Saturday, March 31, 2007

Perestroikia and Glasnost in China? Wen Jiabao's new poem quote: (去问开化的大地,去问解冻的河流)

Premier Wen told the reporter, without being prompted with a question (see context here)
'To solve the livelihood problem we need our people to live with happiness and look after their well-being. This means we need to protect the demoncrat rights of our peple, andpush for fairness and righteousness in our society. Reporters, you may ask, "What is happiness?" May I borrow a line from poet Ai Qing, "(go) to ask the land that is opening up (literally, here it means the melting of frozen land), (go) to ask the river that is defreezed."'

Quite irrelevant answer, isn't it? People digged out the original poem (not sure if ESWN would translate this one) by poet Ai Qing, "Quarrel outside the window"

昨天晚上 last night
我听见两个声音—— i heard two voices
春天: Spring (said):
大家都在咒骂你 Everybody is cursing you
整天为你在发愁 they were bored by you whole days
谁也不会喜欢你 nobody will like you
你让大家吃苦头 you make everybody suffered
冬天: Winter:
我还留恋这地方 I still miss this place
你来的不是时候 you have not come at the right time
我还想打扫打扫 i still want to sweep and clean a bit
什么也不给你留 i will leave nothing for you
你真是冷酷无情 You are really cold and heartless
闹得什么也没有 your fuss will leave us with nothing
难道糟蹋得还少 hasn't you ruined not enough
难道摧毁得不够 hasn't you destroy not enough
冬天: W:
我也有我的尊严 I also have my dignity
我讨厌嬉皮笑脸 I hate to be playful
看你把我怎么办 so look what you can do with me
我就是不愿意走 I am just here not going to leav
春天: S:
别以为大家怕你 Don't be mistaken that everybody (the people) are afraid of you
到时候你就得走 when it is time you will have to leave
你不走大家轰你 if you do not everybody will throw you out
谁也没办法挽留 no one can keep you with any means
用不到公民投票 no need to wait until citizen to vote
用不到民意测验 no need to wait for an opinion poll
用不到开会表决 no need to wait until a vote in a meeting
用不到通过举手 no need to wait for a show of hands
去问开化的大地 Go to ask the land that is opening up (literally, here it means the melting of frozen land)
去问解冻的河流 Go to ask the river that is defreezed
去问南来的燕子 Go to ask the swallows that are coming from the south
去问轻柔的杨柳 Go to ask the willow that move witht he breeze
地里种子要发芽 Seeds in the land will sprout
枝头骨朵要吐秀 Buds at the end of branch will blossom
万物都频频点头 Ten thousand matters all nod and nod again
异口同声劝你走 All different mouths ask you to leave in unison
你要是赖着不走 If you shameless less stick out here
用拖拉机拉你走 (we) will pull you away with tractors
用推土机推你走 will push you away with bulldozers
敲锣打鼓送你走 striking drums and gongs while we get rid of you


Winter and Spring had a word fight, winter did not want to leave, spring showed winter why her era is dated. Winter showed many reasons for resisting to change. (it runs in parallel with many of the argument about any kind of reform in this world). Then Spring said,

  • "no need to wait until citizen to vote,
    no need to wait for an opinion poll,
    no need to wait until a vote in a meeting,
    no need to wait for a show of hands....

    Go to ask the land that is opening up (literally, here it means the melting of frozen land),
    Go to ask the river that is defreezed,
    Go to ask the swallows that are coming from the south,
    Go to ask the willow that move witht he breeze...

    Seeds in the land will sprout,
    Buds at the end of branch will blossom,
    Ten thousand matters all nod and nod again
    All different mouths ask you to leave in unison...

The Quiz is simple enough: who is spring, who is winter?
What about "happiness"? Onepossible answer: if you have had to pretend and endure winter for 17 years, and finally you have gained control...

Related link:

1) 温家宝言外之意是自由不可阻挡——评本届政府总理温家宝最后一次回答中外记者问

2) 温总理引用艾青诗句含义深刻

Monday, March 26, 2007

Time zone mystery

There are many oddities in time zones.

e.g. China spans the similar width and size as the USA. China chose to have one single time zone for convenience, and leave its people decide when to go to work. As a result, people in NE China go to work at 6am, while those in Xinjiang and Tibet do it at 10am. The upside is that one does not have to adjust the clock and there is no risk of missing train or plane while travelling. There is also little risk of missing phone conference.

