the world, but it just feels especially true in the strange cultural melting pot that is Beijing. It seems like everyone else in the city, every morning I wake up and get on the subway to go to work. Obviously during "rush hour" it goes without saying that the subway would be packed, but packed doesn't come close to defining the situation on a typical morning between 7 and 9 am on Line 1. It's a nightmare, but its a nightmare that gets me from my home to work in 15 minutes from the time I get on the subway to the time I get into my office, not bad for 2 kuai.

This isn't a post about being an old China hand or more acclimated or anything like that, but I'm working for a Chinese firm and not a foreign one and, more than anything, I have to deal with Chinese relatives and therefore, despite the low price of RMB2 for the subway, they often ask why I don't take the bus for RMB0.40. Granted, RMB2 is less than US$0.30, but RMB0.40 is basically a nickle, plus taking the subway I'd spend in a day what it would cost me to take the subway the entire week.

My reasons for not taking the bus were the crowds and the time it would take, especially considering my journey would be down Chang'an Rd and then Jianguomen Wai. I finally got up at an hour early enough that I had enough time to take the bus so I tried it, well, the crowds are far less than what you'd see on the subway and it only took an extra 5 minutes.

Wow, I have a few more "On the Subway" posts that I want to write, but this series could die pretty soon.

Cultural Differences or Olympic Nightmares

With everything that went on over the weekend, it seems China has some bigger fish to fry than worrying about what happened at a baseball game, but there are some definite concerns that seem to be coming forth from the preseason game between the Dodgers and the Padres at Beijing's Wukesong Stadium this past weekend.

Those in attendance were a bit surprised by the way security handled things and there were major complaints from Korean player Chan Ho Park, who wasn't allowed to sign autographs for fans, some who even came from Korea to see him play. This isn't necessarily due to heavy handed security, though in some case it might be, but just that Chinese don't really "get" the idea of autographs. Whenever sports stars come to China, security is extremely tight and, to some, possibly excessive. I still remember in 2003 when Real Madrid came to Beijing (Beckham's first game for them). The members of the Chinese squad that was to face them walked around the Beijing Hotel lobby barely recognized. When Real Madrid's bus pulled up though, police came out from every possible direction to surround the bus and keep fans back.

The Chinese fear an embarrassing failure in security when foreign celebrities come to China, so they go over the top. Those who have been in China for awhile and have attended such events understand this, those that haven't may have a harder time comprehending. Thus, there is a very critical article in the LA Times today talking about China's "security issues".

First, the author who most likely was in China for the first time and didn't get to see much of the city refers to "spending the last several days in high-security Beijing" and "walk around Beijing, a place teeming now with police and soldiers." The author probably didn't realize the national government was holding very "important" meetings and that security is very high during these meetings. One would hope Beijing doesn't present such an open show of security during the Olympics, but only time will tell.

He also doesn't understand the "Chinese way" that I talk about above and so is intimidated when: "the "hidden" cameras, the stern-faced police, soldiers and security guards that seemed to be everywhere. By my count, 67 of them stood outside the Dodgers' clubhouse after the game Sunday." The "hidden" cameras thing is what gets me, cameras in China are big and impossible to miss, not like the growing number of cameras in the US or those in the UK, which has the most watched population in the world.

The line that follows that paragraph though, is the nightmare: "Of course, this was because of the unrest linked to Tibet. [emphasis added]" Umm, really? Why was there security out the wazoo last week when Beckham came to Shanghai with the LA Galaxy? What about the famous clip from the Andy Lau concert in Chengdu, in which the singer gets into a fight with his own concert security team?

A huge security presence like what is typically seen when sports stars or celebrities make their way to China would be off-putting during the Olympics, but at the same time, China's security fears, especially for THE OLYMPICS, the culmination of so much joy and concern, could mean an even greater security presence. China really needs to figure out a way to balance the two issues or people like Mr. Streeter, your average sports writer and other regular people, will return to their home countries and share opinions more damning than any politician or human rights organization could present.

This would appear to be a very important PR issue in the leadup to the games and how China decides to go on the security issue could go a long way in determining if these Olympics are a great success or not.

It's All a Matter of Perspective

I've been blogging fairly frequently and the focus has been on Tibet, though hopefully things will go back to normal in a day or two.

The Times has been a great source for articles on the Tibet situation as they have the only reporter actually on the ground, an article today really caught my eye. It seems that some Tibetans don't feel the Lalai Dama has taken a hard enough line and should propose boycotting the Olympics.

