the winners of the mistress awards have been announced!

The results of the “National Awards for Mistresses (全国包二奶大奖赛)” spoof the time and money and presumably effort that some of China’s leaders have expended on accumulating mistresses. The results indicate that many have crossed that fine line between peforming masculine virility and paradoy, which in turn slides into corruption charges because no one actually believes these old men are achieving sexual satisfaction, let alone satisfying their young mistresses — the numbers are just too high. Indeed, the results seem more like baseball cards than gossip; we’re trading statistical representations of performance, rather than vicariously participating in the realization of desire (or actually enjoying a sunny afternoon game). I’m also wondering about how many of these leaders were simply pimping their way to business deals and higher political ranking because these statistics are invariably linked to corruption charges and convictions. Consequently, when available I’ve also linked the offenders’ names to English language reports about these cases.

Results of the National Mistress Awards

1. Quantity Award: Jiangsu Province Department of Construction, Xu Qiyao Director, Xu Qiyao (徐其耀) who has had 146 mistresses;

2. Quality Award: Chongqing Municipal Party Committee Department of Propaganda Director, Zhang Zonghai (张宗海)for having kept 17 beautiful co-eds in five star hotels;

3. Scholar’s Award: Hainan Province Textile Bureau Chief Li Qingshan (李庆善) for his collection of 95 sexual diaries and 236 illustrated guides;

4. Youth Award: Leshan Mayor Li Yushu (李玉书 Sichuan Province) for keeping 20 mistresses between the ages of 16 and twenty;

5. Management Award: Xuancheng Municipality Party Secretary Yang Feng (Anhui Province) for using his MBA to effectively manage 77 lovers;

6. Expense Award: Shajing Credit Union Manager Deng Baoju (邓宝驹 Bao’an District, Shenzhen), also known as the “5 mistress youth” for spending 18.4 million yuan over 800 days on mistresses, this averages to 23,000 perday or almost 1,000 per hour;

7. Solidarity Award: Zhouning County Head Lin Feilong (林龙飞 Fujian Province) for organizing a dinner for 22 mistresses and awarding a 300,000 prize for best mistress;

8. Harmony Award: Lingao Municipal Administration Chief Deng Shanhong (邓善红 Hainan Province) for having 6 children by 6 mistresses and a wife who says she doesn’t believe the gossip;

9. Effort Award: Hunnan Province Telecommunications Bureau Chief Zeng Guohua (曾国华) for guaranteeing that before he turns 60, he will have sex three times a week with each of his 5 mistresses.

monkey see…


The monkey is reading about the “three represents“, a direct dig at former General Party Secretary Jiang Zemin. And, if weixin memes are to be believed — if not totally, perhaps partially — then current General Party Secretary Xi Jinping is targeting neibu, or inner circle folks.

In fact, online Xi Jinping’s talks are repeatedly characterized as “strict (严厉)”. The adjective, of course, emphasizes the current administration’s explicit task to broaden reforms. In the aftermath of mixed messages, we’re still trying to figure out what that means. A larger political role for civil society and public debate? Or are we simply talking about a new purge? Excerpts of “strict” talking suggest the both/ and muddling of the current political landscape.

Of note? The ongoing use of classical CCP rhetoric to make veiled attacks on opponents. There’s a fight going on, but who’s the actual target? Also of note, The fact that the “Talk on the meeting about development work” took place in September, but the memes are still circulating. I received these memes yesterday.

A picture (for a sense of the Xi Jinping meme aesthetic), three excerpts and translation:

20139619571399354Today some people are using reform like a tiger skin, [frightening] the people so they don’t speak or make judgments. In my opinion, this is using reform for anti-reform purposes.

We’re not not reforming, we’re actually reforming, actually satisfying the people, pursuing a reform that will increase and further reforms. And what has been the status of reform these past years? Handcuffing productive capacities, perverted models of economic development, and serious environmental problems; we’re killing the goose [reform] that lays golden eggs.
The gap between the rich and poor is too wide. This is not only a problem of individual abilities, but also a result of unequal access to opportunity and power. All along we’ve been saying that we want to empower society, that we want to liberate productive capacity, that we want to realize sustainable development and a stable society, but we haven’t done anything because within the Party there are small mafias (的利益集团的黑手) who benefit too much from the current situation. Is a tiger willing to spit out the meat in its mouth? All that can be done is fight the tiger.

