Elliott Ng


Google. China. Entrepreneurship. Hiding brightness, biding time.

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I’m never as good at keeping in touch with people directly as I’d like.  So I created a email newsletter for my friends who share some interest  for the China travel industry.  Right now, it is about 90-100 people.

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Update and November Trip to China

I’ll be headed to China tomorrow and staying there until November 19.   My work at UpTake has caused me to be terribly out of touch with many of the people that I met with and worked with in China prior to getting involved in UpTake.  So I wrote a quick update on myself at CN Reviews.

More details on my China trip and itinerary are on CN Reviews.  The exact travel dates are on that post, so if you’re in China at the same time and want to meet up, contact me and lets see if we can make it happen!

I provide a short update on what I’ve been up to at that post.  I also wrote a longer update at my new VisualCV, an online resume product that I’m testing out because of their partnership with The China Business Network, which I’m informally advising.

Response to “We are ready part 3″ for the Games

James Fallows has been blogging from the ‘jing about the security preparations in the capital.

His blog seems to be down and I was only able to retrieve stuff via Google’s cache. I’ll paraphrase and quote extensively from his post.

Fallows received an email from a person that he seems to suggest is ethnically Chinese and now a citizen of a Western country, and has some familiarity with defense matters. The main point of this person is that the central government is taking extreme security measures because they have limited intelligence on the real threats that might be there, so they can’t afford to take chances.

Here’s the email (heavily paraphrased by me to avoid duplicate content detection, in case some patriots shut down the original site):

I don’t want to an apologist for what the government has done to itself. But the reality is that their system is not prepared to deal with the range of threats that they might face when the opening date arrives.

The country does not yet have the kind of early-warning methods that are in place like those like the leading countries in the West. These Western countries have real-time monitoring abilities, can analyze traffic patterns, etc. Therefore, they get an early-warning when a storm is on the horizon.

Despite all this talk of all the human “James Bonds” who are working for them abroad, they just don’t have the same capabilities of the Western system. An example is the riots related to T1b-t. There was not good intel, preparation, or any way to really spin-control the situation after it happened.

Bottom line: less than 4 weeks until opening date. Recommendation: create a PR and security SWAT team to handle collateral damage like press visas being denied. However, this team would really need to understand the West. There doesn’t seem to be any awareness from the central government or city government that “they are over their heads”.

Not sure I agree with the assessment. Its possible that internal bureaucratic infighting and CYA behavior may be creating a dynamic where the most conservative people are winning and the most “cosmopolitan” people who understand the collateral PR damage are being silenced or forced to go along for the ride.

I think examples of that can also be found in the US handling of Homeland Security during this post-9/11 era. And we have the benefit of the best intelligence gathering apparatus in the World by far. That doesn’t preclude bureaucratic agencies outside of the No-Such-Agency to overreact or to react in a much less nuanced way that the intelligence agency could presumably equip them to act.

There is also the need to mask the precision of the intelligence. Enemies can detect intelligence capabilities by observing the resulting response to their actions. This action-response feedback loop can allow enemies to develop a sense of intelligence capabilities and then try to find ways to avoid detection. So a “blunt” vs. “fine-grained” approach may also have the benefit of preventing the enemy from seeing what intelligence capabilities there actually is.

I tend to think the easiest explanation is the bureaucratic effect of everyone playing CYA. So there may be large numbers of human analysts and even intelligence gathering systems that are gathering information, and “defanged” because of bureaucratic power in other powerful agencies. However, intelligence is also probably very closely held and not shared broadly with all other agencies, so therefore the information being shared between agencies may be pretty “blunt” and thus resulting in pretty “blunt” directives.

This could then result in enemies underestimating the true intelligence capabilities.

Shanghai Yarn Shopping

At my wife’s request, I did some yarn shopping in Shanghai. Not knowing anything about yarn, knowing only a little about Shanghai, and being a confirmed uninterested shopper, I set out to a specific intersection provided to me by my wife via her Ravelry friends. True love means overcoming your worst fears and shopping for yarn!

Here’s the storefront.

Here’s the front entrance.

Here’s some of the shelves, chock full of yarn.

Here’s the yarn I purchased.

Here’s how much it cost (in RMB).

Here’s the shopkeeper and me!

Sichuan Earthquake: I wish I could do more

This past week was crazy. On Monday 5/12, after the Sichuan earthquake happened, we tried to respond by sharing news of China earthquake pictures and blogosphere coverage, then later compiled an earthquake donation guide that is now up to 40 ways to give. I donated to American Red Cross and Mercy Corps so far, both of which are reputable US tax-deductible organizations with reputable local partners in China, the Red Cross Society of China and the China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation (CFPA). Oliver Ding then created a great slideshow version of the donation post. In short, I wish I could do more. Prayer, donation, and sharing information is what I’ve done so far.

China earthquake vigil