Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks in China are abuzz over the trial of Li Qiming. Li is the 23 year old son of Li Gang, a police chief in the town where Li Qiming ran over and killed a young lady and injured another. The young man tried to flee from the spot and when he was stopped, he had reportedly cried, “My daddy is Li Gang”.
Apparently, there has been very much criticism over the unfairness of the law towards the “guan er dai” or “the children of officials” lately. When these children commit any crime, even something as heinous as murder, they either receive and very mild sentence or the crime is bought away with money. The Chinese public has been posting and twittering away at what they think Li Qiming will end up with.
These types of problems involving blood money and kin connections is widely attributed to the growing gap between the rich and poor in China. When asked his opinion about this, Yang Ning, a white collar worker replied, “In China it’s all about who your father is…. Without a good father, you have to work 10 times harder than those born with good fathers.” (Of course by “good father” we can safely assume that Yang meant “powerful father”.)
However, these types of “guan er dai” situations have improved; in the past when children of officials committed even the most heinous crimes, the fathers would have intimidated the victim or his/her family gave them some money and no on would even hear of the event. At least now, Li is given a full trial and the situation is brought to light. We can attribute this progress to the remarkable Internet. In the words of Yang, “I raise my hand and shout: Long live the Internet!”
In one of the most surprising (however underreported) sports stories of 2011 so far, this morning Li Na became the first Chinese player to reach a tennis Grand Slam singles final when she upset the first-ranked Caroline Wozniacki at the Australian Open. But not only has the 28-year-old from Hubei turned some heads, she’s dominated some of the world’s best competition under the pressure of a country of over one billion. As the New York Times put it yesterday:
Li knows pressure. She has been hearing the question “When will China have a Grand Slam champion?” since she reached the third round here in 2005. She and the other talented players of her generation, including Zheng and Peng Shuai, who lost in the fourth round after holding two match points against Agnieszka Radwanska, are collectively known as the Golden Flowers. In China, they are among the most recognizable sports figures, and the women’s team victory in last year’s Asian Games — a minor event in global tennis terms — was a significant story at home.
Still, despite her obvious competitiveness, Li has been known for her positive, bubbly attitude (when asked what motivates her, she joked, “prize money”), making her one of the most popular athletes in China. Now, she remains only one victory shy of China’s first Grand Slam champion.
Li faces U.S. Open champion Kim Clijsters in the Australian Open final this Saturday night.
Limbaugh mocks President Hu, Colbert follows suit in Asian mockery
Sure, sometimes our friends drop some Chinglish slangs here and there and youngsters find themselves smirking or even openly laughing about it. Almost no one laughed when Limbaugh’s personfication of President Hu on January 20th aired for all in the nation to hear. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RnfwVRA7lz4)
It was quite clear that although Limbaugh aimed to re-cap his opinion on the President Hu’s press conference speech, the final result turned to be insults directed not only at President Hu, but towards the Chinese language and other Asian cultures at large. Obviously not taking into account the technical difficulties actually experienced during President Hu’s speech, Limbaugh’s frustration and inability to understand Mandarin suggested undertones of his own yellow peril. Limbaugh expresses,
"When I hear Chinese or Japanese, it sounds like all the same word and I cannot comprehend anyone understanding it."
The offense doesn’t end with the above statement, where Limbaugh hastily lumped together several Asian ethnicities. Limbaugh continues his racially transgressive acts when he attempted to impersonate President Hu, by reading what he had phonetically written down while listening to President Hu’s speech. Limbaugh’s re-enactment consisted of variations of the phrase ‘ching chong,’ and vocal enhancements with elongated bellows and bodily jerks to portray the Chinese President as an austere public character. The repetition and mish-mosh of Westernized Chinglish proves that traces of Asian representation as a one-dimensional identity still exists and persists, thanks to those like Limbaugh, who hold seats of power in the media.
I first saw Limbaugh’s impersonation as one of the news stories covered in the Colbert Report, which aired on January 20th. Although Colbert offers comic relief and at times, new light on rather serious issues, it still disturbed me to know that comedic interpretation of the incident provided an opportunity for racist reproduction. Colbert coined mandarin as 'Kung Pao jibber jabber' and lambasted Limbaugh for other personal reasons:
"I don’t know about you folks, but I’m deeply offended by Rush’s cheap, insensitive ripoff of my character, Ching Chong Ding Dong.
