Saturday, 25 June 2011

PARTY DIRECTIVE No. 1....Amendment following Politburo Advice.

This site will remain active for personal trivia, while the Wordpress site will contain more substantive scribblings.

Six Perfectly Shaped Vinyl 45s.

A perfect example of power pop with Steve Marriot's soulful vocals. Produced by the now reinvented Andrew Loog Oldham author of Stoned, a must have read on the 60s music industry, if only for its description of that craziest of all producers Joe Meek. Oldham has written a follow-up titled Hustlers,which is a study of the great music entrepreneurs like Don Arden, Freddy Bienstock etc.
Quite by accident last night, I listened to the Stones Good Times, Bad Times - recorded in Chess Studios in 1964 by Andrew Loog Oldham. Reminded me of what a great vocal soul stylist Jagger used to be before the band found its own voice, which then totally disppeared into a mess of corporate rock crap after Let it Bleed.
Everlovin' Man by Oz legend The Loved Ones is unquestionably soul music culture writ large. Jerry Humphreys had a set of vocal chords to die for. I still moves me ... decades later.
Forget that One step for mankind.....Aldrin, Armstrong first man on the moon moment. The real moment of the 60s was captured by Raven Records three volume LP set Ugly Things containing the great garage bands of the Antipodes. Foremost would have to be The Creatures with their grungier hard rock single (as you would expect) Ugly Thing. 1966 appearances on TVs Dig We Must with waist length purple and green hair.

Lock up your daughters and stay away from musicians with panel vans.

Trivial Factoid: The Creatures hailed from Mildura, Victoria, the same hometown as the The Modes who laid out the most nervous version of that staple Baby Please Don't Go. Ian Hunter bassist in The Modes went onto to be KT's p/g supervisor, and foremost deconstructionist of Althusser, Derrida and Foucault, in addition to a recent massive tome on Kant and all round philosophical heavy hitter with pieces like THIS.

Staying south of the equator, I would be remiss if I didn't mention Kicks by The Librettos
Let's break with tradition here and highlight an LP, namely Lysergic Emanations by the Fuzztones. Retro US garage band who righfully pay homage to The Sonics, albeit with Bach organ flourishes. Highly recommended for the discerning listener.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

PARTY DIRECTIVE No. 1: moved to - http://

I now have a site and will be posting here from now on.

New address

I hope to move my archives to this new site when I acquire the confidence and technical know-how.

This is a case of Manifest Destiny.

Any advice on this move is greatly appreciated.

Meanwhile I leave you with an okay article from The Economist on my favourite pol Bo Xilai HERE.

But Mr Bo could well be offered the portfolio of China’s internal security chief, currently held by Zhou Yongkang, with whom he is believed to have close ties.

Mr Bo’s upfront style is a radical departure from the backroom politicking that has long been the hallmark of Communist rule and would seem like a refreshing change, were it not that some of his supporters see him as the Vladimir Putin of China.

The Economist is turning out some reasonably solid China analysis at the moment.

Stripping to the waist and fighting off bears might however be a bit much even for the Beijing establishment. However, a sordid sex scandal aired on weibo would be perfectly acceptable.

My Bo dossier now notes that he drives a Jaguar, a British marque motor which has produced a succession of shit models since the mid 60s.

Open the article. Don't you just love the cheesy smile. Reminds me of Tony Blair.

So long Pilgrims and see you in the Promised Land below.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011



Big Jimbo and The Doors were unquestionably the most over-rated Rock Band since Heart Break Hotel hit the airwaves in 1956. They turned out exactly two great tracks, they being Crystal Ship on their First LP and Five to One found on their crap double Absolutely Live. Crystal Ship has to be the greatest example of sound psychedelia, while Five to One is one down and dirty incitement to Youthful Anarchy. And in this age of sanitised, corporatised rock music, the sound of broken glass is sorely missed.

The whole Doors Industry, which fortunately has ground to a halt this century - Danny Sugerman, Jerry Hopkins, John Densmore and Mr Oliver Stone (of more in Part Two) - has been a carbuncle on the rear end of Rock Journalism. It is about time we recognised the efforts of that other industry. And yes, Pamela as a much younger wench made a vital in-the-studio contribution to the greatness of Crystal Ship.


Australia's Department of Trade and Foreign Affairs (formerly know as Foreign Affairs) has to be the worst of any in the G20. The public servants (in this case an oxymoron), who occupy its overseas embassies et al, view inquiries by Oz citizens overseas as an occupational hazard to be avoided by placing them in the ether of the internal phone loop. Equally, serious has been the past instances of practicing paedophiles been given overseas posting and subsequent departmental hush ups.

Disclaimer: I have never had occasion to utilise their services. In point of fact, they could take a lesson from the PRC's overseas embassies who provide an efficient and helpful service.


