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AMAZIAN OF THE WEEK! Liu Xiaobo’s Empty Chair

December 13th, 2010 | 3 comments | Posted by Diana

Nobel Peace laureate and Chinese national Liu Xiaobo, who is currently serving an 11-year prison sentence for “inciting subversion of state power,” was not present at the December 10 ceremony honoring his prize. Nor was his wife, who has been under house arrest since the Nobel announcement and is apparently now missing.

Instead, an empty chair sat on the Oslo stage between the Nobel Committee members, marking the first time a recipient was not physically present to accept the award. And as panel chief Thorbjoern Jagland placed the Nobel diploma on the chair, it was clear Liu’s presence was felt by the 1,000-person audience, who delivered a standing ovation.

The honoree’s final public statement, issued days before his imprisonment and read aloud at the Nobel ceremony by actress Liv Ullmann, included a message (translated here) for his beloved:

If I may be permitted to say so, the most fortunate experience of these past twenty years has been the selfless love I have received from my wife, Liu Xia. She could not be present as an observer in court today, but I still want to say to you, my dear, that I firmly believe your love for me will remain the same as it has always been. Throughout all these years that I have lived without freedom, our love was full of bitterness imposed by outside circumstances, but as I savor its aftertaste, it remains boundless. I am serving my sentence in a tangible prison, while you wait in the intangible prison of the heart. Your love is the sunlight that leaps over high walls and penetrates the iron bars of my prison window, stroking every inch of my skin, warming every cell of my body, allowing me to always keep peace, openness, and brightness in my heart, and filling every minute of my time in prison with meaning. My love for you, on the other hand, is so full of remorse and regret that it Continue reading AMAZIAN OF THE WEEK! Liu Xiaobo’s Empty Chair

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DISGWITTER OF THE WEAK! Chinese Woman Gets One Year Of Hard Labor For RT

November 19th, 2010 | 4 comments | Posted by Jen

What’s the price of a Tweet?

As Twitter attempts to drum up another round of financing at the valuation of $3 billion, that’s what potential investors want to know.

But for 46 year-old Chinese woman, Cheng Jianping, aka @wangyi09, the price of a Tweet is valued at one year in a labor camp.

Last month, Cheng RT’ed a message (see above) originally posted by her fiance, Hua Chunhui, satirically suggesting that young Chinese nationalists who had been staging recent anti-Japanese rallies should attack the Japanese pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo. They were both arrested not long after on the day they were to be married; Hua was released five days later. That Cheng was sentenced to a year of hard labor without a trial while Hua was not may have to do with the fact that Cheng has gotten into trouble for her social media activity in the past. From the NY Times:

Widely known by the online name Wang Yi, Ms. Cheng is avidly followed by a small coterie of Chinese intellectuals who subscribe to Twitter, which is blocked in China but can be reached by those willing to burrow beneath the government’s firewall. Most recently Ms. Cheng sent out messages praising the decision to award the Nobel Peace Prize to the imprisoned rights activist Liu Xiaobo. Last August, she was briefly detained after expressing sympathy for a detained democracy advocate, Liu Xianbin.

While Chinese users of Twitter are subjected to a 140 character-limit like the rest of us, in Chinese, one character equals one word, so the limit roughly translates to 140 words. For this reason, Twitter has become popular in China among political activists.

Counting spaces and punctuation, the Tweet that landed Cheng in a labor camp for a year was 79 characters, which roughly translates to 4.6 days of imprisonment per word.

[NY Times: Chinese Woman Imprisoned for Twitter Message]
[Cheng Jianping on Twitter]

Thanks, Jasmine!

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AMAZIAN OF THE WEEK! Nobel Peace Prize Winner Liu Xiaobo

October 11th, 2010 | 8 comments | Posted by Jen

Name: Liu Xiaobo

Age: 54

Occupation: Literature professor and jailed Chinese dissident

Known for: Returning to China from the U.S. during the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989 and saving hundreds of lives by persuading students to leave the square as army tanks were rolling in; being imprisoned for most of the last 20 years for his peaceful protest of the Chinese government; helping to draft Charter 08, a manifesto calling for freedom of expression, free elections, and human rights in China.

