Well, I got this phone call about half past ten this morning asking "你是王博吗？" (Are you Wang Bo?), having no idea who was calling, I hesitantly responded "是" (yes). And then he said my HSK results were waiting at the front desk of the foreign students' dorm. So I grabbed my stuff, slipped some sandals on, and went down there.
But I felt really nervous, ridiculously nervous. More nervous than when I even sat the test! That's absurd! I've never felt that way about exam results before ever in my life!
Anyway, I got the results, got home, and opened the envelope.
Inside was a certificate saying in Chinese:
And in English:
Let it be known that Chris Waugh [yeah, I see no need to put my full name up here] from New Zealand took the Chinese Proficiency Test (HSK) administered on Apr. 27, 2008, obtaining grade B at the Intermediate level and is hereby awarded this certificate of proficiency in Chinese.
Two things: I am not entirely comfortable with the use of my Chinese name, which has no legal standing whatsoever, on official documents; and is it just me or does the English text seem amazingly pompous?
Whatever, there you go, I am Grade B at Intermediate level. Pretty cool, huh?
There's a slip of paper that comes with it that gives what is perhaps a little more pertinent: A breakdown of my score and the various grades and levels and explanations of all that. My score broke down as follows:
No surprises. I knew Comprehensive would be my Achilles' heel, and
grammar gave me two problems: words I didn't know (naturally) and the
fine, technical differences between words that most people normally
treat as synonyms. I'm surprised my reading is so high (heh, years of
teaching Chinese kids
legal cheats test-taking skills
helped with that), but not surprised with listening- that was very,
very clear to me, and I probably would've gotten better had I actually
prepared it (yes, I went in thinking, for crying out loud, my wife is
Chinese and our default language is Putonghua, surely my listening must
be good enough.)
This all translates into a level 7 on HSK's 11-level scale. The graph is entirely in Chinese, and I'm more interested in finishing this post and getting dinner than checking the official website, so I'm not entirely sure of the official English translations, but anyway: 初等证书 (elementary certificate?) covers levels 3 to 5, a C on such a certificate translating to level 3, a B to level 4 and an A to level 5. 中等证书 (intermediate certificate) covers levels 6 to 8, with a C being 6, B (me) 7 and A 8. After that it's 高级, the dreaded advanced....
And so now... Do I go straight on to advanced in December? Can I bump myself up two levels in that time? I will have a long, hot and largely empty summer, about half of which I plan on spending out in the countryside..... Time to pop down to Wangfujing for some book shopping, I think.
It's a small article without a lot of detail, but still, 京报网 reports that a small company in Daxing is making pencils out of waste newspapers and doing very well out of it, too:
Daxing makes pencils out of waste newspapers, exports to Europe and America
一张看过的《北京日报》可以生产4支铅笔,一吨废旧报纸可以生产20万支铅笔。大兴区一家民营科技企业利用废报纸做铅笔,去年共生产纸制铅笔3300万 支,相当于节约木材1500立方米。这些环保铅笔走进人民大会堂,成为全国人大、全国政协、商务部等国家机关的专用笔,还出口美国、英国、挪威、澳大利亚 等22个国家和地区。
A copy of "Beijing Daily" that's already been read can produce four pencils, one ton of waste newspapers can produce 20,000 pencils. A privately owned science and technology company in Daxing District is successfully using waste newspapers to make pencils, producing altogether 33,000,000 paper-made pencils last year, saving the equivalent of 1500 cubic metres of wood. These environmentally-friendly pencils have entered the Great Hall of the People and have become the official pencils of such organs as the NPC, CPPCC, and Ministry of Commerce, and are exported to 22 countries and regions including the USA, UK, Norway and Australia.
This company has completely subsituted waste paper for wood in the production of pencils, not only turning waste into treasure, but also achieving the environmentally friendly aim of the pencils. They've adopted high temperature, high pressure physics technology to turn the paper to wood to make pencils. No adhesives are used throughout the whole process, and a heat floating technique is used to remove most of the ink from the waste newspaper.
Alright, what the hell is a "热熔漂浮"? None of the tools at my disposal enlighten me (and nciku is working right now).
Anyway, this is pretty cool, turning waste paper into pencils and apparently, judging by how widely used these pencils seem to be, making a pretty decent profit out of it. It would be nice if京报网 would tell us which company is doing this, so we could congratulate them properly, and maybe even buy a few.
Wow, I just noticed Cui Jian's getting a lot of love in 新京报/The Beijing News today.
First is this article, reproduced, inexplicably, with a different headline and buggered up "related news" here, and another article, reproduced under the "related news" section of the first article, here.
It's all part of their "30 years of reform and opening up" series, which seems to almost dominate their China news section, and today they proclaim:
The 81st period: Chinese rock is born Chinese rock is born Chinese rock is born
Cui Jian began with "Nothing to my name"
Well, if TBN's photo is to be believed, he managed to find a guitar, a Qing Dynasty-style shirt, and a red cloth to blindfold himself with:
9 May, 1986, a man wearing a long coat reminiscent of the Qing empire period, a battered guitar on his back, one trouser leg higher than the other, jumped on to the stage of Beijing Workers Gymnasium. This was a "Let the world be filled with love" large-scale pop music concert.
The audience still hadn't understood what happened when the music started.
The audience when silent. Ten minutes letter, the song was ended, and in the warm cheers and applause, Cui Jian was born.
Chinese rock was born.
If we think back to that year, Cui Jian says: "Back then reform and opening up had only just started, people who had been repressed for ten years already had too much pent-up emotion, they needed an outlet to vent, express themselves, but didn't know how to find it. We were the first generation to sing rock, as it turns out, we opened that outlet, and so grabbed everybody's attention."
It goes on to take a look back at Cui Jian's early career, including a 1985 pop song competition he and his band were knocked out of in the first round, but sorry, I've got to go to lunch now. Read it yourself.
新京报/The Beijing News' Jiang Yanxin reports that Beijing is about to start a new programme of relocating rural residents from areas prone to mud and rock flows:
20,000 rural residents to be moved from areas prone to mud and rock flows
Beijing will begin a new project to relocate rural residents of mountainous areas, residents relocated this year receive a subsidy of 13,000 yuan per person.
