Archive for the tag “Mailbag”

July Mailbag: Media, Monsters, Weird Searches

Since it’s almost August, it’s time for another mailbag.  As always, these are actual emails from actual readers.  We do love feedback so send your best comments, counter-arguments, complaints, or conspiracy theories via our comment page.  We’ll publish our next mailbag in August.  Until then, keep the letters coming.


Hey guys, Just discovered your blog, and it’s truly awesome. Have you thought about using a twitter feed to alert readers to new posts? It’s the only way I can keep up with the various blogs I read, since I rarely remember to manually check for new stuff.



We have one! (“rectified” was taken). You can also find us on Facebook.


In your June mailbag post, under the search terms you described thusly: “All of which make some sense, unlike these search terms which somehow led the strange, the needy, and the possibly mentally ill to our site over the past two months:” you included the search term: “china cannibalism blood medicinal” That’s not strange, needy, or mentally ill. That’s a combo of Lu Xun and a Chinese literature student. In Lu Xun’s story “Diary of a Madman” there is one sentence in which the Madman recounts hearing of a case of cannibalism in his town. “Medicine” is all about a desperate couple’s rush to get a piece of mantou soaked in the blood of a just executed convict with which to cure their son of TB. Both stories appear in “Call to Arms”.


You are absolutely right.  Between Brendan and Jeremiah, you’d think we would have caught that.  Nice spot, Chris!


re: 10 Ways to Make the World Love Chinese Media

Thanks. That is funny stuff. However bad Chinese movies are generally, I find them far easier to watch that Korean films.



Att. Dave Lyons The “google card trick” is very useable, but to see it you have to know a little about how the Great Firewall works when it comes to google searches: It bans _all_ searches from your IP address for 2 minutes if you happen to enter a query with a sensible word. This is not a big problem for an individual user on his own internet connection, but because workers in companies often share the same external IP address, the mechanics of the Great Firewall effectively bans the whole company. I was working in China for a month last year, and google was often “down” at our site because of that. As an IT professional that lives and breathes through google, I certainly understand and welcome this feature.


Dave Replies: While the new feature is not totally useless, my point was that Chinese users aren’t going to switch to Google because of the banned keyword alert feature. They’ll continue to use Baidu, or maybe Bing. If you ran an organization in China, which is easier and more effective: simply avoiding Google altogether, or training your entire staff to use the keyword warning system? And if you’re “an IT professional that live and breathes through Google,” then you should do what all the IT professionals (foreign and Chinese) do here: set up a VPN or an SSH tunnel, if not in the office, then on your personal devices. This isn’t going to increase Google’s search market share in China, but it plays well overseas since it sticks a thumb in the State Council Internet Information Office’s eye.


Lots of responses to Will’s piece on Godzilla and the SARFT Monster…as well as a few suggestions for fans of Kaiju.

This was a lovely article. Thank you. I’ve learned a lot about Japan by working with Toho on Godzilla-related projects, and it was really interesting to think about how China’s political system could create such a difference between China and Japan in this respect. If William Moss is still interested in Kaiju, may I humbly suggest he back my Kickstarter project on the subject?


Humble suggestion noted. 


Loved the post about Godzilla vs. SARFT. Mr. Moss’ conception of how a SARFT-approved monster movie plot would go is spot-on. I thought of another program that could never air in China today: “The Price Is Right.” It would incite too much commentary about inflation.



Reader Gil Grundy (AKA @foarp) sent the following after reading Will’s post on the strange lack of Chinese monster movies. In that post, Will pointed out that Beijing has never been monstered. Gil notes that other Chinese cities have been:

Tell Moss to get himself a copy of Godzilla: Final Wars. A Chinese city does get pwned on-screen by monsters, but it’s Shanghai – obvious choice really. A radiation-crazed Godzilla also trashes Hong Kong in one of the later films. Basically, Beijing just isn’t a prestigious enough destination for the big guy to bother with. Sorry.