First the good news: On Friday of last week, Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for “his long and nonviolent struggle for fundamental human rights in China.” Liu is the first Chinese citizen still living in mainland China to ever win a Nobel.

Now the bad: In advance of his winning, 14 overseas Chinese dissidents wrote a letter to the Nobel committee declaring Liu an “unsuitable” laureate for, among other reasons, being soft on the Chinese government. Then, when the award was announced, China censored any mention of Liu and the prize. And now Liu’s wife, Liu Xia, is apparently under house arrest.

A peace prize has been given, yes, but still, no peace.

[TIME: Chinese Dissident Liu Xiaobo Wins the Nobel Peace Prize]
[NY Times: Unusual Opposition to a Favorite for Nobel]


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China To End Public Shaming

July 27th, 2010 | 4 comments | Posted by Jen

After much public outcry, the Chinese government wants to put an end to its longstanding tradition of publicly shaming criminal suspects. Which basically means the Chinese are becoming less Chinese. Because Chinese people love them some public shaming. (I mean, Me = Chinese, DISGRASIAN = A Public Shaming Site, hello?)

The NY Times reports that the demand for the end to public shaming arose out of sympathy for prostitution suspects:

The new regulations are thought to be a response to the public outcry over a recent spate of “shame parades,” in which those suspected of being prostitutes are shackled and forced to walk in public.

Last October, the police in Henan Province took to the Internet, posting photographs of women suspected of being prostitutes. Other cities have been publishing the names and addresses of convicted sex workers and those of their clients. The most widely circulated images, taken this month in the southern city of Dongguan, included young women roped together and paraded barefoot through crowded city streets.

The police later said they were not punishing the women, only seeking their help in the pursuit of an investigation.

The public response, at least on the Internet, has tended toward outrage, with many postings expressing sympathy for the women. “Why aren’t corrupt officials dragged through the streets?” read one posting. “These women are only trying to feed themselves.”

This expressed sympathy for prostitutes is consistent with an online survey conducted last year in China which found that people considered prostitutes more trustworthy than government officials, putting them third in trustworthiness behind farmers and religious workers(!). That prostitution and the Chinese government could be construed as binary Continue reading China To End Public Shaming

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AMAZIANS OF THE WEEK! Tibetans The Fastest Evolved Humans EVAR

July 6th, 2010 | 1 comment | Posted by Jen

Okay, first the good news: Tibetans are superhuman!

Tibetan pilgrims–or hipsters?

About 3,000 years ago, when Tibetans split off from the Han Chinese, they developed a unique ability to survive in altitudes above 13,000 feet, where oxygen levels are 40% lower, a genetic change a recent study cites as the fastest ever observed in humans.

Now, for the bad: “For such a very strong change, a lot of people would have had to die simply due to the fact that they had the wrong version of a gene,” said Rasmus Nielsen, a professor of integrative biology at Berkeley who led the statistical analysis.

This may not come as a surprise to anyone nominally aware of Tibetan history, which has been marked by struggle and loss. On that note, today marks the 75th birthday of the Dalai Lama.

Happy birthday, Your Holiness!

[CNN: Tibetan DNA study reveals human evolution]

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May 12th, 2009 | 0 comments | Posted by Jen
Bar Rafaeli, Somaly Mam, and Petra Nemcova at a 2008 benefit for the Somaly Mam Foundation

Name: Somaly Mam

Hails from: Cambodia

Occupation: Human rights activist

Why She’s a Babe: You wouldn’t guess, just by looking at her, especially when she’s holding her own while sandwiched between two Sports Illustrated swimsuit models (above), that Somaly Mam has lived a hellish life that most of us can’t even wrap our heads around. Growing up in war-ravaged Cambodia, Somaly was sold into sex slavery at age 12. Later she wound up in a Phnom Penh brothel, where she was repeatedly beaten and raped for ten years. Three years after fleeing Cambodia with the help of an aid worker, she started the nonprofit AFESIP (Agir pour les Femmes en Situation Précaire, or Acting for Women in Distressing Circumstances) that has helped over 4,000 women escape brothels and reintegrate into society. She’s been named a CNN Hero, Glamour Woman of the Year, and in 2009, she made the TIME 100 list. You can see a snapshot of her chatting with Michelle Obama at the gala dinner here; it’s a striking photo of two strong, beautiful women locked in an intimate conversation, not to mention a toned-arm-o-rama. In other words, doing good never looked this good.

