The Death Star will be completed on schedule

Feb. 19
First male patient, 87, became ill with H7N9

Feb. 27
Second male patient, 27, became ill with H7N9

March 4
First male patient dies

March 9
First female patient, 35, from Anhui province became ill with H7N9

March 10
Second male patient dies
Initial report of over 900 dead pigs in Shanghai’s Huangpu River (as of Saturday, March 9)

March 11
Count of dead pigs in rivers near Shanghai reaches nearly 3,000

March 13
Officials say the number of pig carcasses in Huangpu River has risen to 6,000

March 14
Workers continued to haul dead hogs from a river in the Shanghai suburbs Thursday, where the pig body count now exceeds 6,600, according to the municipal government
Farm in Zhejiang province confesses to dumping pig carcasses into river

March 20
The number of dead pigs discovered in Chinese rivers around Shanghai has risen to almost 14,000

March 22
50 pigs wash up onshore in Changsha, Hunan province; ~1,000 dead ducks are also discovered
Number of dead pigs found in Shanghai river rises to 16,000

March 25
China pulls 1,000 dead ducks from Sichuan river
Government officials say that 1,000+ rotten duck carcasses pose no threat to human and livestock along river banks
Illegal Zhejiang pork found in food chain

March 26
Dumping of thousands of dead pigs linked with Chinese crackdown on pork black market

April 1
Dr. Michael O’Leary, World Health Organization, says that there is no evidence to show that a type of bird flu which has killed two Chinese men can be transmitted between people

April 2
Shanghai Animal Disease Prevention and Control Center tested 34 samples of pig carcasses pulled from Huangpu River and found no flu viruses

{ Foreign Policy | Continue reading }

‘I am not bothered by the fact that I am not understood. I am bothered when I do not know others.’ –Confucius


China’s population is larger than those of North America, Europe, Russia and Japan combined, and has no tradition whatsoever of liberal democracy and memories are still fresh of the devastating breakup of the Soviet Union. Going further back, China’s more recent history saw chaos and wars, and on average from 1840 to 1978 a major upheaval every seven or eight years. So the Chinese fear of chaos is based on common sense and its collective memory, with very real fears that the country might well become ungovernable if it were to adopt the adversarial Western political system.

China is in many ways unique. It is an amalgam of the world’s longest continuous civilization with a huge modern state. It is a product of hundreds of states amalgamated over its long history into one. A very rough analogy would be something along the lines of the ancient Roman Empire continuing to this day as a unified modern state with a centralised government and modern economy while retaining all its diverse traditions and cultures, and with a huge population still all speaking Latin as their common language. […]

China tried American-style democracy after its 1911 Republic Revolution, and it turned out to be a devastating catastrophe. The country was immediately plunged into chaos and civil war, with hundreds of political parties vying for power and with warlords fighting one another with the support of various foreign powers. The economy was shattered and tens of millions lost their lives in the decades that followed. That lesson remains so sharp that even today ordinary Chinese are most fearful of luan, the Chinese word meaning chaos. Independent opinion surveys on values in China show that public order is generally ranked top, whereas for Americans freedom of speech is the number one value (even though, one may wonder how a politically correct society like the United States can have genuine freedom of speech).

Having myself travelled to over 100 countries, most of them developing ones, I cannot recall a single case of successful modernisation through liberal democracy, and there’s no better example illustrating this than the huge gap between India and China: both countries started at a similar level of development six decades ago, and today China’s GDP is four times greater and life expectancy 10 years longer.

{ Zhang WeiWei/Europe’s World | Continue reading }

photo { Jordan Fox by Jasper Rischen }

A long, intimidating, immense and rational derangement of all the senses


So, it’s mid-March 2013 and, the S&P 500 is at 1550, right where I said it would be nine months ago. […] I see the S&P continuing to frustrate the majority (that is what markets do).  It may hit 1560-1580 prior to actually having a legitimate correction of 5-10%.  There is so much liquidity awaiting deployment upon a pullback that the pullback will be quick.  Later in the year, it’s very likely we’ll see 1600-plus on the S&P (September-November).  In my view, the market will be a good sell at that point, so will many credit products.  There is no way the Fed can shift its policy stance concurrent with having to immunize a $4 trillion balance sheet going into the end of a fiscal year.  2014 is likely to be challenging.
Enjoy this while it lasts. […]

The People’s Republic’s big issues will start in fiscal years 2013-2014.  China Merchants Bank, for example, is already seeing a bigger rise in bad-loan provisioning and lower good-loan growth than Western equity analysts think.  The CEOs of two large Brazilian companies, Vale and Petrobras, are starting to plan for China to “hit a wall” in 2015-2018. Essentially, China will look OK through April 2013 then big problems will hit the country.

