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Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘china

[LINK] “Why Chinese Tourists Love Japan”

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Bloomberg View’s Adam Minster notes the phenomenon of Chinese tourism in Japan. Despite strained relations, the reputation of Japanese goods is enough to attract Chinese visitors. Could this be the basis, or a base, for reconciliation? One hopes.

There’s no lack of ill will in China toward Japan. The chilly diplomatic relationship between Beijing and Tokyo is matched by occasional expressions of antagonism by the Chinese public. In September, the tenth Japan-China Public Opinion Poll (a joint effort by Chinese and Japanese organizations) showed that only 11.3 percent of Chinese had a favorable opinion of Japan, with 57.3 percent claiming that their impression had worsened over the last year. (Grievances about World War II and ongoing territorial disputes were among the top reasons cited.)

And yet, despite this apparent disdain, Chinese tourists can’t seem to get enough of Japan. In 2014, 2.4 million Chinese visited Japan, an 83 percent increase on the previous year. And last week the Japanese government announced that it was increasing Chinese consular staff to handle a surge of Chinese visa applications.

Why haven’t China’s travel plans seemingly been affected by its political views? It comes down to shopping — specifically, to the Chinese public’s penchant for shopping overseas. Given China’s frequent product safety scandals and the rampant forgeries of designer goods that flood its markets, Chinese often schedule shopping sprees when they’re outside the country. In 2014 alone, Chinese spent $164 billion abroad, making them the world’s biggest vacation spenders.

And Japan is increasingly China’s favored shopping destination. In 2014, spending by Chinese tourists was up 10.3 percent over the previous year — amounting to almost $2,000 per visitor. During this past February’s Chinese New Year, Chinese tourists spent around $1 billion in Japan. Business has been so good that Laox, a Chinese-owned duty free chain that caters to Chinese tourists in Japan, has seen its stock rise 1,400 percent since 2012.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 26, 2015 at 10:19 pm

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

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  • Centauri Dreams examines different ways in which starships can decelerate.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper examining the potential habitability of exomoons orbiting bright white main-sequence stars, between F5 and F9.5. Ultraviolet radiation is key.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes a Chinese ASAT weapons test.
  • Joe. My. God. notes the Swedish language now has officially added the gender-neutral pronoun hen to its vocabulary.
  • Language Hat notes an ambitious new project to digitize ancient Irish-language documents.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer is critical of the Democratic Party’s stance on abortion when it gets in the way of necessary policy, likening it to the Republican Party’s ongoing satisfaction of its base.
  • The Planetary Society Blog notes the final interesting weeks of Messenger‘s survey of Mercury, with photos.
  • Peter Rukavina remembers when in 1995 he was commissioned by the government of Prince Edward Island to set up a provincial website.
  • Torontoist reacts with humour to the impending merger of Postmedia and Sun Media.
  • Towleroad notes a lawsuit brought by a Michigan women against her former gym for being too trans-friendly.
  • Understanding Society examines the mechanisms connecting experiments with policies.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy argues against mandatory voting and mandatory jury service.
  • Window on Eurasia observes a controversial election among Moldova’s Gagauz and looks at the extent to which Islam in Russia is not under the government’s control.
  • Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell goes on at length about the ridiculous Biryani project, a failed dirty tricks effort to sabotage the English Defense League and radical Muslims. Wow.

