Category Archives: Government

The Death of A Citizen

Yesterday, when I was boarding my flight back to Shanghai, I browsed my Google Reader on my mobile phone, and heard the news that the young man killing 6 policemen was already executed. What a shock news. I feel deep sorrow for him, and feel even more hopeless about the justice of the country.

My friends outside China felt strange to know that I pay sympathy to a man who killed many policemen. It is even more wired that many of my friends feel the same. What’s wrong?

It reminded me of a case described in The Tipping Point. The story was about a man riding subway were approached by some bad guys, and he immediately shoot all of them to death. In a normal situation, what is right and what is wrong is obvious, but in New York at that time, when crime rate is so high, that people got robbed, killed, stolen in the subway, they feel so hopeless, and the man became a hero in many people’s heart, just as a Robinhood. If sense of justice and security was reinforced, the society becomes “normal”.

It is the same case in China. When the young man was mistreated by policemen, and he tried everything to seek for justice, and the current society doesn’t give any justice. Feeling hopeless and angry, Yang takes a step that people don’t take in most normal society – using violence to solve the problem. From what I read, and some people I talked with, there is a Yang in themselves, and the only difference is, they are not angry enough or “brave” enough to take their knives yet. That is why the whole story is so sad.

I am not saying Yang should not be punished, but punish without restore of justice encourages more cases like this. There was a golden opportunity to restore the justice Yang was seeking for before he dies, but the situation turned out to be, we are much far away from justice by even more violently protecting the bad guys. Now, Yang is dead. Even though there is no bad guys as Yang claimed, there is no chance for the rest of us to know, and that is a pity in the history of this nation.

I believe this case will remain in history for a long time, when people look back and study the abnormal society we ever lived in. We cannot really understand what an event means only after few years. I believe this is such an important event. It happens yesterday.

Chinese Government is Like a Company

Chinese government works completely different from the US government – at least from the organizational perspective. It is more like a company than US government.

US Governments are like Companies

In US, there are so many governments that are like the many companies in the market place. There may be bigger one like Federal Government, or the State Governments, just like the Fortune 500 companies. There are also many smaller one, like city government, or some water supply governments…

These governments does not necessarily reports to each other. They are just like peers.

Chinese Government is like One Company

The Chinese government is one hierarchy. It is like this:

The district head report to city mayor.

The city mayor reports to province head.

Province head reports to central government.

It is maybe one of the largest organization in the world – besides the Chinese army.

All the government officials have an internal “level”. It is just like the level in US companies. People may have different roles, but the level system is consistent across all the Chinese government, including state-owned companies.

That is the reason a government official can often (always) be assigned from the province head of Hubei, and then to the mayor of Shanghai. A mayor’s next role may be the CEO of a state-owned enterprise.

This is something that many people in US does not understand.

My National ID Duplicated with Another One

A policeman called me and asked me to go to the police station this morning. The reason is, someone in Guangxi Province sent a post mail to them and claiming that someone there has the same national ID number as mine.

National ID Number

People in China are numbered – there is a unique ID assigned to everybody. I got mine when I was 18 years old, just before I came to Shanghai, and Yifan got his several days after his birth. It is the number printed on the Naitonal ID card. Obviously, it is an important number.

The number is pretty long – 18 digits, and you’d better keep it secret, since the information reveals your location to get the number, the date you were born, and your gender.

The Formation of the Number

This is the format of the number:

AABBCCYYYYMMDDSSGX

where:

AABBCC is the area code of the location where you got your ID.

YYYYMMDD is the birth date, like 19700302

SSG is a serial number – just in case there are more than one person born in the same area on the same date, the police station is responsible to issue different numbers to different people. The 17th digit is gender digits – odd numbers are assigned to male, and even numbers are assigned to female.

X, the last number is check sum – that computer can check to see the previous numbers are correct.

Someone has Exactly the Same Number As Me

From the record, I found someone in Guangxi has exactly the same National ID number as me.

That means, this guy is also male, born on the same day as me, and lived in the same neigborhood as I did.

AND, the policeman there made a big mistake by giving the same serial number to us.

According to the police, this happens all the time, since the ID was issued before computer was widely used, and they are putting big effort to correct the mistakes. That is the reason they call me.

