Tuesday, August 31, 2010

An American journalist reports from China's west

By Anthony Vasquez

CARSON, Calif. — In light of recent ethnic violence in western China, the Chinese government has tried to emphasize that its policies are bringing prosperity to the region. One way of doing this is to give foreign reporters a guided tour.

Mary Kay Magistad, a reporter for Public Radio International’s The World, participated a few weeks ago in such a trip organized by the Foreign Ministry. In her blog posts and radio stories, she explains that the government has relaxed laws prohibiting foreign reporters from interviewing people, but that there is still local resistance to this change in policy.

Magistad traveled through the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, home to the Turkic-speaking and predominantly Muslim Uighurs and largely Tibetan Qinghai Province in western China. Though some in the government claim to want greater freedoms for foreign reporters, organizers of these government-sponsored trips include destinations to government-run factories or places where the people awaiting them toe the government’s line. In a Tibetan monastery in Qinghai, local officials stayed near. As she wrote in her blog:

The purpose of Foreign Ministry-organized trips has long been to sell a certain way of looking at an issue. The more sensitive the issue, the more careful the organizers tend to be to make sure foreign journalists don’t have time to stray off-piste.

But she also said there are advantages to joining a government tour: reporters have the chance to speak to otherwise hard to interview government officials. Although she could have legally traveled on her own through these same areas, Magistad said that there is value in seeing both what is happening in these parts of China and how the Chinese government wants to generate its own story, one that glosses over the conquest and unequal development of these formerly independent lands.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

A look back at the World Cup 2010

By Anthony Vasquez

It’s been three weeks since the final between Spain and The Netherlands took place in Johannesburg last July 11. Now in brief a quick summary of the East Asian teams’ showing this time around folows.

North Korea and Australia, which is part of the Asian Football Confederation, did not get out of the first round. Australia lost to Germany 4-0, tied with Ghana 1-1, and defeated Serbia 2-1. North Korea did much worse losing its three games: 2-1 against Brazil, 7-0 against Portugal, and 3-0 against Ivory Coast. It gave up the most goals of any team in the tournament with a total of 12 goals.

South Korea and Japan made it to the Round of 16. In its last game of the competition, South Korea lost to Uruguay 2-1. In its match against Paraguay, Japan tied 0-0 after 120 minutes of play. Paraguay won the shootout from the penalty line that followed 5-3 and moved on to lose against Spain.

Both South Korea and Japan demonstrated that they are teams with the potential to move beyond the first round of the playoffs. In the 2002 Korea Japan tournament, South Korea did just that, making it as far as the semifinals. In the Third-place game against Turkey, South Korea lost 3-1.

Japan has not made it past the Round of 16. With some changes, the team may just do so next time.

Though no Chinese speaking nation was in this World Cup, there is a Chinese-English bilingual version of K Naan’s song “Wavin’ Flag.” Below is a video of it.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

New documentary on China's modernization

By Anthony Vasquez

This past Monday the BBC World Service broadcast the first of a four-part radio documentary series about China’s increasingly prominent role in world affairs. The series, called China: Shaking the World, features reporting by Michael Robinson.

Robinson calls China’s quest for global economic, political and social relevance “the story of the biggest attempted comeback in political history.”

In Part One, Robinson reports on China’s infrastructure boom, including the government’s ambitions of high-speed rail lines to Singapore and India. He also travels to Chongqing, where he interviews the manager of its port on the Yangtze and visits the site planned for a new high-tech complex that is to employ as many as 300,000 workers.

He talks to a couple whose home sits on land that will be incorporated into the complex. When asked whether or not they will miss their home, they say that they will, but are thankful for what their government has done for them.

The next part, scheduled to air on July 19, is to focus on the international tensions that China’s industrial revolution is creating.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

World Cup Update

By Anthony Vasquez

The group stage has ended in the World Cup 2010. The round of 16 has started and both South Korea and Japan qualified.

Japan will face Paraguay on Tuesday. South Korea qualified, but lost to Uruguay 2-1 on Saturday.

South Korea placed second in Group B. After a 2-0 win over Greece two weeks ago, the team fell to Argentina 4-1. In their last match of group play, South Korea tied with Nigeria 2-2.

Last Saturday in Nelson Mandela Bay/Port Elizabeth, South Korea and Uruguay competed for a spot in the quarter finals. Luis Suarez scored both of Uruguay’s goals, one in the 8th minute and another in the 80th. Prior to Suarez’s goal, South Korea’s Lee Chung Yong scored in the 68th minute to tie the game 1-1. Suarez’s second goal put Uruguay up for good. Uruguay moves on to face Ghana, which defeated the United States also on Saturday, 2-1 with the winning goal in overtime.

