New Year Greetings

It’s Lunar New Year with the New Year’s Eve tomorrow night.

So, to my Korean friends – 새해 복 많이 받으세요.

And to my Chinese friends – 新年快樂 or for those who are Cantonese, 恭喜發財  (did I get that right Pauline?).

Prosperity, peace and happiness for all in the year of the Dragon.


Happy Tsagaan Sar … and New Year

Tonight is bituun so the home is cleaned and now the belly is full. Tomorrow is Tsagaan Sar (Цагаан сар) for Mongolians, the White Month. So, to my Mongolian friends – I hope you have a happy Tsagaan Sar.

This year it also coincides (well, is one day different really) with the Lunar New Year celebrated across the rest of Asia. So, to my Korean friends – 새해 복 많이 받으세요.

And to my Chinese friends – 新年快樂 or for those who are Cantonese, 恭喜發財  (did I get that right Pauline?).

Prosperity, peace and happiness for all in the year of the Tiger.

Khalkhin Gol or Nomonhan

From 11 May to 16 September 1939 Japanese and Manchurian forces clashed with Mongolian and Soviet forces on the border of Mongolia and Manchuria (at that time called Manchukuo by many nations) around the village of Nomonhan near the Khalkhin gol (Khalkhin River). Having spent time in Mongolia my office at the bank used to look out on Jukov Square, next to the Jukov Museum. Jukov is the Mongolian spelling of Zhukov, as in Georgy Zhukov (well, it’s the Mongolian spelling when it’s Latinised). Zhukov, having given the combined Mongolian Soviet Army a victory over the Japanese is a hero in Mongolia. For the record, the Mongolians fought with the Russians during the Second World War with Mongolian troops marching into Berlin as part of the Red Army forces in that campaign.

It all started when a Mongolian cavalry unit of about 90 men went searching for grazing in the area between Nomonhan an the river. Manchukuo cavalry attacked the Mongolians and then forced them back over the Khalkhin gol. Two days later the Mongolians returned in greater numbers and the Manchukuans were not able to force them back this time.

The next day elements of two Japanese army arrived and forced the Mongolians out. Then a combined force of Mongolian and Soviet forces surrounded the Japanese causing many casualties. It all escalated. The 2nd Japanese Air Brigade then launched an unauthorised air attack on the Soviet air base at Tamsak-Bulak in Mongolia losing some aircraft but destroying more Soviet aircraft.

Lt. Gen. Georgy Zhukov then arrived to take control of the Soviet-Mongolian forces and so began a battle that lasted until 31 August with the defeat of the Japanese in the area. I’ll provide more detail about individual engagements at a later time. The battle though was significant as it was the first reverse the Japanese Army took in World War 2. At the same time, the result of this battle was that Japan looked southwards for the future which released valuable Soviet (and Mongolian) divisions to the fighting in the West.

Some selections from the Canberra Times about the fighting in Manchukuo and Mongolia.

The Canberra Times Tuesday 4 July 1939


Threat of Force to Achieve Objectives

LONDON, Monday.

A message from Peking declares that the Japanese controlled Chinese Government dispatched to the English and French Embassies a list of demands for a basis of settlement at Tientsin, and said that the Japanese army in North China supported them.

The Japanese spokesman declares that no compromise regarding the demands would be accepted and force may be used to obtain the objectives.

They include demands that the English and French Concessions support the new Japanese currency; secondly, that the Peking Government be allowed to inspect banks and business houses in the Concession; thirdly, that a rigorous control be exercised over publications and organisations acting contrary to the policy of Peking, and fourthly, that, a Chinese – speaking Government be appointed to control the Concession.

The army spokesman announced that gendarmes are holding in custody Mr. E. T. Griffiths, a British engineer from a British steamer, allegedly for insulting the Japanese army.

He added that the reported stripping of John Anderson at the Concession barricades yesterday was being investigated.

Renewed Fighting in Manchukuo

DARIEN, Monday.

It is officially announced that the Japanese army launched an offensive against the Soviet-Mongolian forces with the object of expelling them from Manchukuan territory.

The British United Press reports heavy fighting on the western border of Manchukuo and Outer Mongolia. Tanks, machine guns, cavalry and planes are engaged.

The Canberra Times Tuesday 18 July 1939


TOKYO, Monday.

Eight Russian planes dropped bombs in the vicinity of Nalunarshan railway station, 30 miles inside the Manchukuan frontier, and injured four Manchukuans, as well as destroying four carriages and setting fire to a number of buildings.

The Japanese have protested to Moscow.

In an earlier raid on Sularki station, 180 miles north-west of Harbin, seven were injured.