[BLOG] Some Monday links

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  • Alpha Sources’ Claus Vistesen argues that as a result of various factors including shrinking populations, economic bubbles are going to be quite likely.
  • blogTO argues that Toronto’s strip clubs are in trouble.
  • The Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly wonders who is going to pay for journalism in the future.
  • Centauri Dreams looks at ringed Centaur objects.
  • Crooked Timber’s Daniel Davies describes his family’s recent experience in New Zealand. Want to find out how the Maori are like the Welsh?
  • D-Brief notes the return of wood bison to the United States.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper suggesting Alpha Centauri Bb is a superdense world.
  • The Dragon’s Tales note Indonesia’s upset with Chinese claims to the South China Sea.
  • Far Outliers reports on how NGOs feed corruption in Cambodia.
  • Language Hat links to a gazetteer of placenames in Jamaica.
  • Language Log’s Victor Mair looks at some Sino-English constructions.
  • Marginal Revolution points to its collection of Singapore-related posts.
  • The Planetary Society Blog considers Cassini‘s footage of Saturn’s F ring.
  • The Power and the Money hosts Will Baird’s argument that the Ukrainian east will soon see an explosion of violence.
  • Spacing Toronto and Torontoist look at the architectural competition for the Toronto Islands ferry terminal.
  • Torontoist reports on Martin Luther King’s 1962 visit to Toronto.
  • Towleroad notes a raging syphillis epidemic among gay men in New York City’s Chelsea neighbourhood.
  • Window on Eurasia notes changes in the Islam of Tatarstan, notes Russia’s transition towards totalitarianism, observes Russian claims of Finnish meddling in Karelia, and looks at polls suggesting Ukrainians fear Russia but do not trust the European Union.
  • Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell describes what seems to have been a shambolic attempt to co-opt the English Defense League somehow. (I don’t understand it. All I can figure out is that.

[ISL] “Philippine Billionaire Razon to Buy Korean Island in Casino Push”

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Norman P. Aquino at Bloomberg describes a very interesting casino project in South Korea funded by a Filipino billionaire.

Philippine billionaire Enrique Razon will buy an island in South Korea to develop a leisure and tourism complex, as he taps the country’s growth in gambling on rising tourist arrivals from China.

Bloomberry Resorts Corp., controlled by Razon and operator of a casino in Manila, will buy the 21-hectare (52-acre) Silmi Island through unit Solaire Korea Co., according to a Philippine Stock Exchange filing on Tuesday. It’s Bloomberry’s second announcement of a property purchase in the country this year after the company signed in January four deals with landowners on Korea’s Muui Island, which is adjacent to Silmi Island.

Asian casino operators including Bloomberry are capitalizing on a downturn in the gambling industry of Macau as China’s corruption crackdown scares many away from the world’s biggest gambling hub. Macau casino revenue fell last year for the first time and may decline another 8 percent this year, according to analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

In contrast, gambling revenue in South Korea and the Philippines will grow 16 percent and 33 percent respectively this year, gaining from the spillover of Chinese gamblers, Deutsche Bank analyst Karen Tang wrote in a note in January.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 18, 2015 at 10:23 pm

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

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  • On St. Patrick’s Day, blogTO offers a guide to Irish Toronto.
  • Centauri Dreams notes the existence of chaotically-orbiting Earths.
  • The Dragon’s Tales links to a paper suggesting that the Yucatán peninsula was hit by a tsunami a millennium ago.
  • Joe. My. God. notes an anti-gay American who claims that Obama orchestrated the Ukrainian crisis at the behest of gays who wanted to punish Russia.
  • Marginal Revolution notes the interest of Chinese in California real estate.
  • Peter Rukavina reports on Prince Edward Island’s latest snowfall.
  • Spacing Toronto looks at the prospects for subways in Scarborough.
  • Torontoist notes that Build Toronto has failed to provide affordable housing on nearly the scale promised.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes the dismissal of a civil case brought by a man who had sex with a minor he met through Grindr brought against Grindr.
  • Window on Eurasia observes a Russian nationalist’s call to partition Belarus, suggests that Russia has been trying to split Ukraine for a while, and wonders if the families of Russian gastarbeitar from Central Asia could fall into support for Islamist terrorism.

[LINK] “China’s Arthur C. Clarke”

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The New Yorker‘s Joshua Rothman makes the convincing case for the relevance of Chinese science fiction writer Liu Cixin.

Last week, a team of astronomers at Peking University announced the discovery of a gigantic black hole with a mass equivalent to twelve billion suns. The black hole formed near the beginning of time, just nine hundred million years after the Big Bang. It’s twelve billion light years away, but, because the quasar surrounding it glows four hundred and twenty trillion times brighter than the sun, it’s still visible to telescopes on Earth. “How could we have this massive black hole when the universe was so young?” Xue-Bing Wu, the lead astronomer, asked, in a paper published in Nature. “We don’t currently have a satisfactory theory to explain it.”

