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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

China's Nuclear Weapons

Amazing work by a a group Georgetown students and their professor.

Key Points:
  • Nobody outside of China knows how many Nuclear Weapons China has (may be up to 3000 - the mainstream assumption was 80-400, where Pakistan has 50-110, and the US 5000)
  • China has built 3000 miles of tunnels for a giant shell game on nuclear weapons
  • China has a no first use policy on Nuclear Weapons (only 1 of the 4 original nuclear powers)
  • The US and Russia by treaty have onsite verification of nuclear weapons, there is no
Georgetown students shed light on China’s tunnel system for nuclear weapons - Washington Post


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Chinese Food Update

My take away is:
  • Foreign firms in China are being made scapegoats (Lipton, Johnson & Johnson, WalMart) by highlighting any possible issues. Johnson & Johnson surprises me - they were used as case studies on an ethical company. Lipton is strange - rare earth in teas?  WalMart was accused of falsely labeling pork as organic, and suffered the closure of stores in Chongqing (where Bo Xilai is campaigning for a top central committee position).
  • China has a serious food safety issue.
  • Lack of trust by ordinary people on safe food
  • Organic food sells for a premium
  • Foreign companies are seen as safer than Chinese firms for food
Recent Stories:

China sentences 113 in tainted pork scandal - AP
Lipton tea in China falls short of safety standards-regulator - Reuters
Food for Thought: Alice Waters Visits China Amid Safety Scares - Time


Monday, November 28, 2011

Chinatown San Francisco retailers want to sack bag fee

San Francisco retailers want to sack bag fee - SF Examiner

SF Chinatown merchants are worried that customers will go else where, such as Daly City (which has free parking).

Related blog posts.
99 Market no plastic bags? City of Industry     
Plastic Bag Ban in Surburban Chinatown     
No Plastic Bags in Rowland Heights?     


Singapore Bilingual Fund Proposed - $100 Million

The reason is an increase in the number of English only households (6 in 10 pupils primary students in 2010), and he sees bilingualalism as a competitive advantage for Singapore.

Lee Kuan Yew proposes S$100m bilingualism fund - Channel News Asia
The exchange rate is .76 US Dollar to a Singapore dollar


Part of Beijing Airport Roof Takes Flight

Terminal 3 in Bejing's Capital Internaional Airport lost part of its roof. My guess is poor quality, lower cost materials were used, and not what was specified. Corruption often leads to materials being switched, and the difference is pocketed. 

Of course it could be the original specifications had issues, as with the Tacoma Narrows Bridge Failure. Youtube Video of the bridge.

Part of Beijing Airport Roof Takes Flight - WSJ


Pepper Spray Joke popular on Weibo

I am surprised that the image of Lt. Pike did not catch on in China. Chinese Internet Users Shrug at Pepper Spraying Cop - WSJ. A couple of my daughter's friends go to UC Davis, and she also has friends at UC Berkeley.

From the WSJ:

Meanwhile, a joke circulating widely on Weibo takes both governments to task (in Chinese):

Chinese journalist: “President Obama, how do you account for an American police officer using pepper spray on citizens?” Obama laughs: “Are you saying we should have used tanks?”

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China to Cancel College Majors That Don’t Pay

China to Cancel College Majors That Don’t Pay - WSJ

One of the complaints about China's government reducing funding of majors that have an oversupply of graduates, is this may increase false reporting of market demand. In the US, this has already happened with law degrees and other programs with high pressure on rankings being accused of fraud.  From the reporting of Employement Data, to testing scores. I still have a bit of anger over what was reported for my graduate program for salaries and employment before I started.

In the US, some law schools due to the pressure of rankings, have been very creative on reporting employment information. Three students in the US are actually sueing their alma mater for fraud in the employment reporting - Dear Prospective Law Students, Do Not "Reasonably Rely" on Cooley's "Report One"


Foreign maids in Hong Kong fight for permanent residency

Maids from the Philiphines who have lived in HK for many years, would like to get permanent residency.  Unfortunately the current HK law is that domestic workers are not eligible for permanent residency, as other occupations are. 

My guess is somehow, this is not going to happen.

Foreign maids in Hong Kong fight for permanent residency - LA Times
Unlike lawyers or bankers, domestic workers are barred from seeking permanent residency even after decades in the city. Recent legal challenges have produced mixed results.


Err of the Dog

Amazing how poor pronunciation/a bad accent poor English can lead to a false story that caused a lot of panic.

Basically a reporter called up a Chinatown Meat Market, the person answered said he did not know English, and was asked if they sold dog. The person thought he meant duck meat, so he answered yes.  WCO then aired a sotry, that was picked up by the NY Post, than then NY's state agriculture department searched the market and found no dog meet.

