Asia Blog: China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam

China’s 50 Cent Army

Posted in China, Technology by Elliott Back on January 19th, 2009.

An interesting article, How China’s ‘50 Cent Army’ Could Wreck Web 2.0, describes how the Chinese Communist Party has enlisted 300,000 to post pro-China propaganda, paying them $.50 RMB for every post they make:

The difference between China’s 50 Cent Army and astroturfing is fourfold. First, is scale. A typical astroturfing campaign might involve a few or maybe a dozen people at most. Or, in the case of a mass mailing, it could involve thousands of people who voice or submit their opinions only once or twice. China’s approach involves thousands of times more people.

The second difference is duration. China’s 50 Cent Army works every day, all year, year after year. Astroturfing efforts, on the other hand, are one-off projects designed to achieve specific, limited goals. The reason is that a free press and the machinations of multi-party democracy quickly expose astroturfing projects and turn public opinion against their agendas. Because the Chinese government is accountable to neither the public nor the press, it can sustain Internet mass-propaganda efforts indefinitely.

It’s an interesting article, and it’s interesting to see China taking advantage of the social web to spread their message.

Download Olympics Opening Ceremony @ Beijing 2008 Online

Posted in China, Technology by Elliott Back on August 10th, 2008.

If you wanted to watch the Olympics Opening Ceremony online, you might have had some problems so far. Friday, for us in the US, NBC’s site wasn’t working well (they hadn’t even posted the opening ceremony cuts). But now, there are a number of options available to you:

NBC’s Official Olympics Site

Direct link to their 52m ‘Opening Ceremony’ recap

The video is excellent quality, far better than Youtube, sound quality good. Unfortunately, it requires an installation of Microsoft’s Silverlight flash competitor, and has brief 20-30s advertisements before clips. You also can’t make the video full screen. However, if you live in the US, and don’t mind just watching the Olympics, the NBC site has a good selection of live video feeds as well as packaged and cut primetime recaps.

Mininova Bittorrent Search

Olympic Games Opening Ceremony Beijing 2008 PROPER 720p HDTV x264-PiX [eztv]

Using torrents to download the parts of the Olympic games you’re interested in guarantees a permanent archive, full screen high quality video, but perhaps an inferior selection of topics. Its legal status and availability differ around the world. Still, it’s a powerful online option.

Google’s Youtube Beijing 2008 Channel

Beijing 2008 Channel

If you don’t live in the US YouTube might an option for you. Google is going to syndicate at least three hours of Olympics a day on their special channel. But, the quality is crappy, and if you live in the US, you’ll just see “This channel is not available in your country.”

I also recommend you check out the Boston Globe’s 2008 Olympics Opening Ceremony Big Picture Photos and Wired’s Watch the Olympics Online Wiki for more 2008 Beijing Olympics Online!

China Stocks & Volatility

Posted in China, Technology by Elliott Back on July 7th, 2007.

According to this China daily article, about half of stocks on the Shanghai exchange are down 30% in the last month, although the index itself is up 85% this year alone:

Almost half of the yuan-denominated A-shares in the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges fell more than 30 percent in the past month, a news report said Thursday. Forty-five percent of the total, or 653 stocks dropped more than 30 percent; 901 stocks, or 62 percent, were down more than 20 percent; and 53 declined more than 50 percent.

Dow Jones Shanghai Index – 85% up

It’s interesting, because there are some stocks, like Shandong Gold Mining Co., Ltd, which are up 153% for the year. It’s incredible:

Shandong Gold Mining Co – 153% up

These incredible gains are balanced by companies like Actions Semiconductor Company, which is down 29% this year:

Actions Semiconductor Co. – down 29%

I don’t understand the China markets, or any markets for that matter, but the amount of enthusiasm and turmoil is fascinating to watch. China is this decade’s big market boom. It will also herald the next largest, global crash we’ve ever seen. Expect China to be the herald of global change!

Internet Dating Gone Wrong

Posted in China, Sex, Technology by Elliott Back on January 7th, 2007.

Technology doesn’t always facilitate a good relationship. The French Press reports:

A 17-year-old boy in northeastern China was so disappointed with the looks of a woman he met over the Internet that he hanged himself after seeing her face-to-face, state media reported Friday. The girl described herself as a beautiful 19-year-old and the pair chatted on the Web for weeks before arranging a December 26 rendezvous in the nearby city of Mudanjiang, in far northeastern Heilongjiang province. The boy arrived to discover the woman far less attractive than advertised and 10 years older than him, Xinhua said. The boy immediately returned home, lost his appetite, and four days later hanged himself from a tree.

With a name like Qunjiaofeiyang (Flying Skirt), he should have known better.

China’s Getting It On[line]

Posted in China, Technology by Elliott Back on July 27th, 2006.


It looks like China’s making excellent progress towards an internet-ready society! The good thing about this is that it may bring some modernity to Chinese thought. It should also continue to lubricate the clash between Chinese and Western culture.

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