The Ultimate Winner 翟山鹰

A friend of mine has been highlighting the case of a NUS visiting professor with forged credentials as a “winner”. Well, there are even bigger winners like the scholars who had absconded. On a Chinese forum, one of them even rubbed it in by saying “who says there’s no such thing as a free lunch? Singapore has it.”

Ah, the things we are prepared to overlook for the sake of the biggest market in the world.

But as the saying goes, there’s always a higher mountain. For me, Zhai Shan Ying 翟山鹰 takes the cake as the biggest “winner”. While in China, he presented himself to the Chinese public as a financial guru with a string of fake qualifications and appointments. Nobody bothered to question him or investigate his background because he said everything that was in line with China’s current nationalist movement.

Zhai had been mocking and lambasting US monetary policies. He predicted that the country’s economy would collapse in no time. He convinced his millions of fans that China would lead the world and attracted huge investments in his various funds, assets and investment products. What did he do next? He converted his RMB to USD and fled to the “doomed country” that he hated so much. His oratory skills are as good as his acting skills. He’s a dangerous man, no doubt, but it’s also good that we have people like him around to generate all these cautionary tales.

And Zhai Shan Ying 翟山鹰 didn’t hide in shame in America. He turned up on YouTube to gloat about this success and mock the fools who had invested in “Chinese assets” with him. Not only that, he made a 180 degree turn against the Party. The observers are right. It’s difficult to feel any sympathy for the victims who were still bragging, boasting and insulting the West just moments before Zhai Shan Ying absconded with their money.

But the unfathomable and unbelievable thing about 翟山鹰 is that people never learn. Crooks like him will crop up again and again, play that “patriotic” card over and over again and guess what? It will still work.

Cop’s wife Reports Him On Social Media

Why does this woman have to resort to this? She has already explained in the video. She had reported her policeman husband to the police on many occasions but her report was ignored. I tried not to laugh when she talked about her husband’s outrageous philandering ways, but his alleged blatant abuse of power, if true, is absolutely deplorable. What’s painfully tragic is that this woman needs to resort to holding her ID on social media to force the authorities to take notice of her predicament.

Terminal Illness?

China’s economic miracle has been fueled almost totally by its property and financial sector. Is this a problem? Recent developments suggest that the low hanging fruits have already been exhausted. Bitterness follows. The optimist will say that these are minor issues which can be settled with small tweaks in the system. Princeton University’s Prof Cheng Xiaonong doesn’t think so. He believes that years of denial and addiction to painkillers has allowed a cancer to grow and there is now no cure, no escape from collapse.

There is much that other countries can learn from the situation in China now, especially those that are trying to emulate China’s economic miracle.

Prof Cheng was former Chinese PM Zhao Ziyang’s economic adviser. He was on sabbatical in Germany during the 1989 Tiananmen protest. The authorities ordered him to return to China and testify against his boss. Cheng refused and had been living in exile ever since.

Excuse Me, Which Is The Real China?

It’s good to look at both sides, but all snapshots in rapidly changing China are unreliable. A bustling shopping area I visited in Chengdu was dead just a few months later when I revisited. Below is a video taken of Xilinghaote in Inner Mongolia by this female influencer. Why is Inner Mongolia so rich? That’s because it has an abundance of resources especially coal, cashmere, natural gas, rare-earth elements, and has more deposits of naturally occurring niobium, zirconium and beryllium than any other province-level region in China.

This is indeed a part of the real China that some tourists would like to see, but as we move further inland, it is hardly representative. Frankly, I live in a city without much character myself, so I have no interest in touring another nondescript city. By the way, her nose, her teeth and her eyelids are obviously fake. Who knows what else is fake?

Comrade Shi Bingfeng explores legendary Wudang which most of us only read about in martial arts/swordfighting novels. The town was developed as a tourist attraction with hotels, restaurants, shopping centres, banks adopting legendary names to try to squeeze money from curious tourists. Of course, it’s all highly contrived. The entrance fee with all the add-ons including transport, total up to nearly $60. There are also many aggressive touts. Some are “tour guides”, others could be “Taoist priests” with a wellness plan. But for a while, this was indeed booming until … Chinese people often say “计划赶不上变化”

China’s Real Estate/ Banking Crisis

Xiao Cui explains the current situation. Developers have been going bust, leaving many apartment buildings uncompleted. Buyers can sue the developers, but they are not going to a single cent even if they win the case.

Meanwhile, they are still liable for the bank loan they have taken up to buy the property. In the past, these unfortunate individuals would squeeze out everything that’s left to continue paying a lower installment renegotiated with the bank. Since the property is uncompleted, the bank gains nothing by repossession. This time round, the folks have collectively refused to pay up. They seem to know that while the banks can deal with a handful of defaulters, they simply do not have the manpower to manage so many defaulters.

The Global Times, as usual, made light of the situation, insisting that it’s the evil West that has blown matters out of proportion. This is an excellent opportunity for “loyalists” and optimists to enter the market and help dispel all rumours.

Comrade Shi, an authority on abandoned developments, explains why the situation is so common.