This year Beijing will relocate 5165 rural residents, and the government will provide a relocation subsidy according to a standard of 13,000 yuan per person. Yesterday, the opening ceremony of Beijing Municipality's new mountain districts rural residents relocation programme was held. Up till 2012, Beijing will relocate over 20,000 rural residents from areas prone to mud and rock flows or with poor living conditions.
According to Beijing Municipal Rural Affairs Committe chairman Wang Xiaodong, the principle range of the new mountain districts relocation is areas areas prone to mud and rock flows and areas with poor living conditions, and will involve 59 townships, 283 administrative villages, and 20,972 rural residents of seven mountainous districts and counties, and the timeframe of the relocation project will be from 2008 to 2012.
Beijing started its first project to move rural residents from mountainous areas mined-out or prone to mud and rock flows, completing it at the end of 2007. The whole municipality had over 30,000 people living in mined-out areas or areas prone to mud and rock flows who were relocated out of the danger zone.
采空区? Best answer I could get was from Baidu Zhidao, and there was another search result on Baidu which seemed to back up the "mined-out area" meaning. Bloody nciku crapped out on me half way through a translation again last night, and is almost, but only almost working again this morning.
Right, now that I'm back from the supermarket, and as I'm cooking and eating lunch: Yanqing's going to get new trains and rearranged highways (and new wells and new heating systems). 新京报/The Beijing News' Liao Ailing reports:
Yanqing will open a suburban rail line
Striving to open before the Olympics. Only 80 minutes from Xizhimen to Yanqing when complete.
Yesterday, while a guest at Beijing Public Service Radio, Yanqing County Mayor Sun Wenkai said hard work was being done to open a short-distance suburban rail line from Xizhimen through Juyongguan and Badaling to Yanqing before the Olympics. When it is complete, it will only take 1 hour 20 minutes to get from the city area to Yanqing county town.
Passenger vehicles will use Badaling Expressway, a new state highway 110 to be used by freight traffic.
据孙文 锴介绍，延庆是西北交通要道，过去经常堵车。110国道被升级改造后，新建了用于货运的专用高速路，即新110国道，其一期工程延庆段33公里已通车，二 期工程将于奥运会前竣工。届时，新110国道向南与六环路连通，向北连接京张高速，可以完全实现进京交通的客货车分流，八达岭高速走客运车辆，新110国 道走货运车，交通拥堵问题会彻底解决。
According to Sun Wenkai, Yanqing is a vital transport link to the northwest, and in the past frequently suffered traffic jams. After work to raise the standard of State Highway 110, work on the second stage of the newly built special freight traffic expressway, namely the New State Highway 110, whose first stage, 33-kilometre Yanqing stretch is already open to traffic, will be completed by the Olympics. Then the New State Highway 110 will connect with the Sixth Ring Road in the south and the Jingzhang [Beijing-Zhangjiakou] Expressway in the north, allowing the complete separation of passenger and freight traffic into Beijing to be realised, with passenger vehicles using the Badaling Expressway and freight vehicles using the New State Highway 110, completely resolving the problem of traffic congestion.
At the same time, to solve the problem of the transport from the city area to Badaling, the municipal government and the Ministry of Railways are rebuilding the existing Jingbao [Beijing-Baotou] Railway, and are striving to open a suburban railway from Xizhimen through Juyongguan and Badaling to Yanqing county town. There will be 10 trains each day, arriving in Yanqing county town in one hour and twenty minutes.
That's it for transport. The article goes on to talk about relieving a shortage of drinking water and promoting energy-saving, environmentally friendly and cheap heating in rural areas. How are these related? Well, it's really a report about the county mayor's interview on the radio, and these are the other two big issues covered.
Yanqing will dig new wells to resolve farmers' drinking water problems
“吃水 难”是延庆农民反映的焦点问题。来自延庆旧县镇芍药峪村和珍珠乡八亩地大队的村民都向县长“诉苦”，由于干旱，只能靠村大队用车从井里抽水，根本不够用。 孙文锴表示，去年延庆遭遇大旱，导致几个村子吃水难，今年已经把这些村列入了计划，将为村民打造新井，解决吃水难的问题。
The "drinking water problem" is the reported central problem for Yanqing farmers. Villagers from Zhenzhu Village Bamudi Brigade and Shaoyaoyu Village in Yanqing's Jiuxian Township have all been grumbling to the county mayor. Because of drought, they can only use village brigade vehicles to draw water from wells, and it just isn't enough. Sun Wenkai stated that Yanqing experienced a drought last year, causing problems with access to drinking water in several villages, and this year these villages have already been entered into a plan to dig new wells for farmers, resolving the drinking water problem.
Yanqing resident Shen Yulong suggested to the county mayor: "Currently many farmers burn coal for height, which both wastes money and harms the environment. Is it possible to install central heating?" Sun Wenkai said, that at present it's central heating in rural areas is still quite impractical, because installation costs are high, and so most villages don't have these conditions.
Yanqing will popularise two kinds of heating in the countryside. One is the use of new model, energy-saving "suspended kangs", which can raise the temperature of rooms by 3 to 5 degrees celsius, saving 50% on fuel. The second is popularising the use of straw-gasification heating, using straw as fuel, which can combine a radiator and energy-saving suspended kang. "Yanqing's farmers will very soon be able to use energy-saving, environmentally friendly, cheap heating equipment."
Then there's a "related article" about roadworks on the Badaling expressway ending, relieving congestion on the road, but I don't think we need to go into that.
Well, first up, I had no idea what a "吊炕" was, and funnily enough, it didn't show up in any dictionary. If you've ever seen a kang, you'll know the idea of one somehow hanging from something is, well, more absurd than a Dalì painting. A kang, after all, is a large, brick platform several metres long and a couple of metres deep. Not the kind of thing you hang from anything. But the pictures in that Baidu link seemed to suggest a "吊炕" was a kang raised up off the ground on brick pillars, which makes more sense, and so I decided to call it a "suspended kang", even though it's no more suspended than it is hung.
