Archive for China

A Maine Paper Mill’s Unexpected Savior: China – By Ellen Barry – The New York Times

By Ellen BarryPhotographs by Tristan SpinskiJan. 15, 2020, 5:00 a.m.

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Photographs by 

“OLD TOWN, Maine — During the deepest part of last winter, a van pulled off the highway and followed the two-lane road that skims along the Penobscot River, coming to rest beside the hulk of a shuttered pulp mill. The van’s door slid open and passengers climbed out: seven Buddhist monks from China.

Andrew Edwards, a mill superintendent from the nearby town of Lincoln, led them to a room where he had stockpiled the things they had requested for the ceremony: oranges, limes, apples and seven shovels, one for each monk.

Snow lay deep on the ground, two feet of gritty, frozen crust, and he remembers worrying a little about the visitors. “They were in their, I don’t know what they’re called, their Tibetan outfit,” he said. “With the sandals and whatnot.”

He stepped back and watched as the monks wandered from the boiler houses to the limekiln to the pulp mill, chanting, burning candles and gently tapping a gong.”

Source: A Maine Paper Mill’s Unexpected Savior: China – The New York Times

Posted in: Business and Finance, China, Decline and Renaissanace, United States

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Opinion | My Grandmother’s Favorite Scammer – By Frankie Huang – The New York Times

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Ms. Huang is a writer and illustrator.

“BEIJING — One day last winter my mother sent me an odd message over WeChat. “Has Laolao said anything strange to you today?” she asked.

I immediately sensed that something was amiss. My mother is a typical Chinese parent. She always feels obliged to withhold bad news from me until she has no other choice. Why was she worried about my grandmother?

I thought back to my most recent visit to Laolao’s shabby apartment here. She had just turned 88, and other than the usual age-related forgetfulness and grumbling about kids these days, she was her usual self.

My mother’s next message unnerved me even more. “Was she of sound mind?”

“You have to tell me what’s going on,” I messaged back.

I fought the urge to berate her and began to scour the internet for information on bank scams that involved sworn secrecy. My heart sank when results filled my screen, describing our situation exactly. I was in an airport, on a business trip, so I messaged Laolao’s assistant at her office and told her to freeze all my grandmother’s bank accounts. But it turned out the bank couldn’t do anything unless Laolao herself requested it.”

Source: Opinion | My Grandmother’s Favorite Scammer – The New York Times

Posted in: Bullies and Scoundrels, China

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Opinion | My Grandmother’s Favorite Scammer – By Frankie Huang – The New York Times

By 

Ms. Huang is a writer and illustrator.

CreditCredit…Annie Jen

“BEIJING — One day last winter my mother sent me an odd message over WeChat. “Has Laolao said anything strange to you today?” she asked.

I immediately sensed that something was amiss. My mother is a typical Chinese parent. She always feels obliged to withhold bad news from me until she has no other choice. Why was she worried about my grandmother?

I thought back to my most recent visit to Laolao’s shabby apartment here. She had just turned 88, and other than the usual age-related forgetfulness and grumbling about kids these days, she was her usual self.

My mother’s next message unnerved me even more. “Was she of sound mind?”

“You have to tell me what’s going on,” I messaged back.

I fought the urge to berate her and began to scour the internet for information on bank scams that involved sworn secrecy. My heart sank when results filled my screen, describing our situation exactly. I was in an airport, on a business trip, so I messaged Laolao’s assistant at her office and told her to freeze all my grandmother’s bank accounts. But it turned out the bank couldn’t do anything unless Laolao herself requested it.”

Source: Opinion | My Grandmother’s Favorite Scammer – The New York Times

Posted in: Bullies and Scoundrels, China

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Opinion | How to Survive as a Woman at a Chinese Banquet – By Yan Ge – The New York Times

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Ms. Yan is the author of 13 books, including, most recently, “The Chilli Bean Paste Clan.”

Credit…Lisk Feng

“A Chinese banquet can be many things, but it is never a gastronomic occasion.

It is more like a sport, one in which the primary goal is to drink a toast with each individual sitting around the table, in a rigid successive order, starting with the most prominent and proceeding clockwise. If that sounds straightforward, it isn’t: Bear in mind that everyone at the table is playing the same game simultaneously, which means just as you’ve homed in on your target and are ready to make your move, he could be raising a toast to another guest, who could very well be looking to drink with someone else.

