I’m in the midst of a deadline blitz. And then some travel. So, rather than press the issue (or, unless something really good comes along), I’m going to pause the blogging (and most of the tweeting) until April 13 (or, as we say around the office: the ‘Scrap will be back).
Before I go, though, I humbly offer a few reading recommendations.
- Few China-related stories are more popular, and recur more often, than accounts of how American electronic wastes such as old computers and monitors are ‘dumped’ in developing countries. It’s a visually gripping story, and easy to do. But the problem is that the situation has long been far more complicated than what’s been depicted in stories such as 60 Minutes’ now notorious ‘Following the Trail of Toxic E-Waste.‘ Alas, many reporters, in a rush to get the visually arresting story (computers on fire!), miss the one that Robin Ingenthron tells in “Why We Should Send Our Electronic Waste to China and Africa.” Robin isn’t a journalist – he’s a professional recycler, and exporter of old equipment to developing countries (and blogger), where it’s refurbished and repaired for the second-hand market. His is a perspective that’s been long ignored (by 60 Minutes, among others – they interviewed him and then did the other story), and well worth reading for needed balance. Below, an image taken (by me) at a Malaysian facility where Robin sends his monitors.
- There’s been lots of talk about bad China journalism this past week. So let’s take a look at a really good piece of China journalism: John Garnaut’s “Show them the money, old China,” a riveting, meticulously reported account of the connections between organized crime and the Party in Chongqing. As Garnaut (whom I think is one the best correspondents working in China today) notes, the story describes “the alchemy of power in China today and a signal as to where the country may be heading.” However, a Shanghai friend who read the story writes that he disagrees that there’s anything new here: “Yes, it reminds me of 30’s KMT.” A story well worth your time.
- There are few blogs I like quite so much as Paul French’s China Rhyming, and few posts I like quite so much as “Shanghai’s Smokestacks – See ‘em While you can.” There’s really no nothing more that I can say about that particular work of blogging perfection – except that it takes place in one of my favorite (disappearing) sections of Shanghai.
- I’ve long wished that there were more in-depth profiles of the Chinese entrepreneurs who’ve shaped so much of China’s last two decades. And I’ve long been keenly aware that those sorts of profiles are very, very hard to do, in large part because those entrepreneurs are rarely willing to grant access to foreign reporters (in particular). So it was really a treat to read Gady Epstein’s recent cover story for last week’s issue of Forbes, Alibaba’s Jack Ma Fights Back to Win Trust. It’s hard enough to get access to entrepreneurs of Ma’s stature in good times; that Epstein did it during a downturn in the company’s fortunes is all the more remarkable. A great piece; I learned a lot.
- And finally, I’d be absolutely remiss (on so many levels, trust me) if I didn’t mention Christine H. Tan’s ‘How to Dump A Chinese Girlfriend” at her Shanghai Shiok! blog. Once in a while you encounter something and say, “You know, I’ve simply never read anything quite like that before.” Tan’s post belongs in that category.
See you in a week and half …