Secondly, at one hour and twenty minutes from Xixhimen to Yanqing county town, there's no real advantage of taking the train to Yanqing than the 919 bus, unless you live closer to Xizhimen than Deshengmen- as is the case for most residents of Haidian- or for some reason (snow, perhaps?) the roads are closed but the railway is still open (lzh and I have had to contemplate that before, but fortunately the highway opened before we headed out to Kangzhuang station). I mean, the bus generally takes an hour and a quarter, and once the bloody trucks are off the expressway, it'll probably be quicker. Still, I can see the train making transport to and from the Great Walls at Juyongguan and Badaling more convenient, especially for tourists.
And I can't wait for them to get the bloody trucks off the expressway. I don't know how it's so hard for the truck drivers to understand that they are supposed to stay in the right lane allowing faster traffic to pass them in the left lane. Too much diesel fumes on the brain? And let me tell you, the old State Highway 110 from the county town out to our village is a much, much more pleasant road now that the trucks are on the first section of the New 110.
I saw this on the Southern Daily website yesterday, and I almost started translating it, but there's an awful lot of new words.... Well, I gave up yesterday. It's quarter past ten, I have class at one thirty.... I have time. Dare I? Might as well. Although I hope the university's often unreliable excuse for broadband let's me get to nciku sometime soon....
It's a reprint of a Xinhua/People's Daily article on the latest outbreak of hot-blooded patriotism, and it looks like interesting reading:
People's Daily and Xinhua News Agency publish an article commenting appealing: Patriotism needs passion but needs reason even more
This paper reports: People's Daily yesterday published an article signed by He Zhenhua titled "Handling our own matters well". The full text is below:
Recently, the cry "Go China" has surged overseas, the tide of anger protesting Cafferty's words insulting China has risen in China, the "Heart China" signature on the internet has spread like wildfire.....
When "T1b3t@n indie pen dance" activists try to split the motherland, when some Western media distort the facts and go against common knowledge, when some politicians harbour unpredictable intentions to demonise China, the peoples of China use every kind of method to expres their simplest, deepest feelings for the motherland. This kind of intense patriotic feeling is very moving and very precious.
Every time the expression of patriotic feeling is natural, but this arousal of patriotic feeling really isn't by chance. After the incitement of anger, only if we calmly consider, rationally analyse, and unhurriedly respond can we turn resistance into motive force, hardship into wealth, this constantly troubling spring into cohesive nationalism, a turning point in the experience and training of a "Great Nation" attitude.
经过30年的改革开放，中国坚定不移地走向了世界，融入世界文明的潮流。开放的世界，给中国提供了巨大的舞台；发展的中国，也给世界带来了崭新的活力。作 为世界上第四大经济体的中国，拥有占世界1／4人口、13亿人民的中国，走中国特色社会主义道路的中国，这一系列的定义，足以让“中国”这两个字，在世界 的分量有所不同；也足以让“中国”这两个字，成为某些人的心中块垒。
Over 30 years of reform and opening up, China has unswervingly walked towards the world, entering the current of world civilisation. The open world has given China a huge platform; developing China has given the world a brand new vigour. China as the world's fourth largest economy; China having 1/4 of the world's population, 1.3 billion people; China taking the road of socialism with Chinese characteristics; this series of definitions are enough to give the word "China" a somewhat distinct weight in the world and enough to let the word "China" become a rampart in some people's hearts.
面对中国的迅速成长，我们听到了真诚的祝福，也看到出于各种目的削弱中国、遏制中国的企图。这就是为什么中国的发展，总会遭遇这样那样的“曲折”，面临这 样那样的“指责”。所谓“西藏问题”的流行与时髦，根源于此；一些西方媒体的狂妄与偏见，根源也在此。这一切告诉我们，在今后很长时间我们都将面对这样一 个问题：作为一个大国，我们必须学会承受各种压力，善于在压力甚至是打压之下，更好地发展。
Facing the speed of China's growth, we hear sincere good wishes, and we also see attempts stemming from every kind of purpose to weaken and contain China. That's why China's development will always encounter this or that kind of "complication" or be faced with this or that kind of "criticism". The fashion and vogue of the so-called "T1b3t problem" has its origin here; the arrogance and prejudice of certain Western media has its origin here. This tells us that from now on we'll be facing this kind of problem for a long time: To be a great nation, we must learn to bear every kind of pressure, and be good at developing well even under enormous pressure.
This should be the foothold of our patriotic passion- to stay on the progressive road through opportunities and challenges, in the crucial period of reform and development, in the complex international environment, with every step we take we could meet this or that kind of difficultry; and every difficulty requires this kind of steady determination: concentrat strength to develop ourselves to make China more powerful!
在这个意义上，爱国热情既要体现在对祖国、对民族、对人民的深厚情感上，更要体现在为祖国的繁荣、民族的振兴、人民的富裕而不懈奋斗的实际行动中。对我们 而言，最需要做的，是把自己的事情办好，把爱国热情凝聚成社会稳定、国家发展、民族振兴的共同意志，汇聚在推进改革开放、推动科学发展的事业里。不管遇到 怎样的艰难困扰，我们都要更加坚定地走向世界，广泛汲取人类文明的所有营养；不管世界如何风云变幻，我们都要更加坚定地改革开放，坚持中国特色社会主义道 路。树立大国风范，涵养大国心态，让世界看到中国人的团结、理性、智慧与勇气，让世界看到中国的开放、包容、自信与自强。
In this sense, patriotic passion both needs to give expression to profound feelings for the motherland, the ethnicities, and the people, and needs more to give expression to the flourishing of the motherland, the rejuvenation of the ethnicities, and the prosperity of the people as well as untiringly struggle for real action. From our point of view, what most needs to be done is to manage our own affairs well, to consolidate patriotic passion into a common determination for social stability, national development, and rejuvenation of the ethnicities, to gather in the cause for pushing forward reform and opening up and promoting scientific development. Regardless of what difficulties and complications we encounter, we must all even more determinedly walk towards the world, and extensively draw on all the nourishment of human civilisation; regardless of how changeable the world may be, we must all even more determinedly reform and open up, and persist on the road of socialism with Chinese characteristics. Establish the demeanour of a great nation, conserve the attitude of a great nation, let the world see the unity, reason, wisdom and courage of the Chinese people, let the world see the openness, forgiveness, confidence and strength of China.