The Resolution

Finally, it turned out that I need to write a statement, claiming that I have already gotten the notification, and I don’t want to change my national ID number, and signed the letter. That’s it.

“What’s next?” I asked?

“I will send all the documents along with your statement back to the police station where the mail came from.” The policeman answered.

“Then what?”

“Then the policeman will talk to the other guy to see if he is willing to change his national ID number.” He said.

“What if he don’t want to change either?” This is an obvious question I need to ask.

“Then, the policeman in Guangxi will send a mail to me again.” Said the policeman before me.

“Then what?” I became a little bit impatient.

“Then I will give you a call again. BTW, could you please leave your mobile phone with me?” He answered.

“Then what’s next?” I asked?

“Let’s talk about it when it happens” was the answer.

So, I left the police station – it ruined my beautiful Sunday afternoon. Knowing someone in this country has exactly the same national ID as me is a strange feeling – and to change it is just a nightmare for me – I even don’t remember how many systems, especially those in banks, and on my driver’s license, record my current ID number.

Good luck to me and the other unlucky guy.

Security Messures in Radio and TV Station

Besides the censorship in blogging media, it is not surprising that the security meessures in traditional medias are very stick in China. In this blog entry, I want to share some first hand information about radio stations, and TV stations.

Radio Stations

I recorded my experience of the last visit to Shanghai East Radio Station in this blog entry:

The Security Check

Shanghai Radio and East Radio are two major (if not the only two) radio stations in Shanghai. It was not easy to enter the building. Radio station is always a sensitive location in China. The security check was intensive. I waited in the line for quite some time before I arrived at the window of the gate outside the building. It was cold outside and three security guards were looking at me to fill a form with my name, gender, telephone number, home address, company name, the person I visit, the room number, and deposited my national ID card.

After phone confirmation, I got the electronic ID card at the expense of my National ID card. :-) I can only claim my national ID after I come out of the building, with the ID card, and the signed form by the host.

It is not so high tech as I expected, …., until I entered the recording room.

TV Stations

The Shanghai TV Station’s security check seems not as intensive as the Shanghai East Radio Station during my last visit.

I also need to deposit my National ID card at the service center to get a RFID card, and use the card to enter the building. Also, at the entrance of each floor, there are locked doors, that my guest card don’t have access – that means you have to get someone to host you in the building.

For the real studio, there are also gates with security sensors. You need to swap your card. Of cause, not my guest card.

Most of the video programs are recorded, so it will be “safe”. In case something happens, they still get a chance. (Something means some thing unexpected)

Live Broadcast

There ARE live broadcast from both TV and Radio. That is a big challenge. In the current media environment in China, any small mistake, as long as it is politics related, in wording on public media may easily cost the job the head of the station. So they are very sensitive to the live broadcast.

According to my friend who is a host of live broadcast program, every word we hear from the radio is about 7 seconds delayed from the actual sound. The 7 seconds are critical in case someone intentionally say something “bad” on the live program, the producer can easily “cut” the voice, so it is not broadcasted at all.

However, I do need to confirm this during my later visit to the station for live broadcast.

Current University Students are Different

I am back from a speech in Shanghai Jiaotong University tonight.

This is the second time I visit SJTU this month.

I just observe something very different between the students of this year (especially the first year students) and the students of two years ago.

The Reform of Higher Education

The change was triggered by the recent reform of higher education. According to the students, when they enter SJTU, they don’t know their majors yet. They know which school they will go to and will study for 2 years before they were assigned a major, depending on how good their first two years are. (Correct me if I am wrong. This is what I heard, but not necessarily the truth).

This way, the first two years of university students are very different from the previous years. They have to study hard. Everyday they wake up, go to class just as middle-school students, study hard, and go back to dorm when the whole day’s study is over.

They don’t watch TV as much, and they don’t watch movie, and even fewer people find a boy/girl friends than before. Because, the major assignment is just as the second “National College Entrance Exam“.

To be short, the recent reform changed the first two years of university to continued part of middle school.

Change in Students

To be honest with my readers, and even to the students I met in the last two speech, I am very disappointed of the first year students in Jiao Tong University (I didn’t visit other universities this year yet). They look like middle-school, and behave like middle-school. The biggest difference between the current first year students and students of the same age two years ago is, they don’t show any excitement.