Here I am complaining that he's gone too far and yet there are others out there (the Times calls them radicals, I'm not sure how big their numbers are) who don't think he's done anything.

Once again, my friends, when it comes to this issue, there's no black or white.

Okay, so it seems that perhaps I jumped to conclusions about the good ol' Lalai as he has stated that he would resign (not like he really could, but it shows how far he would go), if the violence continues. Also, a great article from Peking Duck on why Lalai might be more innocent than the Chinese want to say publicly. Seeing what happened in and around Tibet and the response from exiles (and others) around the world, it really seems obvious that the greatest partner the Chinese could have in reaching a solution is the Lalai Dama, the exile population is just too radical and even some in China are long past autonomy within the PRC framework, if something doesn't get done during the DL's lifetime, there will be blood.


Deng Gets Promoted, Hurrah!

So while all the focus is on Wen Jiabao's press conference (I'd love a Chinese or English transcript of it, but have yet to find one), in a lesser story, Deng Pufang, son of Deng Xiaoping and head of China's Disabled Federation, was the first disabled person to be elected CPPCC Vice-Chairman, the highest position a disabled person has ever held in the government.

Wow, more indifference from me today, despite the title (very sarcastic), I don't know what to think. Does Deng rule the Disabled Federation as his own little fiefdom and receive treatment as if he's a feudal lord, never having to come across the problems most disabled people come across in China? You betcha! Even if he wanted to affect change and despite his "important" title, could he? Probably not...

I would love to see some power for the Disabled Federation and having such a famous patron should help, but it didn't pay any divdends when Deng's father was alive and it won't now. Basically, its not news...

Remind me why I'm blogging about it? A slow night at the Rickshaw...


Priorities, Priorities

Every morning and evening, I get a great short news text message to my phone that includes the weather and top stories in different areas (domestic news, sports, entertainment, etc.). For the past 2 weeks, I've also gotten a message each afternoon informing me about the days goings on at the "Two Meetings" taking place here in Beijing. Before Wen Jiabao's major news conference today, yesterday's post carried 10 "Questions from the People". They were on the following topics and in the following order:

1. the Olympics
2. Environmental Protection
3. Arable Land
4. the Price of Goods
5. Salary
6. Housing Costs
7. Employment
8. Education
9. Medical treatment
10. Service Oriented Governance

I am not sure who came up with the list, the questions were submitted by readers, and I'm guessing as the service is through China Mobile, somebody at Xinhua or below organized the list and picked the questions.

Is the list reflective? I don't think arable land is a big concern in Beijing or Shanghai and I think it would be replaced by food safety, but in the countryside, which makes up the majority of the country, I can imagine it being a concern. The rest, with one glaring exception (guess which one?) are probably pretty accurate and, honestly, reflect the concerns of most people in China and, I'd venture to say, a poll of what concerns US citizens in the leadup to Election 2008 would look fairly similar.

The glaring exception, if you guessed number 1, we have a winner! I was extremely proud when Beijing won the Olympics and despite all the hassles it will bring, I'm looking forward to August, but, especially in light of recent events, its time to start downplaying this as China's Games and leave the focus on Beijing (a nearly impossible task). Beer bottle collectors in Bengbu, factory workers in Dongguan, and school teachers in Anshan are NOT concerned about the Olympics (let alone people in Xinjiang, Qinghai, and that large area south of Qinghai). At this point, is there anybody who actually believes the Olympics will be pulled off without a hitch? I would love to think so, but with China's PR bluffs, thousands of athletes and visitors, and cultural differences (just look at the problems Korean autograph seekers faced at the baseball game over the weekend), at this point (way too late), its time for China to really start lowering expectations. BOCOG should say things like, "if the Olympics come and go and the world hasn't been blown up, we'd count that as a success." Sure, it might sound crazy, but on the other hand, with the first minor blowup, the media is sure to be condemning China.

Flip that list upside down and, with the exception of the environment, now we're talking. Leave the Olympics to Beijing and let the government focus once again on 为人民服务 ("Serving the People").

Anyone else have any thoughts on the list?

Admission of Guilt

I don't understand Tibet. I could talk for weeks about Beijing and different landmarks or "historical sites" that few know, I could talk for days about Chinese soccer and one painful event after another (most recently the 3-3 draw against Thailand, great prep for the Aussies!), I could even sit you down and talk for hours about politics and law, the tough cases and campaigns, the big victories, the bitter losses. I cannot talk to you about Tibet. I love music, I love fashion, but I have very little understanding of them, using Justice Blackmun's famous words "I know it when I see it", I know what I like, but I can't really tell you why. With Tibet, I have no idea where to begin.

