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The Melbourne Film Festival's Pride and Prejudice
After reading about the hacking of the Melbourne International Film Festival's website in The Age last week, I went looking on Baidu News for some news on the subject. The site had only been hacked a few hours earlier, so most of the articles I found only stated that the site had been hacked, probably by Chinese hackers, and replaced with a Chinese flag and some slogans in English.

Digging a little deeper I found an opinion piece published in the forum section of the Eastday website, originally from Xinhuanet, which I've translated below.

The Melbourne Film Festival's Pride and Prejudice

Source: Xinhua Net
Author: Feng Chuangzhi

26/7/2009, 10:43am

In order to protest against the 28th Melbourne International Film Festival for screening and publicising an "East Turkistan" separatist documentary film, Chinese directors Jia Zhangke, Zhao Liang and Hong Kong (China) director Tang Xiao have, of their own accord, withdrawn all films that were to be screened in the Melbourne International Film Festival in mid August. The films withdrawn include Perfect Life directed by Tang Xiaobai, Cry Me a River directed by Jia Zhangke, and Petition, directed by Zhao Liang. People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) member and noted director Feng Xiaoning said angrily: "The Melbourne organising committee's actions are undoubtedly an open provocation."

In withdrawing the films from screening, Jia Zhangke, Zhao Liang and Tang Xiaobai represent the protest of the Chinese people against the "pride and prejudice" of the Melbourne Film Festival.

In the Western arts world there are those who often attack Chinese art productions for propagating mainstream values, whilst they on the other hand bring politics into their own artistic activities. These people not only flood their artistic activities with their own personal prejudice and ignorance, politically they also subvert the ideologies of other countries, openly trampling upon human rights and supporting terrorist influences. Some "elites" of the West have absolutely no understanding of the history, current situation or the truth of events in other countries. Their interest is in remaking other countries according to their own values, and humiliating other ethnic groups. In order to realise their political goals, they have no misgivings about whether their actions trample upon human rights or support terrorism. The Melbourne Film Festival is simply a small Australian film festival with no world standing. But their elaborate plan to take advantage of political events in order to expand their festival's influence goes to show that some Western artists will stop at nothing to enhance their own name and interests.

Under the pretence of the so-called "universal values" of "democracy, freedom, equality and fraternity", the West has long posed as "defender of human rights". Taking up a cloak of "culture", it attacks and stifles China and other countries with values different to its own. Anyone who protests or who refuses to submit to their rule is subject to their wanton mud-slinging and slander. The withdrawal of films by these Chinese directors expresses the rightful dissatisfaction against this hypocrisy and prejudice.

In the eyes of all Chinese people of all ethnicities, people like Rebiya Kadeer seek to split the country and plot terrorist activities. Allowing a person like Kadeer to freely walk Melbourne is equal and no different to a country recognising the legitimacy of a "terrorist group". In 2005, the United Nations Security Council unanimously passed resolution 1624, strongly condemning actions that incite terrorism, and renouncing any attempt to defend or eulogise terrorist acts, further pointing out that these actions serve to incite further terrorist acts. Why is it, then, that the Melbourne International Film Festival turns a blind eye, and so enthusiastically exalts Kadeer, a woman who incites violent terror? This can only mean that the West judges with double standards. The West harbours a hidden resentment of the completely unified territory of China and its daily advancing prosperity, and constantly seeks to throw China's stable unity into disarray by propping-up these influences.

The economic and cultural fronts of Western society echo one another, and so Western society backs-up Rebiya Kadeer. But the Chinese people will not be afraid, as the schemes of people like Rebiya Kadeer cannot prevail. The decision of Chinese directors to withdraw all their films from the Melbourne International Film Festival in mid-August is a just and righteous act. This act also serves to demonstrate the Chinese people's integrity and resoluteness.

Click here for the original text in ChineseCollapse )

Please note: I'm not a professional translator. This translation will contain errors.


Xinhuanet: Xinhuanet is the website of China's official news agency, the Xinhua (literally "New China") News Agency.

East Turkistan: "East Turkistan" is a name used by those who support independence for China's north-western Xinjiang (in Chinese literally "New Frontier") autonomous region.

Quotation Marks: When reporting on concepts or entities that the Chinese government doesn't recognise, Chinese news generally makes use of enclosing quotation marks ("") around the terms it doesn't agree with. Hence mainland Chinese news refers to the Taiwanese "President" or the Taiwanese "Ministry of Health", because the Chinese government does not consider Taiwan to be a country. Hence we also see here "East Turkistan" placed inside quotation marks. It seems to me as though this use of quotation marks may serve as a subtle form of ridicule, but that's only my own feeling.

