Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Sometimes, you just have to ask!

Over the past few weeks Ridealist has been planning to produce a video for a grassroots non-profit in Uganda that has an open door to needy children, mostly orphans.

You can learn more about them, and see some stunning pictures, on their Facebook page here.

In the words of the group's founder, Mukhobeh Moses Khaukha, "When the children arrive here they have nothing. Some of them have travelled several miles, alone, afraid and hungry, just to get here. We can't turn anyone away, obviously. But resources are limited and we do need help."

The district where the orphanage is located has had its fair share of misfortunes as Moses explains, "Hundreds of children here are without parents. We are faced with a huge orphan problem due to a widespread HIV/AIDS epidemic, malaria, a recent landslide, and poverty. Malnutrition is a major problem."

To begin with, our plan is to conduct an interview with Moses via Skype video and then overlay his comments with many of the amazing photographs he has taken of the children.

This has its limitations of course, but we hope it will still be a simple but compelling enough video to generate the kind of interest Moses and his colleagues so desperately need to help the children.

We have some good friends who have contacts with various other groups that we can approach to help spread the word through hosting the video.

It would be a good start.

But what we'd really like to do is go there. To Uganda. Spend some time with Moses and the children and produce a video that will give the complete picture.

Their hopes, ambitions. The challenges.

"We believe it's far better for us to help them by giving them ownership of income generating projects which will promote long-term self-reliance and sustainability," Moses told me, "We have many projects that we'd like to implement such as a poultry farm to help cover the expenses of setting up other facilities for the children, schools and future sponsorship for higher education."

We already have some support to promote a video that is shot on location. A mutual friend of Moses has introduced us to a major fundraiser who has kindly offered to host the video on his website.

A well-known Africa analyst and broadcaster, the London-based Ayo Johnson, has volunteered to help the project with consultation, help to arrange interviews and narrate the finished product.

Ridealist just needs to get there.

Our essential "business model" if you can call it that, is of a purely volunteer service to grassroots and small non-profits. That is, we do not seek payment nor expenses.

In fact, our pledge is that any "residuals" or payments that are made for reproducing our work by television stations or news websites is forwarded to the charity concerned.

Obviously this is not what many would describe as a sustainable way of doing things from any point of view.

Consequently we do plan to register as a non-profit or society at some point in order that we may solicit donations or sponsorship to help us continue our volunteer activities on a wider scale.

But the needs of the children now dictate that this project has to precede the official documentation, the registration.

Which is why we are asking for help.

Ridealist is willing and prepared to cover most of the expenses for this project out of our own pocket - but the airfare is beyond our means at this point.

Faced with this we came to the conclusion that sometimes, you just have to ask:

Can you help?

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Monday, 27 December 2010

Library for migrant children in Beijing

Here's a quick link to a great little video produced by a friend and former colleague of mine in Beijing - Building a library for the children of migrant workers - well worth a watch!

The cameraman/producer Dominic Swire did most of the work on this himself,
so congratulations on a piece well done buddy!

Keep them coming!

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Sunday, 19 December 2010

Death Risk in Domestic Violence - Ridealist Video

Death risk in domestic violence in Hong Kong - watch the video here.

All human beings have the right to live with dignity and respect, and to be free from violence and abuse. These basic human rights should be preserved and protected in our homes as well as in society.

This was the fundamental message at a recent seminar hosted by Harmony House, a Hong Kong-based non-profit that offers shelter and counseling to the victims of domestic abuse...

If you are the victims of domestic violence, or if you'd like to learn more about this issue, contact Harmony House on their hotline or by email.

Speakers appearing in this video:
Dr. KAM Chak-wah 甘澤華 醫生 (Director, Clinical Skills Training Centre, NTWC, Hospital Authority 醫院管理局 新界西醫院聯網 臨床技能培訓中心主任)
Ms.Tao How Wah, Queenie 陶后華 女士 (Executive Director -- Harmony House Limited 和諧之家總幹事)
Mrs. Lui Tsang Sun-Kai, Priscilla 雷張慎佳 女士 (Executive Director -- Against Child Abuse Limited 防止虐待兒童會總幹事)

Video produced by Chris Gelken and Shirley Han Ying
Photographs courtesy of Harmony House.
Music "At Rest" by Kevin MacLeod (, licensed under Creative Commons "Attribution 3.0".