I am a big fan of going to universities to talk with students. I enjoy that a lot. The reason is, I found the students are full of creative ideas, and full of passion. They want to know more – they want to know everything, and that kind of passion also inspires me a lot. When I run Kijiji, we hosted about 200 speeches in many universities. Unfortunately, this was only in my memory.

The current university students I am facing are more concerned with their score than any generations before. They don’t care about many things, and — I cannot describe the feeling more exactly than just to tell you, they are exactly middle-school students to me.

The other changes are, two years ago, when there is a speech like this, the whole room (sometimes with 1000+ seats) are full of students. People from all grades gather and listen to the speeches. Recently, according to my friend who organized many event, very few people come to lecture, because everyone is busy preparing for exams. They are so busy that they even miss the campus recruiting of big or small companies. It seems nobody worries about the fact that only 30% of students can find a job in one of the best universities, like SJTU.

I don’t want to hide my disappointment of the recent reform initialized by the Ministry of Edcation.

Hospital in Shanghai

I just want to update my readers why I paused blog in the last three days. I was in hospital to take care of my mother-in-law. She had a heart surgery last Thursday. Thank God (and whomever I can think of), the operation was a huge success. Now she is recovering very well in the Zhongshan Hospital. Wendy and I am very happy. :-)

In the hospital, I just realize how serious the medical insurance problem this country is facing. There are people who gave up the surgery just because they cannot afford the bed fee in the hospital. There are also people who are completely in debt for the surgery in the same patient room. Have a big disease means bankrupt for many people in China.

Thoughts about Traffic Jam

Today is a No Car Day in Shanghai, and other 107 cities in China. On the No Car Day, let me write about some thoughts around huge traffic jam last week.

Last Monday, I decided to use public transportation – Metro – to go to work. My plan was drive to Century Park metro station which is 4 km away, then park-and-go. It turned out to the biggest mistake I made last week.

Traffic Jam

At the Jin Xiu Road and West Gao Ke Road, there was a traffic jam, and I waited in my car for almost one hour. I left home before 8:00 AM, and when I get to the Metro Station, it is already 9:00 AM. The 4 km (still within 30 minute walking distance) cost me 1 hour. The whole road of Jin Xiu Road was 100% empty after the crossroad, since all cars were caught in the jam.

The Mysterious Road Block

The root cause of the jam is a road block that occupied 2 lanes at the interaction. I assume there should be some construction work going on. The block turned the 4 lane road into a one lane road (the other lane was occupied by Metro Station construction site already).

What a mass! I waited in the long line for 40 minutes, and when I managed to get to the interaction of the two roads, I found I am in the middle of a huge maze. I am heading north, and the car left and right of me are heading south. The car before me is heading east, making it a perfect T-shape, and so does the car before this car.

If you look from above, there are tens of T-shapes, or 45 degree intersections. The result is, none of the cars can possibly move.

I waited there, and watch the traffic light. It turns red, yellow, green …. red, yellow, green… after many circles, any car didn’t move. I can tell you, it is boring to observe the traffic light changing when your car is in the middle of a cross road.

The Solution?

First of all, I don’t know if there is anyway for me, as an individual in this city, or this district of the city, or a citizen of the neighborhood, to sue the construction company for blocking the road. If they do that, they should have obtained a permit to do so. Can I check the permit or ask a city attorney (there is no such a role in China) to check it? If they just put the block there without any permit, is there a law that I can use to sue them?

In China, people will laugh at me if I ask this kind of western questions, since no one thinks that way. But why not? If we (all citizens in this neighborhood collectively) own this land, and this city, we should be able to find out a way to restrict some power (like those of the construction company) and find a balance between their interest and my interest (I don’t want to use the public interest, which term has been abused to describe some privileged group). The power without check and balance causes chaos.

If it is the road block causing the problem, is there ANY way to prevent it from happing again? If there is no law against it, can we approve a law?

When I try to seek the possibility, I feel desperate. The answer is simple: there is no way to influence any public policy (I am even not talking about the country level. I am talking about the street and neighborhood level), there is no way to sue government (since a legal system is not working when we talk about public affairs, not conflict between two companies. Well, to be fair, there ARE such mechanism, but as many other mechanism, it does not work), and there is no way to even raise the awareness of people about this importance of check and balance, and people’s right (that is the reason why blog or website trying to discuss these issues were shutdown). All these thoughts lead to a black hole, an endless black hole, which no result. Obviously, seeking for the change in this situation is strictly forbidden, but I believe it is good for the future of China.