The Canberra Times Thursday 27 July 1939



TOKYO, Wednesday.

In “view of continued trouble on the Manchukuan border, the Government has announced the reinforcing of forces throughout the Japanese Empire.

An army communiqué claims that 59 Soviet war planes were brought down on the Manchukuan frontier on Tuesday.

Japanese artillery heavily bombarded the Soviet position on the west bank of the Khalha River throughout the day.

and lest we forget that the Japanese were fighting the Chinese at the same time, this piece followed in the same issue of the Canberra times the following article was found:

Japanese Claim Major Victory

TOKYO, Wednesday.

The Japanese north of Hankow claim lo have trapped 30,000 Chinese as a result of a fierce offensive launched on Tuesday.

Supported by aircraft, the Japanese are advancing to the north along he Pekin-Hankow railway.

A second force is manoeuvring in order to cut off the Chinese retreat.

From the Canberra Times Thursday 31 August 1939


Effect of Russo-German Pact

TOKYO, Wednesday

Large forces are being sent lo Manchukuo as the result of the Russo-German pact

The Premier (General Abe), in a nation-wide broadcast viewed with delicacy the international situation, and stated that the Government was establishing independent diplomacy, and also taking measures at home and abroad with the Chinese incident
as a focal point.

General Abe appealed to the nation for co-operation.

The four Chinese, who were arrested at Tientsin, are to be handed over to the Japanese on August 31.

From the Canberra Times of Tuesday 11 June 1940


TOKYO, Monday.

The Foreign Office issued a communiqué that Mr. Toga and M. Molotov, Ambassadors for Japan and Russia, reached an agreement yesterday on the precise demarcation of the frontier of Nomonhan area with mutual recognition of interests.

by special arrangement: Reuter’s World Service in addition to other special sources of information is used in the compilation of the overseas intelligence published in this issue and all rights therein in Australia and New Zealand are reserved.

I’ll give more detail on the battle and the Orders of Battle of both sides of the conflict in a later post.

Happy Tsagaan Sar, New Year

To my Mongolian friends – I hope you have a happy Цагаан сар ((Tsagaan Sar))

To  my Korean friends – 새해 복 많이 받으세요 ((say hay boke mahn he pah du say oh))

To my Chinese friends – 新年快樂 ((Happy New Year)) or for my Cantonese Friends, 恭喜發財 ((kone hay far choi – or litterally, wishing you prosperity))

Nuisance Value

I get to see a lot of stupid chain letters (or rather chain emails) and I also get to see my far share of hoax letters. At least two of my friends now check with me before blindly sending on those warnings of dire things happening to your PC that Norton and Microsoft are powerless before. As a result of my nice healthy cynicism, I also get asked to check other things as well now.

My good Chinese friend asked me to check this website, Say NO to United Nations’ abolishment of Traditional Chinese in 2008, to see if it was genuine or not as she particularly likes Traditional Chinese script and wanted to see her cultural heritage preserved. So I checked. It looked pretty legitimate and had lots of nice links to various websites pleading the same case.

Then I went hunting and checked further – partly because there was a little bell ringing in my head that said Chinese is only used by the Chinese and that is the People’s Republic of China; the SARs Hong Kong and Macao; and Taiwan. Singapore uses English and that’s it. Now Hong Kong and Macao do not have membership to the UN, so that leaves it at the PRC and Taiwan.

So I checked further – firstly with Wikipedia and then from there to sites such as the actual UN.

Seems that the UN will NOT abolish Traditional Chinese in 2008 as the UN ceased printing reports and using Traditional Chinese in 1971 when the PRC took Taiwan’s seat in the UN, replacing it with Simplified Chinese.

So, those 542108 folks who signed the petition are only about 37 years too late. The petition is just Nuisance Value!

EC Plaza ( – B2B Portal

Stupid – no other way to describe it. I was helping a friend and looking for some machinery. Came across a place called EC Plaza which lists many companies in China.

How stupid are these EC Plaza folks?

First I am sitting here in Saudi Arabia and inquiring for a friend in Mongolia – so I have to register on the site but because of super-stupid programming, they pick up my web server here in Saudi Arabia as my country and I cannot change it – so now Ulaanbaatar is in Saudi Arabia and the phone number is also a Saudi number.

Worse though, they presented me with a list of several thousand industry codes for me to select the code that applied to me. Hello fools, I am a buyer – that is, a customer. You make it easy for me or I go elsewhere.

If you are a business listed with them, I’d really think of using another portal.