There are many such memes and, whatever the actuall status of Xi Jinping’s reform efforts, the memes resonate. What’s more, the memes are online, which means they have tacit support from the Center. Have we truly entered virtual political world of “monkey see, monkey reform”?

the view from here…

On the face of it, this text message jokes about China’s cultural diversity:

To Beijing, the rest of the country is grassroots; to Shanghai, the rest of the country is countryside; to Guangdong, the rest of the country is poor; to Henan the rest of the country is inconsiderate; from Shandong, the rest of the country is unfair; to Jiangsu, the rest of the country is underdeveloped; to Zhejiang, the rest of the country is waiting to be developed; to Shaanxi, the rest of the country has no culture; to Xinjiang, the rest of the country is overcrowded; to Tibet, the rest of the country lacks belief.

1、北京看全国都是基层;2、上海看全国都是乡下;3、广东看全国都是穷人;4、河南看全国都缺心眼;5、山东看全国都不仗义;6、江苏看全国都欠发达;7、浙江看全国都待开发;8、陕西看全国都没文化;9、新疆看全国都太拥挤;10、西 藏看全国都没信仰。

The message, however, also suggests the geography of unequal value that structures migration to and opportunity in Shenzhen, where a migrant’s background (背景) increasingly determines opportunity. What happens, then, when instead of joking about the explicit other (grassroots, countryside, poor…), we make explicit the implied value hierarchy? Arguably, we feel the sting of a punchline:

Power is located in Beijing; sophistication is located in Shanghai; economic opportunity is located in Guangdong; traditional courtesy is located in Henan; a sense of fairness is located in Shandong; fast development is located in Jiangsu; fast development is located in Zhejiang; traditional culture is located in Shaanxi; low density population is located in Xinjiang; and belief (buddhism) is located in Tibet.

Indeed, as a straightforward list of values, the organization of the joke reproduces China’s territorial hierarchy: Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou-Shenzhen (“Guangdong”), before turning to neidi (the rest of the country), where traditional values are located. In the context of the Beijing-Shanghai-Guangzhou-Shenzhen rivalry, what catches my attention is the mediating position of sophistication (“Shanghai”) between power and wealth (“Beijing” and “Guangdong”). It’s not enough to be rich, but one must also be sophisticated in order to gain a certain legitimacy. In contrast, naked power still works.

With respect to neidi, the ongoing marginalization of tradition, non-economic values, and religious belief within and against Beijing-Shanghai-Guangzhou-Shenzhen is obvious. Also of note — this marginalization is simultaneously a ruralization and a racialization of the country. We might also see these “lesser” neidi values as weapons of weak, which James C. Scott defined as those tactics available to peasants within and against urban States. The important Chinese supplement to that story is not the insight that strong States produce peasants. But rather that current patterns of modernization and development continuously reproduce “peasants” even when people no longer live agrarian lives.

Thought du jour: In Shenzhen, of course, migrants have different access to power, sophistication, and wealth. Not unexpectedly, relative access to these values determine scope and scale of a migrant’s success. However, the role of “sophistication” as mediating between “power” and “money” means that many of Shenzhen’s second generation (officials and wealthy) are pursuing educations and careers that will (in theory) position them to transcend Shenzhen’s fourth position and bootstrap into China’s higher eschalons.

So yes, the Shenzhen Dream remains remarkably “American”.

what kind of pig are you?

This is one of those unscientific “he said, she said” illustrations of just how difficult it is to know what’s happening in China, or anywhere for that matter. The story also indicates that the US and Chinese social media are not as autonomous as we might think. Indeed, anonymous sourced information that circulates in either the US or Chinese social media seems to increasingly show up in other networks, much like pig carcasses that wash up on unexpected shores. More to the point, the chronology through which we experience the overlaps between US and Chinese social media networks creates stories that read as magic realism in which you, gentle reader, must ask yourself, “what kind of a pig am I?”

Here is the timeline through which I have experienced the pig story.

Two weeks ago, several hundred dead pigs were found floating in the Jiaxing River, a tributary of Shanghai’s Huangpu River.

