Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Studying Chinese

I study Chinese in my leisure time. It is a very difficult, but rewarding language to learn. Why? For the future. One could argue: I want to save the environment. How do I save it? Learn Chinese, since China will be the biggest polluter in not so many years and the best way to influence anything in any country is to learn the language. That's only argument 344 out of thousands (or perhaps 1.3 billion) reasons for learning "zhong wen": Chinese.

Why am I talking about this? Because I just read an article about the mushrooming of Chinese language schools. A chain of these, similar to the Goethe Institutes and the British Councils, is called the Confucius Institutes, which are now located in no less than 5 major cities around the world including Perth, Stockholm, and Nairobi -- all places you typically associate with the Chinese language, right?

Added on top of that, more and more public schools in the US are now offering Chinese. The Knight Ridder article (where I got all this info from) says that while only 200 public schools in the US offer Mandarin classes, 2400 replied to a survey that they would like to have such classes.
How about that!!

Am I wasting my time with Chinese (and not just taking a very long time learning it)?

What do you think? What are your experiences with learning Chinese?

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Thailand: 1.3 Million Mobilized to Contain Bird Flu Outbreak

We're talking about 1.3 million people here. Not so few indeed. So far 13 people have killed, so hopefully all these people will be able to contain it (and not contract the disease themselves). I'm quite amazed. Will the Thai authorities really be able to pull this one off?

The main mission of these volunteers and health workers (400,000 and 900,000 respectively), is to look for signs of the avian bird flu. If they find animals with symptoms of the avian flu, these animals will be duly killed and the owners sent for health inspection. Health Minister Suchai Charoenratanakul is confident that this measure will prevent the disease from becoming widespread.

In regard to the Avian Flu: Should we take this disease lightly? Probably not, since it has already been hyped up by all imaginable media outlets (did I hear the shopping channel talk about this?). But the statistics in Thailand speak a million words, or rather, the 13 words, which are the names of the people who have died from the disease in Thailand---and more importantly, to put this into perspective--- this is out of 19 confirmed human cases). You do the math (Spoiler: 68.42%).

At the same time, a local newspaper reported that the avian bird flu is spreading rapidly across Thailand with 39 out of 78 provinces having either confirmed or suspected infections to livestock.

What will this mean? An economist (who knows who) once said: "In the long run, we're all dead". But does that justify ignoring the early signals of the Avian Bird Flu? This is not a medical blog, so I will not give anyone medical advise.

The question for you to ask your local doctor is: What would happen to your neck of the woods, if the disease could be transmitted from human to human and someone down the street contracted the Avian flu?

What will your government do? And what will a widespread epidemic mean to the global economy and your job? (You may want to ask Mr. Bernanke this question).
Thank you.

Related Links:

Article on the flu spreading in Thailand:,4136,96498,00.html

Monday, October 24, 2005

East Asia Blog--New

East Asia Blog has just become a whole lot easier to access.

Instead of typing (which still works),

all you have to do is type:

See you back here soon!

Friday, October 21, 2005

Hu's going to North Korea?

A month before the scheduled 5th round of the 6-party talks on the North Korean nuclear issue, China's President Hu Jin Tao will visit Mr. Kim in Pyongyang later this month, or early this month. It will be Hu's first visit to the Hermit State as President, and expected to take a neutral stance on the issue. The trip will be followed by another visit to Vietnam, on what has been dubbed "good will visits".

Will Hu Jin Tao be able to bring any changes to North Korea? Not very likely.
Can Hu Jin Tao convince North Korea of initiated a reform process? He hasn't in the past…
Is this report just media hype over a state visit, which like most others will have no implications? I think so.

What do you think?

Monday, October 17, 2005

And so he went again...

Koizumi did it again. Another trip to the Yasukuni Shrine has covered the headlines in East Asia, almost as if nothing else is going on. I'm sure the Japanese are more focused on the Major League play-off's than this, but for China and Korea it's a whole different story.

While a complaint on behalf of China was issued with the Japanese embassador, protests gained momemtum in Beijing and Seoul. Will this lead to another mass protests in China and perhaps in Korea?

This blog has already discussed this issue: on one side, Japan should show more sympathy to its neighbors---while on the other hand, why should other countries tell a free PM what to do?

Now it's time to hear what you think.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Rummy's Trip to Beijing

It's simply fantastic to report about all these big-wig Americans that are traveling to East Asia. I supposed the US still very much is a part of Pacific-Asia. Rummy's to meet with Hu as well as Don's counterpart in the Chinese military.

Before we think about the repurcussions of this trip, or what in the world the hawk might accomplish, let's not forget that Rummy just cancelled a stop in Japan. The discussions over base reallignment with the country of the rising sun is important, but Rummy would rather skip it to show his discontent with the slow progress of negotiations there (although a breakthrough has just been reached as this article was composed). Does this not underline a shifting focus from Japan to the Middle Kingdom. Is Japan, in the eyes of US official, a setting sun and China the new rising one?
Probably not - with Koizumi's recent election victory and first step towards privatization of the postal savings system, let's not jump to any premature conclusions, unless you really want to object???

For Rummy's trip to China, it shall be interesting to see whether this will be a first step towards mutual agreements for disarmament, or whether to check on the status of the rival, as to re-define the arms production in allignment with his findings? Rummy is a bit concerned over China's large military spending stating that it doesn't have any enemies. (Hold on, Does the US and Russia have that many, except terrorists?). At any rate, we'll have to see in the rear view mirror how his trip plays out and affects US foreign policy vis-a-vis China.

