A study of price elasticity: taxi fare (bonus, a tip for taking HK taxi)

Case study: Beijing

Wang Xiaofeng (aka "three watches/reps") discussed about the impact to recent price increase to the income of Beijing taxi drivers (linking to a newspaper analysis of Yenzhao Metro). The net result of a 12.5% price increase (from 1.6RMB/km to 2.0RMB/km) was a net drop in total earning of about RMB500, i.e. 25%.
  • The basic assumption of the authority is that price elasticity is negligible, so that volume remains virtually unchanged after the price hike, albeit there may be a short term dip in volume. The authority estimated the average price per trip (given the average length of the trip, I guess around 22.5RMB), to be RMB2.81 -- which I believe is pretty accurate -- so that the net income for the taxi drivers will increase by RMB580 per months
    • The assumption seems to imply about 206 trips/month, or around 8-10 trip per shift depending on the assumption of shift/day, seems to be too low. I thought a taxi driver would take at least 2-3 trips per hour and about 20 trips/shift.
    • It also implies the total revenue per month is about RMB4600, which also seeems to be small. In my past conversation with taxi drivers in Beijing the revenue per month is about twice that amount. The net income (see below) figures are consistent with the survey because the driver needs to pay for various fees
    • So perhaps the net increase in revenue is not wholly captured by the drivers or there is something more in these assumptions (I would welcome any new data to make sense of this -- though it is not essential for the conclusion in this post)
  • Unfortunately the naive assumption on price elasticity turned out to be totally wrong. It hurt both the passengers and the drivers. Now it has been more than 4 months after the price hike (June 1st), the data should not be affected by the initial (temporary) dip in volume. The recent survey revealed that the average income per driver decreased from RMB2210 to RMB1658, a 25% decrease (and about 10% drop in total revenue if the assumption above is correct -- i.e. 20% decrease in volume, 1.125x0.8=0.9)
    • I think this assumes the driver does not own his own car, but I am not sure if the fees the drivers paid have also increased a bit -- see above
  • I believe the study is quite accurate, because it also showed an interesting observation (and intuitive result) -- that the impact is most severe for old cars. Average income for new car drivers decreased by 20.27%, and that for old cars decreased by 38.22% -- this indicates that because of the price hike, passengers have more choice about which car to take on spot (due to over-capacity), and some may even decide to skip taxi if the car is old (feeling that old cars do not justify the price -- this should be temporary phenomenon though)
My hypothesis
  • The short trips should not be affected much by a price hike, since we are talking about only 1-5RMB more. It is the long trips that are affected most, since it usually means 5-15RMB more for the passengers. So even though the number of trips/shift may only decrease by one or two, the lsot businesses are also the most profitable trips. (As mentioned in the report, the price elasticity impact is strongest in the sprawling city of Beijing, since most trips are fairly long)
  • If we understand the economics of taxi drivers, we would know that the "cost" of finding a passenger (in between trips) is pretty high. To learn more about the taxi driver economics please refer to the MBA case study translated by ESWN. So the price hike is taking away the most profitable customers from the drivers.
  • My prediction: given the mass wisdom of Chinese capitalists and entrepreneurs, very soon we will see in Beijing the "Discount Party (clan)" like those in HK.

The Hong Kong case (update: a mistake in taxi rental/shift is fixed)

The case of HK is very similar. Taxi in HK is very affordable (compared with other cities in the developed world such as Tokyo, New York, Boston, London, with similar income level), at HKD15 first 2 km, and HKD1.4/0.2km or /minute-wait; i.e. HKD7/km)
  • Bonus finding: a tip to all residents/visitors in HK. It is cheaper to take 2 different taxis than asking a driver to wait for you in the middle of your trip (e.g. dropping off someone or picking up something), if both segments of your trip are over 1.5-2 km long (traffic jam means that you would reach HKD15 in less than 2km). This is because, compared with the incremental rate of HKD7/km (14/2km), you only pay HKD1 more if you break your trip into 2 taxis. Whereas if you ask the driver to wait, one minute wait will already cost you $1.4 !
I learned that revenue/shift (6am-6pm) a taxi driver in HK is aournd HKD1100-1400 (average HKD1250) in weekend and a bit higher in weekdays (maybe 1400). He pays about HKD300-350/shift for rent/gas to the taxi leasing companies (lower for long term leasing driver and those who own the taxi -- because the taxi leasing companies would pay around HK$500/day(2 shifts) to a taxi owner, taking HKD200 for various fees (license/insurance/discount party fee), management and its profit). These numbers may not be precise, but should be in range.

Therefore, on average a taxi driver (who does not own his own taxi) generates about 1300x22shifts=28600 in revenue, taking away about 350x22=7700 as leasing cost (average of long term lease from taxi companies), and about 4000-5000 for gas/etc, he makes about 16400 per month.

As people in HK would know, there are "discount clans" in HK catering for longer trips, especially in the evenings. In the past it was 20% discount standard. Recently I learned that 30% is common for late night lifts, and 40% for airport transfer. (i.e. applicable to only taxi fare, no discount for tunnel/bridge fees). Note that the drivers need to also absorb the cost of additional fuel to come to your doorstep and time wait for you for a few minutes, that means there is comfortable margin for such price. This also means that there is serious problem in the pricing structure of long trips. (Not just in HK, I believe this is applicable to almost everywhere else -- as you can sense the preference of long trips by almost every driver everywhere)

There have been a lot of debates in HK. Many argues that the price is too high while some argues that the discount clans should be persecuted an punished. In my view, HK is a very entrepreneurial and capitalistic society, and that the discount parties are merely reacting to the market appropriately. It is true that the taxi price is reasonable (and even cheap) for short trips; it is also very true the price for longer trips are too high.
  • Consider the cost of about HKD350/shift, i.e. HKD30/hour. Reasonable profit (income for drivers) implies revenue of at least HKD80-100/hour.
  • If all trips are at HKD15-20 then one needs to take about 6 trips per hour, which means improbably full capacity
  • OTOH, a HKD200 trip usually takes about 25-30 minutes to complete, which is 4 times more profitable than the very short trips
  • If one assumes that the average price/trip is around HKD40 or 10-20min in length, then about half of the times for each taxi is empty. the key is how to minimize the idle time.
  • Note also that gas is only a small portion of the cost. e.g. at USD5.62/gallon (HKD11/litre) and 18miles/gallon it means HKD1.5/km, i.e. about 15-20% revenue.
The only solution to this problem is to rationalize the pricing structure, i.e., sacrificing simplicity (if the HK government is willing to introduce the immensely complex GST, I do not see why there is any problem in adding a little complexity in taxi pricing, especially because the computer technology today allows the taxi meters to do a lot more complicated calculations than those in the past)

The objective is to realize the following characteristic in the cost structure of taxi drivers
  • opportunity cost in between trips (i.e. when a driver is searching for passenger)
  • capacity utilization
Let's assume that price elasticity in HK is similar to that of Beijing (in reality, there is difference, but the difference should not be too big). Then the volume (on average, though mainly contributed by the long distance trips) increases by 25% (from 80% to 100%) by a price decrease of 12% (1/1.125).

Therefore, given such price reduction, the revenue per shift of HK driver will increase from 1350 to 1350x1.25x0.88=1485, an increase of 10% (with negligible change in gas cost). The profit per shift now is 1485-350-25 (incremental gas cost is about 15-20% of incremental revenue, say, HKD25/day) x 22 -4500=1110x22-4500=19920. The average income per driver (assume 22 shifts) is now 20% increase from the old number, even if the incremental gasoline cost is higher as a percentage.

