Showing posts with label Localization. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Localization. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Sales, Santas, Apples, Prayer, Police, Beer, Devil Horns, and Balloon Attacks: Some Christmas Sights in Wenzhou, China

Signs of the holiday were easy to spot the day before Christmas in Wenzhou, a city in Zhejiang on China's central east coast. In many ways, they were similar to what I had seen previous years in Wuhan, in Changsha, in Putian, and in Zhangzhou.

For example, in a central commercial district, there were numerous holiday promotions, including one with a "I have a dream!" theme at the Kaitai Department Store.

"I have a dream!" department store Christmas promotion sign in Wenzhou

And several stores I passed had people dressed up as skinny Santas.

young Chinese woman dressed up as Santa

But I had never seen as many Santas together as I did at the Wuma Pedestrian Street. A parade of them kept coming . . .

Santas walking down the Wuma Pedestrian Street in Wenzhou

And coming . . .

more Santas

And coming . . .

man more Santas in Wenzhou

And coming . . .

more people dressed up as Santa

And coming . . .

even more people dressed up as Santa

And coming.

person in Santa outside looking at their mobile phone while walking

One of the Santas handed me a gift.

Christmas apple box in Wenzhou, China

As soon as I had the box in my hand I realized it contained a Christmas apple — a tradition in China for Christmas Eve.

Christmas apple in Wenzhou, China

The Santas and their Christmas apples were part of a promotion for a dental clinic. I didn't get my teeth whitened, but the apple was good.

Christmas apples were for sale elsewhere, including at the Washi Lane wet market.

Christmas apples for sale at the Washi Lane wet market in Wenzhou

The Christmas holiday takes on a special significance in Wenzhou and elsewhere in Zhejiang due to recent forced demolitions of churches or removal of their crosses. I didn't seek out any churches, but I did stumble upon a small one on an alley off of Dasheng Lane.

Grace Church in Wenzhou, China

When I first passed by I noticed two men wearing unmarked uniforms standing nearby. Other people greeting guests encouraged me to come inside. They said photography was fine and pointed out the church's ceiling.

sign on church ceiling with words "Jesus Christ Love You"

There were approximately 150 people seated inside. I stuck around for a couple of songs.

youth singing inside a church in Wenzhou, China

As I left, I noticed an unhappy-looking policeman talking to the greeters outside. I didn't stick around to listen. When I passed by the area later, the church was still active and a policeman was keeping an eye on things nearby. It was a far different scene from the 30+ police I saw at a larger church in Quanzhou four years ago.

Not far away on Shuomen Old Street, the Hello K.T. bar had special Christmas all-you-can-drink deals.

Hello K.T. Bar in Wenzhou, China

After not drinking all I could drink, I saw two people who were wearing a type of headgear I had seen a number of others wearing for the holiday.

group of young men, one wearing a head band with Santas and another wearing devil horns

Yes, those are devil horns. No, I don't know how wearing them became a thing. My guess is their red color simply fits in. And lights. It is worth pointing out that for most people in China Christmas is mostly a chance to have some fun and there is no religious meaning attached.

To top things off that day, I stopped by a food fair at Wenzhou's European City.

food fair at European City in Wenzhou

A number of the booths were decorated for the holiday.

sign with words "god bless you! happy everytime, everywhere and everything. yourfried"

And a few people there were full of holiday spirit.

man wearing Santa cap smoking and looking at a mobile phone

Most of the holiday spirit I saw on Christmas day was just more Santas and sales. But at the Wuma Pedestrian Street I saw my favorite Christmas holiday sight this year: two dressed-up children enthusiastically attacking their amused mother (I presume) with weapons made from balloons, a stick, and a giant inflatable pencil. They happily agreed to pose for an action photo.

boy and girl wearing Santa and Mrs. Clause outfits pretending to hold weapons aimed at their mother

Maybe this will give rise to a new holiday tradition in China.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Pizza Hut Celebrates Halloween with a Spidery Black Pizza in China

One of my interests involves seeing how Western companies localize their products and services in China. Sometimes that leads to culinary explorations during holidays, such as trying McDonald's Year of Fortune Burger for the Lunar New Year when I was in Chongqing. Halloween is another holiday which offers possibilities.

