Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Chinese Bloggers on Obama Victory: Admiring American Dream, Concerned about Sino-US Relations

One Chinese blogger blogs about Obama's election win

Obama’s victory in yesterday’s presidential election taught a great lesson about American dream and democracy to many Chinese bloggers, whose enthusiasm in blogging about this historical moment is manifest in the thousands of blogs appearing in the past less than 24 hours.

They recognized the power of American dream and ideas, America’s achievement in overcoming racial conflicts, and the value of democracy. Some bloggers expressed admiration for these American values, exclaiming “dreams will come true!” and calling such a success story an example of a “positive culture.” Obama's victory even inspired one blogger to imagine the possibility of a Chinese American president of the US.

Blogger Yao Xiaoyuan
writes that because of this election, Chinese people will like the United States more and more, out of their admiration for the “universal human values represented by the United States.” However, not many bloggers used Obama’s case to advocate applying American values to China. The American dream stays American.

To some Chinese bloggers, the outcome was a surprise. Yang Hengjun
, for instance, thought it was more possible to have a white woman than an African-American man as American president.

Meanwhile, many bloggers discussed the implication of Obama’s presidency to China’s interests. In this regard, the picture is not as rosy at all.

“Once the [American] economy turns better, I believe the Democratic Party will talk with us about trade protection,” one blogger
writes. Another blogger concurs, concluding that China will face more pressure in energy security and decline in export due to Obama’s energy and economic policies.

These bloggers, however, failed to notice Obama's close tie with Hawaii, a state heavily populated by ethnic Chinese, which may influence the new president's approach to China.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Chinese Netizen not Big Fans of Obama

Comments left on chat room, one of the most popular BBS in China, offer both good and bad words about the two American presidential candidates, who are battling their final days of the election campaign. But it is clear that, for many Chinese people, Barack Obama is not the ideal new president of the United States. Here are some of reasons that Chinese netizen say why they don’t favor Obama.

Perhaps the most important reason is that to some Chinese people, Obama is good at shouting slogans and talking empty but lack of real competence. As put by one comment: “History tells us Chinese not to trust an eloquent but inexperienced man with anything important.”

Another concern among the netizen, oddly enough, is that Obama seems to be anti-democracy and is likely to promote socialism. In order to distribute wealth around, some netizen say, “he has to have absolute power” and “control people’s ideas,” which will lead to “potential dictatorship.”

Some people think that the overwhelming support of Obama and harsh attitude toward McCain, as well as the scrutiny of Joe the plumber in American media is the work of the Obama campaign and thus reason that Obama is very intolerant and repressive. There are also people resenting him because he is “ugly,” or he is charming, but lack of ability.

On the other hand, quite a few posts in the chat room shout “go Obama!” One post claims that over 70 percent of Chinese support Obama. Some say that Obama will become the greatest African American in history, that his success is a great example of living the American dream.

These comments are only a fraction of tons of online comments regarding the candidates and should not be taken as representative of Chinese public opinion. There are also a lot of misunderstanding or simply ignorance of the politics of American presidential election in those comments. What is presented here is at best a glimpse of Chinese people’s opinion on Obama.

View online comments on

Friday, September 26, 2008

Why Babies?!

San Lu formula was found contamined in a recent public health incident

I grew up in China getting used to fake and poor quality goods. They were just everywhere. I never expected my shoes, for example, to last more than one year, and most of the time did not assume the NIKE sweater I was wearing to be genuine. I learned not to trust certain products, such as health supplements, produced in China, and I probably would not purchas baby formula of Chinese brands had I had my baby in China.

If I somehow managed to live with poor quality clothes, shoes and appliances, since it is simply the reality of the market, I was always scared of fake drugs and contaminated food. But never before, was I so ashamed of China’s notorious fakes and counterfeits. This time, it was the melamine-tainted San Lu baby formula that killed four babies and sickened over 10,000.

While watching photos of little babies lying in hospital with IV sticking to their little head, my heart hurt. I can’t help but ask: what is wrong with our people? What made them so obsessed with making a little more money that they even harmed our little babies?!

There is an old saying in Chinese: even animals as cruel as tigers won’t hurt their own child. It is also common among wild animals to situate their young members in the very center of the entire group to protect them from predators. Needless to say, babies are the most precious human being. They are the future of every nation, every group of people. So how can someone ever try to make profits at the price of baby’s health, even life?

It is said that the melamine that harmed so many babies was likely added by people at the milk collection centers, where milk from dairy farms was sold to formula factories. It is appalling to realize that those people who actually put in the chemical may well know that the very milk they were poisoning would be used to make baby formula.