The optimal structure for such price decrease is to not change the price for the first 2-5km, and decrease the price for longer trips -- so that the price reflect the cost structure more accurately. One example is to decrease the price/km for each incremental km, e.g. by HKD0.1 per additional km, as shown in the tble below
  • under this example, discount for long trip of 30km (kowloon to airport) will be about 20%, for 40km (HK island to airport) about 30%
  • incremental price change per km will not drop below HKD3/km, or about twice (or 2.5x) the cost/km of gasoline, so that there is still small incremental profit for the driver
  • average discount is about 12% -- assuming certain distance profile centered at around 5-6 km trips (or lesser distance with some waiting)
  • decreasing price this way will boost driver income by about 15% if Beijing price elasticity is applicable -- since our scheme does not really discount the short trip prices, it is more likely that the income increase will be much larger
distCurrent pxPx/km
New pxPx/km

8.0 8.00 0%
15.0 7.00 0%
21.9 6.90 0%
28.7 6.80 1%
35.4 6.70 2%
42.0 6.60 2%
48.5 6.50 3%
54.9 6.40 4%
61.2 6.30 4%
91.2 5.80 8%
118.7 5.30 11%
166.2 4.30 19%
206.9 3.20 26%
210.0 3.10 27%
213.0 3.00 28%

Avg Px





Profitability of Chinese companies

Economist has an interesting account on the profitability of Chinese companies, which also discussed the counter-points raised by private equity Newbridge Capital's Weijian Shan.

Very interesting data and views, a couple caveats on the study (which in general supports the Economist's views)

  1. the study focuses on comparing the profitability listed companies in China vs other countries, which is a good control test. However, one should bear in mind that a) in developing countries such as China, legal, tax and accounting enforcement is not as established; b) the (transparency) gap between public and private companies are wider in countries like China
  2. There are more leeways for Chinese companies to report lower than real profit, especially from 2001-2005, so that the valuation is lower when shares are sold to the management
  3. The common deal between local government and major local companies are to inflate revenue and under-report profit, so that the local official has high GDP (affects their promotion). This would increase the VAT payable and decrease the profit tax by the companies. There would be deals of tax rebates to the companies (local government receives some split of the tax, usually 1/3) for "tax equalization" (what was called subsidies are in fact tax rebate for equalization, so these are real operating profits)-- this could mean that profits are under-reported and that the crackdown by the central government on these scheme may have led to profit increase (truer figures) in 2005/06

I am not surprised by the results. Even mediocre companies would see profit growth in a booming economy, simply because of the enlarged scale. I would be very surprised if the profitability did not improve when the GDP has been growing at around 10% over the years.


Kim Jong-il: second test or bluff again?

There has been report that N Korea is going to conduct its "second" nuclear test soon, right after the "first" (alleged) test and today again, apparently the evidence was that some trucks were spotted around the Punggye site.

I maintain my skepticism on the technological capability of KJI's highly isolated team. Unlike the Indian and the Pakistani in 1998, or even the Chinese in 1964, N Korea scientists were isolated for more than half a decade from the rest of the world (except for a Soviet aided small facility in Yangban since mide 1960s, which is mainly for preaceful use). The Chinese team, when the research started in late 1950s, was only isolated for less than 10 years, with a few top scientists educated and worked in top US facilities. The Chinese also has a much larger talent pool, given its population then of 600M vs 22M of DPRK today.

My skepticism was confirmed when the test on October 9 turned out to be either a fizzle or fake. Even with the recent detection of radioactive sources by US reconnaissance, NK could have faked the radioactive elements as well, if it chose to do so. A small amount of waste from power plant would generate a large enough sample to fake the radioactive traces if it was indeed a chemical explosion. Although my personal opinion is that to fake a 500 ton equivalent blast is a non-trivial task which involves the simultaneous detonation of many tonnes of explosives (may be much smaller than 500 as it could be non-TNT, but should be near the 100 nevertheless), and I think it is probably more challenge for KJI to fake the blast.

I am more skeptical of the speculation of a second test, for the following reasons
  1. NK only has limited amount of Plutonium. Of the amount (US estimated by US intelligence) equivalent of 4-10 bombs (I tend to believe the low side limit), one is already gone (even if it is a fizzle, NK should have used the amount for one full bomb and the rest of the Plutonium are forever wasted and buried under Mantapsan). NK cannot afford to waste another 2 kilo's of Pu on a second test.
    Although NK has uranium mines, the alleged bomb is believed to be Plutonium based. Suffice it to say that the Plutonium enrichment and explosion technology is significantly different from that of Uranium and that it is non-trivial to enrich the required material even if NK has natural uranium mines -- (update) Experts said the use of plutonium to make the bomb was important because it suggested that North Korea probably had only one nuclear program mature enough to produce weapons."This is good news because we have a reasonably good idea of how much plutonium they have made," said Siegfried Hecker, the former head of the Los Alamos National Laboratory and now a visiting professor at Stanford University.
  2. Whether the blast on October 9 was a fizzle or a success (if not fake), a sensible approach would be to thoroughly analyze the data before conducting the second test. With the dated computational technological in NK, it is unlikely for it to gain new knowledge by testing a second bomb until at least 0.5-1 year later
  3. As many have suspected, the October 9 blast serves more as a political statement (and diplomatic gesture), in KJI's weird mind, than a technological demonstration. I do not see any incremental impact a second test could have served him. Instead, if the second test fails again, it would be immense embarrassment for Kim. (the first test could still be called a success since the chain reaction did started, even though it did not sustain. But if the second test turns out to be a fizzle again, then it certainly covers no new ground)

I was, of course, trying to reason with KJI. As we know, rationality does not necessarily go with his mind. If I am wrong, do not blame me, it just proves KJI is more insane than we have thought.

A conspiracy theory story and a lousy defense for Chen Liangyu

Disclaimer: the following story is what has been circulating on the internet. My personal opinion is that some of the word and behaviors described may be consistent with that of Chen Liangyu (e.g. taking a confrontaional approach), I highly suspect the claim that there is not enough evidence to convict Zhu and Chen. I view this as written by Chen- apologists (or his close associates), in a desperate attempt to justify its corruption charges. Nevertheless, it is interest to read, there are even more logic flaws than the "lousy analysis" I discussed a few days ago. The fact that the article has clear baise to the apologists is easy to spot by any critical reader (e.g. the "fake tidbits" at the end).

Also, that such lousy story emerges even after Chen has fallen tells us the difficulty of fighting corruption in China. For this, whoever brought down Chen and his apologists has earned my respect, whether he does this for genuine interests of the people or in a power struggle -- he is a cat that catches the mice. If each round of power struggle bring down a group of corruptors, I wish such power struggle becomes the daily life in Beijing.

See also: related (dis)information translated by ESWN (scroll to [27]); critical reading case example


胡锦涛被套牢 陈良宇是赢家不是输家?