[Old clip of Colbert performing runs]
'You so pretty American Girl! You come here, you kiss my tea. I know me need no shu-gah when you around. [releases a hyena-like laugh] Come on my rickshaw, I give you a ride to Bangggkoook!”
Chopstick themed song plays in the background and Colbert bounces lightly from left to right.
Do you think we’re ready to laugh about it (Limbaugh’s impersonation or the Asian stereotypes themselves)? Is it appropriate to casually throw around Chinglish words, such as ‘Ching Chong,’ let alone laugh at comedic Asian characters, constructed from a melange of Asian stereotypes? Despite the comedic guise in which Colbert packaged his act, ethnic slurs such as ‘Ching Chong,’ perpetuate Asian representations that were historically fabricated to subjugate Asian identities and social power.
Chinese president, Hu Jintao’s visit to the U.S. has been no small matter. His visit with President Obama brought to light some of the two countries similarities as well as its differences. Among the topics discussed were economics, power, nuclear weapons, as well as human rights. While both sides debated the issue, the conclusion produced at the end of the meeting is that “Each country and its people have the right to choose their own path, and should respect each other’s development model.”
Other differences that were not resolved include Taiwan, Tibet, human rights, currency manipulation, and increasing trade between the two.
Also settled on during the conference were several economic contracts, including China recieving $45 billion worth of U.S. exports. This could support some 235,000 jobs in the U.S., which although is not enough to solve its economic problems, is at least a step in the right direction.
Both countries also agreed to support one another in trying to resolve the nuclear issues in Korea and Iran. Both want to create “a world without nuclear weapons”.
Images of Chinese celebrities are now shown on the screen at Times Square in New York. With President Hu Jintao’s visit in the States, China brings a new image of itself into American people’s eyes, by showing faces of NBA star Yao Ming, Web tycoon Jack Ma, fashion models, as well as great people in China. The country is trying to build itself a full image, letting people know more about the country, not just politics and economies.
This one-minute video is scheduled to run on CNN as well.
Hot Topic, an American retail store specializing in punk/rock influenced merchandise and music, has been recently discovered to be selling illegal copies of Korean pop music. In their online store, one could find music by “SHINE LEE” (although the popular K-Pop boy group is actually known as “SHIN EE”), Big Bang, and 2NE1 among others. Hot Topic sold albums by these artists were not authentic in that there was never a “2NE1 Acapella Album” nor was there a “BIG BANG BIG SHOW LIVE 2010” album. Moreover, instead of listing artists under their correct record labels, Hot Topic has listed incorrect information such as 2NE1 being under a “Robert Blackwell” instead of the actual “YG Entertainment.” What’s perhaps even more upsetting is that they failed to match the correct artists with their pictures - artist Baek Ji Young had Lee Hyori’s picture for her album, “SHIN HEE” as TVXQ, and Rainbow as Girls’ Generation. Some album pictures were simply fanmade wallpapers as well.
Since this issue has been discovered, Hot Topic has come out with an apology, stating that their partner company, Shockhound, is in charge of all music downloads. They have taken down all of their illegal music as well.
This type of issue regarding illegal distribution of Korean pop music has been seen in one of the biggest music distributors, iTunes. The Robert Blackwell mentioned above, along with other companies such as Jerry Rhoton, has been releasing music from big-time Korean record label, YG Entertainment, for their own profit. The illegal music found in iTunes were perhaps the same music being sold at Hot Topic. This iTunes issue was all perhaps been made possible due to the fact that companies can sell music on iTunes without going through a third-party company. This goes to say - always check the music you are purchasing, especially if it is from a Korean artist. Many frauds go under their regular names, such as Robert Blackwell.
This is a really interesting issue because it brings up the fact that K-Pop is becoming somewhat of a global interest, but Hot Topic or iTunes’ carelessness and fraud in not even being able to pinpoint K-Pop faces with their names is a mild insult to say the least. Granted, these companies’ main motive was to gain whatever profit they could get. However, one can’t help but bring up the old insult in that all Asians look alike. These companies couldn’t even do a simple Google search to make sure they were matching what name with who.
On Thursday, January 6, 2011 General Vang Pao died in Clovis, California at the age of 81. Vang Pao was a highly-regarded leader of the Hmong community in the United States as well as in Laos.