Millers Crossing by the Coen Brothers has to be their best movie simply based on the performance of Jon Polito as Johnny Caspar. The scene between Caspar and his none-too-bright and overweight son is priceless.


The three most used tracks in the history of cinema since Martin Scorsese's Mean Streets are:

Gimme Shelter - Rolling Stones
Rumble - the ominous instrumental by Link Wray
Anything by Kool and the Gang.

Been dying to get this hoary old chestnut printed and forgotten


In the Sino-English blogoshere, there is an annoying cross-posting, lets-scratch-each-others-back Mafia. As this is beyond debate to even the most casual observer, lets move on and recognise the conspiratorial but well documented investigations of Peter Dale Scott HERE. Scott is no slouch when it comes to documenting his suspicions, and I recommend his books to 2000, most of which I have read.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Some Interesting Sino-Links...

I thought I would take a lesson from Adam Cathcart's blog and post some links which are presently orphaned in my favourites. Adam, who I've described as the Christopher Columbus of great link-finds accompanied with great translation work, runs the highly recommended site to your right.

Sounds like I'm putting together a Sino-Net-Mafia here, but prefer to pimp the sites I like rather than diss the one's which pain me.

Lets start with a couple of heavy hitters.

John Lee, sometimes adviser to the Australian Defence Establishment, wrote a short succint book titled "Will China Fail", and you will come away with the feeling that he hopes so. Lee covers very much the same terrain as Victor Shih - examining the structural characteristics of China's economy and its banking system. Cutting to the chase, this is a highly truncated piece by John Lee HERE titled Structural Flaws will Limit China's Rise.

Here are three great book REVIEWS by Perry Anderson, former editor of the defunct New Left Review, and the less-smarter brother of Benedict Anderson who authored Imagined Communities. Perry's Passages from Antiquity to Feudalism and The Rise of the Absolutist State are now literally collecting dust on many shelves mine included, while Imagined Communities will continue to produce theretical gold dust for years to come.

I think it is time to look at the papers and see what is happening in the Land of Happiness and Red Sing Songs.

John Garnaut wrote an excellent piece for the Sydney Morning Herald today on the serious clout exercised by the State's Power Grid, a corporate Behemoth beholden to no one including Beijing HERE.

Last week migrant workers from Sichuan in blue jeans central - Xintang county close to Guangzhou - congregated in a really uncivil manner, stoned police and torched a few cars and government buildings. Massive police power was subsequently employed and there have been 19 arrests to date.

But here are the kickers. Guangdong's Communist Party boss Wang Yang had previously tied his political ambitions to a Happy Guangdong HERE slogan earlier in January. All very embarrassing and he was not available for comment. Bo Xilai one of Wang's serious competitors for a slot on the Politburo's 9 person Standing Committee must be cock-a-hoop. Bo's thought bubble: "I'm a really photogenic chick magnet, so it's only right and just that that sour puss Wang bites the dust".

Aside from this cruel irony for Wang, it seems that these ungrateful rioting migrant workers are not handing themselves in to assure lenient sentences as requested. Consequently,

China has offered rewards to migrant workers willing to inform on colleagues involved in recent mass riots in the south-eastern city of Zengcheng.

The Zengcheng Daily published a notice offering workers residency permits - which would give them greater access to services like education and healthcare.

The notice also offered up to 10,000 yuan ($1,500; £1,000) cash rewards.
Sourced from the BBC, but the media are all over this snitch offer.

And, as you would expect, the application of Happy or Positive Psychology and the creation of Happiness Indexs are the new municipal fashion statement in the Middle Kingdon.

The China Daily link I was looking for has been disappeared, but I found this entry on my former hometown:Find your happy place in Fuzhou.

After celebrating Fz's banyan trees, CD notes:

Because locals planted so many of them, the city is now covered in a leafy canopy. Thanks to the many shaded areas, Fuzhou women do not need to hold umbrellas to protect themselves against the harsh UV rays.

There you go. Leave the sunnies and sun screen at home.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Suspicion Torments my Heart ....Remastered.

Unquestionably, the three most important inventions of the 20th century were the automobile, the hot shower and the LP record in no particular order. In terms of sound transmission, we experienced the 78rpm LP (maybe), the Cadilliac of sound propagation post-1960s the 33rpm LP with the added bonus of its cover art, and its younger brothers, the Single (hit song and B-side filler)and the EP Extended Play (4 desirable singles....hopefully).

A minor footnote to the 70s was the 8 Track Car Cassette which supposed marked the demise of Stereo Sound, which (if I recall) was an 8 track sound breakdown distributed to a battery of speakers strategically situated inside the vehicle. Definitely the Edsel of sound inventions since the 8 Track unspooled before you turned on the ignition, and the catalogue was limited to Crosby, Stills and Nash and Blue Cheer (and you would only remember the latter if you attended Hells Angels bar room stomps)and more bloody Crosby Stills and Nash on-the-back-porch ditties of conscience eg Teach Your Children Well, Ohio, etc.

