Tuesday, July 25, 2006

VICTORY - Hao Wu Freed - New American Media has just come out with a decent article on Blogger/Filmmaker Hao Wu's ordeal in Beijing - locked up from Feb 22 to July 11. His film Beijing or Bust chronicled the experiences of a handful of Chinese Americans that relocate to Beijing and other cities in Chinese to live.

Bloggers Help Free Chinese Filmmaker
New America Media, News Analysis, Eugenia Chien, Jul 25, 2006

Editor’s Note: Thanks in large part to bloggers, Chinese blogger and filmmaker Hao Wu is finally freed after spending nearly five months in a Beijing jail. While China is trying to crack down on Internet dissidents, notes NAM writer Eugenia Chien, the Internet community is fighting back, despite the obvious risks.

When Chinese filmmaker Hao Wu did not show up on Feb. 22 to meet a friend at the gym in Beijing, the Internet community jumped into action. A picture of Wu on a shocking red background and bright yellow text that said “Free Hao Wu” soon popped up on hundreds of blogs in China as well as around the world.

Within weeks, about 1,000 websites carried the picture of Wu, which linked to a website called FreeHaoWu.com where information about the case was constantly updated. It was a virtual version of going block by block to post fliers for a missing person.

Wu, a Chinese citizen with U.S. permanent residency, was finally released on July 11 after nearly five months in detention. His case is a testament to the power of the blogging community to generate information and gather support. With an estimated 60 million bloggers in China, blogs have become a powerful tool of social support for causes ranging from feminism to freedom of speech.
Full post

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Jooksing is now on vacation in the REAL OC -
Anaheim - Disneyland Garden Grove Westminster [talk about a huge Asian American community down here] and visiting my nephew and niece and other family in Southern Orange county;
And for the past few days we have been enjoying Los Angeles' south bay - [it's so great to have a sister-in-law down here]
Torrance [there's a great Buddhahead hangout - Marukai]
Hermosa Beach, Redondo Beach and Manhattan Beach - weather is heavenly out here.
Loved the amazing sunset yesterday at Manhattan Beach; and the morning sunrise at Hermosa Beach pier today.
And this afternoon I am visiting Santa Monica Pier with my 6 year old Jade and visiting my sister in Pacific Palasades as well.
Back home driving up I-5 tomorrow morning through the blistering Central Valley to the SF/Oakland Bay Area and cool summer weather again.
We will resume here in a few days...

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Watching Long Bow Films' - Morning Sun and The Gate of Heavenly Peace -
More reflections on my China trip -
As I continue to sort out my thoughts on the challenges of China's massive school system, the impact of corporate globalization on the Chinese people, and folks in the US, and my personal feelings of going to China for the first time - I have been reviewing current documentaries on China's politcal and economic development.
Discovery/Times, Canandian Broadcasting's 2006 series China Rises and Hao Wu's Beijing or Bust were useful, but the most insightful documentaries were Carma Hinton's moving and constructively critical
Morning Sun [2003 - on the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution 1964-76 and the potenial of China's youth] and The Gate of Heavenly Peace [1995 - on the 7-week long Tiananmen Square protests of April-June 4, 1989 and the brutal government crackdown]. I rewatched Heavenly Peace last night, all 3 hours of it. It is gut wrenching but gives a very insightful understanding of the complexity of the struggle for people's democracy and development in China and the mistakes of the party and the student and worker and intellectual leaders of the time. The companion websites for both documentaries are incredible educational resources as well.

I have also found a few blogs helpful in understanding how others view China today.
Mike Downs - China and Beyond offers a refreshing view of the school system in China and how the government is trying to work with schools, especially private schools to promote exchange programs. Downs is the Principal of a private school in St. Paul, MN. Apparently, before our delegation of mostly public school folks, HANBAN had sponsored a trip of private school educators in the US in what they called the China Connection project, a partnership between NAIS [the US association of private schools] and HANBAN, a non-governmental organization (NGO) funded by the Chinese government, with a goal of advancing the teaching of the Mandarin language in schools in the United States.

