Great Firewall of China Strikes Again!

Above: My friends, Maria and Andrew, at Tiananmen in 2006

Anticipating the 20th Anniversary of the June 4, 1989 Tiananmen Square uprising, the GFW (Great FireWall) of China has struck again! For those of you who have never heard of GFW, it’s a method by which the Chinese government censors out anything that they don’t approve of. For example, if you look up “Tiananmen Square” on Google in the U.S., you’d see a mix of photos, some of which include photos from the June 4, 1989 uprising. However, if you look up “Tiananmen Square” on Google in China, you see smiling pictures of tourists in front of Tiananmen and pictures of local restaurants. Big difference right?

This time, GFW is taking a ton of sites with it, including popular social networking sites, like Twitter, Xiaonei, Blogspot and Flickr.

To get a sense of just how many sites GFW is censoring, take a look at this Google Doc that includes an extensive list of sites that are currently being blocked in China. Check out the document here.

There have been a lot more stories that I wanted to aggregate here for you, as well:

Tiananmen Square, 20 Years Later (The New York Times)
China’s Forgotten Revolution (The New York Times)
Behind the Scenes: Tank Man of Tiananmen (Lens Blog, NYTimes)
China Blocks Twitter (And Almost Everything Else) (Mashable)
To Shut off Tiananmen Talks, China Disrupts Sites (The New York Times)
In China, a New Breed of Dissidents (Wall Street Journal)
China Blocks, Twitter, Flickr, Others as Tiananmen Anniversary Looms (Fox News)
Tiananmen Square: Foreign Reporters Barred by China on Eve of Anniversary (Huffington Post)
1989 Tiananmen Square Protest (YouTube)
Tank Man Documentary (PBS)

I wish I could be in Tiananmen to check out what was going on right now. For anyone there, please comment below and tell us the latest news on what’s going on in Beijing!

China Care Foundation Launches New Homepage

During my four years at NYU, I had a huge involvement in the China Care Foundation. My roommate, Alice, and I, along with three other friends, founded the NYU China Care club. During my time there, we helped dozens of children receive life-saving surgeries and feel loved from thousands of miles away.

This week, China Care launched their newly designed website: It is much more user friendly and explains in detail the new program that they have with Half the Sky, their new partner. We even have a whole new Youth Empowerment section dedicated to clubs, in which I’m actually featured in numerous sections! NYU is listed as a recipient of the first annual Club Awards(in which I won an Outstanding Leadership award); they used an NYU photo for the Fundraising section (which features our Treasurer Amanda Fuller, as seen above); and they even feature the newsletter story about my 2008 summer internship with Saatchi & Saatchi (which you can read about below, or click on the photo to go to the webpage), in which I led a team to create a pro bono ad for China Care that was placed in CosmGirl magazine!

I hope this new homepage brings lots more attention to the China Care Foundation, as they touch not only the lives of they children that they save, but also the lives of so many others, like myself, that help in the process.

I’m a Gilman Scholar! Are you?

Above is an interview that I did with the Institute of International Education about my experience as a Gilman Scholar. I discussed my Gilman experience as an NYU in Shanghai study abroad student in China and offered advice to current applicants for the Gilman Scholarship. Wish I was more interesting! I need to start reading a dictionary!

To learn more about my time abroad, check out my China Adventure website.

FACES: Forum for American/Chinese Exchange at Stanford: On Common Grounds 2009 (Part II)

The second half of FACES (Forum for American/Chinese Exchange at Stanford) was excellent! We had great discussions among delegates and even had some top-notch keynote speakers! Here’s a taste of the last few days at FACES 2009.

Above: Condoleezza Rice (Former Secretary of State and National Security Advisor, Current Professor of Political Science and Senior Fellow, Stanford University)

Condoleezza Rice was our keynote speaker for the week. She spoke eloquently about Chinese and American relations, touching on four key topics:

1.) The need for Americans to fully recognize and promote the domestic transition that China is facing during a time of vast economic growth within the country.

2.) The need for regional cooperation between Asian countries and the United States. She made reference to the success of the Six-Party Talks (North Korea, South Korea, Japan, Russia, China and the U.S.) and Friends of Pakistan and said there was a need for progress in regards to China-Taiwan relations.

