Newsworthy or racism?


It was heartbreaking to hear the news that terrorists bombed a concert in Paris last Friday and killed more than a hundred people.

News media coverage instantaneously responded to the tragedy. The criticism of the terrorism, condolences from international leaders and follow-ups on Paris keeps popping up on different media. Soon many people on Facebook added a French flag on their Facebook profile as a way to demonstrate that they expressed their sorrow to France.

At the same time, many people criticized that news media are biased and racism because at around the same time Japan experienced a 7.0 earthquake and a subsequent tsunami but received almost zero media attention.

I think news media have their own standard of evaluating whether a piece of information is newsworthy or not. Audiences have heard about a lot of outrageous terrorist activities in the Middle East and are conditioned to associate the region with terrorism and get used to receiving this terrorism news from those places.

But in France, in Paris, which people fantasize as a place of romance and fashion not terrorism, was actually under attack of terrorists. The unexpectedness and rareness would attract more attention.

Japan is an island country that constantly under threats of earthquake and tsunami. It is reported that Japan would go through more than 10 earthquakes a year, ranging from some earthquake people may never feel about to some big ones that may trigger tsunami. Considering no casualty has been reported, the Japanese earthquake might not be equally newsworthy as the bombing in Paris.

Behind the ice-breaker meeting


Chinese President Xi Jinping and Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-jeou shook hands ahead of an historic summit in Singapore last weekend. It is the first time since the Chinese Civil War ended and the nations split in 1949 that leaders from both sides have met.

Xi said the meeting “has opened a historic chapter in the cross-Strait relations, and history will remember today.” He also emphasized, “We (China and Taiwan) are one family.”

Relations between China and Taiwan have improved under Ma since he took office in 2008, with better economic ties, improving tourism links and a trade pack signed.

It is unfathomable why the meeting has taken place at this moment. From Ma’s side, there is a presidential election in Taiwan in January. Ma might take this meeting as an opportunity to give a boost to his party’s candidate, who is trailing in the polls. Also Ma built his presidency on his closer connection to China, so it is a good chance for him to meet Xi.

On Xi’s side, first, Xi wants to exert more of his political control over Taiwan. If he showed his favor in a certain party, in this case, the Nationalists, it might influence many Taiwanese voters’ decisions. If a Nationalists is elected as the upcoming president in Taiwan, it will maintain the policy of being close to China, which will be the ideal outcome for China.

We cannot foresee whether Xi’s meeting with Ma will boost the Nationalists or backfire. During the meeting, many Taiwanese protesters threw stones at the Taiwanese Parliament to demonstrate their anger on Ma’s intention of building a closer connection with China.

Interestingly enough, in Ma’s welcome address, he expressed his sincere hope for continually building peaceful and friendly relation between the strait.  Neither side put fingers on serious political conflicts and territory disputes. They both referred the other side as “sir” rather than his political titles. It is the first time ever in Chinese political reporting that no political titles were involved.

When you can have two


Last Thursday, China lifted its one child policy that had applied to this country for three decades. Now, couples can choose to have a second child without fear for various punishments including fines and getting fired.

Loosening a previously tight policy for population control has attracted worldwide attention. The UK’s BBC ran a topic section for consecutive days focusing on termination of the one-child policy that tries to interpret the reason why government ceased this decades-long policy. The New York Times also writes about Chinese new policy change and how this policy had demographically shaped China.

The policy change also triggered heated debate within China. Some people argue that banning the one child policy foreshadows Chinese government’s failure of re-structuring its economic development mode. For decades, the Chinese government has devoted effort to reconstructing the Chinese economy from labor-driven to technology and service driven. Recently, the Chinese economy has slowed and many people attribute the sluggish economy to the scarcity of cheap labor.

Others point out that, though families can choose to have a second child, there are still some barriers preventing unmarried women to have their own children. Some articles even cite some important data to demonstrate that, even couples which have the choice to have a second child, a very small percentage of them will actually give birth to another child due to mounting pressure to raise a child because child birth and rearing require tremendous time and money commitments.

I think the new policy will bring some changes to China. At least for coming years, it will not be rare to see a child who has a sibling. Nevertheless, the change will slight, but not tremendously elevate the total amount of Chinese population. Nowadays more and more people are prioritizing quality over quantity.  If parents have fewer kids, they can better apply their limited money and time to cultivate their children and have some spare time to enjoy their own life, rather than strain their energy to feed many mouths and merely make ends meet.

Lego versus Ai Weiwei


Artist Ai Weiwei accused Lego of “censorship and discrimination” because the latter refused to sell its bricks to him because his new artistic work may convey a political statement.

According to Ai, Lego rejected Ai’s bulk order of bricks, saying that its bricks could not be used for any artworks that may of “any political, religious, racist, obscene or defaming statements.”

In response to Lego’s refusal, many fans and artists demonstrate their supports for Ai. Many of them donated their bricks to Ai, hoping that their donations could adding the amount of bricks to the degree that Ai can accomplish his Melbourne show. Some people also expressed their opinions on their social website such as Instagram or Twitter. One used Lego’s toy bricks to spell out the word “I support Ai Weiwei” and added a cutline that “we won’t be buying anymore.”