That is Easy – Easy Solution to Complicated Problems

I know this is a new addition of the series of articles comments on the recent government policy in China, which is treated a sensitive topics in China. Anyway, I do have something to say, although it may worth only 2 cents.

In an environment without check and balance, it is very common that people will choose the easiest way to solve complicated problems. Since there is no objection anyway, why bother looking for a better solution. Here are some examples.

One Child Policy

Too many people in the country and the population is too big?

Easy! Very couple only can have one child.

If it still does not work, maybe have none. The point is, I am not saying population is not a problem, but the current simple solution is at the cost of several generation’s freedom. Using education or social, economical, or other solutions to solve the problem takes time, and effort, and most important, wisdom (I don’t have a must-work solution), and the result maybe is not as good as current solution.

House Price Too Hight?

Easy! Just increase tax (doubled twice in the last year).

Still not working? Easy! No villa can be built (this policy was implemented last year).

Still not working? Easy! All developers cannot build large apartment. 90 sq. meters is the bar. Bigger house higher than this bar will be highly taxed, restricted, and 70% of the new house of any place must be 90 sq. meters or smallers. (I am not kidding here. These are the real policies issued this year).

Still not working? Still Easy! Ask the media to uniformly call those living in big houses as “bad guy”.

Still not working? Requires all the current developers to sell their house immediately after completion, and punish those who has completed house but don’t sell it. Now developers must sell the houses at the agenda set by the government but not market. (This policy came out last month).

Well. The basic logical problem here is, the government is controlling the high-price price of housing problem by reducing supply! Anyone knows little bit about marketing knows this is counter-effective. That is the reason the house price goes much faster after government reduces supply, wishing to cool it down.

Olympics is Coming but Too Many Cars!

Easy! Just ban half of the cars from going onto the road. Cars with odd plate numbers can only go out on odd days, and even numbers on even days. This really worked in Beijing since it is implemented from the last month. I suspect someone will say, “how about ban all private cars? That must be more effective to solve the traffic problem in Beijing”.

Dogs?

Someone likes dogs, and someone don’t. They argue and this is not harmony. This is very easy! Ban all dogs (some places kills all dogs), or charge ridiculously high price for a dog plate.

Death Toll in Guangdong’s Mine Factory?

Easy! Close all Mine Factories. Guangdong implemented last year, and it works great.

Group Renting

Group renting caused the environment of the residential area bad. Someone is complaining?

Easy! No-one without marriage can stay together, either same sex or opposite sex.

Air Security and Traffic Control is a Hard Problem to Solve

This is the most easiest one. No one in this country can fly their own private plane in the sky of his/her own country.

Is that Easy? Yes! Is it Efficient? Yes! But..

By listing all the problems and the easy answers government took to solve these problem, I am not complaining that we should not solve these problems. The problems like population, house price, transportation, victim of mines, dog issues, air security are all seriously problems that a government must solve. But the problem is whether the most effective way is the right way to do?

When I discuss these issues with my friends, they argue that “Are you saying that you keep the population going up, or you just do nothing when so many people dies in mines?” I don’t mean that, but be sure to consider some people’s interest although they are the minority in this society, and decision makers may think they “don’t represent the PEOPLE”. Think about the interest of those who want to have two children, who want to have a dog, who want to have a plane and fly, who want a cheap location to stay, who own a car and want to drive…

With the constrain of resources, there is always conflicts. To get rid of the other side of the conflict is so easy to implement, but I do doubt that will cause bigger and bigger problems in the future.

That’s easy? I don’t think it is easy.

Yes. I am Very Frustrated

The “very important meeting” is going to be held soon. To prepare a “good environment” for the meeting, massive websites in China were shutdown. This time, much different from the previous actions, it is the whole data center instead of websites or servers that were shutdown.

Let me take few famous IDCs (Internet Data Center) as examples. Zitian, an IDC in Luoyang was shutdown completely, and all the 500 servers were unplugged from Internet, and tens of thousands of websites hosted there were inaccessible on Aug 24. Among them is the largest traffic tracking site 51.la, and this infected a very big portion of Internet websites in China.

