New CIV home is now up and running :)

Hello readers,

The new home of CIV is now almost ready (still fine tuning broken links but i guess i would never able to complete :P).

Two new posts there today. Please check out

Thank you very much.

Susanna Ng

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CIV is moving to a new home soon...

Hello CIV friends,

I've decided to find CIV a more permanent home. I've roughly set up a site with domain:

(not all the links are working yet)

hopefully the more intuitive domain will help readers type fewer characters getting to us. :PPP

I'd like to see if our readers have something to say about the new look and feel before I finally open it to business. Please feel free to give me any comments and suggestions. :)))

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Sydney paper: 'Western media shows its ugly face'

An article appears on Sydney Morning Herald reflects on how the western media have been handling the "chubby face, crooked teeth" incident. Hope we can see more of these self-reflections from the western media.

(Related CIV discussion here.)

The title of the story is: Western media shows its ugly face

Here's an excerpt (full article here):

Chen's comments strongly imply an unnamed leader considered that Yang's replacement, nine year-old Lin Miaoke, had a "flawless" image. But the bit about Yang's alleged ugliness, chubby face or uneven teeth was a Western media description repeated a thousand times across the world - as if it was the verified judgment of the Chinese Government.

Hundreds of foreign journalists, most of whom cannot speak Chinese and had been in China for only a week or so, replicated each other's stories without bothering or having the time or ability to check the evidence themselves.

The Western media tended to portray Yang as the victim because the communist state deemed her too ugly for a place in the global spotlight. But perhaps if we had the facts straight we might have focused more on her nine-year-old replacement, Lin Miaoke.

Lin may still not know that her voice was not the one heard by billions of television viewers.

"At her house no one has spoken about this," a relative of Lin Miaoke told the Herald yesterday.

"We have prevented her from looking at the comments that have been posted on her website. There are many people who have attacked her and the family for being 'fake' and having no sense of shame.

"I'm worried that she does understand a little of this. My greatest worry is that when she starts school [after the summer holidays] all her school friends will ask about it. And it will break Miaoke's young heart.

"She is a beautiful singer but her voice is soft. I don't know exactly what happened."

The fact that Chen Qigan and the movie director Zhang Yimou helped shape the opening ceremony shows that the Chinese state is making some room for art over politics. The fact both men have given extensive and revealing interviews to the Chinese media hints at the epic, evolving struggle between art and politics in China.

At these Olympics there has been ample evidence of government obfuscation, fabrication and authoritarianism. But the complexity of China's epic struggle with itself is often lost.

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Sydney Olympic faked it too! Where was/is the attention from the western media?

While Beijing might have used one girl to mime another to sing on the Olympic opening ceremony, Sydney used an entire orchestra to mime for another on stage during the 2000 Olympic's opening show.

Australia's newspaper The Age uncovered this shocking news, and yet, the musicians asked to sign "confidentiality agreement" weren't allowed to speak. At the very least, Beijing didn't put up a gag order upon its musical director Chen Qigang, singer/performer Yang Peiyi and Lin Miaoke. You tell me, who is greater cheater?

When The Age names this the "great Olympic musical deceptions of our time", let's observe how the western media drum up on this one. We then can all have a good sense of whether the western media are biased or not.

BTW, The Age's report was out two days ago on Aug 24, 2008, so far I have heard/seen/read nothing about the Australian embarrassment in any Canadian media yet.

(Thanks Taikor for the great discovery.)

Great Olympic musical deceptions of our time

The Age - SYDNEY has its Opera House - but has it got a real orchestra? Within days of NSW Premier Morris Iemma making unwise cracks about Melbourne being left off the World Monopoly board, The Sunday Age can reveal that the Sydney Symphony Orchestra mimed key parts of its performance at the opening of the Sydney Games in 2000.

And it gets better - it was, in fact, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra whose brilliant playing was heard by millions around the world at the Sydney Olympic opening ceremony.

The MSO's superior sounds (pre-recorded just for the ceremony) were played as the orchestra went through the motions - the showbiz short cut of using "backing tapes", usually done to carry ageing or incompetent performers. Remember Milli Vanilli?

So, when everyone was tut-tutting about seven-year-old singer Yang Peiyi being replaced by the "prettier" Lin Miaoke for the Beijing Games opening two weeks ago, there must have been much squirming at the SSO's Pitt Street headquarters.

For eight years it has been one of the best-kept secrets in Sin City.
Please read the full article from The Age.

Well commented by the Sydney Morning Herald:
Madonna has done it, so have Milli Vanilli and the "flawless" Chinese singer Lin Miaoke. But miming isn't a technique associated with the world's great orchestras.
P.S. As of Aug 26, 2008 11:37 a.m. ET, a Google search for "Sydney Olympic" (tried to make the search as broad as possible) only gave me ONE return on the Sydney miming fiasco that was reported by non-Australian media. This was done by the New York Times with a headline so unprovocative that I almost missed it: "Sydney Comes Clean on Olympic Miming".