"Working hard to make the talent of the motherland even more glorious is the most patriotic." We need to transform the patriotic passion into action to strengthen the country, and can not abandon the great efforts of every citizen. Just as Goethe said, "We serve the motherland, but can't all adopt the same method. Everyone should do all he is able according to his own abilities."
I hope patriotism can coalesce under this kind of idea and express itself.
又讯 针对民众反对达赖集团“藏独”行为的义愤和网络上广为流传“抵制法国货”的呼声，新华社17日深夜和昨日凌晨分别发表题为《将爱国热情倾注到发展行 动中去》和《把自己的事情办好，就是最大的爱国》的时评，呼吁将爱国热情纳入理性轨道，转化为做好本职工作、搞好经济建设、办好北京奥运会的自觉行动。
New report: In light of the popular righteous anger at the "T1b3t indie pen dance" activities of the Doily Clique and the widespread calls online to "boycott French products", Xinhua News Agency in the middle of the night of the 17th and the early hours of this morning separated the titles of the published editorials to "Pour patriotic passion into action for development" and "To manage our own affairs well is the greatest patriotism" and called to bring patriotic passion into a rational way and translate it into the consciousness of doing one's own job well, strengthen economic construction, and running a good Beijing Olympics.
Not the hardest translation I've ever attempted, but still, two hours, and I'm sure I've stuffed up at least some of it- and as always constructive criticism and corrections are most welcome.
But clearly this was only for domestic consumption. I mean, all that patriotism.... man, if Helen Clark started talking like that she'd be met with scorn and derision. But there is one big key point here (I think- I may be wrong in my interpretation) that I think is worth repeating, and that is a call for more rational patriotism that focusses on building up and developing China first and foremost. Amen. I mean, I don't see the point in getting all upset over the actions of a few idiots in Paris and London when so many Chinese kids still don't have decent access to basic education, when so many are still living one step from famine, when so many don't have access to even basic healthcare.
And I still can't get to nciku, dammit! I had to do all of that using ChinesePera-kun, which is not very reliable, and my dictionary, which is starting to show signs of age. Nciku is great, but half the time I find myself shut out.
So apparently there's been an outbreak of Hepatitis A in Guiyang caused by pollution at a mineral water producer's water source. The Ministry of Health has responded by demanding checks on all the country's mineral water producers. Here's the report by Wei Mingyan in 新京报/The Beijing News:
Ministry of Health orders urgent inspection of barrelled water
299 people in Guiyang infected with hepatitis A from polluted mineral water
Because "Zhuyuan" brand mineral water produced in Guiyang was polluted, causing a local epidemic of Hepatits A to break out, the Ministry of Health yesterday issued an emergency notice requiring all regions to immediately begin supervision and inspection of barreled drinking water, and requires the food production management units of all regions to immediately stop the sale and use of "Zhuyuan" brand barrels of water and related products of Guiyang Nanming Natural Mineral Drink Company Limited.
"Barreled", I know, it's ugly, but I believe the article is referring to the large barrels you stick in the top of drinking water machines, not just all bottled water. I could be wrong.
经调查，“竹源”牌产品的水源在今年2月下旬至3月上旬受到严重污染，该厂在生产过程当中消毒不严，桶装水达不到 卫生标准，从而造成今年3月以来的贵阳市多个单位暴发甲肝疫情。据《贵州都市报》报道，截至4月17日，贵阳全市（含贵阳学院）共报告甲肝病人336例， 确诊299例，疑似37例。
From investigations, the water source for "Zhuyuan"-brand products was seriously polluted from the end of February to early March this year, the factory's sterilisation during production was not strict, and the barrels of water did not meet hygiene standards, thereby causing an epidemic of Hepatitis A to break out in many units of Guiyang from March this year. According to a report in "Guizhou Metropolis Daily", up until April 17, in all of Guiyang City (including Guiyang University), a total of 336 cases of Hepatitis A had been reported, of which 299 had been confirmed and 37 were suspected.
北京市海淀区卫生监督部门相关工作人员表示，由于是周末，目前基层卫生监督人员尚未接到该紧急通知。根据卫生和质 检两部门的分工，卫生监督部门主要检查成品水的卫生安全，根据卫生部的抽检计划，每年大概两次抽检出厂及市场流通环节的桶装水。目前北京市场尚未接到疑与 桶装水有关的公共卫生事件报告。
Relevant personnel of the Beijing City, Haidian District hygiene supervision authorities stated that because it was the weekend, grassroots-level hygiene supervision personnel and still not received the emergency notice. Based on the separate work of the hygiene and quality inspection departments, the hygiene supervision department mainly checks the hygiene safety of finished water products, and according to the Ministry of Health's spot check plan, every year spot checks on barrels of water leaving the factory gate and circulating on the market are carried out roughly twice a year. To date, the Beijing market has yet to receive any reports of public health incidents suspected of being related to barrels of water.
And that last sentence is really ugly, but I'll leave it as it is.
This article is followed up with a short one dated April 18 and based on reports from Guizhou Daily about that outbreak of Hep A, but I won't bother translating it, I think that first one tells us enough.
So beware the barrels of water. Don't buy or drink anything branded "Zhuyuan".
lzh and I just boil tapwater. Fortunately, it's relatively clean in this corner of town, and considering the amount of fake and substandard bottled and barreled water out there, it's probably safer.
So I'm trying to delay going to the office to mark tests- which desperately need to be got out of the way so I can focus on HSK prep (hahahahhahahhahahahahaha!) and I don't get swamped with the next round of tests coming- oh, straight after HSK. Anyway, I thought I'd delay that by opening up the Southern Daily, and I came across two interesting headlines.
Poor people are giving way to rich people again?