北京关系人综合浙江一位局级干部家属、上海市政府官员和接近市委官员的房地产大亨、北京中央部委干部家属和北京解放军某部医院职工等消息来源,了解到原上海市委书记陈良宇原准备主动宣布辞职,曾庆红和温家宝劝说不果,迫使中央在措手不及的情况下,临时作出了紧急处理决定。 一、中纪委没有查中央也没有打算要动陈良宇 消息说,中纪委在上海查社保投资案并没有要查陈良宇,也没有针对陈良宇的意思,没有人敢,中纪委也不会有魄力去查陈良宇。如果中央真的要正面地对陈良宇采取行动,那就用不着在关于上海的事情上总是有人先弄到港、台和国外去喧哗了。这是一种不敢动他而又对他和“上海帮”恨得牙痒的表现。 不过消息也说,中纪委在上海查社保投资案是很不给陈良宇面子的,这主要是因为全国各地都在学上海,陈良宇又特别喜欢介绍抵制中央政策的“上海经验”,有人认为陈良宇正在逐渐给地方抵制中央形成理论,所以中央不在上海采取点行动也不行。不过,没有人打算直接要动陈良宇。如果不是陈良宇为了救“兄弟”一时冲动向中央宣布要“公开辞职”,中央并没有人打算在这个时、采用这种办法动掉他。 二、引发上海社保基金案是因抵制中央统一全国社保标准 消息说,今年5月劳动节过后,上海劳保局拟定了从2007年元月开始实施提高社会低保和劳保的发放标准,此一措施得到北京、天津、山东、江苏、浙江、福建、广东、海南等省市的积极响应,这些省市也分别准备跟进,并在2007年元旦或春节前夕公布提高当地的社会低保和劳保的发布标准。 就在上海积极准备并开始向内部透露提高社会低保和劳保发放标准的时候,重庆、四川、江西、安徽等省向中央提出上海带头和在沿海地区这么做会给他们这些“兄弟省市”带来巨大的社会压力,除非中央给这些省市财政补贴让他们这些省市也能提高社保和劳保标准,否则他们在自己省市的工作就很难做。 国务院总理温家宝一开始指示说上海可以先当作试点,其他沿海省市等试点下来再慢慢研究。可是,温家宝的话才说了两、三天就改变了。温家宝后来改口转达了“中常委讨论下来的意思”,其实只是胡锦涛个人意思,温家宝建议上海在《社会保障法》出台之前不要改变现行的社会低保和劳保的发放标准。 当时还是7月初,上海劳保局长祝均一得知温家宝的意思之后组织了一个研究和写作班子,专门论述社会保障标准不应该片面追求统一的系列报告,部分报告不但在上海内部流传,也发给兄弟省市和中央有关机构和部分全国人大代表交流。就是在这样的背景下,引发了中纪委派检查组到上海开始对上海的社保基金案进行了调查。 三、祝均一主动辞职确保上海社保基金新标准实施 中纪委检查组在上海高调调查社保基金案,一开始就派了很多人,故意弄得上海劳保局的工作无法正常进行,简直到了几乎瘫痪上海劳保局的地步。与此同时,大量有关上海受到中纪委调查的消息从香港和国外开始流传,然后“出口转内销”,流传的消息有些完全是真的,有些被被大大夸张了,有的则是无中生有。 在这种情况下,上海社保局长祝均一决定主动提出辞职,由上海市政府另外任命一个不受中纪委检查组干扰的新局长来接替自己的工作,祝均一说:“我辞职了,我就去和中纪委纠缠,我来顶。新上任的局长要全力以赴让上海新的社保和劳保标准按计划出台,我已经是‘冲头’,我去给他们‘暂’。” 由于祝均一主动提出辞职,上海市委、市政府和人大的动作都看上去很配合中纪委检查组的样子,头几天中纪委检查组忽略了上海在祝均一主动辞职的掩护下正在加紧准备提前实施社保和劳保的新标准,中央也没有人注意,这可能就是所谓上海人的“精明”了。 不过,纸还是没有包住火,据说是上海市委内部有人向中纪委检查组揭发了祝均一的这个精明的“阴谋”,祝均一辞职之后没几天就被中纪委宣布“双规”,其他还有一些人受了牵连,就连新上任的上海社保局长蒋卓庆也开始受到中纪委检查组的日夜纠缠,根本无法正常接任上海社保局长的工作。这个时候,上海市委书记陈良宇亲子主持搭起了另外一个工作班子,夜以继日地继续为提前实施上海的社保和劳保新标准加紧准备工作,陈良宇命令把实施的时间提前到了今年的“十. 一”国庆57周年,陈良宇要求有关人员要赶在“十.一”国庆57周年之前“向上海人民献礼”,并“为全国作出榜样”。 四、陈良宇为救“兄弟”向中纪委发狠话 消息说,上海的劳保局长祝均一主动辞职并遭遇“双规”之后,陈良宇亲自出面向中纪委替他解释不管用,据说李鹏也亲自出面向中纪委解释了自己对上海社保案问题的看法,但这些都不管用。 大约在9月21日左右,上海提前实施社保和劳保新标准的一切准备已经就绪,陈良宇于是亲自向中纪委检查组宣布说:“上海已经决定立即实施提高上海市民的劳保待遇标准和扩大低保范围,这是得到上海市委、市政府、全市人民、兄弟省市和一大批中央领导同志支持的,是符合中央的有关政策精神的。上海的这一措施是符合上海实际情况的,至于对某些兄弟省市会造成压力和对中央的正在讨论的某些决策也会带来压力的问题,我认为这是有利于在竞争的压力下全面提高全国社保和劳保水平的,是符合最广大人民切身利益的。”陈良宇表示上海市开始实施提高劳保待遇标准和扩大低保范围的行动“只会提前”、“不会推迟”、“不会放弃”和“决不动摇”。 中纪委检查组的人听到这些话之后都没有作出反应,陈良宇接着告诉他们说:“我是来告诉你们,请你们转达你们应该去转达的人,如果是为了查贪污腐败,你们继续查,上海市委支持配合,我也可以亲自奉陪。如果是为了压制上海实施新的社保标准,请明着来,不要搞阴的。跟我明着来,我可以亲自上电视来辩论。” 陈良宇相信,根据他手里由祝均一等人作出的研究报告,他可以在公开辩论中不但让上海市民和沿海富裕地区城市居民坚决地站在自己立场的一边,他也能给穷困地区城市居民带去希望,取得理解和支持。 陈良宇说完走了之后。留下来的上海市委办公厅主任孙路一告诉中纪委上海检查组的人说:“请你们立即让祝均一回家。时间长了,消息盖不住了,上海市民如果知道了你们是来阻止上海实施社保和劳保新标准的话,你们每一个人都只好求菩萨保佑了。” 孙路一的话算不算是替陈良宇说的,人们都相信是。孙路一还宣布说,祝均一没有回家一天,中纪委在上海检查组的住宿、伙食、交通和服务招待的待遇超标部分,上海市委决定不再买单。只要祝均一回家,中纪委上海检查组要在上海住多久就住多久,要花上海多少钱就多少钱。 五、中央调派武装保护 上海市公安局包围中纪委检查组 陈良宇和孙路一的话让中纪委在上海调查组人人胆颤心惊,他们向中央汇报时称“陈良宇及其上海的小兄弟”对中纪委上海检查人员“耍流氓”。他们担心自己在上海会受到人身伤害,他们请示中纪委要求立即撤出上海防止意外。但中纪委决定加派便衣保安人员以中纪委检查人员的身份加入他们的行列,中纪委还决定让所有的主要检查人员立即从地处上海市中心的豪华酒店转移到浦东机场附近的一个档次较低的酒店,并从上海以外调武警严加保护。 这个时候,大约是9月22晚上开始,中南海和上海的空气才正式紧张起来。9月23日上午,上海市公安局长吴志明调动了约三千名武警、干警、保安和企业武装部民兵,其中只有大约300名武警和民警穿制服,其余的武警、民警、保安和民兵都有不同的识别标志但着建筑工人服装或便衣,在上海浦东机场附近对中纪委检查组新的下榻地点实施了包围,吴志明称上海市委听说中纪委检查组“受到暴力攻击的威胁”,他接到上海市委和公安部上级指示前来“保护”中纪委同志安全的。不过,吴志明指挥下的三千人马都没有配戴武器。上海市公安局指挥下的这个动作没有造成冲突,其代表上海市委向中纪委示威的意义要大过准备制造暴力事件的可能。 六、吴官正、温家宝支持撤回中纪委检查组 冲突已经升级到这种地步之后,中纪委上海检查组的工作已经不能继续进行。吴官正和温家宝谈到暂时把中纪委检查组从上海撤到浙江待命,温家宝同意吴官正的意见。据说这次谈话,温家宝表示他认为上海已经是一个“懂得利用官民结合的特殊的利益集团”,但温家宝也说中国落后和穷困地区“懂得利用官民结合的特殊的利益集团”情况比上海还要严重。 但是,吴官正和温家宝的意见没有获得胡锦涛的同意。胡锦涛认为中纪委决不能向上海的陈良宇示弱,吴官正和温家宝就同意了召开政治局常委会讨论胡锦涛的意见。据说那天胡锦涛单独召集郭伯雄和曹刚川两位军委副主席磋商,但会议进行了大约15分钟后曹刚川大声骂娘,然后破门而出,接着郭伯雄叹着气也离开了会议室。具体发生了什么事情没有消息透露,据说两位军委副主席肯定对胡锦涛很不满意。 七、政治局常委尴尬 陈良宇誓死营救“兄弟”祝均一 由于担心暴力冲突在上海有可能一触即发,中共中央政治局常委会立即召开了紧急会议,除胡锦涛表示一定要采取强硬措施之外,包括温家宝等其他8名常委都希望此事能协调解决。消息说,曾庆红、黄菊分别给陈良宇打电话,下令陈良宇立即让吴志明撤离中纪委上海检查组下榻的宾馆,立即缓解气氛,不允许上海出现影响全国稳定的突发事件。陈良宇则在电话里表示,他本人已经准备好了辞去上海市委书记一职并愿意对一切后果负责。这一夜,据说江泽民也打了电话给陈良宇,希望他冷静,不要激动。后来是谁让吴志明把包围中纪委检查组的人撤走的,或者根本没有撤走而只是行动变得低调,消息不太清楚。 陈良宇在24日上午向其他上海市委干部说:“我之所以能给在这个位置上为上海的发展和上海的人民作出一些成绩,全靠你们这些人给我帮忙,你们就是我的兄弟姊妹。我决不允许我的兄弟姊妹无辜受人伤害。谁要伤害我的兄弟姊妹,谁就一定要付出代价。没有你们这些兄弟姊妹,我这个市委书记是当不成的。没有我,你们兄弟姊妹只要抱成团,只要为人民办好事,办实事,替人民的切身利益办事,你们做什么事情都能成功。