Ai wrote on his Instagram that “Lego will tell us what to do, or not to do. That is awesome!” to make an irony here because Lego has a slogan “everything is awesome”.

Ai was an artist known for his fierce criticism of Chinese government. Last year, Ai used Lego bricks in his art show at the former Alcatraz prison, near San Francisco, to create portraits of 175 dissidents who had been jailed or exiled, from Nelson Mandela to Edward Snowden. He intended to hold a similar art display in Melbourne.

Ai has changed the theme of his upcoming artistic show to defend freedom of speech and “political art,” due to Lego’s rejection of selling its bricks.

From where I stand, I consider that Lego’s behavior is for the sake of its future cooperation with the Chinese government. Lego plans to build a new Legoland in Shanghai. For Lego, building a theme park is apparently more profitable than selling bricks to an artist. Given that Chinese government is not welcoming Ai, Lego would absolutely not offend and annoy its future cooperator, Chinese government, by selling Ai bricks and indirectly assist Ai to demonstrate unpleasant arts to Chinese government.

Essentially, it is another story about people who stand on the tip pyramid of money and power win the game, or rather, make the rule.

Why the Chinese visit to UK matters?


Chinese President Xi Jinping, arrived on Monday for his first state to the United Kingdom.

In the following days, he will address the members of the Houses of Parliament, visit Imperial College London, meet with the Britain’s prime minister and, probably kick a football in Manchester.

From Xi’s visiting schedule, it is apparent to conclude that China is seeking to build, or strengthen its cooperation with UK on technology and business. On Wednesday, Xi will visit UK-China Business Summit at Mansion House, companied with David Cameron. Then he will also visit Chinese telecommunication company Huawei Technologies.  On Thursday, Xi is scheduling to participate in a global satellite communication.

China is also interested in British infrastructure projects. British government would offer a $3 trillion guarantee to secure the new Hinkley Point nuclear plant and Chinese investment towards it. China is also hopes to get involved in the HS2 high-speed rail project.

From my personal understanding, Xi’s sought for cooperation on business and technology with the Britain can be seen as a method to adjust Chinese economy, for the growth speed and the drive.

For ages, China is devoted to shift from an export-led economy to consumer and service-led one. Since China’s economic growth drops to 6.9 percent in the third quarter, the weakest rate since the global financial crisis, which is below the government’s 7 percent target, Chinese are faced with restructuring pressure because it is not easy to transfer from a world-manufacture to a technological leader.

In the past years, Xi imposed more restrictions on industries that produce pollution and enacted several polices to combat bureaucratic corruption, reshaping Chinese economic landscape by decreasing industry investment and reducing government manipulation.

The reform will take long time to upgrade Chinese economy structure and rebound it economic growth.

The age of tragic selfie


Accompanied by the popularity of the social media, selfie photography is the most common way of showing one’s life to the world. People may see loads of them posted on Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms.

Recently, many people have become concerned about the safety issues involved in taking a selfie because there is a rising number of selfie-related fatalities. It was reported that two men in the Ural Mountains, Russia died of posing for a photo while pulled the pin from a hand grenade. Also in Russia, a university graduate fell to death after trying to take a selfie while hanging from a bridge.

A handful of other selfie-related death incidents have been reported from elsewhere in the world. In the U.S., recently a man died after shooting himself in the neck while taking a selfie.

According to a BBC news report, at least 12 people have died this year while taking pictures of themselves, making the practice more deadly than shark attacks, of which there recorded eight deaths in 2015.

It sounds striking to me that people would risk their lives of taking some pictures, in order to obtain a three-digit likes?

“The more extreme it is, the more likely you are to stand out and get lots of likes and comments”, said Jesse Fox, a researcher at Ohio State University. “The pictures that people post on social media can tell an interesting story about their personality.”

I think the ultimate goal of life is to living in reality and connect with real human beings. One may utilize internet to make up for some fulfillment that reality cannot provide. The fulfillment includes ideally living in a world free of anxiety and presenting an ideal self. People who put their lives on risk to take a selfies in order to woo their virtual friends apparently confuse which world should take priorities. Likes is not the measure in real life.

Media consider mother-girlfriend issue


In China, there is a tricky question thrown ahead of men: If your mother and wife fell into waters simultaneously, whom would you save first? It is a question that often silents men, though they might whisper their answers in their minds, and generally they shun responding to that imagined situation and expressively criticize the evil nature of that hypothesis, arguing that the case that mother and wife fall into waters at the same time is non-existent.

These days, China’s national judicial examination seems to give an answer to this unanswerable question. In the exam, the question changes to “If forced to choose, would you save your mother or girlfriend from a burning building?” Exam takers are supposed, or duty-bound, to save their mothers. It would put a writer on charge of “crime of non-action” if he decided to prioritize his romantic love.

People voice their different opinions on this issue. Some say that equating the responsibility of supporting one’s parents with the obligation to rescue others in an emergency is ridiculous and there should be no privilege on life-saving because equality is what our society devoted to achieve.