Pride and Prejudice: I've seen this term used before when talking about why the iPhone is not yet available in China. The article's charge was (mainly) that it was because of the "pride and prejudice" of Apple and Steve Jobs. I can only presume that somewhere along the line Chinese writers and/or media picked up the term from the title of the book and started using it in news articles.

Translating Chinese News: "Chinese steel enterprise trade secrets discovered in Rio Tinto computers"
Having studied a whole year of Chinese Journalistic Reading (中文报刊阅读) and almost as much News Listening Comprehension (新闻听力)... I thought maybe I'd try putting it to use to see what the Chinese Press are saying about the Rio Tinto / Hu Stern "Corporate Espionage" case. The results: there's a LOT more information and opinion on the matter to be had in the Chinese language Chinese press than there is in the English Language press - Australian, Chinese, or otherwise. I thought it might be interesting to attempt translating a piece or two.

After I showed an opinion piece from the SMH to a Chinese friend as an example of the Australian perspective, he recommended I read the this article to see a Chinese point of view. I've translated it into English below. Comments and corrections welcome.

Trade Secrets of dozens of Chinese steel enterprises discovered in Rio Tinto computers

Rio Tinto "spygate" scandal could drag in two other mining giants.
13/07/2009: According to insiders familiar with the matter, data relating to dozens of steel enterprises having long term contracts and agreements with Rio Tinto has been discovered hidden on computers seized by authorities from Rio's Shanghai office. The data involved relates to steel enterprises' detailed purchase plans, production schedules and raw material stocks. The data even includes explicit details on the monthly production volumes and sales activities of one or more large-scale steel enterprises.

"[Rio Tinto] knows Chinese steel mills like the back of their own hands", the source said. "The miners understand the steel producers' businesses better than even the producers' own bosses."

Operation of "Inside Sources" not a secret

According to reports, the computers seized by police contain detailed analysis of technologies and methods employed by Chinese steel enterprises, and extremely accurate data on production variables. "[The data] does not seem to have been arrived at by conjecture", says the source.

According to those within the industry, "the mining companies' understanding of the behind-the-scenes operation of steel companies may in a large part come from steel company employees responsible for particular parts of business operations." Taking as an example the the case of Tan Yixin {assistant to the General Manager of Shougang Group}, insiders say that although he and Rio Tinto Shanghai Office General Manager Hu Stern had a very good personal relationship, information revealed by Mr Tan to Mr Hu for the most part only included a few particulars of iron ore negotiations. They say that Mr Tan would not have risked himself by providing detailed production information to Mr Stern. Insiders say the information was more likely obtained through staff working in departments responsible for the operation of various parts of the steel enterprises' business.

Senior steel industry figures say that mining company recruitment often emphasises "experience working in large-scale steel production enterprises". This means that many mining company employees are originally personnel from the high levels of Chinese steel enterprises, and are therefore extremely familiar with the enterprises' operations. Even the most recent production and sales information is easily accessible to them through personal connections. "It is certainly quite possible that the mining companies' understanding of the steel producers is obtained through these types of inside sources", industry figures say.

A quick search of Hu Stern's itinerary shows he and his colleagues would carry out on-site inspections at steel mills almost every month. The inspections did not just include industry magnates Baosteel, Shougang and Laigang, but also included visits small and medium sized steel producers, including to Xinsteel, Ping Xiang, and Jingye.

"Hu Stern's appearances were in order to establish high-level relationships. Detailed information was then collected by his colleagues at the lower levels", say staff members at Hebei Iron & Steel Group. According to staff members, mining company representatives would make visits almost every month. Telephone calls were even more frequent, coming at least once a week. According to industry insiders, "personal connections" between mining and steel production companies were very close. Apart from the usual "kickbacks", mining company personnel would also give gifts to steel company counterparts at Chinese New Year and other festivals. "Gifts were not only given at high levels, even those responsible for work at the mid-levels of the company received gifts."

Three Mining Giants "in the same pair of trousers"?

Even if the current case against Rio Tinto does not further expand, there are already a variety of signs to indicate that the other two of the "three mining giants" most likely found it difficult to operate independently, and exclusively in their own interests.

"From the perspective of transaction motivators, the "three mining giants" have a union of common interest. For Rio Tinto, it would not have been worthwhile taking on the risks whilst allowing the other two sit back and enjoy the benefits. Therefore I believe that 'Spygate' could yet drag in BHP and Vale (CVRD)." OCN {a Chinese investment consultant} head of energy research Jiang Xu believes that "inside information" and bribery have become the "hidden rules" of the steel industry. Suspicion that Rio Tinto has been caught using these "hidden rules" to its own advantage does not eliminate the possibility that BHP and Vale also copied these methods in their own deals.