我肯定要走了,你们要把我留下的事情办下去,办好,你们就永远是我的兄弟姊妹。现在祝均一被他们弄去了,我这个陈老板不能救他,我这个老板就不当了。祝均一是替我办事的,我不能救他,我算什么?”据说,陈良宇重复地说了好几遍这样的话,还掉下了眼泪。 八、陈良宇向贺国强宣布辞职并下最后通牒 陈良宇24日上午同上海市委、市政府的“兄弟姊妹”碰头之后,接着就约了在上海的中央组织部部长贺国强,是时贺国强在上海的行踪对上海市委保密,贺国强周围戒备森严,陈良宇通过电话同曾庆红联系约到贺国强,陈良宇只被允许带上少数几名文职随同去见贺国强,而贺国强却在中央调派的武警的重重保护之下。 24日下午,陈良宇一行被贺国强派来的人带走去见贺国强,他见到贺国强之后首先宣布辞去党中央和上海市委一切职务听候党中央的处置,然后要求中央下令中纪委让祝均一回家,他说:“上海的事情我负责,上海劳保局的事也是我负责,祝均一执行的是我的指示,我的决定,我为一切负责,我为一切承担后果,没有祝均一的事。我是来顶祝均一的。” 贺国强显然也是有备而来,他表示他个人对陈良宇非常钦佩,说了很多赞扬陈良宇和上海工作成绩的好话,还表示了他非常理解陈良宇的个性和心情。但贺国强表示,他不能决定只能转告,他以陈良宇的“朋友”的名义也再三要求陈良宇冷静、考虑大局、考虑后果,考虑上海今后的工作,不要感情用事。 陈良宇则坚持对贺国强说:“对我的事情怎么决定在(政治局)常委,但我的决定不会改变。不放祝均一,我就不走。”接着陈良宇告诉贺国强说:“我可以向你透露,上海社保劳保新标准如果不实施,中央今后谁到上海来都不行,上海市民决不会放过。你知道一万个老头老太和十万个学生有什么区别吗?一万个老头老太一个也不怕死,十万个学生见死不怕的顶多只有十个。我也可以算是一个老头子了。” 陈良宇还告诉贺国强说:“这件事情已经没有回转的余地了,你也不用劝我回心转意。从你们的角度,我完全没有必要这样做,我也知道,我也相信我这个上海市委书记、中央政治局委员不会当不下去,我要是自己当不下去的话,还用得着那个烂污三器的女人(上海粗话,即“下三烂”的意思,指中共统战部长刘延东)到香港国外去放风造谣吗?这事情你和我一样清楚。我先告诉你,今后全国人民都会知道,我要以我的牺牲来确保我国的市场经济改革路线不会中途夭折。我可以预言,我是科学预言而不是大胆预言,我们党的经济改革只能朝着放权和尊重地方具体情况和特点的方向走,不能回到中央统一的老路,否则就会出现不可收拾的动乱。今天在上海出现的事情,是小事,也是大事,就算我今天是把小事弄大,我为的就是用行动来告诉全国各地:中央对地方为所欲为的日子今后要一去不复返了!” 陈良宇解释说:“我做事情有我的底线,我没有打算在上海弄点动乱出来,你可以去转告,他们只要处理得当,不要继续为所欲为,上海就不会出现动乱。不过上海不会出现动乱是有条件的:一、上海社保劳保新标准必须在国庆之前实施。二、上海市委、市政府的领导班子不能动。怎么动我,随便。但怎么动我,会关系到全国的稳定,我以我的行动来告诉全国各地的地方领导,地方领导不要做缩头乌龟,我就是他们的榜样。要用我的行动,来彻底砸碎中央对地方为所欲为的局面,彻底砸碎步步为营企图否定邓小平、江泽民改革路线的人的妄想。” 九、中央被动地对陈良宇采取行动 贺国强在24日下午当着陈良宇随从人员的面和陈良宇谈了大约一个半小时之后,提出要和陈良宇私下谈一点“知心话”,并示意陈良宇带去的其他人离开,陈良宇同意了。之前,贺国强多次起身到另一个房间去打电话或接电话,每一次离开的时间都不到一分钟。陈良宇的随从人员离开之后,上海市委和市政府方面就没有人再见到过陈良宇,电话也打不通了。 消息说,据上海市委、市政府方面的人估计,包括江泽民、朱镕基、李鹏、曾庆红和黄菊,这些都曾站陈良宇立场说过话的人,没有一个人赞成陈良宇这一非常冲动的做法,但是他们都希望能通过继续做陈良宇的工作而让他回心转意,好让事情冷却下来再妥善处理。据传,前任总理朱镕基插手了解了一些情况之后认为祝均一并没有什么贪污受贿的问题,社保基金投资高速公路也不是祝均一决定的事情。 在24日的中央政治局常委会上,9名常委一致批评了陈良宇的的冲动做法,一致同意要对陈良宇主动提出辞职及其过程严格保密,但9名常委没有就怎么处理陈良宇扬言“辞职”达成一致,也没有表决过,曾庆红当时提出的主张是让陈良宇休息几天再说,吴邦国认为接受陈良宇辞职同时做同陈良宇的工作,可以暂时让祝均一回家,然后再研究今后怎么办;黄菊同意陈良宇不能再干了,但努力为允许上海带头提高社保和劳保发放标准辩护;李长春提出警告,要求政治局常委立即讨论发生意外事件的新闻政策口径;罗干虽然同意吴邦国的意见,但他指出造成陈良宇如此孤注一掷不仅仅陈良宇本人要负责,还应该追究中纪委上海检查组造成重大责任事故的政治责任;吴官正对罗干的话表示会认真调查检讨。会议是曾庆红主持的,胡锦涛除了一开始说要“采取坚决的措施,中央不能允许受任何人威胁”之外,后来一直没有发言。贾庆林不知什么原因没有参加这次会议。这次政治局常委的会议,不存在外界传说的6票同意3票弃权的说法。 9月25日早晨,中央组织部和中纪委的文件下达了,在陈良宇已经不能公开说话的情况下,中央采取了主动,相信这个时候胡锦涛和曾庆红已经达成了一致,但据说文件下达之后,黄菊立即指出了中央是违规操作,温家宝对人打招呼说他也不同意这种仓促做法,他本人也是在胡锦涛和曾庆红已经作出了决定、文件已经制作出来之后才知道这项决定的,但是为了顾全大局,一切以稳定为重,他表示拥护和支持这项决定。曾庆红对其他中常委的人说:“我代表总书记告诉大家,事情太紧急,总书记在听取了大家的意见之后,找我商量决定采取了这项紧急措施,总书记让我向大家保证:下不为例。” 如果说曾庆红在陈良宇事件中扮演了什么角色和起到了什么作用的话,曾庆红可能通过这一事件,虽然让总书记胡锦涛的决定得以畅行,但今后胡锦涛在中共中央政治局常委会上的地位就非常被动,相信这也是为什么曾庆红能够说服其他一些政治局常委和陈良宇留下的上海市委领导班子的关键所在。 十、陈良宇即是输家也是赢家 陈良宇是不是做好了辞职的打算,从他24日同上海市委和市政府的“兄弟姊妹”们说的话和同中组部部长贺国强说的话来看,他显然做好了这样的打算。那么,陈良宇做好了输掉一切官职有可能承受更严重的后果,他就是为了一个“兄弟”祝均一吗?显然不是。 陈良宇通过发生在自己身上的“陈良宇事件”,巧妙地让曾庆红和中央政治局常委会的其他常委对总书记胡锦涛首次获得了主动权。据说有自己的主张,而且自己的主张同所谓的“上海帮”大同小异的温家宝,由于同“上海帮”不和而只能对总书记胡锦涛俯首听命的总理温家宝,可能觉得胡锦涛已经大势已去,他在中组部和中纪委宣布对陈良宇决定的同时,通过黄菊向已经接到通知代理陈良宇职务的上海市长通报说:“李鹏同志昨天和我谈的一些话提醒了我,我不反对上海立即实施新的社保方案。” 上海提高社保和劳保发放标准的政策,终于在9月29日隆重出台,上海《解放日报》有关上海市这个地方政府系列民生保障政策的高调新闻报导,新华社,《人民日报》都高调转载。上海市这个地方政府的民生保障政策终于在几尽夭折的情况下起死回生了!上海的人民得到了实惠,上海打开了这扇大门之后,其他沿海城市的居民也将很快受益,从而带动全国其他地区的城市居民将来也受益。 如果实施上海提高社保和劳保的民生保障政策只是前市委书记陈良宇“要用我的行动,来彻底砸碎中央对地方为所欲为的局面,彻底砸碎步步为营企图否定邓小平、江泽民改革路线的人的妄想”起点的话,那么陈良宇就是一个赢家而不是输家。 我们现在不但看到中央宣布了对陈良宇的处理决定之后在宣传上和有关政策上没有任何后续动作,就连陈良宇过去的所有讲话、外事活动报道以及照片,都还原封不动地保留在新华社、人民网和包括上海市在内的全国各地的政府网上。人们还能从网上找到祝均一过去发表的讲话和文章。这两个特点,在中共的历史上可以说是前所未有的。从这两个特点,就是没有任何内情消息的外人,也能体会出其中的蹊跷。尽管如此,多数人相信有关陈良宇案最后会不了了之,陈良宇肯定不会复出,但也有不少人认为“天有不测风云,人有飞来横祸”,陈良宇是好样的,但陈良宇很可能最后还是一个悲剧人物。 是不是“上海帮”牺牲陈良宇给胡锦涛设计了一个圈套现在把他套牢了呢?接近上海市委市政府的人说“不可能”,其他了解情况的人却认为“有这种可能”。不过,胡锦涛已经被“上海帮”套牢,大家认为“这是陈良宇的功劳”。 十一、花絮 据上海街头传说,上海准备在9月29日隆重推出系列民生保障政策的头一天中午,仍然被派驻在上海的上百名中纪委检查组的官员中,有人收到一封匿名信,信上说:“明天一早上海全市人民将会知道我们的社保和劳保新政策是怎样差一点被扼杀的和谁企图扼杀的。”结果吓得中纪委在上海的检查人员屁滚尿流地当天就赶紧离开了上海。 据上海街头传说,上海市委内部向中纪委出卖陈良宇的不是别人,正是市委办公厅主任孙路一。有人说孙路一被中纪委“双规”了,传说却是孙路一被中纪委以查处的名义保护了起来。 据上海街头传说,在9月26日和27日两天,上海街头有饭店和宾馆出现了写着“讲文明、讲礼貌、讲卫生--拒绝接待留小胡子的顾客”的张贴,有的张贴配有漫画,人物酷似中共中央总书记胡锦涛。 据上海街头传说,上海人正在兴起一个开玩笑活动,有人会提醒外地留着小胡子的人说:“你在上海还敢留着小胡子?你小心在马路上被人暴打!”被开这种玩笑的人往往莫名其妙,但这个玩笑正在向越来越广的范围流传,就连弄明白了的外地人也开始对人开这种玩笑了。