There are only so many hours in a day and my brain can only hold so much knowledge, on Tibet, I'm indifferent. China is an interesting, huge country and there is a lot to see, for whatever reason, I've never really had an interest in going to Tibet. It's far, its high, its a pain to get to, its expensive, and as a foodie, its boring, yak this and yak that. If, one day, friends or relatives want to go there, I'd join them, but for me, I'd much rather go to Xinjiang, to Gansu, to other places. If not for Sabriye Tenberken and her work, I'd be even more indifferent to the situation there.

I went to university in a small, midwestern town which was unique in that the school is the US' preeminent university for Tibetan studies, the DL's older brother was a former professor and Eliot Sperling is one of the country's most respected scholars on Tibet. I came in knowing about Princess Wencheng and the Tang, about the Yuan, the connections between Tibet and the Ming, the Qing garrisons, the then DL sending representatives to the Nationalist government. The class was full of "Free Tibet" types who idolized Sperling, I came in looking for a fight, but the result was disappointing. I came out feeling even more confused about Tibet, on one hand, Chinese do have a legitimate claim, at the same time, Tibet also has a legitimate argument. Sperling was an excellent teacher and tried to play things right down the middle, the question really breaks either way, though he obviously leans toward the Tibetan side. It's all about a lack of understanding, if the Communists went into Tibet shortly after taking power in '49 and only set up the military there, or even just pushed their reforms only on citizens, instead of monks, things may have been different (then again, the Cultural Revolution would probably have broken the peace).

Tibet's just not black and white, it wasn't before 1949, it wasn't in 1959, it wasn't in 1989, and after these protests in 2008, it still isn't. I never really thought China had an "original sin", like the US and slavery, and while the effects of slavery are far deeper in the US, is the Tibet issue China's "original sin"? It's certainly a major volcano that is constantly simmering, but rarely explodes. I still don't understand how different Tibet and Hawaii are and I like what Jeremiah said at one point (I believe on Peking Duck), China should just give up the historical claims to Tibet, no matter how strong or weak you think they are, and say, screw it, it's ours, period. If they treated the monks better, if they weren't insistent on such strict control of the religion, most civilians and even some of the monks would accept the situation. It sometimes feels like the government is waiting for the DL to just die, but this situation needs to be taken care of before that, if the government forces a successor, that could be the tectonic shift that causes the volcano to erupt.

I come from a family of cadres and soldiers, of Party members since before the Party took over "New China." Yes, I'm more likely to take the side of the Party, but I won't do it blindly. There is enough historic evidence that claiming Tibet as a part of China is nothing overly radical. At the same time, Tibet as cause is all about Hollywood liberals (I shouldn't be so hard on them, they were often the best contributors to campaigns I worked on), hippies, and new agers who are just looking for a cause celebre, are looking for something "new." They like to think about Tibet in black and white terms, they like to look at the DL and his talks of peace and think about the "suffering of poor Tibetans", ignoring how a previous DL massacred fellow Tibetans so one sect could take over. The DL is a religious leader, but in the West his connection to the religion and what that means is ignored. Instead, hippies (and neo-hippies) and people like Richard Gere have turned him into an innocent, new age self help guru who goes around wearing a gold Rolex, not the leader of a major world religion. I can't understand, I simply cannot understand the "Free Tibet" people. How can it be wrong of me to take the side of the Party, when the flock on the other side blindly believes in something that many Tibetans in Tibet don't fully support.

If there is one thing I learned from Professor Sperling, it's that this issue isn't black and white, the real answer needs to come from China and the DL, Han and Tibetan trying to work things out together, protests will not lead to a solution, but only more misery and embarrassment.

Postscript: Sometimes I don't even know why I keep this blog. I've been thinking about how to write this post since last night, got up extra early, beat the sandstorm that has enveloped Beijing, and started writing. I clicked send and started looking around the web, only then did I find out that China Law Blog basically said what I wanted to say, did so more clearly, and in fewer words.

Time for Another Beatdown

You know, I've told myself its time to stop playing and get back on my game, I got the message from China Law Blog already. So its great when I got called out, again, by China Lawyer Blog (no connection to Dan's fantastic blog).

