November 01, 2004

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Asia by Blog

Asia by Blog is a twice weekly feature, posted on Monday and Thursday, providing links to Asian blogs and their views on the news in this fascinating region. Please send me an email if you would like to be notified of new editions. Previous editions can be found here.

This edition contains the consequences of unpaid wages in China, an American nuclear scientist who defected to China, profits and politics don't mix, being gay and fast food in North Korea, Singapore's unfree press and more...

Hong Kong, China and Taiwan

  • John Kerry's responded to a newspaper's series of questions on China and Hong Kong.
  • First it was the free lunch, now the (almost) free ride is about to go in Hong Kong, as are disgusting newspaper photos.
  • An independent Chinese trade unionist tells Europe China is not just a market.
  • In Beijing it's the hottest book at the moment, because it's expected to be banned: Zen Insight. On the same topic comes this excerpt of a similar book on what life was like in those crazy times. Fabian looks at Mao's Little Red Book and its value.
  • There was a major clash in Henan between Han Chinese and Muslim Huis. Just the beginning?
  • 5 Chinese workers protested about not being paid their wages. They went to jail for their troubles. And 24 peasants were beaten up by their boss for asknig for their wages.
  • China raised its interest rates for the first time in 9 years.
  • She defected to China in the 1940s, now American nuclear physicist Joan Hinton is finally getting her green card in China.
  • A creative writing assignment results in some keen insights and differences between Western and Chinese thinking.
  • Mixing politics and profits can be tricky, as the China Youth Daily is discovering. The crackdown on Guangzhou's press continues.
  • Chinese tourists are having a global impact.

    Korea and Japan

  • If you thought being North Korean was hard, try being a gay North Korean.
  • Japan's Iraqi hostage was found dead after Japan steadfastedly refused to remove troops from Iraq.
  • A victory for lovers of golf in Korea. Tony looks at Korean women in sport.
  • Japan is reconsidering its place in the world.
  • Korean isn't a good place to be a cop, especially compared to the USA.
  • Even North Korea's fast food sucks.
  • An excellent look at how Japan's culture holds it back.

    SE and Other Asia

  • Thailand's PM is facing a tough choice in dealing with the southern violence.
  • Anwar returns to Malaysia.
  • Hicky notes Singapore is the only developed nation at the bottom of the world press freedom rankings.
  • India's Parliament could double as a prison.


  • The Far Eastern Economic Review is to close, which isn't a surprise. There have been other media lay-offs this week, and ex-editor Philip Bowring has an "obit" for the FEER.
  • At last, proof of the long-held theory.

    posted by Simon on 11.01.04 at 05:10 PM in the Asia by blog category.

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    While I applaud your aesthetic appreciation for what is gorey versus what is beautiful, the recent newsroom information piece about not being able to use police scan radios is about more than just protecting people's privacy and not putting gorey pictures on the news.

    It's more about the squelching of press freedoms and the larger climate of inhibitions being put on the press in Hong Kong.

    Research into the problem will surface more than just this petty squabbling over photos that depict death and gore. It's not even about that.

    It's about the government's ability to reinterpret laws, and overextend laws that prohibit freedom of information.

    As a blogger, you should be concerned, not relieved, that you won't be able to see death in teh paper.

    Moral judgements about aesthetics win no cases for the future of Chinese or English language journalism.

    In short, wake up.

    posted by: hk on 11.01.04 at 03:34 PM [permalink]

    HK, couldn't disagree more. It's becoming common in Hong Kong for everyone to cry "press freedom" on anything and everything. That's a shame when there are serious and real press freedom issues in this city. The police radio incident is NOT such a case. Firstly the police necessarily should have secure communications, just like the military have. There are good operational reasons for this. Sceondly what about privacy concerns. In many places, including those with high press freedom, there are restrictions on what papers can report and print. These restrictions include the laws of libel and the laws on privacy. I agree these can be a deilcate balance: Singapore often abuses its libel laws to browbeat its press. Nevertheless there is a balance of rights to be struck, and it should not come down singly on the side of the press at the expense of all else.

    I have not seen a case where the press having access to the police radios have benefited the people of Hong Kong or the cause of press freedom other than to display a gruesome car crash or to pry in a celebrity's accidents.

    In short, this is not a case of press freedom being restricted.

    posted by: Simon on 11.01.04 at 04:36 PM [permalink]

    Sure it is.

    Police mention on the radio that more officers are n eeded to regulate teh problems with ballots on election day.

    Journalists get there first, see the real situation.

    Believe me, I've been wracking my brain having to study all these media law cases for my journalism degree, i am aware of the press freedom issues affecting hte city.

    And this one stands in with them.

    Police never use operational language over insecure radio. They have another set of equipment for that.

    posted by: hk on 11.02.04 at 02:19 AM [permalink]

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