Steve's China Blog

Monday, November 27, 2006

Back from Thanksgiving

I'm back in Dalian now after spending a week in the US for Thanksgiving. One week is not long enough since the flights are so long. The trip to the US was around 20 hours and the trip back to China was about 22 hours. It was great seeing family and friends though! Amy, Greg, and Les came out to have dinner with my parents and I on the evening I arrived (thanks guys!), and I also got to go visit my brother and his family in North Carolina for Thanksgiving day.

It was also great to enjoy some fresh air! About a week or so before I left China I had developed a pretty bad cough, but after a few days back in the US it was mostly gone. I also really enjoyed going outside at night while we were at my brother's place and seeing all of the stars! Dalian is too bright at night and I never get to see the stars much.

I spent most of my time back in the US eating and shopping! It was a great chance to enjoy food that I can't find here in China easily... fajitas, burritos, enchiladas, quesadillas, roast turkey, cranberries, stuffing, green bean casserole, pecan pie, salad with bleu cheese dressing, shrimp cocktail, prime rib, North Carolina pork BBQ, cole slaw, chips with french onion dip, etc... I am surprised I can still fit into my clothes. For shopping I bought some new clothes and new parts for my computer. All of the new stuff just barely fit into my luggage for the trip back.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Dog gone it

Back on August 9th I provided a link to a story about dogs being beaten to death here to stop the spread of rabies.

Chinese county clubs to death 50,000 dogs

SHANGHAI, China - China slaughtered 50,000 dogs in a government-ordered crackdown after three people died of rabies, sparking unusually pointed criticism in state media Tuesday and an outcry from animal rights activists.

There have been some developments about this story. In August there was this story about the Humane Society offering to help setup a program to immunize the dogs in China...

Humane Society Offers Aid for China Dogs

The Humane Society on Wednesday said it will give China $100,000 to vaccinate dogs against rabies if it promises to immediately stop their mass slaughter in areas where humans have died from the disease.

The financial aid was offered to help set up a rabies control program in Jining, a city in the coastal province of Shandong, where officials last week killed thousands of dogs after 16 people died of rabies over an eight-month period.

I have not heard of any rabies control programs being setup, so who knows where that money went. Earlier this month the government came up with the idea of the "One Dog" Policy in Beijing.

China issues 'one dog' policy in Beijing

BEIJING - It's the year of the dog in China, but it's not a good year for man's best friend: an effort to stamp out rabies has prompted authorities to limit families in Beijing to only one dog. The directive, reported by state media on Wednesday, follows a campaign in which tens of thousands of dogs were killed to fight the disease.

In a reminder of the country's "one child" policy, the official Xinhua News Agency said Beijing was instituting a "one dog" policy for each household in nine areas.

"Only one pet dog is allowed per household in the zones, and dangerous and large dogs will be banned. Anyone keeping an unlicensed dog will face prosecution," Xinhua said.

A few days after this new policy was announced something rather amazing happened... A few hundred dog owners staged a protest in the middle of Beijing!

Dog day afternoon

Demonstrators angry over a crackdown on dogs staged a noisy protest in China's capital yesterday, demanding a stop to mass killings to control pet populations.

About 200 police kept watch and strung up tape to cordon off the roughly 500 demonstrators, as they held up stuffed animals, waved signs and chanted "Down with Dog-raising Restrictions" near the entrance to the Beijing Zoo.

...and Dog owners bite back in China’s great pet purge

In an echo of the days when Chairman Mao denounced his foes as "running dogs", hundreds of angry pet owners confronted the police in Beijing yesterday in a protest against the regime’s new "one-dog policy".

Eighteen people were arrested in noisy scuffles as about 500 dog owners gathered in a rare unauthorised demonstration near Beijing Zoo.

Several of the middle-class protesters wore badges that read "stop the killing" and waved furry stuffed toys in the hope of softening the hearts of the riot police and plain-clothes security men who surrounded them.