Last year in Shaoguan, Guangdong, I noted that a Halloween promotion at Pizza Hut featuring M&M's didn't include an M&M's pizza. So there was no special pizza for me that day. But things change . . . This year, Pizza Hut once again had a Halloween promotion, which I saw while in Shenyang, Liaoning. Instead of M&M's, Vamplets were the main characters accompanying the "Black Halloween" spirit.

promotion for Pizza Hut's Black Halloween specials in China

Like last year, there were fingers on the special Halloween menu, although the ingredients weren't the same. More importantly to me, the menu had a special pizza which screamed to be tried.

Pizza Hut's Black Halloween menu in China

The menu says the Black Halloween Pizza (暗黑魔法烤肉比萨) is made with cuttlefish powder. Like their close relatives, squid, cuttlefish can shoot ink. Given the black coloring of the pizza, I assume cuttlefish ink is at least one ingredient in the powder. Whatever the case, of course I ordered the pizza.

Pizza Hut's Black Halloween Pizza (暗黑魔法烤肉比萨) in China

Yes, there is a spider on the pizza. This is not the first time I have encountered a spider on a Pizza Hut pizza. Decades ago at a Pizza Hut in Pennsylvania, US, my brother discovered a spider baked into our pizza's cheese. It wasn't Halloween and spiders weren't listed as an ingredient for the pizza, so the folks at Pizza Hut made appropriate amends. Unlike that spider, the spider on the Black Halloween Pizza is made out of the black dough. Too bad, since it has been a while since I have eaten large spiders.

The black pizza dough spider deserves a closeup look.

black dough spider on the Black Halloween Pizza at Pizza Hut in China

The pizza includes New Orleans Roasted Chicken, which seems to be a common thing in China, even if not in New Orleans, and pumpkin as well. The spider web is made out of a mayonnaise so sweet that . . . well, I did my best to scrape it off. There is no tomato pizza sauce, which may be why the waitress brought out some ketchup. I was more happy to see the unrequested appearance of Tabasco sauce. Well done, waitress. It really helped.

Tabasco sauce, Kraft grated parmesan cheese, and ketchup

Overall, I liked the Black Halloween Pizza more than the pizza with New Orleans style toppings I had along with Pizza Hut's durian pizza in Jieyang, Guangdong. The pumpkin was a welcomed change of pace, but I don't think I will be craving the Black Halloween Pizza anytime in the future, unlike Mr. Panda's black Inkfish Pizza, which I tried in Shanghai.

Maybe next year Pizza Hut will go with real spiders as a topping for a Halloween pizza. I would definitely give it a try.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

More Questions Related to Disney's New Park in Shanghai

Advertisement for the Shanghai Disney Resort near an entrance to Guomao Station in Beijing
Advertisement for the Shanghai Disney Resort near an entrance to Guomao Station in Beijing

A few weeks ago I posted about how Disney's new resort in Shanghai isn't only a sign of American influence but of Chinese influence as well.

Since then I have been thinking about questions such as:
  • How much of the resort's "distinctly Chinese" aspects are a result of appeasing government officials' worries about American cultural imperialism versus tailoring the park to best meet visitors' needs and desires versus creating a unique park?
  • To what degree were Chinese officials more or less concerned about American cultural imperialism compared to having a park distinct from Disney's parks elsewhere in the world?
  • Do the localizations conflict with visitors' desires to have a Western / American experience?
  • Exactly how much of an effort has China made to reduce piracy specifically affecting Disney and how effective has it been?
  • Will Disney open a Beijing roast duck restaurant with Character Dining including Donald Duck?
In future posts, possibly scattered among others, I will touch on some of these questions and related issues. I will also say more about the shirt in the earlier post's photo. I nearly didn't use it and was careful with how I described it (or didn't describe it). Notice why?