So now I'm a loser, well, sorry, I never said I ran with the cool kids, hell, I'm on blogspot after all. That said, a loser, sir? I've read your blog and I know that this is what you do because it seems you have nothing better to do, which is probably why Zhong Lun shit canned your ass.

I'm not saying I know the facts on the situation in Tibet right now and I know equally well that Mr. Brauer has no clue whats going on. In almost every account, they are quoting around a dozen deaths, but their source is Xinhua and (in a bit of bias) they fail to mention who was killed, according to Xinhua it was onlookers who got caught up in the stampedes. Of course Tibetan exile groups are claiming many more, but why are they to be trusted any more than the Chinese government, they obviously want to garner international sympathy. Look at the mayhem this has caused on the streets of Australia and India where police are also "brutally" quelling protests that have gone too far.

So far, having read almost every piece of news I could find on the story, (which basically is just different versions of the NY Times, AP, and Xinhua stories), it appears the Chinese government acted quickly and with a more restrained approach than during previous incidents in Tibet. Perhaps we are starting at 2 different points, I think Tibet is and will always be a part of China, maybe Mr. Brauer disagrees, but you wouldn't know it from his post. I like having discussions with people, that's why I blog, if you think my opinion is wrong, explain to me why. And while my tone toward the DL may have been a bit harsh, does anyone truly believe that he has no power to stop these protests? At the very least, his statements about "cultural genocide", harsh terms, could easily be viewed by some as incitement.

But see, that's an idea, it seems Mr. Brauer can't grasp ideas, he just resorts to name calling. So for you folks at home keeping score:

Modern Lei Feng, 2, China Lawyer Blog, 0.

"Well I guess I got my swagger back."

The Many Train Stations of the 'Jing

I've spent entirely too much time on trains over the last few months and so I've come to know some of the train stations and routes fairly intimately. On my last trip, as the train got closer to the station, it came through a sparkling, modern building that is a total maze of scaffolding. Having seen it before, I had no idea what it was, no way was it something for Olympic prep, all the way in Yongdingmen, but what else could it be? On that occasion, I was able to see signs announcing that it would be the new Beijing South Station, Asia's largest train station, when it opens in August.

I'd been through the over 100 years old South Station a few times when it did the Beijing-Zhengzhou route, but that's back in the day of green trains, which are now almost completely gone. I didn't realize that the old South Station was blown up a few years back, replaced by the behemoth new station. Pretty strange to think that the old dump, not much more than some long-distance bus stations, served the capital for so many years. The new station that replaces it looks to be a modern marvel that is sure to make a difference, relieving some of the pressure off of Beijing's West Station and, of course, the main station.

Of course, there is also the North station at Xizhimen, though there doesn't seem to be many trains leaving from there, it always was a convenient spot for me to buy tickets due to its proximity to my old apartment. Also, there is an East Station, dating back to the 1930s in Chaoyang District, though it gets little use nowadays and will probably be replaced by a newer station at Tongzhou.

For those into train station history, you can also check out the old main Beijing Station, easily spotted east of Qianmen by the star on top of the roof which is now filled with shops and restaurants.


Wrong On All Sides...

It was a strange feeling after having a wonderful weekend to come into the office today and be greeted with tons and tons of articles about unrest in that southwestern special autonomous region in China with all the mountains whose name begins with a T.

Leaders in the Tibetan government have claimed that protesters have killed multiple people, and created extensive damage burning and looting around Lhasa. While the killings appear to be unconfirmed (the government has a strong grip on the region, especially when it comes to foreign media), from what I've read and heard, the looting of stores and burning of cars and other property has been supported. This appears to not be something brought on by any specific policy of the Chinese government, simply a "remembrance" of 1959. From the reports, it appears the Chinese government has done a pretty restrained job of dealing with some pretty unruly protests, though rubber bullets may have been used.

If this is really the case, if the government has been restrained and the protesters have behaved so horribly, why not lift the veil and let the people know? What better way to sway opinion onto your side? Something tells me that its because the truth lies somewhere in the middle. It's kind of interesting how the Great Firewall is working overtime now, I could access a story on IHT, but was unable to feature another one about that 73 year old who won the Nobel Prize and who left Tibet to go to India, let's call him the DL, even with anonymouse. In fact, trying to view a number of sites, it appears anonymouse wasn't able to defeat the firewall.