Europe will not implode.

{ Secret top source/Minyanville | Continue reading }

Some drinkables in the shape of a milk and soda or a mineral. But how to get there was the rub.


China’s demand for foreign milk powder surged after a 2008 milk powder scandal, in which at least six children died and more than 300,000 got sick from milk laced with melamine. Hong Kong’s wide range of foreign milk powder brands is considered more trustworthy than even the foreign imports available in Chinese supermarkets. […]

Middle-class parents choosing to feed their child foreign milk powder might spend anywhere from 25-40% of their monthly salary. […]

Comprehensive statistics are impossible to gauge, but it is very common to encounter Chinese people overseas who have been asked to send back milk powder to a friend or relative, or who know others that engage in this activity to make money. 

{ Tea Leaf Nation | Continue reading }

All the experience the Chinese people have accumulated through several decades teaches us to enforce the people’s democratic dictatorship, that is, to deprive the reactionaries of the right to speak and let the people alone have that right.


The resilience of the Chinese authoritarian regime is approaching its limits. Theories of “threshold models” and “informational cascades” derived from the East German experience may help explain what happens next. China, however, is different from East Germany in several ways. Among other differences, it is not a client state and its economy is growing faster than those of its neighbors. Citizens are better informed about what other people think; the Chinese police are more skilled in the arts of repression, and the regime is more adaptive than other authoritarian regimes. A breakthrough moment could be triggered by several kinds of events. A key variable in the cascade model of political change is fear, and that seems to be diminishing.

{ Journal of Democracy | PDF }

photo { Mitch Epstein }

And thou hast left me alone for ever in the dark ways of my bitterness


Evidence from a new study published in Science suggests that the One Child Policy in China is negatively affecting the personality of new generations. It claims that single children born under the policy are less trustworthy and trusting of others, more risk-aversive and pessimistic, less competitive and less conscientious.

{ Marianne Cezza | Continue reading }

photo { Mitch Epstein }

‘A golden rule: to leave an incomplete image of oneself.’ –Cioran


What if you could not access YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Wikipedia? How would you feel if Google informed you that your connection had been reset during a search? What if Gmail was only periodically available, and Google Docs was completely unreachable?

These things happen almost every day in China. […] Most of these problems are caused by GFW (Great Firewall of China, also known as GFC), one of the most important building blocks in China’s comprehensive censorship system, and perhaps the most sophisticated Internet censorship system in the world. […] Using special techniques, it successfully blocks the majority of Chinese Internet users from accessing most of the Web sites or information that the government doesn’t like. […]

Over a decade of development, GFW has been deployed near the gateways of all Chinese domestic ISPs. With DPI (deep packet inspection) technology, GFW wiretaps all international links and inspects the traffic to detect any sensitive keywords going through the gateway. GFW depends mainly on three technologies to block “harmful” information: IP blocking, DNS (Domain Name System) injection, and TCP RST (Reset).

{ ACM | Continue reading }

photo { Florian Ruiz }

O farmers, pray that your summers be wet and your winters clear


China is the world’s top producer of honey: it turns out about a quarter of the world’s supply.

Chinese honey is cheap and the US had been a major importer. But in 2001, in the wake of a US government investigation that found domestic honey producers being harmed by significant price disparities between Chinese and American honey, the US levied an anti-dumping duty of roughly $1.20 per pound (454 gm) on Chinese honey. This tariff, its imposition implying that this honey was being sold below its real cost of production, was intended to level the playing field for American beekeepers who could not compete with imported honey selling in America at half their cost.

For companies like ALW that were importing tonnes of Chinese honey into the US every year, this was a big business setback. To evade the duty, some of them started getting shipments via third countries, with the honey’s point-of-origin relabelled accordingly. After all, no tariff was due on honey from India, Malaysia, Mongolia or Russia.

