Monthly Archives: August 2014

Aug 29

Italian Vincenzo Arecchia Wins Youth Olympics Boxing Gold

By Mitchell Blatt | Uncategorized

The Men’s Light Welterweight (64 kg) boxing events at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China ended in disappointment for anyone who wanted to see a Russia-Ukraine showdown. The field included the top two boxers from the AIBA Youth World Boxing Championships in April: champion Bibert Tumenov (Russia) and runner-up Viktor Petrov (Ukraine, soon to be Russian if Putin has his way).

But it was a disappointment for both of them. Petrov lost his first match to Vincenzo Arecchia (Italy), the eventual gold medal winner, in a 2-1 decision, and Tumenov lost by disqualification to eventual runner up Suzuki Toshihiro (Japan). Tumenov ended up placing 4th and Petrov 5th, out of the 6 man field, and they never got to face each other.

In real war news, NATO says more than 1,000 Russian troops have invaded Ukraine, and Angela Merkel and the other European and American leaders are threatening to “discuss” sanctions. – Guardian

Aug 26

Support Using American Force if The Benefits Outweigh the Costs… …Even if Your Children Aren’t in the Military

By Mitchell Blatt | Foreign Affairs

Don't talk to me until you learn some sense.

Don’t talk to me until you learn some sense.

“My first question to anyone who is on television saying, we have to get tough, we need to put boots on the ground and we need to go to war in one of these places is, I will hear you out if you tell me you are prepared to send your son, your daughter, your grandson, your granddaughter to that war of which you are beating the drums. If you aren’t, I have no patience with you, and don’t even talk to me.”

Ex-CBS News host Dan Rather made the familiar argument that if you don’t have children serving in the armed forces, then you shouldn’t support fighting a war. This comes in the context of conflict in Ukraine and American air strikes on ISIS in Iraq. Speaking of Iraq, we also heard it the last time America invaded Iraq. At the moment, President Obama has said there won’t be combat troops going to Iraq.

Anyway, whether or not America sends combat troops to Iraq should have nothing to do with how many families have family members serving and everything to do with whether or not it is in America’s interests, weighing the benefits against the costs, to do so.

True, the personal costs might be greater for parents who have children serving in the armed forces, but the military is a national asset deployed for national defense. If threats posed against America are large enough, and combating those threats requires war, then that is when America should go to war to defend itself.
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Aug 16

Ukraine vs. Russia Boxing Fight To Take Stage at 2014 Youth Olympic Games

By Mitchell Blatt | Culture

Today, the 2014 Youth Olympic Games open in Nanjing, China, and what would the Olympics be without an international political brawl?

In 1985, Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) went to Moscow and defeated the fictional USSR champion on film in Rocky IV. Shortly thereafter, the Cold War ended and the Soviet Union fell. This time, the boxing is for real, and at stake is the new Russian empire.

Russian boxer Bibert Tumenov and Ukrainian boxer Viktor Petrov have a good chance of facing each other in this year’s Light Welterweight (64 kg) boxing competition at the Youth Olympics. They faced in the finals of the AIBA Youth World Boxing Championships in April, and the Russian won.

When Teak Ukraine arrived in Nanjing, their ambassador, 2012 Gold Medal winning boxer Oleksandr Usyk, wrote “UKRAINE” in big letters on the YOG board.

Recently in Crimea, the National Professional Boxing League of Ukraine sent a letter to protest an “illegal” boxing event being held by the Russian boxing federation in Crimea. The letter reads in part:Continue reading

Aug 15

Does Occupy Central Have Enough People to Succeed?

By Mitchell Blatt | Uncategorized

According to a study cited by Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post, it would take about 20,000 people to shut down Central by occupying Chater Road.

Most sit-in protests require 1.67 people per square metre, according to Paul Yip Siu-fai, a University of Hong Kong expert who specialises in crowd counting. But that density leaves large gaps between protesters, making it easy for police to disperse them.

South China Morning Post

Benny Tai, one of the leaders of Occupy Central, has consistently cited 10,000 people as Occupy Central’s goal. At the final deliberation day, for which voting was only open to participants who had pledged to take part in Occupy Central, less than 3,000 people voted.

Central could be occupied with less people, according to the SCMP, if they focus on occupying key intersections rather than occupying the whole street.

Aug 09

Interesting Promotion

By Mitchell Blatt | Culture , Travel

The travel book Shengzhuang Lvyou, which roughly translates to “Well-dressed Traveling”, by Chunzi (淳子) has an interesting promotion. At a Nanjing bookstore, they are selling the book together with sunscreen. Seems relevant.


Aug 08

My Review of The Wind Rises and Other Articles From Map’s Newest Issue

By Mitchell Blatt | Culture , New Writing

The new issue of map magazine has been published, and I wrote a few articles in it, including a column reviewing Hayao Miyazaki’s final film, “The Wind Rises”, which caused some controversy because it was based on the life of a Japanese World War II warplane designer. As such, I analyze the theme of the movie.