Other rules: Make sure to turn the shot of baijiu bottoms up with every encounter; say flattering words in your toast, but nothing too flowery; appear cordial and personable; smile, but avoid inappropriate body contact. Finally, while you’re busy circling the table, don’t forget to eat.

At a Chinese banquet, the eating is the least important part. The problem, though, is that Chinese food is irresistibly delicious, especially if you’re someone who’s lived outside China for the last four years. And so this summer, when I returned to my home city of Chengdu for a visit, and a friend called to ask me to meet up at a local restaurant, I said yes without any hesitation.

On the day of, I arrived late. The restaurant had been revamped since the last time I’d visited, six years ago. A slim hostess in a red qipao welcomed me while I stood dazzled by the colossal crystal chandelier suspended from the high ceiling. I told her my friend’s name and was escorted to a private dining room at the end of the hall.”

Source: Opinion | How to Survive as a Woman at a Chinese Banquet – The New York Times

Posted in: Business and Finance, China, History and Literature

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China Cracks Down on Fentanyl. But Is It Enough to End the U.S. Epidemic? – By Steven Lee Myers – The New York Times

“XINGTAI, China — An online pharmacy advertising itself as a seller of “high purity, real pure” fentanyl still responds right away to potential customers.

“Which products do you want to buy,” a salesperson replied within a minute to an inquiry in English on WhatsApp, the encrypted messaging service.

But when contacted from an American telephone number and asked about the availability of fentanyl, the synthetic opioid fueling an epidemic killing tens of thousands of Americans a year, the seller demurred.

“I don’t sell any more.”

Until recently, much of the illicit fentanyl that found its way to the United States came like this: easily ordered online from a source in China and seamlessly shipped by international delivery companies, including the United States Postal Service.

Fentanyl sourced from China accounted for 97 percent of the drug seized from international mail services by United States law enforcement in both the 2016 and 2017 fiscal years, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Now, China’s Communist government is taking steps to stop the flood, as the country’s leader, Xi Jinping, promised President Trump he would do.

After the two leaders met in Buenos Aires at the Group of 20 summit at the end of last year, the White House released a statement saying that “President Xi, in a wonderful humanitarian gesture, has agreed to designate fentanyl as a controlled substance.”

Source: China Cracks Down on Fentanyl. But Is It Enough to End the U.S. Epidemic? – The New York Times

Posted in: China, Drug Wars, Trade and Trade Policy

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Opinion | The World-Shaking News That You’re Missing – By Thomas L. Friedman – The New York Times

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Opinion Columnist

Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

“SINGAPORE — One of the most negative byproducts of the Trump presidency is that all we talk about now is Donald Trump. Don’t get me wrong: How can we not be fixated on a president who daily undermines the twin pillars of our democracy: truth and trust?

But there are some tectonic changes underway behind the Trump noise machine that demand a serious national discussion, like the future of U.S.-China relations. Yet it’s not happening — because all we talk about is Donald Trump.

Consider this: On Nov. 9, European leaders gathered in Berlin to mark the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. It was an anniversary worth celebrating. But no one seemed to notice that almost exactly 30 years after the Berlin Wall fell, a new wall — a digital Berlin Wall — had begun to be erected between China and America. And the only thing left to be determined, a Chinese business executive remarked to me, “is how high this wall will be,” and which countries will choose to be on which side.

This new wall, separating a U.S.-led technology and trade zone from a Chinese-led one, will have implications as vast as the wall bisecting Berlin did. Because the peace, prosperity and accelerations in technology and globalization that have so benefited the world over the past 40 years were due, in part, to the interweaving of the U.S. and Chinese economies.”

Source: Opinion | The World-Shaking News That You’re Missing – The New York Times

Posted in: China, Foreign Affairs and U.S.ForeignPolicy, Thomas Friedman

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Opinion | Let’s Not Take Cues From a Country That Bans Winnie the Pooh – By Nicholas Kristof – The New York Times

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Opinion Columnist

CreditCreditAssociated Press

“What happens when China’s enforcers come after Winnie-the-Pooh?

Will we reluctantly hand over Pooh Bear? Really sorry about this, Winnie, but China’s an important market!

Winnie-the-Pooh has been banned in China online and at movie theaters because snarky commentators have suggested that he resembles the portly President Xi Jinping. But these days Xi doesn’t want to censor information just in his own country; he also wants to censor our own discussions in the West.

