Posted by: xindaya | May 12, 2008

Chengdu/Wenchuan Earthquake

Just a quick note to put up a clearinghouse for some of the best news sources for information on the Chengdu Earthquake. We should probably be calling this the Wenchuan (汶川) Earthquake, but for the sake of the googlers, I’ll keep both placenames on the title and in the tags. Newest updates are on the top.

Updates 5/14

Updates 5/13 1:08 pm PST

  • New York Times’ The Lede blog discusses briefly the discontent in China about the overly celebratory images of the Olympic Torch immediately after the earthquake. (Via China Digital Times)
  • Again, Shanghaiist seems to have the best roundup in English.
  • One of the themes that is coming out of this that Shanghaiist among others ferrets out is the anger that is being expressed toward local governments for the assumed corruption that led to shoddy ‘tofu buildings.’ The Guardian has a representative piece
  • has an interesting article about possible warnings from nature – including the bizarre frog exodus that was covered (again) over at Shanghaiist.
  • Some, the Warrior Lawyer among them, are talking about the Tangshan Earthquake of ’76 and the Mandate of Heaven. Even Time Magazine published about omens regarding the Myanmar cyclone before the earthquake hit.
  • Some interesting thoughtfulness on the role of twitter yesterday by Digitalwatch
  • Via Imagethief, the Olympic torch will still run through Sichuan
  • A slide show of Reuters images from the Australian. (some fairly graphic)
  • As much as I dislike CNN’s “iReport” shtick, they’ve got some interesting images and videos here’s their tag for Earthquake, and here’s China

Updated5/12 9:01 PST

If I find any more interesting links, I’ll pass them on.

Posted by: manchucka | May 11, 2008

NCIKU: More than a dictionary

Now this is a dictionary. With an active community, customization, and most important, rounded corners, nciku is thoroughly web 2.0. But is it any good behind the nice window-dressing? Yes. See below for a visual walkthrough of some of its features. Read More…

Posted by: xindaya | May 10, 2008

So You Want to Type in Chinese, eh?

Chances are that if you are reading this, you are already happily typing away at your great American/Chinese novel in Chinese, but for those of you just getting into the most frustratingly rewarding language that is Chinese, you really do need to learn how to type in Chinese.

Now we’ve talked about the Google IME here (or was that the SoGou IME?), but as the resident reactionary (read: I still refuse to bow to the power and the pretty of the Jobbite Revolution), I’ve put together a primer on how to get your Chinese on with the Microsoft IME using Windows Vista. I also just installed a new screencap software, so there’s a visual step by step after the jump.

Read More…

Posted by: manchucka | May 7, 2008

Flame reaches summit of Everest, no flamers found

Chinese climbers successfully submitted Mt. Everest this morning at 9:17, Beijing time, carrying one of the olympic torches. Strangely enough, no protesters where to be found. They must have split from the scene.

Bonus! All your monk are belong to us:

“All people, including Buddhist monks, have their own motherland, and their hearts always yearn and turn to their motherland.” Link

Posted by: xindaya | May 3, 2008

Kingsoft Powerword Defines, Insults Women

Certainly one of the handiest dictionary tools for Chinese is Kingsoft’s Powerword – Jinshan Ciba (金山词霸). It’s an incredibly useful but very unfortunate piece of software. The way it works is that when you turn it on, all you have to do it hover your cursor over a word (or alternately hover and press an activation key, like Control), and up will pop a window, giving you a few options for translation. It works from Chinese into English or English into Chinese. It handles words, single characters, pulls from many dictionaries (see after the jump for a list), and even offers an audio pronunciation.

So, why do we call it a ‘unfortunate’ piece of software? Well, follow us beyond the jump for the downside.

Read More…

Posted by: manchucka | May 1, 2008

Common names for common radicals


When telling someone how to write a character, it is always best to used well-known names for the various pieces. Rather than describing the commonly-used radical 宀 as “that squiggly thing that looks like a roof,” you should say 宝盖头 bǎo gài tóu.

We present a list of the most common radicals below. Remember that some of the common names for these radicals belie the true source for the radical, such as in the case of “that swooshing thing on the bottom” 辶, which we call 走马旁 zǒu mǎ páng. The “proper” pronunciation would be 辵 chuò, but you’d be a jerk to insist on this. Don’t be a jerk.