The Stereo Cassette soon followed, combining auto-mobility and sound youth-identity, but only if you installed a kick-ass Pioneer cassette in your Kombi van. Thence began the digital revolution too familiar to warrant description.

There are undoubtedly forums which discuss the merits and demerits of the digital remastering process - the journey from vinyl to chip, from film to Blu-Ray - so I will go on record here, and state that vinyl transferred to CD or chip loses a lot of warmth, especially when saxaphone and piano are concerned. And that colourisation is an abomination since film noir completely loses its raison d'etre.

However, there are always positive examples of the film to digital trip, namely Sergei Eisenstein's Ivan the Terrible Part 2 The Boyar's Plot produced in 1945. Eisenstein (and other Russian directors such as Pudovkin and Dziga-Vertov) are best remembered for their theoretical views about montage editing. Academic film theory journals of the late 70s and 80s discussed montage theory in excruciating Marxist and neo-Marxist detail issue after issue, making the life of film theory students a pure misery. On the brighter side, we watch with pleasure films directed by Brian De Palma, that most literate of directors, who cannot help slipping in homage sequences to some of Eisenstein's killer montage scenes.

I was completely taken with the digital blacks, whites, shades of grey and elongated shadow effects in the Ivan dvd, which are both sharp, effective and true to the directors intentions. The bad Ivan - his suppurating suspicions towards all and sundry - receives full justice in this digital remastering. The eyes hold the secret of Ivan's bloody intentions, and they bring to mind that last photo of Lenin as he wrestled in silence with the succession issue. ie Lenin's so-called Last Testament and the ensuing petty bureacratic warfare with Lenin's drab wife.

The other abiding impression of Ivan Part 11 is the court and wardrobe design, the detailed attention lavished on jewellery, furs and wigs on which Eisenstein must have lavished a large part of his budget. The net result is that Ivan's world is portrayed in purely Asiatic terms with its dance and choral sequences, 'bad element' court advisers and all round factional/family fear and suspicion. Little wonder Stalin had the film shelved after a late night viewing at his dacha with Beria, Molotov etc. If I were Stalin when experiencing a black episode, Eisenstein would probably been consigned to the Gulag, since Ivan 11 accurately depicts conditions in the Red Court during his incumbency.

Rather, Stalin told Eisenstein that he portrayed Ivan as 'too indecisive, like Hamlet', and his only mistakes were'...not cutting the throats of the last five feudal families', and then "letting God get in the way and spending a long time repenting and praying'. (1) This discussion marked Stalin's final separation from his youthful experiences as a seminarian.

And I leave the last word to Jonathon Jones of The Guardian HERE on montage revolutionaries:

Without Lenin, we wouldn't enjoy Hollywood half as much.

(1) Stalin and his Hangmen Donald Rayfied 2005 Random House Page 433

And thanks to Elvis.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Will the Boat sink the Water: Yes, but for very different reasons.

This was a 2003 investigation of the conditions of the peasantry written by Chen Guido and Wu Chuntao, a husband and wife team of writers which you can read about HERE. Chen and Wu's study of social conditions has a long and illustrious tradition beginning with that bon vivant and financial supporter of Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels with his The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844. Most 18th gentlemen with time on their hands investigated this or that aspect of the working class, after a hard day in the family firm's counting house.

Now, do a China google news scroll any day of the week, and Wu and Chen's findings of general pissed-offness in rural communities barely raises an eye brow eight years later. I think I counted two this morning and thats just ones picked up by the media. Beijing no longer publishes the statistics on 'mass incidents' of social disharmony. Try this LINK for a contemporary snapshot.

We know that the poor and the rural poor in particular are getting it in the craw, so let's look at the condition of the fithy, mega-rich in the PRC.

World Crunch reports "that China’s richest dream of one thing: packing up and heading for other countries, especially the West", namely Canada, US and Canada.

According to a new study, a majority of Chinese who have more than 10 million Yuan ($1.53 million) worth of individual assets find the idea of real-estate investment a lot less tempting than so-called “investment emigration.” Nearly 60% of people interviewed claim they are either considering emigration through investment overseas, or have already completed the process, according to the 2011 Private Wealth Report on China published by China Merchants Bank and a business consulting firm Bain & Company. The richer you are, the study suggests, the likelier it is that you resort to emigration. And among those who possess more than 100 million yuan, 27 % have already emigrated while 47% are considering leaving.

You can pick through the Report for the practical reasons behind this desire to emmigrate. I want to focus on the class dimensions, "the original sin of wealth" and the hatred and envy directed at the mega-wealthy. This spotlights the widening rich-poor divide, China's Gini coefficient and low-level war of attrition directed at the Ferrari class on China's social media.