That’s the backdrop to China’s hysterical reaction to a tweet by Daryl Morey, the Houston Rockets’ general manager, sympathizing with Hong Kong’s pro-democracy demonstrations.

When the N.B.A. moved into China in the early 2000s, it made a plausible argument that engagement would help extend our values to China. Instead, the Communist Party is exploiting N.B.A. greed to extend its values to the United States.

China is also forcing American Airlines to treat Taiwan as part of China, and it bullied Mercedes-Benz into apologizing for quoting the Dalai Lama. It made Marriott fire an employee for “wrongfully liking” a tweet by an organization that favors Tibetan independence.

There’s not much we can do about a dictator like Xi bullying his own citizens, but we should not let him stifle debate in our country.

Let me interrupt this diatribe, however, for important context. Those of us who criticize Xi must also have the humility to acknowledge that child mortality is now lower in Beijing than in Washington, D.C., that China has established new universities at a rate of one a week and that Shanghai’s public schools put our own school systems to shame.

So, yes, let’s stand up to Chinese bullying — and speak up when China detains at least one million Muslims, in what may be the biggest internment of people based on religion since the Holocaust. But let’s also note that China has helped lift more people out of poverty more quickly than any nation in history. With China, it’s always helpful to hold at least two contradictory ideas in our heads at the same time.”

Xi’s anxiety about the internet, religion, Hong Kong protesters, even Winnie-the-Pooh underscores his own insecurities. Xi seems terrified that real information will infiltrate the Chinese echo chamber, undermining his propaganda department’s personality cult around a benign “Uncle Xi.”

Source: Opinion | Let’s Not Take Cues From a Country That Bans Winnie the Pooh – The New York Times

Posted in: Bullies and Scoundrels, China, Nicholas Kristof

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Opinion | Is China Heading for Crisis? – by Bret Stephens – The New York Times

“In 2001, Gordon Chang, an American lawyer who had spent many years in Hong Kong and Shanghai, published a book forebodingly titled “The Coming Collapse of China.” At the time, the thesis seemed improbable, if not preposterous.

It looks a great deal less improbable now.

China — or, rather, the Chinese regime — is in trouble. Tuesday’s gigantic parade in Beijing to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic looked like something out of the late Brezhnev era: endless military pomp and gray old men. Hong Kong is in its fourth straight month of protests, marked and stained by this week’s shooting of an unarmed teenage demonstrator. The Chinese economy is growing at its slowest rate in 27 years, even when going by the overstated official figures.

Meantime, capital is fleeing China — an estimated $1.2 trillion in the past decade — while foreign investors sour on Chinese markets. Beijing’s loudly touted Belt-and-Road initiative looks increasingly like a swamp of corruption, malinvestment and bad debt. Its retaliatory options in the face of Donald Trump’s trade war are bad and few. And General Secretary Xi Jinping has created a cult-of-personality dictatorship in a style unseen since Mao Zedong, China’s last disastrous emperor.

Remember the “Chinese Dream” — Xi’s vision of China as a modern, powerful, and “moderately well-off” state? Forget it. The current task for Chinese leadership is to avoid a full-blown nightmare of international isolation, economic decline, and domestic revolt.”

Source: Opinion | Is China Heading for Crisis? – The New York Times

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment
Bret writes well, but doesn’t seem to know much about China. In reading the comments, I am reminded that most Chinese do not care about democracy, but getting out of poverty, and they are pleased with their government.
One astute writer this summer, pointed out that China doesn’t need Hong Kong’s market anymore. The Chinese market makes China independent financially from Hong Kong. That writer suggested that the dissidents of Hong Kong are doomed. I am impressed that the CCP has announced a $500 billion push over the next five years into solar and sustainable energy. They have announced that all cars will be electric by 2030, and now have 42 companies making electric cars. The News Hour showed last night that you have to join a lottery to get a automoblie license, and it getting harder and harder to get a license for gas vehicles.
A Vietnamese professor teaching at a universtiy in the USA, recently reported that the top government officials of Vietnam have been bought out by the Chinese CCP, and are quietly not fighting China’s take over of the South China Sea. There is a question among my friends about whether a democracy like the United States, is capable of dealing with the existencial threat of the climate crisis.
If the oil and gas companies continue to control our politics for their short term profit, we might be the biggest threat to our own future.
David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion” and blogs at InconvenientNews.net.