Aside from tightening regulations, removing high-profile officials, and arresting a bunch of bad guys, we as a nation should really ask ourselves: what went wrong? What makes us so ruthless in making money that we even hurt ill people, and now, babies? Just how deep we have fallen down the moral cliff? Can we ever climb up back?

There are some deeper and more severe problems of Chinese society way beyond sloppy market regulations, incapable officials and corruptions. When a nation starts to see its babies harmed on a large scale by its own adults, something is seriously wrong.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Let's Be Proud of Lang Ping

(Xinhua photo)

Lang Ping is receiving a lot of criticism from Chinese netizens after the USA women's volleyball team coached by her defeated the Chinese team. There are people calling her traitor, or accusing her of breaking Chinese people's heart.

I really don't see any anger as necessary. Lang Ping has done her part to lead the Chinese women's volleyball team to win world championship and later help to coach a new Chinese team. Her contribution and achievement as a member of China's national team is impeccable.

Living and working in the U.S. was her personal choice, to which she is totally entitled. As an athlete not born and raised in America, she managed to continue to shine with her talent and became the head coach of the national team of the U.S. It's not hard to imagine that she had to overcome a lot of challenges, including language, culture and pressure from her home country. And yet, again, she made prominent achievements.

Coaching a national team to compete on the international stage isn't easy at all. It is even harder when leading a team not from her home country and competing with many top coaches from around the world, most of whom, as it turns out, happen to be male. Still, Lang Ping is doing a great job, leading her team to advance to the semi-final at the Beijing Olympics.

Winning is not just about getting the points. Watching the American women's volleyball players playing with such upbeat attitude and excitement, I can tell that Lang Ping taught them not just skills, but also passion for the game. And I believe it was passion for volleyball that sustained Lang Ping to overcome all the difficulties to succeed in her career, gave her the courage to lead the US team to compete in China and perhaps the heart to tolerate so many harsh words throwing at her from her fellow Chinese.

I admire her capability to excel, her courage to choose her own life, and her professionalism as well as passion to pursue the career she loves. She is successful, graceful, and professional, and we should be proud of her.

Very likely the women's volleyball final will be between China and U.S. As a Chinese, I certainly hope that the Chinese team, which is also a incredible team with a terrific coach, Chen Zhonghe, will win. But I will be happy, too, if Lang Ping's team got the gold. Because, after all, she is a world champion from China, and a remarkable individual as well.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Chinese People Rally via the Internet to Help the Earthquake Relief

On its website, the National Development and Reform Commission asks for citizen's opinion on rebuilding earthquake affected areas

Many Chinese people from all round the country are posting messages on BBS, blogs or chatrooms calling for fellow citizens to join relief work and rebuilding efforts for the earthquake struck area in south west China.

On, China’s NO.1 search engine, for example, a chat room has been set up exclusively for posting relief and rebuilding related messages. Some people said they were willing to organize citizen groups on their own and travel to the disaster area to help, or become volunteers.

People are also expressing support and hope for the rebuilding effort, as well as their concerns and suggestions. Several messages warned about official corruption such as embezzlement of relief funding. Some suggested that instead of trying to send relief to the most affected areas, the government should move people out and send them to other cities to be taken care of. After their homes are rebuilt, they can go back.

One college student suggested nearly one hundred colleges in Sichuan to take summer break early and let the campuses accommodate homeless people from the earthquake regions. These colleges could provide not only thousands of dorm rooms, but also shower and dinning facilities.

One notion stands out from people’s online comments, and that is the call for attention to mental care for earthquake victims, especially orphans. Anhui Normal University announced that its psychology department has opened counseling hot lines and posted on the cell phone numbers of several psychological professors, promising that these cell phones will be on 24 hours a day.

The central government has set up a national office to guide the rebuilding efforts and opened a website where citizens can submit their advices and comments on the matter. However, as of June 4, there were only five entries on this site while there were hundreds posted on,.

Earthquake relief chatroom on

Friday, May 30, 2008

Blogger's New View of the Inside of the Bird's Nest Stadium

Some college student volunteers recently got access to the newly finished "bird's nest" Olympics stadium in Beijing, and posted pictures on blogs. The pictures provide a fresh look of the inside of the main venue of the upcoming Beijing Olympics.

Here is the link to one of the blogs:!58C39065F72FF5C8!380/
(Access permission needed)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Debate: Is it a mistake to award the Olympics to Beijing

The Economist is hosting an online debate about the Beijing Olympics, under the proposition: "It was a mistake to award the Olympics to Beijing."