亻(人), 单人旁 dān rén páng—single person on the side
彳(ㄔ), 双人旁shuāng rén páng—double person on the side
忄(心), 竖心旁 shù xīn páng—vertical heart to the side
氵(水), 三点旁 sān diǎn shuǐ—three dots of water
讠/訁(言), 言字旁 yán zì páng—character for speech on the side
朩 (木), 木字旁 mù zì páng—character for wood on the side
犭(犬), 犬字旁 quǎn zì páng—character for dog on the side
礻(示), 半礼旁 bàn lǐ páng—half of the character “li” 礼 on the side
*alternately 示字旁 shì zì páng—character for show/sacrifice on the side
王(玉), 斜玉旁 xié yù páng—slanting jade on the side
艹(草), 草字头 cǎo zì tóu—character for grass on the top
衤(衣), 衣字旁 yī zì páng—character for clothing on the side
月(肉), 肉字旁 ròu zì páng—character for meat on the side
辶(走), 走马旁 zǒu mǎ páng—running horse on the side *alternately 走之 zǒu zhī—running “zhi”
阝(邑), 右耳旁 yòu ěr páng—right ear on the side
阝(卓), 左耳旁 zuǒ ěr páng—left ear on the side
扌(手), 提手旁 tí shǒu páng—upward hand on the side
宀, 宝盖头 bǎo gài tóu—covering of character “bao” 宝 on the top
灬, 四点底 sì diǎn dǐ—four dots on the bottom

see below for traditional character version Read More…

Posted by: manchucka | April 27, 2008

Alluring Alliteration Assures Appropriate Attitudes

There is no better place to turn for a good dose of truthmongering than our old friends at the People’s Daily. They’ve turned to the time-tested truthiness tactic of trying to trounce the teaming Tibetists with tricky turns of the tongue: “Tell You a True Tibet.” Next on the campaign: puns! Here are a few to start them off:

  • CafFARTY
  • Don’t “split” on me
  • Da-LIER Lama
  • Tibet’cher ass
  • 吸毒
  • 西脏

Happy in Tibet

Don’t believe the caption. She’s smiling at the puns.

Posted by: niyalma | April 21, 2008

Chinese-Western calendar converter

Want to know the corresponding Gregorian calendar of the sixth day of the third month of the first year of Zhenyuan reign of Emperor Dezong of Tang? (You may have no interest to know it right know, but you will need this converter some day, eventually…) Roll down the menu, select the name of dynasty, emperor, date and time, then, “April 19, 785 C.E., Tuesday” is the answer you want.

This nice tool is designed by Academia Sinica in Taiwan. You can not only convert a specific date between the two calendars, but also get a calendar of a month, a year, or the whole reign.

Posted by: wodetian | April 20, 2008

What is the word for today?

Not quite sure what to say about a world gone mad?  If you are, do you wish you could say it gooder?  Check out “DAILY CHINESE WORD,” to ‘refresh and relish a sensitivity to Chinese.’  This blog has archives going back to June of 2005, and if you count up all the days between now and that summer of three years ago, that equals many Chinese words.

The selection is excellent food for thought, offering definitions of obscure terms in both Chinese and English, along with the occasional lyrics to a Chinese song and an accompanying sound file.  For those of you who can’t bear to do anything except when you do it all the way.

So if you don’t know what a 细民 is or your vocabulary is little more than just a 藉藉 mess, enlighten yourself.

Posted by: manchucka | April 19, 2008

Clinton adviser quits over harsh China rhetoric

In light of what he calls Sen. Hillary Clinton’s “grossly misguided accusations,” Richard Baum, a political science professor at the Center for Chinese Studies at UCLA, has resigned from his role as informal advisor to Clinton’s presidential campaign.

Regarding concerns about human rights, Baum favors persistant advice to “self-righteous finger-pointing aimed at publicly shaming and humiliating them.”

Full article here.

Posted by: manchucka | April 17, 2008

China to clear out students, refugees before Olympics?

We hope this is not true. It seems that foreign students studying in China have been given a much-needed break this summer and will certainly rejoice at the chance to go home and visit their parents ordered to leave during the Olympic games. No doubt the motives are pure and will do much to assuage the growing concerns about Beijing’s handling of the games. Nothing to see here, folks. Move along.