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Rogge: girls' age 'OK at first sight'

Bloomberg - A Chinese Olympic gymnastics champion whose age is under investigation had her date of birth incorrectly registered at a tournament last year, leading to inaccurate reports of her age, Chinese officials said today.

The International Olympic Committee this week asked the international gymnastics ruling body to probe the age of He Kexin following the emergence of Chinese media reports from last year that, if accurate, indicated she was younger than the 16- year-old minimum for Olympic gymnastics.

"The Chinese Gymnastics Association has conducted serious checks (of He Kexin's age)," said Cui Dalin, China's deputy Chef de Mission, at a press conference today in Beijing. "When He was transferred to another team to attend last year's National City Games, her age was registered wrongly."

He was listed as 13 in a Nov. 3, 2007, report by the state- run Xinhua News Agency. The International Gymnastics Federation said yesterday that it's still gathering information about the ages following the IOC request.

"The registration error caused all the misunderstanding thereafter," said Cui. "All Chinese gymnasts meet age requirements for the Olympics."

China has submitted legal documents, including passports and identification cards to the federation, he said.

The documents looked "OK at the first sight," IOC President Jacques Rogge told reporters at a separate news conference today, relaying the federation's early findings.

The federation is continuing a "thorough check" before reporting to the IOC, Rogge said. The ruling body for gymnastics, in a statement late yesterday, said the process "may take some time."

The Chinese last week defeated the Americans to win the team competition, and He won gold in the uneven bars over Nastia Liukin of the U.S. Lu Shanzhen, chief coach of the women's gymnastics team, said Aug. 22 that the suspicion about ages had affected the team's preparation.

"Such doubt emerged just because China's women gymnasts confronted the U.S. team strongly," she said.

Xinhua's 2007 story said He was 13 when she won the championship on uneven bars at the National City Games in central China's Wuhan city last year. The agency said last week the story was accurate based on the information provided at the games and that it would not issue a correction.

Huang Yubin, chief coach of the Chinese gymnastics team, said two days ago that doubts were raised because of the smaller physique of Asian athletes. He weighs 33 kilograms (73 pounds), while Liukin is 45kg.

"Because Asian gymnasts are different in terms of physiques, there is this kind of doubt, which shouldn't have happened," he told reporters today.

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AP: Maybe it's time to open Olympics to all ages

AP - Being a young gymnast wasn't always a bad thing. Nadia Comaneci, after all, was just 14 when she scored a perfect 10 to win gold in Montreal.

The philosophy of the time was old enough to vault, old enough to compete.

The way a budding age scandal has clouded the gymnastic competition in these games, maybe it's time to return to the days when no one had to produce an ID to compete.

The age issue resurfaced Friday with the International Olympic Committee urging the people who run gymnastics to make sure five Chinese gymnasts are really 16 as the Chinese claim. The IOC did so after being prodded by U.S. officials to take one last look at the true ages of medal winners He Kexin, Yang Yilin and others.

There's some motivation behind the U.S. request, which came days after the IOC and gymnastics officials declared themselves satisfied. Should the Chinese be found to be underage, there's a couple of gold medals that could be inherited.
Today in Sports
Bolt does it again; American wins decathlon
Fairytale ending for Dutch field hockey team
Many surprises for Chinese on way to success

It's a longshot because ages are verified by passports and the two gymnasts have passports showing they are 16. And the International Gymnastics Federation isn't going to find any official evidence showing otherwise.

But there are questions that haven't been answered.

Earlier this month, the AP found registration lists posted on official Chinese sports Web sites that showed He listed as being born Jan. 1, 1994, and Yang on Aug. 26, 1993. That would make both of them 14, not the 16 the Chinese now say they are.

And the reason the Chinese might have to tell a fib? Simple, young girls make perfect gymnasts, with their bodies and minds uncluttered with the fear of falling and failure.

Worked for Comaneci. And some think it worked for the Chinese here.

It wouldn't be the first time a country tried to pull a fast one in gymnastics. North Korea was barred from the 1993 world championships after FIG officials discovered one of the country's gold medalists was listed as 15 for three years in a row.

But the idea that either the IOC or FIG will step in and do something about Chinese medalists who look suspiciously like 12-year-olds who raided their mother's makeup drawer is almost laughable.

That's despite a controversy that already seems older than some of the girls.

Take one look at them and it's clear to an untrained eye they're awfully young. They have little teeth, unformed bodies and carry themselves with the gait of girls who have yet to begin planning their Sweet 16 parties.

At the end of last year the Chinese government's own official news agency, Xinhua, reported that He Kexin was 13, identifying her as one of the sport's upcoming stars. And He looks even older than Yang Yilin, the other medal winner in question.

But they have passports, and they have identity cards. To rule against them would be akin to charging the host country with forgery and fraud, something that's not about to happen during these games.

"The Chinese government and the Chinese athletes must be respected," China coach Lu Shanzan warned.

Lu claimed the parents of the gymnasts were indignant about the whole thing, though he didn't bring any forward to say so. Interestingly enough, Yang told reporters after winning a bronze in the all-around that she hadn't been home in more than a year, didn't know when she last saw her parents, and didn't know if they were watching the Olympics.

