Today’s China Readings May 19, 2012

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China is showing its Xenophobic side. Anti-foreigner sentiment is never far from the surface and since the beginning of the crackdown on illegal foreigners in Beijing it has emerged aggressively. Yang Rui, the smooth, urbane anchor of a CCTV 9 English talk show took to his Weibo Friday to attack foreigners. The Wall Street Journal reports that Chinese State TV Host Offers Advice on How to Throw Out ‘Foreign Trash’ . Yang posted another Weibo later in which he asks why the Wall Street Journal would care about his comments and attempts to undo some of the damage by explaining that his attack was only directed at bad foreigners and that in fact there are good ones too. With people like this as the face of the soft power push…

Baidu and Sina are also joining in the anti-foreigner fun. People’s Daily Online tells us that a new Weibo campaign targets misbehaving foreigners. I hope the Department of Homeland Security is not reading this and getting any ideas. Can you imagine if Google and Twitter, as part of a US government campaign, worked together to go after “misbehaving” foreigners? Instead of “see something, say something” perhaps the slogan would be “see a naughty foreigner, report a naughty foreigner”?

On the eve of Facebook’s monster IPO the New Yorker’s Evan Osnos wrote the very thoughtful In China, Facebook’s Shadow and Worries About Innovation. He concludes with a poignant quote from banker Wang Ran’s blog. Wang Ran, who has profited handsomely from the explosive growth of the Chinese Internet, is not just a financier but also an online celebrity with 1.7 million Sina Weibo followers. Wang writes:

“The company listed four countries that have already banned Facebook’s services,” Wang wrote. “They are China, Iran, North Korea and Syria. I don’t know what you think about that, but I’m beginning to think this state of affairs is insulting.”

Kara Swisher broke the news that Yahoo may be on the verge of selling almost half of its 40% Alibaba stake at a $35B valuation or so. Yahoo has given up on its obvious tax dodge structure and will take the IRS hit on the deal. I own shares of Yahoo and think that the company is crazy to sell any shares of Alibaba at lower than a $60B valuation. The Alibaba Group may one day be worth as much or more than Facebook, and Yahoo has no other current business prospects that have such potential to generate so many additional billions of dollars in value to shareholders.

After spending 35 minutes on the phone with Andy Browne, Wall Street Journal China head, and exchanging emails with Jeremy Page, I have issued several clarifications to the post Did Rupert Murdoch Crash The Wall Street Journal’s Bo Guagua Ferrari Story?.

The US Department of Defense has issued its annual report (PDF) on China’s military capabilities and the Pentagon Study Says China Military is Getting Stronger. Wired tell us that according to the report China’s Stealth Jets Are 2 Years Ahead of Schedule.

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