Read Marianne Pearl’s 2006 profile of Somaly Mam in Glamour here.


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March 6th, 2009 | 0 comments | Posted by Diana
Rabbit and Head bronze statues, stolen from a Chinese
palace by British and French troops during the second Opium
War in 1860, and auctioned by Christie’s last week

Media outlets swirled this week with the story of a Chinese art dealer’s phony $40-million bid for two Chinese zodiac status, included in Christie’s recent auction of the late Yves Saint Laurent’s art collection.

The dealer, Cai Mingchao, placed an anonymous phone bid for the bronze rabbit and head sculptures and later refused to pay–as an act of patriotism. The pieces were originally part of a 12-statue set–all abducted by British and French troops in 1860–and millions of dollars have already been spent by Chinese philanthropists to bring five of them back to the country.

These actions were not sanctioned by the Chinese government, according to both Cai and Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang.

In the aftermath of this scandal, the statues’ owner, Pierre Berge, has decided to hold on to the statues.

From the LA Times:

Saint Laurent’s former business partner and life companion, Pierre Berge, was quoted in French newspapers Tuesday as saying he would keep the heads and put them on either side of a Picasso that also did not sell at last week’s auction.

“The heads were with me and they will return and we will continue to live together,” said Berge, a longtime critic of the Chinese government’s human rights policy. “If this was a maneuver so that the Chinese government could buy them back at a cheaper price, it won’t work.”

We’re obviously no fans of the Chinese government’s human rights policy. But China’s people are more than their government, and punishing the people of China–by withholding their country’s looted history–seems like a most unfortunate instance of wire-crossing to us.


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June 23rd, 2008 | 0 comments | Posted by Diana

It was the early eighties, nearly a decade after my family’s May 1975 entry into America.

Back in ’75, my family was composed of about thirty Vietnamese war refugees that piled on a commercial freight ship with less than a thousand others. After crossing the Pacific, my grandparents/aunts and uncles/parents/three sisters/skinny-legged cousins spilled out into the Southern California desert haven Camp Pendleton, where their bell bottoms clashed with the troops’ fatigues, there was more donated Fanta than clean water, and my siblings spent their days playing hide-and-seek in dirty brown tents. At that point affianced, my aunt and uncle married in a small, family/friends/fugee-only ceremony in the dirt, to avoid being split up when they were shipped out to live with sponsors.

But it was Reagan time now, and my family had just moved into a three-story house on unused farmland in rural Missouri, about ten minutes away from a country hospital where my father took over as chief of surgery. This felt like the beginning of “the good life” that everyone dreamed of: being Americans–not just refugees or even immigrants, but bona fide Americans. It wasn’t about surviving anymore, or fleeing the war, but taking root on the corn-loaded land, bolting a bronze eagle statue and American flag on the front of the house, working hard, and living large.

I am convinced that my middle sister was filled up with this feeling of arrival, and of American-ness, as she walked out of her sixth grade class at 3pm, her prized first pair of Jordache jeans giving her the semblance of a rump, and an in-hand, heavy trumpet case weighing her 80-lb. frame to the right so much that she walked lopsided. Until, of course, the quiet sound of success was interrupted by a cacaphony of yelling from a school bus on her left.

“Re-foo-gee! Re-foo-gee! Get out of here! Re-foo-gee!”

A boy with freckles and hair like hay had shoved half of his body out of the rectangular school-bus window. He was screaming, loudly, at her.

“Your dad is a re-foo-gee and he charges too much for hospital bills. You re-foo-gees should go back to China!”

My sister, totally confused because she had no idea what a rafoojee was and had never even been to China, made an immediate U-turn and walked back into the school building. She missed her only ride home and had to call my parents to pick her up that evening. That night, she realized that Roger, the boy from the bus, didn’t know how to pronounce “refugee.” She also realized that even if the family had arrived, not everybody liked it.