本片由Chris Gelken和Shirley Han Ying製作。片中活動照片由'和諧之家'提供。音樂 "At Rest" 由Kevin MacLeod (,在Creative Commons "Attribution 3.0"條件下授權使用。




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Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Holiday for Hope -Hong Kong and Mainland China

Time is getting short for you to get onboard for this year's Global Holiday for Hope.

We'd love the opportunity to help bring this event to Hong Kong or mainland China.

If you are connected with a local non-profit or grassroots group that works with children from underprivileged backgrounds, or perhaps have special medical needs, please do what you can to help bring a smile to their face this coming holiday season.

We've posted three versions of a video that we hope will inspire you to participate in this very worthy event.

Please share with your friends!

The "world" edition:

The "China Hong Kong" edition:

The "China" version that can be viewed on the mainland:

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The relationship between charities and volunteers

A few days ago we came across this link to an article published by The Third Sector.

David Ainsworth's "Is volunteering too much hard work for charities?" was not only a fascinating read, but on a couple of points it left us feeling; aahhh, yes! Been there, experienced that!

For example, " also seemed clear that many charities, while they wanted help, weren't really set up for receiving it. All three organisations I spoke to underestimated the time it would take them to deal with me. And none seemed keen on the idea that any help they received would lead to work they would have to carry on themselves."

At Ridealist we've worked with some fantastic partners -- and from time to time we've experienced those who fit rather well with David's above description. In the latter case the proposed project often quietly gathers digital dust in the "to do" file on our computer.

From a personal perspective as the volunteer, we've found all the projects rewarding or educational in one way or another, irregardless of whether they resulted in a published video or photo essay.

But sometimes, even after all the hard work, when the video is edited and the images carefully photoshopped - the projects haven't achieved the desired result.

As David points out, "Now the common factor in all these situations was me, the volunteer, so I can't rule out the possibility that my advice was unhelpful, or that I didn't have the particular skills they needed, and that's why these experiences were unsuccessful."

As much as possible we try to establish a rapport with the group we're working with to build a clear idea of what they would like us to do, what they are hoping to achieve, and how (and of course where) would they like the finished product to appear.

Thoughtful input from both sides is essential, it is very much a two way street.

Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

But unless you try, you'll never know!

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Thursday, 4 November 2010

Ridealist going global without leaving home!

If you checked out the previous post about Holiday for Hope, you might be interested to know the interview with Robert Waters was done via skype-video.

We're now planning to use the same process to produce an introduction for Decade of Light and D2O.

Using skype-video interviews and your video/photographs uploaded to our Box.Net account, Ridealist can pretty much produce a video/slideshow for any non-profit or grassroots organisation anywhere in the world.

While we love to pack the camera bags, hump the tripods and get out and meet the people we are working with, this option gives us so much more opportunity to reach out and provide a service to groups in more remote regions of the world.

If you think this might be of value to you or your organisation, we'd be delighted to hear from you.

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Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Global Holiday for Hope - Hong Kong and China

In collaboration with Dreams for Kids and their Holiday for Hope program, we've just posted three versions of a video that we hope will inspire you to participate in this very worthy event.

Please share with your friends!

The "world" edition:

The "China Hong Kong" edition:

The "China" version that can be viewed on the mainland:

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Saturday, 23 October 2010

Getting the word to Hong Kong non-profits and NGO's

We have been pleased with the feedback we've received for the Hands on Hong Kong video - we enjoyed producing it. But all credit to the volunteers, after all, it was their voices that provided the content!

Busy now still working on the piece for Harmony House and two versions of a promotional video for Holiday for Hope. We're making every effort to try and bring the party to Hong Kong this year, but make no mistake, it isn't something we can do alone. We need a lot of help on this - and we've been emailing local non-profits and community groups that work with kids to help us make it happen.

The Holiday for Hope week is from 13th to 20th December - so not a whole lot of time!

The membership on the LinkedIn and Facebook groups for Ridealist is slowly ticking up, and we're making some really useful contacts.

We also achieved a listing on - which is great. It should help drive some traffic to our site, and in turn, position us to help more local groups here in Hong Kong, and possibly across in mainland China.

The success or failure of any venture, and that includes volunteer activities conducted by groups such as Ridealist or Hands on Hong Kong depend entirely on getting the message out.

