Asia Society: Xi and Mao, and visa

ChinaFile Presents: Does Xi Jinping Represent a Return to the Politics of the Mao Era? by Asia Society
21 May 2015, 6:30pm – 8:00pm (file 26977)
725 Park Avenue (at East 70th Street), New York, NY

image image image imageFour accomplished academics, (at one time or another, they’re or were) put up a show last night at Asia Society. I enjoyed their talk. Orville Schell moderates a panel featuring Andrew Walder (of Stanford), Roderick MacFarquhar (of Harvard) and Susan Shirk.

Walder thinks Mao did well till 1957, was the only leader who encouraged his people to attack the system he established. Mao liked disorder, disliked stability. MacFarquhar, the Brit who taught Miss Xi thinks Hong Kong is still very important to China, can’t be replaced by Shanghai, just yet. Xi is trying hard to avoid to repeat the fate of Mikhail Gorbachev. Deng’s gift to China was to unleash the people.

image image image imageThey mentioned the conversation between Jimmy Carter and Deng Xiaoping when Deng denied there was any restriction on Chinese to go aboard/to come to USA. “10 million, would you welcome that?” Regime change is never predicted nor forecast.  China is carving the approve of USA, not from UK, France or Germany but USA.

China has achieved remarkably in the past 39 years but why isn’t she getting the respect from USA and the world?

The highlight of the night was Winston Lord who was the first one to raise his hand during the Q&A.

Today my child went to Chinese Consulate in New York to apply for a visa. As usual, the line went out of the door, around the block. With our past experience some were downright harassing, even my child was prepared to face the hurdles but ..

The black security guard was hissing everyone to turn off their cell phone, in Chinese, “guan, guan …” My child understood but a white woman didn’t who apparently had no clue what the guard was talking about. China has become wealthy couldn’t they afford to hire someone decent? 见人说人话

The adage that you only have one chance to make a first impression. But guess China doesn’t care. The New York consulate always feel like a bazaar, crowded in disarray. Last year I had a travel agency to deal with it. The small fee they charge was well worth it.

Another hurdle was the application form. It has to be filled on line and printed, handwritten isn’t acceptable. I’m thinking, why can’t they go a tiny step further, generates a number once it Once filed to save paper. Guess not.

The talk and visa doesn’t seem to have any correlation but I feel, small thing count. Maybe start from the root. Do not do things from the lowest denominator. The respect may come one day?

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The bird watcher

t2i, efs 18-55mm over the window
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Leaders become beggars

Not long ago, 1949, Chairman Mao proclaimed the independence and supported the soldiers, peasants and workers to lead the young nation. All our leaders before Xi Jinping, starting from Chairman Mao had accent some were so thick I had hard time to decipher. Mao and his band of brothers were mostly peasants.
Our parents were sent down to the countryside to learn from them, our brothers and sisters were sent down to be re-educated by them. We were dumb down … I’d think that they live in a shangri la, an happily ever after but this long article paints a very different picture. The author lists 18 points stating why Chinese farmers are so poor.

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When Lei Jun speaks English

During the launch of his phones in New Delhi He spoke English and it’s painful to listen. In this casual interview at Standorf he spoke Chinese.

WSJ surveys 10 Chinese from the streets in Beijing, on how important for Chinese to speak English. Not that important fm older people and important fm youngsters, predicable.

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the plant that flowering is from Ikea

I bought this pot of house plant from Ikea years ago. It’s fine in the shade. But the following year it began to flowering. Heeding my green thumb’s advise, I put it by the window. It hasn’t stopped flowering since, multiple flowers all the time. A similar one


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Giving advice 提供咨询

I’ve come to realize the worst advice one can give after listening to a wonderful story is: to write about it.

Writing is easy but writing well is very difficult because it’s a craft. It’s NOT for everyone.

So next time when you see someone you hate (loathing isn’t sever enough to do this), go tell him/her to write a book -:)

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The slow mo

There are Apple, Google, Amazon, Paypal and there are institutions that are still using money order. Money Order for Pete’s Sake!! I’d think by now it has distinct from the face of the earth. I often get confused in this new world. Hello, is anybody home?

The reason for the money order was bank sent a new card and we forgot to update with this institution and soon got a nasty letter saying … see you in court if you don’t …. Ok, I’m more than willing to pay up but, by now they only accept cash, or money order or cashier’s check. For Pete’s Sake it’s 300 miles from the civilization (as if). Gosh, I rushed to the Post Office and got the money order and snail mail it to them. I do mind paying the over night rate of $19.99 or something like that. Whenever that institution receives it. Talking about modernization or customer service.