I don't really want to try translating the whole article, because skimming through it would seem to require more local knowledge of Guangzhou than I possess. Yeah, I've been there. Once. Years ago. I spent all my time at either the East Station or main railway station or travelling between the two. No, twice. The first time was transferring from a flight from Changsha to a flight to Bangkok. Anyway, it's about an apparent proposal to limit, if not ban, tricycles- judging from the picture, the taxi version of tricycles. "Giving way again" refers to the fact that electric bicycles and motorbikes have already been banned in Guangzhou. The subtitle tells us:
Limit order is still being planned. Tricycles have already been confiscated.
Oh dear. It could be interesting to see how that pans out, although I'd have to leave it up to those who actually know Guangzhou to provide any intelligent commentary this issue may deserve.
The second is about an issue I'm very rapidly tiring of:
"In Paris we're protecting the Olympic torch". Western media call torch guards "thugs".
Well, I haven't seen the word "thugs" used by any media in reference to those guarding the torch. I can think of others who deserve that title, but they're the darlings of the Western liberal establishment, so they get a thoroughly undeserved free ride. I'm starting to think my village in Yanqing won't be far enough away from the sick circus some people seem determined to turn the Olympics into, I'm starting to think about Mongolia. Far, far, outer Mongolia, somewhere out on the grasslands in a yurt herding sheep to pay my way... At least for the summer.
Chinese students studying in France organise their own protection for the torch relay, match slogans and banners with T1b3t indie pen dance supporters.
And good on 'em, too.
Southern Daily's Zhong Yuedong and interns Ma Yan and Yuan Ding report:
他们不是圣火护卫团的武警，也不是手擎火炬的一员。他们是中国在海外的留学生。在英国，他们自发地组织起来守护圣火；在法国，他们同样坚持。圣火在传递， 一个国家到另一个国家；留学生们也在传递，将守护圣火的任务从一国留学生传递给在另一国的留学生。当火炬在巴黎熄灭，留学英国的中国学生就生气地斥责留学 法国的中国学生“没有保护好圣火”，护卫圣火似乎成为他们的使命。
They're not the armed police of the Olympic Torch Escort Squad, nor are they torch bearers. They're Chinese students studying overseas. In the UK they organised themselves to protect the Olympic Torch, in France the continued the same way. As the torch relay moves from country to country, the overseas students are also relaying, shifting the duty to protect the torch from one country's overseas students to the next country's overseas students. When the torch was extinguished in France, the students in the UK denounced their French counterparts, saying they "had not protected the torch well enough", as if protecting the torch has become their mission.
Yeah, alright, I'm being bad: I'm refusing to render "圣火" as "sacred flame" because it's not sacred. The whole bloody torch relay is just some ridiculous neo-pagan ceremony invented by the Nazis, and it really, really disturbs me.
And I don't really want to translate the whole thing, as the Beijing Olympics are turning, like I said, into a sick circus. It's ridiculous, and I can't think of any other Olympics that has become so stupidly, absurdly politicised. Berlin, 1936? Maybe- but then again, there was a damn good reason to politicise that one. Moscow, 1980 and LA, 1984? Just the usual Cold War bollocks. Beijing, 08, however, has been hijacked by every self-righteous wanker with a bone to pick with China, and I can't help but feeling that China's fenqing actually have a point when they claim it's about Westerners feeling threatened by China's rise and trying to keep the heathens in their place.
And yes, I am uncomfortable with the rather nationalistic undertone to these Olympics, but at the same time I can't see how any reasonable person could blame China for seeing this as an opportunity to celebrate 30 years of successful reform, opening up, development, and spectacular achievement. When I look at how far China has come and how much the Chinese people have achieved these past 30 years, I can only congratulate them- and I do so wholeheartedly.
I can tell you this much, though: After March's blatantly racist violence and their antics in London, Paris, and San Francisco, I have lost any residual sympathy I may have ever had with a certain indie pen dance movement in southwestern China, and I am thoroughly disgusted with said movement's self-righteous, hypocritical Western supporters. They hear "China" and start frothing at the mouth and madly shouting "Hugh man writes! Hugh man writes!" but their "principles" don't extend to China's 55 other ethnicities, least of all Han, and apart from a handful of celebrity d1ss1d3nts, their sympathies don't extend to the plight of your average Zhou.
Gah. Long rant short: I'm thoroughly sick and tired of it all. If I could fast-forward to September and skip this sick circus, I would. Sadly, like everybody else, I'm going to have to sit it out.
But, strange as it may sound, and it sure feels weird to write this: On this issue, my sympathies lie with the fenqing.
So I say: 中国，加油！(Go China!) And go the overseas students, and all other Chinese scattered abroad. Get out there waving your five-star red flags, sing your anthem, shout your slogans, and be proud! Don't be aggressive, though, please, we're seeing enough of that shit from the other side, and you'll never find me condoning violence unless it is truly a last resort in a case of genuine self-defence.
Wow, I'm surprised that rant came out of me. Anyway, time to stop and be all responsible like and get to work.
So I didn't get time to finish all I wanted to do on this post this morning, and promised I'd get back to it this afternoon. Well, the day's classes are over, the housework is done, and so here goes....
I found three articles on Xinhuanet this morning, one in English, and two in Chinese.
The first of the Chinese language articles is simply about the meeting between Wen Jiabao and Helen Clark.
[First a note for New Zealand readers: Helen Clark is referred to simply as "Clark", no title other than Prime Minister, no "Helen". I assume that's because the Chinese rendering of "Clark" (Ke La Ke) fits with the usual Chinese pattern of two- or three- syllable names. I am certain no offence was intended.]
Wen Jiabao meets New Zealand Prime Minister Clark
Xinhuanet Beijing April 7 (reporter Li Shijia) State Council Premier Wen Jiabao held a meeting with New Zealand Prime Minister Clark on the 7th in the Great Hall of the People. Both sides unanimously agreed to take the signing of the free trade agreement as a turning point and to push Sino-New Zealand all-round friendly and cooperative relations to higher levels.
