Black Tofu & Chinese Chemistry

Do you like black tofu made with black sesame seeds? It’s quite popular as a healthier (lower carb) form of tofu in recent years. Black sesame tofu is made from sesame seeds, starch and dashi, which is a umami. Black tofu is a rich alternative to white tofu and it has a delicate, custard-pudding like texture.

black sesame tofu

As usual, there is a cheap “Chinese” version that is available. As usual, there is a secret ingredient for every economic miracle. There is a trade secret for turning white tofu black. Not to discourage anyone from eating black tofu, but do make sure that the black tofu you’re enjoying is not the 黑心豆腐 made in the following way.

I must say that their chemistry is very good. I’m impressed. Iron II sulphate plus sodium sulphide gives sodium sulphate and iron II sulphide (precipitate).

FeSO4 + Na2S = Na2SO4 + FeS

Yes, you’re eating iron II sulphide which is black in colour. Once it enters your stomach, the following happens:

FeS + 2HCl = FeCl2 + H2S

Iron II sulphide reacts with hydrochloric acid in the stomach to give iron chloride and H2S which is hydrogen sulphide (gas). It’s toxic and smells like rotten eggs coming out of your mouth.

Copying Your Way To Success

It’s quite common to have students plagiarizing academic papers to pass off as their own. But what about teachers plagiarizing a student’s work? A professor from NTU National Technological University (Singapore) has allegedly copied a former student’s research paper and tried to pass it off as his own.

Plagiarism at NTU

According to the Straits Times, Professor Qu Jingyi’s 2018 research paper titled Escape As A Mode Of Existence: On Ruan Ji’s Escapism Complex and Mr Wang Yueming’s 2014 project titled Escapism In The Literary Works Of Ruan Ji 论阮籍诗文中的逃避主义.

Prof Qu is the head of Chinese at the School of Humanities at NTU and deputy director of its Centre for Chinese Language and Culture. He was also Mr Wang’s final-year project supervisor in 2014.

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Prof Qu’s 2018 paper is written in English, while Mr Wang’s is in Chinese. Prof Qu’s paper, which was accessible on Academia.edu, an open repository of academic articles, has since been taken down.

Checks by The Straits Times found that more than 50 per cent of Prof Qu’s paper looked like a direct translation of Mr Wang’s 2014 paper, with no attribution to the latter. These sections include analyses of poems and inferences made on related research papers.

Somebody remarked: 怎么尊师重道? And that’s a very interesting remark. 尊师重道 is supposed to be a Chinese virtue, but respecting copyright ownership has never been a Chinese virtue. It has happened numerous times in Chinese academia in the past but it’s only with easy access to electronic media evidence and Weibo that the culprits are finally taken to task. And when Western companies profit from such deceptions, they don’t really care if their products are “ghosted”.

This one is for the Born Again Chinese (BAC). Why are China’s high tech products so cheap? It’s not that they are locally produced at low cost and they don’t rip us off unlike the the greedy and evil West. The key components from these high tech devices are actually produced outside China and disguised as Chinese products by polishing off the original label and inscribing “Made in China” over them. The Chinese companies can sell them cheap because the whole masquerade is subsidised by the Chinese government and companies in the West still laugh their way to the bank.

Throughout Chinese history, monumental achievements by unknown inventors have been wrongly and deliberately attributed to famous people. These are not exceptions. They are habits and patterns. Attributing one’s own work to one’s teacher is an act of 尊师重道! If we condemn it, then we are all too “Westernised”.

Politics of Family

Portraying yourselves as the model couple is a powerful political message that will earn you many admirers. Across the straits, Chen Shui Bian once pushed his wheelchair bound wife around. An instant winner.

We may laugh at this childish song, but in Singapore, the same tone has been set from the very beginning. Rightly or wrongly, the message is unambiguous. Having an affair must never lead to a happy ending whether it’s in our TV dramas or the political scene.