A quote from South Korea’s coach, Huh Jung-Moo, read in part:

Uruguay were just fortunate enough to get those goals. We played very well but we ought to have played a bit more intelligently. Our players never gave in and they never stopped trying to overcome the obstacles in front of them.
-- Quoted from FIFA.com

Click here to read more quotes

Japan placed second in Group E. It won its opener against Cameroon 1-0. In its second game, the Netherlands won 1-0. Last Thursday, Japan defeated Denmark 3-1. If Japan wins on Tuesday in Pretoria, it will be the first time that the team is in the quarter finals. The team played well against Denmark and if it keeps up that level of play, there’s a chance for an upset.

Not to be forgotten, North Korea lost its three games in group play. First came a 2-1 loss to a Brazilian team that struggled with the North Korean defense. Next came Portugal's onslaught of goals, which ended in a 7-0 rout. This was the so-called Group of Death, afterall. North Korea, if only slightly, redeemed itself by losing 3-0 to Ivory Coast.

With Australia having placed last in its group, Japan is the sole representative from the Asian region. Their Tuesday match against Paraguay starts at 4:00 p.m. in South Africa, 11:00 p.m. in Japan, and 7:00 a.m. Pacific in the United States.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

South Korea's World Cup 2010 song

By Anthony Vasquez

In a few hours South Korea will take on one of the world’s soccer powerhouses: Argentina. On the field, South Korea has the chance to show that it is ready to compete in the higher rounds of the competition. But off the field, a South Korean pop group has already shown that their World Cup-themed song has sticking power.

There are two big theme songs for this tournament. Shaqira’s “Waka Waka” is the official one (the link is for the English version). There is also K Naan’s “Wavin’ Flag.” But Super Junior, a very popular group in South Korea has their own song: “Victory Korea.”

World Cup fever and South Korean pop have met. In an ESPN online poll of 11 World Cup-themed songs from the United States, England, Germany, Australia and South Africa, this song garnered more than 90 percent of the vote. More than 13,000 people voted.

Below is the music video from YouTube. Here is a link to an article with links to the songs.

World Cup inspires global music surge
By Matthew Glenesk
June 10, 2010

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

North Korea scores, still loses to Brazil

By Anthony Vasquez

The last time the North Korean national team played in the World Cup was in 1966 in England. Earlier today, they played Brazil and lost 2-1 in Johannesburg.

After a scoreless first half in which Brazil had its chances to make some goals, the North Korean defense proved itself a legitimate rival to the five-time World Cup champion. According to the latest FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking, Brazil was 1st and North Korea was 105th. A draw with Brazil would have made big news indeed.

It was in the 55th minute, however, that Maicon scored Brazil’s first. In the 72nd minute, Elano added to the lead, making it 2-0. Though it appeared that Brazil might score again, it was not to be. In the 89th minute, North Korea’s Ji Yun-Nam rushed toward the Brazilian goal and scored.

The official attendance of the game was 54,331. ESPN Soccernet's Leander Schaerlaeckens reported that wind chills during the night game were in the 20s.

North Korea’s next game is against Portugal on Monday June 21 in Cape Town. Kick off is at 1:30 p.m., 8:30 p.m. in North Korea, and 4:30 a.m. Pacific in the United States.


The Christian Science Monitor
Brazil vs. North Korea: Kim Jong Il's soccer soldiers hold firm, deny Brazil goal fest
By Andrew Downie
June 15, 2010

Brazil - Korea DPR
June 15, 2010

Monday, June 14, 2010

Japan defeats Cameroon in World Cup

By Anthony Vasquez

Earlier today in Johannesburg, Japan defeated Cameroon 1-0 boosting the team’s chances of advancing to the next round of the World Cup 2010.

Keisuke Honda scored the games only goal in the 39th minute. Cameroon had several chances to score, including a Stephane Mbia kick to the crossbar late in the game. With the victory, Japan earned its first win in a World Cup tournament outside of Japan. Takeshi Okada, Japan’s coach, seemed unimpressed with the way his team played.

I think we’ll need to be more aggressive in the future, though. This match is only our preparation for the second one and we still need to improve. I don’t think it was a great success – what’s important is the next game.
-- Quoted from FIFA.com, june 14, 2010

Steven Bloomfield, contributor for The Christian Science Monitor, wrote of the match, “The standard of many of the early games has not been great, but for 45 minutes this Group E encounter between Japan and Cameroon threatened to plumb new depths.”

Japan’s next opponent is the Netherlands, which defeated Denmark 2-0 today. The Netherlands, one of the best teams in the world, will put Japan to the test.

The game is next Saturday in Durban. Kick off is at 1:30 p.m. local time, 8:30 p.m. in Japan, and 4:30 a.m. Pacific in the United States.