BHP's large-scale entertainment of guests from Chinese enterprises - including large steel enterprises - during last year's Olympic Games previously attracted large-scale controversy. What BHP termed "building personal ties" has been criticised as commercial bribery.

According to industry insiders, "even though negotiations take place separately, the mining companies all make contact with each other in advance." In previous rounds of iron-ore initial price negotiations, when an agreement is reached with any of the iron ore producers it becomes the initial iron ore price for the current year, and the remaining producers follow suit under the same terms and conditions. In reality, this ties the three mining giants together as a single interest group.

"As soon as searches are made, [BHP and Vale] will be unable to escape implication", Steel Authority personnel told this reporter on 13 July. The only remaining question is when will the Chinese side get involved.

Click here for the original text in ChineseCollapse )

Disclaimer: I'm not a professional translator. This translation will contain errors.

写信 (Write a Letter)
Task: Write a letter. I decided to pretend I was writing to a previous teacher in Sydney. Comments always welcome.

(NB. this letter is not properly formatted in terms of indents, alignment, etc.)











“如果。。。” (If...)
Our most recent task in writing class was to write ~600 chars in class time, given the topic: “如果。。。” (If...). I was glad to be given a writing task in class time for once, instead of having to do it for homework.

Anyhow. I only made it to about 450 characters in the end. It took me half an hour to think of something to write, then 90 minutes to actually write. To match my mood at the time, I settled on "What if I was back home now, and not in Beijing?", and how much nicer it would be to be laying on the beach with friends, instead of writing essays in cold, smoggy Beijing. Then I got to writing about what one learns about one's self, one's country and one's culture when one experiences and studies another. So I eventually managed to write something that sounded half positive.

I really must say I don't enjoy this writing class. I do like seeing the finished product, and I'm sure it's one of the more useful things I could be doing to advance my Chinese... but I think next semester I might choose a spoken Chinese elective instead.





Another short essay, this one for my General Intermediate Chinese class. The task was to write about someone interesting in your life. I chose a classmate.






More Chinese homework: Short Story
The brief this time was to write a short story told partially in narrative form, and partially in dialogue form. I procrastinated for days because I couldn't think of anything to write about, I eventually settled on writing about my last two days in Sydney a week ago.

I'm sure this one is not all that good, so if anyone still reads my LJ and wants to correct me, please do so :)




父母十年前离了婚,所以他们两个人不住在一起了。我爸爸的家离城市很远。妈妈听到我说的事就知道,我得坐火车去哪儿取护照,因此不能跟她一起吃晚饭了。她的声音透露了一点失望的感觉,但是她只对我说:“别紧张,你去吧。今天晚饭就算了,明天我送你去机场,我们那时候在路上会说一会话。” 我也很失望。我因为太粗心,现在不能跟妈妈一起度一下时间了。不过,没有护照就不能上飞机。我没有办法,只好去取了。





(Some details embellished for the sake of writing a more interesting story)

Short Essay: MP3: Invention and Development
I wrote this recently for my elementary Chinese writing class. The task was to write approx. 400 characters about the invention of something.

Comments & assistance welcome.

MP3: 发明和发展

MP3是一种数字音频压缩格式,在1992年,由来自荷兰Ven Derkhof、德国Stoll、法国Dehery和德国Brandenburg的音频工程师集体发明的。MP3全称“动态影像专家压缩标准音频层面三”(英文:“Motion Picture Experts Group Audio Layer 3”),本来是编码VCD和数字视频使用的,不过早在1994年已经成为了一种独立的数字音频格式。




(Acknowledgments: Information from en.Wikipedia and Baidu Baike (who ripped it from Wikipedia). Some terms/vocab also taken from Baike.)

Being a Leftie
I came across another left-handed westerner in the library at my school the other day, so I just had to go up to him and ask him if he's as frustrated with learning to write Chinese left-handed as I have been.

I have always been curious as to how much of my difficulties with writing Chinese characters are related to my being left-handed, and how much are just normal difficulties that are common to all adult learners of Chinese script.