Last week, an American friend uploaded this photo Pigs Swimming in Mud Cake to Facebook.pigs swimming in mudcake

Yesterday, a friend in Hong Kong, uploaded the same picture and what followed were a series of jokes about not eating pigs and pork products. The apparent prompt for forwarding the picture was another message that was also circulating:

 I don’t know if this is true or false, but it must be forwarded: eat less pork! Shanghai has claimed that over 8,000 pigs froze to death! In the middle of a bright South China Spring! I’m begging the relevant ministries – can’t you exert your brains and come up with a more believable reason? Don’t treat the people as if we were three year olds. One dead pig is a random occurrence. Two dead pigs is a random occurrence. But over 8,000 pigs dead is random? There must be a reason! Today, the truth has finally been revealed! – Where is the future of the Chinese People? We’re digging our own graves and anhilating our people! [Forwarded message: according to a pig farmer, there’s a chemical called 机砷. In ordinary language that’s 砒霜 or arsenic! This chemical is used in pig feed like “四月肥” [literally “Fat in April”- MA] that accelerate the maturation of pig and make their skin shiny, increasing profits from selling pigs. The downside to the process is that the arsenic accumulates in the pigs’ bodies, which have no way of breaking down the poison. The poison causes the pigs’ internal organs to rot, and after four or five months eating this pig feed, most pigs die. Consequently, farmers only use this pig feed three or four months before bringing their pigs to market. As long as the pigs are slaughtered immediately, there’s no problem. But this Chinese New Year’s season, it was mandated that there could be no more government feasting and banqueting. Suddenly, the bottom dropped out of the pork market. Pig farmers were forced to continue raising pigs that had already been eating contaminated pig feed for four months. A month or two later, a massive die-off of the pigs that had been prepared to sell during the New Year’s season started. This story couldn’t be revealed. However, no one dared to bring already dead pig meat to market [instead of living pigs that would be slaughtered onsite to guarantee freshness – MA]. Consequently, the pig carcasses were tossed into tributaries of the Huangpu River. Clearly, the problem was caused because on the one hand, too many pig farmers are using pig feed to accelerate maturation and on the other hand, the banquet ban was too effective. The floating carcasses were discovered by the media. So maybe a thousand, maybe more pig carcasses are drifting silently in the Huangpu River. This is the horrific story that they are telling.

In contrast, yesterday The Guardian posted an article that mentioned that the pig carcass total had breached 16,000, and attributed the reason to a crackdown on selling dead pig meat in markets. In turn, The Guardian was citing (circulating?) a story from Southern Weekly (of the China Dream censorship fiasco):

The state-controlled Southern Weekly newspaper, citing court documents, said three men were sentenced to life in prison in Jiaxing last November for procuring dead pigs to sell their meat. It says the men and their group bought 77,000 dead pigs in a period of more than two years.

So, reflective moment du jour: Who are you? A pig happily swimming in a mud cake, anticipating sugar highs? Or a pig drifiting in dark waters, fearful about what the Chinese government might be hiding and how this silence kills? Of course, it’s all evidence that China and the US are the same country. After all, processed white sugar may also be toxic.

Text of the Chinese weixin that I received:

不知是真是假,但是不得不转: 少吃猪肉吧】上海8千多头死猪死因公布了一一居然是冻死的! 在春花灿烂的江南三月! 拜托了有关部门,能否多动动脑子找个更可信点的理由,不要把民众当三岁小孩哄。一头死了是偶然,二头死了是偶然,8千多头是偶然事件?一定有其必然的原 因! 现在,真相终于大白天下了! 一一一中国人的未来在哪里??我们在自掘坟墓,灭绝民族! 【转:据猪农说,有种制剂叫有机砷,砷就是砒霜啦,用在四月肥之类的猪饲料添加剂里,可以促进猪性腺发育和毛皮红亮,改进卖相有利于卖个好价钱。 但副作用是有 机砷蓄积在猪体内会部分分解为无机砷,喂食四五个月后会大幅增加猪的内脏腐蚀、大批死亡的概率。所以一般是在预备出栏前三四个月开始用,反正负作用还没出 来猪就宰了出栏,规避了有机砷的风险。 然而熹兴年底眼看通胀要升腾,赶紧猛刹车大力禁绝国企和机关摆酒席过年,导致大量酒席突然被取消,相应 地酒席用肉也大幅低于预期。猪农已经喂好四月肥准备出栏宰杀的猪也被迫继续在栏里养着。可是有机砷已经用了,本来马上宰杀负作用还不会出来,现在拖了一两 个月还没卖出去,有机砷的副作用 上来了,猪们纷纷内脏腐烂而死。这死因见不得光,又不敢拿去市场上卖这样的死猪肉,养殖户只好打落牙往肚里咽,抛到河里了 事。孰料这么投有机砷的养猪户太多,年末禁酒席的影响又太普遍,大家都往河里一丢,猪尸们就在黄浦江大游行了,被媒体发现了。 成千上万的猪尸在阴冷的黄浦江上默默地飘荡,它们在讲述着这样一个可怕的故事。