Japan - Cameroon - the matches of 2010 World Cup South Africa
June 14, 2010
This page contains quotes from the coaches of each team as well as from the players.

The Christian Science Monitor
Japan vs. Cameroon: Japan tames the Indomitable Lions, 1-0
By Steve Bloomfield
June 14, 2010

Sunday, June 13, 2010

In World Cup, South Korea sits atop Group B

By Anthony Vasquez

South Korea defeated Greece 2-0 in its first game of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa on Saturday.

Lee Jung-Soo scored seven minutes into the game in Nelson Mandela Bay/Port Elizabeth. Seven minutes into the second half, captain park Ji-Sung scored. Greece, now down by two goals, fought hard to come back, but in the end did not score. In Seoul, up to 50,000 people gathered in the city hall plaza to watch the game on giant television screens.

“It’s still too early to say that the Korea of 2002 are back, but what’s certain is that we were able to use our speed to maximum advantage,” Lee toldFIFA.com. “We expected the Greeks to be slow. We knew that even if they were bigger and more physical than us, we had to use our speed as our principal strength.”

In the 2002 World Cup which South Korea and Japan jointly hosted, South Korea finished fourth in the tournament after losing 3-2 to Turkey. In the Germany 2006 World Cup, South Korea did not make it beyond the first round.

South Korea’s next match is on Thursday June 17 against Argentina. Argentina, which won its opener on Saturday against Nigeria 1-0, is second in Group B because of South Korea’s goal advantage. Argentina is a formidable opponent.

Kick off in Johannesburg is at 1:30 p.m. local time, 8:30 p.m. in South Korea, and 4:30 a.m. Pacific in the United States. ESPN will broadcast in English,
ESPN3.com will have a Korean language stream, and Univision will broadcast in Spanish.


Agence France-Press by way of FIFA.com
Koreans celebrate victory in style
June 13, 2010

Korea Rrepublic - Greece - the matches of 2010 World Cup South Africa
June 12, 2010

Injection of pace drives Korea Republic
June 12, 2010

Associated Press by way of Huffingtonpost.com
2010 World Cup Live Coverage Expands on the Web, Cell Phones
By Jake Coyle and Sangwon Yoon
june 9, 2010

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Nómadas goes to Beijing

By Anthony Vasquez

This past weekend, the travel radio show Nómadas from Spanish National Radio featured the city of Beijing.

Nómadas (which in Spanish means Nomads), has been on the air on Spanish public radio and online for more than a year and a half now. The show, narrated in Spanish by Álvaro Soto, has taken listeners to many fascinating places around the world including Ecuador, New Zealand, Iceland, Mumbai and Tuvalu, among dozens of others.

The Beijing show features a trip to the Drum Tower, the Temple of Heaven, and Tiananmen Square. Along with these short segments, the show includes short features on Chinese food, Chinese cinema, and the history of Beijing.

Nómadas has showcased other places in China. Last February a show on Hong Kong was published. The show has also traveled to Lhasa, the capital of the Tibetan Autonomous Region, and Yunnan province.

Shows are broadcast on Spanish National Radio every Saturday morning at 7:00 Spanish Time (GMT +1:00). They are usually online by the following Monday.

You can check withWorld Time Engine to see the current time in mainland Spain.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Creating Shangri-la

By Anthony Vasquez

The meeting between President Barack Obama and the Dalai Lama in the White House earlier this month briefly put Tibet in the headlines once again. Beijing’s public show of disappointment with the event was expected.

For many in the United States, Tibet is viewed as a land of peace, a place where for centuries spiritual liberation has been found amid the Himalayas. Beginning in the late 1980s, the Free Tibet movement has given the current Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, a chance to tell the world of China’s invasion and occupation of Tibet and continuing human rights violations there.

Of course, it is not as though Tibet had a utopian society before the People’s Liberation Army made its way onto the Tibetan Plateau in 1950. As with most things, it is more complicated than that.

Donald S. Lopez Jr., author of Prisoners of Shangri-La, uncovers the sources of some myths about Tibet, myths which Lopez argues that when told as fact undermine an honest appraisal of contemporary Tibet and the Tibetan people’s future.

In “Seven Things You Didn’t Know about Tibet”, Lopez outlines his argument. Here is an excerpt from the article:

"Shangri-La" is a fictional name for Tibet. James Hilton invented the name in his 1933 novel Lost Horizon, which was made into a film by Frank Capra in 1937. "Shangri" has no meaning in Tibetan; "La" means "mountain pass." The name is apparently a garbling of Shambhala, a mythical Buddhist kingdom in the Himalayas. "Shangri-La" quickly came into common usage as a place where all that is good and true is preserved.