As of Wednesday, May 28, 38 percent of visitors' votes were for the proposition, while 62 percent against.

The argument supporting the proposition points out that Beijing is not technically ready to host a grand sports event like the Olympics, mainly because of its bad pollution. It also holds that the game is making China's political system more repressive because in order to make sure the game will run smoothly the "Party has resorted to old-time dictatorial tactics."

The opposite side supports China as the host of the Olympics on the ground that Chinese people should not be denied an opportunity to demonstrate their national pride just because having an autocratic government. It also hails that China has come a long way economically, culturally and socially in the last 30 years and that the average Chinese citizen has a much better, hopeful and freer life in 2008 than he or she did in 1978.

Several scholars are involved in the debate, including Gordon G. Chang, author of The Coming Collapse of China; Charles W. Freeman III, Freeman Chair in China Studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC; Dr. Yang Jianli, a research fellow at Harvard University; and Victor D. Cha, director of the Asian Studies program at Georgetown University.

The debate is still ongoing and the public could vote and comment on its website. On June 6, the winner of this debate will be revealed.

(Thanks to Lauryn Nicasio for the tip)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Chinese Netizens Calling on Boycott of Carrefour in the Wake of Troubled Olympic Torch Rely

A photo circulated on the web: a young woman protests the interruption of the Olympic torch relay in France in front of a Carrefour store in Beijing

A boycott against French retailer giant Carrefour in China was recently waged on the Internet. One message has been widely circulated on the web, calling on people around China not to shop at Carrefour on the May 1 holiday to resist the retailer's big sale event on that day. Another message asks the Chinese public to stay away from Carrefour stores for 17 days, mirroring the duration the Beijing Olympics, between May 8 and May 24.

“No one should shop at Carrefour, because the biggest shareholder of Carrefour donated huge money to the Dalai Lama, a lot of French people support the independence of Tibet, and even the French president has announced boycott of the Beijing Olympics,” says the message.

In response, Carrefour China has posted a statement on its official website on Tuesday, claiming that “the rumor about Carrefour Group’s support of some illegal political organizations is completely groundless.” The statement goes on to express Carrefour’s support for the Beijing Olympics. “Carrefour Group has always actively supported the Beijing Olympics,” it says. “Currently, Carrefour stores in Beijing are busy preparing to welcome the opening of the Olympics.”

The protests in Paris during the Olympic torch relay there clearly enraged many Chinese people, who have been so enthusiastic about hosting the Olympic Games. Calling the Olympic torch “the holy flame,” Chinese people see the torch relay as a sacred ritual as well. To millions of common folks in China, what happened in Paris was like a slap in their faces, anything but acceptable. Angry comments about the Paris incident have flooded online forums in China in the past few weeks and now people are calling for actions. As perhaps the best known and the most widely presented French business in China, Carrefour is easily targeted.

Not everyone, however, sees boycott of Carrefour or French products as the right thing to do. “Boycott Carrefour, such a slogan is a bit too simple and hasty,” says one post, advocating a focus on the long term. “Once we develop and become stronger, will we still be afraid of other’s bullying?”

Some Chinese netizens are comparing the current anti-west reaction over the torch relay interruptions with the historic conflict between China and the West after the Opium War in the 19th century, and even describing the supporters of the boycott as the “contemporary Boxer,” drawing an analogy between some activists and members of the anti-foreigner rebellion in the early 20th century.

There are also a few voices warning about the seemingly rising nationalism ignited by the Olympic flames, and concerning things might go out of control on the eve of the Olympics. If so, one post says,“ [it] will cause long and unrecoverable damage to China’s international image.”

Online comments:

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Another Olympics in Shanghai?

A CPPCC member from Shanghai has proposed that the city should bid to host the Olympic Games in 2024 or 2028. Mr. Xiong Sidong, who wrote a 3000-word proposal on this matter, advocates China to continue to host the Olympics, taking the Beijing game as a “start point.”

China can and should try to host more Olympic Games, Mr. Xiong says. The Beijing game, according to him, has prepared China with the facilities, a good team and necessary experience, as well as “a friendly international environment that understands and supports China,” for a second bid. Plus, continuing to host more games can help to maintain the economic momentum generated by the hosting. Proposals from CPPCC members are supposed to be reviewed by the government and may be adopted and put into action.