Another take on the same report HERE also emphasises this class hatred dimension:
It’s true that many of China's rich amassed their wealth in the early years of the country's opening-up during the 1980s, when monitoring systems and regulations were lax, if non-existent. Many now fear they may face hefty fines or even confiscation of their assets if the source of their wealth is uncovered. And so they stash their money abroad.

You can read the China Daily's reponse to this issue HERE..

However, as soon as you look at the amount of money sluicing around the grey economy in China, you also have to question Beijings bragging rights about the foreign reserves held by its financial institutions and wonder just how much wealth is decamping overseas.

Forbes reports that the Chinese have $1.5 trillion in hidden income. By way of perspective, the US deficit is around $13 or $14 trillion. More important, the figures crunched by Professor Wang Xiaolu came up with these astounding numbers:

Almost Rmb10 tn in hidden income, or 30% of GDP. Based on a creative survey technique focusing on the correlation between income and spending patterns, and with over 4,000 samples across 19 provinces in China, Prof. Wang estimates that the per-capita disposable income of urban Chinese households in 2008 should be Rmb32,154, 90% above the official data. Total hidden income could total Rmb9.3 tn, 30% of GDP, with about 63% of hidden income in the hands of the top 10% of urban households.

Victor Shih, my favourite analyst, also looks at Professor Wangs figures within a larger contextHERE.

Okay, enough of this hagiography and think about this. What if the Bo Xilai and the Left Song and Dance crew were forced by changing economic circumstances to take their rhetoric seriously, and decided that some major league wealth redistribution was just what social harmony called for. ie willing to surf the wave of class hatred and envy.

Politicians are pretty well the same the world over, pragmatic, opportunistic and attached to the power and perks of office.

Every farmer would be given a Chery and lamp posts would become multi-purpose utilities.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Fine Cotton Races in Wuhan

The latest newcycle reports that horse racing is to be introduced for the first time in Wuhan since it was banned in 1949.

Prior to his great success in industrial, agricultural and ideological policy, the Great Helmsman had cogitated on sports betting policy, and declared horse racing to be an immoral capitalist pursuit. As readers would be aware, Shanghai previously had a long history of horse racing with its Shanghai Race Club, in addition to being one of the most vibrant cities for prostitution in all Asia

However, unlike normal betting procedures, looking at the odds and putting your money on the nag most likely to win, or even a more ambitious trifecta, the wagering procedures in Wuhan involve the usual Chinese characteristics:

"People can win small prizes if they correctly guess which horse will win the race, but they can't bet on horses like people do during Hong Kong horse racing," Liu Hongqing, spokesperson of Wuhan's Orient Lucky City race course told the newspaper.

Correctly guess, but can't bet on horses. Try and square that circle.

Nonetheless, this is progress when one considers an attempt some 5 years ago to introduce racing to Beijing. A consortium of Australian business smarties collected a large number of race horse wannabees - horses which were never likely to win a race and were destined for the glue factory - and transported them to Beijing, only to find their quangxi had disppeared. The local authorities clamped down and the horses were dispatched to Inner Mongolia, where they no doubt inter-bred with their smaller equine cousins.

Now, when we consider the widespread corruption and match fixing in Chinese football, which I won't even link, a flutter on the Wuhan horsies does not sound like a good idea. Stick to mahgong, dear readers.

Already, Wuhan's horse owners are googling best and most effective racing scams, and of course the Fine Cotton will top the search engine.

The scam involved a syndicate said to be headed by former bloodstock agent John Gillespie, which purchased a horse that looked almost identical to Fine Cotton and performed better. Unfortunately for the syndicate, this horse was injured and unable to race when the ring-in was due to take place. Having already invested money and gone so far, the syndicate decided to find another horse. With time running out, they purchased a horse called Bold Personality, an open-class horse several grades above Fine Cotton.

The syndicate faced a problem in that the horses were different colours. Fine Cotton was an eight year old brown gelding and had white markings on his hind legs, whereas Bold Personality was a seven year old bay gelding with no markings. To overcome this issue, they applied Clairol hair colouring to Bold Personality with limited success. On race day, having forgotten the peroxide to whiten the legs of Bold Personality, they resorted to crudely applied white paint. These poorly conceived attempts to overcome the discrepancies in appearance between the two horses later served to highlight the amateurish nature of the scheme.

Hayden Haitana trainer of equine racing legend Fine Cotton was later jailed for running a prostitution ring.

So thats the horse and flesh trade connection.

Friday, 10 June 2011

KTs Military Affairs Desk: Why the Pacific will turn Red!!!