Thanks, Duncan, for the tip.

UPDATE: (Via Xinhua) According to Wang Xuming 王旭明, spokesman for the Chinese Department of Education, this is untrue:

Relevant government departments and colleges and universities that accept foreign students have never demanded that foreign students leave China during the time of the Olympics or the Paralympics.



Posted by: xindaya | April 17, 2008

The Olympics, The Media and Human Flesh Search Engines

Torch Grab

We here at the Electric Sinophile are interested in all aspects of China, but as you might guess by our title, the new media and ‘electric’ angles are especially interesting. The recent events regarding Tibet and the Olympic Torch and such are really allowing us to see how the internet and other technologies are having very real impacts around the world. Here are a couple of interesting recent examples:

  • Because of the reaction to the Olympic Torch in Paris, an internet movement is gaining ground to boycott the French giant Carrefour, one of the largest and most popular supermarkets in China. (via China Digital Times)
  • The anger felt about a perceived anti-Chinese in western media seems to have been focused on CNN, thanks in particular to some questionable photo cropping and Mr. Cafferty’s ‘goons and thugs’ quote. The website Anti-CNN seems to be have become a locus for this frustration.
  • The term Human Flesh Search Engine (I believe it was first translated thusly by Roland Soong of EastSouthWestNorth), is used to describe physical action brought on by a call to arms in chatrooms and online forums. One of the most recent example is found in the publishing of the personal information of a Chinese national who is a student at Duke university. She was branded a traitor because she was seen to be siding with some pro-Tibetan independence folks. With all her information published, including her national ID and parents address in Qingdao, the Human Flesh Search Engine has come down forcing her parents into hiding. The New York Times has and article here; the Washington Post, here. And here is a posting from the nationalist-leaning Tiexue website (in Chinese).
  • Another Human Flesh Search Engine action has been against the man who tried to grab an unlit torch out on the hands of Jin Jing, one of the torch runners. Many netizens attempted to finds out who he was, to unfortunate degrees of failure. This Baidu search for ‘Jin Jing’ shows a taste of the mood. EastSouthWestNorth has great coverage, as usual (do a CTRL-F search for ‘Chinese Human Flesh Search Engine Goes Global’ on this page). WLBZ news in Bangor, Maine of all places has a further account of mistaken identity.
Posted by: manchucka | April 15, 2008

Nationalism-off! Part 2: The anti-rally rally

In our ongoing series about who can be whipped up into the most frenzied nationalistic fervor, we consider the phenomenon of the anti-rally rally. In this case, a highly-organized contingent of Chinese students at the University of California, Los Angeles staged a rally to combat a pro-Tibet rally on April 15th, 2008. In the end, the Chinese students vastly outnumbered the pro-Tibet activists. We wonder aloud: is the anti-rally the new rally? And, whatever happened to the days when the disenfranchised and underprivileged staged rallies?

Below is a translated copy of an email sent out by the Chinese Students and Scholars Association to its members at UCLA.

Stick around after the letter for another picture and a video from the anti-rally rally.

“Anti Tibetan Independence Note”

Please everyone, earnestly attend to discipline, and with unity, calmness, good measure, and orderliness meet whatever events might transpire. It is imperative that everyone stays together; do not split apart, and if it happens that someone causes a disturbance, face them as a group, and meet them with calmness.

Women in particular must not move about by themselves or get into face-to-face arguments or interviews; nobody should get agitated, shout out slogans or curse at anyone.

As long as we attend to discipline, unity, and a great showing of the truth, our goals will be realized, and the conspiracies of others will come to no avail. They speak a thousand lies, we show a thousand truths.

Their lies are in fact a single word: “Fake.” Our truths are just a single word: “Real:” One China, hosting the Olympic games. Whatever they say or ask, we can simply use this to respond. We will issue forth, from our own hearts, the sound: “One China, hosting the Olympic games.” All other problems will be as easily solved as a length of bamboo is split after getting the blade in.

As long as we stick to our underlying principles, we will not easily fall into their premeditated trap.

Also, we students are all on an American campus, so we must abide by discipline and courtesy in treating others on campus, and demonstrate the good measure and rationality of us Chinese international students.