It is pretty courageous for Mr. Xiong to put forward such a proposal amid all kinds of controversies surrounding the up-coming Olympic Games in August, which have caused a lot of headache for the Chinese government but are not necessarily made fully aware to the Chinese public, perhaps including Mr. Xiong himself. Nevertheless, the idea grabbed the attention of a lot of web viewers who left about 2000 comments.

Supporters are abundant, but more for the idea of China hosting more Olympics than the specific location. In fact, Mr. Xiong’s proposal inspired many people to advocate their own cities like Wuhan, Nanjing, Xi’an and Guizhou, even small cities like Jining, Shandong and Tieling, Liaoning, to be the host. People who do not like Mr. Xiong’s idea call it “daydreaming” or “acting on impulse,” criticizing such a proposal as worthless and calling on CPPCC members to focus on real issues like controlling China's rocketing housing prices and inflation. There are also people suggesting a general vote to be held to decide on China’s next Olympic bid.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Dog-control Officers Show Off

The men in the photo are not officers from a SWAT unit, but newly geared-up dog-control police officers in Wuxi, Jiangsu, as part of the city's effort to put dog raising under control. They are demonstrating their new equipments in a public gathering marking the implement of the city's new regulations regarding dog raising.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

TV Dramas Shed Light on Ideal Values

one scene from Struggle: Lu Tao, middle, with his friends

Among hundreds of TV dramas aired across China in 2007, ten received the most reviews from blogs on, one of China’s largest blog sites, according to a
ranking released by Sina blog this month. It is interesting to see that many bloggers took the chance of reviewing these popular TV dramas to discuss values in the transitional society of today’s China.

These discussions indicate some Chinese people’s resentment of the money and material-driven values that are prevalent in today’s China. Meanwhile, they expressed their longing for some ideal and traditional values presented in the TV dramas.

At the top of the ranking is a show about a young man from the countryside, Xu Sanduo, and his experience as a soldier. Innocent, naive, clumsy, and lacking confidence, Xu Sanduo, regarded by viewers as the Chinese version of Forrest Gump, is persistent and always does things with his full heart. Eventually, beyond almost everyone’s expectations, he becomes a member of the elite special force of the army.

Netizens wrote about their love for the show and the character. One says that while too many TV dramas focus on the vileness and dirtiness of things like the money-power exchange, this one shows that “after all, there is such a clean aspect of human nature.” Some say the character is both realistic and idealistic, and that “we badly need people so simple as Xu Sanduo in reality.”

The second ranked drama is called “Struggle,” about the life right after college of a group of young people of the 1980s generation. The main character, Lu Tao, has two fathers. His biological father is a rich businessman who recently returned from Wall Street, and his stepfather, who raised him, is a government official who doesn’t have the money to buy his own house. Lu Tao worked hard and made his own fortune in real estate, but gave up the money to pursue his dream and true love. He also decided that his poor stepfather is the man he would like to call “father,” while his biological father has a lot of money but little love.

Many young people of the same generation love this show, praising it as portraying their real struggle for life, love and career. Still, they are very much into the idealism reflected in the drama, i.e. the classic theme of seeking true love over money.

One commentator says that after watching the drama, he realizes that “pursuing money is never as important as pursuing love, including love for family, lover and friends,” and that “if always listening to the rich father and looking at life with a businessman’s eyes, life will not have passion, but only profits.”

“We are in a society that is full of the taste of money and more and more people are being driven by money. Where is the direction? Don’t know. Where are our old ideals?” writes a blogger who claims to be a member of the 1980s generation and lays out a few thoughts drawn from the drama, among which is the statement that “money cannot control ideals.”

Another drama among the top ten is staged in a five-star hotel, involving business competition and family foes. In such a show, blogger
Jiang Xiaoyu sees “the universal values of the true, good and beautiful, which reflect Chinese people’s ultimate pursuit of civic character amid social transition.” The show features a group of honest, hard-working and simple people, who represent “the normal life that modern Chinese citizens dream about in this transitional period that loses key values and makes people feel insecure.”

Watching TV is a major form of entertainment for tens of millions of Chinese people and they love TV dramas, which sometimes satisfy viewers’ psychological need for an ideal world and maybe give them hope that living by ideal values could bring happiness and success. It is interesting to see how the Chinese public buys into such idealism, which, on the other hand, indicates people’s disappointment and dissatisfaction with reality. These blog discussions also reveal people’s awareness of the value change associated with China’s social transition, and that they are willing to uphold traditional, or main values like true love, honesty and hard work. At the same time, they also accept some new values represented by the younger generation, such as pursuit of personal dreams and fulfillment of one’s individuality.

See the post on China Digital Times