Monthly Archives: April 2013

China’s Official Survey Turns into a Huge Embarrassment

Full details of this story and many other fascinating tales of China can be found in “Revolution Is a Dinner Party.”

When it comes to China’s political theater, one can safely say that it is all the same old drama. What has changed appears to be the audience’s attitude. In a very recent rude awakening, the Chinese Communist Party learned just how unsympathetic the Chinese people have become toward the Party. On April 15, 2013, “People’s Forum”, an online forum managed by the Party’s mouthpiece People’s Daily, put out a multiple choice survey on question about “Confidence, beliefs and ideology.” But they made a serious mistake by providing “I don’t agree” answer as one of the choices. The survey result was so embarrassingly bad that the survey was promptly pulled down and its result wiped out, but not before some netizens captured some damaging screenshots.

The survey result is translated as follows:

1. Do you agree that the Chinese Communist Party has enough
courgage and wisdom to push forward the Reform?
Votes Percentage
i) I Agree Completely 170 7.41%
ii) I Agree 135 5.88%
iii) I am Not Sure 304 13.25%
iv) I Disagree 1685 73.45%
2. Do you agree with the assertion that “Adhere to and
develop Socialism with Chinese Characteristics is in the fundamental interest
of the vast majority of the people?”
Votes Percentage
i) I Agree Completely 120 5.25%
ii) I Agree 103 4.51%
iii) I am Not Sure 207 9.06%
iv) I Disagree 1856 81.19%
3. Do you agree with the assertion that “Only the Chinese
Communist Party is capable of leading us on the journey to develop Socialism
with Chinese Characteristics?”
Votes Percentage
i) I Agree Completely 110 4.80%
ii) I Agree 96 4.18%
iii) I am Not Sure 194 8.46%
iv) I Disagree 1894 82.56%
4. What do you think of the “One party rules while multiple
parties participate” system?
Votes Percentage
i) I Agree Completely 159 6.93%
ii) I Agree 124 5.41%
iii) I am Not Sure 177 7.72%
iv) I Disagree 1833 79.94%
The original survey result, which was swiftly wiped out from the Forum, is captured in a screenshot as below:

Details of this story and many other fascinating tales of China can be found in “Revolution Is a Dinner Party.”

A Free eBook on Amazon: “Bitter Tea and Braided Hair”

My short fiction collection “Bitter Tea and Braided Hair” was released in paperback and ebook format recently. It’s on sale now on Amazon:

Bitter Tea and Braided Hair

This collection packs eight exquisite short fiction from M. Eigh, including Bitter Tea and Braided Hair, My Mother’s Shadow, Oscar’s Extraordinary Life, Planned, Dear Teresa, The Manchurian Express, A Eulogy for Edwin Bogardus, Not A Bad Day and Double Sauté.

All of the stories have been previously published by very selective professional or semi-professional literary magazines and some of them have been re-printed since their first publication.

Starting tomorrow, April 11, 2013 through April 12, 2013, this book’s ebook version will be FREE to download from Amazon.

Please post your reviews of the book on Amazon to share your thoughts and comments.

Open Toe Policy: China’s First Lady Bares Them All

These days, China floods the world with fascinating headlines everyday. If you look carefully, most of the headline-makers are first-ever incidents: 13,000 dead pigs clogging Shanghai’s Whampoa (Huangpu) River; six dead out of a total of 16 confirmed N7H9 Avian Flu cases as of April 5, 2013 and, etc. Last month, China’s first lady, Mme. Peng Liyuan dazzled the world when she accompanied her husband, China’s newly minted President Xi Jinping, on a state visit to Tanzania. She emerged from the airplane cabin wearing high-heel shoes that exposed her elegant toes.

China's First Lady Bares Her Toes

China’s First Lady Bares Her Toes

Details of this story and many other fascinating tales of China can be found in “Revolution Is a Dinner Party.”

On Robin Kassner: A Lesson from Confucius

One of the immortal advices from my ancestor-philosopher Confucius has to do with never underestimating your peers.  Confucius says, “When I walk along with two others, from at least one I will be able to learn.” (三人行,必有我师焉. Translated by James Legge.)

More or less on the same note, there is a set phrase in Chinese, derived from the 3rd century classic Records of the Three Kingdoms, which says, “If you have not seen someone for three days, you must look at him/her with a fresh set of eyes.” (士别三日,当刮目相看。)

Confucius’ words and that Chinese phrase came to my mind today when I stumbled on Robin Kassner’s website

To those who have to ask “who’s Robin Kassner?” I am gonna quote a statement from Robin’s website — “…according to Google. Robin Kassner was named one of “the most connected and possibly the most influential people in NYC.”