When using loudspeakers, be sure to use your discretion. You can’t teach others with a cudgel.

If you encounter the police, you should definitely obey and courteously do as you are told. No matter what, don’t struggle or resist. Stay as a group, be sure that no individual stands out, so as to avoid suffering losses.

The backbone of the activity is to gather together, and everyone must take the initiative to be on the defense and close ranks. Our policy is:
Be ordered, be effective, be tempered, move as one, and stick to having someone in place to prevent suffering unexpected injury.

original email attachment here

A video of students chanting “Lies! Lies! Lies!” in response to a pro-Tibet activist:

Posted by: manchucka | April 9, 2008

Tibet: a call for nuance

The Chinese edition of the Financial Times has an excellent article by Chang-ping 长平 that considers the respective biases of Western and Chinese media in the wake of the recent events in Tibet. The author asks readers to consider such nuanced concepts as “Orientalism,” nationalism, unity, and press-freedom. Here’s hoping that we hear more voices like this.

English translation (by anonymous) below: Read More…

Posted by: manchucka | April 8, 2008

Tibet: 11 steps to manage an international kerfuffle

China hosted a press conference on Wednesday to discuss the recent events in Tibet. Our old pals at the Xinhua News Agency 新华通讯社 have the report. We are quick learners, and so we propose 11 simple steps to manage an international kerfuffle, all based on the press conference:

Step 1: Reassure the masses

向巴平措:拉萨生产生活秩序恢复正常 布达拉宫等景点已向游人开放
[Chairman of the Tibet Autonomous Region] Qiangba Puncog: Life in Lhasa has returned to normal in an orderly fashion and Potala Palace and other scenic spots have already opened to travelers.

Step 2: Claim benevolence

[Undersecretary of the United Front Department of the Central Committee of Chinese Communist Party] Si Da: There is simply no way that we can allow a societal system in which more than 95% of the people had no personal freedom to come back in Tibet.

Step 3: Tally the damage/propose a fix

“3·14事件”使西藏损失近3亿元 政府6大措施解决群众困难
The events on 3/14 caused Tibet close to 300 million yuan worth of financial losses. The government has implemented 6 great steps to resolve the troubles of the people.

Step 4: Present an imagined unified front

参与打砸抢烧的只是极少数 根本不代表也代表不了西藏和西藏人民
There were just a few that took part in the beating, smashing, ransacking, and arson. In no way do they or are they able to represent Tibet or Tibetan people.

Step 5: Talk down to the lowly people

西藏各族群众普遍享受到改革发展成果 是真正的受益者
Each of the groups [that make up the] masses in Tibet all enjoy the fruits of reform and development–They are the true beneficiaries.

Step 7: Fan the flames of nationalism

All of the people of Tibet endorse and support the passing of the olympic flame through Tibet.

Step 8: Claim universal support for the ruling body

The great majority of people [that make up the] masses along with the monks all endorse the party and socialism.

Step 9: Show your soft side

向巴平措:为经济尽快恢复精心准备 大昭寺僧人没有受处罚
Qiangba Puncog: Meticulous preparations [are being made] for the speedy recovery of the economy. The monks of Jokhang temple have not been punished.

Step 10: Show your hard side/identify the enemy

Si Da: The fundamental reason for the failure of progress in talks is that those on the Dalai Lama side lack sincerity.

Step 11: Preempt outside media coverage

郭卫民:中国尽最大努力提供好的采访环境 希望外国媒体能客观报道
[Host of the talks] Guo Weimin: China is putting forth the greatest of effort to provide for a good environment for gathering news. We hope that the foreign press is able to report objectively.

Posted by: manchucka | April 5, 2008

Laowai 老外 lineup

Laowai? Lurid Laowai lover? Look:


Laowai Chinese 老外中文

Lost Laowai

And don’t miss a brilliant clarification of the term “laowai” 老外 (foreigner (black or white)) below: Read More…

Posted by: manchucka | April 1, 2008

Dictionary of Chinese idioms 成語


Pepper your language with obscure 4-character idioms to impress. Or, find out what those 4-character idioms mean that pepper your friends’ language. Or just think about pepper. But beware: 坐吃山空 “even a great fortune can be depleted by idleness.”

