Apparently, another one of Ren Zhengfei’s daughters is a computer science undergraduate at Harvard

The detaining of Meng Wanzhou, CFO of Huawei and daughter of its founder Ren Zhengfei, at Canadian airport on behest of the US authorities has made headlines the past several days. On that, I have little to say other than that she is quite attractive and also that the half-closeted nepotism via mother’s surname is both amusing and somewhat gross.

Reading her Wikipedia page, I pulled the following

Ren’s first wife was Meng Jun, the daughter of Meng Dongbo, a former deputy governor of Sichuan Province. They had two children: daughter Meng Wanzhou and son Meng Ping, both of whom took up their mother’s surname.[14] After their divorce, he married Yao Ling, with whom he had another daughter, Annabel Yao, who is 25 years younger than Meng Wanzhou. Annabel is a computer science student at Harvard University who made a high-profile debut at Le Bal des Débutantes in Paris in 2018.[14] Ren married for the third time to Su Wei, who was reportedly his former secretary.[14]

Ren’s eldest daughter, Meng Wanzhou, is deputy chairperson and chief financial officer (CFO) of Huawei.[15]

I’m somewhat surprised and also rather disappointed that Ren Zhengfei sent his other daughter, who also took her mother’s surname (and this is a different mother), to Harvard for undergrad. It reminds of how Xi Jinping’s daughter transferred to Harvard from Zhejiang University after her freshman year. I hate to say it but it’ll be hard to take the PRC elites too seriously when they send their children to elite US schools for undergrad. It is a sign that they still lack independence with a need to associate with global homo Anglo elite institutions. On the Chinese internet, people are questioning what other passports besides the Chinese one is possessed by Meng Wanzhou, and it was revealed somewhere that she had a green card from Canada.

Meng for undergraduate merely attended a good but not great university in China. That was when her father, who started Huawei in his 40s, was still a relative nobody. Remember that in China, aside from regional discrimination, wherein Beijing residents are allocated like 10 times more slots at Beida/Qinghua adjusted for population than residents in the provinces, admissions is based purely on gaokao and automatic admission via top performance on the national math and science olympiads. It’s basically impossible for filthy rich and/or well-connected parents to buy one’s kid’s way into Beida/Qinghua in China. So I guess when the kid of someone super high up in China turns out to be intellectually mediocre, attending an elite US school for undergrad becomes the default, sadly.

Something to note, relatedly, is that 富二代 (second generation rich) is a relatively new phenomenon in China. After all, after the communists took power, the rich people had their assets confiscated (like my amusingly pro-communist ABC friend stuck in the US at least for the near future, his family ended up sharing their four story house/building with a bunch of a poor people), and afterwards, people in high up positions did not make much more than the ordinary worker, with the salary difference, based on what I’ve heard, at most a factor of 10, barring very exceptional cases. It was really only after 1980 when it became possible for one to become extremely rich doing business. Between 1980 and 2010. there was a lot of low hanging fruit in China, economically. Plenty of mediocre people with the right entrepreneurial energy/personality became rich. And by that, the class of second generation rich was born, and it seems now they are forming their own culture, with studying abroad paying ridiculous tuition at US universities common, as well as their parents investing in US real estate. It’s very possible and perhaps likely that the class structure in China will solidify over the next generation, as is already the case in the US. How much so, that remains to be seen.

I’ve had some interactions with 富二代 kids and their parents in the US. Many of them are, predictably, not very smart academically. They are basically on permanent vacation in America. Their career/employment prospects in America are not surely not good for obvious reasons. It doesn’t seem like they’re well treated in school by their white peers in America. Yes, their families are economically well off, but that doesn’t mean they can integrate into American society. Their families are able to invest in real estate in America for now; even so, their existence in the US will be a marginal one much confined to the Chinese community. Many of them do not even know English well and are mostly here to invest in real estate, enjoy some material comfort and fresh air, and also send their kids to school here. In most cases, the father based in China only visits every once in a while. They’re obviously not really wanted in America other than for their money, spent on international tuition and luxury brands and so on.

