Feed on Posts or Comments 16 December 2017

Media newlight on 08 Jan 2010

UK almost as cold as the South Pole?

Yes it is cold out there. It hasn’t been so cold for so long for many years in the UK. Minus 20C is cold. But why the British media insist that here is “almost as cold as the South Pole”? Times put it in the headline, Guardian and Telegraph (“only 2C warmer than the South Pole”) said so. The comparison is too good to miss for Channel 4 News and BBC News as well.

The temperature at the South Pole is about -22C to -25C at the moment. It is technically true that the coldest place in the UK is only a couple of degrees warmer than the South Pole. But I’m wondering whether the journalists realised, or chose to ignore the fact that it is summer now at Antarctica?

Fun newlight on 06 Jan 2010

Firelight at Edinburgh Hogmanay

Edinburgh.20100101.02-225x300 FirelightEdinburgh.20100101.01-225x300

The Firelight, a street performance and installation by French artists group Carabosse, at this year’s Edinburgh Hogmanay was a wonderful experience. I found it’s much more fun, not mention warmer, than the Prince Street New Year party.

The Royal Mile at the centre of Edinburgh Old Town is an ideal place for the “fire fountains” and torches. The historic buildings of St. Giles Cathedral and City Chamber provided a great background for all the performance. I have to admit I can’t help but wondering “how many health and safety forms these guys had to fill?” though.

Society newlight on 30 Dec 2009

Don’t mention the war

One of the unexpected consequences of the sorry story of Akmal Shaikh’s execution is ‘Opium War’ suddenly being mentioned again in the British media. Judging from the posted comments, some seem very surprised to hear that the Chinese still remember the Opium War, which after all happened 170 years ago.

Well the victims’ memories tend to be longer. For many Chinese the Opium War was the turning point of China’s recent history, when a weak and inward looking empire started to crumble, facing a new kind of foreign aggression coming over the sea. Twice under the threat of British warships, China was forced to open ports, sanction opium trade, accept the cession of Hong Kong, and pay a huge indemnity. Many years of humiliation followed.

A few days ago, when the British government went public to ask Chinese government to save Akmal Shaikh’s life, I was worried that his fate had already been sealed. Chinese authorities, even if they were prepared to show clemency, won’t be able to do so in public. Not mention that this was a case that has little sympathy from Chinese public opinions. I don’t know what efforts being made by the British government to save Akmal Shaikh’s life, but going public would certainly push China into an unchangeable position.

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Environment newlight on 21 Dec 2009

Don’t blame it on China

After the chaos of Copenhagen climate change summit, UK’s climate change minister Ed Miliband, proud of his ‘last minute rescue’ of the summit, launched an attack on China, suggesting it’s China’s refusal of giving way that caused the summit’s near collapse. It may seems out of frustration, but blaming China for the failure of Copenhagen is not only unfair, but also missing the point.

What the Copenhagen shows us is that this kind of summit doesn’t work when facing such a complicated and pressing issue. Many were over-optimistic before the summit, hyped by Miliband himself, to expect the countries would smooth over their huge difference and work out a treaty with binding targets that will affect all involved. The summit now looks ill prepared, badly organised, without a solid foundation and well communicated understanding. Trying to knock out a deal while all the participants having their own interests to protect, was not realistic.

All major players came to Copenhagen with their own baggage. China, along with India, Brazil and Russia, doesn’t want the binding carbon emission cutting targets to straightjacket its economic growth. Developing countries like China and African countries rightly feel the injustice of taking the burden of emission cut while the industrialized countries who had burned a large amount of fossil fuels now washed their hands by passing the manufactory to developing countries.

The fatal flaw is that the world leaders failed to bring their people with them. There is no real public pressure for the leaders to do something racial now. President Obama arrived Copenhagen empty handed, and then diverted to attack China for not agreeing an international inspection system. (Do we really like WMD style inspectors jetting around the world searching for secret carbon emission?) He went back to the States somehow claiming victory over China. Yes we know his hands are tied, with a resisting domestic opposition to pacify. But that just illustrates how unhelpful and hollow that Ed Miliband decided to single out China.

It’s sad that after all the efforts of scientists and environmental campaigners, the world population are largely not convinced that they have to do something themselves. But all is not lost. The bright side is that the political will does not seem to diminish despite all the disappointment. I believe China is committed to cut carbon emission because for China there is an opportunity to catch up or even lead the green technologies and low carbon industry, and the leadership sees that.

Post-Copenhagen, people are desperate to find a way forward. But playing the blame game isn’t the way.