Me and Mike had the following things in common:
  1. Difficulty drawing straight horizontal lines from left to right

  2. Difficulty getting the ends of lines to 'look right'

  3. Difficulty getting some curved lines to 'look right'

  4. Having spent a *lot* of time trying to find the "right" pen/pencil and paper... and the quality of our writing being very dependant on what pen/pencil & paper we are using

  5. Having some success with fine-tipped 'gel' ballpoint pens, but having the ink mysteriously 'run out' half-way through a sentence or character

I think I've mostly overcome item no. 1, but Mike has not yet. The problem is that horizontal strokes in the Chinese writing system are supposed to be drawn from left to right, and not right to left. For a right-hander, this means that you start with the pen extended away from your hand and you pull it back towards your hand. For a left-hander, this means that you push the pen away from your had to draw the line.

It is much easier to draw a straight line when "pulling" than when "pushing". When "pulling", the motion is similar to flicking the pen back towards your hand. This requires less control and results in less friction between the pen and the paper. In contrast, the left-handed "pushing" motion is harder to control, and there is more friction between pen and paper, because in pushing the pen away from your hand you also push against the paper. The extra friction makes it more difficult to write a smooth, flowing line.

I have managed to mostly overcome this through practice, and my solution has been to use a fair bit of force when "pushing" the pen away from my hand, left-to-right. The force overcomes the friction, and allows me to draw a fairly straight line. I also need to draw the line quickly in one fast motion, to ensure that it is straight. This means I have less control over when the line stops, but through practice I have managed to learn by habit the amount of starting force required for different length lines, and how to stop the pen/pencil roughly where I want it.

With regard to no. 2, difficulty in getting the ends of the lines right, I am grateful to a TAFE teacher I had a few years ago for pointing out the following, er, point:

If I'm lucky, you should see a large brush-script style Chinese character 文 above. Depending on what font your computer uses to render it, you may or may not have trouble seeing what I'm talking about.

This character demonstrates what happens to lines drawn diagonally from top left to bottom right, top right to bottom left. Notice that the stroke drawn from top-right to bottom-left (kinda like this: /) starts with a relatively thick line and ends with a relatively thin one; the top-left to bottom-right stroke (\) starts light (thin) and ends heavy (thick).

This is part of the style of Chinese characters, and is important if you want your writing to look nice. If you are a right-handed pen/pencil user, it comes fairly naturally to you and it has to do with the natural forces involved in writing. When you draw a line away from your hand, as your hand moves further away, less pressure is exerted and the angle of the pen changes. When drawing a line towards your hand, the pressure becomes greater as the pen moves towards your hand.

The changes in pressure and pen angle result in thicker line-endings in one direction, and thinner line-endings in the other. For a right-hander, this fairly naturally results in your curved lines looking like the ones in 文 above. For a left-hander, the opposite is natural.

I have managed to mostly overcome this by consciously drawing thin, light ends when they are required and heavy, thick ends when those are needed. This does not come naturally to me as it does to a right-hander, and has required some effort in order to make it a habit.

In my search for left-handed Chinese script writing tips (largely fruitless) I came across this video which explains left-handed writing issues to English-language primary school teachers and parents. I really, really wish that my parents & teachers had seen similar materials when I was learning to write, as I think that my style would be a whole lot better had I been taught according to some of the information in this video. If you're a leftie, you'll probably love this... if you're not, you might still find it interesting:


I think that's way too much for one post, I'll write about the remaining issues (curved lines, implements and paper) in my next update.

Haxoring teh Interweb
I have bypassed the Chinese govt's internet filter (it's not particularly hard) and now I can access LiveJournal, and best of all, BBC News in Chinese. (Parts of the BBC's English version are sometimes accessible from China... but I would rather try reading the Chinese version, so I need to bypass the filter.)

It's a bit slow, but it's fairly secure. I can access basically anything I want, and I don't have to worry about anyone eavesdropping on me, because the connection is encrypted.

The details:

ssh dk@sych.org -D

... and in System Prefs, Network, I have set up as a SOCKS proxy.

(sych.org is hosted on a virtual server I rent from hub.org, and it's in South America. This causes all my traffic to be relayed through that server via the SSH session.)

So I'll write something interesting and less techy next time... but yeah, here I am, back again :)


I left Sydney on Saturday and spent Sat-Mon in Singapore (mostly with JV, but I also saw Vic and Steve) and Mon-now in Hong Kong with Gene.

When I was back in Sydney people were asking if I was nervous about going to Beijing. At the time I said no... but now that it's only a few hours away I'm starting to feel it a little bit. I'm also pretty excited. It's going to be damn cold, and I'm going to find out how good or bad my Mandarin really is. :)

I'll write more about Singapore, Hong Kong and Beijing soon. I'm also going to update this journal a bit more often. Right now though, I have a flight to catch...