While some people also expressed that they would definitely save mother because mother is peculiar and girls are everywhere.

I read the articles covering this issue from different international news agencies. Some ridicule the question as silly and unreasonable and others are making fun of it by saying “finally we have an answer, thanks to the law test.”

The perspective that impressed me most was from Celia Hatton of BBC News. She pointed out that “interestingly enough, no-one on the Chinese Internet appears to address the sexist nature of the question.” Her words actually threw a bomb in my mind, too. How can I simply ignore the fact that people are still unconsciously put females on a spot that they are helpless, fragile and waiting to be decided? Why is it always females in the context, to appear in a test which does not show much respect? Why do the public still play the roles of promoting gender stereotypes, rather than pointing out the unfair hypothesis here?

Should a woman save her father or her boyfriend first? It is something more than a joking question to ask ourselves.

China’s Xi Jinping visits America


Chinese President Xi Jinping landed in the United States on Sept. 22. During the first two days of events in Seattle, Xi first visited the Boeing manufacturing complex, then greeted the governor of Washington, Jay Inslee, and a group of governors from Western states. He also attended U.S.-China Internet Industry Forum that was co-initiated by Microsoft and Chinese Internet Association.

We can infer from the events that they were designed to demonstrate a firm relationship with American business.

The New York Times commented on Xi’s Seattle stay: “in a broad sense it has worked as a show of force to President Obama about the power that China wields, and how much American companies need China even if its policies do not align with Washington’s.”

Nevertheless, frustration is simmering here. A survey conducted in 2010 asking U.S.-China Business Council members’ opinions of business outlook in China. Fifty-eight percent delivered positive feedback, confirming business in China would thrive and support U.S-China business cooperation and 33 percent were somewhat optimistic, compared with 24 percent who were positive while 67 percent maintain somewhat optimistic or neutral in 2015.

Xi is going to stay in the U.S. for a couple of more days and is expected to visit the White House on Sept. 24, to meet with President Obama and attend a State dinner.

Interesting enough, China itself analyzed Xi’s visit quite differently from outside perspectives.

From the Western news media’s accounts, Xi’s visit is expected to address several issues including cyber espionage. The U.S has claimed that China was responsible for cyber theft of U.S. confidential data and 5.6 million federal employee’s fingerprints, that China has inconsistent protection of intellectual property. China’s staggering stock market and contested waters in South China Sea are also expected to be discussed.

Top reasons for Europe refugee surge


These days, an extraordinary influx of European refugees raised worldwide concern. It is reported that the biggest migration of people to the continent since World War II is happening now. The top three reasons that I see are behind this massive immigration are listed below:

First and foremost, the war in Syria accounts for the bulk of immigration. Syria’s war has ground on for four years and so far resulted in 250,000 deaths. The number will continue rising as long as the war does not cease. People are seeking sanctuaries in Europe to escape from deaths.

The second factor that increases the number of refugees is that the route to Europe became a lot easier. After Macedonia imposed harsh measures targeting preventing refugees from entering the country in June, the route through the Balkans opened up. Turkey is next door to Syria, and it is also more easily accessible for people coming from countries farther to the east, including refugees from Iraq and Afghanistan and economic migrants from Pakistan and Bangladesh. The convenience of the route makes the immigrant trip more affordable. Refugees planning to make the immigrant journey say they now need to pay smugglers no more than $2,000 to $3,000 to complete the journey rather than $5000 to $6000 required to reach Libya and take the boat to Italy.

Also, Germany’s extension of welcome to refugees is another important reason that encourages people to set out.

China puts military on display for media


Sept. 3, Beijing’s Tiananmen Square was the spotlight of a lavish parade to commemorate Japan’s defeat in World War II 70 years ago.

There was no shortage of firepower on display, including upgraded machinery and previously unseen missiles. China’s growing military power is being keenly watched amid regional tensions. Unexpectedly, President Xi Jinping made an announcement in the beginning of the display that China would cut 300,000 troops from the 2.3 million-strong People’s Liberation Army.

This announcement went top on Chinese most popular searching engines. Chinese state-run newspaper invited analysts to explore more on this message President Xi delivered, and so did some western media who also asked think tanks to analyze what the action will actually bring about.

Personally, I think the cutting troops is a way to showcase that China’s determination of peaceful development though cutting troops is not necessarily translated into cutting military expenses. Especially in this high-tech era, military power has nothing to do with the total amount of soldiers. It is how advanced that technology applied to weaponry matters. Nevertheless, the announcement impressed the public that, at least, China is willing to be a peaceful developing country, rather than a threatening country purposely wage conflicts.

Besides, I think the message to cut troops can be treated as a signal to neighboring countries that keep having frictions with China over the last a few years. China always have several territory issues with Japan, the Philippines and Vietnam. Sometimes the tension between China and these countries gets intense, even on the verge of war. The military parade indicated Chinese military power, and at the same time, troops’ cutting information showed that China has no intention to resort to wars to solve problems. The military parade and the troops’ cutting announcement combined, conveys an attitude that concessive in form, but aggressive in essence. That is, China owns the capability of solving problems depending on military power, but it voluntarily refuses to do that.