So feel free to link our website or blog to your site - in fact, please do!

We're planning to add a links page to our main website, but in the meantime our Facebook and LinkedIn groups already have tons of useful and interesting links.

Drop by and take a look!

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Sunday, 17 October 2010

Non Profit Organizations, grassroots and community groups in Hong Kong

Through our research for projects on Ridealist, we've been scouring the internet for Hong Kong-based non-profit organizations, local grassroots groups and other non-governmental organizations with whom we might collaborate.

Ridealist is a non-profit project in Hong Kong providing video and photography on a volunteer basis.

While we were based in Beijing we had the pleasure of working with, among others:

Future Forest - Taming the Yellow Dragon and The Great Green Wall project in the Kubuqi Desert
CAI - Educational projects for the children of migrant workers
Giving Hand - A joint project with Levi Strauss and Co to provide jeans to poor families in China's western regions.
ICVS - On many animal welfare projects.
God's Grace Garden - Raising awareness of organic farming in China.

Since moving to Hong Kong, we've produced video for:

Hands On Hong Kong - A local non-profit that acts as a bridge between volunteers and other groups. Hong Kong - A short promo for their Great Green Art Jam

And we've already filmed but not yet edited a video for Harmony House, an NGO that provides shelter and counseling for the victims of domestic violence.

As volunteers our time is often limited, and as a non-registered non-profit so are our resources.

The principle behind Ridealist is to offer services to the smaller non-profits and non-governmental groups that are using what limited resources they have for the purpose they were designed for. This often leaves them will little cash left over for things like photography or video production.

So we make no charge, pure and simple.

Having said that, Ridealist is always ready to listen to your needs, and if we can, we'll be there to help!

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Hands on Hong Kong - Hong Kong

After a bit of a hiatus from actually doing any video production or photography work, Shirley and I were suddenly hurled into activity with three projects in a little over a week!

Weekend before last we spent a wonderful day with a group of 50 kids and their 50 “buddy” volunteers at an organic farm out in the Fanling district of the New Territories.

Organised by Hands on Hong Kong the afternoon was a terrific success!

We’d just begun production of the video when we received an urgent call for help from the local chapter of and their preparations for the 10/10/10 event.

We managed to get their promo up in less than 24 hours…. entirely due to Shirley’s fast but impressive editing skills.

Both those projects are now up on our video page! Hands on Hong Kong - Be The Change! Volunteer! and Hong Kong Green Art Jam.

This past Wednesday we attended a seminar that explored the risk of death in domestic violence cases organized by local charity Harmony House.

Currently in “editing mode” and trying hard to prevent the finished product looking too much like a news report!

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Saturday, 9 October 2010

Best of the week..

It has been a busy week. But busy is good, right?

On Tuesday we received an urgent call to help promote Sunday's (10/10/10) event for the Hong Kong branch of

Quick shoot on Wednesday, Shirley's magnificent editing, and the video was up by Thursday!

See it here: Giant Green Art Jam!

Last Sunday we were out filming at an event organised by Hands On Hong Kong - 50 volunteers and 50 kids. We're working on the video and photo-essay now!

Lots of new links on our Ridealist groups on Facebook and LinkedIn - look forward to seeing you there!

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Sunday, 26 September 2010

Pick of last week's posts on Ridealist

Here are some of the top links from last week's posts on Ridealist's groups on LinkedIn and Facebook.

Friends of the Earth (HK) launch recycling campaign for all those old electronic gadgets.

Saving lives through social media.
How social media can link people and save lives.

Help document the world's story on 10/10/10
Amazing initiative to document a day in the life of the planet.

Lifelong Animal Protection (LAP) a Hong Kong based non-profit
Some wonderful pictures and video.

What are you doing on 10/10/10
Global non-profit working to improve the environment.

Launch your own non-profit TV Channel!
It is easier than you think.

If you have a link you'd like to share, please let us know!

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Monday, 20 September 2010

Posts in the last week

We've been updating Ridealist on LinkedIn and Facebook at least once a day over the past week.