There's no real way of telling how old any athletes are if their governments want to go to great lengths to hide their ages. And we'll probably never know the true ages of He and Yang unless they decide 10 years from now to tell their story.

The real question might be why there is an age limit in the first place. The reasoning behind making 16 the minimum age in 1997 was to protect young girls from injury, but if ages can't be enforced there's not much point to keeping an artificial limit.

There's a lot of other young athletes in these games, including a 12-year-old swimmer from Cameroon and a 13-year-old swimmer from Seychelles. The U.S. even has a 15-year-old diver on its team.

Young athletes aren't the real problem. It's the parents, coaches and countries who drive them to compete at too young an age that make it an issue.

Maybe it's time to open the Olympics to all ages.

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China wins all 3 ping pong medals

Wow! Quite a scene!

Three Chinese flags are raised for gold medalist Zhang Yining, silver medalist Wang Nan, and bronze medalist Guo Yue, during the medal presentation of the women's singles table tennis competition at the Beijing 2008 Olympics in Beijing,Friday, Aug. 22, 2008. (AP Photo/Chitose Suzuki)

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IOC orders probe over Chinese gymnast's age

hekexin What do you think about this one?? I don't want to believe it but....

According to this Hong Kong blogger (in Chinese), Chinese netizens have been digging out a lot of evidence, including info released previously by the General Administration of Sports of China in 2006. In that article titled "2006 list of registered athletes of all sports categories" (关于公布2006年度各项目注册运动员名单的通知), He Kexin's birthday was listed as January 1, 1994. But of course when I clicked into the "gymnasts" link today, it gave me a 404 error page.

The China Media Project by the Journalism and Media Studies Centre of the University of Hong Kong has a collection of previous China media reports on He's age.

However, I still cling on a thin hope that none of these is true. Let's all wait and see for another while.

Reuters - The International Olympic Committee has asked the Interna ional Gymnastics Federation to investigate claims that Chinese double gold medallist He Kexin is younger than the eligible age to compete in the Games.

He, registered at the Beijing Olympics as 16, won team gold and a gold on the asymmetric bars. She was registered as having been born on Jan. 1, 1992. Gymnasts must turn 16 in the year of the Games to be allowed to compete.

"Given that there have been some discrepancies regarding her age that have come to light, we have asked the FIG to look into this matter," an IOC official told Reuters.

"It is because of these discrepancies that we have asked for this investigation to start."

FIG spokesman Philippe Silacci declined to comment, but a statement earlier this month from the governing body said strict measures were taken when sorting out accreditation and that the IOC had confirmed all gymnasts' passports had been valid.

He's age has been under scrutiny since the start of the Games and various media have reported she had competed in past events under a different birthdate.

A U.S. computer expert had said in emails to the media on Thursday he had uncovered Chinese state documents that proved He was born in 1994 and not 1992.

The caption on a photograph published by Chinese state news agency Xinhua last year referred to "13-year-old He Kexin".

He, who pipped American Nastia Liukin under the tiebreak rule to snatch the Olympic asymmetric bars title, has repeatedly faced questions over her age at news conferences.

Each time she has replied: "My real age is 16. I don't care what other people say."

As well as He, others who have come under scrutiny in American media for their age are her team mates Jiang Yuyuan and Yang Yilin. They were not named by the IOC in its call for an investigation.

China have had their most successful showing in the gymnastics at an Olympics, winning nine gold medals out of the 14 up for grabs.

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Which country fakes more?

An extremely funny and insightful post from Please read on, you won't regret :)

China Fakes Olympics - US Fakes Most Everything

Are you enjoying watching the fake Olympics? By "fake," of course, I'm referring to all the fabrications that have emerged since the opening of the event. Each day, it seems, brings news of yet another fabrication by China. Here's a short list of the fabrications that have been discovered so far:

• The weather is fake: Beijing is usually a smog pit with air so polluted that city-dwellers there almost never see the sun. To artificially clean up the air and create the image that Beijing is a clean city (it isn't), Chinese officials ordered the shutting down of virtually all manufacturing plants, coal-fired power plants, and automobiles. They've basically shut down Beijing to create the impression that it's a clean city, and when there's still smog, they just call it, "mist." (Tony Snow couldn't have spun it better, huh?)

• The free speech is fake: All the freedom protestors who might have spoken out against China during the Olympics have been arrested and imprisoned, thereby creating the impression that there is no public dissent in China. (Need a kidney, anyone? Organs are suddenly available...)

• The opening ceremony was faked: The fireworks displayed during the opening ceremony were faked using pre-programmed computer generated images. Instead of watching live fireworks, viewers around the world were actually watching 3D computer animation.

• The Internet access is censored: Reporters from around the world have all had their internet access censored by Chinese authorities, restricting them from accessing websites that might be "dangerous" (like sites on religion or meditation).

• The singing was lip-synced by a pretty girl to replace an ugly girl: It turns out the beautiful voice singing the opening song of the ceremony did not belong to the face of the girl who was lip-syncing it. The actual singer, it turns out, was a bit too ugly to represent China, so they faked it and replaced the girl's face with a cuter-looking girl who lip-synced the whole performance. Millie Vanilli, anyone?