I may sound like a shill for the government, but I don't care. I'm most disappointed in the role that the DL is playing in all of this. If anybody has the ability to stop this, it's him, and yet he's pretending that he is "powerless" and has no role in any of the events. Dollars to doughnuts, if these protests weren't started by an order from him, they were definitely approved by him. Not only isn't he trying to stop them, but he's trying to stir the pot with statements about "cultural genocide." It's also an incredibly smart strategy to do this now, with less than 150 days to the Olympics, when it is certain that the media will pay attention and nuts the world over will start saying China is "unfit" to hold the Olympics. Great way to hijack coverage...

Li Ning Gives the Middle Finger to Steven Spielberg

Steven Spielberg is a Hollywood legend, behind some excellent movies (and some disasters) and hey, he even made Jews kick ass in Munich, he gets some dap for that. I really could care less about him, until, of course, he decided to declare himself holier than thou and started opining about the Chinese Olympics. Sure, he was under excessive pressure from his liberal Hollywood friends who stupidly go about referring to the Beijing Olympics as the "Genocide Games."

This is not really meant as a post about Spielberg's decision to screw over BOCOG and look like an idiot doing it. China is not to blame for the situation in Darfur and while they've threatened to use their Security Council veto against certain legislation, they've been trying to work with the African Union to help find a solution to the problem as well as pushing the Sudanese government to move toward a new policy. Spielberg may not care about annoying Beijing, but I really don't think Beijing cares that much, if he wants to help, great, if not, it doesn't matter, the Opening Ceremonies will be great with or without him.

Whatever, in any case, going back to the title (and from my high school newspaperman days, law article writing/editing days, and political speech/copy drafting days, I've learned its all about a good title), browsing the malls this weekend, I stopped by Li Ning to see what was on offer. They're sponsorship of the Sudanese Olympic team has brought them under some fire, but Li Ning sponsors many different Olympic squads and right now, they're advertising and in store focus is on their deal with the Argentinian and Spanish basketball squads. But then I came across a couple hoodies and tshirts with their "One Team" slogan and the Sudanese crest and flag.

I don't think Li Ning really expects to sell many of these, even in China, so maybe its just them making a veiled political statement in defense of the government. Maybe I should buy one and send it to Spielberg.


Northern Barbarians Have Style Too!

The first real “argument” of one relationship I had was about which city was more stylish: Beijing or Shanghai. My female friend insisted that she and many of her foreign friends felt that Shanghai way outclassed Beijing. Me, on the other hand, with my pride as a Beijinger, insisted that this simply wasn’t the case.

Shanghai, the “Whore of the Orient”, that plucky rival down south, has long been considered China’s capital of style, yet its also a city where middle aged people consider pyjamas as the en vogue relaxed walking around clothes, something I’ve rarely, if ever, seen in Beijing. Shanghai’s reputation as the style city is more talk than reality. It dates back to its more glamorous days in the 20s and 30s where its location and cosmopolitan nature drew people from all over the world. Nowadays, while it boasts gleaming skyscrapers, high end restaurants and bars, and a lot of interesting early modern architecture, the city’s style and the style of its people are wrongly fused into one.

Having spent a lot of time in Shanghai and Beijing, I really don’t think that Shanghainese are any more stylish than Beijingers, for the most part. Get on a subway in Beijing or Shanghai and look at the 10 people standing closest to you (who aren’t migrant workers), out of the 10, you’ll probably find 4 or so dressed “Chinese style” or badly, 3 who are dressed in casual attire that wouldn’t be out of place in most other parts of the world, and 3 who could be deemed somewhat stylish (out of the 3, usually 1 will stick out). If you’re roaming around Guomao or Lane Crawford in Beijing or the Kerry Center/Shanghai Center/Plaza 66 area in Shanghai the style quotient is sure to go up. Too much of the “Shanghai is stylish” talk isn’t really backed up by reality. Sure, you walk into Jean Georges or Jade and you’ll see a pretty stylish set of people, but it’s the same thing if you go to Courtyard or Lan. Sure, Shanghai has Changle Rd, but I’ve yet to find anything that can match 3.3. Upping the ante, mall for mall, would you actually choose Shanghai over Beijing? Wangfujing vs. Nanjing Rd? Seasons Place vs. Plaza 66? Guomao vs. Jiuguang? Xidan vs. Huaihai Rd? Times Square vs. er...Times Square? Legation Quarter (soon to be opened) vs. Xintiandi? 3.3 vs. ...? Come on, it’s pretty much a wash, the nod goes to Beijing.