Need help? Use this handy dictionary of Chinese idioms 成語 chéngyǔ. It’s surprisingly comprehensive. Screenshots below. Read More…

Posted by: manchucka | April 1, 2008

How to confront your own prejudice about Tibet


Recent events in Tibet have polarized netizens and journalists, making it hard to get straight dope on a complicated and delicate situation. The coverage in both the Western and Chinese media could have been written before the events unfolded. In the Chinese press, we have the old canard that China freed the slaves living under the oppression of the tyrannical Dalai Lama, which the West fundamentally misunderstands. In the Western press, we have the old canard that Tibet has always been an independent nation that lived harmoniously under the benevolent rule of the Lamas until the violent invasion by the Chinese. Stories appear in news outlets that support these polar views, and while each contain a grain of truth, they both miss the subtleties that underlie the complicated interaction of Tibet and China.

With this in mind, we envision a higher level of discourse about Tibet that requires us to first confront out own prejudices. Here are some ways to start:

1) Read widely. Although the coverage tends to be of the nature described above, the more information the better.

2) Avoid coverage that paints the situation in black-and-white terms.

3) Acknowledge and accept your own nationalism, and then confront it.

4) Disentangle your conceptions of government and people. Allow for the possibility that not everyone speaks with a single voice.

5) Critically assess the myths you hold onto about China, Tibet, and elsewhere.

6) Put aside your preconceived notions about China.

A good place to start reading is at Imagethief, which we mentioned in a previous entry

Posted by: manchucka | March 29, 2008

Mt. Everest Closed


Bad news for the posh and bearded: China has closed the north side of Mt. Everest due to concern for the possibility of encountering Tibetan flags on the summit when Chinese climbers carry the Olympic torch “heavy climbing activities, crowded climbing routes and increasing environmental pressures.”

Dejected, Sinophile proposes to move its reader meet-up and beard-off to K2.





Planet Mountain

Posted by: manchucka | March 29, 2008

人定胜天–China to control weather during Olympics

wo de tian

Who’s afraid of a little rain? “Man must overcome Heaven.”

Through a technique called cloud-seeding 播云, Chinese meteorologists have successfully induced rain-causing clouds. Now they hope to do the opposite to ensure clear skies for the Olympics. Awesome!

The People’s Weather

China plans to halt rain for Olympics

Via Boing Boing


In the spirit of the upcoming Olympic games in Beijing, we offer the first of a series of links that illustrate the state of nationalism in China and elsewhere. Watch this space for more such entries as individuals become increasingly bombastic in support of their countries. And what better way to judge the current state of nationalist fervor than to turn to our trusty news sources?

Fan of the fair and balanced coverage of Fox News? You just might like its cousin-in-law, the People’s Daily (rénmín rìbào 人民日报).

The following are recent headlines from the venerable People’s Daily, none of which have been taken from the editorial pages:

Crush “Tibet independence” forces’ conspiracy, People’s Daily urges

Expert: Lhasa riot reveals hypocritical features of Dalai clique

“藏独”分子暴力冲击我使领馆 (“Independent Tibet”-ists violently attack our embassies)

拉萨3.14打砸抢暴力事件纪实:执勤民警被不法分子围攻 (Report on the beating, smashing, and ransacking uprising on 3/14 in Lhasa: On-duty police were besieged by criminal elements)

西藏自治区主席向巴 措谈拉萨发生的打砸抢烧事件 (Chairman of the Tibet Autonomous Region, Qiangba Puncog, discusses the beating, smashing, ransacking and arson than occurred in Lhasa)

->excerpt:  这是由达赖集团有组织、预谋、精心策划煽动,境内外“藏独”分裂势力相互勾结制造的 。 (That the domestic and foreign “Independent Tibet”-ists colluded to split apart the authority was due to the Dalai cabal’s organization, premeditation, and meticulous scheme of instigation.)