Soon, on Aug 28, Lanmang, the other IDC in Shantou faced the same situation. Again, tens of thousands of websites were complete inaccessible. An unconfirmed news said the data center closed in Shantou has 3000 servers, and they are all closed. Lanmang has to hire lots of trunks to put all these servers and distribute the servers into many other data centers across China. I doubt this can work, since the fate of other data centers may not be better after few days. However, what else can they do? I understand how painful people feel when a site is shutdown.

After that, news about whole IDC was shutdown came one after one, and each time, at least hundreds of servers were complete unplugged from Internet. Since these IDC host about 100 to 200 websites per server, I cannot imagine how many sites were shutdown. If this continues, I guess the total number of shutdown sites may quickly be one million. In Shanghai, many data centers were very simply completely unplugged, and each time, hundreds of servers or tens of thousands of websites were disconnected from Internet. The Waigaoqiao Data Center, the largest and one of the most advanced data centers in Shanghai were completely closed these days.

That is just the beginning. The recent order from the “top guy” requires all Internet Data Center to mandatory close all “interactive sites”. These sites include any kind of blogging, any kinds of BBS, or online forum, any kinds of comment features available on blog or content site. They really mean it this time. Many of my friends have closed the comment feature of their personal blog – many not be themselves, but by the hosting company.

It seems the pressure from top really makes people take it seriously. These days, all kinds of people are busy.

  • Telecom companies are busy unplugging Internet cable for data centers one by one.
  • Hosting companies that were already shutdown are either busy find out solutions for the closed sites, or handle waves of customer complains, or both.
  • Those hosting company or sites which were lucky enough not have been shutdown are busy shutdown “interactive sites” themselves, to avoid the whole data center run into bigger problem.
  • Bigger websites are preparing contingency plans about what they will do when they were shutdown.
  • All kinds of small site webmasters, or independent bloggers are busy signing up hosting package from abroad (I would be interested to know how many more orders bluehost, dreamhost, or ipowerweb got from China these days)
  • Bloggers hosting their blog on BSP can only keep their finger across and pray for their little blog.

If you ask me how I feel, as a blogger in China, I would say I am very very very frustrated about it.

Learnt More about How Government Works

Today, attended a training by the government officials, and learnt many interesting ideas. Share with everyone.

The Government has Huge Support for SME (Small and Middle Sized Enterprise)

Maybe you didn�t know it. For SME in Shanghai (with revenue less than 30 million RMB), if they go abroad (like U.S.) for marketing or attending events, their travel cost will be compensated by the Shanghai Foreign Trade organization by 50%. If they attend foreign trade affairs, their ticket fee will also be reimbursed by the government by 50%. This is huge benefit for SME to explore opportunities outside China. There are many policies like this, but not so many enterprises are aware of it.

The Government Reform in 2003

I didn�t really know that, until today. In 2003, the biggest government organization change happened. The 40 Bureaus in the central government was cut to 29 in 2003, and all government officials were cut by 50%.

This was a piece of interesting history – how the government handled the 50% layoff in 2003. They enforced the government officials who are 58 in ago or older for male, or 51 for female to leave their position, to give up the headcount. They are compensated by a lot of policies. For example, they receive salary, bonus, or salary increase as normal officials, and they can stay at home, and getting exactly the same benefit as they work hard and work well. This offer is valid until he/she reaches his/her official retirement age. Some of them are even offered a place to stay in government, and their full time job is to drink tea, and read newspaper. They are not allowed to do anything else than this, but their salary is the same.

Now, after the huge shrink in size of the government, there are 113,000 officials in Shanghai government (among them, 45,000 are policemen of all kinds)

Imagine how hard it was to do the reform � inside system of government.

Interesting history, or reality�

Strengthen the Control of Speech

Recently, there are several evidence to prove the government is strengthen the control of speech in China. Here are some of them.

New Round of Satellite TV Ban

Satellite TV is always forbidden (Satellite Dishes Still Forbidden in China) for most of the people. Only some specially assigned places, some approved star hotels, and places where foreigners live are allowed to install satellite TV. Normal people (some translate it as Old Hundreds Names) are not allowed to be exposed to what the international world says about China.