温家宝说，近年来中新关系发展呈现强劲活力，各领域务实合作不断取得新突破，给两国人民带来实实在在的好 处。特别是此次 如期签署双边自由贸易协定，在中国同发达国家关系中开创了良好的先例。这不仅对两国和两国人民有利，也体现了合作发展、互利共赢的时代潮流，具有重要而深 远的意义。
Wen Jiabao said that in recent years the development of Sino-New Zealand relations had shown powerful vitality, pragmatic cooperation in every field had continuously achieved new breakthroughs, and had truly benefitted the peoples of both countries. Especially the signing on shedule of the bilateral free trade agreement this time sets a good precedent in China's relations with developed countries. This not only benefits the two countries and their peoples, it also embodies the development of cooperation and the modern trend of mutual benefit, and has important and deep significance.
温家宝表示，中新两国在促进亚太地区和平、稳定与繁荣方面拥有广泛的共同利益。自贸协定的签署为深化两国互 利合作开辟了 广阔前景，中新关系面临新的重要发展机遇。中方愿同新方一道，落实好两国领导人年度定期会晤机制，加强各层次磋商，夯实两国关系的政治基础；充分利用自贸 协定的有利条件，提升农、林、畜牧业等传统合作的规模和层次。发挥双方在应对气候变化、节能环保、低碳经济等可持续发展领域的互补优势，培育经贸合作新的 增长点；扩大文化、教育、科技、旅游、司法等领域的合作；密切在重大国际和地区问题上的沟通与协调，共同推动构建和谐亚太。
Wen Jiabao said China and New Zealand have a wide-ranging mutual interest in promoting peace, stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region. The FTA will deepen the two countries mutual cooperation and open vast future prospects, and Sino-New Zealand relations face important opportunities for development. China wishes to implement regular annual meetings between the two countries' leaders, strengthen consultations at every level, solidify the political base of relations between the two countries, and fully exploit the advantageous conditions the FTA provides to raise the range and level of the traditional cooperation in areas such as agriculture, forestry and livestock raising. Bring into play the complimentary advantages of the two sides in such areas as the response to climate change, energy saving and environmental protection, and low-carbon sustainable development, nurture new growth points in trade and economic cooperation; and closely communicate and coordinate on important international and regional affairs and together push for the establishment of an harmonious Asia-Pacific.
Clark said, China is an important partner for cooperation with New Zealand, New Zealand pays close attention at a high, strategic level to the development of its relationship with China, clearly supports the One China Policy, advocates strengthening contacts and cooperation with China, and supports China's positive actions in the international arena.
克拉克说，新中达成了一个全面、互利、高质量的自由贸易协定，这是两国关系史上特 殊而历史性的时刻。协定为深化双边友好合作奠定了更坚实的基础，成为两国关系的又一重要支柱。新政府和工商界强烈支持并将切实执行好该协定。新方愿同中方 保持高层交往，加强在货物和服务贸易、农牧、节能环保、文化、教育等领域的交流与合作，密切在联合国、亚太经合组织中的磋商与合作。
Clark said China and New Zealand have achieved a comprehensive, mutually-beneficial and hig-quality free trade agreement, and in the history of relations between the two countries, this is an exceptional and historic moment. The agreement to deepen friendly cooperation between the two sides has established a stronger foundation and become a new mainstay in ties between the two countries. The New Zealand government and business community intensely support and will earnestly carry out the agreement. New Zealand wants to maintain a high level of contact with China and strengthen exchange and cooperation in such fields as the goods and services trade, agriculture, energy conservation and environmental protection, culture and education, and closely consult and cooperate in the United Nations and APEC.
After the meeting the two prime ministers attended the signing ceremony of the "China-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement" where they delivered speeches.
Before the meeting, Wen Jiabao held a welcoming ceremony for Clark's visit to China in the north hall of the Great Hall of the People. Central Vice Chairman of the Chinese Peasants' and Workers' Democratic Party Liu Xiaofeng, Minister of Foreign Affairs Yang Jiechi, Minister of Finance Xie Xuren, Minister of Commerce Chen Deming, and Chinese ambassador to New Zealand Zhang Yuanyuan attended the welcome ceremony.
Ugh. I strongly dislike political rhetoric. Still, Helen Clark's was easier to decipher, but I can think of several possible reasons for that.
Anyway, that's only the run-up. What about the actual signing of the agreement? That brings us to the second of this morning's Xinhua articles:
China and New Zealand sign free trade agreement. Eyecatching four “Firsts”
新华网北京４月７日电(记者 常璐 张毅 李诗佳)中国与新西兰７日在北京正式签署双边自由贸易协定，这是中国与发达国家签署的第一个自由贸易协定。
Xinhuanet Beijing 7 April (reporters Chang Lu, Zhang Yi, Li Shijia) On the 7th in Beijing China and New Zealand formally signed a bilateral free trade agreement, the first free trade agreement China has signed with a developed country.
China's State Council Premier Wen Jiabao said in a meeting with visiting New Zealand Prime Minister Clark: "The signing of this agreement is not simply the realisation of the goal of negotiations between China and New Zealand two years ago, but is also New Zealand becoming the first developed country to reach a free trade agreement with China, and is the realisation of the fourth of "The Firsts" in the development of trade with China.
This is followed by a quote from Wen Jiabao which was included in the article above, so I won't repeat it.
New Zealand was the first country to complete bilateral negotiations for China’s entry into the WTO, the first country to recognise China’s status as a full market economy, the first developed country to open negotiations on a free trade zone with China, and the first developed country to complete a free trade agreement with China. These four “firsts” in the history of economic relations with China are especially eye-catching.
The Sino-New Zealand FTA is China's "High degree of standardisation" of free trade agreements reached in accordance with market regulations and bilateral requirements in its dialogue with developed countries. New Zealand is a developed country, and free trade with China in such areas as the goods trade, services, exchange of personal and investment has important strategic significance.
Head of the WTO Research Institute of the University of International Business and Economics Zhang Hanlin said: "From the point of view of long-term political and economic relations, New Zealand fully recognises China's importance is a large developing country, and both sides also recognise each others' economic complementarity and mutual interests."