Please let me know what you think Rummy may tell Hu or what this could result in. But the question is, if tensions are growing between Taiwan and China, would we want someone like Rummy in control of the very powerful "buttons"?


PS. Did you know that Rummy used to be an investment banker, and has also been quoted saying "I don't do diplomacy." (Wikipedia article)

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Bill Goes to the Hermit Kingdom

No, we're not talking about Hillary's other half. This is the superstar Governor of New Mexico, Bill Richardson. Having been connected to officials in North Korea for many years, Bill will next week make another trip to the DPRK in the name of goodwill to talk about health, energy, and of course, the nuclear weapons issue in the isolated land of Chosun. This is just awesome, isn't it?

But why? Well, for a number of reasons. First of all, as already mentioned, Mr. Richardson has visited North Korea several times (4 trips under Bill Clinton) and has great contacts with the officials there. Secondly, Bill has the support of the White House. Ex-secretary Powell would even consult with Mr. Richardson on the North Korean Issue--so he's trusted on both sides of the isle. Thirdly, Bill would serve as someone as an alternative to the administration and would thus show a broad US support for the 6-party talks and their recent agreement. Last, but not least, Bill would fly to North Korea is a jet lent to him by the USAF. Isn't that just sweeeeet.

Bon Voyage, Bill!!
Yi Lu Shun Feng

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

China Hits Space...Again

And so we all cheer. The Middle Kingdom has stunned foreign observers by sending its second manned spacecraft, the Shenzhou 6, in orbit around our beautiful, blue planet. And so what?
Well, there are many so's:

- China is a major recipient of foreign aid. World Bank projects are involved in many development projects all over the country. So while peasants and minorities are starving in many parts of China, the regime is sending million dollar spacecraft into space? Does that make sense?

-China has the potential to develop a more advanced weapons program in space. This may not be in the near term, but I'm sure the generals at Pentagon are both shaken AND stirred (but not drunk on matinis)

- On a more positive note, this may help start another 'space race' against the US and perhaps the EU (I'm not mentioning Japan, just yet). Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could go back to the sixties and re-live the excitement of reaching new frontiers, and dream while the Star Trek theme is playing in the background?

The next mission, the Shenzhou 7, will carry out the first Chinese extra-vehicle activity. In other words, one of the astronauts will open the hatch to the spacecraft during the mission and take a look around.

Those are just a few thoughts. Perhaps there are more suggestions may want to add...

Have a safe trip back, Shenzhou 6. 一路顺风(Yi Lu Shun Feng).

Monday, October 10, 2005

Political Test

I guess cookiesap is a bit to the left ;-)

Courtesy of


Pakistan Quake: Learn and Do More

Ahistoricality has shared with us a great link to a site that both sheds light on the recent disaster as well as donation suggestions.

In the words of ahistoricality:
"Sepoy has been in contact with family in the region and is a generally smart guy."

Have a look:

Best of luck to all those that are leading the quest of helping the millions affected by this tragic event. Thanks also to Ahistoricality for being a loyal participant on this blog.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Major Earthquake in Northern Pakistan

Hundred are feared killed in a huge quake just 80 km north of the capital Islamabad. The quake measured a full 7.8 on the renowned Richter scale.

How many earthquakes have to shake the poorer parts of the world, before we all open our eyes to the disparity in wealth across our planet?

Were you there - what do you know at this point?
Please share your comments, information, or first-hand narrative!

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Princess Nori is getting married

Isn't it nice! After all the bad news in East Asia with the Bali bombings, anti-Japan protest, and GW Bush opening his mouth, we can now announce Princess Nori's marriage to a Mr. Kuroda—--a commoner. Unlike Danish, English, and Spanish royal families, Nori has to leave the royal family, according to the BBC.

Japan has reformed in many ways, and much credence goes to Mr. Koizumi. Socially, however, Japan remains a very traditional society with many customs dating back hundreds of years. You can argue that the monarchic family of a given country (if applicable) demonstrates the cultural and social traditions of that location. In Spain, for example, society has modernized tremendously and new (and sometimes radical thought) is thus seen in the wedding between their Prince Felipe and commoner Letizia Rocasolano. She is previously divorced and an out-going career woman. You would not see that in Japan. If Japan's society has to modernize and carry with it an acceptance of progressive thought, it may have to look at the royal family and have Emperor Akihito promote a more avant-garde society.


Saturday, October 01, 2005

Another Sad Day for Bali


Despair and feelings of failure must be what is characterizing the thought process of the Indonesian authorities after this Saturday's devastating round of terror on the island of Bali. Perhaps it could have been avoided despite SBY's warning one month ago. Criticism, cynicism, and second-guessing is for another day -- today we mourn and do our best to share the love and compassion that is our best tool for peace and self-preservation.

The three restaurants involved were all famous for their expatriate patronage and all full at the time of the bombings. It is nearly 3 years to the day that bombings killed 202 people on the very same island. Vacations are all about having fun, relaxing, or getting away from it all. Like with the Sharm al-Sheik bombings, however, this couldn't be farther from the truth for the many killed in these horrific acts against humanity. Quite Naturally, Al-Qaeda affiliated Jemaah Islamiyah is a suspect.

May whatever higher being you believe in bless the (at least) 32 individuals who lost their lives in this round of terrorism.

Although does not exactly have the readership level of instapundit or Peking Duck, it would be interesting if you could share your view about this incident, and perhaps tell us more about the location of the blasts, and best, if you were there at the time and can give us a first-hand account of what you saw.
Xie xie!!