Top-of-the-Week Links: On the New York Times, Wen Jiabao, Xi Jinping, Ningbo, and a Chinese man successfully suing his wife for being ugly

Via China Media Project: “ABOVE: Protesters outside the government offices in Ningbo on Sunday, October 28, 2012. Image shared by a Guangdong-based user on Sina Weibo.”

Lot of things happened in the last three days. Here we go with links.

From the public editor. “There surely was less harmony for advertisers on The Times’s Chinese site, whose ads also were blocked from millions of viewers. // Nor could there have been much harmony for those at The Times who deal with advertising revenue, a difficult enough proposition as a discouraging third-quarter earnings report made clear on Thursday. // The episode is an extreme example of an enduring newspaper-world fact: journalism and business interests don’t always go hand in hand.” [NY Times]

Britishman Daniel Foa will soon be part of China’s first family. “His wife, and the mother of his child, is Hiu Ng, the niece of Xi Jinping, China’s next paramount leader. // …’I have no negative opinions about him at all. But I did not consider him likely to be able to penetrate China to the extent that he has. How does a guy like that make contact with the niece of Xi Jinping?’ said one former member of Shanghai’s expat community. // The answer, according to another friend who knows the couple, is that they moved in the same expat circles. // ‘She studied abroad and her English is so good she could pass for a foreigner, and she spent more time in the expat scene than the Chinese scene,’ he said. // Until recently, few friends were even aware that Mrs Ng is the daughter of Xi Jinping’s younger sister, Xi Qianping, a low-profile businesswoman who lives in Australia.” [The Telegraph]

Corruption in China. “When investors and diplomats consider the risks facing China, they often assume that its corruption is of the kind we saw in Korea and Taiwan (or Chicago, for that matter), in which a political machine pulls money out of the state to give to favored friends and businesses, but does not ultimately kill the goose that laid the golden egg. But when Wedeman looked at the data, he concluded, to his surprise, that ‘corruption in China more closely resembled corruption in Zaire than it did corruption in Japan.’ In short, he found, ‘the evidence suggests that corruption in contemporary China is essentially anarchy.’ // …The Party is running out of time not because corruption is a drag on the economy—it can outrun that effect—but because the public is losing confidence. Last year, when two trains crashed on a stretch of China’s new railways, citizens were not inclined to see it as an example of the inevitable problems that accompany an ambitious new improvement to public transportation. Instead, they circulated an anonymous message that read, in part: ‘When a country is so corrupt that one lightning strike can cause a train crash … none of us are exempt. China today is a train rushing through a lightning storm…. We are all passengers.’” [Evan Osnos, The New Yorker]

Foreigners: welcome to Ningbo! “According to people who were at the scene, the two journalists (one is found to be Angus Walker from ITV) were welcomed by protesters like long-lost family members. Like netizen Ccccccccbra protesting student at the scene, commented: ‘Seeing those foreign journalists is like seeing long-lost beloved ones. The people of Ningbo welcome you.’ // And Ccccccccbr wasn’t along. 我们呛声 remembered: ‘The crowd willingly made room for the two British journalists. Some even lifted the camera man up so that he can have a better view. It was such a touching moment. When they were about to leave, an old lady said to them, “Please don’t leave. As soon as you guys leave, they [riot police] will start beating protesters.”’ Why did the old lady say so? Netizen 果果陈 described a scene that may explain: ‘Seeing two foreign journalists approaching with cameras, the riot police retreated behind the gate of the municipal government headquarter. People started to cheer. An old gentleman besides me said, “After so many years of liberation, we still need to depend on foreigner.”’ [Offbeat China]

Mad Men as depiction of slice of life in present-day China. “While Americans may see ‘Mad Men’ as an escapist retro-cool trip to their parents’ boozy, bygone, better-dressed era, Ji and many of his fellow fans view the program through a different lens. In this country — where 63% of workers are exposed to cigarette smoke on the job, the divorce rate is rising as fast as GDP and boardrooms remain bastions of men who banquet — the AMC show is less like a portal to a lost past and more like an oddly relatable snapshot of the present, or maybe even the desirable future.” [LA Times]

Chinese man successfully sues wife for being ugly. “He was shocked by the child’s appearance, calling her ‘incredibly ugly’ and saying she looked like neither one of her parents. // Mr Feng was so outraged that he initially accused his wife of cheating. // Faced with the accusation, his wife admitted to spending around £62,000 on plastic surgery which had altered her appearance drastically. // She had the work done before she met her husband and never told him about it after they met. // Mr Feng filed for divorce saying his wife had deceived him and convinced him to marry her under false pretenses. // The judge agreed with him and awarded him the damages.” [Daily Mail]

Xi Jinping’s mandate. “The Chinese Communist Party has a powerful story to tell. Despite its many faults, it has created wealth and hope that an older generation would have found unimaginable. Bold reform would create a surge of popular goodwill towards the party from ordinary Chinese people. // Mr Xi comes at a crucial moment for China, when hardliners still deny the need for political change and insist that the state can put down dissent with force. For everyone else, too, Mr Xi’s choice will weigh heavily. The world has much more to fear from a weak, unstable China than from a strong one.” [The Economist]

Han Han: “The main contradiction in China today is between the growing intelligence of the population and rapidly waning morality of our officials.” [NPR]

Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy “duel” in China. “Golf fans have been waiting all season for Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy to go head-to-head with a title on the line. On Monday, in a match being promoted as ‘the Duel’ at Jinsha Lake Golf Club in Zhengzhou, China, they’ll finally get their wish. // The Duel will be staged as a two-man exhibition, with both stars going mano-a-mano for 18 holes in match play. The match begins at 12:30 a.m. Eastern and will be live streamed on” [Golf]

Imitation is a form of flattery in this culture, but we’re not sure about identity theft. Will the person impersonating Charlie Custer on China-related articles cut it out, or at least be funnier? “Just a very quick thing: it has come to my attention that someone is using my name (Charles Custer) to comment on China articles at various news sites (see this and this for examples). This person is not me.” [The Real Charles Custer, China Geeks]

World’s highest national park opened on Friday. “The Qomolangma National Park, located at the border of China and Nepal, covers six counties of the region’s Xigaze Prefecture with a total area of 78,000 square kilometers. // It includes five mountain peaks with altitudes of more than 8,000 meters, such as Mount Qomolangma. More than 10 others are over 7,000 meters, according to Sun Yongping, deputy chief of the region’s tourism bureau.” [Global Times]

Pandas eating lunch interlude:


The A to Z of Chinese politics. [John Garnaut, The Age]

The Beijinger’s gallery of Halloween photos. [the Beijinger]

The National Party Congress cracks down on fun. [Barbara Demick, LA Times]

On Iron Man 3′s half-Asian, half-European, definitely not Chinese villain. [io9]

A denial. A denial. A denial. A denial. [Chinese Law Prof Blog]

Finally, finally…

Big suit in Liaoning province, via Xinhua

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