That the film glorifies the creation story of a Japanese war plane has prompted some criticism. Heck, the film was even criticized by anti-smoking activists for its frequent portrayal of characters smoking. That seems like a trivial point in comparison to the war question. Nonetheless, it encompasses the issues raised in making a movie about this time in Japan. A film about the 1920’s and 30’s without people smoking would be just as inaccurate as a film that ignores the war industry or retroactively portrays all the characters as bad.

Read it here in the electronic magazine: “The Wind Rises”: Brilliant Film Raises Tough Questions.


Another article I wrote, titled Nanjing’s Silk Road, is about the history of an old alleyway residence that once served as the headquarters of a prosperous brocade company.

Diaoyu Tai alley has white walls with black horse head terraces. Stone dogs guard doors in the wall. If it weren’t for the cars and electric lines, it would look a little like it did in the Qing Dynasty.

There’s more to it, including political intrigue, with the owner supporting underground Communists. Read it in full here: Nanjing’s Silk Road.
Untitled 60

The newest issue of map also has travel tips for people coming to Nanjing for the Youth Olympic Games. If you happen to be in Nanjing, make sure to pick up an issue of map magazine (can be found at some restaurants, hotels, and Starbucks shops)!


Aug 07

Han Han Gets Defensive Defending His Film The Continent

By Mitchell Blatt | Culture

China’s most famous blogging off-road racer Han Han had his debut film open last month to mixed reviews. The general review holds that his road trip piece, The Continent, has some funny lines and contrived artistry but that the characters and plot aren’t well-developed. It’s “all artistic posturing, but no substance,” Hollywood Reporter critic Clarence Tsui wrote.

It still earned a reasonable 7.4 rating on Douban, with 62 percent rating it 4 or 5 stars, and it did well at the box office, winning its opening weekend (but making 26 million yuan less than rival Guo Jingming’s Tiny Times did the weekend before).

Still, Han Han apparently wasn’t satisfied to ignore the critics. On August 2, he said, “The Continent is a very sincere film. Maybe you won’t like it, maybe it’s controversial, but I don’t want it to be said that it’s a rotten film.”

A little bit thin-skinned for such a caustic guy?
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Aug 06

A Chengyu to Explain Zhou Yongkang’s Fall

By Mitchell Blatt | Uncategorized

At Politico, Pin Ho and Wenguang Huang posit that the corruption charges against Zhou Yongkang are not just because of corruption, but also for Xi Jinping to consolidate power. Zhou, who was once head of China’s security system and a member of the Politiburo Standing Committee, is accused, according to their article, of, in addition to abusing power, conspiring to kill political opponents and plotting with Bo Xilai to seize power from Xi.

He is one of the highest ranking officials ever to face such an investigation. Ho and Huang argue that corruption in general is endemic to Chinese politics and that most officials, particularly those at the top, get away with it.

Citing a chengyu (a Chinese idiom):

For the sake of the collective unity, senior leaders have been granted immunity from criminal investigations and prosecution. As the ancient Chinese saying points out, “Punishment does not extend to the emperor’s advisers and ministers.”

If that chengyu doesn’t fit Zhou’s case, here’s one that does:
伴君如伴虎 – To be in the king’s company is tantamount to living with a tiger.

The story about the Ming Dynasty goes thatContinue reading

Aug 01

“The Wind Rises”: Brilliant Film Confronts Tough Questions

By Mitchell Blatt | Culture

“The Wind Rises: Brilliant Film Confronts Tough Questions”, published in map magazine in August 2014

From 1979 to 2014, Hiyao Miyazaki directed and produced 26 anime films, including the highest grossing film in Japanese history, Spirited Away, which won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. His films are known for their beautiful portrayal of spirit worlds, nature, and strong female protagonists. Yet, if he had been born 38 years earlier, would Miyazaki have been known as a war-time propagandist?

His final film before retirement, The Wind Rises, is inspired by the life of Jiro Horikoshi, one of the leading designers of Japanese World War II war planes. Summarizing the theme of the film, the Japanese newspaper Mainichi Shimbun wrote, “I wonder if he [Jiro] should be liable for anything just because he lived in that period.”

That the film glorifies the creation story of a Japanese war plane has prompted some criticism. Heck, the film was even criticized by anti-smoking activists for its frequent portrayal of characters smoking. That seems like a trivial point in comparison to the war question. Nonetheless, it encompasses the issues raised in making a movie about this time in Japan. A film about the 1920’s and 30’s without people smoking would be just as inaccurate as a film that ignores the war industry or retroactively portrays all the characters as bad.

Full article: “The Wind Rises”: Brilliant Film Raises Tough Questions

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Mitchell Blatt is an intrepid travel writer, and an author of two top China guidebooks, who brings his readers deep into the cultures of the places he explores. Subscribe now to get real stories of real people in real places around the world delivered right to your inbox.