Wang, Dinghua, PhD of the Basic Education Department, Ministry of Education, PRC is telling us a story. "My daughter's math teacher told her that the new textbook is terrible. 'Don't use this awful new book,' he said, 'I will tell you which book to buy in the store.'"
...Wang is a key player in designing and implementing major reforms in China's education policy. He is in the midst of a presentation to us that describes in detail the problems with the Chinese system and how the new reforms are being modeled on the American system.
One of his slides reads in bold letters, WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM AMERICAN EDUCATION? Another reads simply, STUDENT LEARNING: active learning, interactive ability, hands-on ability, how to fish instead of giving fish. The last one refers, of course, to the adage "give a man a fish, you feed him for a day, teach him to fish and you feed him for a lifetime." Put another way, "we don't teach students what to think, we teach them how." ..

But perhaps an equally important strength of the system is revealed in the very existence of this reform process, and that the ministry, at least according to Wang, is implementing reforms based on a critical self-examination.

Our Chinese hosts in Jinan and in Beijing, like the HANBAN officials, Vice-Chair Prof. Xu Jialu, and others gave a similar perspective to our delegation as well. Before our trip though, Consul-General Peng Keyu and his chief education advisor, an official from the PRC's ministry of education invited our SF delegation to the Chinese Consulate in SF. They were very open with us about the huge challenges of the Chinese education system and the millions of people that are being displaced by the modernization efforts and the growing inequalities in not just between rural and urban, but also in the cities themselves. They were also very frank about the growing privatization too in their public education system there.

In retrospect, I am understanding better now that I am back how our trip, and others funded by HANBAN, fits into China President Hu's 6 goals for stronger US/China cooperation laid out in his
April 21 speech to Yale University:

Fifth, Hu said the two nations should draw on each other's strengths, and strengthen friendly exchanges between the two peoples.
"China and the United States both have cultures that we take pride in and they have both made contribution to the human civilization and progress of mankind," Hu said.
"Therefore, China and the United States should step up cooperation in science and technology, culture and education, increase exchanges between our youths, media and think tanks and expand friendly exchanges between our provinces and cities," the president said.
Sixth, Hu said, the two sides should respect each other, treat each other as equals and view differences in a proper context and manage them properly.
China, in line with its national conditions, will continue to reform its political structure, develop socialist democracy, expand citizens' orderly participation in political affairs and ensure that people exercise democratic election, democratic decision making, democratic management and democratic monitoring in accordance with the law, the president said.
China takes human rights seriously, he stressed. The country respects and upholds human rights and this has been written into China's Constitution.
China will keep advancing human rights in the course of its social development. ...
"Due to different national conditions, it is normal for China and the United States to disagree on some issues," President Hu said. "We should seek common ground while shelving differences, conduct consultation on an equal footing and promote mutual progress through exchanges," he said.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

It's Miller Time, I mean Baijiu Time! I just finished turning in my grades for my SF State students in my Asians in America summer course. The Chinese liquor I picked up in Shanghai is very smelly. It is like 50-60% alcohol or something like that...
I grew accustomed to the Baijiu on our delegation to Jinan because the Chinese teachers, principals and educators kept saying "gom-bay" and kept filling our wine and Baijiu glasses, and toasting toasting toasting... We usually slept well after those banquets, but the mornings were a bit difficult to wake up.

Now that I am free of my summer school teaching, I can concentrate on school board issues and something also called vacation. I go to LA for a few days to join the rest of my family, and then back to the City to play tourist as well. One place I want to explore more is the Presidio in SF. Here's a shot I took of the father of film at George Lucas' spanking new Digital Arts Center in the Presidio. The dome of the Palace of Fine Arts, which houses our City's incredible learning center the Exploratorium, is in the background. The site is also where San Francisco showed off its post 1906 earthquake rebirth at the Panama Pacific Worlds Fair in 1915.

I also hope to get some multicultural eating in as well. A few days ago after the fog had started to blow in in the late afternoon in the Richmond District I walked to a little family run Russian restaurant down the street on Balboa and 6th Avenue called Cinderella Bakery and Cafe. They also have a great bakery as well. My 6 year old always asks where the real Cinderella [disney's version] is, and I tell her that this is the real thing. The meal was so awesome I had to take a photo of it, and the great Baltika 5 beer too...
I love San Francisco! Even though my neighborhood - the Richmond District - is considered by many as the NEW CHINATOWN in SF, I see it as a multiethnic enclave with many different cultures and groups of people.

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Monday, July 10, 2006

17 years after the Tiananmen Square Massacre -
This photo shows me with a few other members of the Jinan delegation from the United States standing in Tiananmen Square with Mao looking over my shoulder from the massive Gate of Heavenly Peace which is the entrance to the Forbidden City of Chinese emperors. Carma Hinton's insightful film The Gate of Heavenly Peace and the companion website gives a very good modern overview of the political shifts in China up to the mid-1990's when the film was done.