One of my biggest arguments against the “Shanghai is stylish” discussion is that it’s a monotonous style that can be referred to as “chic casual” for the most part (and I'm sorry Shopgirl, China's not an inspiration, but simply biting styles from major Euro designers before H&M does) . Beijing has that look too, but there is also a far more diverse range of styles, somewhat driven by the fact Beijing is far more artistically inclined and with a much better music scene than Shanghai. You have indie chicks (which has me thrilled, because in Shenzhen I cam *this* close to writing a post about the disappearance of the indie chick), hip hoppers, nerd chic, punk rockers, skateboarders, and crazy artists. It’s not simply one look, but a little of everything.

For examples of the wide range of great looks you can see on the streets of Beijing (or if you're just into fashion), you must check out Stylites in Beijing, he's fast becoming the arbiter of style in our fair city. And although I have a feeling he’d disagree with my assessment, overall both Shanghai and Beijing have a long way to come before they can match really fashionable cities like New York, London, and Paris.


Baseball in Beijing: "Its Really Great"

So if you've been in a Beijing cab or opened an expat mag anytime during the past few weeks, you've probably seen ads for the "China Series", first pitch starting tomorrow, between the San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers, I've even covered it here a few weeks back. The slogan they're going with is something like "Really Great" (ie 真棒)using the character 棒 that is also used for baseball (棒球).

Yahoo Sports did an interesting writeup about the game that gave the overall impression that these games might be enough to put thoughts about the game in the minds of some Chinese youth. This seems to be how Americans always think, but its interesting to note that baseball does have a long history in China, as the Yahoo article discusses (link at the bottom).

Ticket sales and spirits seem to be pretty high for a game that is only going to feature a bunch of journeymen, many of whom may not even be on the roster come April, but its not being promoted as such and with Jet Li throwing out the first pitch, there's a bit of celebrity intrigue involved, including a gala tonight.

Surprisingly, Shanghaiist even informed its readers today that the Chinese Baseball League is actually going to have a 2008 season, I saw it on tv a few season back and found it unwatchable, I think they quickly lost their tv contract and were never heard from again, but its an Olympic year and anything can happen. Though, as Shanghaiist points out, with baseball losing its status as an Olympic sport in London, its longevity as a global game outside of certain pockets is questionable.

Yahoo Sports: Baseball Delivers Its Pitch to China
Shanghaiist on the game


No More of My Photos, But Even Better...

Back in the day, this was a pseudo-photo blog where I'd post some recently taken pictures on the weekend, now that I'm blogging regularly on a computer that is not my own (my poor, brand new macbook pro has a busted screen), photos aren't getting posted.

The past week has been busy, but today finally having time to read some favorite webpages, I found a great Chinese photo slide show on Slate (how I love thee), provided by Magnum. Check it out!

Update on Joy City and 2 Brit Stars Coming to Beijing (and one's named McCartney)

Last night having some time to look around, I headed to Joy City, the new mall at Xidan (discussed here), to see how things were going. Well, right now almost all the stores are open and the mall was pretty crowded. Occupancy is very high and its a great mix of shops and restaurants, many who are entering the capital's market for the first time. It's Xidan location is perfect and has a great mix of mid-priced western brands as well as the cheaper Chinese brands. As of right now, almost everything is open except the I.T. brands, Uniqlo (coming March 29th), Zara, and Nike.

Some highlights:
-Great to see Muji finally in Beijing and the store was pretty crowded
-I really like Wagas and hope that it will spread around the capital like it did in Shanghai. This location has two seating areas, one an "intimate" setting that is dark and woody overlooking the madness of Xidan, the other is bright and airy overlooking the mall's atrium.
-This is the sports fan in me, but the Adidas store has a small collection of Beijing Guoan clothes,
something I've never seen before, Guoan's move to Adidas seems to be a great choice
-Along with the discussed Japaneseness of the mall is a store that I didn't notice, Asics' Ontisuka Tigers, which carries their great shoes, but also a decent selection of casual clothing

As for my other teaser in the title, a McCartney is coming to Beijing, but sorry to disappoint the Beatles fans, its not Paul, but his daughter, Stella. Guomao is currently advertising that a Stella McCartney boutique is "coming soon" and who will her neighbor be? King of women's shoes and made famous by Sex and the City, Jimmy Choo. It's going to be the first boutique in the capital (there is one in Plaza 66 in Shanghai), though I believe his shoes are also carried at Lane Crawford. No help for us guys, but now Beijing women will be even more stylish.