For the first time in ages, I turned on the TV and caught the ABCs (govt channel) 24 Hour (so-called) News Channel and their report on China's first aircraft carrier. It was a breathless segment on "China's worst kept secret" being refitted in Dalian Harbour and photographed thru a back window of a major supermarket (maybe Carrefour - correction Ikea superstore). Followed by LT Qi, who appeared to have a wonky lower jaw.

"All of the great nations in the world own aircraft carriers -- they are symbols of a great nation," Chen's assistant chief, Lt. Gen. Qi Jianguo, assistant chief of the general staff, told the Hong Kong Commercial Daily. But Jianguo also emphasized that after the carrier was deployed it would "definitely not sail to other countries' territorial waters."

And this segment finished with a flourish with some expert from Foreign Policy rabbiting on about China's blue water fleet ambitions plus her recent aircraft roll outs. The final rhetorical note: 2020 would be the year when China would be able to challenge the US and her allies in the Pacific Lake.

I was rivetted. Totally bloody terrified by these projections and I envisaged Australia's defence mandarins reaching for their latest catalogue from the US Industrial Military Complex and ticking the buy box of all the latest floating and flying must-have items required to defend the nation.

So I had a Tim Tam and a cup of tea and my mind wandered back to my early primary school days. Picture this if you will. Young KT sitting at the back of the class trying to read a comic and also listen to the Catholic teacher pointing at a map of the world. A large portion of said map was coloured in British imperial pink, but there was also this large angry ChiCom red section in the East coagulating south into Malaysia and eventually moving south towards the Great Southern Land.

We are obviously referring to the Malaysian Emergency (1948-1960) which would soon become, we were told, an Oz Emergency.

Having recently read the above book (Media Masters Singapore 2003) by Ching Peng the Communist Party of Malaysia's General Secretary, I can assure readers that the prospects of a Red takeover of Malaysia, Singapore and further points south were non-existent. Incidentally, Chin Peng was the recipient of two British military awards as well as an OBE for his anti-Japanese activites.

One Lai Te was a British agent who betrayed his way to the top the CPM party structure. The British counter-insurgency forces ulitised truly brutal methods including psych-ops, a very effective identity card registration system, extra-judicial murder and Boer War concentration camp methods. The Malay Communists were never able to move beyond their home bases in a couple of Malaysia's inaccessible provinces. In fact, their military threat potential was pretty well neglible. They could't even use the rudimentary radios provided by Beijing until they sent their operators to China for radio communication classes. All in all, not a proud British or Australian moment in their respective military histories.

Returning to the contemporary, read this great piece by David Axe in Wired and titled Relax: China's First Aircraft Carrier is a Piece of JunkHERE. It is long, detailed and has great photos, and it will put your mind at ease. Thanks to ChinaDigitalTimes.


FOARP also addresses this this topic, so flick over to continue your reading.

And if you have time to waste, turn to The Diplomat and read Brad Glosserman's perfectly misguided piece titled Is China Trying to Bankrupt USHERE.

Sleep easy tonight all you citizens of the Free World.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Musical Indulgence.., I Spy for the FBI

No doubt Dear Net Punters, you have read Official and Confidential: The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover by Anthony Summers (1993), one of the many books published on that odious little transvestite, who bought the administration of the US justice system into ill-repute for more than a half a century. Summers does an excellent and well-referenced job documenting Hoover's corruption, vindictiveness, peccadilloes and paraphilias (aberrant sexual behaviours).

Being socially progressive on all matters sexual above the age of consent, I wouldn't normally refer to Hoovers sexual predilections, except that he spent a life time documenting the private lives of individuals he sought to destroy.

Incidentally, Mark Felt, one of the FBI's Deputy Directors,turned out to be Woodward and Bernstein's Deep Throat, the secret source which led to the deep sixing of Richard Milhouse Nixon.

There is no better fictional-factual take on Hoover than James Ellroy's American Tabloid, my copy being personally autographed by the bald, troubled chronicleer of LA noir, circa 1950s-1960s. This was a period when the US Mafia operated with total impunity and all cars had tail fins.

And this brings me to Facebook which is now functioning as a Global World Government thanks to that sweaty juvenile Zuckerberg. Watch ABC, PBS, listen to BBC or any other media in the Free World: log on, join our community and give us your feedback. This is a sickening media devepopment and I hope his current pillow book gives him the clap. Hold on, that's a bit extreme.

Facebook does have a couple of redemming qualities and they all relate to its clips of great past music.

The Yardbirds with Jimmy Page doing a killer version of Train Keeps A Rollin' all Night Long from a New Orleans TV show.

The extended version of Hold On, I'm Coming by Sam and Dave backed by Booker T.

The BBCs very early 60s cleverly choreagraphed/mimed treatment of Shaking All Over by Vince Taylor and his Playboys. As good as Jimmy Heath's (Johnny Kidd and the Pirates) original, and probably better than The Who's version, since Pete Townsend just didn't seem to get the hook riff down pat.