Vang Pao in 1961
Vang Pao became a general in the Laotian army after fighting against the Japanese in WWII and with the French against the North Vietnamese. In 1961 he was recruited by the CIA to lead the ground initiative of the "Secret War" in Laos. The United States government feared the domino effect of communism and noted the strategic position of Laos among other Southeast Asian countries. However, due to the Geneva Convention, the US was barred from committing US troops to Laos and instead initiated the secret war, which the government denied until 1997. Vang Pao led a guerrilla army of Hmong people, who rescued downed American fighter pilots, fought against the North Vietnamese Army and the Pathet Lao, and blocked the Ho Chi Minh trail where it crossed into Laos.
Ho Chi Minh Trail
With the communist victory in 1975, Vang Pao fled Laos. Those who stayed in Laos were often sent to reeducation camps and faced harsh reprisals from the new government. Most chose to make the trek through jungles, over mountains, and finally across the Mekong river to refugee camps in Thailand. Vang Pao eventually resettled in Orange County, continuing to be a respected leader. Vaming Xiong of Sacramento’s Hmong American Ad Hoc Committee describes Vang Pao’s influence, “I remember when I was trapped in the jungle from 1975 to 1979, you think Vang Pao’s still coming every time there’s a plane overhead. There are children of Hmong veterans who have never seen the world.”
In the US, Vang Pao established the Lao Family Community organization and continued his involvement in US policy relations with Laos. He never stopped working towards Laotian liberation from communism, and in 2007 was arrested and charged with conspiring to overthrow the Laotian government, charges which were eventually dropped but sparked much controversy among the Hmong community as it was seen as a betrayal by the US government. In 2010 he made plans to return to Laos to reconcile with the government and liberate the last of the Hmong resistance who are trapped in the jungle. These plans, however, were canceled as the regime announced that he would be executed as a war criminal.
A six-day funeral service for General Vang Pao will be held in Fresno starting on February 4th. Currently, a waiver has been submitted to allow the General to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery, which is typically allowed only for those with direct US military service.
The earth has completed yet another revolution, and here we are again. At the start of a new year. The last week of 2010 was a time of reflection - with the year’s offerings ordered into “best of” lists on almost every subject imaginable. But now that we have both feet firmly in the new year, it’s time to look ahead. The Guardian did just that, turning their attention to the future, and a distant future at that. Click on the link to view The Top 20 Predictions for the Next 25 Years. Or read below to find the predictions I found to be most intriguing. 1 Geopolitics: ‘Rivals will take greater risks against the US’
No balance of power lasts forever. Just a century ago, London was the centre of the world. Britain bestrode the world like a colossus and only those with strong nerves (or weak judgment) dared challenge the Pax Britannica.
That, of course, is all history, but the Pax Americana that has taken shape since 1989 is just as vulnerable to historical change. In the 1910s, the rising power and wealth of Germany and America splintered the Pax Britannica; in the 2010s, east Asia will do the same to the Pax Americana.
The 21st century will see technological change on an astonishing scale. It may even transform what it means to be human. But in the short term – the next 20 years – the world will still be dominated by the doings of nation-states and the central issue will be the rise of the east.
By 2030, the world will be more complicated, divided between a broad American sphere of influence in Europe, the Middle East and south Asia, and a Chinese sphere in east Asia and Africa. Even within its own sphere, the US will face new challenges from former peripheries. The large, educated populations of Poland, Turkey, Brazil and their neighbours will come into their own and Russia will continue its revival.
Nevertheless, America will probably remain the world’s major power. The critics who wrote off the US during the depression of the 1930s and the stagflation of the 1970s lived to see it bounce back to defeat the Nazis in the 1940s and the Soviets in the 1980s. America’s financial problems will surely deepen through the 2010s, but the 2020s could bring another Roosevelt or Reagan.
A hundred years ago, as Britain’s dominance eroded, rivals, particularly Germany, were emboldened to take ever-greater risks. The same will happen as American power erodes in the 2010s-20s. In 1999, for instance, Russia would never have dared attack a neighbour such as Georgia but in 2009 it took just such a chance.
The danger of such an adventure sparking a great power war in the 2010s is probably low; in the 2020s, it will be much greater.
The most serious threats will arise in the vortex of instability that stretches from Africa to central Asia. Most of the world’s poorest people live here; climate change is wreaking its worst damage here; nuclear weapons are proliferating fastest here; and even in 2030, the great powers will still seek much of their energy here.
Here, the risk of Sino-American conflict will be greatest and here the balance of power will be decided.