Will replies: As it happens, Moss has a copy of “Final Wars.” Produced in 2004, it’s the only one of the eight films I bought that I hadn’t watched when I wrote that post. I watched it last Friday and was treated to Anguirus –the second oldest monster in the Godzilla pantheon– trashing Shanghai. According to the IMDB entry, “Final Wars” had some very modest location shooting in Shanghai, so on that front I owe SARFT an apology. It seems at least in 2004 you could get shooting permission for panic scenes for a film featuring a giant monster in a Chinese city (albeit not the capital). However, “Final Wars” never officially exhibited in China, though no doubt it’s floating around out there in the gray channels.

The attack on Hong Kong is from “Godzilla vs. Destoroyah,” which I actually saw fourteen or fifteen years ago and clearly must put back on my list. It was produced in 1995, pre-handover, although I assume that, thanks to the “one country, two systems” formulation that keeps Hong Kong cinema livelier than mainland cinema, Hong Kong is still fair game.

I respect the attractiveness of both Shanghai and Hong Kong as kaiju destinations, given that they both have something that Beijing lacks: a skyline (also, treaty ports and the SAR seem somehow politically safer for monstering, especially with the Shanghai faction out of power). However, those are still Japanese productions, and the question remains: Where are the Chinese monster movies? There were rumors of a Chinese remake of the excellent Korean film “The Host” back in 2009, but I don’t know that they ever came to anything. If anyone has spotted a Chinese giant monster film that I’ve missed, drop us a line.

Heading for Kowloon. Typical.


And in case you’re interested….

The most popular posts from June on

The Soft Power Own Goal: China, Leeds, and Mad Men by Jeremiah Jenne

Six Points on Social Insurance for Foreigners by Matthew Stinson

I’ll be the Judge of the Air Quality in These Parts by Will Moss

10 Ways to Make the World Love Chinese Media by Dave Lyons

A Bite of Food, A Whole Lotta Love by YJ June Mailbag

It’s been nearly three months since we launched In that time, we have received a lot of feedback for our little group blogging project.  Much of the feedback has been good, some not so much.  Our goal is about once a month (or so) to do a post in which we respond to readers comments and questions….The mailbag.

As will always be the case, these are actual emails/comments from actual readers.

Why no comments?

It’s not that we don’t love “the conversation”, but in our collective experience open comment threads on China blogs tend to degenerate into mass trollery pretty quickly. However, we do welcome your feedback on our Facebook page, on Twitter, or via email from our comments page. As we hope this post proves, we are paying attention and will respond. Hopefully in some cases more quickly than we did here.


Subject: I Apologize if Anyone Felt Killed by William Moss


I will see your North Korean Steamroller and Raise you one that happened as recently as 2003.
Rachel Corrie was killed in Palestine. Love your blog. Keep writing.

Such cheerful correspondents! Technically Ms. Corrie was killed by a bulldozer. We’re sure the North Koreans have studied that situation and are considering whether they need to escalate their choice of construction equipment in order to maintain their “only we are crazy enough…” aura. Do we hear a vote for backhoes?


Hilarious ! I came to this from an Evan Osnos column in the New Yorker. I will bookmark this for more. Thanx ^gb

Thanx back at you.  By the way, Evan’s columns really are the gold standard for thoughtful reflection about what’s happening in China.


Asia resident for 20+ years, 1/2 in Shanghai, i’m embarrassed to say that i’ve just found your site — immediately RSS’ed it — ‘Thar Be Dragons‘ and ‘I Apologize‘ are outstanding — re the former, comparing Daisey to Backhouse is tremendous — total agreement with your comments policy — keep it all, er, up – thanks

Although there is limited evidence that Mike Daisey ever had clitoral-rectal sex with Cixi, he did once tell an audience in Duluth, MN that he had.  Probably.  We’re still looking for his interpreter/fixer to confirm.


 I enjoyed and agree with your comments about Bo’s case and its reflections of Chinese politics. In many ways, not much has changed since the Mao days; the only difference is that losers don’t necessarily get decapitated in the literal sense of the word. All the best,  John

There’s still time.