I installed my satellite TV in my garden (which is illegal). It is not a news that this is ban – this ban was never lifted. But recently, with more and more people install it, and with the upcoming party meeting in Beijing, they strengthen it. I see the poster everywhere that people have to remove their equipment within 3 months to avoid penalty.

I am sure that some one will jump into my garden and remove my dish in 3 months (this time they look as serious as previous countless time they enforce it. So let’s wait and see what happens, and I will broadcast it.

Xiamen Kills Anonymous Post

According to the Xiamen Bureau of Industry and Commerce, they are going to require all the information posted on the Internet to be in real name (the name that is on your national ID card) so police know who to arrest when you post something “unhealthy or harmful”.

It requires all blog owners and website owners to register their real name with the government (this is not something new), and they also requires anyone without a national ID card registered cannot post on a blog (as a comment) or on BBS. Anonymous posting is not allowed in anyway.

The draft also requires the establishment of a management mechanism for websites and discussion forums, including systems for quick deletion of unhealthy information, discussion with individuals responsible for offending websites , punishment of offending websites , and circulation of directives about online public opinion. Forum post must be filtered and reviewed before they are posted online, and the moderator will receive frequently updated ban-word, or “unhealthy” information that they must delete.

This sounds ridiculous, and Xiamen is just the first city implement it. That means, to be a legal website, I have to close the comment system below this post, and you have to fax your national ID card, or your passport to me before you can make a comment on this blog, otherwise, I will be fined or put into jail. What a joke…

Also, Xiamen government make one step further in the great effort of censorship in China. They requires that all post made online must under the REAL NAME of the person (the name on his/her passport) to post any comment. You cannot use a nickname, or something like “superman”. It must by your real name. Well. It seems I am OK for this rule to use my own name, Wang Jian Shuo, to post on this blog. (BTW, do they enforce that I have to post my Chinese name, instead of English name when I write my next entry?)

Months ago, there are a protest of the government-backed environment-unfriendly chemical project on the beautiful island. Internet played an important role there. So this is what the government learn from the rare protest in China.

I will let you know (or take pictures) if some policemen knock my door because of this post.

Living with Bad Environment?

Google is facing big challenges in China. Google was talking about the “don’t be evil” philosophy, which I respect a lot. However, how to make it happen in China is not an easy answer.

The question I asked Kai Fu twice was: “You always talk about Google’s principle. When in certain geography (China) and certain period of time (these 10 years) that the principle conflict with user experience, what is your choice?”

I know many people may be surprised to see why a not-be-evil principle can hurt user experience. It does. If Google helps to find all information for users without censorship, users will experience DNS error for Google every few attempts. Leaving along all the censorship stuff, it is very bad user experience.

Good user experience means good business. Bad user experience means bad business. In China, it basically means if Google don’t do the censorship, they can very hardly please end user, and will face commercial failure.

I will admire Google as a great company if they fail in China just because of they stick to their principle, although it is strange to claim a company who don’t care about user experience is doing the right thing – in U.S., user experience means protecting the users. Here, it is not the case because of the existence of a great firewall.

It is the same as driving. Typically, traffic rules and road safety are consistent with each other. However, without feedback system to the road design department, there are many places in Shanghai that fall into a strange situation that the traffic rules are in conflict position with the road safety. To follow the rule means to drive dangerous. It is not easy to live in this environment. Hard decision everyday.

It seems the only solution is neither follow the bad rule (censorship or dangerous traffic signs) nor completely ignore rule or principle (user experience or safety). The ultimate solution is to fix the system and make the rule consistent with the goal. Before removing the conflict, it is really hard to make decisions or even praise or blame someone for doing something.

Some Blogs about V2EX

Just spent some time to use Google Blog Search to get some comments about V2EX, after it is unplugged by the “big guy”.

Look at the angry people here. When a pure technical forum full of geeks and technical guys are monitored and finally shut down, who can claim to be safe? Who is the next? From the first day, bloggers should be prepared to be shut down at any time. I am prepared, at least.

V2EX’s Network Cable was Unplugged

Livid’s V2EX is a great Internet application. 3000+ genius Internet developers gathered there to discuss topics related to programming, Internet, and other geek topics.