What happened to some of the Tiananmen Student Leaders?
On June 30th I also visited Beijing Normal University, one of the hot spots for student activism of the late 1980's. But the many students I talked with had no consciousness of Tiananmen, they just served as cheerful guides for our US delegation.
For info on the student leaders of 1989 -
The website for Hinton's film even gives some background on what happended to Wang Dan, Wuer Kaixi, and Chai Ling, the main student leaders from Beijing Normal University and Beijing University in 1989.
Unlike his colleagues Wang stayed in China after the Tiananmen Massacre and was jailed beginning on July 2, 1989, and then again from 1991 to 1993. He was released on parole in February 2003, but soon afterwards detained again in May 2003 for participating in petitions calling for the release of all prisoners arrested in connection with the June 4th movement. In 1996 he was sentenced to 11 years in prison for subversion.
Luckily he was released on medical parole in 1998 and went into exile in the United States. He has probably completed his Ph.D. now in history at Harvard.
Wuer hosts a radio talk show in Taiwan.
Chai, the student who had reportedly advocated bloodshed and had denounced many other student leaders who were seeking to negotiate with the Chinese government officials for the students to peacefully leave the square before the violent crackdown on June 4, 1989, now owns Jenzabar, an internet company with her husband and has had numerous conflicts with folks from the Harvard Business School to former executives from her own company. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, July 08, 2006

China July 2006 - more photos of Jinan elementary school students. English language is mandatory in Chinese schools. Many of these children were speaking excellent English at the Elementary School level.

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Chinese students - Jinan, Beijing and Shanghai.

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Friday, July 07, 2006

Schools in China and San Francisco - Dropouts/Pushouts
The schools we visited in Jinan, the Capitol of Shandong Province in China on Monday seemed better-resourced than many of our schools in the San Francisco/Oakland Bay Area. Today I met with San Francisco middle school students who will be entering many of our high schools next year like Lowell, Galileo and Lincoln. A few are going on to private and parochial schools as well. The students are participating in a great program called SummerBridge.The 2 Jinan schools we visited, Jinan Primary School and Jinan #2 High ...
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Thursday, July 06, 2006

Children and Teachers in Jinan, China 2006

This little guy introduced himself as 'Richard.' I told him my father had been named Richard too. He was born in Guangzhou, China but left for the United States as a baby in 1919 and never returned. The boy gave me a little cat made of playdough. He made me think a lot about my father who passed away in 2004.

Children enjoying the soothing and peaceful water at one of Jinan's amazing natural spring parks.

Jinan elementary school children performing Chinese Opera.

Jinan kindergarten teachers performing modern Chinese dances for our Shandong schools delegation from the United States. Now why couldn't I have had kindergarten teachers like them while I was growing up... :-) Posted by Picasa
Photos of the people of Jinan and Shanghai

Students from Jinan experimental high school

Dad with son digging his nose on a Monday morning in Shanghai

Shanghai's Government Brand Cigarettes compete with Marlboro for the masses

Kids play at the extremely modern and westernized Shanghai international airport

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More Photos of the people of Jinan, the Capitol of Shandong Province.

Lu Xun display at Jinan Primary School.
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Wednesday, July 05, 2006

CHINA 2006 - iPod labor, Cui Jian - China's rock legend, songs and thoughts
On father's day, before my trip, my partner Sandi bought me one of those new iPods that hold a ton of video and audio files. I packed in a bunch of podcasts about China, Mandarin, etc. in addition to about 2500 songs.
I also realize that companies like Apple are reaping tremendous profits from factories in China which produce the little machines from the labor of workers in China who are usually pulled from rural areas to work in new urban economic zones opened up by China's rush to modernization and the WTO/World Bank/and TNC's efforts to open up 'free' markets in China. The iPods in China cost as much as they do here which means that only a tiny sliver of the people there can actually purchase them.
Songs - Cui Jian to Bob Dylan and UB40
Besides my Cui Jian Chinese rock and roll and other songs from a changing China, I listened to one of my iPod playlists which I also burned on a CD to give to my hosts.
Cui is the Bob Dylan of Chinese Rock. Banned for 13 years after the Tiananmen Square massacre, his 80's anthem "Nothing to My Name" is still an inspiration to me.
I am giving you my aspirations
And my freedom too.
But you always
laugh at me
Because I have nothing