Ian Morris, professor of history at Stanford University and the author of Why the West Rules – For Now (Profile Books)
4 Energy: ‘Returning to a world that relies on muscle power is not an option’ Providing sufficient food, water and energy to allow everyone to lead decent lives is an enormous challenge. Energy is a means, not an end, but a necessary means. With 6.7 billion people on the planet, more than 50% living in large conurbations, and these numbers expected to rise to more than 9 billion and 80% later in the century, returning to a world that relies on human and animal muscle power is not an option.
The challenge is to provide sufficient energy while reducing reliance on fossil fuels, which today supply 80% of our energy (in decreasing order of importance, the rest comes from burning biomass and waste, hydro, nuclear and, finally, other renewables, which together contribute less than 1%). Reducing use of fossil fuels is necessary both to avoid serious climate change and in anticipation of a time when scarcity makes them prohibitively expensive.
It will be extremely difficult. An International Energy Agency scenario that assumes the implementation of all agreed national policies and announced commitments to save energy and reduce the use of fossil fuels projects a 35% increase in energy consumption in the next 25 years, with fossil fuels up 24%. This is almost entirely due to consumption in developing countries where living standards are, happily, rising and the population is increasing rapidly.
This scenario, which assumes major increases in nuclear, hydro and wind power, evidently does not go far enough and will break down if, as many expect, oil production (which is assumed to increase 15%) peaks in much less than 25 years. We need to go much further in reducing demand, through better design and changes in lifestyles, increasing efficiency and improving and deploying all viable alternative energy sources. It won’t be cheap. And in the post-fossil-fuel era it won’t be sufficient without major contributions from solar energy (necessitating cost reductions and improved energy storage and transmission) and/or nuclear fission (meaning fast breeder and/or thorium reactors when uranium eventually becomes scarce) and/or fusion (which is enormously attractive in principle but won’t become a reliable source of energy until at least the middle of the century).
Disappointingly, with the present rate of investment in developing and deploying new energy sources, the world will still be powered mainly by fossil fuels in 25 years and will not be prepared to do without them.
Chris Llewellyn Smith is a former director general of Cern and chair of Iter, the world fusion project, he works on energy issues at Oxford University
11 Web/internet: ‘Quantum computing is the future’
The open web created by idealist geeks, hippies and academics, who believed in the free and generative flow of knowledge, is being overrun by a web that is safer, more controlled and commercial, created by problem-solving pragmatists.
By 2035, the web, as a single space largely made up of webpages accessed on computers, will be long gone.
As the web goes mobile, those who pay more will get faster access. We will be sharing videos, simulations, experiences and environments, on a multiplicity of devices to which we’ll pay as much attention as a light switch.
Yet, many of the big changes of the next 25 years will come from unknowns working in their bedrooms and garages. And by 2035 we will be talking about the coming of quantum computing, which will take us beyond the world of binary, digital computing, on and off, black and white, 0s and 1s.
The small town of Waterloo, Ontario, which is home to the Perimeter Institute, funded by the founder of BlackBerry, currently houses the largest collection of theoretical physicists in the world.
The bedrooms of Waterloo are where the next web may well be made.
Charles Leadbeater, author and social entrepreneur
14 Architecture: What constitutes a ‘city’ will change In 2035, most of humanity will live in favelas. This will not be entirely wonderful, as many people will live in very poor housing, but it will have its good side. It will mean that cities will consist of series of small units organised, at best, by the people who know what is best for themselves and, at worst, by local crime bosses.
Cities will be too big and complex for any single power to understand and manage them. They already are, in fact. The word “city” will lose some of its meaning: it will make less and less sense to describe agglomerations of tens of millions of people as if they were one place, with one identity. If current dreams of urban agriculture come true, the distinction between town and country will blur. Attempts at control won’t be abandoned, however, meaning that strange bubbles of luxury will appear, like shopping malls and office parks. To be optimistic, the human genius for inventing social structures will mean that new forms of settlement we can’t quite imagine will begin to emerge.