Here are some of the great links you'll find there:

The Child Rights Information Network (CRIN) is a network of child rights organizations that work to improve the lives of children. Effective information exchange is facilitated through CRIN's website, email and newsletter service and regional information.
With the recent growth in programs and staff, HandsOn Hong Kong is looking for our first office. Preferably located in Kowloon, with enough space for 3-4 desks, and access to a meeting room (preferred), we would appreciate any leads to affordable (or donated space).

Crossroads Foundation is a Hong Kong based, non-profit organisation serving global need. We believe that, in a broken world that sees too much suffering, we should do all we can to link those who are in need with those who can provide help. So we provide an intersection, literally a crossroads, to b...
A personal finance blog focusing on ordinary people dealing with unprecedented levels of debt.

The China CSR Map initiative is supported by the Sino-German Corporate Social Responsibility Project (www.chinacsrproject. org), which is a bilateral project implemented by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) GmbH on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperatio...
CESVI is one of the biggest humanitarian organizations in Italy. Among its fields of expertise are food/nutrition, HIV/AIDS, health, refugees and IDPs, shelter, water and sanitation.
On May 1, 2008, the People’s Republic of China State Council Government Open Information Regulations and Ministry of Environmental Protection Measures on Environmental Information Disclosure (trial) entered into effect. These regulations stand as major milestones for Chinese environmental governance...
PhotoPhilanthropy promotes and connects photographers with non-profit organizations around the world to tell the stories that drive action for social change.

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Thursday, 16 September 2010

Ridealist on Facebook and LinkedIn

Ridealist is now on Facebook and LinkedIn!

We've been posting some fascinating articles and useful tips for non-profits.

Follow the links and take a look!

Chris & Shirley

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Sunday, 25 July 2010

Ridealist relocates!

Life is all about opportunities.

Such an opportunity presented itself in March when Chris was offered a position with local television broadcaster, TVB Hong Kong.

Making the move from Beijing to Hong Kong was a positive development on many different levels. Obviously it meant leaving behind our home of several years, our friends and established jobs to begin a new life in the sub-tropical south. But having said that, it really wasn’t a difficult decision to make.

The following months were filled with preparations for the big move. There were so many things to do. Moving is always a stressful and time consuming business, consequently our work on Ridealist was put on temporary hold until we could reestablish ourselves in our new home.

Well almost. While we took a break from producing original material, Shirley worked on a number of video editing projects, using her skills to produce localized versions of animal welfare videos for our friends over at the International Center for Veterinary Services.

The move is almost complete. We’re settling into our new apartment in scenic Clearwater Bay, Brian the dog and Socks the cat are in quarantine, and Chris is back on the air with TVB.

It is perhaps a little too early to declare that Ridealist (Hong Kong) is “open for business” – but we’re certainly open to suggestions for future projects.

We’d love to hear from you.

Vist our website:

Chris & Shirley

July 25, 2010

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Friday, 4 June 2010

Today on Beyond Beijing - June 4th - Women and Leadership

There was a joke doing the rounds at the start of the global financial crisis: If the company at the center of the crisis had been called Lehman Sisters instead of Lehman Brothers, we wouldn’t be in the mess we are now. It raised a smile at the time, but how much truth is there in the humour? How much different would the world be if more women were pushing the levers of power in business and politics?

Xu Qinduo, Julia Broussard, Yang Jia, Helen Zhang, Chris Gelken

We put that question and many more to a very impressive line up of guests:

Ripa Rashid, Senior Vice President, Center for Work-Life Policy

Helen Zhang, Managing Director, ChinaTime Inc and author of 'Think like a Chinese"

Prof. Yang Jia, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Vice Chair, UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Member, of Women's Federation Division of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference

Julia Broussard, Country Programme Manager, Project Office in China, UNIFEM

Julia Broussard and Helen Zhang in the Today studio

In the words of one of our colleagues who was listening to the show outside in the newsroom, "It was inspiring." If you only download one podcast this week, this should be the one.

If you are in the mood to be inspired, listen to Women and Leadership on Today!

Xu Qinduo, Julia Broussard, Yang Jia, Lv Xiaohong, Helen Zhang, Chris Gelken

And since the show was all about women taking responsibility and a leadership role, we thought it only right and proper that our producer, Lv Xiaohong, join us for another show photograph!

