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Former 'Cool Britannia' turns on the razzle-dazzle for the PRC
UK-registered Meridian Line productions include 'The World's Biggest Birthday Party' (The CCP's 70th), 'China: Time of Xi' and 'Living on the Roof of the World', about the wonders of modern Tibet.
The Daily Telegraph reports that Meridian Line has the support of the China Intercontinental Communication Center, which is directly controlled by the Chinese government. But CICC is generally not listed in Meridian Line film credits.
‘China has invested a great deal in the building of its own networks overseas, including CGTN,’ said [David] Bandurki [co-director of the China Media Project, which tracks Chinese media], referring to China’s English-language state broadcaster.
‘But it is extremely difficult to make credible and really influential media, particularly when the internal culture at state-run media remains rather inflexible and subject to direct propaganda controls.’
Meridian Line productions are broadcast on Chinese government channels and foreign networks, including National Geographic. The “World’s Biggest Birthday Party” was described by Chinese state media as “an international co-production,” listing CICC, National Geographic and Meridian Line as partners, according to the Telegraph.
You had to be there …
The battle for the soul of the Olympics
Rolling Stone, America’s most trusted news source, has explosively revealed that not all is hunky dory at the Beijing Olympics – in fact, a clash of cultures within the Olympic Bubble amounts to little less than a battle for the soul of the Olympics, as the headline notes (if you weren’t paying attention).
A low-key protest movement is bubbling up, and interviews from the Olympic Villages — combined with increased scrutiny from Washington, D.C. plus internal Team USA communications obtained by Rolling Stone — reveal an American-led standoff with China and the International Olympic Committee for the soul of the Games.
“Those athletes that are skipping Opening Ceremonies, I am proud of them,” Rep. James McGovern, who co-chairs the Congressional commission monitoring China, tells Rolling Stone when informed of the secret athlete boycotts. “But there aren’t enough negative words in the dictionary to adequately describe my feelings for the IOC for putting these athletes in this situation. They knew when they decided to locate the Olympics in Beijing that China had a horrific human-rights record — and yet they didn’t give a shit.”
Strong words indeed. But more is coming if Rolling Stone is to be believed. “A band” of Olympians spanning numerous nations boycotted last week’s Opening Ceremony and one Gold Medalist is planning a public rebuke of China the minute they get back to reality.
You have to feel for the athletes who give a shit. As Elana Meyers Taylor, serious gold bobsled contender, told Rolling Stone: the IOC is the primary “preventer” of protest. “We work so hard to get to the Olympics, so the last thing we want to do is get thrown out — or if you do win a medal, get that medal taken away from you,” she says, adding, “What do you do?”
Spare a thought for Lithuania
It’s a relatively small country in Eastern Europe (not to be confused with neighboring Latvia) – a mouse that roared when it probably should have just squeaked. What’s the story? What happened?
No, Bloomberg, I’m not a robot and to prove it I’m going to quote you on how Lithuania has got itself into this pickle.
Lithuania faced unofficial trade barriers and a downgrade of diplomatic ties with China after it allowed Taiwan to open a representative office in its capital, a move Beijing deemed a violation of its one-China principle. Earlier this week, China officially halted imports of Lithuanian beef in what appears to be a largely symbolic move.
In further proof I’m not a robot, there’s a bit more to this than Bloomberg lets on. As the Financial Times notes, the real issue is ‘the fact that the name of the mission [in Lithuania] explicitly refers to the disputed island of Taiwan — and not, as is more common, its capital city of Taipei.’The FT continues:
To Eric Huang, who heads up the office, this makes complete sense. ‘We are representing Taiwan, not the city of Taipei,’ he says. But for the Chinese, the opening in Lithuania of what amounts to a de facto embassy represents a big step towards formal recognition of Taiwan, which Beijing claims as part of its territory. And it has retaliated furiously to this perceived provocation, not just by stopping direct imports from the Baltic country but by taking aim at global supply chains — stopping German companies, for instance, from using Lithuanian components in China.
VOA reports that the “the heads of the Lithuanian parliament’s defense and foreign affairs committees” are calling on Washington for support.
Their message was clear: Lithuania is holding the line against two of America's most powerful challengers and that US support is critical to its success in defending against aggression from Moscow and Beijing.
‘This week in Washington, we're here to address two issues. One is security, and it's about Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and the Baltic region. The other one is China. Those are trade issues, but not only trade issues. It's about our security as well," Laima Liucija Andrikiene, chair of the parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee, told VOA.