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Disney a Channel for Both American and Chinese Influence, Cares About Another Type More

shirt with an American flag design in the shape of a panda/mouse/etc shape
Shirt worn by a woman in Hengyang, Hunan

In minutes Disney will open a new park to the public in Shanghai. Some see it as an opportunity with deeper implications than an increased number of authentic Mickey Mouses in China. Last month, Graham Webster, a senior fellow of The China Center at Yale Law School, briefly commented on a tweet about a meeting between Disney CEO Robert Iger and Chinese President Xi Jinping:

I replied to Webster's tweet with a similarly brief comment:

My aim wasn't to refute Webster's point but to highlight the other side of the coin. It isn't clear how this coin is balanced.

David Barboza and Brooks Barnes in The New York Times recently provided an example from the past showing how Disney accepted the influence couldn't go just one way:
[In 1997] Disney agreed to back the director Martin Scorsese, who wanted to make “Kundun,” about China’s oppression of the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader. The Chinese government, which considers the Dalai Lama a separatist, denounced the project and pressured Disney to abandon it.

In the end, Disney decided that it could not let an overseas government influence its decision to distribute a movie in the United States. “Kundun” was released, and China retaliated by banning Disney films . . .

In October 1998, Mr. Eisner met Zhu Rongji, who had just been named prime minister, at China’s leadership compound in Beijing. Mr. Eisner apologized for “Kundun,” calling it a “stupid mistake,” according to a transcript of the meeting.
Disney's change of heart raises the question of how much of the content in Disney's movies has since been influenced to some degree, directly or indirectly, by a desire to not hurt the feelings of the Chinese government.

And Disney is now aiding Chinese influence in other ways:
Disney is going to extraordinary lengths to prove its commitment to China and the Communist Party. During a 2010 meeting with China’s propaganda minister, Mr. Iger pledged to use the company’s global platform to “introduce more about China to the world.” And he has done just that.
Barboza and Barnes also provide examples of how Disney has made a park that is "authentically Disney and distinctly Chinese." Some of this is similar to how other American companies have localized their products or services in China, such as Pizza Hut's durian pizza or Walmart's larger selection of live seafood. Yet with its movies and its parks' immersive experiences, Disney has the power to influence in ways Pizza Hut or Walmart can't. The Chinese government clearly appreciates this and wishes to contain Disney in a variety of ways, though other factors are at play, such as wanting local companies to receive a large piece of the profitable opportunities Disney generates.

So not only is it uncertain what any success for Disney in China would mean for Western, or more specifically American, influence, Disney shows how an American company's ambitions can lead to China having more influence beyond its borders. This isn't necessarily a bad thing. China undoubtedly has much it can positively contribute to the world. But most Americans don't want the Chinese government to have any ability to restrict the content of movies which appear in the U.S.

As the full NYT piece details, Disney has made a number of unusual sacrifices in order to operate in the mainland China market. For them to pay off, Disney's ultimate concern won't be the balance of American and Chinese influence it facilitates. They are simply pieces of a puzzle in reaching another goal.

Disney cares about Disney influence most.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Pizza Hut Introduces Its Own Durian Pizza in China

Last month I tried an unusual and odoriferous pizza at La César in Shenzhen. One half had a black mushroom topping, and the other half, more notably, had durian — a strong-smelling fruit people often describe as either glorious or revolting. Although I would be happier with just plain durian, my first experience with durian pizza was mostly a success, especially when eating the leftovers for breakfast.

About a week ago in Jieyang, I noticed Pizza Hut is getting into the durian pizza craze too for a limited time.

advertisement board for the durian pizza at Pizza Hut in Jieyang, China
Tempted by this durian pizza?

Normally in a city such as Jieyang I would want to immerse myself in the local food offerings as much as possible. But I have been here long enough that I found it reasonable to sacrifice a meal to give Pizza Hut's durian pizza a try. So I stopped by for lunch today.

image of a durian on the window of a Pizza Hut in Jieyang, China
Partially-opened durian sans pizza

The menu included a special for a half and half pizza. I went with the durian and "New Orleans style" toppings.

option in Pizza Hut menu for a split pizza with one half durian
Can't say I found the photo enticing

I took a seat on the second floor, which offered a great perch to watch the flow of traffic at the adjacent street intersection. Happily, no accidents occurred, and soon my pizza arrived.

half New Orleans style and half durian pizza at Pizza Hut in Jieyang, China
As expected, a bit different from the photo

It was smaller than the La César pizza I ordered, not surprising given the lower cost, and the durian appeared to be distributed in larger chunks.