And simply Google the name “Robin Kassner” and you will see and feel all the buzz she’s generating. But this grandiose persona of Robin Kassner is not the Robin Kassner I came to know some six years ago.

I recall it was around lunch time on an early spring day in 2007. I was browsing through Craigslist “Computer Gigs” classified and stumbled on a desperate plea to fix a contact form on I emailed the advertiser – a certain Robin Kassner and got all the details. Before I finished my sandwich I jumped on her site and quickly fixed the form. It was not a big deal but not an easy one either – her site back then was hosted somewhere and the form submission could not use real server-side code but had to piggyback on some generic CGI submitter. (This was pre-Web 2.0 days.)

Robin was ecstatic. It turned out she had hired three other coders before me and each one of them screwed up the form into worse shape; by the time I got on it, the form was not even loading.

So long story short, Robin put her money where her mouth was and wanted to reward me. We decided to meet in front of the building, at the corner of 36th and 8th Ave. Robin arrived in a red Mercedes convertible, pulled over, jumped out and handed me an exquisite (and very feminine) envelope with a $100 cash in it. Parking was not allowed on that section of busy street so we did not chat for long, but promised to keep in touch. I vaguely remember I was impressed with what she was wearing, but I regret to say I do not remember the details.

Subsequently, Robin and I had many conversations, all very casual, about each other’s career and life. I was shocked to learn that despite the red Mercedes, she’s actually quite broke. She and I at some point discussed ways to revamp her website.  My impression was she was quite determined about her public relations business adventure, but was struggling to get things in gears.

But Robin was Robin. She had an impressive style. She may have discussed bartering services with me instead of paying me to re-do her website, but she was a PR person and maintained her panache and aplomb – the car and her Manhattan apartment, and a quite-spoiled boyfriend at that time.

But that was then. I am looking at Robin with a fresh set of eyes now. I have to say, behind all the façade – the car, apartment and dress – Robin came across to me as someone genuine and, vulnerable (you know, her doling money and love on her then-boyfriend who apparently was being an ass to her, and her struggling hard to blaze a trail in the Big Apple’s PR jungle.)

As of my check today, @RobinKassner has 181,084 followers on Twitter. I clicked on “follow” and made it 181,085. All the best Robin!

172 Million Chinese Living on Less than $1.25 a Day

It is fair to say that China has completely abandoned Mao’s egalitarian legacy. The honorable nickname “the New Socialist China” has all but become a bitter joke. Chinese intellectuals, when commenting on the society’s inequality, often quote the immortal verse of Tang Dynasty’s great poet, Du Fu: “Leftovers in mansions stink high heaven, while the beggars freeze to death on the streets.” (“朱门酒肉臭,路有冻死骨。”)

While China could afford to spend a whopping $40 billion on the 2008 Summer Olympics and $300 million on the opening ceremony alone, its hospitals routinely deny treatment to those who are too poor to hand over the required down payment. While a coal mine tycoon in Shanxi Province spent a whopping ¥140 million ($22.5 million) on his daughter’s wedding and dowry, a staggering 172 million Chinese (roughly 13% of the total population) live on less than $1.25 a day.

Nowadays, $1.25 in China does not go very far. According to the Starbucks Latte Index published on Feb 23, 2013 in Wall Street Journal, a Grande Latte costs $4.81 in Beijing, higher than in the Big Apple. The author himself has been to many of China’s 390-plus Starbucks and can attest that the price is ridiculously steep. Though it is safe to assume that the 172 million Chinese living on less than $1.25 a day never visit a Starbucks, it is doubtful that anyone can buy enough food and shelter with a measly $1.25 in any part of China.

For example, in the suburb of Shanghai, a disposed ocean freight container costs about ¥540 (about $80) to rent for a month. That means 172 million Chinese cannot even afford to rent a disposed container in a junkyard.

172 Million Chinese Living on Less than $1.25 a Day -- Mr. M. Eigh points out in Revolution is a Dinner Party -- Rogue Pluralism in China

a photo posted on forum shows a Chinese migrant worker’s family living in a junk container. To see more of these shocking photos, visit this post.

For details of such shocking stories and more evidence of China’s ever-widening income disparity, read Chew Man’s Chew Man’s latest book “Revolution Is a Dinner Party — the Rise of Rogue Pluralism in China.” On sale now on Amazon.