How to write a lousy analysis 奇文共赏:如何写一篇假评论





1) 标奇立异,假装博学
  • 先找一本书,大抄一遍,以示博学.该奇文就选了各国核武发展的历史.
  • 小错不要紧,反正大家也不懂.如:钱学森是火箭专家,他的贡献是发明了三级火箭,以减轻火箭的载荷.邓稼先,钱三强,等才是核武的灵魂人物.张冠李戴,反正冒充的专家不需懂得火箭和原子弹的区别.
  • 示范:"原子彈的始創人愛因斯坦,已經做了一個偽君子".先借一个名人,愛因斯坦,骂他一顿,反正他人已作古,无从反击.随便说一些故事,也不管是不是跟所谓的"伪君子"有关.读者念到后文,大概已忘了前言.
  • 事实是,1)当时的确有必要与纳粹竞赛;2)愛因斯坦面对核武可能的负面影响一直坦荡荡的
3) 套用分析方法,冒充严谨
  • 提出提出两种选择,论去其一.
  • 如:"兩個選擇 : 不是乖乖接受北韓為核彈俱樂部的一名會員 ,視北韓為一個平起平坐的核強國而交往 ,包括中國 ,從此向北韓提供糧食和資源 ,金正日要多少 ,中國給多少;就是由美國發動斬首軍事行動 ,不但摧毀北韓核武,而且推翻北韓政權國際社會無此器量"
  • 首先,需要故意略去更可行的第三选择:积极影响,诱发内变(ENGAGEMENT,参考施永青文)或胡萝卜(ZAKARIA),或亚洲合作组织(Zenpundit)
  • 其次,扭曲其他选择的内容,比如,"接受北韓為核彈俱樂部的一名會員"不一定意味着"要多少給多 少".不过,扭曲过的定义有助于你的"论证"