The good news? Lithuania’s defiance against the all-mighty China trade behemoth has been great for its renowned streetwear sector in Taiwan:
Conjecture on Twitter and elsewhere that even though China and Hong Kong appear to be now irrevocably conjoined at the hips, shoulders and hearts, China’s strict Zero-Covid policy may no longer be the way for Hong Kong to go:
In a well argued blog, Dr David Owens argues that endemicity will ultimately be forced upon Hong Kong and not simply because a formerly vibrant economy is nosediving:
Owens argues scathingly:
In the last three months vaccination rates in the most vulnerable have increased from 15% to 30%, yet this remains amongst the lowest in the developed world. Apart from negatively impacting vaccination rates, our focus on locking down borders to keep the disease out has been associated with negative messaging and blame. The current outbreak was entirely predictable, it was triggered by a non-evidence-based 21-day hotel quarantine policy. A narrative built around creating scapegoats, whether it be aircrew or hamsters, shifts the emphasis away from an evidence-based focus on policies supported by science.
The doctor continues, “The reluctance to consider scenarios other than a return to zero Covid is the antithesis of prudence. We really need to start preparing Plan B. We also need to consider the input of experts in public health, community health, behavioral change and economics.”
So, what should a Plan B look like, assuming Hong Kong has the political will to enact such a plan? It’s complicated, but Owens boils it down to five points:
Education and communication
Up vaccination rates
Maintain social distancing
Remove close-contact quarantine and hospitalization of all cases
Pivot to home testing
Meanwhile, Can there be too much Olympic mascot Bing Dwen Dwen news? The obvious answer is yes … But not if it’s like the latest from the Wall Street Journal.
That’s fake news, and we know that because the Wall Street Journal has revealed how the entire Beijing Olympic event very nearly self-destructed when the lovable Bing Dwen Dwen – state media has described his roly-poly cuteness as “irresistible” – spoke … and in “the voice of a middle-aged man, sounding a lot like an earnest uncle, with the distinct inflection of natives of northeastern China, the country’s barren rust belt region bordering the Russian Far East.”
“It’s like watching your idol’s reputation collapse,” a fan said to the Journal.
Interview requests with Bing Dwen Dwen have been ignored or rejected. A member of the Olympic organizing committee’s press team told the Journal, “The mascot cannot speak.”
Domestic Chinese media moved in to contain the damage, reporting that the previous day’s talking Bing Dwen Dwen had been an imposter all along.
Instead, they recirculated a pre-Olympics report published by Prosecutorial Daily, the official newspaper of China’s Supreme People’s Procuratorate, that quoted Wu Yujia, a legal expert on the Beijing Olympic organizing committee, affirming that Bing Dwen Dwen could only make ‘babbling noises.’
On the subject of babbling noises, you may not hear about them much these days, but Taiwan’s Kuomintang, better known as the KMT, is still knocking about:
Sadly, Chiang Kai-shek didn’t live long enough to witness the NFT revolution. But the more interesting issue is whether what was once the world’s longest serving and richest political party’s move into the crypto souvenir business is a signal that it has abandoned politics?
Book Review: The Shortest History of China: From the Ancient Dynasties to a Modern Superpower: A Retelling for Our Times
The title itself is almost longer than the book, but who could resist a quick romp through the history of the Middle Kingdom that opens with the words:
There is no Chinese curse that goes ‘may you live in interesting times.’ In any case, it would be redundant. Chinese history simmers with larger-than-life characters, philosophical arguments and political intrigues, military conflicts and social upheavals, artistic invention and technological innovation.
In short (forgive the pun), the whole thing – Chinese history that is – has been interesting and when you condense it down to approximately 250 pages without muddling up your dynasties, it gets really interesting. Linda Jaivin’s book does not yield to the tedium of pure chronology either. Just take the dynastic rivalry Mao Zedong engages in on the subject of Qin Shihuang, the legendarily brutal forger of the first “unified China” (221-210 BCE):
What’s the big deal about Qin Shihuang? He buried only 460 Confucians alive; well, we’ve buried 46,000 . . .
Yup, there’s a lot to love about China, and if you have a friend who thinks it’s all lion dances, chopsticks and chow mein, don’t wait for Christmas: rush out and buy them a copy. Actually, there’s so much war, plague, betrayal, mass famine and needless death by the millions in this thin tome, you could even buy a copy for someone who isn’t your friend.
Signs are emerging from China that Isaac Asimov’s Laws of Robotics are unraveling – or perhaps Asimov never spent much time in the kitchen. The rules – and they are clearly being flaunted in the video above – are as follows:
The first law is that a robot shall not harm a human, or by inaction allow a human to come to harm. The second law is that a robot shall obey any instruction given to it by a human, and the third law is that a robot shall avoid actions or situations that could cause it to come to harm itself.