Hi – I enjoy reading the blog, but the paper-towel-like textured background you have for the body text makes it a little less comfortable than it could be. Any chance of something less grainy? PTH

Our current endorsement deal with Brawny (See the designer prints! Who says cleaning up can’t be stylish? Ka-CHING!) prevents us from changing the background until the autumn. The WordPress template we’re using was the least offensive in the built-in library that we could all agree on. As the site grows, we will invest more time in prettying it up but for the moment time doesn’t permit. You can, however, use an RSS reader like Google Reader or NetNewsWire to subscribe to the site and get all the awesome content with none of the off-the-shelf design.


Hi Brian, Enjoyed your post on corruption in the margins. There’s a somewhat similar phenomenon in the US, although not quite as severe. The person in charge of purchasing for a business often gets to keep the visa/amex/master card reward points from purchases they make, and use the points for their personal use. This means they have at least some motivation to go to the overpriced vendors that have partnered with the credit company to offer bonus points, rather than find the best deal for the company. 

One reason we don’t let Brendan anywhere near the visa card.


Hey guys, Your blog is just great. You need to know this. Having devoted my entire post-adolescent life to everything Chinese, consequently having lived in China for a decade, and now travelling back to the motherland on a monthly basis in my current self-employed capacity to work with Chinese clients, I get a lot from your postings. Not only can I relate to much of what you post, but I also greatly appreciate the sometimes unusual topics or creative analyses of current affairs. After all, I can read the print media for a high-level run-down on China, but your insights provide a much more perceptive viewpoint to any given issue. Anyway, that’s about all I wanted to say. I hope to see much more in the years to come.

All the best, Blair

PS. William –

In Australia for Christmas we actually often persevere with the full British tradition of roast turkey, ham, a plethora of sides, and plum pudding, while dressed up in our Sunday best, albeit with an often blistering sun blazing down on us. Insane, I know, but at least we get to drink lots of cold beer and go for a swim in the pool afterwards. And my partner is American, and believe me, she still can’t get used to seeing poor Santa dressed in his woolly suit with extra padding sweltering on main street in 35+ degree heat either…

Thanks for the kind words and we acknowledge that the traditional Christmas scene of sleigh bells and snow is an excellent example of North Atlantic cultural imperialism. Also, one hesitates to wonder how much beer Santa is drinking in these circumstances. I wouldn’t put my kids on his lap if I were you.


Hey- Just read the piece about Rebiya and the Dalai Lama and wanted to point something out. The Dalai Lama’s comments about poisoning came after the interviewer specifically asked him about his security, and he also mentioned very clearly that the threat was pretty vague. I think a lot of the negative reactions to this came from people who read more sensationalistic headlines taken from the interview, because as presented in the interview itself it isn’t nearly as objectionable and I don’t think really qualifies as douchery. As for why the Chinese would even consider killing him now, why did the last Panchen Lama die when he did? There might be a precedent, even if the dalai lama HAD made some kind of serious accusation. anyways thanks for listening to the opinion of some random web guy.


As a Tibet, I found it funny that in the post where you criticize western media for not doing the homework on Rebiya Kadeer, you go into the same trap youself on Dalai Lama’s security. You obviously haven’t done the minimum of homework regarding the history of threats to Dalai Lama. Great that you reference GT as a source for forming your opinion on Tibet. Because then people know they cannot take you seriously on Tibet. I recommend that you read what Chinese local and regional leaders say on Tibet (in Chinese), rather than reading GTs satirical, ironic and morally disgusting comments in english targeted at western journalist and bloggers such as yourself.  Gendun

Dave Responds:

Dear Random Web Guy: Fair point on the Dalai Lama’s comments, and it was certainly not on the epic fail level of Rebiya’s foot shot. I will say, however, that the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan movement pioneered the strategy of focusing entirely on Western opinions and governments and paying no attention to the messages they send (intentionally or not) to Chinese citizens, who ultimately will be the real arbiters of the fate of minorities in China – especially if a democracy somehow comes into being.