星 期 天 休 息 : 六 十 年 核 戰 雲 的 一 場 荒 誕 劇


北 韓 核 爆 , 打 破 世 界 軍 事 秩 序 , 美 國 和 東 北 亞 各 國 各 懷 鬼 胎 : 中 俄 反 對 軍 事 行 動 , 也 反 對 向 北 韓 實 施 「 嚴 厲 制 裁 」 。 日 本 也 不 樂 見 北 韓 政 權 馬 上 被 美 國 軍 事 摧 毀 , 以 免 失 去 建 軍 修 憲 的 理 由 。 南 韓 堅 稱 「 陽 光 政 策 」 沒 有 失 敗 。 金 正 日 估 計 國 際 的 反 應 , 亦 不 過 如 此 , 一 個 共 產 頑 童 , 把 各 大 「 強 權 」 玩 弄 於 股 掌 之 中 。
因 為 美 國 的 全 球 核 政 策 , 由 第 一 天 開 始 , 即 建 基 於 兩 字 , 叫 做 「 偽 善 」 。 事 實 上 , 在 原 子 彈 發 明 之 日 , 原 子 彈 的 始 創 人 愛 因 斯 坦 , 已 經 做 了 一 個 偽 君 子 。 一 九 三 九 年 , 流 亡 美 國 的 愛 因 斯 坦 寫 信 給 總 統 羅 斯 福 , 敦 促 美 國 加 快 研 製 原 子 彈 , 納 粹 在 德 國 排 猶 , 愛 因 斯 坦 警 告 , 美 國 不 搶 先 一 步 , 希 特 拉 就 擁 有 原 子 彈 了 。 一 九 四 五 年 , 美 國 把 日 本 當 做 原 子 彈 的 試 驗 場 , 愛 因 斯 坦 說 : 「 如 果 我 早 知 這 樣 的 結 果 , 我 不 做 科 學 家 了 , 我 寧 願 做 一 個 補 鞋 匠 。 」
美 國 有 了 原 子 彈 , 血 緣 兄 弟 英 國 當 然 也 該 擁 有 。 英 國 擁 有 原 子 彈 , 法 國 跟 英 國 是 世 仇 , 為 了 「 自 衞 」 , 當 然 也 要 有 。 美 國 成 為 北 約 核 保 護 傘 的 主 人 , 戴 高 樂 大 受 刺 激 , 一 九 六 三 年 發 表 宣 言 : 「 一 個 國 家 要 獨 立 , 必 須 擁 有 核 武 , 沒 有 核 武 的 國 家 , 必 定 被 迫 屈 從 於 核 武 國 的 意 志 , 並 接 受 其 強 加 的 政 策 。 」
法 國 是 美 國 的 盟 國 , 尚 且 退 出 北 約 , 自 行 擁 核 而 獨 立 , 何 況 美 國 的 敵 人 。 戴 高 樂 講 了 真 話 , 有 「 戴 高 樂 精 神 」 的 珠 玉 在 前 , 「 核 不 擴 散 條 約 」 就 是 一 紙 虛 偽 的 空 文 。 美 國 擁 有 原 子 彈 , 戰 後 美 國 的 反 猶 情 緒 也 很 濃 , 「 麥 卡 錫 主 義 」 以 反 共 為 名 , 鎮 壓 自 由 知 識 分 子 。 鑑 於 美 國 有 單 方 核 襲 日 本 的 紀 錄 , 有 些 科 學 家 認 為 美 國 必 須 受 制 衡 , 制 衡 的 最 佳 方 法 , 莫 如 蘇 聯 也 擁 有 原 子 彈 。 猶 太 物 理 學 家 羅 森 堡 夫 婦 把 原 子 彈 機 密 洩 露 給 蘇 聯 , 以 叛 國 罪 處 決 , 沒 想 到 卻 成 就 了 核 武 器 的 共 同 恐 怖 制 衡 , 世 界 「 和 平 」 維 持 到 今 日 。
然 後 是 美 國 華 裔 物 理 學 家 錢 學 森 , 因 為 麥 卡 錫 時 代 的 反 華 影 響 , 在 美 國 受 盡 歧 視 , 憤 然 把 原 子 彈 方 程 式 帶 回 中 國 。 核 武 器 如 果 能 「 不 擴 散 」 , 早 就 不 擴 散 了 。 既 然 一 九 四 五 年 之 後 就 開 始 擴 散 , 則 將 來 亦 必 無 限 擴 散 。
中 國 有 了 核 武 器 , 其 敵 國 日 本 亦 須 擁 有 ; 正 如 印 度 有 了 核 武 器 , 巴 基 斯 坦 也 應 該 擁 有 。 以 色 列 有 了 核 武 器 , 巴 勒 斯 坦 和 埃 及 也 遲 早 會 擁 有 。 北 韓 有 了 核 彈 , 南 韓 、 日 本 、 台 灣 更 加 要 有 。

美 國 能 防 止 核 技 術 和 原 料 擴 散 嗎 ? 更 加 不 可 能 。 在 國 際 外 交 的 幕 後 , 另 有 一 個 更 龐 大 的 國 際 軍 火 貿 易 網 。 八 十 年 代 兩 伊 戰 爭 , 全 球 和 聯 合 國 都 一 致 「 譴 責 」 , 呼 籲 停 火 , 但 戰 爭 持 續 了 八 年 , 為 甚 麼 ? 因 為 向 兩 伊 各 自 出 售 軍 火 的 國 家 共 有 五 十 個 , 其 中 巴 西 和 中 國 , 更 是 同 時 向 兩 伊 軍 售 。 當 時 兩 伊 都 同 時 擁 有 蘇 製 的 地 對 地 導 彈 。 伊 朗 從 第 三 國 買 到 了 美 製 的 F14 戰 機 , 要 更 換 配 件 , 向 越 南 洽 商 , 從 河 內 買 進 了 越 戰 時 期 美 軍 遺 下 的 大 批 二 手 戰 機 拆 卸 配 件 , 最 終 建 成 一 支 戰 機 隊 群 , 機 身 零 件 , 由 越 南 、 智 利 和 其 他 美 國 的 盟 國 拉 雜 入 口 。 至 於 伊 拉 克 也 由 蘇 聯 、 法 國 、 南 非 、 巴 西 、 中 國 買 了 五 百 億 美 元 的 武 器 。
有 了 這 個 國 際 軍 火 交 易 網 , 這 個 世 界 還 需 要 甚 麼 「 國 際 外 交 途 徑 」 ? 聯 合 國 向 北 韓 制 裁 , 北 韓 可 以 把 半 生 不 熟 的 核 技 術 賣 給 中 東 。 目 前 唯 一 的 伊 斯 蘭 擁 核 國 是 巴 基 斯 坦 , 技 術 由 中 國 提 供 , 制 衡 印 度 , 全 國 有 五 萬 專 家 和 員 工 從 事 核 武 研 究 。 總 統 穆 沙 拉 夫 成 為 布 殊 討 好 拉 攏 的 對 象 , 因 為 巴 基 斯 坦 只 要 向 布 殊 一 端 臉 色 , 不 但 北 部 山 區 的 拉 登 分 子 可 以 敗 部 復 活 , 核 武 也 可 以 源 源 不 絕 輸 出 中 東 。
對 北 韓 經 濟 制 裁 , 只 是 懦 夫 的 應 對 方 式 。 國 際 對 北 韓 只 有 兩 個 選 擇 : 不 是 乖 乖 接 受 北 韓 為 核 彈 俱 樂 部 的 一 名 會 員 , 視 北 韓 為 一 個 平 起 平 坐 的 核 強 國 而 交 往 , 包 括 中 國 , 從 此 向 北 韓 提 供 糧 食 和 資 源 , 金 正 日 要 多 少 , 中 國 給 多 少 ; 就 是 由 美 國 發 動 斬 首 軍 事 行 動 , 不 但 摧 毀 北 韓 核 武 , 而 且 推 翻 北 韓 政 權 。

第 一 選 擇 , 國 際 社 會 無 此 器 量 ; 第 二 選 擇 , 國 際 社 會 無 此 膽 量 。 金 正 日 不 是 一 個 鬧 情 緒 的 壞 孩 子 , 而 是 精 打 細 算 , 北 韓 羞 辱 全 世 界 , 愚 弄 了 美 俄 中 這 三 大 強 國 。 至 於 南 韓 , 更 是 忍 氣 吞 聲 , 在 北 韓 的 核 陰 影 下 , 繼 續 其 「 斯 德 哥 爾 摩 症 候 」 , 對 金 正 日 , 南 韓 政 府 由 仇 恨 而 恐 懼 , 由 恐 懼 亦 必 轉 趨 慕 戀 , 對 於 喜 歡 扔 燃 燒 彈 反 美 的 南 韓 大 學 生 , 金 正 日 核 試 成 功 , 正 是 求 仁 得 仁 的 天 大 喜 訊 。
一 個 虛 偽 的 國 際 社 會 , 受 到 懲 罰 了 , 面 對 此 一 亂 局 , 美 國 逐 步 抽 身 而 退 , 是 無 可 避 免 的 選 擇 。 朝 鮮 半 島 並 無 石 油 。 金 正 日 即 使 將 來 以 核 武 統 一 朝 鮮 , 激 發 韓 國 的 民 族 主 義 情 緒 , 韓 國 東 向 日 本 一 報 殖 民 主 義 之 仇 , 西 向 中 國 索 回 高 句 麗 的 「 神 聖 領 土 」 , 奪 回 孔 子 儒 和 屈 原 端 午 的 文 化 遺 產 主 權 , 也 是 遠 東 這 三 國 的 紛 爭 , 與 歐 美 無 關 。 國 際 多 邊 主 義 「 理 想 」 逐 步 實 現 , 美 國 的 全 球 霸 權 遲 早 衰 退 , 北 韓 核 爆 , 是 劃 時 代 的 轉 捩 點 , 把 軍 事 權 力 還 給 日 本 , 把 朝 鮮 半 島 還 給 韓 國 , 集 中 精 力 反 恐 , 美 國 的 利 益 中 心 在 中 東 。
至 於 一 個 核 武 的 北 韓 , 俄 國 和 中 國 只 有 容 忍 , 即 使 北 韓 是 一 個 腫 瘤 , 金 正 日 的 父 親 金 日 成 , 卻 是 史 達 林 和 毛 澤 東 共 同 孕 育 誕 生 的 「 愛 情 結 晶 」 , 北 韓 的 遺 傳 基 因 圖 譜 非 常 清 楚 。 北 韓 核 爆 無 所 謂 正 邪 之 爭 , 是 歷 史 和 國 際 關 注 的 「 科 學 發 展 觀 」 , 由 佛 家 的 精 神 來 看 , 是 一 場 因 果 循 環 的 公 正 業 報 。