• Swimmer Michael Phelps' food is fake: Consuming a whopping 12,000 calories a day, Michael Phelps is a junk food junkie powered by empty calories. While you can get away with that when you're 23 and exercising six hours a day, if Phelps continues his ingestion of fake food beyond his peak training years, he'll soon have REAL diabetes and obesity. Fat makes you float, by the way, so it might actually provide real buoyancy to his swimming career...

• The ages and passports are faked: The Chinese gymnastics team won gold, helped in part by a tiny gymnast who, according to China's own media, was 13 years old just nine months ago. Amazingly, she is now 16 years old, which just happens to be the minimum age to compete in the Olympics. This astonishing acceleration of aging is, of course, fully denied by Chinese authorities who provided forged passports for the girl to "prove" she was really 16. The IOC apparently has no interest in investigating this apparent fraud.

So I hope you're enjoying the fake Olympics. Most of the athletes are real, of course. Their remarkable feats of human artistry, strength, endurance and athleticism are real, but the whole show surrounding it is fake, fake, fake! It's all a fabricated show to keep the world occupied while your money, your health and your future is stolen from you by the criminal institutions of the world (governments, corporations, etc.), many of which are actually sponsoring the Olympics.

Much in America is fabricated, too...

Now, just in case you think China is the only country engaged in fakery, let me remind you that the United States is just as fake, but in different ways. In the U.S.:

• The war on terrorism is fake: It was all fabricated to keep the population in a state of fear so they wouldn't notice their freedoms being stolen away.

• The mainstream media is fake: The news is largely fabricated or selectively edited to brainwash American consumers into thinking they live in a free country. Corporate press releases are run as "news" and any real news that threatens big advertisers is routinely censored.

• The money supply is fake: The U.S. is running on monetary fumes, borrowing trillions from countries like China that actually have REAL money, all while claiming the national debt doesn't matter anymore. (It does.)

• The housing bubble was fake: As publicly predicted here nearly two years ago, the housing bubble was fake, creating false wealth that created the impression that the economy was doing well. The whole thing was a charade, of course, and now housing values are plummeting and consumer spending is in a tailspin.

• Health care is fake: There's no "health" in health care, and the entire disease industry in the United States is based on keeping people sick, ignorant and bankrupt.

• The corporate green movement is fake: Corporations love to act like they're really "green" even as they continue polluting the planet.

• Even the breasts are fake! The U.S. is the plastic surgery capital of the world, where moms are now giving their teenage daughters breast augmentation surgery as a high school graduation present.

It's quite fitting, then, that American viewers who live in a fabricated American reality can watch the fake Olympics by tuning into a fake television network where they can watch a fake opening ceremony that celebrates competition among fraudulent Olympics participants who compete for the only thing that's still real in this global economy: GOLD! /Mike Adams

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Threat to a people, not patriotism, matters

I'm completely appalled by some comments made by Mr Cheuk Kwan to the Globe and Mail today in an article/discussion titled "Has Chinese patriotism changed?"

I don't agree with many points Mr Kwan raised but I respect his opinions. However, I cannot remain silent on his statements quoted as follows, which in my opinion, do not have grounds:

... mainland Chinese, and by extension, Chinese Canadian immigrants often do not distinguish the three separate entities: Chinese people, Chinese as a nation, and the Chinese government. And that distinction is not made very clear by the Chinese-language media in Canada, where most immigrants still get their news. ree separate entities: Chinese people, Chinese as a nation, and the Chinese government. And that distinction is not made very clear by the Chinese-language media in Canada, where most immigrants still get their news.
A participant sent in a following up question:
Springfire from ShenZheng China: Mr. Kwan said: 'because mainland Chinese, and by extension, Chinese Canadian immigrants often do not distinguish the three separate entities: Chinese people, Chinese as a nation, and the Chinese government.' Do I hear it right? Essentially Mr. Kwan is saying that these Chinese are just stupid. Who the hell you are, Mr. Kwan to judge that?
And Mr Kwan replied:
Cheuk Kwan: Dear Springfire, I feel sorry for you if you don't understand what I am trying to say. Many Chinese, perhaps you included, have been conditioned by centuries of history and by your current government into thinking the three entities are the same.
I'm a Chinese born and raised in Hong Kong and have been living in the west long enough to be certain that I am not influenced or conditioned by any government. To me, the Chinese people, China as a nation and the Chinese government are distinctive of each other. Just like I don't meddle with the terms "the Canadians, Canada as a nation and the Canadian government".

If Mr Kwan ever goes online to check out those popular online forum where Chinese immigrants debate on everything from taxes, welfare, crimes to Canadian politics, and the Olympics, China etc etc, he could easily read a lot of comments critical of the Chinese government (and aslo the Canadian government). And let me help Mr Kwan understand, these are "recent mainland immigrants". As I said in another post, many of the mainland friends I talked to disagree with Beijing in many ways on its Olympic grandstanding. But that doesn't prevent them to cheer on both China's Guo Jingjing and Canada's Carol Huynh (myself included).