Trishaws And Life At The Bottom Of The Food Chain

2 days ago, I saw a book review on YouTube by Taiwan 陆配,上官乱。She was talking about a book by her 四川同乡,exiled activist 廖亦武。A story in the book reminded me of my personal experience.

I used to ride on motorised trishaws in Kunming. They were much cheaper and the drivers were simple folks who didn’t have as many tricks as the licensed taxi drivers. When I wanted to deposit my backpack and go shopping, they would bring me to a bus station with an enormous left luggage facility. When I needed a shower after a long bus ride without checking into a hotel room, they would bring me to a heated swimming pool. If I had asked a licensed taxi driver for recommendations, he would probably bring me on a round city ride and ask for the metered fair.

Once, we were caught near the airport by a traffic policeman. I was let off but the poor driver, probably around my younger son’s current age, had his vehicle impounded. I felt sad for the young man, but I couldn’t do anything.

Back to the book. Mr Liao wrote about what happened to these trishaws after they were impounded from the streets of Chengdu. Yes, when these drivers are looking for a used trishaw to start their trade again, they recognise their impounded vehicles in the “showroom”. They pay for the vehicle and if it gets impounded by the authorities again, they would have to keep paying for it. The blood sucking cycle goes on.

That’s why sometimes we see dramatic video footage from the streets with these illegal drivers going berserk, needing 6 城管 to pin them to the ground. They just can’t stand all this torment and humiliation anymore. That’s the life of the 底层老百姓。We’ll never know how many people China actually lifted out of poverty. We can, however, be sure that only the lucky ones are seen and heard. According to Wanda’s 王思聪, 100 million people in China don’t know what the inside of a plane looks like. China’s economic miracle is to a large extent, attributable to 人血馒头.

Most of us are descendents of 底层老百姓. Growing up in a relatively free and meritocratic country, we have attained middle class or at least a respectable working class standard of living. Yet, there are folks who suck up to a system which might have trapped them as 底层老百姓 if their forefathers had never left China. They optimistically assume that they would not be one of the 100 million.

Qin Gang & Fu Xiaotian?

The mystery is partially solved. After China’s then foreign minister Qin Gang disappeared for a month, it was finally announced that he had been removed from his post.

On 25 July 2023, Qin was removed from the office of Minister of Foreign Affairs by a decree signed by president Xi Jinping, after a list of appointments and removals was passed by the 14th National People’s Congress Standing Committee. Qin’s predecessor and the former foreign minister of China, Wang Yi, was re-appointed to the office. The shocking news came without any explanation from the foreign ministry. What could have happened? Well, the clues may lie in Qin Gang’s background and personal life.

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In case you’re reading this for the first time, Qin Gang  秦刚 is a Chinese diplomat and politician since 1992. He served as Chinese ambassador to the United States of America since 2021. That’s when his career entered the fast track.

On 30 December 2022, Qin Gang was appointed as Minister of Foreign Affairs of China. He left the post of Chinese ambassador on 5 January 2023. At that time, he was China’s second-highest diplomat. It might be interesting for folks not familiar with Chinese party politics to know that Wang Yi, who was the foreign policy chief for the Chinese Communist Party before Qin was removed, ranked above Qin then.

Wang Yi

A relatively well-liked character when he was China’s ambassador to the US, the speed of Qin Gang’s promotion showed the Chinese government’s urgency in replacing the much hated Wang Yi in order to tone down America’s animosity towards China. However, things seemed to have taken a drastic turn. Did Xi Jinping suddenly have a change of mind and decide to get tough with America?

Qin Gang was last seen in public on 25 June 2023 in Beijing after meeting officials from Sri Lanka, Russia and Vietnam. China’s foreign ministry did inform beforehand, that he would not attend the ASEAN meet on Thursday due to “health reasons” and top diplomat Wang Yi would represent the country in his place.

