Last Thursday, just in time for Chinese new year, President Obama unveiled new directives that would make it easier for tourists from countries like China and Brazil to visit the United States.
In a speech delivered from Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, the President announced:
I’m directing the State Department to accelerate our ability to process visas by 40 percent in China and in Brazil this year.
Charles Bennett, minister counselor for consular affairs of the US embassy in Beijing, told China Daily earlier that 50 more American staff members will be deployed to the embassy and US consulates in China this year.
In addition, more interview windows and buildings will be built and the embassy is considering allowing people to arrange an interview date as early as two days after he applied, he said.
But don’t be fooled. Despite the bilateral enthusiasm surrounding these new initiates, the push to expedite visas for Chinese nationals has less to do with improving Sino-US relations than one thing: cold hard cash.
The Shanghai subway accident has reignited concerns over China’s transportation infrastructure, in particular the involvement of a company called Casco, which supplied the signalling systems for a number of subway systems in China.
I wrote before about Internet memes following the Wenzhou train collision. It’s no surprise that this incident has spawned another wave of Internet jokes.
Top: “Subway, railway, highway, way way to die.”
Bottom: “Officer, announcer, investigater [sic], word word to lie.”
A commenter suggested that the top scroll for this couplet should be: “Welcome to China.”
Finally, a scientific validation of what we already knew intuitively!
Brad Plumer over at Ezra Klein’s blog has a link to a Time article where researchers coded languages to see which ones were more information-dense—meaning they contained more meaning per syllable. English is fairly dense, with a score of .91.
Mandarin Chinese was the densest language studied, with a score of .94.
I’ve been reading a lot about the British riots, including a post by fellow contributor Monica Tan, and I feel like most of the discussion is missing the point.
The funny thing about crowd psychology that most people miss is the concept of diffusion of responsibility. Basically, it means that the more people there are, the less responsibility each of them feels for what is going on. It’s a simple but powerful theory that helps to explain behavior that might otherwise signify the end of morality—most notably the murder of Kitty Genovese. Thus, individually, each rioter feels little responsibility for the actions of their neighbors or for their own actions. After all, if you are just one of a dozen people taking things from a shop, and you weren’t the first to take it, then it’s not really your fault. Besides, if you don’t take it, someone else will.
In reading Zoe Williams’ excellent Guardian piece on the psychology of looting, in which she analyzes the significance of London rioters doing away with consumer retail products, I was reminded of a vaguely analogous story in China, of a 17-year-old boy who sold his kidney to buy an iPad 2. Both stories seem to illustrate the extremities to which consumerism has driven us.
Niels Bohr once said, “Some subjects are so serious that one can only joke about them.” Certainly, humor is one way in which the Chinese public have chosen to deal with the Wenzhou train collision. I recently wrote an article for ChinaGeeks about the dual catchphrases uttered by ministry of railways spokesman Wang Yongping at a press conference after the Wenzhou train collision. His two phrases—”This is a miracle,” and, “Whether or not you believe it; either way, I believe it.”—have been co-opted by the Chinese public and raised to the apotheosis of humor: the Internet meme. But these Internet memes do more than poke fun at the governement—they prolong the public memory of the incident and undermine the government’s credibility.
There is a battle raging in Hollywood, and it’s getting ugly. The explosive growth of the Netflix customer base, which now has more than 24 million subscribers (more than any individual cable channel), has seen the Los Gatos, CA based company morph, in last ten years, from an under-the-radar DVD rental service into the distributor of movies online.
When Ai Weiwei walked out of a Beijing prison last month after 81 days of imprisonment, there was one question on everyone’s mind: had the most consistently vocal dissident in China finally been silenced? On the night of his release, the artist could only manage a terse response when reached on the phone: ”I’m released, I’m home, I’m fine…. In legal terms, I’m—how do you say?—on bail. So I cannot give any interviews. But I’m fine.”
But two days ago, news outlets reported that Ai has accepted a guest professorship at the Berlin University of the Arts. Ai also broke media silence when he described some details of his semi-house arrest.
Shortly after Google’s social networking platform, Google+, was launched on June 28, reports sprung up of it being blocked by the Chinese government. On June 30, The Guardian used two sites (Great Firewall of China and Just Ping) to ping plus.google.com from a Chinese server and, after failing to reach the site, concluded that the government [...]
An estimated 116 million Chinese people watched Li Na’s historic win at the French Open. They knew that history was being made, but what exactly did it mean? Could it simply be the culmination of an athlete’s path to glory? A vindication of hard work and perseverance? Nope, not when you come from a country of 1.3 billion.