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Thursday, 3 June 2010

Today on Beyond Beijing - June 3rd - Sexual Harassment

What might be considered an encouraging pat on the back to one person, could be considered offensive and threatening to another. When it comes to sexual harassment there are some pretty obvious boundaries - and in today's show we're investigating how much those boundaries can shift depending on an individual's perception and sensitivity.

Xu Qinduo, Zhang Weiwei, Chris Gelken

Our distinguished panel included:

Joy Chen, former Deputy Mayor of Los Angeles, now a global executive recruiter and blogger at

Zhang Weiwei, Attorney at Law; Project Manager of Beijing Zhongze Women's Legal Aid Center

Michael Zhang, US-based Attorney at Law

Zhang Weiwei in the Today studio

You might be surprised by some of the advice offered - but you will certainly be well informed. For the full story, listen to Sexual Harassment on Today!

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Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Today on Beyond Beijing - June 2nd - Organ trafficking

It is the stuff of urban legend. Unsuspecting tourist wakes up in a bathtub full of ice with a terrible pain in his back – the victim of kidney thieves. It is a myth, but it does highlight the darker side of a life-saving medical science – organ transplants and the trade in black market organs.

Today studio

Explaining the fact and fiction surrounding the global trade in organs Chris and Qinduo had the pleasure to host:

Debra Budiani-Saberi, Ph.D., Director and Founder Coalition for Organ- Failure Solutions (COFS). Research Associate, Center for Bioethics, University of Pennsylvania.

Denis Campbell, Editor and CEO, UK
  • More than 100,00 registered on wait-list for organ donations in the US
  • Denis Campbell says "opt-out" program for organ donation would help resolve the organ shortage program
For the full story, listen to Blackmarket Organs on Today on Beyond Beijing

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Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Today on Beyond Beijing - June 1st - The Development of Artificial Life

Last month the J. Craig Venter Genomics Research Institute announced that it had created the first totally man made synthetic organism. The institute claimed it was a potential breakthrough in our understanding of how complex life began and said its implications for industries such as pharmaceuticals and agriculture were immense.

Xu Qinduo, Qiu Renzong, Chris Gelken

Widely applauded for its innovative science, the development has not been without critics who've accused the institute and other scientists involved in synthetic biotechnology of trying to "play God".

Qiu Renzong in the studio during the panel discussion

We put the questions of science and ethics to our distinguished panel:

Qiu Renzong, Professor of Bioethics, Institute of Philosophy/Centre for Applied Ethics, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Centre for Bioethics, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences/Peking Union Medical College Hospital

Arthur L. Caplan, PhD, director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania

Eckard Wimmer, Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, Stony Brook University, New York. Led a team that in 2002 created the first synthetic virus.

For the full and fascinating story listen to The Development of Artificial Life

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Monday, 31 May 2010

Today on Beyond Beijing - May 31st - Iran: Is it really about the alleged nukes?

A recently signed accord commits Iran to transfer 1,200 kilograms of low-enriched uranium to Turkey within one month. In exchange, 120 kilograms of more-highly enriched uranium will be supplied within a year to Iran, where officials claim it is needed to produce medical isotopes. On the surface this should have gone a long way to resolving the nuclear issue but quite the opposite is true.

Xu Qinduo, Li Hong, Hua Liming, Chris Gelken

To share their knowledge and insights we had the pleasure to host:

Li Hong, Secretary-General, the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association
Hua Liming, former Ambassador to Iran
Prof. William O. Beeman, Department of Anthropology, Minnesota University
Soraya Ulrich, Independent Analyst on US Foreign Policy

There is far more to this story than what you are seeing on CNN, Fox or the BBC - for the complete background, listen to Iran; Is it really about the alleged nukes?

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Friday, 28 May 2010

Today on Beyond Beijing - May 28th - Media Ethics

Virtually all professions or occupations that have a direct interaction with the general public are held accountable by a set of rules - and are often held legally accountable. But what about journalists - the traditional and now the new 'internet' journalist - what set of rules hold them accountable for their actions?