All this assumes that environmental catastrophe doesn’t drive us into caves. Nor does it describe what will happen in Britain, with a roughly stable population and a planning policy dedicated to preserving the status quo as much as possible. Britain in 25 years’ time may look much as it does now, which is not hugely different from 25 years ago. Rowan Moore, Observer architecture correspondent
And finally… I have to add my two cents about what to look forward to, not in the next 25 years (because really, I don’t have the kind of foresight to make those predictions), but in the coming year in terms of Asian American Theater Arts. The number of Asian American theater artists has grown exponentially from what it was six or seven years ago, and what is especially exciting to me is the growing number of trained artists in the Asian American community. For a time, when “multi-ethnic” casting was the craze, and theater companies around the nation were filling out their ensembles with as many “performers of color” they could find, I would see an Asian person on stage and think, that actor is just filler. Somebody hired to fill a space, so that that company could say, “look, we have a Asian guy.” But with more and more trained actors out there - people single-mindedly dedicated to their craft, it creates a higher standard collectively for the work that is being produced by those artists. With the proliferation of high quality work, I hope that it will lead to us to question more fervently why Asian Americans aren’t really recognized in Hollywood? Why roles that are written for characters of Asian heritage or frequently recast as White? and Why so many villains are made out to be Asian?
And a lack of talent will no longer be a satisfactory response.
As of now, the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees that all people born on U.S. soil automatically gain U.S. citizenship, regardless of the citizenship status of that child’s parent(s). There have been murmurs that immigration hard-liners will be soon unveiling a plan that will center the next immigration debate around amending birthright citizenship. Since amending the U.S. Constitution itself is too tedious, these geniuses are pushing for the issuing of two different birth certificates in each State: one for undocumented immigrants and the other for U.S. citizens. Wow, talk about selective enforcement of the Constitution. Mexican immigrants have received a brunt of the attention surrounding this debate. As the New York Times article points out however, most undocumented immigrants from Mexico are not coming to the U.S. to pop out babies, but to seek better economic opportunities. Why waste time trying to cherry pick who our Nation’s laws to apply to, when we should be addressing economic conditions (e.g. North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, etc.) that is causing Mexico’s economy to bleed and depend on the U.S.?
The 14th Amendment was adopted in 1868, finally granting citizenship to freed slaves of African descent citizenship. The first clause states that citizenship applied to “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof.” In 1898, the Supreme Court ruled for the first time in In re Wong Kim Ark on the applicability of this citizenship status to a person who was neither white nor black, but Asian. Just a decade before, Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 barring almost all Chinese migration to the U.S due mostly in part to rising anti-Chinese sentiment of white workers who were afraid the Chinese laborers were going to “steal” all the jobs (hmmm sound familiar?). Wong, born to immigrant parents on U.S. soil, decided to visit and travel around China in 1894. When Wong returned in 1895 to San Francisco by boat, he was denied entry at the port, detained and set for deportation to China. Wong sued. Though the defense recognized that Wong was born on U.S. soil, it was emphasized that Wong should be judged under a different standard. Apparently Wong was “a subject to the Chinese Emperor” because both his parents were Chinese. However, Wong won his case when the Court affirmed Wong was a citizen as delineated in the 14th Amendment’s first clause.
In fact, a justice concluded Wong Kim Ark’s case with the following opinion:
Being a citizen…no citizen can be excluded from this country except in punishment for crime. Exclusion for any other cause is unknown to our laws, and beyond the power of [C]ongress. The petitioner must be allowed to land, and it is so ordered.
I know anti-immigrant sentiment is most likely on the rise because of the bad economy, but come on, how about we actually address the root of the problem: the economy.
Oh, there’s definitely some blatant racism too. See this comment from Tea Party Representative Duncan Hunter (R-CA):
And we’re not being mean…We’re just saying it takes more than walking across the border to become an American citizen. It’s what’s in our souls.”
John Kavanagh, an Arizona legislator pushing for the implementation of two birth certificates answers:
“I was born and raised in New York. I can ride a subway, drink coffee, read the newspaper and make sure my pockets are not picked all at the same time.”
And what exactly is in the “soul” of a U.S. citizen, Mr. Duncan? A selective understanding of our nation’s laws? From the case of Wong Kim Ark over a century ago, it’s important to see how the Supreme Court ruled: unswayed by the angry unemployed masses and remembering that the Constitution is the Law of the Land.
I am not basing citizenship on what my soul looks like or how much I can multi-task. But hey, I would’ve been a citizen of every country in the world if you assessed citizenship based on my New York-trained multitasking skills.
How would you describe Asian America in 2010 in one word?
Well, writer Jeff Yang comprehensively and creatively devises his own lexicon of nouns, verbs and adjectives to produce a 2010 Year in Review of Asian American popular culture. From the controversial race-bending in The Last Air Bender to the powerful punches of Manny Pacquiao to the representations of Asian Americans in television, music and more, read up on words like “erace (v.),” “impacqt (n.)” and “televasian (n.)”.
A must-read as we look ahead to the year 2011! Happy New Year, everybody!