Random thoughts October 12: Youtube, HK Don Report, Taiwan stalemate

Too busy to blog in the coming weeks. I will just jog down a few random thoughts:

Youtube deal

  • My first reaction of the 1.65bn deal was, as many have pointed out, why would google want to inherit all those copyright liability from Youtube? The fact Youtube has not attracted napster-like litigation is because Youtube has no asset to justify the legal fees. OTOH Google Video already has all the technology infrastructure, and even a comparable (though much smaller - in part due to the copyright concern) user base.
  • On a second thought, it sort of make sense, and pretty good sense. You may remember google had an advertising deal with myspace a while ago. What google found in youtube is the advertising space. Google probably already has a plan for video-based ads, and perhaps even some pending deals from major advertisers. Google video is faltering, and cannot supply the demand in ad space. OTOH, through the myspace partnership, Google might have noticed how much traffic (and ad value) myspace users are linking/embeding youtube. Google may have the clout to finally convince Hollywood that internet video will be the future cash cow for them. If this is the case, google has finally found the business model for Youtube
  • Think about this, the deal is no different from Disney acquireing ABC, or Viacom acquiring NBC, or Soy CBS. It makes sense even if you already owns a channel with less coverage. It makes more sense if the price is reasonable and you believe in the potential growth in the channel's coverage.

HK Don Report

  • CE Donald Tsang's new plan has attracted criticism from most media, which is not surprising. It is the job of the media to criticize, or to "pick bone from a poached egg"
  • Yes, there is a lot I can critize on the Don. But what irritates me is the self-contradictory comments from Jimmy Lai enterprise
  • 1) A smaller plan (hence shorter report) than previsous years (30% shorter in terms of trees cut) is precisely what free economist (including the editors of next media) have advocated for all these year. One measure for small government (which is consistent with the Taoism approach AD has been advocating, and I agree) I would use is the number of pages of the Don's report. I thought Next media owes the Don some serious flattery for this.
  • 2) The kindergarten education coupon was attacked as an unfaithful adaptation of Milton Friedman's model. Yes, it is imperfect, a better implementation would be to decrease the subsidy for profit-oriented kindergartens using a formula, so that the more expensive the fee is, the less subsidy (in absolute terms) it will received. But I see this as only the first step toward a broader implementation of the education coupon system. I cannot imagine how one could get to the full swing coupon system without some testing in smaller scale in less risky sectors. Perhaps the Don should draw out the long term vision of the coupon trial. But he only has less than a year to govern. The Next Media school is just trying to be unreasonable.

Taiwan stalemate

  • The Taiwan ordeal triggered by the myriads of Chen Shui-bian's alleged (and fairly well substantiated -- especially the State Affair Budget case) corruption charges is going down as a stalemate
  • In theory, we should respect the existing "democratic process", as pointed out by AD Taiwan's Pu Dazhong. However, as Pu also agreed, the crux of the matter is that the people in Taiwan do not trust its judiciary independence (we would see the same stalemate if CSB and SMT's position were switched, the pan-Green would have done the same). The distrust is further re-inforced by the increibly illogical outcome of the Sogo case, in which the receivers (wife of a public servant) escaped investigation with ridiculous reasons (amount of bribe "too small" to be commensurate with the size of the deal)
  • The solution is simple, have the Legislative Yuan (for which the Blue has majority control) appoint an independent committee to investigate the various charges, including a review on the Sogo Gift Certificate case. Same treatment as what they did for 3-19. This should give a good excuse for the Red to go back to work and ensure justice is given to the CSB family.


North Korea Test not really a success

Many scientists now believe that the infamous Kim Jong-il fart may not be such a success as claimed. It is more likely a weaker version of the ad hoc test conducted by Pakistan as a response to India's test in 1998.

There are a few possible reasons for coming to such deduction
  • DPRK does not have a lot of purified Plutonium or Uranium, to conserve nuke material it had to conduct a mini-test
  • The technology may be immature -- e.g. the fuel (purity) grade is barely good for an explosion, but far from the optimum energy of a successful test (the consequence of this case would be dreadful for environmentalist, as a lot of unreacted nuke materials might have been left in the tunnel)
  • The detonation process, though quite simple, still requires certain engineering precision, which the outdated NK technology may not have mastered
  • The failure to seek attention might have prompted KJI to force a pre-mature test -- as happened for Taepodong-2 in July
So far this is consistent with technical data
  • "Gary Gibson, senior seismologist at Australia's Seismology Research Center, said a 4.2 magnitude quake would be the result of a one kiloton explosion"
  • This is small even if one allows for the margin of error, because "The nuclear weapon the United States exploded over Hiroshima in 1945 produced a 12.5-kiloton yield.
  • A successful test would be one like what India did, with an average of 12 kilton/test. "In 1998, India carried out five underground nuclear tests at Pokharan in the western desert state of Rajasthan and declared itself a nuclear weapons state. The total yield of the first round of blasts measured near 60 kilotons...."Our biggest one was in the vicinity of 45 kilotons. That was thermo-nuclear," said S.K. Malhotra, head of the public awareness division of the Department of Atomic Energy.."
  • Nuclear analyst Andrew Davies, from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, said if the North Korean test yield was only a kiloton, Pyongyang may be disappointed..."A kiloton is a very low yield and would tend to suggest, I would have thought, that the device was not all they hoped it would be," Davies told Reuters. "If a nuclear, plutonium bomb fizzles, you can still get one or two kilotons quite easily. You still get a significant energy release. But an efficient device will give you more like 20 (kilotons)."
  • Even the less successful (conducted without proper preparation) test by Pakistan, was believed to have generated at least 9-12 kilotons in strength. "Pakistan said two nuclear tests had a total yield of between 34-48 kilotons, while three others were sub-kiloton. It said a sixth test yielded 10-15 kilotons. The Southern Arizona Seismic Observatory said the two major tests yielded 9-12 kilotons, while the sixth yielded only 4-6 kilotons."
Jane's defence has a more concise summary that supported this analysis
  • "Although details are tentative, initial and unconfirmed South Korean reports indicate that the test was a fission device with a yield of .55 kT. By comparison the nuclear bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima yielded approximately 12.5 kT. The figure of .55 kT, however, seems too low given the 4.2 register on the Richter scale. This could suggest - depending upon the geological make-up of the test site - a yield of 2-12 kT. If, however, the lower yield is correct, it would suggest that the test had been a "pre- or post-detonation" event (ie a failure), as it had been anticipated that North Korea's first nuclear test would have a significantly higher yield."
Though quite unlikely for the test yesterday, it is indeed possible to fake a nuke test with conventional chemical reaction, as verified by Lawrence Livermore National Lab with a 1.3 kiloton simulation in the desert of Nevada (though their objective was to find a way to detect real nuke tests with a simulation). The report also mentioned that if the explosion is more than 400m below surface, we may not see a collapsed crater -- as this might be the case for the NK test yesterday.

