Feed on Posts or Comments 18 October 2017

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 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.

Media newlight on 08 Nov 2008

Coloured mood

British media, like the rest of the world, are fascinated by the US presidential election. This is largely because of the effect a new US administration could have on the world, and the chrisma of Barack Obama, however from what I can see, British people seem to have an emotional closeness towards the election. The cultural and historical ties can’t be underestimated. Sometimes it became sentimental. This is best reflected on last Thursday’s G2 cover. Obama had just won the election. Red colour fills the whole front cover, with a white, small word at the centre, “Wow!” Inside are stories of how people around the States reacted to the victory of Barack Obama. This design is obviously referring to a 2004 G2 cover. After the re-election of George W. Bush, G2 painted it cover in full black, with a small word “Oh, God.” at the centre. Different time, different color, different mood.