« links for 2007-01-21 | Main | links for 2007-01-22 »

January 22, 2007



I have never been to Beijing so I have to ask, does Star Bucks actually occupy a historic building inside the Ancient Palace? I can't really tell from the photo. I have been to the Chosun palace in Korea. It was very hot when I was there and was relieved that they sold drinks inside there. But the drink shop did not occupy an ancient historic building. It was like what Malaysians like to call, a Mamak stall. It could be torn down or pushed out of sight in minutes.

How did Starbucks get into the forbidden palace in the first place? As I understand it, it has been there for 6 years. So what took the Chinese people so long to lodge a complain? Do you know that there are phone numbers of Chinese government officials posted on the internet and citizens can call to complain? Now, I know, the chicken hearted will say the government will arrest those who make complains. As a Mahathir era survivor, I can advice this, they will not arrest you unless you have the power to mobilize thousands. If you are a nobody, you can make complains and they won't touch your hair simply because they can't be bothered with a low life like you.

Such grassroot movement in my opinion is too "Communisty". It reminds me of the Communist-era public trials where a person is decided guilty or not guilty by a show of voice by the bystanders who were witnessing the trial. The lawyers attempt not to convince the judge, but rather the bystanders on the guilt of the suspect.

Now on the flip side, such developments can be risky. It needs to be conducted in a civilized manner. What if the government had signed a contract with Starbucks? It is then in a position to honour that contract. If the people do not understand the need to obey contracts, then we may have problems.

In Malaysia, we used to have our beloved strongman "dictator" Dr. Mahathir who kept things going pretty orderly. Then, Mr. Nice Guy Badawi came along and he is so nice, we call him "Uncle Lah (Pak Lah)". It was a great relief for many of us who were "led to believe that we were oppressed for 20 odd years" under Mahathir. But things were not fairy tale. Now, people protest about lots of things and take to the streets. It is becoming disruptive. When things are not resolved in a civil manner favourably, some people take to the streets. And they are leaving the government little choice.

Perhaps the best way to introduce democracy is the American style. Stop asking people what the percentage is. Instead ask them if it is more than 50 or less than 50. That way they only have 2 choices. In many parts of the world, we give people too much freedom. We ask them what is the percentage, and one guy say it is 24 percent. Another guy say it is 21 percent. Yet another say it is 85 percent. Everyone have their own opinion. So we have a multi dimensional political war. Each election, tens of people want to run for Presidency. Even the guy who say it is 21 percent is fighting with the guy who say it is 24 percent.

But in America, the question is simplified. Anything less than 50 percent is considered to be Group A. Anything more is considered Group B. At the end of the day, the fight is between group A vs group B. It is now a multiple choice question to the voters. Choose A or B. Choose Republicans or Democrats or throw your vote away by voting something else.

In other parts of the world, one voter strongly believes that the percentage is 35 percent. And seeing that none of the candidates are supporting 35 percent, he runs for candidacy. So we have added one more candidate into the race.

When it comes to time to vote, the voters are presented with so many choices they don't even know how to vote. And then they complain and say that the election is nothing but a sham.

Ohmynews call itself a "citizen-journalism" org. But really, the english edition of the website is actually populated with largely opinion/analysis which to me is not journalism.

I do agree that there is simply too much restriction on Chinese news media. HOwever, I don't think this is because of fear of the internet by the Chinese government. Rather they seem to be promoting somekind of "care bears" or seeking "harmony".

For example, writing anti-Western comments on Chinese government website would get one's comment deleted which I found to be rather surprising. Because according to what I read in some Western publications, China is suppose to challenge Western domination and bring Western civilization to its knees, take away every job there is in the Western world, so how come they won't recruit some guy like me to write for them. They delete my stuff too.