I also said before it was the feeling of an "ethnic crisis" -- that the west are reluctant to accept the Chinese as peace-loving global citizens AS A PEOPLE -- that has united all Chinese around the world after the Tibet riot etc. It's not necessarily the CCP government per se that the Chinese rallied behind. You can be critical of your government while still you'd stand on guard for your country and people when they are threatened by evil forces.

Clearly, the Chinese aren't as dumb as Mr Kwan and many western media would love to believe. Besides, how could Mr Kwan make a judgemental statement that Chinese do not distinguish between "Chinese people, Chinese as a nation, and the Chinese government" and so doesn't the Chinese language media? Did he do any survey on this? Any research evident to support his claims? If this is something made out of the blue and hence is just Mr Kwan's opinion, he should not have made it look like it were the fact and the fact we all share.

Quite in the contrary, Mr Kwan's concern of "3 Chinese" is EXACTLY the problem of the west when they address news related to the Chinese and/or China in general. The west, especailly the western media (and I cannot agree with Mr Kwan on his belief that the Globe and Mail's China reports are fair and balanced), is accustomed to lump all Chinese together, as if we are manufactured with one mould and thus do not have independent thinking and judgement. Mr Kwan himself in one example. I'd argue strongly that his words that got published in the G&M (and guess why so) cannot represent the majority of Chinese Canadians.

I wonder how long hasn't Mr Kwan visited China? Has he ever discussed in depth on Chinese government policies with "recent mainland Chinese immigrants"? Has he ever read any debate on internet forums frequented by Chinese Canadian immigrants? Mr Kwan has a lot to catch up with his knowledge about the Chinese Canadians before he should sell himself as representing the community. Please help the rest of us to stop spreading stereotypes of the Chinese people that the west loves to stick to.

For a quick reference, perhaps Mr Kwan could get an education from a comment left to the end of his G&M article by this gentleman:
Marcus T from Toronto, Canada writes: I visit China often and I work with the people in the Academies. I was in Tibet for an extensive visit and came back to only about about two weeks before the riot in March. I have been back to China several times since then and I have witness the rise of the resentment amongst the Chinese people , particularly the young, against the western media and some political commentators and spokesmen for their 'sin' in the handling of the Tibet incident. This sentiment grew at a phenomenal rate following the disruptions of the Olympic Torch runs in London, Paris and New York. Most Chinese people consider this as an attack on them and their country but not on their Government because they consider the Games as their Games. Their indignation has brought them into rallying to the support of their Government. 'Defending the motherland' was the battle cry! At one point the Chinese Government was enjoying as high as 90% support from its citizen! Never in the few thousand years of history had a government enjoy such a overwhelming support from its people! The sad thing was that most foreign media intrepret it as the rising of Chinese nationalism, which I strongly disagree. It is more like patriotism rising to the defence of their motherland. Just before the earth quake in Sichuan, I have written to several media organizations including the CNN, NY Times, Washington Post, CBC and the G&M. I feel that these organizations are partly responsible for the rise of this sentiment in China. The scary thing is that they continue to call it 'nationalism', some of them even call it narrow 'minded nationalism', a phrse use by some oversea chinese descendants too. Since it is an inclusive movement, it is not an exclusive nationalism. Rightly or wrongly, the Chinese people, not their Government, perceive them to be unfairly under attack they feel that they have to rally behind their Governmnet. I have discussed this point with my colleagues at the academies and there is consensus in what I said.
David Brooks, a columnist from NYT parachutted into China to cover the China beat, recently wrote a controversial article which could highlight the overly simplistic, generalized view of the Chinese people common among the westerners:
You can create a global continuum with the most individualistic societies - like the United States or Britain - on one end, and the most collectivist societies - like China or Japan - on the other.

The individualistic countries tend to put rights and privacy first. People in these societies tend to overvalue their own skills and overestimate their own importance to any group effort. People in collective societies tend to value harmony and duty. They tend to underestimate their own skills and are more self-effacing when describing their contributions to group efforts.


But what happens if collectivist societies snap out of their economic stagnation? What happens if collectivist societies, especially those in Asia, rise economically and come to rival the West? A new sort of global conversation develops.

The opening ceremony in Beijing was a statement in that conversation. It was part of China’s assertion that development doesn’t come only through Western, liberal means, but also through Eastern and collective ones.

The ceremony drew from China’s long history, but surely the most striking features were the images of thousands of Chinese moving as one - drumming as one, dancing as one, sprinting on precise formations without ever stumbling or colliding. We’ve seen displays of mass conformity before, but this was collectivism of the present - a high-tech vision of the harmonious society performed in the context of China’s miraculous growth.
Brooks' article quickly attracted huge debate on the internet last week. One is from the real China expert John Pomfret (who have lived in China for decades) from Washington Post:
I wonder if Brooks has ever seen American marching bands, or line dancing, or visited a high school where the coolest kids are always part of a group - say, the football or basketball teams. I would argue that in many way Americans bow more to the group than the Chinese, which explains why the Chinese party-state has been so intent on forcing comformity.