“Jianti” and “fanti” are equally good

->why the script used in mainland China is just as good, if not better, than that used in Taiwan, Hong Kong and elsewhere

Chinese mainland donates blood stem cells to Taiwan compatriots

More countries congratulate newly elected Chinese leaders

->this just in: Hu Jintao reelected as president of China

Posted by: manchucka | March 21, 2008

DimSum: Chinese Reading Assistant and Dictionary


Windows/Mac/Linux: DimSum is a dictionary program and more that uses the ever-expanding CEDICT for its data. This program has been around for years and has improved over time. Because it runs on Java Runtime Environment (JRE) it is effectively cross-platform. Use it for its pop-up dictionary, handwritten character recognition, abacus (!), pinyin inserter, and more. See below for screenshots and a brief walkthrough of some of its features: Read More…

Posted by: manchucka | March 18, 2008

Unicode Yijing hexagrams


How many times have I been typing when I needed an Yijing hexagram or two? Now I can just copy and past from this handy chart, complete with Unicode values.

Note: you must have a font that includes the full Unicode set to see the hexagrams below: Read More…

Posted by: niyalma | March 16, 2008

Online Conversion of Chinese Measurement


Don’t take it wrong. This is not a common online conversion website that you can see on Google, Yahoo, MSN…. It is an awesome tool for Chinese historians and those who are confused with the units of measure in each dynasty. It does not merely contain charts of length, volume, and mass and leave you with annoying calculation; instead, all you have to do is to input a number and choose the dynasties and the units you plan to convert from/to, then… wait for 0.1 second, done!

The website “Shuiren ting 睡人亭” is produced by Yamada Takahito 山田崇仁, a lecturer of Ritsumeikan University in Japan.

Posted by: manchucka | March 16, 2008

Sinophile blocked in China


Aw, shucks. It’s almost an honor. Probably because of these three posts.

Read More…

Posted by: xindaya | March 16, 2008

Fanfou 饭否


Again, my apologies for posting an item that I haven’t explored completely, but I’m passing this along because many folks are trying to get a little more info on what’s going on in Tibet now that many outlets like Youtube appear to have been temporarily harmonized. It seems that one way to check a random sample of moods is through the Twitter clone, Fanfou. Dave over at Mutant Palm has done a bit of digging around and translating the posts he’s found on the topic here.

In case you don’t know about Twitter, it’s a blog service that is designed for miniature posts (<140 characters – think texting with slightly more punctuation). You subscribe to your friends’ feeds so you can find out within minutes when their cats have done something funny. Fanfou seems to be very similar for China-based folks. Here‘s a sampling of the posts you might find there.

Posted by: manchucka | March 12, 2008

Poll: Which word processor for Chinese?


Gone are the days when one had to use NJstar to type in Chinese, what with modern IMEs and such. Now we can use the word processor of choice to handle our various languages. Here at Sinophile, we use Word, NeoOffice, Mellel, and Google Docs. What do you use?

Take our anonymous poll here (multiple answers accepted).

See results here. Poll ends 3/31/08

Posted by: xindaya | March 12, 2008

China Film Journal

This link shamelessly stolen from

China Film Jounral

In all honesty, I haven’t looked too deeply at the site, but from what I have seen, it’s really nice. Reviews of films and all sorts of good film-y news. I will admit that the template they are using is a bit wonky – It didn’t like Firefox much at first, but that problem seems better now*. There also seems to be a podcast there, but I wasn’t able to tease it into life. In any case, I’ve learned that the Chinese state has decided to protect its citizenry from the dangers that might come of seeing the actress Tang Wei (of Lust, Caution) in any television commercials.

* I take that back – I tried loading the page again in Firefox and the first story loaded, but then it hung. IE works ok, but renders a huge gap (with only the sidebar material) between the first and second story.


It looks like all is well on the browser compatibility front.  The site loads up buttery-smooth now.   Hmmm… Butter…

Posted by: xindaya | March 9, 2008



No, not that Cojack. I’m really not sure how to sum up all the wacky things going on over there at this Cojak, but it’s definitely worth a look-see. Basically, they’ve set up all sorts of character-based lists. You’ve got your Kangxi Radicals, your Mandarin syllables (click on the syllables for a list of characters with that sound), a list of common characters that turn up in names (above), and some other random stuff. Honestly, I’m not really sure what to do with it, but hey, it looks cool, right?

Posted by: manchucka | March 9, 2008

Photo essay: A Flipbook on China


See 60 years of China through photographs. We mean the last 60 years. If anyone has photos from 18-78 CE, please leave thom in the comments.
Via Slate and Flickr

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