Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Don't Twitt on Tiananmen Day ✘ ✉

Today on Beijing Tiananmen, Square of Heavenly Peace...

Paramilitary police officers in Beijing, China, on Thursday patrol the area around Tiananmen Square during a flag-lowering ceremony. Twenty years ago, Beijing Tiananmen looked like this:

"Tiananmen? I don't know..."

"Tiananmen? I don't know..." Young Chinese say they ignore what exactly happened there 20 years ago.

This happened 2o years ago, reported by
CBC, Tom Kennedy

Censors in China have shut online services for days, mostly used by young web surfers, and placed prominent dissidents under house arrest less than two days before the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown. The first victim of the most sweeping action on the internet undertaken by China's cyber-police was the micro-blogging service Twitter, wildly popular as a platform for humor as well as for political comment.

A little while later China's increasingly tech-savvy population realized that the popular photo-posting service Flickr had vanished. That was followed by the disappearance of the Hotmail e-mail service and Microsoft's new search engine, Bing, only a day old. The blocks did not stop there: MSN Spaces also disappeared. Jeremy Goldkorn, founder of the popular English-language blog, said: "They have never blocked so many major websites at one stroke."

The timing is scarcely a coincidence. Tomorrow marks the 20th anniversary of the entry of the People's Liberation Army into Beijing on June 4, 1989, to crush seven weeks of student-led demonstrations centered in Tiananmen Square - a move that resulted in the deaths of hundreds. (Google has counted 794 articles on the Tiananmen story at this precise second when I blog).

Interesting report in the Korea Times: "China Haunted by Tiananmen".

Quotes: "The regime officially dismisses the protesters who camped peacefully on the square for weeks as "hooligans", but it is still haunted by the fear that the Chinese people might some day demand their country back... Zhao Ziyang, then general secretary of the Communist Party, who was dismissed and put under house arrest for the rest of his life, believed that to the day he died: "Most people were only asking us to correct our flaws, not attempting to overthrow our political system."

Today, people are still in jail in China because they participated to Tiananmen Square demonstrations.

[Quotes: Radio France, The Australian, Korea Times, wire news agencies, Google, Twitter.]

✍✍✍ Update June 5th 2009

It appears that the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen events and brutal repression of democratization and reforms attempts were only followed and talked about outside of China! I would like to ask now to the China watchers and policy makers how about their idea to embed China* in a policy of accompanying the rest of the developed world? I noticed a few telex of agencies that I find quite symbolic of the headache ahead. (NB* "Memo to the next president China USA and A Global Imperative by Nina Hachigian, Michael Schiffer, Winny Chen, August 13, 2008. A Progressive Approach to U.S.-China Relations in the 21st Century")

On Tiananmen 20th anniversary, quotes of The New York Times on June 5th 2009:
"Throngs of men, women and children gathered at a park here in Hong-Kong on Thursday evening for a enormous, somber candlelight vigil to mark the twentieth anniversary of the Tiananmen Square killings. The organizers said that 150,000 people joined the vigil, tying the record set by the first anniversary vigil in 1990 and dwarfing every vigil held since then. The police had no immediate estimate for the crowd. The peaceful assemblage spilled out into nearby streets, shutting down traffic. Inside Victoria Park, thousands listened to songs and speakers who recounted the events on the night of the crackdown. A half-an-hour into the vigil, the lights in the park were extinguished and the attendees lit a forest of white candles in inverted conical paper shields."

Reuters ("CHINA PROTEST SHIFTS WITH ECONOMIC BACKDROP POST-'89", Beijing, 2009/06/03) reported that twenty years after the crackdown on pro-democracy protests centered on Beijing's Tiananmen Square, the PRC's economy has developed to the point that similar protests on the same scale are highly unlikely today. The students and workers at the core of that June 4, 1989 movement faced problems from rampant inflation to the dismantling of a centralized system of job appointments. But people today generally enjoy much better living standards across the board. With that increased affluence, many of the students, professionals and other groups who would be the most likely potential source of organized challenges to the Communist Party rule are generally more occupied with making a living and getting ahead than with political change.