Like before, I started with the less sweet non-durian side. Also like before, one drawback to the split pizza was the strong durian smell somewhat interfered with enjoying the other side. Disappointingly, the New Orleans toppings reminded me far less of the American city than the New Orleans roasted chicken street food I ate last year in Hunan. Unlike most food in New Orleans, the pizza tasted rather bland. After just one bite I made a dash for Tabasco sauce. It didn't help that much. The durian side was also rather unspectacular, though the large chunks of durian on two of the slices were appreciated. I didn't consider adding any Tabasco sauce to it. One positive is all of the pizza had plenty of cheese.

This is an easy call. I don't expect to order the pizza again. Both halves of the pizza I had at La César were far superior in taste and texture. In all fairness to Pizza Hut's durian pizza, I am not a big fan of their style of pizza in general. There are other places for pizza I prefer in cities such as Shanghai, Hong Kong, or even Zhongshan. I am not familiar with Jieyang's pizza world, though, and could imagine Pizza Hut is one of the better options here.

So if you like Pizza Hut and also durian, their durian pizza may still be worth a try. But if I develop cravings for a durian pizza, I will hold out for somewhere else. And for dinner tonight, I will be returning to Jieyang's local delicacies.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

More Watery Walmart Scenes in China

Earlier this year at a Walmart in Zhuzhou, Hunan, I saw a man removing a number of large fish from a tank.

worker pulling out large fish from a tank at Walmart

He seemed to be choosing those near death, if not already there. It was not what I would call a thriving fish community, and I wondered what would be done with the removed fish. I wasn't able to come back the next day to see if there was a special on spicy fried fish.

A couple weeks before that at a Walmart in Loudi, Hunan, I saw a boy who appeared interested in catching a fish.

boy holding a fishnet in front of tanks of fish

I wasn't able to stick around to see if he gave it a try. But at least most of the fish were swimming in a relatively normal fish-like manner.

Although these scenes aren't as dramatic as an escape attempt I saw in Chongqing, they too capture some of how Walmart has localized its groceries in China.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Tasting Something Local: Lemon Cheesecake Oreos

As reported in USA Today earlier this week:
[A Colorado mother] packed her 5-year-old daughter a ham and cheese sandwich, string cheese and a 4-pack of Oreos on Friday. The child came back home from Children's Academy with the Oreos and a note from her teacher which read, in part:
"Dear Parents, it is very important that all students have a nutritious lunch. This is a public school setting and all children are required to have a fruit, a vegetable and a heavy snack from home, along with a milk. If they have potatoes, the child will also need bread to go along with it. Lunchables, chips, fruit snacks, and peanut butter are not considered to be a healthy snack. This is a very important part of our program and we need everyone's participation."
The child said her teacher didn't allow her to eat the cookies during lunch, because they don't have enough nutritional value.
I am not sure about the statute of limitations in such cases, so to avoid any potential jail time for my mother I will refrain from sharing details of my own snacks as a child.

I liked Oreos as a kid, but now I now lean towards other items when I indulge in sweets. One exception occurred about two years ago in Shaoxing when I tried one of the localized flavors available in China. I discovered "peach-grape Oreos were not my thing".

Recently in Hengyang, I decided to try another flavor targeting China's consumers:

Thin Oreos with chocolate wafers and lemon cheesecake cream didn't sound appealing. But to my surprise, not only did I prefer them to peach-grape Oreos, I actually liked them. The mix of flavors worked in a manner similar to mint-chocolate. The lemon added a refreshing quality to the chocolate.

Maybe I should send a few packs to Colorado. I would be more than happy to receive some string cheese in return.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Local Flavors: Red Bean and Black Sesame Seed Ice Cream

In response to a post about milk ice cream, wallaby78 commented:
Beats the green/red bean ice cream, but not by much. Haikou has a Baskin Robbins and I loved it at first but last time the pralines and cream was so badly freezer burned that I won't be back any time soon.
A Baskin-Robbins previously opened near where I once lived in Shanghai. I never noticed many customers anytime I walked by, and it eventually closed. I assume I have tried their ice cream at their other, presumably more successful, stores in China, but I don't have any specific memories.