"Although in politics the two countries have so-called ideological differences, the two sides' common strategic and commercial interests are extremely large compared with differences in understanding of a few questions, and this point truly embodies China's mutually-beneficial, win-win opening up strategy, and serves as a good example of the strengthening of the carrying out of negotiation and signing of bilateral free trade agreements with Western developed countries", said Zhang Hanlin.
Negotiation of the Sino-New Zealand FTA began with the joint announcement by Chairman Hu Jintao and Prime Minister Clark in November 2004, and was the first free trade negotiation China began with a developed country. After three years and fifteen rounds of negotiation, the two sides completed negotiations in December 2007.
Ministry of Commerce spokesperson Wang Xinpei stated, this agreement was an important measure driving opening to the outside world six years after China entered the WTO, and is an important component in the implementation of China's free trade strategy, fully embodying China's confidence and determination in further opening in this new time and from this new starting point, and is also accumulated experience for China's negotiation of free trade agreements with other countries, including developed countries.
In recent years, China and New Zealand have maintained good momentum in the development of their trade relationship. The volume of bilateral trade reached 3700 million US dollars in 2007, a comparative growth rate of 26%. China has already become New Zealand's third largest trading partner, fourth largest export market and second largest source of imports. Cooperation in the service and investment fields is also becoming gradually closer. These have all established a good foundation for the two countries' free trade agreement.
谈及建立自贸区对两国的积极影响，商务部研究院贸易专家梅新育认为，自贸区建立对中国国内资源性产业、加工业的发展毫无疑问会起到 积极作用，中国将在新西兰获得更公正的市场准入待遇以及更有保障的原料供应。而新西兰消费者可以进一步减轻获取中国消费品的支出负担，新西兰农畜等初级产 品可以在快速增长的广阔中国市场上获得更有保障的份额。
Referring to the positive effect on the two countries of establishing a free trade zone, commerce expert from the Ministry of Commerce research institute Mei Xinyu believes the establishment of a free trade zone will certainly have a positive effect on the development of China's domestic natural resources and processing industries, China will get fairer access to the New Zealand market as well as a more guaranteed supply of raw materials. And New Zealand consumers can further lighten the burden of paying for Chinese products, and New Zealand's primary producers can get a more guaranteed slice of the rapidly growing Chinese market.
Looking from the international politics angle, experts point out that New Zealand is a member of the East Asia Leadership Conference, and undertook bilateral free trade arrangements with "The fastest developing, most influential, economic body changing the face of its region in East Asia", having a positive impact on the development of its inclusion in the East Asian region.
CASS Asia-Pacific Institute Vice Director Han Feng said, after continual economic growth, China's elemental influence in the development of East Asia is continuously increasing, and is changing East Asia's original economic model of relying on Japan as the driving force of development. China is an important link in New Zealand's inclusion into East Asia.
After entering the World Trade Organisation, the free trade zone has become a new form and new starting point for China's opening to the world, as well as a new platform for realising mutual benefit with other countries. The report of the 17th Party Congress clearly proposed the "The Strategy of Implementing Free Trade Zones." At present, China is establishing 13 free trade zones with 29 countries and regions of Asia, the Pacific, Latin America, Europe and Africa, covering 1/4 of China's foreign trade.
Mei Xinyu believes the signing of the Sino-New Zealand FTA will set a good example for other Western countries, encouraging more cooperative and mutually-beneficial attitudes in trade issues with China. "From the previously signed free trade agreement between Australia and New Zealand [CER, I assume], this kind of example and encouragement will spur Australia on to faster negotiations for a free trade agreement."
The signing of this FTA is New Zealand's biggest bilateral FTA since the signing with Australia in 1983 of the "Closer Economic Relations Agreement." Clark said the Chinese market was the fastest growing market in the world, and participating in the Chinese market was in New Zealand's national interest. The Sino-New Zealand FTA will give New Zealand's exporters more opportunities to enter the Chinese market.
And the article ends with a quote from Clark that was included in the first article, so I won't bother repeating it.
It's interesting to see the difference between Xinhua's English- and Chinese-language coverage. The English article was pretty much what you'd expect of any newspaper article anywhere, and avoided all the analysis and talk of China's strategic plans for economic opening that we got in Chinese.
But, geez, Wayne, it's not easy to find New Zealand in all of that. It's almost as if, while the New Zealand government is talking about how great the FTA will be for New Zealand, China sees this as only one small step in a far grander plan for China's economic opening to the world and continued development. Can't blame them, though, I mean, the two countries are very, very mismatched in so many ways, the most obvious being size. I mean, NZ's population is what? a quarter of Beijing's? Even if you add the up-to-one-million expat Kiwis (allowing for a bit of overlap due to us expat Kiwis in Beijing), New Zealand still struggles to become anything more than a mere fraction of Beijing's population. And that is comparing my entire country only with the city I live in. As far as the economics go, the two are again wildly different, but in those differences I, like apparently the two governments, can see a lot of complementarity and many areas we can cooperate.
Anyway, save the analysis for people who actually know what they're talking about. 新京报/The Beijing News has its own article:
China and New Zealand sign free trade agreement
China's first free trade agreement with a developed country
TBN's Bao Ying and Li Meiling report:
昨天，中国商务部长陈德铭和新西兰贸易部长菲尔·戈夫在北京人民大会堂，正式签署《中华人民共和国政府和新西兰政 府自由贸易协定》，这是我国与发达国家签署的第一个自由贸易协定。这份协定预计2008年10月1日起生效。温家宝总理与新西兰总理克拉克出席了签字仪式 并分别致辞。
Yesterday, Chinese Minister of Commerce Chen Deming and New Zealand Minister of Trade Phil Goff formally signed the "Government of the People's Republic of China and Government of New Zealand Free Trade Agreement" in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, the first free trade agreement to be signed between China and a developed country. This agreement is expected to take effect on 1 October 2008. Prime Minister Wen Jiabao and New Zealand Prime Minister Clark attended the signing ceremony and gave speeches.