Xu Qinduo, Liu Chen, Chris Gelken

On Today's panel:

Jeffrey A. Dvorkin, Rogers Communications Distinguished Visiting Professor of Journalism, Adjunct Professor, School of Graduate Studies School of Journalism, Ryerson University, Canada, Former NPR Ombudsman (2000), Currently the Executive Director of Organization of News Ombudsmen. On the board of the International News Safety Institute. Co-authored the Ethics Guide for Public Radio for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Kwame Karikari, Executive Director of Media Foundation for West Africa

Dr. Liu Chen, PhD, Associate Professor, Director, Centre for Intercultural Studies, School of English and International Studies, Beijing Foreign Studies University

For valuable insights into media ethics from different parts of the world, listen to the lively debate here; Media Ethics (Or, Don't let the facts get in the way of a good story!)

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Today on Beyond Beijing - May 27th - China's Consumer Culture

Some analyses say that with a decline in exports because of the global financial crisis, China needs to put more focus on its domestic consumption - and that means developing or refining its domestic consumer culture. So what is China's domestic consumer culture like? What are the major influences? Where is it today, and where is it heading?

Xu Qinduo, Mike Bastin, Chris Gelken

On today's panel:

Mike Bastin, Marketing and Research Methods Lecturer, Tsinghua University, Beijing

Ben Cavender, Associate Principal, China Market Research Group, in Shanghai

Xu Qinduo & Mike Bastin in the studio during the panel discussion

Some of the fascinating insights made during the show:
  • Younger generation focused on spending and lifestyle, savings rates are on the decline in China.
  • Foreign goods still perceived as better quality, safer, but Chinese goods are improving their image among Chinese buyers.
  • The perception remains that foreign goods are better quality, safer, but Chinese goods are improving their image among Chinese consumers.
  • In China marketing, over-reliance on TV commercials and under-reliance on digital marketing.
  • Need more market research on consumer personalities in Chinese.
  • How to look rich China-style: Buy a Starbucks coffee, save the cup, and keep refilling it with tea.
Download or listen to the entire program here: China's Consumer Culture

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Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Today on Beyond Beijing - May 26th - School Campus Attacks

A recent spate of attacks on school children captured headlines in a country where such acts of random and mass violence were relatively unknown. Today we'll be asking what could be the possible motives, could they have been avoided, and what can be done to prevent future attacks.

Xu Qinduo, Victor Gao, Chris Gelken

On our panel:

Victor Gao, Director of China National Association of International Studies

Joshua Miller, Ph.D. Professor, Chair of Policy Sequence, Smith College School for Social Work

Prof. Huang Jing, Visiting Professor at Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore

Listen to this lively and robust debate here: Keeping China's schools safe

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Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Today on Beyond Beijing - May 25th - Is sovereign debt the new sub-prime?

Are we heading into another financial crisis triggered by government debt? Some economists think the time to act to prevent a crisis is now, others think that we've pretty much already passed that point and we should be into damage control already with governments tightening belts and introducing unpopular austerity measures. Today we ask the experts!

Xu Qinduo, Huang Ying, Chris Gelken

On Today's panel:

Huang Ying, researcher with Economic Security Research Center in China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations

Uri Dadush, senior associate and director of Carnegie’s International Economics Program

Lex Rieffel, Professor in George Washington University; Former U.S. Treasury official and author of Restructuring Sovereign Debt

For the full, frank, and fascinating panel download the MP3 file: Is sovereign debt the new sub-prime?

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Monday, 24 May 2010

Today on Beyond Beijing - May 24th - Prosecuting Somali Pirates

Since the beginning of this century, piracy off the coast of Somalia has presented an increasing threat to shipping. There is now an international fleet in the area offering some measure of protection - but hijackings still occur. But the question of what happens to pirates after they are captured by international forces still remains to be adequately answered. Today we ask the experts.

Xu Qinduo, He Wenping, Chris Gelken

On our panel were:

Prof. He Wenping, Director of African Studies Section, Institute of West Asian & African Studies (IWAAS), Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS)

Peter Eichstaedt, a veteran journalist on African affairs. The author of an upcoming book titled "Pirate State: Inside Somalia's Terrorism at Sea"

Douglas Burnett, an international maritime legal expert, Partner of Squire, Sanders & Dempsey

Among the points raised:

- A strong deterrent against attack would be merchant ships with strong defenses, armed guards and barbed wire strung around the hull.

- Piracy problem can't be left up to Kenya alone - international community must share the burden of prosecuting pirates.

- Peter Eichstaedt says there is a growing number of indirect links between pirates and terrorist groups in Somalia

- Douglas Burnett says creating an international tribunal to handle piracy cases is too impractical, would take years.

