Surfing Through China

How an idea spread and grew on the Internet.
July 4 1998 3:30 AM

Surfing Through China

The Clinton trip, reflected by the Web.

(Continued from Page 1)

The Washington Post wins big with its comprehensive China trip Web links page. The World Bank, the CIA, and other China sources are just one click away. The page also features a condensed history of Beijing (disguised as a "Beijing Tour"), links to China's music, and a reader forum. The New York Times catalogs its articles (and requires that you register) and hosts a discussion. USA Today posts top China stories, many of them from the Associated Press.

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More as the president continues surfing China.

As the president does Shanghai on the second day of the Clinton Surfwatch, we plow into a huge rice paddy of local propaganda. An overview of Shanghai skims all the city's tourist sites, including the classical pavilions at the Yuyuan Garden--a stop on the Clinton itinerary. Another brief summary emphasizes that Shanghai (a k a the New York of China) is the country's biggest manufacturing base, responsible for one-eighth of China's total annual industrial output. The Shanghai Daily gloats that "China is the second largest trade partner of the United States, whereas the US is only China's fourth largest partner."

Excerpts from Clinton's entertaining radio talk show include not only policy pronouncements but also the Chinese view of Clinton's figure ("[Y]ou seem to have a very nice figure, Mr. President"). And Clinton makes his unofficial call for the World Cup: Brazil. Another of the president's Tuesday mileposts was the Shanghai Library, which he hopes will cooperate more closely with U.S. libraries. Progress won't be immediate. The digital branch is all in Chinese. And though we can't hack our way into the Shanghai stock market (also the site of a Clinton guest appearance), we can still get investing advice and an overview.

After all that surfing, it's time for snacks, namely, some Shanghai specialties. Vegetarians take shelter, for the 156 tantalizing possibilities include mostly pork, chicken, and seafood. Randomly we settle on Jin Jiang Roast Duct [sic]. "Kill and depilate [sic] the duck," the instructions begin. No thanks, we'll order the Crystal Pig's Stomachic [sic] Pieces Soup, which, as you will read, makes fewer demands on us.

Tomorrow it's back to the serious stuff. We'll pay a call on the exiled Dalai Lama and get the scoop on Tibet.

As Hong Kong is treated to a first-anniversary-of-hand-over bash Wednesday, another independence issue still rankles in the halls of China: Tibet. (For a quick Tibet refresher, check the Washington Post.) Despite a conciliatory exchange between Presidents Clinton and Jiang in Beijing last Saturday, no easy resolutions are in the offing. A May article in the China Daily, revealingly titled "Dalai Lama's motives unmasked," takes the combative stance that has been wrapped up in appeasement during the Clinton tour.

For the West, Tibet is unquestionably a trendy cause. Several international organizations lobby through their extensive Web sites. Which one you choose to visit depends on whether you want to Free Tibet or Save Tibet. We recommend the latter, since its site has an up-to-date news database on Clinton's trip, a Clinton itinerary, and a Tibet event schedule. Most important, the Dalai Lama sticks up for himself from his exile in Dharamsala in North India. Good surfing there--the well-organized official site comprehensively explains the government-in-exile's situation.

What's so great about Tibet? Well, take a spin through the spectacular photo gallery (courtesy Inside China Today) of furry yaks, isolated desert tents, and the Dalai Lama's summer home ... too bad he isn't there to enjoy it.

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