That was a somewhat self-defeating excuse as the Chinese authorities had always kept the health condition of its high ranking officials a secret.

wife

On the day the foreign affairs department announced that Qin Gang contracted Covid, his subordinate, former foreign affairs spokesman Zhao Lijian’s wife made a very happy announcement that she’s making a comeback to social media. The comeback could also be a hint that Zhao Lijian was removed at Qin Gang’s behest and with Qin Gang out of the way, Zhao could make a comeback. This almost confirms that Qin Gang was sacked. Why was he sacked. There is a serious reason and there’s a not so serious reason that is related to the serious reason.

Enter the female protagonist, well-known Phoenix TV host, Fu Xiaotian. Astute netizens dug up her Weibo postings and found this one. Nobody was aware that Miss Fu was ever married, but she posted a photo of her son in March.

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Fu Xiaotian’s Weibo posting in March 2023

In that posting dated 18 March 2023 (US time), the 40-year-old Miss Fu wished her baby’s father (without mentioning his name) happy birthday and lamented that her son’s father was so busy on a mission that he couldn’t celebrate his own birthday with them. Qin Gang’s birthday is indeed 19 March (China time).

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And as if to confirm our suspicion, this post has been removed. Bingo! Let the tongues wag.

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Qin Gang on Fu Xiaotian’s show on Phoenix TV

“State Councillor and Foreign Minister Qin Gang cannot attend this ASEAN ministerial meeting because of health reasons,” spokesman Wang Wenbin said without elaborating.

According to informants inside Phoenix TV, Qin Gang has indeed been unceremoniously removed from his post. I wrote about this 2 weeks after Qin Gang’s disappearance. This rumour turned out to be true. The reason has been the subject of much speculation. The most popular explanation out there is that Qin Gang is under investigation for inappropriate relationship with a journalist from Phoenix TV.

While the censors did try to block some rumours on social media, it is almost laughable to think that a high ranking Chinese official would get into trouble for extramarital affairs. There must be some other reason, but first, let us take a closer look at the woman with whom he is allegedly having an affair.

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Qin Gang on Fu Xiaotian’s show on Phoenix Satellite TV

Fu Xiaotian 傅晓田 was born in Chongqing, Sichuan in 1983. Her background is somewhat enshrouded in secrecy but her father is said to be a high ranking military man. Miss Fu studied in China’s Southwest University affiliated middle school and later graduated from Peking University where she obtained two bachelor’s degrees, one in English Language and Literature and another in Economics.

After going overseas, she graduated from the University of Cambridge with a master’s degree in 2008. After returning to China to experience the excitement of China’s first Olympic Games, Fu Xiaotian returned to the UK and was planning to live there indefinitely. At that time, Phoenix TV’s London office was recruiting staff. She passed the assessment and started an internship.

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Fu Xiaotian on vacation

As Phoenix Satellite TV’s London correspondent, Fu Xiaotian has shown the courage to innovate and has a strong ability to work independently. The channel grew in popularity, gaining recognition in the UK with the domestic audience.

When civil war broke out in Libya in 2011, Xiaotian volunteered to report on the battlefield in Libya. With great courage, she accomplished her task and gained deep respect among her peers. Fu Xiaotian was known for her comprehensive and objective reporting and her in-depth and incisive analysis.

Fu Xiaotian was best known for her own program, Talk with World Leaders 风云对话. It is a one-on-one interview program on Phoenix TV. Fu would talk to world leaders and try to get any many positive comments on China and negative comments on “unfriendly” countries. The 32-minute program is broadcast worldwide. Though the cast is impressive, the number on views for the videos on YouTube are not impressive at all, with the exception of the one featuring Qin Gang.

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As mentioned, Fu Xiaotian is not known to be married, but she had shown pictures of her baby and mentioned her baby’s father in passing. Interestingly, her last Weibo posting was on 10 April 2023. She mentioned that she would not be hosting her show 风云对话 anymore. She also mentioned her baby’s name – Er-Kin. Could the child be Qin Gang’s? She went silent after that and at about the same time, Qin Gang had also disappeared.