At 4:00 PM, Jan 11, 2007, the network cable of the server was unplugged by the Internet hosting company. It is according to “supervisor’s order”.

This is not the first case. It is too common in the current Internet world that no one even got surprised. This is how the censorship works. “Unplug” seems not so technical, but it is very effective. Great Firewall works for the servers outside China, and “unplug” is the first (and most basic) step to do with servers in China.

A footnote to this event is, blogbus.com was raided by people who claim to fine the company because they don’t have a so-called “License for transmitting Video/Audio Programs on Information Network”. At the same time, the new Google Blogger Customer Domain was blocked by the Great Firewall.

So this is the land I called it “homeland”, so this is the way they treat me, I’m always being constructive, I’m always being creative, I’m smart and I’m nice to everyone, I used to make wealth and knowledge for this land, but this land just cannot allow me to be a nice “good” man, so, what else can I do? – Livid

This is the real reflection of the current China in the begining of year 2007.

Here are some reference to this event: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

I Got a Tax Summary!

I received a mail – paper based mail.

It is from the Tax Bureau of the Shanghai Municipal Government.

In the mail is a list of the total tax I paid in 2006 from Feb to Dec.

I was surprised to see how much tax I paid for the government. I never receive this tax report for a year before.

Something interesting is, on the left bottom, there is a sentence in big font, and in both Chinese and English.

It reads:

Thank you for your contribution to China’s flourish and prosperity.

For the first time, I got an annual summary from the government, and at least a “written” thank-you for “my contribution”.

Interesting.

Friend’s Dog Killed

Look at this cute dog:

Its name is Ahuang, or Little Yellow. It is my friend’s dog. Early this week, it was robbed from his home and was killed. What a sad little thing. According to him, someone jumped into his house in suburb areas at 4:00 in early morning, and was killed and brought away. The guess is, they are going to sell the dog to meat market.

I have pictures of the little dog when it was just born one year ago, and feel sad about it. He was angry and of cause very sad. In his last 10 years, he had more than 10 dogs. The longest, he had the dog for 6 years, and shortest one only stayed for months. All of the dogs were robbed, or killed this way.

In this case, it is believed that the man robbed the dog for its meat. They can sell the dog to meat stores, and dog meat is served in many restaurants in the city.

Dogs. Poor Dogs

Talking about dogs, I am very concerned. The government is running campaign to kill dogs. Teams were setup with single mission – kill the dogs. People just don’t honor the value of life.

The dog adoption policy is, you have to pay the government for a dog adoption license. I don’t have a dog, so I don’t have first hand experience. According to my friends and verified on the Internet, the price is 2000 RMB for downtown, and 1000 RMB for places outside inner ring. What does it mean? It means you have to pay 1.4 month of the city’s average montly salary to get a license for your dog. In Guangzhou, the price is 10,000 RMB for the first year, and 6,000 RMB for every year after that.

Recently, the government is strength the policy. On both gate of the residential area I am living in, there are huge red banner saying: “If you love your dog, get a license for it”.

What I Interpretation is, “If you don’t want your dog killed, pay us”.

Dogs without License Must be Killed

Many police stations in cities and villages across the country have formed up “Dog-Killing Team” to go out (sometimes go into people’s house) to identify dogs without license. The owner either need to pay the money, or have their dogs killed.

The recent astonishing news about Douding’s event is just part of the story. They killed 50,000 dogs in 6 days. I read about some news (Disclaimer: I cannot verify whether its true or not), that the policemen are required to kill the dog before the face of the owner “as punishment”.

In Shanghai, the policy is, you have to bring the license with you all the time. If you are caught with a dog and without a license, the dog will be taken away, and you have to get your license to get the dog. Sad.

I don’t want to have a dog

I don’t know if I will adopt a dog or not in the future. I don’t have an idea about how I can protect it. What should I do when someone jump into my house and kill the dog before me, or come back home one day and found my dog dead. I just don’t want to have a dog at home when the terrible situation does not change.

Dogs are human’s friends. When the lives of millions of dogs can be taken away in just few days, how about people’s life?