Every time I hear or tell that story, my heart hurts a little. Worse things have surely happened, but I always think about how sad it means to have the word “refugee” turned against you. As a refugee, you are simply a human seeking refuge, safety, protection. To mock that action that seems so…inhumane. And then my mind wanders… how many of my people suffered for being refugees? Why would anyone be so mean to us?

Today, Jen informed me that five Asian countries–China, India, Malaysia, Thailand and Bangladesh–have been identified as among the worst violators of refugees’ rights in a global survey released ahead of Friday’s World Refugees Day.

“We’ve tried to call attention to these countries because they have been particularly egregious in their treatment of refugees,” USCRI [US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants] president Lavinia Limon said.

Some of them have forced refugees back into dangerous situations, some of them have warehoused refugees in camps for decades, and some of them have done their best to make sure refugees never enter their territory. Some of them have done all of the above,” she said.

Shit, man. I think I’d rather have “re-foo-gee” screamed at me from a school bus.


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March 4th, 2008 | 0 comments | Posted by Diana

Björk showed her cajones over the weekend by reportedly declaring, “Tibet! Tibet!” at the close of her song “Declare Independence” on a Shanghai stage.

Naturally, many Chinese were upset. CNN reports:

“‘If she really did this, then this woman really makes people throw up,’ one comment on popular Chinese Web site said.”

…to which the tiny Icelandic singer chirped in response:

If China really does turn a blind eye to the human rights abuses in Tibet, I’m going to throw up into a red cup and then drink it and then throw up again!”

*Björk hasn’t actually officially responded, but we’re pretty sure that if she did she could make a pretty good case for her “Tibet” stance. That said, her case would probably be communicated entirely in high-pitched, staccato, Icelan-glish gibberish.

Thank you kindly, Intern Jasmine!

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War of the Words

February 20th, 2008 | 0 comments | Posted by Jen

Ever since Steven Spielberg bailed as artistic adviser to the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, citing his “conscience” over Darfur, China and its people have been pissed. Below, please find an excerpt from the AP story “China media, public angered by Spielberg”:

A biting front-page editorial Wednesday in the overseas edition of the People’s Daily, the Communist Party’s official newspaper, blasted Spielberg for his decision.

“A certain Western director was very naive and made a movie about being trapped in an airport terminal as dismal as it sounds, despite the presence of Catherine Zeta-Jones’ smokin’ hotness,” it said.

Over the weekend, the Guangming Daily, also published by the Communist Party, ran an editorial saying Spielberg “broke his promise to make a contribution to the Beijing Olympics by making one last Indy sequel with that old guy, whatshisname.”

An editorial in the China Youth Daily was equally scathing.

“This renowned film director is famous for his science fiction. And his gaggle of children. He clearly does not understand China’s one-child policy, so he does not understand China.”

Also, “His wife creeps us out tremendously and we don’t know why,” it said…

As E.T. would say, Damn! And, Ouch!

Click here for the real story.

Source Source Source

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Oh, Rats!

February 4th, 2008 | 0 comments | Posted by Diana

PETA has reached out to the Chinese Government to consider welfare laws for rats–and not even just the really cute and big ones.

AP reports:

“Rats sing, they dream, and they express empathy for others,” Coco Yu of PETA’s Asia-Pacific branch said in a statement.

After careful considerasian of PETA’s proposal, the Chinese government issued this response*:

“PETA. Why you so crazy you waste our time with rat letter. We are so busy right now prepare for Olympics. We not concern with dreaming and empathy, those things pose threat to our institution. We don’t care about rats’ rights; we have enough trouble caring about people. Do you see how we want to jail human rights activist Hu Jia? As soon as we have time, you are next.”

*Not an actual response. China has not actually generated an official statement to respond to PETA, although we’re pretty sure it would sound a little something like “PPPfffffffttttt.”

Source Source Source

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Imagine All the Time Saved on Cleanup!

January 4th, 2008 | 0 comments | Posted by Jen

A senior court official in China announced today that the government would be employing more lethal injections over firing squads when carrying out capital punishments, calling the gradual switch “more humane.”

I think that’s wonderful, just wonderful. A true sign of human progress. Besides, executions carried out by firing squad always seemed just sooo durned messy. Who wants to deal with blood, guts and brain flyin’ all over the place, anyhoo? Pas moi!


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