But there are more. See this map. The bottom color denotes what the time zone that vertical strip really belongs to. e.g. Malaysia and Singapore belong to Zone 7 (dark blue/purple -- that of Indoneisa and Indo-China), but they chose to be in the same zone as China, perhaps for good practical reason today. (or back in the British colonial era?)

Othe oddity
  • Whole of Alaska is shift 1 time zone to that of the SE strip of the capital Juneau (it is doing what China does). Perhaps also such that it is only 1 hr behind PST.
  • Argentina chose to align with Brazil by stepping out of the zone it belongs to
  • France, Spain, Portugal, Algeria and Morocco went with the EU and left the UK zone.
  • The whole ex-USSR seems to be always on summer time

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Significant statistically: those 800 odd people do not represent us

For the so called election in HK

Total eligible votes: 795
Total votes cast: 772

Leung=123: 16%
Tsang= 649: 84%

if the invalid votes are assumed as for protesting against Tsang, then it would be 18%:82%

Now, if we believe the poll is correct, it is more like 21:62 OR 25%:75%. The margin of error of these surveys are usually only a few percentage point (e.g. 3%).

There is no way the 2 results would overlap.

Monday, March 19, 2007

China's dream for brand

Yes, brand means high margin, obscene profit, easy money. China wants it. It wants to create international brand. It supports its enterprises to expand overseas.

We have seen Lenovo, Haier, CNOOC, TCL, all expanding overseas, dreaming of building a global brand, with mixed success.

This is not to say one should not try. Many European and American enterprises have suffered the TCL style fisaco. The problem with China is, as Premier Wen pointed out in his recent essay, do the other ("non-brand") Chinese companies receive fair treatment from the goverment and the Chinese banks? Are these deals fair to the banks and the shareholders of the bank?

What the Chinese bureaucrats need to know is, perhaps, what does brand really mean?

Terry Guo of Hon Hai precision, famous for the iPOD manyfacturing and the Foxconn "scandal" and success (the share price increased more than 4 folds in less than a year after IPO), has this to say (source: Fong Cheuk Yu)
  • 「 沒 錯 , 我 們 沒 有 品 牌 , 但 製 造就 是 我 們 的 品 牌 。 我 們 不 是 大 眾 的 品 牌 , 但 我 們 是 供 應 商 的 品 牌 。 其 實 我 認 為 品 牌很 難 做 , 尤 其 是 中 國 大 陸 , 誰 還 記 得 那 麼 多 牌 子 ? 」
  • Right, we do not produce a brand, but manufacturing is our brand. We are not a consumer brand, but we are a brand among the OEM/ODM...

Hon Hai is indeed a brand owners' brand. McDonald is a consumer brand, as all the consumers know that what McDonald means and know its quality. Hon Hai enjoys exactly that among all the brand owners, Apple, Motorola, Xbox, HP, Dell, etc.

So are TSMC, Wanxiang, Johnson Electric, and many factories in the Pearl and Yangtze delta.

A brand does not have to be recognized by an average consumer, it just has to be recognized by its customers.

Hong Kong: pan-Dem's strategic dillemma

These days most of the commentaries in Apple Daily around the local politics are best described with the Cantonese idiom "打飞机" ( "jerk off" in English ). The front page today looks more like the editotials in WSJ, except WSJ does not do that on its front page, or any page other than the op-ed page. I can almost run Apple Daily in parallel with Wen Hui Pao during the Tung era, if I am allowed to exaggerate a bit.

So it is refreshing to see some independent commentary such as this one, by Lam Kay: 泛民主派的三條戰略問題 (The 3 strategic issues for pan-Dem).

I am one of those who supports their ideal but am totally disappointed by their non-strategy and stupidity - that includes the party organ Apple Daily which is willing to sacrifice the credibility it took so many years to build.

One of the many strategic mistakes by the pan-Dem, as lam Kay rightly pointed out, is that they forgot to do their home work, and were extremely sloppy when it comes to addressing the voters' need, and mis-aligned its target audience with the low income group, who has more imminent problem to worry that long term democracy
  • 泛民主派過度集中基層路線,甚至是成立只有一年的公民黨,在政治光譜上都堆在左翼:關心基層市民需要,扶助社會最有需要的一批人,道德上絕對正確;可是泛民可有正視政治現實?香港泛民主派的支持者,有更多屬中產或以上的階層,民意調查結果顯示,愈高學歷的市民,對形而上「民主」的概念支持度愈高;基層人士的數目表面上很多,但不少卻屬於親政府的「死硬派」;然而中間偏右的一群人,目前卻沒有一個泛民政黨可以選擇--不少年輕的專業人士,政治上沒有鮮明的見解,可是泛民長期忽視這批人的需要,把他們趕到親政府陣營之中。
  • the pan-Dem focused too much on the grass-root is absolutely correct to help those who are in need, but has pan-dem faced the political reality?.....poll results showed, the more educated the citizens, the more likely they will support the "democracy" ideal.....the grassroot is large in numbers, but many of them are "die-hard" supporers of the pro-government wing......many young professionals, who are ambiguous in political views, were ignored by pan-dem all these years, and were pushed to the pro-government camp

