In late January, the Chinese government responded to the outbreak of a new coronavirus with one of the world’s oldest medical procedures: quarantine. By February, more than 760 million people faced a residential lockdown of some sort. Those unlucky enough to be infected might very well be isolated at an involuntary quarantine center. The good news is that these measures slowed the spread of the virus, giving the rest of China — and the world — valuable time to prepare for a likely pandemic.
The bad news is that quarantine and isolation are usually accompanied by unwelcome side effects, including depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress.… Seguir leyendo »
When Japanese leaders visit Tokyo’s notorious Yasukuni shrine to the country’s war dead, Chinese microbloggers tend to notice. In April, after 168 members of Shinzo Abe’s right-wing government visited the shrine (where, among others, 14 World War II-era Class-A war criminals are enshrined), the search term “Yasukuni” lingered on Sina Weibo’s trending topic list for days. In the wake of Shinzo Abe’s personal visit to the shrine on Friday, one would surely have expected that “Yasukuni” would have dominated China’s trending topic lists over the weekend. Yet curiously, the term hasn’t appeared at all.
Why not? The likely answer is that the Chinese government learned its lesson after anti-Japanese riots spread nationwide in September 2012.… Seguir leyendo »
Who’s afraid of a little genetically engineered American corn?
Chinese quarantine officers apparently. They’ve recently blocked at least six batches (more than 180,000 tons) of American corn from entering China, citing the presence of genetically-modified strain of the grain that the Chinese government hasn’t (yet) approved for import. The impact has been notable: In recent days U.S. corn futures fell, in part out of fear of further Chinese enforcement action.
So far there's been little coverage of the blocked shipments in the Chinese news media. (The general-interest news junkie with a penchant for corn news is a rare breed, no pun intended.)… Seguir leyendo »
On Thursday, as the smog that has choked Shanghai for much of the last week reached hazardous levels, the city’s environmental authority took decisive action to address the frequent air-quality alerts: It adjusted standards downward to ensure that there won’t be so many.
It was a cynical move, surely made to protect the bureau’s image in the face of unrelenting pollution that only seems to grow worse, despite government promises to address it. At this advanced stage in China’s development, nobody in the country (or elsewhere) -- not even the loyal state news media -- seems to believe that the problem is solvable, at least not any time soon.… Seguir leyendo »
The second day of what should be China’s trial of the century opened at 8:40 a.m. on Friday with a tweet: “The presiding judge has called the court into session”. The source was the Jinan Intermediate People’s Court by way of its account on Sina Weibo, China’s most popular microblogging service, and the court’s 400,000 followers.
It shouldn’t have gone viral. But it did.
Within 10 minutes, this unremarkable post had been retweeted more than 2,000 times. Such numbers, and such speed, are usually reserved for tweets with a little more verbal panache, or celebrities posting selfies. So why the sudden interest in when a court convened?… Seguir leyendo »
Could the biggest threat to China’s image be its own citizens when they work and travel abroad? It’s a question that’s been the subject of a noisy public debate in recent days as the country learned that more than 160 Chinese miners in Ghana had been arrested -- and were soon to be deported -- for a range of illegal and destructive activities.
The accounts were greeted with shock, anger and an unusual degree of introspection, in large part because China has spent the last decade reaching out to Africa, hoping that economic assistance and diplomatic cooperation can result in friendship.… Seguir leyendo »
How does the Chinese Communist Party manage to calm a public convinced that -- on matters of public health, at least -- officials are probably lying to them?
It’s a critical question as infections and fatalities related to the H7N9 bird flu slowly tick upward, unnerving Chinese disinclined to trust their government. The crisis of confidence has its roots in the fatal consequences of the high- level coverup of SARS in 2003, and, more recently, in the still unexplained dead-pig tide that polluted Shanghai waterways. With this sorry history as a precursor and widely assumed precedent, Chinese seem ready to believe anything that doesn’t come from a government mouthpiece -- especially if it contradicts the official story or fills a knowledge gap that the government hasn’t addressed.… Seguir leyendo »
News that a new form of deadly bird flu recently killed two Shanghai residents arrived in the morning’s papers, along with some expert suggestions on how to avoid catching the unwelcome disease.
“Wash your hands, and cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing,” was the advice published in the Oriental Morning Post, Shanghai’s most popular newspaper (and repeated in others). “And avoid eating or contact with dead and diseased livestock.”
That last directive might be a little tricky to fulfill. Since early March, Shanghai’s waterways have been clogged by dead pigs -- officially at least 11,000 of them but likely a lot more.… Seguir leyendo »
Peng Liyuan, celebrity folk singer and wife of President Xi Jinping, has a chic, elegant and decidedly local look. Since March 22, when she appeared at a Moscow airport arm in arm with her smiling husband on his first international trip as China's new head of state, talk of her has spread across newspapers and blogs. Especially as compared with her all-but-invisible predecessors, Peng is a vision of modern Chinese times, and modern Chinese people seem to be embracing her.
"Peng Liyuan's debut trip is remarkable. For a very long time, (Chinese Communist) Party leaders, and especially their wives, left dowdy impressions," tweeted a retired academic in Shandong province via the Sina Weibo microblogging service.… Seguir leyendo »
China’s notorious “one-child” population-control strategy has always been about money and resources. Did China have sufficient food to feed a billion mouths? Could a rapidly expanding population be led into a modern, market-oriented future? Morality, social impacts and the preservation of Chinese culture were seemingly secondary concerns, even in the face of international condemnation of coercive means to enforce the policy.
Now, more than three decades into the “one-child” policy (actually, a set of policies restricting the number of children Chinese may have), the economic calculus that made Chinese population control a logical and even necessary (in the eyes of many Chinese) course of action is faltering.… Seguir leyendo »
It may turn out that the editors of the English-language edition of the Chinese Communist Party's mouthpiece, People's Daily, were only kidding when they ran a 55-image slide show based on "Kim Jong Un Named The Onion's Sexiest Man Alive for 2012."
But if it turns out that they weren't, the explanation for how such an article ended up in China's most important tribunal isn't so hard to parse. In three distinct ways, The Onion's satire was perfectly engineered to appeal to editorial biases — some might call them blind spots — at the English edition of People's Daily.
The first bias is for extended photo essays depicting Kim Jong Un in official, often heroic poses.… Seguir leyendo »