I should also include that bleakest of all US country songsTravelling Man by Hanks Willians with the Buster Keaton visuals. It is right up there with Lefty Frizzel's Long Black Veil and Dan Penn/Spooner Oldham's Dark End of the Street. Tales of infidelity, alcohol abuse, travel lust and murder.

Back for my first paragraph. In 1967 US soulster Jamo Thomas wrote and recorded a killer dance track called I Spy for the FBI, and it went on to became a staple in the northern Brit soul scene, which is to say it filled the floor with Mod types shaking their body parts.

And now to the gold.

Smooth soul crooner Luther Ingrams did a cover version of I Spy.... in 1971. Some one took his version of this dance fluff and added a visual backdrop consisting of the history of the Black Panthers and the FBI's COINTELPRO program which was aimed at effectively murdering off the Panther leadership, and uploaded it onto FB.

This is a stark visual collage of that secret program of FBI sanctioned murder, which also includes references to Hoover's predilections and ends with the FBI murder of community organiser Fred Hampton in Oakland.

It is brilliant, creative and almost justifies the existence of Facebook.

Here is the link since I am working with an old pc and blogger is not a crash hot platform.

About 2.30 minutes long and worth your time.

Next step if FB is to develop real social value.

Someone must give The Barracudas The KGB Made a Man out of Me the same collage treatment.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Tale of Two Fuzhou's..Bombs with & without Social Media

The NYTs and other media have picked up on the recent multiple bombings in Fuzhou in Jiangxi province, so Edward Wong's account is as good as any other:

BEIJING — At least two people were killed and six wounded by three explosions within an hour on Thursday at government office buildings in a city in southern China, according to state news media and a provincial government Web site.

The blasts occurred in the city of Fuzhou in Jiangxi Province between 9 and 9:45 a.m., according to the government posting, which appeared on the province’s propaganda bureau Web site. The first one was at the Fuzhou Procurator’s Office, the second at the Linzhuan District government building and the third in a parking lot at the Linzhuan Food and Drug Administration office.

Xinhua, the state news agency, reported Thursday afternoon that the attacker was Qian Mingqi, 52, an unemployed man. He was killed in one of the explosions, the report said. It was unclear whether he had been counted in the official death toll.

A photograph posted on a Chinese social networking Web site and on the Web site of Phoenix Television, based in Hong Kong, showed a large cloud of smoke rising above a cluster of buildings as scores of people watched from a wide avenue. Other photos and a short video on the Phoenix Television Web site showed government buildings with windows blown out, shattered glass on sidewalks and damaged cars.

The Web site of Xinhua earlier on Thursday had posted an item saying the explosives had been planted by a farmer who was angry with the handling of a court case, which could explain why the first explosion took place at the procurator’s office. That office supervises legal matters in Fuzhou and is responsible for the prosecution and investigation of cases. That posting was deleted by 1 p.m.

By late Thursday afternoon, several Chinese journalists were posting on weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, a link to what they identified as the weibo account of Mr. Qian, who had been publicly chronicling his battle against local officials.

Obviously this lit up the global media because of Mr Qian's use of social media.
Seeing the headlines on Google newsearch, I immediately thought of another incident which took place in Fuzhou, Fujian on 8 August 2005. Here is the account by China Daily:

FUZHOU: A suicide bomber blew himself up on a bus in central Fuzhou yesterday, killing himself and injuring 31 others, local police said.

The blast in the capital of East China's Fujian Province went off at 2:32 pm as the No 5 bus pulled in at the Dongjiekou Stop in Dongda Road, one of the city's busiest streets....

There was a deafening "big bang," said Lin Lina, a female employee working in an office building on the roadside.

"Thick smoke rose into the sky, and we couldn't see or tell what was happening," Lin said...

The shockwave from the home-made explosives was so huge that the windows of a nearby store shattered, according to the website....

Police later said the explosion came from a second-row seat on the right-hand side of the bus.

The suspected bomber, Huang Maojin, died on the spot.

Huang, 42, was a farmer from Fujian's Gutian County.

According to a suicide note found by police, he had been suffering from lung cancer for about two years.

In the letter, Huang said he had a dispute with one of his neighbours in 2002. He claimed he had been unfairly treated by the local public security department and was sentenced to jail until the end of 2003.

He was delayed treatment of his illness, he claimed.

Huang's family was heavily in debt and his children were unable to go to school because of lack of money, the letter said.

The body count was much higher than China Daily reported and there were body parts strewn thru the banjan trees on either side of the road. A friend who lived within minutes of the location took photos. This incident made one brief appearance on local TV news and then disappeared forever. I scootered over that evening and could see that the whole site had been completely sanitised, but you could still see scorch marks.