One complained that the pet-lovers’ protest was treated as if Beijing were under martial law. Police cordoned off the area, massed hundreds of reinforcements in nearby streets and tried to stop photography and filming.

This news article is in Chinese, but it has some really great pictures, such as these:





Usually we hear about protests out in the country where some corrupt politician is stealing land from farmers (such as in this story), or students rioting for some reason or another (such as in this story), but I had never heard of a pet owners' protest before.

Of course, the protesters have a point... Not all dog owners should be punished, or their dogs killed, simply because the owners of 97% of the dogs in China are either too cheap or too stupid to get their dogs immunized against rabies. Like most Chinese policies this is just a cruel short term solution. And the police response was a good indication of how these protests scare the people who make the cruel policies.

Crackdown infuriates dog owners

In an effort to disperse the crowd, the police seized several placards and detained 15 protesters, allegedly beating some of them. This further infuriated the crowd, which responded with shouts of "Release the people!", attracting passers-by to join the protest.

Although the demonstration was largely peaceful, anti-riot squads were sent to maintain order and plainclothes police milled through the crowd.

...

"Why can't I raise more than one dog, while the nation raises stupid or corrupt officials? Why can they go to our homes to take away our property?" a man shouted. The crowd yelled: "Down with corrupt officials!"

Zhang Luping, a Beijing-based animal rights activist, said her animal protection website www.ani8.com was shut yesterday. Police told her the closure was due to her "leaking state secrets".

It sure would be strange if there was a regime change in China because of dogs.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Another week

The weekend is finally here. A chance to relax a little after a long week.

On Monday the weather seemed ok when I left for work, but by the time I got to the office the tempature dropped and it started to snow. I was did not wear a coat, so I woke up on Tuesday with a cold. This is strange... I usually only get one cold a year, and this is the third cold I have had in the last few months. I think it is work stress mixed with the fact that I have not been to the gym in awhile.

I decided to go to Cherating Beach in Malaysia for my year-end vacation, and I have been trying to arrange that this week. Of course, everything has to be complicated... The travel agent booking the resort for me is in Shanghai, and last year I just payed them RMB from my bank account, but this year they are sending it to their office in Hong Kong which will only accept Hong Kong dollars from my international credit card. I have to go to the bank today, and make sure they will pay with Hong Kong dollars.

Trying to reserve airline tickets is also a pain since they have seperate systems for tickets within China and international flights, and I pay for both of them in cash when they deliver the tickets. Of course, when they found out I am a foreigner it's "Oh, we forgot this charge", and "We forgot about this new tax", and "Oh, the airline just raised the price", etc... Well, the first two ticket agents tried that crap, but I told them to blow and this third one seems honets so maybe I won't get ripped off.

I kept tabs on the election results in the US when I could. I was kind surprised that at some of the outcomes and close races. I got some interesting questions from some Chinese co-workers here, such as... Are crazy people allowed to vote? (Yes) Can crazy people run for office? (Yes) Does this mean the US will surrender to the terrorists? (Probably), etc... We did not talk about elections in China.

On Thrusday I took a certification test for something called Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL), which has to do with managing IT services. I did better than I thought I would and I passed it, but I had been trying to take the test for a few months now and finally got it scheduled and done. Yeah! It's done!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Vacation ideas

This week has been another hectic one... On Monday my work laptop died, and I had to replace that and we recovered most of the data from hard drive as we could. Later that day my new cell phone started to have problems. So, besides all of the work I had to do I had to replace my laptop and phone. A big thanks to Cynthia and Jackie for helping with the phone! :)

I have not gotten any new info about the move to ChengDu. I should try and get a more definite moving date for that, so I can schedule my vacation at the end of the year. I thought I might be able to get a discount if I went back to Thailand with the coup going on, but they are not offering any discounts. My other two choices were Kabira Island in Japan or Lindeman Island in Australia, but the resort in Kabira was full and I could not find a flight back from Lindeman when I wanted to return. Now I am planning of going either to Bali in Indonesia or to Cherating Beach in Malaysia. I am leaning towards Cherating.