Monday, July 21, 2008

The Myth and Common Sense

It's fun to check your level of common sense, especially when it comes to China.

Let's first be entertained by a story straight out of the Jame Bond movie - if you so wish to think. An UK band gets their name right: Panic! at Disco. It's reported a Shanghainese disco bunny compromised an UK government official. A top aide to UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown was seduced by a hot woman he met in a Shanghai disco, who came back to his hotel room. In the morning, his (unencrypted) Blackberry was gone.

With my common sense, I see it no more than an extra curriculum activity by shrew "service provider". There is no ethnic code in Shanghai sex deal world that a women won't nick your cellphone or other valuables.

But it doesn't prevent UK officials to extend their James Bond pedigree and painted it as a honeytrap operation. "A senior official said yesterday that the incident had all the hallmarks of a suspected honeytrap by Chinese intelligence", as Times UK reported. Maybe when you are an UK government official, your common sense is wired differently.

The same panic was shared by U.S. government officials. There were numerous report about their hysteria about Chinese cyper espionage. I will care not to list them, you can just google for it. Almost every official has had some sort of claim about his laptop being compromised during trips to China, the most famous being allegations that US Commerce secretary's laptop was hacked during a December trip to China.

The common sense here is that China's web space is ripe with all sorts of malware. If you plug your laptop into China's network unprotected, chances are your computer will come into contact with some sort of malware or spyware within minutes. That has happened to me before. Or if your computer is protected, the firewall will have a line that such such ip address tries to contact your computer without authorization. On the other hand, it would be extremely difficult for the Chinese government to pinpoint your laptop on the open net if you are mobile and gets online possibly from anywhere. But maybe senators and secretaries are not tech savvy enough to know?

The myth is not limited in the James Bond world. Apparently it can be propagated in the bar world also. South China Morning Post reported a story that Beijing authorities are to ban Blacks (Chinese don't usually bother to call blacks "African _" because racial tension with blacks was a no issue historically with China) and Mongolians from bars During Olympics, based on one anonymous source. The stories was subsequently debunked, but still managed to catch some fire among some media and blogs.

My common sense tells me there is no way Chinese authority would pursuit such a policy during Olympics when a significant proportion of Olympic athletes are of African ethnic origin and are likely to frequent bars. Not to mention Beijing will be under the whole world's watch during the time. My common sense also tells me there's virtually no way to successfully tell Mongolian women from Chinese women from the looks. But apparently common senses of SCMP's reporter and quoting media's are very different and, should I say, unique.

Beijing was notorious for lax in enforcing the rules. And Western press often rightfully pointed it out. Now that in the wind of Olympics, China begins to enforce formerly lax enforced visa laws, Washington Post calls it China growing unfriendly to foreigners. And enforcing rules to shut down a foreigner owned club that lacks performance license catches the attention of the Time. Sure, it brings some inconvenience to some individuals, but my common sense tells me no matter what intentions are, a rule is a rule is a rule. Protest the rule if you must, but don't protest the enforcement of it as unfriendly. My common sense, as I know of China, also tells me that foreigners have long enjoyed super-national status in China, Chinese have long been very friendly to them. In fact, many foreigners working in China are doing so without proper visa or documents. They are staying on tourist visa but earning money in China. Oh, they are not doing hard labors as many Chinese do also. Where did the rule promoting western media go this time around? For visa, I believe average Chinese traveling to Europe or America have to jump through far more hoopla than foreigners to China. Just ask any random Chinese. In fact, there was an article on this blog of a rant by a famous Chinese sports reporter of American visa officials' attitudes. But these seem completely escape the media. The unfriendly article is particularly funny because it was frequently said of China as Xenophobia on those papers, yet the story turns out so many foreigners who are working in China illegally and live comfortable lives, including the lead-in story. But, somehow, the fault is still on China.

Of course, Chinese can probably do more. Beijing's People's University sent out students from its Sociology Department to observe people's public conduct and concluded that manners had greatly improved. For me personally, I wish Chinese have learned how to wait a line. I was in a double-line waiting for taxi dispatches in Beijing airport a couple years ago. A Beijing young man cursed out almost looked like wanting to start a fight because I was not taking advantage of the spaces in front of me in the parallel line, waiting instead patiently the man in front of me. To him, it slowed him down. Of course, he saw me as a Chinese. There's no telling what he would do if I was actually of different skin color. My guess is he would be less rude. That's a myth now, but also my common sense.

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1 comment:

  1. 真的吗?真的吗?几天前刚刚看到这消息时,偶是指丢掉黑莓手机这则消息。偶忽然长出一口气:太好了,情报部门没闲着,这下偶可放心了。嘿嘿。