Furthermore, there is no street called Donjiekou: DonJiekou is the octypus walkway in the centre of the city, and this bus bombing took place a couple of blocks away in a street called Beichi Beilu, although my spelling may be a bit dodgy here.

Angry Chinese Blogger provides additional photos here with thanks.

Fact checking by China Daily. Forgetaboutit.

HERE is a very precise and location specific update on the Jiangxi bomb incident
by Tom Lasseter Miami Herald with thanks.
It leaves the NYTs retrospective recycling reportage in the dust.

Monday, 6 June 2011


Since I have been bothering Adam's site as well as JRs and CMP (see See Sites I Enjoy) about Chongqing's supremo Bo Xilai, there comes a time when one needs to aggregate one's thoughts on this photogenic, chick magnet pol. Consequently, I went looking for a suitable photo of young Bo, when I came across this excellent entry on Chongqing/Bo Xilai by Joel Legendre-Koizumi.

Asian Gazette Blog of Joel Legendre-Koizumi here.

Not only does Joel cover Bo's personal as well a Chongqing's history, which would have been my initial task, but his site is pure eye candy to behold, and I highly recommend it to my half dozen or so readers.

Bo has been getting a lot of media oxygen for his go-go pro-business stance, Red Texting and his faux retro Red Songs programs in both the media and the workplace, as well as his low-cost housing for the less-than-wealthy in his vertical city. Wont be providing links here. Hey, reading is not a passive activity as Roland Barthes et al pointed out in the '70s.

A couple of entres before the main course.

Since the rise and rise of Bo in Chongqing was based on his anti-mafia campaign, here is a must read by John Garnaut on business practices in this now squeakier-than-clean city here. It reads like a thriller and involves bribes by the suitcase load, kidnapping as standard business practice plus provided female companionship.

I should also note that I have already argued that Garnaut did not acquire this dirt firsthand, but throught his friendship with that windbag Yang Hengjun. Back scroll thru ChinaGeeks and China Media Project for my fevered speculations. (Both Garnaut and Yang live in Sydney.) Furthermore, the Bo clique excecised their cross-province influence and scared the living crap out of Yang when he was detained a few months ago in Guangzhou. Yang's attempt to engineer a bit of publicity prior to PM Gillards visit went horribly wrong - a bit like one of his thriller plotlines which went off the rails - and he was reduced to a scribbling idiot here and here after being invited to a very bitter tea party. These are the two key backscrolls noted above.

Every blogger needs their very own CDE.

Now that ChiCom mouthpieces like China Daily etc are beginning to cast a critical eye on the mega-hydro disaster projects like The Three Gorges, it is nice to see that the Chonqqing governemt is able to swim against now-critical public opinion, and get its very own mega dam here

However, any modern Armani suited warlord is not satisfied until he has covered all bases, and Bo does it in spades with his new digital surveillance system here. 500,000 cameras with a centralised feed and costing $2.6 billion. London's Boris Johnson, another charismatic pol, must be green with envy.

Once again Bentham's panoptic principle goes digital and rather than be articulated within a single institutional building, be it a hospital, prison or a school, it can now cover the total public space of a city. Wikipaedia has a particularly good entry here.
As Foucault points out in Discipline and Punish, we are dealing with seriously disciplinary societies with their pervasive ambition to observe and normalise.

"The soul is the effect and instrument of a political anatomy; the soul is the prison of the body". Page 30

Individuals never know when they are being observed, so they adjust their behaviour

So you had better sing out The East is Red with enthusiasm, or else!!!

And if you think our Princeling is impervious to mockery, you would be dead wrong and would be heading for some time in the Big House plus a few struggle sessions.

Crikey, I would be moving to Albania.

Thursday, 2 June 2011


Where better to start than with an image of one of Beijing's artificial ski slopes. An image of one of Beijing's 67 golf courses would have been equally pertinent for a city some 40 kms from the surrounding desert, which is approaching at a fair clip. Having drained its own aquifers, this is also a uber-power metropolis which draws it water supplies from 100plus kms away, at the expense of rural farmers who now barely subsist on husks and stalks.

Time to put it all together, rather than value adding to Sites I Enjoy.
In 1927 Karl Wittfogel published Oriental Despotism: A comparative Study of Total Power.
"This book examines the origins of complex societies and states. Historical in nature, the book identifies the management of water as a method used by Chinese emperors to gain power over their people. The emporers developed "hydraulic societies" which were dependent on complex irrigation systems. Wittfogel felt that the cost of hydraulic construction and its subsequent maintenance required a political and social structure capable of forceful extraction of labor. This led to despotism. "Those who control the (hydraulic) network are uniquely prepared to wield supreme power.(1)"

Wittfogel focusses our attention on socio-political power monopolies and water control, water being the most fundamental of natures resources, and mega wealth the key to its access and fuck the welfare of the peons.

