Archive | December, 2013

Happy Mao-mas!

24 Dec

maoAs you’re all tucking into your turkey sandwiches on Boxing Day, there’ll be a celebration of a slightly different kind up Beijing way. Yup, December 26th will mark the 120th anniversary of the birth of Mao Zedong, the man who launched 1,000 ironic t-shirts as well as being the founding father of modern Communist China.

Considering he managed to bump off an estimated 50 million of his own people thanks to a fateful combination of woeful economic mismanagement and egomaniacal hubris it’s a wonder the old chairman has managed to retain such iconic status in the Middle Kingdom. Well, I say it’s a wonder but it’s not really, considering the party he founded and swept to victory over Chiang Kai-Shek’s Kuomintang nationalists has always put self-preservation and media control above all else.

So it is 120 years after he was born that the man who now sits in his throne at the apex of state and party, Xi Jinping, is turning the screws even more on the country’s media. You’ve got to hand it to the Party, this time last year it was difficult to see how media controls could even get any tighter.

New guidelines released this week urge the industry: “Strengthen the management of the media, do not provide channels for the propagation of the wrong points of view”. Ostensibly this is a request to self-regulate, but we all know what the alternative is: sack-cloth, unmarked van, detention.

As if that weren’t enough there are plans to put local propaganda officials in charge of the journalism programmes at 10 of China’s top universities. This takes care of the next batch of freshly pressed, brainwashed reporters, but what about those who may still harbour some desire to dig for the truth in modern China? Well, Xi’s thought of that too. Back in August the Party announced that China’s 300,000+ hacks would be sent back to school to study Marxism classes.

“I’ve studied Marxism for so many years, the more I study it, the less I understand it,” a Beijing-based journo told the SCMP.

You know what? I think that’s exactly the point.

Happy Mao-mas everyone!

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Airpocalypse NOW: China’s netizens slam smog spin sham

12 Dec

smog spaceIn the world of spin there are few who can claim to have reached the very pinnacle of their art. Alastair Campbell swore and bullied New Labour to three general election victories. Fair play you horrible man. Shane Warne managed somehow to put Liz Hurley in such a spin that she had sex with him….more than once by all accounts. Then there is Sri Lankan Muttiah Muralitharan, probably the greatest spinner of all time, who bowled himself to 800 First Class wickets.

They all pale in comparison with the Communist Party of China, who this week via state-controlled media tried to put a positive spin on the country’s airpocalyptic smog problem. The article on national broadcaster CCTV’s web site incurred such a savage backlash from the country’s feisty netizens that it was soon withdrawn, but the Streisand effect has been at full throttle ever since. The broadcaster clearly needs to learn a thing or two from the Daily Mail about link-baiting. If you’re going to post something this offensive you might as well leave it up to get the clicks.

In short, the article highlighted “five surprising benefits from China’s haze”. Not “deadly and entirely man-made fog”, you understand, but “haze” – as one might see on a hot summer’s day in Kensington Park. Whether it was a jokey attempt to play down the carcinogenic clouds that have closed down major cities including Shanghai and Harbin in recent months, is unclear. One thing that is though – if you’re a mouthpiece of the central government, don’t make light of a problem which is causing people to quite literally cough up their lung sacks.

So without further ado, here are the five benefits of cancerous smog as translated by Tea Leaf Nation (comments added by your Noodle):

  • It brings China together. Yup, smog is EVERYWHERE – it affects cities big and small, towns and villages. British people love to talk about the weather – it’s the social glue that holds the nation together. In China they can’t because, well, they can’t see the weather.

  • It makes Chinese people more equal. Kind of a development of the last point. The idea here is that choking smog is indiscriminate – all must kneel before its deadly power. The only slight problem with this argument is that the families of Communist Party members either live abroad or rarely even need to visit the outdoors. They simply glide along on floating money from one air conditioned luxury shopping mall to another.

  • It gives the Chinese an opportunity to display their fabulous sense of humour – cracking wise about the smog. Well, the author certainly misjudged that one.

  • It raises awareness about pollution. Yup, fair point. But awareness has been raised now. I think people would generally quite like their kids to begin breathing non-carcinogenic air.

  • It makes people more knowledgeable. Again, kind of similar to the previous point, but also similarly trumped by the fact that the whole choking air thing is getting a bit old now. The author apparently postulates that “our knowledge or meterology, geography, physics, chemistry and history has progressed” thanks to the smog, and locals have even learned the English words for “haze” and “smog”. Perhaps the author has learned the words for “unpaid leave” by now too.