milk theory

Recent limitations on the quantity of milk powder that Chinese citizens can purchase in Hong Kong and bring back to Shenzhen have given rise to “milk theory”. As with the satiric pronounciations of China in the previous post, the humor of milk theory turns on a pun. Here 奶 can mean wife, mother, milk, or breasts, depending on context.

Milk Theory:

1)      Second wives can be found anywhere, but you can only bring two cans of powdered milk. 2) The meaning of one country two systems, is one country two breasts.  The greastest distance in the world is between the child one holds and the milk powder on the other coast. 3) You have high quality milk powder, we have high quality second wives. The quality of milk powder is in inverse proportion to the number of second wives. 4) Previously, we knew it was against the law to carry white powder, but only recently have we found out its also against the law to carry milk powder. 5) Milk, is a problem the government can’t solve; housing is another problem the government can’t solve. However, the government does have the means to deal with dairies [rufang also puns with a woman’s chest]. 6. Those who created poisonous milk powder never did jail time. Those who sold poisonous milk powder never did jail time. But people who bought safe milk powder are going to jail.


1)  二奶到处可以找,奶粉只能带二罐。2)一国两制的意思,就是一国两奶。这个世界最远的距离,使孩子在怀里,奶粉却在对岸。3)你有优质奶粉,我有优质二奶。奶粉的质量,跟二奶的数量成反比。4)以前知道带白粉犯法,现在才知带奶粉也犯法。5)乳,是政府解决不了的问题;房,更是政府解决不了的问题。至于乳房,政府官员有办法解决。6)做毒奶粉的不坐牢,卖毒奶粉的不坐牢,买无毒奶粉的却坐牢。

what does china mean to you?

 Currently circulating on we chat, another of those punny jokes that do political analysis so well:

How do you pronounce the English word “China”? The single man says “Where’s my wife?” The lover says, “Where’s my sweetheart?” The beggar says, “Where’re to?” The poor man says, “Where’s the money?” The doctor says, “Where should we cut?” The businessman says, “Where’s the scam?” The official says, “Where’s the power?” The thief says, “Where’s the mark?” The developer says, “Where’s the site?” The government says, “Where do we raze?” And the lower class says, “Where do we migrate to?”


thank you for your cooperation

What to make of a the following text message from the Shenzhen Public Security Bureau?

A warm reminder from the police: Recently, the public has expressed their patriotic enthusiasm and appeals through various “Diaoyu / Senkako” protests. However, these protests also impact social and economic order. Therefore, the police encourage the public not to participate in gatherings, marches, or protests that have not been approved. Thank you for your support and cooperation! The Shenzhen Public Security Bureau


This popped up on my cell phone at 10:43 a.m. Saturday, September 22. Does anyone know what happened to prompt this warning?

of floods and politics, or how the beijing disaster helps wang yang

The official death tole for the Beijing floods is 77 people. Weibo reports however, that in Fangshan District (房山区) alone over 800,000 people have been affected. In response, Mayor Guo Jinlong resigned yesterday, acknowledging his failure to be responsible for the people’s well-being. Today, Beijing Party Secretary Guo Jinlong went to Fangshan to show solidarity with those suffering. Yes, that is correct. In one of the more off the wall moments of Chinese politics, Guo Jinlong was both the Mayor and as of a month ago, also the Party Secretary of Beijing. Even in Chongqing, Bo Xilai was only able to act as Party Secretary, while the Mayorship was held by Huang Qifan.