Some of the songs I brought to China included -
Crystal Blue Persuasion - Tommy James
America - Patti Labelle/Natalie Cole/Sheila E version of West Side Story Classic
Sing Our Own Song - UB40
Love and Hope - Ozomatli
Maria Maria - Santana
Someday We'll All Be Free - Donny Hathaway
Dancing in the Street - Martha Reeves
Place in the Sun - Stevie Wonder
Don't Worry Baby - Beach Boys
I Shall Be Released - Dylan and The Band
Ahi Wela/Twinkle Twinkle Little Star - Israel Kamaka-Wiwo'ole
Better Things - The Kinks
Ballad of the Sun and the Moon - Alexandro Escovedo
What a Wonderful World - Keb Mo
America - Simon and Garfunkel
This Land is Your Land - Woodie Guthrie
Why? [the king of love is dead] - Nina Simone
Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing - Melba Moore
I Left My Heart in San Francisco - Tony Bennett
TOMMY JAMES AND THE SHONDELLS lyrics - "Crystal Blue Persuasion" [1969]
Look over yonder what do you see The sun is a-risin' most definitely A new day is comin' people are changin' Ain't it beautiful crystal blue persuasion… Maybe tomorrow when He looks down Every green field and every town All of his children every nation There'll be peace and good brotherhood Crystal blue persuasion
Sing Our Own Song - UB40 [2000]
The great flood of tears that we`ve cried For our brothers and sisters who`ve died Over four hundred years Has washed away our fears And strengthened our pride Now we turn back the tide

We will no longer hear your command We will sieze the control from your hand
We will fan the flame Of our anger and pain And you`ll feel the shame For what you do in gods name

We will fight for the right to be free
We will build our own society
And we will sing, we will sing
We will sing our own song

When the ancient drum rythms ring The voice of our forefathers sings Forward
Africa run Our day of freedom has come For me and for you Amandla Awethu!
I shall be released - Bob Dylan and the Band [from the Last Waltz]

They say ev'rything can be replaced, Yet ev'ry distance is not near. So I remember
ev'ry face Of ev'ry man who put me here. I see my light come shining From the west unto the east. Any day now, any day now, I shall be released.
Love And Hope – Ozomatli [2004 - Street Signs]

A child looks up into my eyes, nothing to say. An open hand with scars can hide the pain away. What I can give is not enough to help him grow. How can I fulfill his needs, embrace his soul?

The hope deep in his eyes are dreams he must let fly! So sing this song with me. this hopeful melody.

Chorus: Just raise your head up and stand up, no fear in your eyes.
Tell me love and hope never die. So raise your head up and stand up, no reason to cry. 'Cause your heart and soul will survive.

The child struggled to survive. Now he's a man. With children of his own, he does the best one can. He tries to live with love and not let sorrow grow, even though he barely reaps all that he sows.

The hope deep in his eyes are dreams he must let fly! So sing this song with me.
This hopeful melody.

In front of the Forbidden Palace. My head blocks Mao's 22 foot oil painting image.
In the Forbidden City.
A lovely performer at the Jinan Primary school welcomes the visitors from the West.
Ms. Ma is the principal of Jinan Primary School. The principal of the high school we visited was also named Ma. Ma is my surname as well. Posted by Picasa

Children from Jinan's Primary School performing at their school for the American Delegation. The School was founded in 1903. The principal, Ms. Ma, talked about the impact of the May 4th [1919] movement on the Chinese people's consciousness. A huge picture of leftist intellectual writer Lu Hsun stood in doorway of the school.

Jinan No. 2 High School, one of the country's experimental schools attracts the best and the brightest from Shandong. Actress Gong Li attended this school. Various slogans on the walls of the classrooms emphasized - ENTHUSIASM, DEMOCRACY, INDEPENDENCE, SELF-ESTEEM, PARTICIPATION, CONFIDENCE, DILIGENCE, and SELF-MANAGEMENT.

Shanghai kid with grandma. Little ones wear air-conditioned pants, open in the back and in the front...

Jinan #2 students asked me about US basketball teams and players. We saw one of their players who looked as big as Yao Ming [Shanghai Sharks, Houston Rockets]. But these guys were shooting a lot of airballs.
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I am beginning to post some of the 1000 or so photos I took on the trip to Beijing, Jinan, and Shanghai.

In the Great Hall of the People!

I climbed one of the pieces of the Great Wall!