Another Bites the Dust: The Fall of Eliot Spitzer

I was a Spitzer fan back during his AG days when he was the hard nosed New Yorker fighting against the stock markets, big business, and police corruption. He was a bulldog, but he was likable and had an impeccable record. After doing everything he could do as AG, he decided to move on to the Governorship of New York. When he won that race in a landslide, he was a national star and there were even some rumblings that Spitzer could be the first serious Jewish Presidential candidate. Playing the game of politics, I was a big fan of his and would have loved to see him be a potential candidate, or at least a veep choice. However, his time as Governor was hard fought with numerous of ups and downs.

That is, until this past week when it was revealed he was involved with a prostitution ring that the FBI busted and that he may have spent over US$80,000 on hookers. Mr. Clean, the lawyer who fought on the side of good and mercilessly pursued all those who broke the law, was dirtied in a way he may never come back from, he may even face criminal charges. It's hard to call it a tragedy, the man was plain stupid, but its definitely another lesson (as if Gary Hart wasn't enough). One more goes down to his own lack of morals.

There are three things that I think are interesting about this. First, while its probably better for family reconciliation that it was a prostitute instead of an affair (less emotional attachment, in theory), for his political career its far worse than an affair as not only is it against the law, it also seems more degenerate. Beyond that, you have to wonder about someone who is working as a prostitute, but has a myspace page and writes "I live in New York and am on top of the world. Been here since 2004 and I love this city, I love my life here." Well, this should really bolster her music career. Finally, bringing it back to China, this wouldn't even be a news blip here, because its highly unlikely that the media would be allowed to cover it, which is good and bad, I guess.

Oh well, the Tribe is going to need to find another potential candidate.


One (or More) Less Pure Girls?

Tonight leaving Sanlitun after a shopping trip to 3.3 (its amazing how quickly shops close down and open up there), I came across a massive law enforcement presence (城管执法) outside one of the Pure Girls, while all the others were closed down. Finally busted for selling fake alcohol? Something more sinister? If anybody knows, I'd love comments, in the meantime, I'll be watching Beijing Boyce even closer than usual, as he knows everything that happens around town.



So the "Two Meetings" were kicked off this week which means a heightened police presence in the capital and one gets the feeling that this is sort of a small scale dress rehearsal for the Olympics. When I first noticed the large number of cops and also soldiers hanging around my neighborhood and the cops now positioned along 2nd Ring Rd, it didn't really register at first, but then seeing the Christmas lights on around Tiananmen, it quickly hit me that it was "Two Meetings" time.

Oh well, its business as usual around here at A Modern Lei Feng, though it was interesting coming across a large contingent of police cars and plain clothes cops hanging around early Tuesday morning awaiting orders in a spot usually filled by Mercedes and BMWs.


Lots of Apple talk on the web these days, about an Apple store opening at the remodeled Qianmen before the Olympics and talk about what a Chinese version of iTunes may mean to those in China. First, an simpler to deal with, is the Qianmen store, news of which comes way of (hat tip to China Economic Review). It will be great for Mac to finally have its first official presence in China, though current authorized sellers like Dragonstar have done a good job at replicating the Apple store image in China. It will be strange having an Apple store which won’t be selling iPhones (unless a deal can be reached by the time the store opens) and won’t be using iPods to promote iTunes. At the same time, it will be awesome to finally have a REAL Mac presence in China.

As for iTunes, well, that’s connected to part 2 of the China Game’s post regarding Apple in China. I’m sorry, as I said before, the China Game is a great blog, but as a fellow Mac lover, I can tell we have a divergence of opinions on the impact Mac can play in China. In the entry, China Game talks about renting DVDs through iTunes as a great option and possibly the way to fight counterfeit DVDs in China.

There are a number of major problems with this idea that China Game doesn’t touch on or glazes over. The biggest is that he claims that pirated DVDs purchased in China are low quality and typically “shot inside a movie theater”. I wonder when was the last time he bought a DVD in China? I’ve bought over 50 DVDs in the past 6 months (don’t tell Hollywood!) and out of those exactly 1 didn’t work and 2 others looked like they were shot in a movie theater. The majority are excellent, high quality and come straight from real DVDs, often they even turn out copies of awards copy videos provided to the judges of the Oscars and other awards shows. Some stores even offer a choice between DVD-5 for between RMB8-10 and a higher quality DVD-9 for RMB16-20. Out of all the DVDs I’ve bought, the only one that didn’t work came from the guy selling DVDs outside of the Guomao subway many nights for RMB5.