Even more, I wonder if Brooks has ever driven in China (look out for grandma!), or sharpened his elbows in the scrum that forms each time you try to get off an airplane, or tried to get Chinese co-workers to band together. Let's just say in the decade that I've lived in China (over the course of 30 years), I haven't seen or heard much collectivist impulse except when it was rammed down the throats of ordinary Chinese.

And as to Brooks' point about China's rise being attributed somehow to collectivist impulses. Wait a second. The most dynamic sector of China's economy is the private one. It's a nation of entrepreneurs. It's a culture of entrepreneurs. Look at Hong Kong, or Sydney, or Main Street Flushing and now Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Chengdu. That's Chinese and it's "individualist" up the wazoo.
Other tough criticism such as:

Peking Duck: But Brooks seems to have literally no insight into what he’s writing about nor does he seem to have done any basic research. This piece has a”gee whiz” tone to it that I’d expect to read in a blog by someone visiting China for the first time, but not in a NYT column. At least he acknowledges that he’s completely ignorant.

James Fallows: This is the kind of thing you can say only if you have not the slightest inkling of how completely different a billion-plus people can be from one another. Beijingers from Shanghainese, Guangdong entrepreneurs from farmers in Sichuan, Tibetans from Taiwanese, people who remember the Cultural Revolution from those who don't, people who remember the famines of the Great Leap Forward from people who've always had enough. The guy across the street from his brother. His daughter from his wife. People hanging on in big state enterprises from those starting small firms. People who stayed in the villages from those who came to the city for jobs. Christians from Buddhists. Hu Jintao from Jiang Zemin, Olympic weightlifters from Olympic tennis players, Yao Ming from Liu Xiang, Wen Jiabao from Edison Chen -- and while we're at it, Filipinos from Koreans, Japanese from Chinese, Malaysian Chinese from Malaysian Malays. Lee Kuan Yew from Kim Jong Il. People from Jakarta from people in Seoul. Hey, they're all "Asians".

Language Log: As for David Brooks, he wants to use this stuff as the scientific foundation for the hypothesis that western societies are fundamentally and essentially individualist while Asian societies are fundamentally and essentially collectivist. That might be true, but it's a long and winding road to that conclusion from the complex and equivocal results of various experiments on how people group various triples of words and pictures, or describe undersea scenes. And we should be wary of following David Brooks too far down that road, given that he can't be bothered to keep straight who did which experiments, or whether the subjects were Chinese or Japanese, or whether it was the Americans or the Asians who more often mentioned the focal fish, or essentially any of the evocative details that he loves to use to bring his ideas to life for his readers.

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Finally, a Canadian who understands...

I particularly admire Chretien for having the gut to point out that "We are at the bottom of the ladder in terms of having any influence with China."

I always have a problem with those who believe Canada is influential in international affairs. We might want to, but please get real and don't overblow our ego. (remember how ridiculous and naive we behaved when Harper sent a representative to North Korea -- among his first international relation efforts as a rookie PM in office for only a month or two -- to try mitigating a solution that the world's most powerful countries haven't been able to do in decades? Harper et al never disclose the outcome of that mission but we can all guess.)

And I think Chretien made a very good point here: "You want me to the tell the president of a country of 1.3 billion people you should do this and do that, but I don't dare to say what to do to the premier of Saskatchewan? You have to put things in perspective."

G&M — Prime Minister Stephen Harper has short-sightedly risked relations with China by failing to attend the Olympic games and going overboard in honouring Tibet's Dalai Lama, former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien said Monday.

Speaking to a Canadian Bar Association gathering, Mr. Chrétien said the missteps are indicative of a government that naively fails to understand that the Chinese government has made enormous strides in recent years – and that China has a long "collective memory" when it comes to international slights.

Canadian trade missions that once attracted thousands of people have been reduced to crowds of three hundred – most of them Canadians, Mr. Chrétien told a CBA breakfast meeting.

"But the last meeting I went to, there was 300 people – and most of them were Canadian," he said. "You know, they have a collective memory there that is very important."

Mr. Chrétien said that Canada has to keep in mind that it is too small a global player to hector the Chinese or try to hurt them with boycotts.

"We have to live with reality," he said. "It's 1.3-billion people, and I'm telling you that they are moving fast. You think that Canada is very important in the world? I remember when I was going to China ... the press saying: ' Mr. Chrétien, you have to tell the president of China to do this and do that.'

"Oh really?" Mr. Chrétien continued. "You want me to the tell the president of a country of 1.3 billion people you should do this and do that, but I don't dare to say what to do to the premier of Saskatchewan? You have to put things in perspective."

Speaking to reporters afterward Mr. Chrétien continued his fusillade: "We are at the bottom of the ladder in terms of having any influence with China," he said. "Ask any businessman who has been to China, and he will tell you the same thing."

Mr. Chrétien said that were he still prime minister, he "would not have hesitated for a second" to attend an Olympic games that obviously mean so much to Chinese national pride.

He also took issue with a CBA lawyer who asked him about whether China is likely to "remain resistant to any change" on its human rights record in the wake of the Olympic games.