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The Bush Identity

So the kid bro Jeb is running, and he’s probably will win. But can the Time magazine’s editor do a better job:
On page 38 …then found love young in central Mexico. I think is should be young love instead?
On page 40, picture caption second from right. Ok, it’s a magazine that opens flat, … It looks like third from either side. Read the full story here
image image image

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Four sisters over half a century

Forty Portraits in Forty Years: The Brown sisters have been photographed every year since 1975. The latest image in the series is published here for the first time. (though we know their names: from left, Heather, Mimi, Bebe and Laurie; Bebe, of the penetrating gaze, is Nixon’s wife; 1975, 85, 95, 2005 and 2014)
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How to fail

Our mission in life is not to succeed, but to keep on failing in good spirits.
– Robert Louis Stevenson

I have not failed 700 times; I have successfully discovered 700 ways to not make a light bulb.
– Thomas Edison

If at first you don’t succeed, find out if the loser gets anything.
– Bill Lyon

It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not lived at all. In which case, you’ve failed by default.
– J.K. Rowling

The only real failure in life is not to be true to the best one knows.
– Buddha

Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.
– Winston Churchill

Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.
– Henry Ford

My imperfections and failures are as much a blessing from God as my successes and talents, and I lay them both at His Feet.
– Mahatma Ghandi

If you know you are going to fail, then fail gloriously!
– Cate Blanchett

If at first you don’t succeed, destroy all evidence that you have tried.
– Unknown

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a little plant that grows over shoulder high

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A tree

The big tree by the library
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a cute plant

similar to this from Ikea

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If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all

The following dialog happened when I was little, less than 7 years old:
“What a pity, Sandy’s just too dark. Otherwise she would be a complete knockout like you.” Sister Chen complimented Nainai.

A few non Chinese read it and asked,

So Sister Chen is paying Nainai a compliment by insulting Sandy?

Well, yes and no.

Yes: on paper, Sister Chen did implied that Sandy’s dark, which in the culture that consider dark’s ugly, it’s an insult.

No: in reality, Sandy’s no more than 7 years old, Sister Chen may not consider Sandy would understand. And, such compliments were quite common. Which leads me to think about the American idiom that If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

Here are couple of videos in synch with the idiom:

Think back prior to 1979, I did recall a few vivid dialogs in Beijing when people said the identical thing as Sister Chen. Non felt it was rude of insulting. And all the years I live in USA, I could not think of one incident.

I am not implying that Chinese are rude and ineloquent but perhaps the social environment made the difference? Since 1949, China experienced campaigns after campaigns. The Three Years of Great Chinese Famine (三年大饥荒; 1959-61) made the situation even worse. Chinese just did not have the stomach to make nice with each other. Primal survival was the order of the day, every day. The ten years of Cultural Revolution had just compounded it.
USA has been relatively peaceful and stable. Everyone enjoys reasonable rules and protected by their right. They just have more time and energy to play nice.

This is just my two cents. What do you think?


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The other woman

Because of the comic foundation setter or donor at Columbia University, my husband confessed (just kidding) to me his the other woman: a female student looked him up on LinkedIn, and sent him messages, and resume, to network, and to fish for a job. But her English isn’t really good. Ha, finally I found someone whose English is on par with mine. An advice: have someone to prove read your resume and solicitations.

.. I am very passionate about financial services or analyst. I have a corporation risk management class on this semester which inspire me on the Hedging, the service help people to invest their money and to avoid tax brilliant. My experience with Financial Director Assistant, …

But I did learn one thing from her: Bel Canto. Thanks girl.

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Studying aboard 留学

Specifically studying in USA 留美. Yung Wing 容閎 (Rong Hong; 1828-1912) was the first, graduated from Yale in 1854. Since then a skeleton of kids sailed to USA over the years, then stopped in 1881. Then the next wave of Chinese students came to USA was through the Boxer Indemnity Scholarship Program at Qinghua, starting 1909. Many my relatives had benefited from this.  Qinghua would become a full college in 1929. Those students were official sent – passing the exam.

The next wave of perhaps would be my generation, those who was born in the early 1960s, those were on their own, privately. Of course there were some official sent students too. This was lead off by China and USA re-established relationship in 1972. A daughter of my mom’s colleague [Xiong Hui 熊卉(?)] came to USA in the early 1970s, with the help of her aunt who was living in NJ (I think). She attended Iona College in New Rochelle, Westchester County, 16 miles northeast to midtown Manhattan. At that time, sending home color pictures was a huge joy and fashionable and affordable thing to do.

A close classmate married a guy who was on government stipend at Cornell in 1987. However, most my generation came to USA on their own.