The operation soon came to be called ‘honey laundering’. ALW was one among several firms doing it, but it has been in the spotlight ever since the arrests. According to a 44-count indictment of the firm, over 2004-06, it laundered over 2 million pounds—900 tonnes—of Chinese honey through India, evading nearly $80 million in duties.

{ Open | Continue reading }

‘There are more things to alarm us than to harm us, and we suffer more often in apprehension than reality.’ –Seneca


The OECD has a new report out projecting what countries’ economic output, both total and per capita, will be in 2060. Unsurprisingly, the Chinese and Indian economies will have eclipsed the U.S. one, which will remain in third place.

But the per capita numbers are more striking, and encouraging. The report projects that between 2011 and 2060, real GDP per capita will increase sevenfold in India and China. In China, that means a jump from $8,387 in 2011 to almost $60,000 in 2060, in constant 2011 dollars. By contrast, U.S. GDP per capita in 2011 was $48,328.

OECD also projects declining inequality between countries over the next fifty years. The United States will still have a much bigger GDP per capita than China in 2060 — about $136,611, if the OECD is right. But that’s a little more than double China’s level, whereas today, U.S. GDP per capita is almost six times that of China’s.

{ Washington Post | Continue reading }

photo { Mark Power , The Shipping Forecast, 1992-96 }

Subjectivity after Wittgenstein: The Post-Cartesian Subject and the ‘Death of Man’


Foxconn, the maker of Apple’s iPhone and iPad, plans to rely more on robots for manufacturing over the coming years, allowing the company to invest more in research and development and save on labor costs. […]

Local Chinese media reported that Foxconn CEO Terry Gou had said the company plans on deploying 1 million robots over the next three years to complete routine assembly tasks. Foxconn currently uses 10,000 robots. […]

The Taiwan-based company has more than 1 million employees, the majority of which are located at facilities in mainland China. Foxconn is one of the world’s largest producers of electronics. Aside from Apple, the company also manufactures products for companies like HP, Sony and Nintendo.

{ IT World | Continue reading }

As the set of forces that resist


Singapore plans to restrict advertising for “unhealthy” food and drink aimed at children, as countries across Asia grow increasingly concerned about obesity rates. […]

About 11 per cent of adults in the island nation of 5.3m are considered obese, compared with an OECD average of 17 per cent and a US figure of more than 35 per cent. […]

About 60 per cent of Singaporeans eat out four times a week or more, mostly in “hawker stalls” and food courts scattered across the city state that sell cheap dishes based on rice and noodles that are often heavy on cooking oil. Fast food outlets such as McDonald’s and KFC are also popular. […]

The government has been working with food stall owners to cut the amount of oil and salt used in cooking and persuade them to use brown rice, considered healthier than polished white rice.

It has also introduced a system of early morning “mall walks” designed to encourage shoppers in Singapore’s numerous malls to exercise before stores open.

{ FT | Continue reading }

Over hill, over dale, thorough bush, thorough brier

How can you live in a city like Karachi with all its rampant violence? I can’t really confess to the folks in my village that, unlike in the rest of Pakistan, in Karachi you can buy beer without much hassle. (Alcohol is illegal throughout the country.)

Nobody knows how many people live in Karachi. Current estimates range between 17 and 20 million. I have never met anyone who has seen the whole of the city. Every few months, you’ll hear of a neighborhood that you’ve never heard of before. […]

Half a dozen people are killed on an average day: for political reasons, for resisting an armed robbery, for not paying protection money, and sometimes for just being in the wrong spot when two groups are having a go at each other.

{ The New Republic | Continue reading }

Cologne: overrated. Deodorant: a must.


Many CEOs, including Dow Chemicals’ Andrew Liveris, have declared their intentions to bring manufacturing back to the United States. What is going to accelerate the trend isn’t, as people believe, the rising cost of Chinese labor or a rising yuan. The real threat to China comes from technology. […]

Several technologies advancing and converging will cause this. First, robotics. […] Robots are now capable of performing surgery, milking cows, doing military reconnaissance and combat, and flying fighter jets. Several companies, such Willow Garage, iRobot, and 9th Sense, sell robot-development kits for which university students and open-source communities are developing ever more sophisticated applications. The factory assembly that China is currently performing is child’s play compared to the next generation of robots. […]

Then there is artificial intelligence. […]

Other advances in the next decade will likely affect manufacturing, particularly advances in nanotechnology that change the equation further. Engineers and scientists are today developing new types of materials, such as carbon nanotubes, ceramic-matrix nanocomposites, and new carbon fibers. These new materials make it possible to create products that are stronger, lighter, more energy-efficient, and more durable than existing manufactured goods. A new field — “molecular manufacturing” — will take this one step further and make it possible to program molecules inexpensively, with atomic precision.