Jiawu In The Movies & In Reality

Former Japanese PM Shinzo Abe has been assassinated and some people are celebrating. Like I’ve said before, it doesn’t really matter whether we have a Great Translation movement. Even if their devious thoughts are exposed, some people feel no shame about it.

Former Prime Minister  Abe Shinzo  died

The animosity towards Japan has always been there, but there was a time when China also engaged in a little self-reflection. I’m reminded of a movie I saw when I was in secondary school. It’s called 甲午风云 and tells the story of China’s Beiyang Fleet against the Japanese navy during the First Sino-Japanese War 1894. I was only a child back then, but I noticed the somewhat incongruent image of men in “olden” (Qing Dynasty) costume and relatively modern coal-fired, steam-driven warships.

Of course, there was no mistake. The movie got the main historical facts correct. There was in fact a Chinese navy officer by the name of Deng Shichang 邓世昌 and he was indeed the commanding officer of a battleship called Zhiyuan 志远号. China was not poor then and Deng Shichang came from a rich family which gave him a Western education. He had been sent to the UK several times to bring ships back. Not mentioned in the movie, was the fact that almost all junior naval commanders at that time were trained overseas.

The Zhiyuan was built in the UK and it was a state of the art battleship during that time. The admiral of the Beiyang Fleet 北洋舰队, also featured in the movie, was Ding Ruchang 丁汝昌. I have embedded the video below. It’s in full length.

But the Chinese navy’s flagship, pride of the Beiyang Fleet, was the Dingyuan 定远号 and its sister ship of the same class, Zhenyuan 镇远号。Old vessels built in Germany, the two battleships were still absolutely the biggest and most advanced warships in East Asian waters. I had always thought that China was the absolute underdog here. Far from it. The Beiyang Fleet was so modern and advanced compared to its neighbours’ that military experts of that time predicted that Japan would be soundly beaten by China if they dared invade. English military advisors were indeed present as shown in the movie, but they more or less said what the Chinese wanted to hear. After all, Viceroy Li Hongzhang had just claimed credit for the defeat of Taiping Army with his modernised Huai Army. It would not be the last time these folks believed that they could win a war against a foreign power after winning a civil war.

The Japanese navy went for smaller, faster warships built by the British and French. They also committed a comparable number of corvettes and torpedo boats as well as converted merchant vessels, just like the Chinese side. Instead of going for bigger ships, they upgraded their guns and ammunition. As the battle ensued, the smaller ships outmaneuvered the larger Chinese vessels. Under repeated bombardment, even the armoured Chinese ships succumbed.

In the final scene, Zhiyuan was outnumbered and battling a ship called the Yoshino. They then fired relentlessly at a ship called Saikyō Maru 西京丸 (with everyone cheering 打得好)which was in fact a reconditioned cargo ship carrying a Japanese admiral. Not only did the Saikyo Maru not sink, it later managed to capture armoured battleship Zhenyuan.

Deng then ordered the crew of Zhiyuan to ram and sink a vessel called Naniwa after realising that their outdated guns were virtually useless against it. Probably nothing to do with faulty ammo. Naniwa retaliated by accurately firing a shell at Zhiyuan’s bow, sinking it. There is no mention of a ship called Yoshino in the historical records.

The fact that the Japanese were presented in the ugliest way possible is not surprising. What I find most interesting about the movie is the very candid way in which they revealed the corruption, cowardice and lack of discipline within their own ranks. It’s noteworthy that this was 1962, a time of reflection after the Great Famine killed tens of millions and Mao Zedong became sidelined by Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping.

This movie may be censored in today’s highly charged “positive energy” environment. Indeed, corruption, infighting and arrogance were the main factors contributing to China’s defeat. Both the Japanese army and navy, modestly but adequately equipped, were very much better organised and disciplined.

Candid as it seemed, the movie made no mention that the invasion was not unprovoked. In 1886, 4 ships from the Beiyang Fleet docked at Nagasaki (when the two countries were still on friendly terms) but Chinese sailors started a riot on the streets of the Japanese port. China made no apology. Japan saw this as an insult, anti-Chinese sentiments grew in Japan after that. This incident had certainly contributed to their decision to invade China in 1894 apart from their intention of securing Korea (which was leaning towards China) as a buffer zone.

The final battle for Zhiyuan took place on the Yalu River separating China from Korea. According to the movie, Deng Shichang’s ship was hit by a torpedo and sank. In fact, he could have been rescued but stubbornly chose to go down with his ship when ships were easier to replace than commanding officers.

As usual, the blame fell on Empress Cixi and Viceroy Li Hongzhang. While she was indeed behind a lot of bad decisions made by the imperial court back then (like during the Boxer Rebellion a few years after this), it was Emperor Guangxu himself who decided not fund the navy because he and his advisors saw tiny Japan as a pushover incapable of invading China. Plenty of “positive energy”.

When the Japanese army invaded Deng Shichang’s hometown during the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945), the invaders paid respects to their former enemy at his shrine, the massacre at capital Nanjing notwithstanding.

Chinese Aircraft Carrier Liaoning

The Liaoning, a 1985 Soviet model.