In his view, many societies, mainly in Asia, relied heavily on the building of large-scale irrigation works. To do this, the state had to organize forced labor from the population at large. This required a large and complex bureaucracy staffed by competent and literate officials. This structure was uniquely placed to also crush civil society and any other force capable of mobilizing against the state. Such a state would inevitably be despotic, powerful, stable and wealthy(2).

Again, I refer you to Isabel Hilton and a final quote:

Well, the way China’s approached water management – again, over centuries – is that they’ve always tried to engineer their way out of a problem. There are two approaches: one is conservation and the other is engineering, and the Chinese have always favoured engineering from the Grand Canal onwards.

They still do favour engineering: mega-projects like the Three Gorges Dam, or the big one now, which is the South-North Water Transfer. South China and West China for now have water and they propose this massive bit of engineering which will divert water from the south to the north.(3)

“Water in the south is abundant, water in the north scarce. If possible, it would be fine to borrow a little.” The meglomaniac hand of the Great Helmsman coyly reaching out and inspiring the present leadership in Beijing into another enviromental folly, which you can read about in excruciating detail here.

So lets examine the report card on Folly # 1 The Three Gorges Project costing $US 23 billion plus to build a 2,500ft obstruction using approx 16 billion tons of concrete. Last October it reached optimal hydro capacity at 574 feet, but today's water levels has dropped to 150 ft and is going south as a consequence of climate-change induced drought. "The government says that the least rainfall in at least 50 years has affected some 3.2 million-plus acres of farmland in seven provinces. In five provinces, 4.2 million people are having trouble finding drinking water. In one province, Hunan, which borders Hubei, rain hasn't been so scarce since 1910, a provincial official told the state Xinhua newswire".(4)

If you hit Xinhua news reports you can pick up all manner of piecemeal statistics, but here are some salient points. Hundreds of dams and resevoirs are drying up, incl Lake Dongting the second largest in the country. Fish farms are finito in key wetlands. Shanghai's water supply is under threat. Shipping in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtse is grinding to a halt and provincial power grids are going into serious outages.

Net result. Hiking food prices, social dislocation in affected areas and further loss of valuable farm land. And an impending rat plague I kid you not, and not forgetting a connection to the Wenchuan earthquake here.

Now to connect all the dots which describes this Oriental Despotism.

Like the rest of the world, China is experiencing dramatic climate swings. Floods one month, droughts the next, and these extreme patterns will become more pronounced in time to come. Intensive agriculture and herding practices have been a characteristic of Chinese civilisation for centuries and large parts of north and east China have totally exhausted nature. (Google maps here.) Throw in Mao's misguided agricultural prescriptions, recent and totally unregulated use of fertilisers by farmers trying to squeeze out optimal market potential, and we have what I will term a malignant environmental despotism.

Then we have a politico-demographic despotism. Major population shifts from rural to urban areas and from the hinter-provinces to the seaboard mega cities. I include those politically planned demographic changes in Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang and Tibet. And Beijing has plans for even greater urbanisation of it rural masses in the near future. In short, population engineering on a grand scale, and I'm sure serious scholars can identify numerous historical precedents here. Hardwired mentalites a la Braudel.

Finally, a political elite-money despotism, consisting of extended networks of guanzi, corruption and profit which go into play everytime land is reclaimed for hydro and water diversion projects,urban redevelopment or whatever, enforced by an extensive and despotic machinery of PRCs police/internal security apparatus. Engineering wealth creation for a small minority.

And to wind up my dubious argument, let us look at a how wealth is spent by the well-connected beneficiaries of this engineering mentality. Well, we began with the artificial ski slopes in Beijing, but we could equally focus on the proliferation of golf courses (now euphemistically called nature reserves since their ban in 2004), or even yachts in Shanghai and Hainan island. With the exception of the latter, misdirected water priorities is the common demominator.

Dodgy beginnings I know, but a theoretical line of argument well worth refining, dear readers.

Fn. As there is no wisdom without a slog thru a scholarly article, try this:
China Land Rights: What do Farmers want......

Thanks to Granite Studio for the link clue.

(2) Wikipaedia

UPDATE with thanks. THE CHINA BEAT HEREand an interview with environmental historian Kenneth Pomeranz who emphasises:

"...the link between water problems and rural/urban issues, the connections between water shortages and poor enforcement of environmental regulations, and the ways that both of these are related to tensions between different levels of government".

UP UPDATE. "In 2004, there were about 170 golf courses in China, and today there are nearly 600—despite the fact that development of new courses has been illegal since 2004". Stanley Lubman China Real Time Report.

AND ANOTHER: Jonathon Watts of The Guardian provides an excellent piece of Nothern China aquifer problems HERE.