"To make a broad statement is easy," he said. "Of course, Tibet is a problem. But Tibet has been a province for them for a long, long time. To make the Dalai Lama an honourary citizen of Canada was not a compliment to China."

The Dalai Lama may be a well-received religious icon in Canada, he said, "but for them, the Dalai Lama is not a religious leader...

"I have to tell you that when you say resistant to change, you should have been with me in 1994 when [I] visited China. Go to China today and you'll see there has been a hell of a lot of change," Mr. Chrétien said. "They have improved."

He specifically defended his own record as prime minister, saying that he made 14 trips to China and was "the first Western leader to make a speech about human rights in public in China – at the University of Beijing. Some people who say I never mentioned human rights – they are completely wrong."

But China is not Canada, he said: "You have to engage them. You have to live with the reality they have. If you gave the freedom of movement we give in Canada today, there would be 20 million people arriving in Shanghai within a year. How do you deal with 20 million refugees coming into one city? It's a very realistic problem."

"There is always consequences in what you do," Mr. Chrétien added. "If you think that attacking them would be positive, what do you gain? It is the second biggest economy in the world – and in 50 years, it will be the biggest economy. Suddenly, you break the bridge. It would be so easy to be there (at the Olympics)."

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Negative media attention in reverse

Ha ha. Now it's our turn to taste the bitterness of foreign media having too much interest in our "dark sides". Some of us who might not see why the Chinese have been upset about western media's attention on China's negativities, now it's a chance to learn.

"No one is suggesting this is something you can sweep under the carpet," Campbell said. "In fact, the only people I've ever heard that from, frankly, are people in the media."
CBC - B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell is downplaying reports of a rise in foreign interest in Vancouver's social problems.

During a visit to the Olympic Games in Beijing last week, Campbell faced questions from reporters about problems the province might face during the 2010 Games, including the possibility of road-closing protests over homelessness and poverty in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.

In a brief interview with CBC News on Sunday, Campbell said he wasn't surprised he was questioned about those problems but, he added, "I think the story was blown way out of proportion. I had one question about that."

Campbell said Sunday the province is doing all it can to find housing for the homeless and is making real progress on the issue.

"We're trying to deal with these individuals one on one," the premier said. "We're trying to provide them with personalized support.

"The expansion of the outreach services we've had has been very effective — about 65 to 70 per cent of the people we've dealt with one on one are still in housing a year later."

Come 2010, he said, the world will see the results.

"No one is suggesting this is something you can sweep under the carpet," Campbell said. "In fact, the only people I've ever heard that from, frankly, are people in the media."

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It's 'dysfunctional' to Harper because.....

It seems Harper's real beef is with the problems his government has faced on a set of unique committees chaired by opposition MPs.

Harper was also infuriated when, on two of the remaining 21 standing committees, the opposition attempted to displace routine legislative agendas with ethical controversies.
For a authoritarian leader like this one, I can't imagine what this country would become if he is given a majority. While my anger over his orders to Conservative members to ignore parliamentary summons and not to testify against the party's election financing scheme is still strong, I'm shocked to hear he is the one who cries being victimized. Is this the "strong government", as advertised by Harper et al, that Canadians want?

One friend said he would leave Canada if the Tories wins a majority (pretty much like the phenomenon of "Bush refugees" a few years back). Now I can see a point in him.
Legislative record contradicts Harper claim of parliamentary dysfunction

CP - For a place that Prime Minister Stephen Harper claims is on the brink of anarchy, Parliament has been a busy little beehive since the current session began a year ago this fall.

Notwithstanding some periodic theatrics over alleged Conservative ethical lapses, MPs from all four parties have often put partisanship aside to produce results when required.

By June, no fewer than 29 bills had received royal assent and become law since the session started in October.

And despite the fireworks at three politically charged committees, two dozen others have been quietly labouring away for months on a range of bills and hot topics, from the seal harvest to climate change.

In the final week alone before the summer recess, MPs tabled nine committee reports, sped through a series of last-minute votes, approved $335,000 worth of finance committee travel and unanimously rushed through a bill reforming military court martials.

Nevertheless, the prime minister labelled Parliament "dysfunctional" last week, maintained the committee system was "in chaos" and warned he would "have to make a judgment in the next little while" on whether it's worth going on.

The remarks were widely seen as a signal a fall election may be in the offing. But opposition critics say legislative gridlock can't be used as an excuse for an autumn campaign.

"I don't accept that Parliament is dysfunctional at all," says NDP MP Pat Martin.

"Most committees are functioning well, and the government is advancing its agenda, subject to some of the compromises you'd expect in a minority Parliament."

It seems Harper's real beef is with the problems his government has faced on a set of unique committees chaired by opposition MPs.

Harper was also infuriated when, on two of the remaining 21 standing committees, the opposition attempted to displace routine legislative agendas with ethical controversies.

Those confrontations have consumed only a small fraction of parliamentary business, but they've eaten up most of the headlines from Ottawa.

It began soon after Parliament resumed last October.