Then .. in

98374eb31753TsbfsH3pAnd then then .. in 2015,


A friend who attends Colombia University in NYC wrote in my WeChat group: a family of four from China asking me if he makes a donation so his daughter could attend the Business school at Columbia.

Irene 我:是真的还是你开玩笑?Was is [sic] it real or you made it up?

在哥大上学的朋友: It is real! (开始我还以为是问有没有什么奖学金,然后他解释了一下他问题的意思我就被震惊了……

It is real! In the beginning I thought he was asking if there is any scholarship but then he explained what his question meant, for moment, I was shocked.

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Immigration: Chinese Americans

IMG_7265New York Historical Society is exhibiting the Chinese American: Exclusion/Inclusion (September 26, 2014 – April 19, 2015) Here are many individual stories. The weather was great, we took a walk in the Central Park. At the end of the exhibit, on a narrow hallway wall, it compiled this profile of Chinese New Yorkers. More pix on FB.

There was a man who was giving a tour. At one point, he asked if any one is watching FOB – Fresh of the Boat, the Chinese sitcom on ABC. Only a skeleton of hands went up, which reminded me of Amy Chua, the Tiger Mom 虎妈. Within the Chinese immigrants, there are gaps, or groups that don’t really socialize or see eye to eye or mingle.

The earliest Chinese came to America was the railroad labors from the coastal areas of China, mainly Guangzhou Province, (Eng Association) in the 19th century. Early 20th century, students from inland came to US to study, mostly sent by the government or paid for by the foundations in USA. 1957 two Chinese Americans won the Nobel Prize in Physics.

The 1989 Tiananmen Square protests prompted the formation of Committee of 100. I still remembered New York Times’ Fox Butterfield in his Building a Voice for Chinese in the U.S. (1991.06.22), invoked a sentiment of Asian Week on the Committee: “a high school student without a date, all dressed up with no place to go.”

Second half of 20th century, toward end, most students came to USA on their own, included if not started by (all my school mates) the generation born in the early 1960s.

IMG_7278 IMG_7284 IMG_7286 IMG_7292

A timeline shows the Chinese Americans have been making a stride (work in progress):

  • 1820, railroad labor, wikiCPRR,
  • 1854, Yung Wing 容閎 (Rong Hong; 1828-1912) graduated from Yale; an under grade, the first Chinese studying aboard.
  • 1882, Exclusion Act of 1882
  • 1896, Li Hongzhang lobbied for better treatment of Chinese while visiting NYC
  • 1930?, Liu Zhendong (刘震东 1906?-1984?); Qinghua to University of Missouri
  • 1925?, Wu Shiwei (Swain/吴士蔚; 1903-1989); College of William and Mary
  • 1928? Wang Jigao  (Chi Kao/王季高; 1905-1997); Qinghua to Colombia Uni
  • 1935, James Eng (19 -) born in NYC, my fathe-in-law
  • 1944, Zhou Yiliang (1913-2001) graduated from Harvard, PhD, my mom’s cousin;
  • 1957, Nobel Prize in Physics, Chen-Ning Yang (Yang Zhenning; 1922-)/ Tsung-Dao Lee 李政道 (Lǐ Zhèngdào;1926-)
  • 1962, James Eng married Dora Tam (19) of Hong Kong, my mother-in-law
  • image1980, only Asian boy in the GNS graduating class (a couple of Asian girls; he skipped a grade)
  • 1984, Louvre Pyramid (complete in 1989) by I M Pei (1917- )
  • 1989, A Magazine (closed in 2001) by Jeff Yang (1967-)
  • 1990, Committee of 100Henry S. Tang
  • 2011, our children’s graduating classes at GNS 2011 & 2012 – over 50% was Asian

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A few other facts:

IMG_7303 IMG_7304 IMG_7306 IMG_7307 IMG_7314 IMG_7315 IMG_7322 IMG_7288


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National Grid

The gas company had been coming to read my usage ever since. The employee would ring the bell and go to the meter in the basement many times a year. Most times he (always male) went about his business and was gone. A few months ago for some reason I struck up a short conversation with a talkative one who told me that the company will soon be installing a new gadget that would allow them to read from a driving car.
“Drive-by shooting?” I asked.
“Ha ha ha, you can say that.”
“Why not install something that links with your computer directly, without having to drive around the neighborhood?”
“Good idea but I’m not in the management….”

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Today, a snowy day, a staff came by (he’s nice enough to take off his shoe covers) and announced that he’s going to install that thing, to allow the drive-by shooting.
My question to the company is, with Apple, Google and merits of American super duper technologies, you couldn’t possibly eliminate this step?

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