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Below is a video of Fu Xiaotian in a casual talk show on Phoenix TV early in her career. So a French minister cannot hook up with a Chinese woman. So hook up with a Chinese foreign minister 呗。You can see my mocking remark on Facebook, but I’m nowhere as caustic as those who call her 一代名“记”。

A little background info for the uninitiated. This show 锵锵三人行 is a more refined version of 今夜不设防。The content is strictly for mature audiences and females guests on the show were often dressed to distract. Below is an episode featuring Taiwanese journalist 竹幼婷 who married a Westerner. See how lively and easygoing the atmosphere was back then.

Now look at the Miss Fu’s final appearance on the program. I don’t know how well you understand Chinese Chinese (not the rudimentary level of Chinese taught in Singapore schools) but Miss Fu was clearly offended by the remark on her neckline by 马家辉 and they ended up spending the greater part of the show debating political correctness through clenched teeth. Things have changed. Miss Fu thinks that she is now on a different level from the other two.

This show was abruptly withdrawn in 2017. It’s an open secret that she was close to the Phoenix TV’s chief and Miss Fu Xiaotian must have thought that casual talk shows were already beneath her.Below is a clip showing the far more down-to-earth Taiwanese journalist 竹幼婷 talking about women who pretend to be virtuous. Miss Zhu got married, quit the profession, had children and migrated to Finland.

Let’s get back to our original question. Why was Qin Gang removed? The sexiest theory for now is this: Fu Xiaotian is a spy working for the West and Qin Gang is currently under investigation for any leak of Chinese state secrets. Or did she persuade him to defect? Everyone seems to know that having affairs is never a problem for high ranking Chinese officials. It only becomes a problem when there’s some other problem – just as in the case of corruption. It’s never a problem until that official’s loyalty is in doubt. What about Qin Gang? Why didn’t they just find him guilty of bribery? The issue has to be a lot more sensitive than that? What could be more sensitive than the Rocket Force’s 火箭军 secrets being leaked to the Pentagon?

In October 2022, the U.S. Air Force think tank “China Aerospace Studies Institute” (China Aerospace Studies Institute) published a report on the organizational structure of the Chinese Rocket Force, detailing the distribution of the Rocket Force’s bases across China and its internal personnel structure.

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Instantly, many generals of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force came under investigation and the emperor would rather kill 100 by mistake than to let one guilty party get away.

Wu Guohua, the former deputy commander of the Rocket Force who had retired for three years, died suddenly in early July 2023. The cause of death was said to be a cerebral hemorrhage and announced only 21 days after Wu’s death. His apparent suicide became suspicious. Likewise, there has been a spate of “suicides” within the navy. Meanwhile, Li Yuchao, current commander of the Rocket Force, was taken away for investigation. He became a suspect when it came to light that his son was studying in America. Since March, 3 commanders, 2 deputy commanders and several cadres from the Rocket Force at the divisional level have been sacked.


As mentioned earlier, Fu Xiaotian hails from a family of military people. It is likely that she came under suspicion and was investigated at the behest of Wang Yi. Qin Gang could be innocent, but being implicated in this highly sensitive leak of top secret military information, Wang Yi must have deemed it necessary to remove him.

Qin Gang’s departure could mean a return of warrior wolf diplomacy. At the same, former classmates and neighbours of Qin Gang had emerged in recent days to denounce him as a selfish, ambitious and toadying character. We can’t accept these judgements at face value, even if Wang Yi might be glad that they have picked an opportune moment to 落井下石。

In Search of the Panchen Lama

There is clearly evidence of fraud in the procedure used by the Chinese government in picking the Panchen Lama. Yet, the Chinese government insisted that it’s following history. The ignorant apologists will just take their word for it.

The Dalai Lama can refuse to play along, declaring that he shall be the last Dalai Lama. Ironically, those who are all out to destroy Tibetan Buddhism accuse him of going against Tibetan Buddhism. Such is the politics of reincarnation. There is manipulation on either side, but the difference lies in mountains and molehills.

What if even the apologists themselves are not convinced? They simply change the subject and talk about how Tibet has prospered under communist rule.

China’s economic miracle is to a very great extent, due to the abandonment of conscience and principles.