Here’s the beauty of Guo Jinlong’s gesture. As a government functionary, Guo Jinlong could legally resign. However, as the holder of a Party appointment, Guo Jinlong can only loose his position as Party Secretary if the Party leadership decides to remove him from office — hee!

Now, Guo Jinlong is of interest to those of us in Guangdong who are following Guangdong Party Secretary Wang Yang’s career because like Bo Xilai, Guo was one of Wang Yang’s key rivals to become either Secretary General of the Chinese Communist Party or President of the Country. To be appointed to one of the top two positions in China, Wang Yang must first be appointed to the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau, CPC Central Committee during the 18th NPC. These nine hopefuls will be chosen from provincial level appointees, which includes the Secretary Generals and Mayors of the four independent cities (Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, and Chongqing) as well as provincial secretary generals and governors.

In January this year, Wang Yang’s top rivals for one of the nine positions in the Standing Committee were Chongqing Party Secretary Bo Xilai and Beijing Mayor Guo Jinlong. Whatever one thinks of Wang Yang’s “three attacks and two establishes” campaign, notwithstanding, as a recent text message reveals, the Beijing floods may have given Wang Yang the push he needs to get one step closer the highest positions in Chinese politics. So the country may flip neo-liberal even faster than expected, not because privatization works, but simply because recently several political high-fliers are crashing and with them, alternative models of development.

Insights from the Beijing Floods (北京水灾几点启示):

1。The water in Beijing is deep;2。In Beijing, having a house and car is nothing, you also need to have a boat;3。All Beijing subway stations have the same name — Drainage Pool (a pun on the actual station 积水潭);4。Car owners finally understands the government’s great efforts to collect “car and boat taxes” from private citizens;5。The South to North Water Diversion Project (南水北调工程) is finally seeing results (this massive engineering project will be completed in 2013, connecting northern provinces to the Yangtze River);6。The Northern Drifters finally have a correct footnote (artists who go to Beijing to make a career are known as “northern drifters (北漂)”;7。As soon as Wang Yang enters the capitol he will have a job (because both characters in Wang Yang’s name have the water radical: Wang (汪) is a surname that means an expanse of water and Yang (洋), his given name, means ocean).

the modern woman. . . what can’t she do?

more fun with cellphone couplets, this time about the skills of the modern woman:


The Modern Woman’s “Ten abilities”: She can entertain guests and cook up a storm; she can write a computer program and ferret out irregularities; she can kill viral Trojan horses and scamper over the firewall; she can drive a good car and buy a new house; she can take on a second wife and defeat a hooligan.

yes, we’re grumbling . . . (about recent web closings and what not)

It’s been a while since I’ve translated a text message, but as those at the Center scramble for power and internet access became extremely dodgy three days ago, text messaging has become more a more reliable source of information. Sigh. Indeed, the long text that follows speaks to the dissatisfaction and resignation that often creeps into daily conversations; it certainly hints at the extent to which non-compliance and minor sabotage may characterize administrative and business life throughout Shenzhen, and Shenzhen I’m told, is one of the “easiest” places in China to achieve one’s goals in the public sphere.



Principles of “resolving the issue” Chinese style

The Secretary resolves leaders’ problems, the economy resolves political problems, appeal [to others] to resolve foreign relations, peace resolves military problems, the Party resolves non-Party problems, scams resolve problems of understanding, political movements resolve moral problems, supervision resolves cultural problems, policy implementation resolves market problems, printing money resolves the debt problem, municipal administration resolves social problems, banquets resolve face problems, forced razing resolves construction problems, planning resolves birth problems, “my father is more important than your father” resolves future problems [qiantu puns “road” and “future direction”], the lottery resolves problems of getting rich, low quality resolves the medical situation, adulteration resolves food and drink problems, discharging waste water resolves education problems, shanzhai production resolves science and technology problems, plagiarism resolves education problems, sleeping together resolves movie star problems, singing songs resolves military rank problems, gangsters resolve public safety problems, buying a political appointment resolves promotion problems, corrupt officials resolve anti-corruption problems, expropriation resolves stock market problems, blocking the internet resolves public opinion problems, “I believe” testimonials resolve doubts, muddying the waters resolves harmonious society problems, weapons of the weak resolve problems of realizing the people’s will. . . and to resolve problems of staying in touch, let’s text!