{ Foreign Policy | Continue reading }

images { 1 | 2 }

Nicky, Ginger, Ace, all of them


China is a kleptocracy of a scale never seen before in human history. This post aims to explain how  this wave of theft is financed, what makes it sustainable and what will make it fail.

{ Bronte Capital | Continue reading }

artwork { Li Shida }

The body without organs


On December 25, 2011, however, headlines were ablaze with the news: China and Japan had reached an agreement to use their own currencies in trade and financial transactions. Their governments would establish a market for direct exchange of yuan and yen, avoiding the convoluted process in which a bank or firm in one country must first sell its national currency for dollars and then use them to buy the currency of the other. As part of the same agreement, Japan’s central bank agreed to hold more of its foreign currency reserves, most of which are in dollars, in yuan instead. (…)

A first thing to say is that the dollar, like the United States, isn’t going anywhere. The United States still accounts for nearly a quarter of global GDP when the output of other countries is valued at market exchange rates (which is the appropriate metric when one is concerned with international transactions). By this measure, the United States is still nearly three times the economic size of both China and Japan. Its financial markets are deep and liquid. The market in U.S. Treasury bonds—the principal instrument that foreign central banks hold as reserves—is the single largest financial market in the world. The fact that there exists a huge volume of currency transactions involving dollars allows investors to buy them in substantial quantities without driving up their price and to sell them without driving that price down. In the competition with other currencies, in other words, the dollar enjoys the advantages of incumbency.

{ The American Interest | Continue reading }

photo { Brian Finke }

If you’re expecting me to help out with the rent you’re in for a big fuckin’ surprise


{ Traffic cop issues ticket to moving bus }

Said you had to leave to start your life over

Internet users in Iran will be permanently denied access to the World Wide Web and cut off from popular social networking sites and email services, as the government has announced its plans to establish a national Intranet within five months.

{ IBT | Continue reading }

related { Why Iran Didn’t Admit Stuxnet Was an Attack }

You only live once, and most people don’t even do that


You never forget your first taste of sperm. In Japanese, the word is shirako, which translates as “white children” or “albino.” You might also hear it described as, a bit more appetizingly, white pillows or fluffy clouds. To be honest, if it weren’t for the steady stream of sake and peer pressure from people we understand to be our friends, we probably would not have ordered the cod sperm sacs (tara shirako ponzu) from the specials menu at Hanako on a recent night.

{ BK | Continue reading | Thanks Tim }

One idea is packet fragmentation


The Tor Project is a free network run by volunteers that hides users locations and usage from surveillance and traffic analysis. Essentially, it provides online anonymity to anybody who wants it. Tor users can send email and instant message, surf websites and post content online without anyone knowing who or where they are. (…)

It’s no surprise then that the Great Firewall of China, as it is called, actively blocks access to the Tor network. So an interesting question is how this censorship works and how it might be circumvented.

Today, Philipp Winter and Stefan Lindskog at Karlstad University in Sweden provide an answer.

{ The Physics arXiv Blog | Continue reading }

Anonymous has hacked hundreds of Chinese government websites. Some sites were just defaced, but others have had administrator accounts, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses leaked.

{ ZDNet | Continue reading }

‘No compulsion in the world is stronger than the urge to edit someone else’s document.’ –H. G. Wells

We’ve learned that Mike Daisey’s story about Apple in China - which we broadcast in January - contained significant fabrications. We’re retracting the story because we can’t vouch for its truth. This is not a story we commissioned. It was an excerpt of Mike Daisey’s acclaimed one-man show “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs,” in which he talks about visiting a factory in China that makes iPhones and other Apple products.

{ This American Life | Continue reading | More: Mike Daisey’s Lies About China }