Here’s the Transcript of WCCO’s Notorious Chinatown Dog Meat Story - Media Bistro


Another Adoption Story

Perry Marshal, an online advertising guru, is adopting a child from China. It's taken 4 years to his Gotcha Day.


Sunday, November 27, 2011

China's Princelings

A point that was made in the comments, is does the US have a similar situation? An interesting question where in some areas yes, but I would argue overall no.  Wealth in the US has a habit of lasting a few generations only. And in the US, the rich are usually careful not to flaunt its wealth as was done in the Gilded Age and the Roaring Twenties as symbolized by book, The Great Gatsby.

A Chinese saying reflects this, and I have heard a similar American saying:

富不過三代(富不过三代) (fu bu guo san dai)
  • Literally: Wealth does not pass three generations.
  • Meaning: It's rare that the wealth of a family can last for three generations (the 2nd may see the value of hard work, but the 3rd forgets it).
  • Explanation: In business, the first generation works extremely hard, so that the second generation reaps the benefits. By the time the third generation arrives, the wealth is squandered.
Compare: the proverb of Lancashire, England: "Clogs to clogs in three generations: the first generation makes it [money/wealth], the second generation saves it and the third generation spends it!". In Victorian times, clogs were wooden soled working mens' shoes, commonly worn in the factories of Northern England.

Children of the Revolution - WSJ

China's 'princelings,' the offspring of the communist party elite, are embracing the trappings of wealth and privilege—raising uncomfortable questions for their elders.


China's Future - Two Models

China's leadership is about to go through it's once a decade change in the top people, the question is what model will be used going forward?
The Guangdong Model, or the Chongqing Model

The Guangdong Model can be thought of an Egg, where the Yolk is the Communist party that stays the same, but everything else other parts, how the party rules, can change and adapt.

The Chongqing Model is more nationalistic, a bit of Maoism, and lots of popularism.

More Reading:

The Guangdong model
One Chinese province adopts a beguilingly open approach—up to a point
Bo Xilai - Wikipedia

 No voting please, we’re Chinese
The government shuts down a TV show in which viewers vote for the winner
Liberalism under attack in China - The Economist

Children of the Revolution - WSJ

China's 'princelings,' the offspring of the communist party elite, are embracing the trappings of wealth and privilege—raising uncomfortable questions for their elders.


China Solar Makers Face ‘Suicidal’ Prices on Excess Output

This makes sense, since Europe was a huge market for solar due to government support, which has been reduced due to economic issues. Which has translated to an oversupply and Chinese companies have a bad habit of just competing on price.

I would not be surprised if a forced consolidation happened soon in China of Solar Cell manufacturers.

 China Solar Makers Face ‘Suicidal’ Prices on Excess Output - Bloomberg News

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China and US Relations - 3 Prospectives

First thought is nice title to generate clicks. I hope this is alarmist.
Will World War III be between the U.S. and China?  Mail Online

A new great game in Asia?
And related Canada and China...
Note, pipeline capacity issues limit how much more can be exported to China currently, and this will take a couple of years to change.
Third point, I found to be an excellent read, and brings up a lot of excellent points I had not thought about.
 and an update:
and more to worry about:

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Arrests in SAT Cheating Scandal

A reflection of how high stakes College Admissions has become. A student got paid to take the SAT tests for others in NY, 7 students have been arrested so far. 13 other students to be charged soon.

The more interesting question was how did the person get caught? Per the article ETS looked for a large descrepancy between academics and the SAT scores.

More arrests from top schools expected in SAT cheating scandal - LA Times

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Housing Bubble in China?

Scary article to read, and not what I expected. The biggest housing bubble?

Property Prices Collapse in China. Is This a Crash? - Forbes

And another:
China Property Dip Sparks Bank Fears - CNBC


San Luis Chinatown

A free audio visual tour that has 2 chapters on San Luis Obispo's Chinatown.
Notably, “The Darker Side” devotes two chapters to Chinatown, the Palm Street neighborhood that served as a city center for hundreds of Chinese immigrants during the 19th century. Arriving in California during the Gold Rush, they labored in hotels, laundries and restaurants, worked on wharfs and roads, and built the narrow-gauge railroad stretching from Port San Luis to San Luis Obispo.

Explore historic San Luis Obispo with free audiovisual walking tour download - SLO Tribune


Chinatown Turkey

It seems some Chinese restaurants will also cook a Turkey for you, Chinese style.
I think Sam Woo in the LA area does this.