So, according to EC Plaza, I am writing this blog entry from our Nuclear Reactor here in Ulaanbaatar, Outer Saudi Arabia.

More Chinese Toxic Chemicals

The UB Post reported that the General Intelligence Agency of Mongolia believes that there is a network of Chinese smuggling toxic chemicals into Ulaanbaatar and then from there out to the illegal (and possibly legal) mining operations. The chemicals are used to refine gold and a Chinese national was arrested in UB for having three tons of it in his possession.

Given the length of the border between Mongolia and China (over 4,000 kms) and given the remoteness of some areas of it, finding how it is smuggled in may be difficult. I can’t believe that too many legitimate mining concerns would be buying smuggled chemicals as they would normally have contracts for the supply of these chemicals in bulk. It would seem then that the major users of the chemicals are likely to be the illegal miners, the “ninja”. Solve the problem of the ninja and the smuggling of chemicals will be less attractive.

At the same time, I think China must start to take a more proactive role in protecting its borders from outgoing goods as much as from incoming ones.

More Bad Chinese Product

Seems the Chinese are hell-bent on destroying their own markets (unlike the Indians who have at least learned to listen to their markets and try and move forward with them). In the latest saga of Chinese firms cheating on the ingredients to increase bottom-line profits, the New Your Times reports again, this time on tainted toothpaste. Walt Bogdanich reports in Wider Sale Is Seen for Toothpaste Tainted in China on 28 June 28 2007, that “Roughly 900,000 tubes containing a poison have turned up in hospitals and prisons, according to health officials.”

This is on top of reports on CNN today about the Food and Drug Administration in the US increasing the testing levels on Chinese Farm Produced fish which has been exhibiting high levels of toxins in it.

The Chinese response to the toothpaste was noted in the New York Times as:

Diethylene glycol is often used in Chinese toothpaste in place of its more expensive chemical cousin glycerin. Chinese regulators have said that toothpaste with small amounts of diethylene glycol is not harmful and that international concern is unjustified.

OK, so next time your car’s cooling system freezes in winter, squeeze a tube of Chinese toothpaste in it, as that is what diethylene gycol is, anti-freeze.

I noted on the blog here before previous examples of the Chinese use of diethylene glycol. See the postings
F.D.A. Tracked Tainted Drugs, but Trail Went Cold in China on 18 June 2007 and 7 May 2007, From China to Panama, a Trail of Poisoned Medicine.

Really, this is a simple problem to overcome and I would have thought that the Chinese government had the wherewithal to take the necessary action. I am sure that rather than trying to clean up their acts to start with, the initial reactions from the Chinese will be that these are politically motivated problems and that the US is just trying to restrict imports from China. Of course, this overlooks the fact that many other countries have gone through the same pain exporting to the US, and Europe for that matter, and they have generally managed to overcome their problems by ensuring that the goods they shipped met local health and safety requirements.

F.D.A. Tracked Tainted Drugs, but Trail Went Cold in China

Back on May 7th this year I posted an entry on this blog about From China to Panama, a Trail of Poisoned Medicine which concerned the export of “a poisonous solvent sold by counterfeiters and mixed into drugs [which] has figured in mass poisonings around the world that killed thousands.” The blog entry originated from an article that came From China to Panama, a Trail of Poisoned Medicine by Walt Bogdanich and Jake Hooker and was published on 6 May 2007 in the New York Times.

The New York Times has followed that article up with another one today. This is titled D.A. Tracked Tainted Drugs, but Trail Went Cold in China and is by Walt Bogdanich and discusses

Two poisoning cases 10 years apart illustrate what happens when nations fail to police the global pipeline of drug ingredients.

The real worry about all this is that the counterfeiting affects the users, not by making the real product more expensive but rather by killing the user. Even more worrying is the attempt by China to preserve its reputation rather than enhance its reputation as a responsible member of the world.

The times noted:

The F.D.A.’s efforts to investigate the Haiti poisonings, documented in internal F.D.A. memorandums obtained by The New York Times, demonstrate not only the intransigence of Chinese officials, but also the same regulatory failings that allowed a virtually identical poisoning to occur 10 years later. The cases further illustrate what happens when nations fail to police the global pipeline of pharmaceutical ingredients.

Innocent people die but reputations must be preserved. I said it before and I will say it again, this is the worst kind of counterfeiting. It is a good tim, however, for China to show that it is a responsible global citizen, rather than trying to protect a reputation that is tainted already.

The Chinese talk the talk about cracking down on Piracy and Copying but a quick trip to Silk Street in Beijing shows that it really is only talking to talk. It’s time for the Chinese to put their boots on and start walking the walk.