3.) The need for the world to fully recognize China as a global power. Citing the facts that China is a permanent member of the UN Security Council and a big player in many other organizations, she urged us to place China on the same level as other global powers.

4.) The importance of realizing that China makes a huge and necessary contribution to the world economy.

During the Q&A section, she said two things that really stuck with me:

On Taiwan’s political status of “Status Quo“:

“Status Quo” is a political device used to manage a problem so no one has to solve it.

On democracy:

The absence of democracy in countries is dangerous.

I was very surprised with her candidness to answer questions with real passion, feeling and bias. All too often, we get the political answer from current and past politicians. Yet, Rice told it like it was. Impressive.

Above: Christian Kaas and Alex Metelitsa sign the China-Taiwan agreement during our Paracel Islands simulation.

I had the chance to participate in a political crisis simulation, much like those that take place in Model UN. My group worked on the “Paracel Islands simulation”. The Paracel Islands are a chain of small islands and reefs in the South China Sea, off the coast of Hainan and Vietnam. These islands are claimed by China, Taiwan and Vietnam. During our simulation, control of the islands was being disbuted by China, Taiwan and Vietnam. The premise of interest in the islands was that the extraction of oil would begin in 5 years and last for decades. All three countries had particular interest in the oil, as natural resources are valuable, especially in this day of age.

I was a part of the Taiwanese delegation in the simulation and played the role of Chief of Energy Department. The simulation was eye-opening to what really goes on in politics! We had an extreme amount of information a-symmetry going on and were constantly making side-deals throughout the simulation. We had to play hardball to get the Chinese delegation to even consider Taiwan as a valid player, because we first had to get past the political issues. I really enjoyed it!

Above: Abby (Zhang Fuyang) played the role of a reporter from “The Vietnamese Times” (a ficticious newspaper) during our Mach Press Conference, where Christian and Alex (playing Chiefs of the Taiwanese and Chinese National Security Advisory Boards, respectively) announced and signed our agreement.

Towards the end of the day, the entire FACES delegation competed in “Iron Chef”. We were given an arrangement of foods, including ketchup, mustard, squash, avocado, Spam, hotdogs, fish, crabmeat, sourkraut, radishes, oatmeal, yogurt, tangerines, cheese, mushrooms and grapes. Each food had to be used in at least one of three dishes, and grapes had to be used in all three dishes. The catch? We had 45 minutes.

My team’s final menu was as follows:

Appetizer: Squash soup
Main dish: Sauteed fish over salad
Dessert: Oatmeal and yogurt mixed with freeze-squeezed grape juice and tangerines
(See below)

Above: My “Iron Chef” team created three amazing dishes!

Above: My teammates and I were quite proud of our creations!

Above: The FACES Executive Team were real sports for trying EVERYTHING! Yuck!

In the end, our team came in 3rd place (out of five teams). I guess that’s not too bad… We saw some crazy dishes, and I was amazed at the true bravery of the FACES Executive Team for trying every dish presented to them. I saw what went on in our kitchen, and it wasn’t pretty! I’m sending my best wishes to the execs in hope for survival after such trauma!!!

I want to thank all of the American and Chinese delegates, the entire FACES Executive Team, all of the speakers, and the entire Stanford campus for a great week at FACES 2009! I’m looking forward to the Beijing forum in November!

FACES: Forum for American/Chinese Exchange at Stanford: On Common Grounds 2009

For the past few days, I’ve been at the Forum for American/Chinese Exchange at Stanford FACES. The mission statement of FACES is:

The Forum for American/Chinese Exchange at Stanford (FACES) is a student led group started at Stanford University dedicated to fostering personal relationships and understanding among future leaders in the United States and China. Through its presence on college campuses, FACES strives to promote interest and awareness in U.S.-China relations, building the foundation for a more constructive bilateral future.

Here’s a little taste of what we’ve been up to:

Above: Discussion about “Taiwan: Major Anniversaries and Potential Breakthroughs in Cross-Straight Relations, featuring Thomas Gold (Associate Professor of Sociology, UC Berkeley, Executive Director of the Inter-University Program for Chinese Language Studies), Sam Zhao (Professor, Execuitive Director of the Center for China-U.S. Cooperation, University of Denver, Founder and Editor of the Journal of Contemporary China); and Eric Yu (Research Fellow & Program Manager for Democracy in Taiwan at Stanford’s CDDRL).