Would I choose to pay RMB21 or more (the equivalent to US$2.99) to rent a movie online or would I prefer taking the (relatively small) risk of buying the RMB5 DVD on the street? Umm, I’m going with my street seller everyday, but that’s just me. In a move to combat pirating, Hollywood came out with RMB20 versions of popular movies with no added content other than subtitles and these failed miserably, what makes anybody think people would download movies for the same price (or more)?

iTunes taught many Americans that paying for music and movies online is the thing to do. No viruses, guaranteed quality, no chance of lawsuit, and a low price was better than the great abyss of downloading music/movies. Even if every Chinese is given an iPod and an internet connection that will automatically hook up to iTunes, it won’t teach Chinese to pay for what now is free for them. There are too many sites that link to free mp3s, even major sites like Baidu, Sina, and Yahoo.

This is another huge problem, music. iTunes already carries a limited selection of popular older Chinese music and newer, cutting edge music. They charge the usual $0.99 per song and $9.99 per album, how could they go about charging ¥0.99 for the same song in China? If they charge close to the equivalent of a dollar, say ¥5 a song, very few Chinese would go for that. If they did go with ¥0.99, would they include all western music? If so, they'd need to do something to prevent foreigners from getting on the Chinese version to buy the cheaper songs. Even if there was a Chinese version, it would be hampered by the fact that so few Chinese have credit cards that could be used to make online purchases.

iTunes revolutionized the way Americans (and Europeans) bought music, but the heights that must be climbed to change China seem too high even for Steve Jobs to scale. Yet reading about the lawsuit that Baidu, one of the most popular sites for downloading illegal mp3s, faces from the Chinese music industry, well, nothing is impossible.

WinTV a Major Loser

I previously talked about Guangdong TV's purchase of the English Premiership tv rights a number of times on this blog, here is just one example. Now That's Beijing has offered up proof of how huge a disaster Guangdong TV's PPV plan turned out to be. Here is a bit of what they had to say in their Sports Roundup:

However, the number of viewers who actually tune in to each game is thought to
be around 10,000 – falling well short of the EPL’s high expectations. By
comparison, the NBA, which is aired on free-view CCTV 5 and BTV 6, commands
nearly one hundred times as many viewers per game. The EPL’s eagerness to accept
the highest bid from the Chinese market did not take into account that many
Chinese would be unwilling to pay the relatively expensive viewing costs.

Exorbitant prices and failure to get off the ground in major cities for the start of the season were two of the plan's biggest problems. Now the only question is will they continue insisting on keeping things PPV for next season or will Guangdong TV's investment really go down the toilet and will they move to free tv? For Guangdong TV, this is a disaster, but I don't think it influences the EPL too much. EPL games start very late at night here and only the most dedicated fans, typically expats, bother staying up to watch all the matches. While there are huge number of "fans", typically they follow their team through the web (downloading torrents of games and reading websites) and in the news. Perhaps that would have changed if, like the NBA, games were on free tv, but its hard to say. However, 10,000 fans per game is such a minute figure, I'm guessing infomercials that run at the same hour as the EPL matches get more than 10,000 viewers. Hell, the blank screens that go up when the tv channels go off the air probably get 10,000 viewers (though all drunk, but in that sense, not much different from those soccer fans staying up to watch the matches). It will be interesting to see, especially considering the length of this relationship, what changes the EPL "proposes".


WTF is going on???

Yes, this blog is heavily China-related (if not entirely), but there are those stories every now and then that you just can't pass up and that have no connection to China, except for the fact that the US, with its much smaller population, is incarcerating more people than China.

That's right, 1 in 100 American adults are in jail or prison. The stats get even more shocking when you break it down by age and race, 1 in 9 black men between the ages of 20 and 34 are behind bars. When you think that another 2 or 3 probably end up dead in that age group, its simply mindboggling. This is exhibit A in why Barack Obama as US President would be a very inspiring thing for so many people.

When the news is so focused on steroids in sports, with Marion Jones in jail and Roger Clemens possibly heading there, its not really surprising that there are so many people in jail, but have our priorities gotten a bit messed up? Aren't there other ways to punish people? Shouldn't society's focus be on other things? Why isn't this something anybody is talking about???

AP article: Record-High Ratio of Americans in Prison