I do remember eating green bean and red been ice cream numerous times though. I enjoy both flavors, though there is a great range in quality. One recent source I saw was unexpected: McDonald's.

sign for McDonald's Red Bean Ice Cream

The above sign was at a small McDonald's outlet inside Chongqing's Niujiaotuo metro station. Unlike some other cities, eating food doesn't appear to be forbidden inside Chongqing's stations. This McDonald's is conveniently located in the path of passengers changing between two metro lines which intersect at Niujiaotuo.

Since red bean is commonly used in deserts or pastries in China, the ice cream represents another way McDonald's has localized its menu. Not only did I enjoy it far more than McDonald's Year of Fortune and Year of Luck Burgers, I ordered it on a number of occasions. It was a great way to follow up one of Chongqing's famous spicy & numbing meals, and for 5 RMB (about U.S. $0.80) it's a reasonable deal. Although the ice cream has a distinct red bean flavor, I wasn't able to detect a noticeable flavor in the cone. A McDonald's employee explained that was because there was no added flavor, just food dye to make it green.

The red bean ice cream was a temporary offering which recently ended while I was in Zhongshan. Fortunately, it was replaced with another localized ice cream flavor I enjoy: black sesame seed.

sign for McDonald's Black Sesame Seed Ice Cream

Like red bean, black sesame seed can be found in a number of desserts and pastries. And McDonald's wasn't the first place I have had black sesame seed ice cream. One of my favorites was at Very Thai Noodles in Taipei last year.

young woman preparing a Black Sesame Seed ice cream cone.

They named it the "black volcano". My recollection is that it tasted better than the McDonald's version but had a higher price. Of all the new flavors of ice cream I have tried in Asia which are not common in the U.S., black sesame seed is probably my favorite. So I heartily recommend trying a black volcano.

There are other flavors of ice cream more common in Asia than in the U.S. Someday I will write an ode or a post about the fruit which is another favorite flavor of mine — durian.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

McDonald's Celebrates in China With Year of Fortune and Year of Luck Burgers

Last year, I wrote about McDonald's "incomparable" Prosperity Burgers — a special localized menu item available only near the Lunar New Year in places such as Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore. For some reason, they are not available in mainland China.

Instead, for the holiday this year in mainland China McDonald's offers two other special burgers.

promotion at for their special Chinese New Year burgers
Image from

They don't look anything like a Prosperity Burger. Nor do they look like something I would want to eat. But I have been deceived by appearances of food in China before, so I decided to give them a try in Chongqing.

I started off with the Year of Fortune Burger (年年有利堡).

Boxed Year of Fortune Burger

The main ingredients are a slice of chicken with a layer of skin topped by two fried shrimp sticks, lettuce, and a mayonnaise-based sauce.

McDonald's Year of Fortune Burger (年年有利堡)

After one bite, I wasn't feeling the fortune. After a second bite, I removed the shrimp sticks, took the skin off the chicken, and scraped off the mystery sauce. I found it passable after that, somewhat.

I left the McDonald's. After walking a couple of blocks, I worried if I waited much longer I would not be able to convince myself to finish this important project. So I stopped by another McDonald's.

Now was time to try the Year of Luck Burger (年年有福堡). It was not packaged in a box like the Year of Fortune Burger, possibly because it did not require as much structural support or shielding.

wrapped Year of Luck Burger

I thought the main ingredients were two pork sausage patties topped by a tomato, lettuce, and mystery sauce. I thought . . .

McDonald's Year of Luck Burger (年年有福堡)

I took one bite into the burger and was overwhelmed by unexpectedly high levels of pork flavor. That is not a tomato on top of the sausage patties but instead something like a ham patty. I took a second bite, considered whether I could rescue the burger, and determined my luck had run out for the moment.