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4th of July - HOME SWEET HOME!!
I made it back home from Shanghai to San Francisco on an 11 hour flight in time to get a little sleep, unpack, and then catch an incredible sunset at Ocean Beach, the spectacular fireworks at fisherman's wharf/Pier 39, and then to Q in the Richmond District for spareribs, corn on the cob, spicy coleslaw, garlic fries and a glass of wine.
I am so much more grateful to be here in SF now after having visited China. I feel like my identity as a Chinese American has changed - and I plan to get back to China as soon as I can and to try to bring my daughter with me next time.
Looking out over the Pacific Ocean towards China this evening I thought about the new journey I have begun - to work with others to learn more about China, and to build a stronger US/China People's friendship and understanding. Posted by Picasa

Monday, July 03, 2006

The food has been almost as much of an adventure as the trip to China itself.
I am proud to admit that I finally ate foods like fried silkworms, little snails, and a whole sea cucumber in a strange soup. We also had Manchu type food, Jinan/Shandong cuisine as well. But i was releaved to have good ole Chow Fun and Jook [rice porridge] this morning for breakfast in Shanghai.
The Bay-ju [whisky or tequilla-like liquor] and the wine have been wonderful, but the culture of toasting at banquets over and over and over again has left me a little hung over most mornings.
The McDonalds and KFC's and Starbucks are troubling, but I am dying for a big mac, but have been able to restrain myself... so far.
Babies -
I am taking a million pictures too [too bad i can't post them here] - my favorite visuals are the grandma's or dads with their babies in little diaper pants that have an opening in the back that shows their little butts.
Outdoor community life -
I also enjoy the community life here, the people hanging out at night on the streets, playing mah-jong under the freeway, or eating on the sidewalks, or in Jinan's beautiful Spring Square - all the ballroom dancer groups, roller bladers, lovers, traditional chinese music jam sessions, opera singers just singing for everyone hanging out til very late in the evenings.
On July 1 and 2nd I visited the cradle of Chinese Civilization, the Jinan/Shandong Province area, including the Yellow River, the birthplace of Confucius, area of 1000 buddhas, site of the Japanese and German occupation of China from 1900 to the 1940's.
The children at the elementary and high schools we visited were so enthusiastic about learning, not just about the United States, but also learning so that they could build a stronger China for the future.
A little boy- maybe about 6 years old or so - I talked with told me his American name was "Richard" - I told him that was my dad's name and that my father left Guongzhou area of China when he was a baby and really never returned. The boy gave me a little cat made of playdough. Today's China is a different world from the one my father left in 1919 or so, during the era of 'gunboat diplomacy' and foreign domination.
The elementary school had a large picture of leftist intelectual Lu Hsun, in addition to other Chinese heroes. The sense of people's history is amazing here. Talking to high school students and teachers too, you can understand the pride they feel, but also the responsibility to build China for the future. The 2008 beijing olympics icons - 4 little panda bears - are all over the cities we visited.
I have really enjoyed the company too of the Jinan, Shandong and Beijing education leaders we have been hanging out with as well.

It is 6:30 in the morning and I am now in Shanhai - we arrived late last night. It is very hot and humid. I hope to see more of this incredibly modern city today before flying back to SF.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

I feel a bit sad as we leave Beijing today for a one hour flight to Jinan, the Capital of Shandong Province.
As a Chinese American, I feel that my sense of historical identity has just been stretched back from the 1850's or so, now some 5000 years. Especially, after walking through the imperial palace and learning about the old china but also the 'New China' that was awakened by the revolution in 1949. The awesome monuments to the people's heroes here and the scale of the Tiananmen Square area can't be described in words. As Bruce Lee says, you have to just 'feel it!'
The modernization though is clearly wiping away older housing, and hutongs, neighborhoods. I feel unforcomfortable about the displacement of the poor here, but we haven't even seen yet the rural areas and how the globalization is pulling the working age population from there to the cities like Beijing, Shanghai and so many of the growing metropolitan areas.
Off to Jinan...
I feel like a new person.
I climbed the great wall this morning, had lunch in the National History Museum, walked Tiananmen Square, touched the monument for China's People's heroes and wandered through the Forbidden City. I regret that weren't able to go to Mao's grave.
The Gate of Heavenly Peace is even more incredible live than in the photos we've all seen.
The sky this evening is clear as I watch the sunset through the haze in the Beijing sky.
We depart Beijing tomorrow for Jinan in Shandong Province.