The Chinese government has capitalized on the allure of Tibet. In 2002, a town in Yunnan Province was renamed to Shangri-La and the tourists have been pouring in.


The China Beat
Reading Round-Up: Barack Obama and the Dalai Lama
February 18, 2010

The Wall Street Journal
Shangri-La, or Not
By Leslie Hook
November 3, 2008

BBC News
Regions and territories: Tibet

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Crossing into Arizona

By Anthony Vasquez

Despite the chance of failure and a steep price, some Chinese still take the risk of entering the United States illegally.

The prospect of a better life here continues to draw people to come here undocumented. The U.S. Border Patrol reported that in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 332 Chinese were detained in the Tucson sector, a dramatic jump from the 30 caught the year before.

Smuggling Chinese immigrants is a lucrative business. A price tag of $40,000 is typical. With increased security in the nation’s ports, smuggling Chinese across Arizona’s Sonoran Desert is a safer option. Most of these recent immigrants are from Fujian Province in southeastern China opposite Taiwan.

The first Chinese arrived in the United States during the mid-1800s and settled mostly in the West. Attracted by the California Gold Rush, thousands came with high hopes. Segregationist laws against Chinese immigrants were passed late in the century, laws not repealed until World War II.

Beginning in the 1980s, many Chinese from Fujian began coming here illegally. But now instead of sneaking them in on cargo ships, smugglers use fake documents to fly them to Mexico. From there it’s on to the United States. U.S. border officials say that Mexican smuggling groups are also involved.

Peter Chan, A businessman in Tucson who also works as an interpreter for the federal court there told The New York Times that the immigrants left China due to a lack of educational and employment opportunities.


New York Times
In Arizona, a Growing Stream of Illegal Immigrants from China
By Stephen Ceasar
January 22, 2010

Smuggled Chinese Travel Circuitously to U.S.
By Irene Jay Liu
November 20, 2007

Chinese Immigrants Chase Opportunity in America
By Irene Jay Liu
November 19, 2007

Center for International Research, U.S. Bureau of the Census
Population and Migration Characteristics of Fujian Province, China
By Judith Banister, Christina Wu Harbaugh and Ellen Jamison
November 1993
This is an HTML copy of the PDF file

More about Fujian: Here is a video on Fujianese tea from a tea video podcast by Andrea Serrano filmed in Tucson, Arizona

name="allowscriptaccess" value="always">allowfullscreen="true" width="400" height="252">

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Shaky North Korea

By Anthony Vasquez

With the H1N1 flu and rising inflation, the North Korean government has recently had its hands full.

On Dec. 9, state-run Korea Central News Agency reported that nine people contracted the H1N1 virus, also known as swine flu. The North Korean government accepted South Korea’s donation of 500,000 doses of flue medicine. The country’s self-imposed isolation from the outside world makes it difficult to gauge the severity of H1N1 there.

The World Health Organization reports that the round of H1N1 that began spreading last spring has caused the deaths of more than 11,500 people worldwide. H1N1 activity has slowed down, East Asia included.

Also, recent reports that the government has revalued the won, the official currency, are signs of worsening inflation. On Nov. 30, the government announced a “currency reform” in which old won notes were exchanged on a 1-for-100 basis.

Analyzing this development, Nicholas Eberstadt of the American Enterprise Institute urges people to pay close attention to the Hermit Kingdom’s economy. What happens there has long-ranging effects elsewhere. He gives good background information on the North Korean economy:

In the North's "golden era" (before the end of the Cold War, into the 1980s), total wages and salaries ultimately accounted for barely one-fifth of national output. Apart from Pol Pot's Cambodia, no other modern government has come so close to completely demonetizing a national economy.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the public distribution system fell apart as foreign aid dwindled. A famine that killed more than two million in the mid-1990s resulted. Changes in economic policy also happened and the government had to put up with some private-sector activity.

North Koreas mismanaged economy is extremely fragile. Maybe this is one reason why the Kim Jong Il regime wants an official end to the Korean War. The United States government wants North Korea to first abandon its nuclear ambitions and return to multilateral talks with its neighbors before any peace talks.

Related Links+

Wall Street Journal
North Korean Money Troubles
By Nicholas Eberstadt
January 11, 2010

BBC News
North Korea calls for end to hostility with US
January 1, 2010

Wall Street Journal
North Korea Seen Battling Wave of Flue
By Jaeyeon Woo
December 31, 2009

Here's a clip of the National Geographic Explorer episode "Inside North Korea." Corespondent Lisa Ling and her team go undercover with Nepalese doctor Sanduk Ruit's humanitarian mission of free eye surgeries (9 min 29 sec).

name="allowscriptaccess" value="always">allowfullscreen="true" width="400" height="252">