Fortunately for McDonald's, I am probably not their target customer for these burgers. Perhaps others in China enjoy them. But for me, the Prosperity Burgers far outshine their cousins in mainland China.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Mr. Panda's Inkfish Pizza in Shanghai

If people were told there is a restaurant in Dallas named Mr. Panda and asked what type of food it served, how would they respond? I would guess many Americans would guess "Chinese food", and they'd be correct.

If those same people were told there is a restaurant in Shanghai named Mr. Panda and asked what type of food it served, how would they respond? I am less sure of the response, but I would guess not many would say "pizza". However, "pizza" would indeed be a correct answer for Mr. Panda's seven locations in Shanghai.

Mr. Panda's pizzas are large, 18 inches in diameter, and can be bought whole or by the slice. Like a number of other pizza restaurants in China, some of its pizzas include toppings tailored to local tastes. Unlike a number of other pizza restaurants in China, if offers the "Inkfish Pizza" (the more dramatic Chinese name: 酷炫墨鱼汁披萨).

Yes, it has a black crust with yummy cephalopod ink. Unlike the squid ink breakfast hot dog I saw promoted at a Macanese restaurant in Hong Kong, I decided I had to give it a try. I bought a slice at 18 RMB (slightly less that U.S. $3) and found myself a place in the small seating area at Mr. Panda's location in the SML Center shopping mall.

I looked up for motivation and noticed that none of the people portrayed above me were eating the inkfish pizza.

And then I considered my slice of pizza.

The visual was not exactly inspiring and expectations for the pizza's taste were sinking. Based on some reactions from passersby, I could tell I was not the only one who found the pizza to be a bit unusual.

I might have stared longer, but I didn't want the pizza to get cold. So I took a big bite.

It definitely was not what I expected. I really liked it—as in I came back for another slice when I had a craving a week later. The crust had a very light flavor similar to the squid ink breads sold in some bread shops in China. It blended surprisingly well with the toppings, which included peppers, shrimp, and presumably either dried squid or cuttlefish. I suspect if people were blindfolded while tasting the pizza, many wouldn't notice anything unusual about the crust.

Mr. Panda is not the only restaurant in the world serving a squid ink pizza. But Mr. Panda does serve as an interesting example of how both pizza restaurants and their customers in China are changing. More on that topic later.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

European Union Wants More "Effective and Complete" Censorship for the "Right to be Forgotten"

Several months ago in a deep look at the European Union's online "right to be forgotten", Jeffrey Toobin described what put it into place:
In 1998, a Spanish newspaper called La Vanguardia published two small notices stating that certain property owned by a lawyer named Mario Costeja González was going to be auctioned to pay off his debts. Costeja cleared up the financial difficulties, but the newspaper records continued to surface whenever anyone Googled his name. In 2010, Costeja went to Spanish authorities to demand that the newspaper remove the items from its Web site and that Google remove the links from searches for his name. The Spanish Data Protection Agency, which is the local representative of a Continent-wide network of computer-privacy regulators, denied the claim against La Vanguardia but granted the claim against Google. This spring, the European Court of Justice, which operates as a kind of Supreme Court for the twenty-eight members of the European Union, affirmed the Spanish agency’s decisions. La Vanguardia could leave the Costeja items up on its Web site, but Google was prohibited from linking to them on any searches relating to Costeja’s name. The Court went on to say, in a broadly worded directive, that all individuals in the countries within its jurisdiction had the right to prohibit Google from linking to items that were “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant, or excessive in relation to the purposes for which they were processed and in the light of the time that has elapsed.”
As a recent press release clarifies, the ruling doesn't require the complete removal of applicable links:
The judgment expressly states that the right only affects the results obtained from searches made on the basis of a person’s name and does not require deletion of the link from the indexes of the search engine altogether. That is, the original information will still be accessible using other search terms, or by direct access to the source.
Google has since complied by censoring search results on a case by case basis only on its relevant European websites, such as for Germany. The "localization" of the censorship is similar to how Google once censored, and Bing continues to censor, search results for China — censorship specific to China's regulations only occurred/occurs on their China-based services. There would be an incredible outcry in places such as the U.S. and Europe had China insisted on their censorship rules applying elsewhere.