Politics is also about segmentation, i.e., to maximize vote. This is something the Republicans have some very well in the US. pan-Dem totally failed this test. If democracy is about answering to the majority of the people, why don't they just follow what most people want? Sometimes, the key to success is quite simple.


p.s. There is a question I wanted to ask both of these candidate, "would you really open the Lo Wu border for 24 hours?"....and I am wondering why Anthony Leung failed to ask this, when he was accusing Tsang of favouring the property developers.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Wen Jiabao's essay

No time to blog, but I still would try to update my reading list on the top of the column on the right. This seem cannot be subscribed through RSS.


Busy work schedule caused me to have missed the very important essay by Wen Jianbao (see the reading list panel for a couple related discussion links): 关于社会主义初级阶段的历史任务和我国对外政策的几个问题, "A few issues about the historic mission during the initial stage of socialism development and our foreigh policy" (I suppose by now there might already have been some English translation?)

It is significant, not because it offers any new breakthrough in political theory, socialism theology, or China's foreign policy, but because it is the first time that Wen has spoken out to steer China back to Dengism, and make it explicit that China needs to get thing right (and what he means by "getting it right"). To some observers (who believes Hu Jintao has veered away from Deng's "Lay low" (TGYH) policy, this may mean a public show down of disagreement between Hu and Wen. (For those who have read this blog, you would know I tend to agree more with Deng and Wen)

The key points IMO is basically, as Professor Zheng Yongnian of Nottingham University said, "Back to Dengism"
  • "A fair environment is required to enhance productivity" (不随着生产力的发展而相应地逐步推进社会公平与正义,就不可能愈益充分地调动全社会的积极性和创造活力,因而也就不可能持久地实现生产力的大发展) This is the foundation of modern capitalism. Wen went on to say such mechanism is not the monopoly of modern capitalism, to adapt it into the "socialistic theory of Chinese characteristic". Well, he actually has a good point, uncorrupted and fair play is exactly the reason for the success of Scandivanian countries, and they are really a hybrid of true socialism and capitalism.
  • There is a long way to go for China -- i.e. China still needs to lay low and avoid any potential conflict for the next 100 years (TGYH!)

The appreciation (and the public declaration) of a need for a fair system is profound. It means China is finally ready to reform its legal and political system. It realized that the unfairness (and the corruption that it has so sincerely be fighting recently) has started to drag the feet of its development. If the system is not fair, the rules in the market are distorted. When the rules are distorted, the most competitive and more efficient company will not win in the market. This means Chinese development will stall or be capped at certain level. This has already been demonstrated by the fact that the expansion of Chinese companies to the world has so far met with extremely limited success. (TCL is one example. Even the calabrated Haier's path has not been exactly smooth)

各方 Ah Q 一致判定特首選戰:梁家傑再勝曾蔭權

(For the real "all-side view" see ESWN)

Apple Daily Title:

Translated: "All sides verdict on the CE election debate: Leung won again over Tsang"

Apple Daily data right below the title:

特 首 第 二 次 辯 論 後 調 查 結 果

昨 晚 表 現 較 好
曾 蔭 權 : 38.5% 梁 家 傑 : 38.8%
表 現 較 上 次 改 善
曾 蔭 權 : 54.4% 梁 家 傑 : 37.9%
表 現 較 上 次 差 劣
曾 蔭 權 : 10.2% 梁 家 傑 : 16.2%
假 設 明 日 投 票 投 給 誰
曾 蔭 權 : 64.8% 梁 家 傑 : 21.9%

資 料 來 源 : 港 大 民 意 研 究 計 劃

HKU Poll results: (margin of error was suppressed by Mr. Apple Q)
Who performed better: Leung 38.5%, Tsang 38.8%
Who improved from last debate: L 54.4%, T 37.9%
Who performed worse compared with last debate: L 10.2%, 16.2%
Who will you vote if you can vote tomorrow: Leung 21.9%; Tsang: 64.8%

Let's face it, Jimmy Lai, we just haven't got a very eloquent (or capable) candidate.