An article about a NY restaurant that offers this at $2 a lb:

A Chinatown Turkey for Thanksgiving! - The Lo-Down


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Piggy Banks and Taiwan's Election

As an observer far removed (an no interest in getting into a discussion on), Taiwan politics is amazing to watch.

Please note I have friends who are both deep blue, and deep green. My color is neutral :-)

Taiwan opposition builds campaign with shiny, tiny piggy banks in bid to unseat President Ma - Washington Post


Mysterious Symbols in China Desert Are Spy Satellite Targets, Expert Says

I had no idea what they were when I first saw this, but it makes sense.
Mysterious Symbols in China Desert Are Spy Satellite Targets, Expert Says - Live Science



Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Judge Rules Teacher Should Lose Job After Facebook Post

I have such mixed feelings about this.
  1. Some classes have students that act like jerks. And no one will tell them they are acting unacceptably, including their parents who believe they walk on water. A friend of mine was a substitute teacher, a super nice lady very soft spoken, and a girl cursed at her.  She talked to the parent, who would not believe her little angel would curse, and accused my friend of lying. At another school a parent was lawsuite happy, so all the teachers knew to leave the kid alone.
  2. Never, never put anything electronic you don't want to go public.  The rule I learned in E-Mail days, was never put anything in an E-Mail you would not want to appear on the front page of the NY Times.
  3. This seems like more of the zero tolerance behavior, that removes common sense from decisions.
Judge Rules Teacher Should Lose Job After Facebook Post


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

USC enrolls the most international students in the nation

And most of them are graduate students, my Father went to USC.
USC enrolls the most international students in the nation - LA Times
The university has claimed the top spot for 10 straight years. UCLA ranks sixth. Meanwhile, the number of international students enrolled in American higher education rises 5% from the previous year.


Confucian Prize Winner - Vladimir Putin?

Believe it or not!
Vladimir Putin scoops Chinese peace award
Russian prime minister is unlikely winner of newly established Confucian peace prize

The prize was created after a Chinese dissident was awarded the Nobel peace prize.

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US Online Tax Update - No Change Yet

Online sales taxes get new support - Internet Retailer
It sounds like a step in the right direction requiring states to simplify their tax codes for Internet Sale Taxes.  The current system is not fair for local businesses, but as a consumer I appreciate it.


Audi Drivers - Don't mess with in China!

A Mkt Professor used to repeat - all marketing is local!

Great quote from the article:

“Audi is still the de facto car for government officials,” said Wang Zhi, a Beijing taxi driver who has been plying the capital’s gridlocked streets for 18 years. “It’s always best to yield to an Audi — you never know who you’re messing with, but chances are it’s someone self-important.”       

Double the amount of Audi's have been sold in China in 2010, as in the US. And Buick triple the sales in China, as compared to the US.

In China, Car Brands Evoke an Unexpected Set of Stereotypes - NY Times

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Child kidnapping in China: A case study

What an incredibly sad practice.

Child kidnapping in China: A case study - Danwei


Monday, November 14, 2011

Amazon E-Library Is Publishing’s Profit Model

Great article that discusses the current profit model of book publishers and some of the issues with it. The entire publishing model is changing very quickly.
Amazon E-Library Is Publishing’s Profit Model - Bloomberg

And this is also a great read:

Secret of Self-Publishing: Success - WSJ
Authors With a Following Make Money Going It Alone, but It's a Slog for Others


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Occupy Movement and China

Interesting, Chinese search engines have blocked the word occuppy followed by any Chinese city.

I found this discussion interesting in the article comparing the US to China a hidden jewel in the article:

Using the "Gini coefficient," which measures a nation's income inequality, China ranks as the world's 36th most unequal state, while the United States is a few steps back at 44th. Forbes magazine reports that the United States has more billionaires than any other nation. But just behind, in the second spot, is China. Meanwhile, the United Nations says that almost half of China's population does not have access to a toilet. (In the United States, it's less than 1 percent.) What does that tell you about income inequality?

Occupy movement worries China - SF Chronicle


Friday, November 11, 2011

Is This NYT Op-Ed a Joke? Selling Taiwan to the Bankers of Beijing

Is This NYT Op-Ed a Joke? Selling Taiwan to the Bankers of Beijing - The Atlantic

And a reply from Taiwan (there is an English version, as well a Mandarin version).

And the original Op Ed - To Save Our Economy, Ditch Taiwan - NY Times


China’s state-owned enterprises are on the march

Good article (and the 50 cents comments are busy at work). 

Of emperors and kings, China’s state-owned enterprises are on the march - The Economist

40% of non agriculture GDP in China is state owned firms.