When first read about the post re Starbucks at Gu Gong, it occurred to me that Chang Cheng (the Great Wall) has had an equally long history of poor stewardship as a national treasure. From David Copperfield's making it disappear to today's board jumps (the highest, longest, fastest in the world) and all night techno raves atop the wall, who is issuing the licenses to allow this rampant commercialism to be conducted?
Yes, the merchandisers are greedy, but the culture administrators are inexperienced, poorly paid, neglected curators of China's physical and artistic heritage. It takes outsiders to come in and designate world heritage sites, but it also takes a willingness on the part of the central government to invest in protection and development of Gu Gong, Chang Cheng, and many other man made and natural sites in China so that their administration uses modern business and curatorial strategies to develop them as national "brands", to be respected as well as popular tourist destinations.

Go ahead and develop gift shops and restaurants in the palace and merchandise that highlight the Forbidden City, but do it in a well thought out way. The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Smithsonian do a great job at leveraging their artistic and cultural heritage while maintaining integrity. They haven't "sold out". Historical and artistic institutions cannot be expected to be frozen in time disconnected from modern life. Make them relevant by being planful about how you use profiteering from your "brand" to further the public's knowledge and respect for what you stand for.

I support the reevaluation of all commercial concessions in those national treasures in China, if only it will force the Ministry of Culture to create a long range plan for them.


  紫禁城里是否可以经营星巴克的讨论似乎持续了很久,让人怀疑是否从人类诞生开始这样的讨论就一直持续到现在,并且不会有任何定论。我终于偶然地仔细阅读了Rebecca刚写的文章,她甚至使用了这样的标题:“China's Starbucks-blogger-gate: Hype and reality”,在我看上去有点夸张。



Call me paranoid, but I find it very unlikely that as an anchorman working for CCTV, Rui has the liberty of writing about any topic in whatever fashion he prefers to. I was also discomforted by the self-righteous tone in his essays, which makes them very "un-bloggy". And being well-versed in English and shoulder-rubbing with CEOs don't make one a globalist, at least not in this case.


To exemplify, take a look at this post of Rui.


At the risk of losing context, I would like to draw your attention to this paragraph:


(In translation) Since his kids were around, I approached him instead, out of courtesy. 'Ni Hao', I greeted. 'Ni Hao', he replied. I tried to converse with him in Chinese, only to find that his is too broken. So I asked whether he speaks English, he said yes, but apparently his English is much worse than ours, probably coming from some Northwest European country. (Language can be classified by quality too. An English-majored student in Chinese universities who has never been abroad may stumble in slang-usage, but he/she certainly feels much more classy and cultivated than an American truck driver.)

This can't be coming from a globalist, or all Chinese would be globalists, as this is just too typical of the Chinese nationalist mindset.


Rose of Phoenix TV wrote: "We are left to wonder whether in the near future China will allow citizen-journalism Web enterprises like Korea's OhMyNews to exist."

Censorship is actually counter Marxism. Communism ultimate goal is Freedom and Censorship and Communism does not go hand in hand.

It was Karl Marx who wrote: "It is the censored press that has a demoralizing effect. Inseparable from it is the most powerful vice, hypocrisy, and from this, its basic vice, come all its other defects, which lack even the rudiments of virtue, and its vice of passivity, loathsome even from the aesthetic point of view. The government hears only its own voice, it knows that it hears only its own voice, yet it harbours the illusion that it hears the voice of the people, and it demands that the people, too, should itself harbour this illusion. For its part, therefore, the people sinks partly into political superstition, partly into political disbelief, or, completely turning away from political life, becomes a rabble of private individuals." Src: http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1842/free-press/ch05.htm

Marx doesn't have an answer on how to deal with "bad people" misuing those freedoms, however, let's say we have real name registration, then the need to censor should now be lessen as "bad people" can be hunted down and sued in the court of law.

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

Global Voices

  • Global Voices Online - The world is talking. Are you listening?

  • Donate to Global Voices - Help us spread the word
Blog powered by Typepad
Member since 10/2004


My book:

Consent of the Networked
Coming January 31st, 2012, from Basic Books. To pre-order click here.
AddThis Feed Button