The New York Times ("AUSTRALIA FEELS CHILL AS CHINA'S SHADOW GROWS", 2009/06/03) reported that since three state owned PRC companies said they would buy stakes in Australia's storied mining industry totaling $22 billion -- as much as the PRC's entire investment here in the last three years -- some of this nation's 21.3 million people have reacted with aggrieved nationalism. The government of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, which generally favors the sales, has been savaged as naïvely cozy with the PRC, a view some in his own military appear to share. Opposition politicians have flogged the specter of an Australian future more or less as a giant open-pit mine in which the locals toil, but Beijing takes the profits.

Agence France Press ("US CONGRESS CALLS ON CHINA TO FREE TIANANMEN PRISONERS", Washington, 2009/06/03) reported that the US Congress called on the PRC to launch a UN-backed probe of its crackdown in Tiananmen Square 20 years ago and to free all political prisoners. The House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly for the resolution offering sympathy to those who died on June 4, 1989 when Chinese troops crushed a pro-democracy uprising in Beijing's vast central square. A total of 396 lawmakers voted in favor of the resolution and only one opposed it. Thirty-seven lawmakers did not vote.

China had officially announced plans in 2005 to commemorate the birthday of deposed CCP leader Hu Yaobang, whose death prompted mourning that led to pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square in the Beijing spring events of 1989. What happened to the plan...?

Last quotes with James Fallows, in The Atlantic:
"Today in Beijing 03 Jun 2009 08:31 pm. I am guessing that you will see no real-time TV reports from the Tiananmen Square area today, and little or no photography. This is based on personal experience there last night, China time, which also leads to personal advice for anyone in Beijing thinking of going there today. During my time in Beijing over the past year and a half, I've often seen the square itself totally closed off to visitors, as it is at the moment. There are always plenty of security forces around -- soldiers in green uniforms, various kinds of police in blue uniforms, and "plainclothes" forces who are pretty easy to pick out, like strapping young men in buzz cuts all wearing similar-looking "leisure" clothes. But I have not seen before anything like the situation at the moment..."
The entire report of James Fallows:

Of the complexity of promoting human rights, democracy and the rule of law...

H1N1, un virus qui va frapper les plus démunis du Sud

Chaque jour, de nouveaux patients sont signalés, notamment dans des pays de l'hémisphère sud, confirmant les craintes de l'OMS d'une diffusion rapide du virus mutant à la faveur de l'hiver austral, propice aux épidémies grippales. 

Resté jusqu'à présent à peu près aussi meurtrier qu'une grippe saisonnière classique, le virus A(H1N1) pourrait se transformer en véritable fléau pour les populations plus vulnérables des pays pauvres de l'hémisphère sud

Le monde "se rapproche" ainsi de sa première pandémie grippale du XXIe siècle, déclare mardi l'Organisation mondiale de la santé (OMS), expliquant que le virus A(H1N1) commence à s'installer en dehors du continent américain. 

De "premières propagations" du virus A(H1N1) dans la population de pays situés en dehors du continent américain sont observées, a relevé le directeur général adjoint de l'OMS, qui a cité le Royaume-Uni, le Japon, le Chili et l'Australie. Au Japon, le virus touche aussi la préfecture de Yamaguchi. Le Japon compte aujourd'hui 392 malades.

"Cependant, nous attendons toujours une activité réellement répandue (du virus) dans la population de ces pays", a ajouté le Dr Keiji Fukuda. "Au niveau mondial, nous pensons que nous sommes en phase cinq, en vigueur depuis le 29 avril, signalant une pandémie "imminente", mais "nous nous rapprochons de la phase six" d'alerte pandémique maximale".

"Il est clair que le virus semble se propager au niveau international. Nous savons qu'un certain nombre de pays sont en phase de transition, avec un passage de cas liés à des voyages --dans des pays affectés-- vers un établissement plus marqué --du virus-- au sein de la population", a expliqué le numéro 2 de l'OMS.