    For the record, things have gotten so bad on the smog front that Beijing has even been forced to enlist the help of one of its supercomputers – the Tinahe-1A, to help crunch some numbers. The hive mind will be tasked with analysing what conditions foment the perfect smoggy storm so they can be avoided in the future. No doubt the power-hungry supercomputer will be fuelled by a lovely clean coal power station. Oops.

From opium to pig jizz: Cameron turns on the charm in China

6 Dec

david cameronDavid Cameron has been in China this week on the “can you spare some change?” tour. Along with an enormous entourage of business leaders, ministers and other hangers-on, he whored his way around the Middle Kingdom trying to promote a free trade agreement with Beijing and broker more lucrative financial deals for the UK.

He managed to do all of this, of course, in a spectacularly obsequious and utterly humiliating manner. No mention of human rights, Tibet, online censorship or even the increasingly vulgar attempts by the Communist Party to intimidate journalists over here. When US Veep Joe Biden is making you look wilfully out-of-touch by raising the matter with Beijing, it’s probably time for a strategy rethink. You kowtowing cock.

So what was the highlight of the week? A contender was surely China’s subtle attempt to assassinate our PM via air pollution in Shanghai that topped 400 on the AQI today – literally off the scale. But no, my top pick was Wheeler Dealer Dave shaking on a £45 million contract to export pig semen to China. Yup. Apparently the Chinese have an insatiable appetite for the stuff – pork not pig wank – and this high quality jizz will go some way to sustaining the largest pig population on Earth. Apparently Dave joked that is was like “selling coals to Newcastle”. Given that my home town hasn’t exported coal for over one hundred years, we should probably update this phrase for the 21st century. How about “like selling pig spunk to China”? Yeah, that’ll do.

In a related story – bear with me – Hong Kong’s female population is positively crying out for jizz, although presumably with the caveat it must be human, according to The Atlantic. The gender imbalance in the SAR has apparently reached epic proportions, with over 200,000 women living alone according to the 2011 Census. The depressing reality is that one in five born today will apparently stay single for the rest of their lives. Sorry girls.

My advice: go out and get drunk once in a while. Going shopping with your parents every weekend is not normal behaviour for anyone past puberty. We all know the first step towards a stable, loving relationship is getting twatted almost to the point of blindness and then pulling a random in a bar. Never did me any harm anyway.

Been there, done that, drank all the cider: Clockenflap 2013

2 Dec

clockenflapWell that’s it for another year. After three days, 30,000 visitors, over 100 bands and thousands of pints of cider, we bid farewell to Clockenflap 2013. This year was my second time at Hong Kong’s one and only festival and it’s definitely getting better – line-up and organisation wise – but not without one or two schoolboy errors.

Still, if you live in Hong Kong and decided not to go on a gloriously sunny weekend you should be asking some pretty serious questions of yourself. Even if you don’t particularly like live music and/or have kids. Seriously…

In the end we left happy, drunk and pretty much broken on Sunday night, so I’d say job well done Clockenflap. 2ManyDJs played us out perfectly in beats and whirrs and pounding pounding techno music by way of Kavinsky, Boys Noize, Erol Alkan, MGMT, New Order and too many others to remember.

Rather than ramble on any longer, here’s my Top 10 Haps on the ‘Flaps:

1)     International school kids don’t know how to queue, or get drunk gracefully. They do, however, know how to talk loudly whilst wearing skinny jeans

2)     No festival should EVER run out of cider on the second day. Thankfully normal service resumed on Sunday.

3)     There’s no better backdrop to a music festival anywhere in the world. You can keep your rolling green fields of cow shit Glastonbury, I’ll take the neon-lit urban chaos of Hong Kong harbour front thanks.

clockenflap silent disco

4)     Someone at the Flaps needs to take a course in sound engineering. Poor old Metric had a bit of a rough time on Sunday eve.

5)     10pm is way too early to end a festival, but being 20 minutes from home is bloody brilliant.clockenflap 2013 crowd

6)     If you’re going to market free water machines as part of the event, better make sure they actually work.

7)     Nile Rogers wrote a few songs mind didn’t he? Diana Ross to Daft Punk via David Bowie in just under 90 minutes. Legend.

8)     Can we have more outdoor music in Hong Kong please? It’s not like they’re doing anything else with that piece of parkland-cum-waste ground in West Kowloon.

9)     Cider tastes 100 times better outdoors, lying in the sun, listening to indie music.

10)  Why can’t more DJs be as good as 2ManyDJs?

duk ling hong kong

lights clockenflap

bar sign

hitchcock mask

There are more pictures and vids here. See you at BloHK Party!