China Tightens Reporting Rules for Journalists

Interesting, the Chinese government now requires journalists in China to not uns any unverified information from mobile phone messages, or twitter type services (which are being used to get around censorship).

China Tightens Reporting Rules for Journalists - NY Times


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Chinese Honey

The bottom half of the article discusses Chinese honey, and how it has entered the US market.  The claim is its heavily subsidized and to disguise its original, its microfiltered removing the pollin.  Often fructose is added as a way to reduce cost to the honey. I was surprised at the high percentage of what is labeled as honey on the market, has been micro filtered.
Tests Show Most Store Honey Isn't Honey - Food Safety News

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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Putting extended families under 1 roof - latimes.com

It was very frustrating when we were looking for a house to buy that we could not find a newer one with guest quarters.  Around where we live, they are scarce.

I live with my in-laws, and its different.  I am lucky that they are amazing people, and we get along well. I am also very appreciative when somebody else does the cooking (my in-laws are great cooks).

Putting extended families under 1 roof - latimes.com


Freshman 15 a myth?

I am surprised...
I would guess it depends on the campus.  All you can eat buffets, that many campuses have, are deadly for diets.  Of course at that age, they don't need to worry as much as when they are their parents age.

Freshman 15 is a myth, study says - latimes.com


China law making

Laws are being created in China, which is positive.  The challenge is they are not being followed, or they are being circumvented. But, a foundation is being layed.
A Glimpse into Chinese Law-Making - China Real Time Report - WSJ


Monday, November 7, 2011

Maker of Angry Birds Impressed, Not Enraged, by China Piracy

Maker of Angry Birds Impressed, Not Enraged, by China Piracy - China Real Time Report WSJ

I view this as a smart attitude.  Basically the idea if you have a bunch of lemons, make lemonade.  The core money is coming from sales of the game which can't be easily pirated.  Accessories, which has been pirated in China, are an area they probably would not have gotten the sales for anyway.

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Chinese Culture - Why the focus on it?

The Chinese government recently has been having an increasing focus on reforming culture.  The question is why? 

My 2 cents is election year politics, but this post asks a lot of good questions..

What's Behind the Communist Party's Focus on Cultural Reform - China Real Time Report - WSJ

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At UCLA, Asian-style diversity on the menu

Because of a mix-up with UCLA on our campus tour, we got a to eat on campus.  Great food last year, and it sounds like it has gotten even better.
At UCLA, Asian-style diversity on the menu
The renovated dining commons at Rieber Hall is offering food from seven national cuisines. It's part of a trend by colleges nationwide to replace old-style cafeterias and 'mystery meat' offerings with innovative ethnic fare that's more healthful.

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Saturday, November 5, 2011

Pen status in China

Pens have a huge amount of status in China, the pricier the better.  In the US, the pen market for upscale pens is tiny. They are also excellent gifts in China, where gifts are expected.

The comments are a good read.

In China, the Pen Is Mightier When It's Pricier - WSJ
Parker Writing Instruments Find a New Prestige Market for a Category That's Been Fading in the West

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Wen Jiabao family history of persecution

Wen Jiabao is the premier and party secretary of China. This translates as one of the top people in China's government.  The Chinese leadership of the Politburo governs in a consensus style, but the Premier and President positions are the highest status and most visible of the Chinese leadership.

Web Jiabao's Grandfather died probably due to the stress of repeated self criticisms (he was an intellectual running a girl's school).  His Father was sent to a pig farm during the cultural revolution.

"My childhood was spent in war and hardship. The poverty, turmoil and famine left an indelible imprint on my young soul [ ...] I realised only science, truth-seeking, democracy and hard work can save China."

Wen Jiabao's family persecution: the history
Wen Jiabao reveals his family was persecuted under Mao
Wen Jiabao reveals his family was persecuted: quotes

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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Asian-Americans grow beyond coastal hubs

Some surprises:
  • There are now more Asians in Texas (1.1 Million) than in Hawaii
  • Asians have doubled in Arizona and Nevada
  • And growth in North Carolina, Georgia, and North Dakota

Report: Asian-Americans grow beyond coastal hubs - SG Tribune


Cultural Reform

In China, when the government complains about culture on the decline of modern culture in China, they believe they have the tools to take action to halt this decline.

Actions taken:
  • Capping the amount of entertainment shows on TV.
  • Increased visits to Internet companies by officials
  • More visits to cultural spots by officials

What’s Behind the Communist Party’s Focus on Cultural Reform - WSJ

China’s Censors Take On Prime-Time TV - WSJ


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