The opposition majority on a Commons rules panel - the procedure and House affairs committee - attempted to mount an inquiry into allegations of rule-breaking in $1.3 million worth of Conservative election ads.

The committee quickly ground to a halt, tempers rose and Tory MPs countered with the unprecedented spectacle of a government filibuster.

Early last March, the opposition voted out Conservative chair Gary Goodyear, using its majority to elect a new government chair, Joe Preston, over his own objections.

Preston unwillingly took the gavel, banged it down and adjourned the meeting. He refused to call another one and soon resigned. The government refused to nominate any chair other than Goodyear, the opposition wouldn't accept him, and the committee hasn't met since then.

A similar standoff developed in the justice committee, where the opposition insisted on holding an inquiry into allegations that Conservatives offered the late independent MP Chuck Cadman financial inducements to help defeat the Liberal minority government in 2005.

The confrontation began in March and, like the deadlock in the House affairs committee, disabled the justice panel until the June adjournment.

Tory chair Art Hanger's solution was a simple one. He left the chair any time the Liberals tried to press a motion on the Cadman affair.

In the government operations committee, also chaired by the opposition, MPs held a brief inquiry into allegations that one of Harper's aides had intervened in a contract dispute between a Montreal firm and the Public Works Department. The committee also grilled Environment Minister John Baird over allegations he interfered in a City of Ottawa election by withholding federal aid for a light-rail project.

Shortly before the Commons broke for the summer, the opposition was attempting to steer the panel toward another controversy - the disclosure that former foreign affairs minister Maxime Bernier had left classified NATO briefing documents at a girlfriend's Montreal home.

With that inquiry facing the Tories in September, and the ethics committee set to resume its own inquiry into Conservative election advertising, the motives behind Harper's sweeping statement about parliamentary paralysis may be understandable.

In the meantime, though, MPs on the finance committee are set to conduct hearings in the Prairie provinces and B.C. for a fourth Conservative budget.

And government and opposition MPs are planning to board the same plane to Belgium when they resume an inquiry into the seal harvest's fate.

It will be business as usual, including the fireworks.

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Canadians impressed with China’s organization of the Games: poll

Angus Reid release - Many adults in Canada hold positive views on the way China has handled the Beijing 2008 Olympics, but few believe the summer games will lead to democratic change in the long term, a new Angus Reid Strategies poll has found.


  • 54% are interested in the Beijing Olympic Games
  • 64% say the organization of the games in China has been good
  • 63% say their image of China has remained the same
In the online survey of a representative national sample, 64% of respondents say the organization of the Olympics by China has been good (25% very good, 39% moderately good), while just 12% deem it bad.

Almost two-in-five university graduates (37%) give China a "very good" rating after the opening ceremony and the first few days of competition.

Canadians were asked if their image of China has changed since the Olympics began. Roughly one-in-seven (14%) report and improvement, while one-in-five (19%) say their views have actually worsened.

A majority of respondents (63%) did not experience a shift in their views on China. Albertans are particularly critical, with more than one-in-four (27%) claiming that their image of China is now worse than before the start of the games.

After Beijing was chosen as the host city, International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge said the games were awarded to a country "that will change, that is changing." Canadians are particularly doubtful of this notion. Almost two-thirds of respondents (64%) think that the organization of the Olympic Games by China will not alter the democratic situation in the country. Residents of Manitoba and Saskatchewan (78%) and Canadians over the age of 55 (75%) are the most skeptical.

In all, 53% of Canadians say they are very or moderately interested in the Beijing Olympic Games, while 31% report being not too interested, and 17% are not interested at all.

From August 14 to August 15, 2008 Angus Reid Strategies conducted an online survey among a randomly selected, representative sample of 1,004 adult Canadians. The margin of sampling error for the total sample is +/- 3.1 %, 19 times out of 20. The results have been statistically weighted according to the most current education, age, gender and region Census data to ensure a sample representative of the entire adult population of Canada. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.

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7 medals in 2 days: Go Go Canada!

OLY Wrestling 20080816

Gold: Carol Huynh, 27, of BC; 48 kg women's wrestling

OLY Wrestling 20080816

Bronze: Tonya Verbeek, 31, of Ontario; 55 kg women's wrestling

CORRECTION OLY Rowing 20080816

Silver: Scott Frandsen and Dave Calder; of BC; men's pair sculls

OLY Swimming 20080817

Bronze: Ryan Cochrane, 19, of BC; 1,500-metre freestyle

 Beijing Olympics Rowing Women

Bronze: Melanie Kok and Tracy Cameron; women's lightweight double sculls

Beijing Olympics Rowing Men

Bronze: Iain Brambell, Jon Beare, Mike Lewis and Liam Parsons; lightweight men's four

Beijing Olympics 20080817

Gold: Ben Rutledge of Cranbrook, B.C., Kevin Light of Sidney, B.C., Malcolm Howard of Victoria, Andrew Byrnes of Toronto, Jake Wetzel of Saskatoon, Dominic Seiterle of Victoria, Adam Kreek of London, Ont., and Kyle Hamilton of Richmond, B.C; men’s eight rowing

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