Yao Ming’s been gone from Chinese basketball for over a year now, and Wang Zhizhi, as well as 3 other mainstays, is now gone too, at least from playing for the national team in the Olympics. NiuBBall is an English-language site about Chinese basketball and it’s got some good articles on the Chinese men’s team’s dismal performance at the just-concluded Olympics, including grading the players and commemorating the coach who stepped down recently. The team lost all their group games, finishing dead last in their group, and failed to reach the quarterfinals for the first time since 2000. With only one NBA player in the lineup, Yi Jianlian, (a 7-foot Cantonese from Heshan), China wasn’t expected to do that well. And when Yi suffered a knee injury in their third game, the writing was on the wall. Yi played well when he was healthy and he’s been the man since Yao Ming left, leading the team to the Asia Games and Asian championships crowns, but he’s not as good as Yao, and unfortunately other people haven’t stepped up.
It wasn’t that long ago that HTC was one of the top smartphone brands. That’s why I was surprised recently to learn that the Taiwanese smartphone maker is in a lot of trouble, to the point where its current worldwide market share has dropped almost in half from 11 percent in 2011 to 6 percent now (it’s also seen similarly drastic drops in quarterly and monthly revenue). HTC’s seen huge drops in sales in North America and Europe, so it’s now looking to China to save itself. Samsung, on the other hand, has been doing great whilst eating into HTC’s sales and market share. The reasons for HTC’s struggles include too many models (hmm, wonder why this sounds familiar concerning Taiwan brands?), technical issues, less retail sales channels than Apple or Samsung, and patent fights with Apple, though HTC actually won recently.
When I bought a new phone last year, I specifically got a HTC smartphone instead of an iPhone or a Samsung or Nokia, mostly because of a desire to support a top Taiwan brand (see, I do support Taiwan in some ways), but also because HTC had several good models out. If it only had crappy phones, I wouldn’t buy it no matter how much local pride I had. I still want HTC to do well, because it’s cool for a local company to be a quality brand and be successful worldwide. HTC’s one of the rare Taiwanese companies that is well-known in the US (it was the first to offer Android phones), with Acer and Asus not quite there yet. Neither are ZTE or Huawei, mainland China’s telecom equipment companies.
South Africa put itself back into the world’s top news in a major tragic way last week. After a protracted standoff between striking workers ad police at a platinum mine, 34 workers were killed and dozens injured by police. This is a huge tragedy for the South African people and a big blow to the government, who literally have blood on their hands in an event that seems reminiscent of the violence during apartheid. Yet the violence at the mine was sparked by clashes between workers of rival trade unions the week before, in which 2 police officers were even killed. It doesn’t mean the police shooting was justified, but it sadly demonstrates that violence and murder are common in South Africa. It’s a beautiful, diverse country, but there are serious issues concerning inequality, poverty, and corruption that this tragedy has brought to the fore.
A few posts back, I referred to foreigners who gush about Taiwan and the people here. Well, not every foreigner does, such as this journalist who often makes sharp criticisms about issues that many people don’t talk about, but are pertinent, and this other guy here, who also makes some great observations and criticisms of the, to put it mildly, the eccentricities in Taiwan. I’ve been reading both off and on for a while now and the first guy’s latest post hits the mark well. I’m not so big on some of the cultural anti-Chinese criticisms, but at least it’s directed against both sides and not the far-too-common heavenly Taiwanese, hellacious mainlanders trite. Also, there are a lot of good things here to praise and gush about, but let’s not be blinded to the fact there’s a lot of nonsense here as well.
Here’s some splendid photos of Chinese jet fighters conducting training in the Southwest. No chance of these being Photshopped, I hope, like the second one. The J-11 is the Chinese version of Russia’s Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker, basically a counterpart of the USA’s F-15 Eagle and F-16 fighters.
And staying on the topic of lovely images, Miss China Yu Wenxia won Miss World on Saturday, which actually took place in China. Interestingly the competition was in Ordos, Inner Mongolia and not sandy tropical Hainan. If Ordos sounds familiar, that’s because it’s the site of the infamous “ghost town” where thousands of news homes have been built but hardly anyone lives. To clarify a bit, the entire city is not deserted, it’s a prosperous mining town. The actual ghost town is a district in the town which has seen development run rampant and exceed actual residents by a huge amount.