Sur les conseils d'experts internationaux consultés lundi, l'OMS a décidé de tenir compte du critère de "gravité" de la maladie pour le passage en phase pandémique maximale. La grippe porcine A(H1N1) est d'une gravité "modérée", a-t-il estimé, en rejetant le terme de "bénin". "Mesurer la gravité d'une maladie est très délicat". (Agences et itw)

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Murakami's "1Q84"

Marketing was perfect at publisher Shinchosha. Fans ordering the book knew nothing but the title: "1Q84," it can be read as "1984" in Japanese. Haruki Murakami’s first novel in five years is a two-books work and "1Q84". 500.000 reservations came to bookshops, initial print run of the work is first printing to 480,000 copies. A hint at George Orwell's "1984" everyone said, but I doubt. Still I have to read the books and suspect the author plays imagination as he never did.

Murakami, 60, is one of the most widely translated Japanese writers alive, with bestsellers such as "Norwegian Wood," "Kafka on the Shore" and "The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle." But in the case or Murakami born in 1949 in Kyoto and educated at Waseda university of Tokyo, marketing was cleaver enough to release the book before the week end, time for us to dive in Murakami's world of fantasies.

"I’ve been writing a new full-length novel continuously for the last two years – I started writing it right on Christmas two years ago – so for that whole time, I was getting up every day at some time between 2 and 4 in the morning and writing for four or five hours. During that period, I did take time off for vacation, but I think it was only about 10 to 20 days. Sitting there in front of my desk everyday for four to five hours straight, that was pretty tough." 
(Courtesy of the web: and Shinchosha publisher)

A literature Nobel price to come?

Well, hard to say. A recent episode rings the bells, when the author visited Israel to get a price. There he did a bit of noise, same as an Orwellian world...  Murakami was named winner of the 2009 Jerusalem Prize for the Freedom of the Individual in Society; it is is a biennial literary award traditionally bestowed upon authors whose work has dealt with human freedom, society, politics, and government. 

But here again Murakami surprised all in his speech: The usual complexity of the author had this to say in an article published in the Bungei Shunju literary journal where he  strongly condemned Israel's attitude towards the Palestinians. 

"Israel has adopted a policy that seals off the Palestinians inside the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, a policy that denies the refugees' right to return to their land in order to protect the interests of the Jewish people; this is unjust," Murakami wrote. He decided to accept the Israeli prize believing this would allow him to speak freely in front of an Israeli audience. While Murakami notes that "Israel isn't a tyrannical state and is founded on free speech, I sense a very strong patriotic approach when I talk to Israelis. The schools instill it in them through the official history, and three years of military service for boys and two years for girls is mandatory."

Murakami's visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum prompted him to come up with the following insight: "I think that the State of Israel suffers from some sort of trauma. The brain tells them that excessive self-defense is not good, but their body spontaneously responds to the slightest of provocations." 

Israeli Foreign Ministry said in response to the article: "The State of Israel is proud for having presented the Jerusalem Prize to Murakami and respects his right to express his opinions on current affairs. "However, Israel regrets the fact that the author, who is highly popular in Israel, preferred to adopt some inaccurate generalizations about the Middle East conflict, without knowing the facts. We would be happy if during his next visit in the country the author would find the time to learn more about Israel and the reality in the region." (Quotes:

Previously during his speech of admittance, about the time of the Gaza confrontation, earlier this year, Murakami compared humans to eggs. "If there is a hard, high wall and an egg that breaks against it, no matter how right the wall or how wrong the egg, I will stand on the side of the egg. Why? Because each of us is an egg, a unique soul enclosed in a fragile egg. Each of us is confronting a high wall. The high wall is the system which forces us to do the things we would not ordinarily see fit to do as individuals..."

"... Like most novelists, I like to do exactly the opposite of what I'm told. It's in my nature as a novelist. Novelists can't trust anything they haven't seen with their own eyes or touched with their own hands. So I chose to see. I chose to speak here rather than say nothing."

CQFD 2009...