However, this is essentially what the E.U. now expects in regards to its "right to be forgotten". Mike Masnik sums up a key aspect of the new guidelines:
Specifically, it argues that if a person's privacy rights are violated by having results show up in search engines in Europe, then those same rights are violated if they show up in any non-EU search results as well (all emphasis in the original):
The [data protection working group] considers that in order to give full effect to the data subject’s rights as defined in the Court’s ruling, de-listing decisions must be implemented in such a way that they guarantee the effective and complete protection of data subjects’ rights and that EU law cannot be circumvented. In that sense, limiting de-listing to EU domains on the grounds that users tend to access search engines via their national domains cannot be considered a sufficient means to satisfactorily guarantee the rights of data subjects according to the ruling. In practice, this means that in any case de-listing should also be effective on all relevant .com domains.

Under EU law, everyone has a right to data protection.
The key line here is not actually bolded in the original. It's the "this means that in any case de-listing should also be effective on all relevant .com domains." Basically, if it can be reached from Europe, it has to be blocked. Or, in even shorter form, "EU regulations apply around the globe online."
Even if Google could address the E.U.'s concern by limiting E.U. users to local versions of Google or by censoring across all domains only for requests coming from the EU, either of these methods would likely be easily circumventable through use of a VPN, similar to how VPNs are used in China to access blocked websites. So, even though .com domains are specifically mentioned, it's hard to see how Masnik's summary for the guidelines, "E.U. regulations apply around the globe online", isn't accurate in the end since the search service providers are expected to guarantee "effective and complete protection".

In general, the related issues I've been pondering fall into two categories: 1) the merits and practicality of the "right to be forgotten" and 2) the E.U.'s apparent attempt to unilaterally apply it globally. I will have more to say about both later and will end this post with a question related to China which feels somewhat surreal to even have to ask.

Is it simply a matter of time until the E.U. demands a Chinese online search service accessible in Europe, such as Baidu, selectively "forget" something?

In other words, could the E.U. cause even more censorship in China?

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Pizza Dog at KFC in Hong Kong

As I walked down Nathan Road in Hong Kong one recent day, I noticed this sign:

KFC Pizza Dog sign in Hong Kong

It was the first time I had seen mention of KFC's pizza dog. Curious about the culinary fusion, I decided to eat at a KFC in Hong Kong for the first time.

people in line at a Hong Kong KFC

Amazingly, I didn't see a single person order a pizza dog while I was in line. That didn't discourage me though. When it was my turn to order I said with great confidence, "One pizza dog!". I could tell the cashier was duly impressed by the conviction in my voice.

She then asked, "What would you like with it?"

With conviction again I replied, "I just want a pizza dog. Nothing else." She then told me I had to order something else with the pizza dog. The cashier pointed to the promotional sign which listed three different options and explained I would need to at least order a drink as well.

This requirement threw me for a loop, but life is life. And I now really wanted to try the pizza dog.

So I looked at the options, which appeared to be mostly Pepsi products. There is (or was) a building at Disney World's Epcot park in Florida where Coca-Cola offered free samples of its drinks from around the world which are not normally available in the U.S. Unfortunately, I didn't see anything equally exciting at the Hong Kong KFC. I went with a Diet Pepsi. I figured I was already taking in enough extra calories for the day.

Very soon after paying, I had a tray with a pizza dog (and a Diet Pepsi).

KFC pizza dog

The pizza dog didn't look as glorious as it had in the sign, but at least it came in a big basket. Based on the texture of the cheese and its temperature, the pizza dog appeared to have been sitting at a lukewarm temperature for a while. I don't think they even bothered tossing it into a brick oven to reheat it. It tasted pretty much like a hot dog pizza without much tomato sauce. I wouldn't call it incomparable, but it was OK. I only ate half, but that's mostly because I wanted to save room for a more proper Hong Kong meal later.

Like McDonald's special Prosperity Burger, I have not seen the KFC pizza dog in mainland China. I don't think I'll go out of my way to eat one again soon, especially since I still need to try the squid ink hot dog.