Reading about these developments, I thought of Liu Cixin, China’s most popular science-fiction writer. Liu is fifty-one years old and has written thirteen books. Until very recently, he worked as a software engineer at a power plant in Shanxi. In China, he is about as famous as William Gibson in the United States; he’s often compared to Arthur C. Clarke, whom he cites as an influence. His most popular book, “The Three-Body Problem,” has just been translated into English by the American sci-fi writer Ken Liu, and in China it’s being made into a movie, along with its sequels. (If you Google it, beware: there are some big plot twists that you don’t want spoiled.) Liu Cixin’s writing evokes the thrill of exploration and the beauty of scale. “In my imagination,” he told me, in an e-mail translated by Ken Liu, “abstract concepts like the distance marked by a light-year or the diameter of the universe become concrete images that inspire awe.” In his novels, a black hole with the mass of twelve billion suns is the sort of thing that Chinese engineers might build. They’d do it a billion years from now, after China’s spaceships have spread throughout the universe.

American science fiction draws heavily on American culture, of course—the war for independence, the Wild West, film noir, sixties psychedelia—and so humanity’s imagined future often looks a lot like America’s past. For an American reader, one of the pleasures of reading Liu is that his stories draw on entirely different resources. Much of “The Three-Body Problem” is set during the Cultural Revolution. In “The Wages of Humanity,” visitors from space demand the redistribution of Earth’s wealth, and explain that runaway capitalism almost destroyed their civilization. In “Taking Care of Gods,” the hyper-advanced aliens who, billions of years ago, engineered life on Earth descend from their spaceships; they turn out to be little old men with canes and long, white beards. “We hope that you will feel a sense of filial duty towards your creators and take us in,” they say. I doubt that any Western sci-fi writer has so thoroughly explored the theme of filial piety.

But it’s not cultural difference that makes Liu’s writing extraordinary. His stories are fables about human progress—concretely imagined but abstract, even parable-like, in their sweep. Take the novella “Sun of China,” which follows Ah Quan, a young man from a rural village that has been impoverished by drought. In the first three chapters, Ah Quan sets out from the village and finds work in a mine; he travels to a regional city, where he learns to shine shoes, and moves to Beijing, where he works as a skyscraper-scaling window-washer. Then the story takes a turn. We discover that it’s the future: China has constructed a huge mirror in space called the China Sun, and is using it to engineer the climate. Ah Quan gets a job cleaning the reflective surface of the China Sun. It turns out that Stephen Hawking is living in orbit, where the low gravity has helped to prolong his life; Hawking and Ah Quan become friends and go on space walks together. (“It was probably his experience operating an electric wheelchair that allowed him to control the miniature engine of his spacesuit as well as anyone,” Liu writes.) The physicist teaches the worker about the laws of physics and about the vastness of the universe, and Ah Quan’s mind begins to dwell on the question of humanity’s fate: Will we explore the stars, or live and die on Earth? Soon afterward, he is saying goodbye to his parents and setting out on a one-way mission to explore interstellar space. By the end of the story, Ah Quan’s progress is representative of humanity’s. He has traversed an enormous social and material distance, but it pales in comparison to the journey ahead.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 12, 2015 at 10:41 pm

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

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  • blogTO notes that the site of the former Linux Caffè on Harbord at Grace is set to become a retro-style malt shop.
  • Centauri Dreams reacts to the discovery of an exoplanet in the uadruple 30 Arietis system.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper suggesting that the protoplanetary disk of T Chamaeleontis can be best explained by stationary structures.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes controversy over Gliese 581d’s existence.
  • The Everyday Sociology Blog’s Sally Raskoff notes the complex relationship between sex and gender.
  • The Frailest Thing considers the possibility of being cruel towards artificial entities like robots.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money is critical of anarchism’s ability to organize workers.
  • The Map Room’s Jonathan Crowe shares a detailed image of Ceres’ surface.
  • Marginal Revolution debates David Shambaugh’s argument of impending political change in China.
  • The Planetary Society Blog describes when we should expect detailed images of Pluto and its moons to come in from New Horizons.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog charts falling fertility in the North Caucasus.
  • Torontoist notes mourning and anger at the police reaction to the death of Toronto transwoman Sumaya Dalmar.
  • Towleroad notes a Michigan gym’s defense of a transwoman client.
  • Why I Love Toronto celebrates the new Honest Ed’s development plans.
  • Window on Eurasia is skeptical about the prospects for Russian immigrants in Europe to constitute a political force and mourns Nemtsov’s death.
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