As I said, I am not thrilled with finding I agree with something in Global Times, but occasionally they accidentally publish something that resembles a logical point: why go through all that trouble? Go back and read the Wired post on the practicality of contact poisons. If I were the Chinese, why not just shoot His Holiness and frame Dorje Shugden Devotees Charitable and Religious Society (DSDCRS), which, as the link you sent points out, has already murdered three monks close to the Dalai Lama including his Chinese translator?


Hi guys. Love your blog. I’m casually studying Chinese in Harbin while making just enough off English teaching to support my self-imposed medical-style vacation in China. This week I hit an emotional trough reading China Daily, and the five mao comments. The topic, China’s human rights report on the US. While seemingly mostly factual, the tone was retaliatory. Like a shamed little boy. “I may have eaten the last cookie, but I saw you at the movie theater with that girl mummy doesn’t like”. Please, please, please write something to help me through this difficult time. The time will come when I can’t stand China anymore. But since I also love being here, I hope that day is a long way off. Foreign sites responding to the Chinese report are few, and mostly dismissive. Chinese Internet freedom of speech is… ok it isn’t. I need some intelligent perspective on the issue so I can forget about it and get on with tolerating living here. My emotional harmony is in your hands.

You have type-2 Chinabetes. You need to carefully monitor your intake of China-related news and commentary. We suggest restricting it to reading this blog and this blog alone. We also prescribe a healthy diet of fun, breezy modern western novels (Get a Kindle, or even better a Nook!), at least 2 hours of pointless video game playing a day, and if at all possible, recreational activities with other people that don’t involve alcohol or bitching about China, such as soccer, mahjong, karaoke, musical theater, or  drift racing.


The one final post on Yang Rui reminded me of how I was watching an English competition back in 2008 in which one of the judges was Tian Wei, the other host of Cross Talk who often takes a very “Glorious China, Evil/Stupid everyone else” type of condescending tone of voice when talking to guests. During the Q&A Session she asked one contestant a question as if to suggest he doesn’t know anything about the subject and she knows everything. The first words out of this man’s mouth were “Let me tell you why you are wrong.” If I could track this guy down I would buy him a bottle of Qingdao and tell him how great it was that he made this woman publicly lose enough face to need a plastic surgeon.

Win little victories.


In case you’re interested….

The most popular posts from May on the site:

It’s Not Just Yang Rui by Brendan O’Kane

The Devil’s Air Conditioner and other Tales of Woe by Will Moss

“Authorization Modernization always works until it quite suddenly doesn’t” by Jeremiah Jenne

Melissa Chan does not Compute by The Editors

An Expat Comes back from the Homeland by Dave Lyons

Pofu or no Pofu Yang Rui is just an Idiot by YJ


We were also grateful to have our posts picked up and linked to by a number of China blogs including The Analects (Economist), The China Real Time Report (Wall Street Journal), James Fallows (The Atlantic Monthly), and The New York Times.  Jeremiah was quoted in The Global Post and the New York Times this past month, and Internet oracle Rebecca Mackinnon gave a nice shout out to Dave in her latest piece for Foreign Policy.


Finally the top search topics for April/May at were:

bo guagua

Yang Rui

Bo Xilai

Gu Kailai

Bo Guagua Ferrari

Game of Thrones Chinese Title

Sheng Keyi

Nick Heywood

Instagram in China


All of which make some sense, unlike these search terms which somehow led the strange, the needy, and the possibly mentally ill to our site over the past two months:

write pretzel in chinese & pinyin

can you go on instagram in china

Yang Rui foreign bitch

china cannibalism blood medicinal

can get browsing history from my girlfriends instagram?

convincing others to do violence for me

william moss totally venal (NB: Will has asked his ex girlfriends to stop Googling him.)

jacques martin cologne

two asses with glasses on chinese shivering

intestine hangs out at dothraki wedding screenshots (Our bad – this was in our keywords.)

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