Coincidence? Maybe Not

There are some “coincidence” in the Chinese Blogger Conference in Hangzhou. The conference was originally planned to be at a place called Zijingang. One and half day before the conference, the venue owner cancelled the venue claiming that government is using the venue so they have to cancel all other events. Ops. What a coincidence! Then the venue was changed to another place in the Hangzhou University (what a rush). When the word of changing venue spread out, the university called and said electronic power will be shutdown for maintenance for the next two days. So the conference cannot be held there. Ops. What a coincidence! Then finally, people moved to the third venue at the night before the conference. This time, no meeting there, and there is electronic supply, which is good, but the Internet provide reported that they are conducting system maintenance and there is limited Internet access – I have to use my CDMA in my room. Ops. What a coincidence, for the third time!

Second-Generation Identity Card

Second-generationl Identity Card – the National ID card.

I finally took pictures at the Security Office, to get my second generation ID card. I having used the plastic ID card for 10 years, since 1995, now I am forced to use the second-generation. I don’t like change, so I didn’t volunteer to get one, until recently. When we go to update my Kukou booklet, they printed out the booklet, but asked me to upgrade my ID card, otherwise, they will hold the Hukou book. Today, after paying 20 RMB for taking pictures, and I got my Hukou book.

My new ID will be ready after 60 days. As an IT industry professional, I don’t understand why it takes so long to get a card. However, it is one of the key advantage to upgrade to the second generation card that the processing and manufacturing time has been reduced from 90 days to 60 days.

The new card will have contact-less IC card embedded in it, so it can be ready by computer system. Waiting to see what will happen after 60 days.

Escaping from Raffles City

Just several minutes past 12:00 PM (noon time), the office became very quite. Everyone disappeared – to be more exact, escaped from the office. Only one lady doing the cleaning work are here, and me… I haven’t had my lunch yet. It is an unusaul day. I never see office like this – no one in, in the middle of a normal Thursday.

It is not a normal Thursday. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is meeting in Shanghai. To ensure security of the meeting, the Raffles tower, along with many other office buildings in the area are closed. People are required to leave the building after 12:00 PM, and security people will come to check floor by floor, room by room.

Raffles tower is just 500 meters away from the Shanghai Government building. Security guys think it is the best place for people with a gun to shoot someone.

Look at the building in the middle – it is the government building, and the one on the right, with round corners, is Raffles Tower.

Above is the view from the building to government building, and the People’s Square. If I am on higher floors, we can see better view.

Shanghai Cooperation Organization Meeting is Troublesome

It is not the first time Shanghai shutdown business to hold meetings. It is the case in APAC and other meetings. The original arrangement was, all office closes in Huangpu District and the Lujiazui area for three days, from Wed, to Friday. People come to work the previous weekend.

Many people don’t like the plan, and boycotted the arrangement. Later, it is adjusted a little bit that it is SUGGESTED to close offices.

Yesterday and today, it is obvious not many people in Metro – I can easily get a seat in the morning, and not many cars. About 1 million government employees are on vacation these days, and some business also closes.

It is NOT a normal day. Big meeting in Shanghai means vacation for many people.

Let me run now. It is said elevator will be closed soon. I don’t want to go downstairs by stairs, or caught by police.

Water Mellon for Summer

There are trunks outside the residential area to sell Water Mellons.

I bought one yesterday and one today. They are so sweet. I like it a lot.

Although it is obviously illegal to sell by directly parking a car at the entrance of a residential area, I like this kind of “direct sell”. Although they don’t have a business license to operate, they have really nice goods.

This may be the forth time I buy water mellon this year. The previous few times, I bought it at super market. Really expensive and more importantly, tasted bad.

When the farmers were forced to sell their product to super market, they have lower margin than direct sell, and those who offer lowest price, instead of better quality have more chances to enter super market. That may be the reason I cannot find good water mellon there.

How I love those old good days when there is no super market and there are cars full of water mellons on the street!

P.S. I visited the first Wal-mart in Shanghai for the first time. It is a very American-style shopping center. I don’t like it. People didn’t react well with the opening of the shopping center. Something must go wrong. I still didn’t finger out what is going wrong, but I just feel it is not right. When I was in Wal-Mart, the only thing I can think of was, get out of here ASAP. It seems even not competitive than the Hymall 500 meters from my home.

I hope Wal-Mart will not be another failure case of “successful Amercian company getting trouble in China”.