In China on SunVPN

When we first came to China YouTube and Facebook were still accessible. We didn’t bother to have a VPN. But now that those sites and others are blocked, and especially because we’re raising our parents’ grandkids in a foreign country, we feel the need.

For the 2nd year in row, we’re going with SunVPN. (If you can’t access that link from your location, try here and here.)

A solid VPN is crucial for us in China. The sites our family members in North America use to share photos and videos of the kids are all blocked here. We spent the last year using SunVPN and liked it so much we’re renewing for a 2nd year.

They offer both OpenVPN and PPTP VPN, 256 bit AES encryption, custom installers for Windows and Mac OS, and a worldwide server network. There’s always somewhere we can connect to. It unblocks everything and it’s fast enough to stream movies. That means when sites restrict content to certain countries, like when NBC restricted some Olympic stuff to American IP addresses, or Canadian and American Netflix offer different movie selections, all we have to do is choose a server for the country we want. I am not a super tech-literate guy, but I don’t need to be because SunVPN is simple to use, and we’ve had no major problems.

How the Eastern Lightning cult destroyed a family

From “Eastern Lightning Destroyed My Family”, a sad translated first-hand account from the husband of a woman who joined the Eastern Lightning cult.

I hurried to open her handbag and found an Eastern Lightning “Confidential Training Manual.” The main contents were on how to destroy a church and how to collect information and influence other people. I looked at her cellphone Contact List; all the numbers were incomplete or wrong numbers. I suddenly realized what was behind my wife’s secretive behavior and … the seriousness of this whole thing. My heart felt like it was being crushed by an extremely heavy stone and I became really worried about my wife.

See also:

Imagine if the Cultural Revolution had never ended…

…or you could just read the blog of Sophie Schmidt, daughter of Google’s CEO, who recently accompanied a delegation to the DPRK and blogged and photographed as much of it as she could.

“Looks great, right? All this activity, all those monitors. Probably 90 desks in the room, all manned, with an identical scene one floor up.

One problem: No one was actually doing anything. A few scrolled or clicked, but the rest just stared. More disturbing: when our group walked in–a noisy bunch, with media in tow–not one of them looked up from their desks. Not a head turn, no eye contact, no reaction to stimuli. They might as well have been figurines.

Of all the stops we made, the e-Potemkin Village was among the more unsettling. We knew nothing about what we were seeing, even as it was in front of us. Were they really students? Did our handlers honestly think we bought it? Did they even care? Photo op and tour completed, maybe they dismantled the whole set and went home.

When one of our group went to peek back into the room, a man abruptly closed the door ahead of him and told him to move along.”

How long does it take to “learn” Chinese?

This is a slippery question, but here’s someone with 28 years of experience and research data to answer the question: How Long Does it Take to Learn Chinese?

For more about what’s reasonable to expect re: Chinese language acquisition, see:

Chinese labour camp letter found in Made-in-China goods from Kmart

There’s a cute scene in the documentary China Blue where two factory workers entertain the idea of slipping a friendly letter into the pocket of the jeans they’re preparing for export. Well, apparently someone’s actually done it. If you needed yet another reason to buy much less and much more selectively during Consumerism FestivalChristmas, or any other time of year, how about this: Made-in-China sometimes means made in the gulag — at least according to this letter written in Chinglish by an apparent labour camp inmate and found by an Oregonian woman in some stuff she bought at Kmart: Halloween decorations carry haunting message of forced labor. Click the image to view a readable size.

Even if this letter is fake, the things it describes are real enough. For more about Chinese labour camps, including video, see the investigative report linked in this post.

A sign at the entrance of a Chinese gulag says:
Who are you
What is this place
Why have you come here

Get the Chinese doomsday cult story straight: it’s EASTERN LIGHTNING 东方闪电

Why mainstream media outlets are calling them the ‘Church of Almighty God’ and a ‘fringe Christian group’, I don’t know. They’re called Eastern Lightning 东方闪电. We’ve had run-ins with them. And this piece from ChinaSource — people who keep tabs on this kind of stuff in China — provides interesting personal anecdotes, links for further reading, and helps set the record straight: Eastern Lightning and the End of the World

“After a few minutes of chatting, he said to me, ‘Have you heard the news? Jesus has returned?’
‘Excuse me,’ I replied. ‘I don’t think so.’
…he told me. ‘Jesus has returned and is in Henan Province, in the form of a woman named Mrs. Deng.’”

This is also worth a read: Eastern Lightning may be a cult, but they still have rights
And some helpful background: Jesus is Back, and She’s Chinese
You might also try googling “eastern lightning cult violent” as see what you get.