One of the Middle Kingdom's top intellectuals.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/ja ... -kong-dogs
A professor at one of China's most prestigious universities has stirred up a hornets' nest in Hong Kong after publicly calling residents of the territory "********", "thieves" and "dogs of British imperialists".
Kong Qingdong of Peking University launched the tirade during a webcast interview at the weekend that has tarnished the reputation of his employer and intensified an already fierce debate about relations between Hong Kong and the mainland.
For Kong – an ultra-nationalist who claims to be a descendant of the sage Confucius – such cases are unforgivable.
"To the best of my knowledge, many people in Hong Kong don't consider themselves to be Chinese. Those types of people are used to being the dogs of British imperialists – they are dogs, not humans," the professor of Chinese studies told the host of the news website v1.cn.
He went on to accuse Hong Kong tour guides of cheating visitors and to insist that all Chinese people should speak Mandarin rather than local dialects such as Cantonese. The video has since circulated widely on the internet.
Coming from a professor at a university that educates many of China's top officials, these vitriolic comment stirred up a passionate response. On Sunday, several hundred demonstrators – many with their dogs – gathered outside the China Liaison Office in Hong Kong to express their anger. Some chanted that it was better to be a dog in Hong Kong than a human on the mainland, according to local media reports.
Peking University has yet to comment on the case. Kong, however, has since tried to distance himself from his comments by saying they have been taken out of context – though the video was apparently uncut and his vitriol unrelenting.
In a blogpost on Monday, Kong denied insulting all Hong Kongers.
"I know there are many nice people in Hong Kong, but many Hong Kong people are still dogs" he wrote.
It is not the first time that Kong has provoked controversy. He participated in the "Confucian peace prize" – set up as a rival to the Nobel – which gave its latest award to Vladimir Putin.
He has also denied North Korea had ever faced famine and said he would not be sad if journalists were lined up and shot.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/ja ... protesters
Chinese security forces 'shoot Tibetan protester dead'
One man is said to have been killed and 31 injured when hundreds of demonstrators gathered in Sichuan province
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/ja ... emy-paxman
Boom time in Beijing
China riots over new iPhones and snaps up Rolls-Royces. On his first visit to the country, Jeremy Paxman is shocked by the flaunting of wealth
guardian.co.uk, Sunday 22 January 2012
There was a minor riot in Beijing last week. The Apple store was attacked. Its offence? Not being willing to sell sufficient numbers of the iPhone 4S. Buyers had queued all night and things turned ugly when it became clear that many of those in line had not the faintest idea what an iPhone was. They belonged to teams hired by middlemen who knew that every handset bought was resaleable for an additional £100. The teams of tech-unsavvy people were identifiable to each other by homemade armbands, and when the store staff realised what was happening, they suspended sales. That was when the eggs started flying. In London they riot to steal things. In Beijing, they riot because they cannot buy them.
China proclaims itself a secular country. But that is not what it looks like. For a first-time visitor to China, the most astonishing aspect of the country is the worship of wealth. The mayor of London may like to be seen riding around on a bicycle. That is not the style of the mayor of Beijing.
Even China Daily, a sort of hymn-sheet to the Communist party, reads like the FT much of the time. It reported this month that there were more Rolls-Royces bought in China last year than anywhere else on earth, that Audi now sells more of its brand there than in Germany, and that the company confidently expects to exceed its target of 1m sales between 2011 and 2013, "as long as we can grow annually at 8%", as a senior executive blithely asserted. The target was set less than a year and a half ago.
It is all surface froth, of course: there will still be 1,299,000,000 Chinese who do not buy an Audi. But it is the flaunting of wealth that is so shocking, because the entire economy floats on a sea of migrant workers willing to go anywhere for a day's pay. You can hear them hammering on the construction sites and see them clambering across the half-built highway towers from dawn until long after dusk. Victorian Britain was perhaps similar, and the smog of Charles Dickens's London finds its counterpart in the murk that envelopes Beijing on windless days and tears at your throat like sandpaper. Beijing – once, apparently, a charming ancient city – has been torn down and replaced with a traffic-jammed assortment of functional concrete blocks, interspersed with the occasional stunning pieces of modern architecture.
The ageing men in the politburo must look out on it all from the backs of their limousines and smile. Chairman Mao's Cultural Revolution sent intellectuals to live as peasants. Embracing capitalism has created a class of urban plutocrats. China is the great emerging force in the world, and the feeling of apprehension everywhere else must be good.
It is customary to attribute China's new wealth solely to its abundance of cheap labour. But it would have been impossible if the country's entrepreneurs had not possessed the sort of work ethic that drove the captains of Victorian industry. People seriously want to get rich. It may not be attractive. But it is more than enough to see off soft, western welfare states that have sold their future for the sake of cheaper televisions and trainers.
Dozy western governments seem to believe that it does not matter much, because somehow their comfortable democracies will coast along on the fruits of intellectual invention. These governments bask in the belief that we can outsource metal-bashing and shirt-stitching because the brains that devise the products nestle inside western heads.
How much longer can this complacent illusion last? In the 1960s there was a common belief among the English middle class that things made in Japan were "Japanese junk". The Sony Walkman and infinitely more reliable televisions than any manufactured in the country that invented the damn things soon ended that complacency. The main television station in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province, has a spanking new news studio infinitely superior to any the BBC can boast. Chinese airlines (many of which know a great deal more about service than their western counterparts) fly Airbus and Boeing but soon the country will be making its own passenger aircraft. What reason is there to assume that banking or any of the creative industries are beyond their ability? Computer graphics for the London Olympics have been designed and made in Beijing.
Predicting the future is a job for clairvoyants, not journalists. But I can't see any easy way for the trade imbalance to be equalised. Rather the reverse.
There is, though, one worry the so-called communists in the Chinese government might want to trouble themselves with. One night, while eating in a smart Beijing restaurant, I teased my host by asking whether the other diners were party officials. His instant – and serious – reply caught me out. "Oh no," he said, "they always eat in the private rooms at places like this."
All the best restaurants have these private rooms, so the rich and powerful do not have their meal spoiled by the offensive sight of their fellow citizens. Many of these private rooms serve delicacies the Chinese people can only dream of. Come to think of it, they probably do dream of them. I'm talking abalone, sea slug and pufferfish. I don't know enough about China to assert that this sort of behaviour cannot last. But I do know that it would not be tolerated in western Europe: revolutions have been sparked by less.