1, Goods trade: New Zealand will abolish all tariffs on products imported from China by 1 January 2016, 63.6% of the products being zero-tariff from the time the "Agreement" comes into effect; China promises to abolish tariffs on 97.2% of products imported from New Zealand by 1 January 2019, with 24.3% of the products being zero-tariff from the time the "Agreement" is implemented.
2, The service sector: New Zealand will exceed its WTO commitments in 16 areas of the four sectors of commerce, construction, education and the environment; China will exceed its WTO commitments in 15 areas of the four sectors of commerce, the environment, sport and entertainment and transport.
3, Movement of personnel The two sides promise to improve the convenience of travel between the two countries, New Zealand will provide 800 work permits for staff in the five occupations of Traditional Chinese Medicine, chefs of Chinese cuisine, Chinese language teachers, martial arts coaches, and Chinese language tour guides, and will allow 1000 Chinese workers in 20 occupations and turner, welder, practical computer engineer, auditor to move to New Zealand for work.
The two sides also drew up a plan for working holidays. This plan will permit up to 1000 young Chinese to take working holidays in New Zealand each year.
And that's that: Short, sweet and straight to the point. I like the concise, business-like and politico-speak-free style. Kinda short on details, but the details that are there are interesting: I like the 800 NZ work visas being given out to Chinese chefs, language teachers, martial arts coaches, TCM doctors and tour guides- although I think the tour guides would be better swapped for more language teachers to train Kiwis to guide Chinese tourists (I mean, how good a job could a tour guide whose experience and knowledge of New Zealand is no longer or deeper than the the tourists in her charge do?). But those 1000 other visas have me wondering: What use could such people be? Will there be any language requirements attached to said visas? And if so, how good a chance does a Chinese turner or welder have of getting a decent job in New Zealand, given Kiwi employers' well-known reluctance to hire anybody from a country that perhaps might not be quite so English-speaking (or even hire Kiwis whose experience is all overseas)?
But working holidays is a great idea- I wonder if young Kiwis will be eligible for working holiday visas for China, too? That would only be fair.
Still, it does seem to be a little lop-sided, with New Zealand making more and bigger concessions. Not surprising, though, considering Kiwis' legendary inability to do business in China.
Well, that's all I can find in the Chinese media for now. I'm off to see how it's being covered in New Zealand.
Apparently it's not legal for supermarkets to check shoppers' dockets as they leave the supermarket. Funny, I don't see that happening too often, mostly only at that Thai chain Lotus (at least, I think it's a Thai chain, and I think it's called Lotus....), although I've seen it at one or two other large supermarkets scattered around the country over the years. It always struck me as being utterly absurd- yeah, that's right, I used my Bruce Lee kung fu powers to fly back over the cashiers and steal a whole bunch of stuff then back out to the exit without being noticed, and so you need to see if what's printed on my docket matches what's in the bags I'm carrying.
Although I not that the article says "不合法" and not "非法" or "犯法". I don't know how to interpret that properly: Is it not legal in that there's no specific clause of any law permitting supermarkets to check dockets? Or is it actually illegal? I would like this to be cleared up, because the article also says it is not legal for supermarkets to search customers. Anyway, from 新京报/The Beijing News' Jiang Yanxin:
"Not legal to check dockets at supermarket exits"
City consumers' association figure says supermarkets have no right to search people or impose fines when they suspect a consumer of theft
When they suspect consumers of theft, supermarkets can't impose fines on, physically search or carry out other actions against consumers. Yesterday, while a guest on Beijing Public Service Radio, director of the Complaints Department of the Beijing Municipal Consumers' Association Liang Danke stated that the checking of dockets at supermarket exits also has no basis in law whatsoever.
Now, the second section seems to be about beauty products and cosmetics and consumers' rights to return goods and get refunds, but I'm not interested in any of that. And besides, it's all very obvious: If your hair turns a different colour from what you expected, but there's no issue with the quality of the product, you're stuck with funny-coloured hair. If you're hair turns a lurid, radioactive neon green because the product was of substandard quality, you're entitled to return the product and get a refund. Or something like that. Should all be very obvious, shouldn't it?
[Tangent: Yes, should be obvious, but I know a woman who demanded a refund on her shoes because she spilt oil on them. Idiot.]
Anyway, back to the checking of dockets:
Those searched by supermarkets can demand an apology
有市民在节目中反映说，自己去超市购物，有物品遗落未付款，被超市便衣诬蔑为小偷，这种情况如何处理？对此郎丹科 称，超市如果称消费者偷窃东西，必须要提供摄像头记录的资料，证明消费者的盗窃行为。无论在何种情况下，超市对消费者进行罚款或搜身等行为，都是不允许 的。如果消费者遭遇搜身、当众侮辱或罚款等行为，可以要求经营者赔礼道歉。
During the programme, some city residents responded saying that while shopping at the supermarket, they'd left things behind without paying and had been branded thieves by the supermarket's plainclothes detectives- how can this kind of situation be handled? To this Liang Danke said that if the supermarket accuses a consumer of theft, it must supply recordings from a camera and prove that the consumer had committed theft. Regardless of the situation, the supermarket is not allowed to fine or search the consumer. If the consumer is searched, publicly insulted or fined, they can demand that a manager politely apologise.
Also, it is not legal for the supermarkets to forcibly check dockets at the exit. As far as consumers are concerned, the transaction with the supermarket is completed once, the items having been handed to the cashier and the cashier having accepted payment, the cashier has given the consumer the docket. From that moment on, regardless of whether its the commodities or the docket, and the supermarket has no right to check the docket at the exit.
So there you go, once you've paid and you have your docket and your purchases in your hand, you can refuse to allow your docket to be checked or to be searched. But what happens then? In refusing, you bring more suspicion on yourself....
Still, I think this could be seen as an example of the greater emphasis on individual rights and the weakening of over-arching bureaucratic power. Maybe.
Whatever, it would be good to see this in action. Trouble is, apart from Lotus, I can't think of too many supermarkets which do forcibly check dockets, and I've never seen supermarket staff insist on searching anyone here. But it would be interesting to see if a consumer was able to stand up and demand, and get, an apology from a supermarket for unlawful checking of dockets or searches.