Listen to the full panel discussion here on Prosecuting the Pirates!

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Friday, 21 May 2010

Today on Beyond Beijing - May 21st - China's Rich!

According to the annual Hurun Report, by the end of this year about 875,000 people in China will each possess at least 10 million yuan – that’s about 1.7 million US dollars – in assets. That is an increase of 6 percent from last year. So what has made this lucky group immune from the global recession?

Xu Qinduo, Patrick Chovanec, Johnson Chng, Chris Gelken

On Today's panel were:

Paul Maidment, Editor of, and Executive Editor, Forbes

Patrick Chovanec, Associate Professor at Tsinghua University

Johnson Chng, Partner of Bain & Company, Head of the firm's Financial Services

To hear what they had to say about the nouveau riche in one of the world's fastest growing economies - how they made their money, how they are spending it, and how they are investing it, take a listen to China's Nouveau Riche!

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Thursday, 20 May 2010

Today on Beyond Beijing - May 20th - Homegrown Terrorism

Security officials in the United States appear to be in general agreement that any major terrorist attack on the US could just as easily be the work of an American citizen, as opposed to foreign nationals, as was the case in 9/11. Today looked at homegrown terrorism in the United States, and asked the experts why some Americans are becoming radicalized?

Xu Qinduo, Da Wei, Chris Gelken

Da Wei, Deputy Director of American Studies at China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations
Rick "Ozzie" Nelson, Senior Fellow and Director Homeland Security and Counter-terrorism Program, CSIS | Center for Strategic and International Studies

Prof. David Schanzer, Associate Professor of the Practice for Public Policy. Director, Triangle Center of Terrorism and Homeland Security in Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University

Download and listen to Homegrown Terrorism in the United States on Today!

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Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Today on Beyond Beijing - May 19th - Living with HIV

China has lifted an entry ban on people living with HIV. This follows similar moves earlier this year by the United States and South Korea. So what is it like these days for an individual living with HIV - and how far has China come in respect to the way it regards people living with HIV over the past decade?

Xu Qinduo, Wu Zunyou, Mark Stirling, Chin-Yih Ou, Chris Gelken

Contributing to this fascinating debate were:

Mark Stirling, UNAIDS Country Coordinator in China

Wu Zunyou Director, China National Centre for AIDS/STD Control and Prevention, China CDC

Chin-Yih Ou, PhD. Deputy Director for Laboratory Sciences, Global AIDS Program in China, US CDC

Ron MacInnis, senior advisor, International AIDS Society

Among the many interesting facts raised during the discussion:
  • In the mid-90's most new HIV infections in China were from drug use. Now 44% are from heterosexual sex and 33% from homosexual sex.
  • Educating the population of men having sex with men about HIV will be the next biggest challenge in China.
Listen to the complete debate: Living with HIV

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Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Today on Beyond Beijing - May 18th - Thailand on the brink

Thailand is known globally as 'The land of smiles' - but few people are smiling these days as the death toll in street clashes edges higher day by day.

Almost eighteen years to the day since the events of Black May in 1992 - Thai politics have once again erupted into violence in the capital Bangkok. The events this month are eerily reminiscent of those almost two decades ago. We'll be taking a look at the comparisons - and asking the experts what lies ahead for troubled Thailand.

Kan Yuenyong, Director Siam Intelligence Unit Co., Ltd

Col.Teeranan Nandhakwang, Ph.D. Deputy Director of Strategic Studies and Research Division, Strategic Research Centre, National Defence Studies Institute

In our panel discussion, Thailand - The Crisis Continues, our guests pointed out some significant differences between the unrest of 1992 and today's violence. They also expressed concerns that unless a resolution is found quickly, the situation could spin out of control and may even trigger a civil war.

From the archives, here is a commentary I wrote on Black May back in 1992 - and dug out for another airing in 1998. Black May on American Politics Journal.

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Monday, 17 May 2010

Today on Beyond Beijing - May 17th - Sino-US Ties

As two of the world's largest economies with huge amounts of trade and investment between the two sides, it's not really surprising that the United States and China sometimes butt heads over certain issues. With cooperation and not direct competition as the key to successful ties, we'll ask the experts just how well equipped the two sides are for this relationship.