Posted in: China, David Lindsay, Hong Kong

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Opinion | Hong Kong’s Protests Could Be Another Social Media Revolution That Ends in Failure – By Thomas L. Friedman – The New York Times

Thomas L. Friedman

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Opinion Columnist

CreditCreditAn Rong Xu for The New York Times

“HONG KONG — Pay attention to Hong Kong. The three months of protests here speak volumes about the state of democracy today — how the human quest for freedom can’t be snuffed out, even by the most powerful autocratic systems, and how hard it is to turn that quest into lasting change in the age of Twitter when everyone is a leader, a follower, a broadcaster and a critic, and compromise becomes nearly impossible.

Yes, Hong Kong reminds us that people — God bless them — have both bodies and souls. And the great mistake that autocrats regularly make is thinking that they can thrive indefinitely by feeding just the first and not the second.

While the Hong Kong protests have been fed by many grievances, including income gaps and shortages of affordable housing, the hot molten lava of this volcano is that many Hong Kongers self-identify as free men and women and they viscerally reject the ruling bargain the Communist Party has imposed on mainland China and would like to impose on Hong Kong: To get rich is glorious, but to speak your mind is dangerous.

Why do Hong Kongers feel compelled to assert their identity as a free people now? It’s because anyone who visited China over the last 30 years knows that it is so much more open today than it was three decades ago — and it is so much more closed today than it was five years ago.”

David Lindsay:  Thomas Friedman is on to something. There are flaws in the piece, which are exposed in the NYT Comments, but his general idea is sound, and disturbing. I worry that the people of Hong Kong are in deep trouble, and hope they negotiate with some care to manage the greedy dragon which is Communist China.

Source: Opinion | Hong Kong’s Protests Could Be Another Social Media Revolution That Ends in Failure – The New York Times

Posted in: China, Hong Kong, Journalism, Media and Social Media, Thomas Friedman

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Opinion | The Battle for Hong Kong Is Being Fought in Sydney and Vancouver – By Louisa Lim – The New York Times

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Ms. Lim, the author of “The People’s Republic of Amnesia: Tiananmen Revisited,” is writing a book about Hong Kong.

CreditCreditTyrone Siu/Reuters

“MELBOURNE, Australia — As the police deploy tear gas against protesters on the streets of Hong Kong, another battle is raging less visibly: the one for narrative control. After weeks of asserting that the unrest had been orchestrated by foreign “black hands,” Chinese officials on Monday accused protesters of showing the first signs of “terrorism.” Such messaging is key to Beijing’s public opinion operation, which has been turned up to full volume.

The weapons of this information war include a flood of social media posts from state-run media, some carrying misinformation. When a woman dispensing first aid was shot in the eye by the Hong Kong police, the state-run CCTV reported on its official social media account that she had been shot by protesters. It also accused her of handing out money to demonstrators. Chinese readers are unlikely to question the veracity of such an authoritative source, and CCTV’s Weibo post, which says the movement is slandering the Hong Kong police by blaming them for the injury, has been liked more than 700,000 times.

Ten weeks ago, when Hong Kongers first took to the streets to protest disputed extradition legislation, Beijing censored all reports of this civil unrest. But in recent days, it has reveled in posting video of protesters purportedly using air guns, slingshots and petrol bombs against the police. The state-run Global Times has described protesters as “nothing more than street thugs who want Hong Kong to ‘go to hell,’” or as people who had “voluntarily stripped themselves of their national identity.” Such descriptions are aimed at delegitimizing the protesters’ cause, especially among educated mainlanders who might otherwise be sympathetic.

Chinese people living or studying overseas are another important audience for Beijing’s messaging. Their primary news diet is largely delivered via WeChat, a Chinese chat app where messages are subject to censorship, so they often still fall within Beijing’s propaganda orbit. Recent pictures of an American diplomat meeting two activists, Joshua Wong and Nathan Law, were used to bolster Beijing’s claims of hostile foreign forces backing the protests. On Tuesday, scenes of a Chinese state media worker being tied up at the airport and beaten by young protesters flooded Chinese social media, bolstering calls for Beijing to intervene militarily in Hong Kong.”

Source: Opinion | The Battle for Hong Kong Is Being Fought in Sydney and Vancouver – The New York Times

David Lindsay:  The protesters have tactics, but do they have a strategy?

Posted in: Australia, Bullies and Scoundrels, China, Hong Kong

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