UPDATE (Oct10): Armscontrol Wonk is more adamant that it was a clear failure. I think he is right. More discussion on the likelihood of a failed test/hoax here.


North Korea nuclear test information

Update (10/10):

Global security has a few satellite pictures showing the entrance of the Punggye-yok tunnel
(update 10/12, H-T commentator luistxo for google location tags, and from there a previous post by armscontrolwonk)

north-korea tagged map by user - Tagzania

I am not sure exactly where it is located, but I found a couple suspicious buildings a few hundred meters east of the epicenter, at 41.309438E,129.19365N

north-korea tagged map by user - Tagzania


Google map links here. DPRK map here, the site is north of Chunhyung-ri (春兴里), or 17 km NNW of the train station Punggye-yok (豐溪驿) and just a few km south of the source of the river called Ŏrang-ch’ŏn. (渔郎川)

Thee seismological information for the suspected DPRK nuke test is available on USGS's website.

  • Earthquake Details

    Magnitude4.2 (Light)
  • Monday, October 9, 2006 at 01:35:27 (UTC) = Coordinated Universal Time
  • Monday, October 9, 2006 at 10:35:27 AM = local time at epicenter Time of Earthquake in other Time Zones
  • Location41.294°N, 129.134°E
    Depth0 km (~0 mile) set by location program
    Distances70 km (40 miles) N of Kimchaek, North Korea 90 km (55 miles) SW of Chongjin, North Korea 180 km (115 miles) S of Yanji, Jilin, China 385 km (240 miles) NE of PYONGYANG, North Korea
    Location Uncertaintyhorizontal +/- 10.5 km (6.5 miles); depth fixed by location program
    ParametersNst= 17, Nph= 17, Dmin=371.1 km, Rmss=0.86 sec, Gp= 83°, M-type=body magnitude (Mb), Version=7
    SourceUSGS NEIC (WDCS-D)
    Event IDustqab
It is awfully close to the China/Russia border (180km vs 250km). I hope this time China will not tolerate this bad boy any more.

About the location:

  • 70 km (40 miles) N of Kimchaek, North Korea
  • 90 km (55 miles) SW of Chongjin, North Korea
  • 180 km (115 miles) S of Yanji, Jilin, China (aka Gando ),
  • About 200km from the south tip of Russian Far East (Estuary of Tumen)
The site is also about 200km from Chosin Reservoir, where one of the bloodiest battle was fought between China and US in 1950, in which China scored a pyrrhic victory. There 25k of Chinese lives were lost (many thousand more by frostbite) for helping KJI's father.

1) see Marmot's coverage for related reports. On the moral hazard that encouraged KJI down this path, a commentator there said, "if pakistan’s experience is any indication for the consequences of a nuke test, then north korea can count on being partners with the US in the war on terror within a few years. or they could follow india’s lead, and in that case they’ll receive american nuclear technology as a “punishment.”"
2) some reports say the location is around Hwadae Kun 花台. but it does not match the longitude and latitude information by USGS
3) USGS showed the depth of the quake is "0 km" below ground/sea level. It seems to confirm SK report that it is done through horizontal tunnel into a hill. NK's announcement that no radiation leak is likely a dubious claim. underground water will carry the radiation and it may be an environment disaster (which could affect NW part of the Sea of Japan and fishing industry of Russia)
4) Update: Globalsecurity puts the location at north of Kilchu Punggye-yok 吉州郡 豐溪驛(near 豐溪里), "the general proximate vicinity of the P'unggye-yok site"

  • In late September 2006, a member of the intelligence committee of South Korea's National Assembly reported on the construction of a tunnel at Mount Mantap in North Hamkyong Province. According to South Korea's National Intelligence Service, the tunnel is approximately 700 meters deep beneath the surface of Mount Mantap and is situated near a horizontal tunnel.
    Mount Mantap is approximately 17 Km North-Northwest from P'unggye-yok, a rail-road station, Kilju County, North Hamgyeong Province.
    The named place that is most nearly proximate to the possible nuclear underground test site is Chik-tong, a small populated place located at 41°16'00"N 129°06'00"E. The suspect site is quite isolated, and is to be found several kilometers away from Chik-tong, and several kilometers removed from Mount Mantap.

5) Jane's Defence confirmed the location as "approximately 42 km northwest of Kilchu, in the province of North Hamgyong, on the remote slopes of Mant'ap-san Mountain."

  • This coincides with reports that first appeared during 2005 of suspicious tunnelling and construction activities in the area. Subsequent reports during the past month indicate that the North Koreans had excavated a 700 m-long horizontal tunnel under Mant'ap-san.

    Although details are tentative, initial and unconfirmed South Korean reports indicate that the test was a fission device with a yield of .55 kT. By comparison the nuclear bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima yielded approximately 12.5 kT. The figure of .55 kT, however, seems too low given the 4.2 register on the Richter scale. This could suggest - depending upon the geological make-up of the test site - a yield of 2-12 kT. If, however, the lower yield is correct, it would suggest that the test had been a "pre- or post-detonation" event (ie a failure), as it had been anticipated that North Korea's first nuclear test would have a significantly higher yield.

Update: SK NIS claimed a different location about 50 km south, i.e. near Musudan-ri. Since the seimological data traces the strength and direction of seismic waves from different point to triangulate the epicenter. It is considered to be more accurate. Therefore, the USGS result of Kilchu Gun, Punggye-yok (吉州郡 豐溪驛), which agrees with a site where satellite surveillance revealed suspected activitities (see, e.g., Globalsecurity), is considered to be more reliable than the South Korean claim. I am of the opinion that SK intelligence failed again.


North Korean bluff

DPRK is talking about nuke again. We know what Kim JI wants - an assurance from US that it will not do what it did to Saddam to him. The man is scared.

Well, we know where that single missile fell into in July.

What about the alleged DPRK military "might"? I know the Google Earth community has a collection of coordinates on DPRK military devices. After seeing these pictures below, I do not know how many of those facilities are for real. So much for the "axis of whatever" threat to world peace.

Back on topic, IMO, KJI's nuke test (planned or bluffed) should be stopped, not for the potential threat, but for the potential environmental damage to one of the last pieces of unpolluted land in NE Asia. To accomplish this, an assurance of no-Iraqification may be needed. Not that we should give in to KJI's blackmail, but because there is really no reason (and totally unlikely) for anyone to make DPRK an Iraq.


A good strategy is a feasible task, and more...

What is a good strategy? First of all, any plan that is not feasible is not a strategy. Pyrrhic victory is a result of very bad strategy. In addition,

  1. A good strategy is one that will help you achieve your objective(s) with minimum cost
  2. To be most cost effective one needs to find the largest possible number of allies and smallest number of enemies
  3. This requires one to clearly define the objective(s), and does not create unnecessary enemy to obstruct the strategy implementation. (Perhaps by narrowing the definition of enemy in some cases)

Common senses, it seems. Unfortunately, this is still hotly discussed issue in the US, 5 years after 9-11, 5 years after the declaration of the GWOT. Fortunately, we are hearing more rational voices now, 3 years after the Iraq War should have ended.

I cannot agree more. I have always said these young bloggers are a lot smarter than the veteran observer Robert Kaplan.

Let me also generalize this observation, in other areas of our world

  • For Chinese/Korean who oppose the militarism/revisionism in Japan, do not confuse the right-wing with the peace-loving public
  • For the hardliners in Washington and London, bear in mind that the same analogy applies for North Korea and Iran
  • For those who oppose the Bush government, or the terrorists targeting random American, bear in mind that for every 1 in 2 people you kill or hurt, you may kill one who oppose the Bush policy, and turn 10 more of your sympathizers into your enemy
  • For those who detest the CCP government in China, there are 1.3bn people in China, only 65M (5%) are CCP members. Of those, perhaps 90%+ do not care about the party line. Any sanction/containment is going to hurt the 99.5%+, not the 0.5% you distrust or detest



2006/09 Reading list archive

Video (Chen Shui Bian to Koizumi: Yamete Kudasai)


Rest of Asia

Rest of the world