Xu Qinduo, Victor Gao, Chris Gelken

Join our guests for a robust and lively debate Mending fences - Sino-US Ties!

Victor Gao, Director of China National Association of International Studies

Albert Keidel, Ph.D. Senior Fellow, The Atlantic Council of the United States. Adjunct Professor, Georgetown University Public Policy Institute

Michael Zhang, Political commentator and Los Angeles based attorney.

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Friday, 14 May 2010

Today on Beyond Beijing - May 14th - Aliens - Are we alone in the universe!

It is a question that has fascinated man for thousands of years; Are we alone in the universe? And if there is other intelligent life out there, what do they look like, how advanced are they, and will they like us - as comparable intelligent beings, or as a potential food source! Today asks the experts, is there anyone out there?

Xu Qinduo, Prof. Douglas C. Lin, Chris Gelken

On our panel:

Ian O'Neill, Space Producer, Discovery News

Dr. Seth Shostak, Senior Astronomer of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence

Prof. Douglas C. Lin, director of the Kavli Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics, Peking University

Among the predictions made during the program were assertions that we could expect an announcement regarding the existence of another blue planet like Earth "within the next few months."

The show was great fun, and packed with amazing facts and some quite astonishing data. Listen to the MP3 - Alien Life - Are we alone in the universe?

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Today on Beyond Beijing - May 13th - Alternative Energy Vehicles

The Chinese government is set to release a set of measures to stimulate the research, development and production of alternative energy vehicles. China hopes to become a global leader in electric vehicle technology and production. Today asks what is the future for alternative energy vehicles - and are they really as environmentally friendly as their supporters claim?

Xu Qinduo, Klaus Paur, Chris Gelken in the Today studio

Or, are they just glorified golf carts?

We put the questions to the experts:

Klaus Paur, Regional Director Automotive North Asia of TNS Research International China

Dr. C. C. Chan, Co-Founder and President of the World Electric Vehicle Association; Fellow of Royal
Academy of Engineering, U.K; Academician of Chinese Academy of Engineering

Download and listen to the MP3 Alternative Energy Vehicles (hour 1) for an informative and often fun analysis of the future of alternative energy cars.

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Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Today on Beyond Beijing - May 12th - US Immigration Debate

As the Obama administration struggles to get support for immigration reform, the US state of Arizona has passed tough new legislation targeting illegal immigrants. The Arizona laws have been met with widespread criticism from Liberal groups, but are apparently popular with much of the general public.

We enjoyed a lively debate with expert and enlightening comments from:

Jan C. Ting, Professor of Law, Temple University Beasley School of Law

Grant Sovern, Immigration attorney at Quarles and Brady and Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Wisconsin Law School

Gary Chodorow, Attorney; Chief Representative at Frederick W. Hong Law Offices- US immigration law, Publishes:, a Beijing blog about U.S. visas and immigration law.

Download and listen to this fascinating debate on a pressing problem: US Immigration Row

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Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Nightmare ZOA - Commentary by Stephen Sizer

The Rev. Stephen Sizer joined Today on Beyond Beijing for Monday's panel discussion on the unique relationship between the United States and Israel.

Based in the United Kingdom, Stephen got up at 3am to join the show. After a few hours sleep, he penned the commentary Nightmare ZOA - in which he shared his thoughts on the show.

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Today on Beyond Beijing - May 11th - Deepwater Horizon

Deepwater Horizon - Disaster in the Gulf of Mexico

On April 20 an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico killed 11 workers and set off a gusher of oil that threatens an ecological disaster. How did the accident happen, who is responsible, and what are the consequences?

Our panel of expert guests painted a grim picture of what might lie ahead for the coastal residents of Louisiana - and say contingencies for this sort of disaster were pretty much non-existent.

Prof. Ed Overton, Professor Emeritus - Louisiana State U. School of Coast and Environment, Chairman of the Board and Founder of Analytical Specialist Inc. (ASI)

Dr. Frank Alcock, Director of the Marine Policy Institute at Mote Marine Laboratory and one of the chief authors of the Collins Center's oil drilling report-began researching the implications of offshore drilling in early 2010, Associate Professor, Political Science at New College of Florida

Ms. Qian Jingjing, Country Director, Natural Resources Defense Council

Click on this MP3 link to listen to the full story on the Deepwater Horizon Oil Disaster.

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