Media &TV newlight on 13 Dec 2009

You can remake those on the cheap too

A series of short videos were posted on a Chinese video sharing website. You don’t have to know any Chinese to understand it, because you will have probably seen the scenes before somewhere else…

The title of the series, by the way, is Office HipHop Quartet. Besides ‘recreate’ the scenes, the makers – they have credit sequence – of videos are also cheerfully unasamed of the fact that two commericals are bluntly ‘placed’ (it goes way beyond ‘production placement’, without any irony).

Society newlight on 07 Dec 2009

Climate change summit: Calling for leadership

Today 56 newspapers from 44 countries have published the same editorial (in 20 different languages) to encourage the delegations at Copenhagen summit to seal a deal to reduce global warming and act on climate change.

I’m proud of the fact that the paper I worked for is the initiator and the two newspapers I’m writing for are the participating Chinese newspapers.

To read the full editorial ‘Fourteen days to seal history’s judgement on this generation‘. Or if you prefer, in Chinese.

Now it’s up the world leaders to take some leadership and make difference in the next two weeks.

2009-12-07.Guardian front page editorial on climate change

Media newlight on 04 Dec 2009

Close of Yeeyan would be our loss

Yeeyan, a community-based translation website, has been suspended for several days. When the website contents became inaccessible at the beginning of this month, an apology was posted on its homepage, citing ‘technical problems’. Rumours started to circulate on Twitter that Yeeyan was suspended by the authorities because of some contents seen as ‘improper’. A couple of days later one the founders of Yeeyan Zhao Jiamin confirmed the suspension. There are little details about the reason, and the future of Yeeyan is in doubt.

Valued itself as a website through which its members can ‘discover, translate and read the best internet contents not in Chinese’, Yeeyan has been doing a valuable work of introducing foreign language (mostly English) news and stories to the Chinese readers through an unofficial channel. It ran like a social network. Members of shared interest congregated around specific topics or particular publications before picking up pieces from foreign news sites and translate them into Chinese.

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Media newlight on 01 Dec 2009

“Made In China” ad on US TV networks

The 30 seconds ad, which is being shown on major US TV networks, looks to elevate the “Made In China” image. It is said to be commissioned by China’s Ministry of Commerce and sponsored by 4 industry bodies, made by DDB Beijing Guoan Advertising Corp.

Media newlight on 18 Nov 2009

Obama left China with a new name

I was a bit surprised to learn that US embassy in China is working to ‘standardize the translation of common vocabulary in Chinese.’ They want White House to be translated as Bai Wu (白屋), instead of Bai Gong (白宫, meaning white palace), and Obama to be Oubama (欧巴马) instead of Aobama (奥巴马).

Well they are fighting a losing battle. Bai Gong has been commonly used to call the White House for many years (I doubt it has ever been called anything else). Bai Wu is plainly ridicules. I’m not sure whether this is political correctness or purely bureaucratic – in order for Chinese not to confuse President Obama with a monarch?

Washington Post also managed to read into the choice of Aobama and Oubama as a political gesture. Aobama is used in China mainland, while Oubama is used in Hong Kong and Taiwan. So Beijing’s insistence of using Aobama in the face of American ‘standardization’ must have some political undercurrent? It even suggests Ao (奥) in Chinese could mean ‘difficult to understand’, ‘abstruse’ and ‘obscure’, as if using Aobama is Beijing’s way of subtly demeaning Obama. I have to say this is fanciful over-reading. The simple fact is Aobama or Oubama doesn’t have much difference. Aobama, if you read aloud in Mandarin Chinese, sounds better, more masculine I would say, than Oubama. The character Ao itself, meanwhile, belongs to a pool of Chinese characters often used to translate foreign names, not associated with ‘difficult to understand’ etc. in such case.

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Society newlight on 10 Oct 2009

Nobel Peace Vision Prize

The Norwegian Nobel Prize Committee scored an own goal. Obama said he was ‘humbled’, I imagine deep down he was screaming “You guys are not helping!” Trying to “encourage” him, the Committee managed to turn a triumph into an embarrassment. The fact that Obama’s supporters felt it’s necessary to come out to defend him says a lot about this decision. On Guardian’s Comment is Free site, the natural congregating place for Obama’s international supporters, the online poll says 70% think it is far too early.

I’m afraid this just reinforces the perception that liberal European are dazzled by the Obama, in that they are so fed up with George W. Bush and willing to award the Nobel Prize for the ‘vision’. If this means to be an encouragement, would being a Nobel laureate help Obama to negotiate peace for middle-east for example? I think not. It won’t help Obama to pursue his domestic agenda either. Judging from the reaction on American media, it only farther polarizes his supporters and detractors. Prize for peace, what an irony.

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