Above: David Straub (Acting Director of the Korean Studies Program at The Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center of Stanford, Former U.S. State Department Korean Affairs Director); Sigfried Hecker (Professor of Mangement Science and Engineering, Senior Fellow at FSI, Co-Director of CISAC, Stanford University; Emeritus Director of Los Alamos National Laboratory); and Michael Armacost (Sorenstein Distinguished Fellow at APARC) discuss “China, the United States, and the Future of the Korean Peninsula”.

Above: Michael Armacost makes a valid point on North Korea’s treatment of South Korea: “South Korea has an economy that is 50 times that of North Korea, yet North Korea treats South Korea with utter disrespect.”

Above: Ronald McKinnon (Senior Fellow at the Stanford Center for International Development at SIEPR, Stanford University) and Jean Oi (William Haas Professor in Chinese Politics: Professor of Political Science, Stanford University) discuss “The Future of Economic Growth in China”.

Above: Thomas Fingar (Payne Distinguished Lecturer for International Studies, Stanford University) revives a new thought on the exportation of democracy: “Democracy is not exportable. If it is not indigenous, it is not real.”

Above: Yiqun Zhou (Professor in Asian Languages, Stanford University) discusses “New Confucianism in China” with the American and Chinese delegates.

Above: Stephen Schneider (Melvin and Joan Lane Professor for Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies, Senior Fellow in the Woods Institute for the Environment, Stanford University); Jeremy Carl (Research Fellow at PESD, Ph.D. Candidate in the Emmit Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources, Stanford University); and Michael Wara (Assistant Professor of Law, Stanford Law School) discuss “Intergovernmental Cooperation & Technology for Climate Change”.

Above: Robert Baensch (President of the Baensch International Group Ltd., Academic Director and Faculty Director of the Stanford University Professor Publishing Course) and Charles McCullagh (Senior Vice President, Member Services, Magazine Publishers of America) discuss “Capitalism and International Media”.

Above: Richard Williams (Former U.S. Consul Gernal in Hong Kong, Former U.S. Ambassador to Mongolia, Former Country Director of the Office of Chinese and Mongolian Affairs, U.S. Department of State) (far left) discusses Tiananmen, 20 years later.

FACES has been such a valuable conference so far. I can’t wait to attend more seminars and panel discussions. Tomorrow, are conducting simulations, which are much like Model UN. My team is in debate over the Paracel Islands. One team will play Taiwan, while the other will play China. We will enter negotiations to try to find the best solution. I’ll let you all know how it goes! Wish my team (Taiwan!) luck!

Stealing Chinese Kids

One of the many things I noticed while in China was that kids are precious. Because of the One Child Policy, children are treated with great care, often becoming the “Little Emperors and Empresses” of the family. As a result of the One Child Policy and the cultural importance of passing on one’s name, boys have historically been preferred among the Chinese. This trend is dying out as many urban Chinese become exposed to international world views and leave behind strict traditional mindsets. But some Chinese still place a high value on sons and would give anything to have one, especially if their first child (and thus, only legal child) doesn’t measure up to expectations.

The New York Times recently reported on the kidnapping and selling of kids as another result of these traditional Chinese values. The video above does a great job of conveying this problem in rural China.

On another note, it is stories like these that fuel my belief in organizations like China Care, a non-profit organization that helps provide life-saving surgeries for disabled Chinese orphans. Many of these orphans are abandoned for the same reasons why children are stolen and sold. Because of the One Child Policy, the Chinese place a high value on healthy children. If it turns out that their child is disabled, there is a higher probability that the child will be abandoned. That’s where China Care comes in, and it’s a good thing that they’re there to help out, because the number one reason that children become orphaned in China is due to health issues or disabilities.

Unfortunately, social policies and traditional family beliefs in China have led to the existence of child trafficking of healthy boys and higher-than-average abandonment rates for disabled children.

Hopefully the Chinese government will turn its focus towards these issues and create a sustainable solution. Until then, we can only hope that news coverage of these tragedies will continue to draw attention to the problems.