As the reader can tell, I don’t have a high opinion of those 富二代 who send their kids to America and invest in real estate there. Being in China now, I’m sure I’ll learn more about them, including the process they go through to transfer all that money to the US, and maybe I can even influence them a bit. As one can see from the detention of Meng Wanzhou in Canada, there is little guarantee for them on US soil. Finance/economics tells us there is no such thing as a free lunch. They may feel they are winning now and that their assets in America are safe, but this could very much be a process of 温水煮青蛙 (a frog boiled in warm water), where initially one feels warmth, until one gets burned. They may own real estate in America on paper for now, but that real estate is physically in America, where the Chinese do not really control anything. They have no media power, no legal power, no military power there. It’s totally possible for them to suddenly lose everything. Unlikely, but it can happen and only needs to happen once.

The Meng Wanzhou incident has been in Chinese media tied to the death of Stanford physics professor Shoucheng Zhang at age 55 which happened on the same day. The family statement said that it was due to depression, which we all know is just a euphemism. There has been speculation that it was related to the alleged tanking of his Chinese venture capital firm in Silicon Valley. It’s quite tragic that he took his ambition/careerism too far, assuming that his death was related to his VC activity. Had he just remained purely academic, he would have survived and likely eventually won his Nobel. Needless to say, using the prestige of a rare Stanford tenured professorship in physics to raise a Chinese VC is not really what he should be doing while officially in that position. Stanford probably should be somewhat embarrassed about his case as well, in addition to the recent Elizabeth Holmes case that was magnitudes worse. On this, I also have in mind the cases of Lucas Duplan and Evan Spiegel, both quite shameful.

It is my hope that talented, elite Chinese can focus more on developing their institutions at home instead of wasting so much money and energy associating with and working for elite US institutions for signaling. Doing so only inflates the value of a system hostile to Chinese while at the same time de-valuing Chinese institutions. If Chinese are really serious about this trade war, they should be going out of their way to devalue Harvard and Stanford, to devalue Google and Facebook, not eagerly trying to attend those schools for undergrad for a rather mediocre academic educational experience and making such a big deal about working for those companies, whose programmers are generally no better than ones in a good internet company in China as far as I can tell. If Chinese want other people to respect and value them, then they ought to first have confidence in their own institutions. I say this having been in prestigious US institutions myself, interacted substantially with numerous people from there, and frankly, many of them are not all that great, with some depressingly mediocre or even problematic. Of course, there are also plenty of genuinely brilliant, accomplished people in America in top American institutions. Overall, my point is that it’s clear that America will not judge the Chinese well, so why expend so much trying to associate and fit in with America? Why not instead expend more energy into creating a system where what America thinks simply becomes more or less irrelevant?


What’s wrong with the Ivy League

Very recently, a Chinese-American Yale undergrad cold emailed me expressing approval of this blog, and we not long after began to talk regularly.

A few days ago, in an email to Steve Hsu, me, and some others, he wrote:

I think the Ivy League is best understood as a giant money-making organism. Attached to it like a leech is a seminary for training priests and spreading the gospel of the American progressive religion. Attached to that leech is an even smaller leech which actually contains smart people doing good technical work. And gmachine1729 is right that the average Ivy student is not that great (but the top end does represent the best of the best).

Relatedly, I just saw an essay on Zhihu in Chinese by Yale finance professor Zhiwu Chen on the matter of 中国人那么优秀,为什么美国人还是更喜欢印度人?(Chinese are so exceptional, why do Americans still like Indians more). The essay was one of Chinese are smart and hardworking but modest, passive, conformist, filially pious per the Confucian tradition and emphasize hard skills at the expense of soft skills, while Indians, like Americans, are assertive and confident with strong leadership qualities. The comments, of which there were 27, were mostly dismissive. The first one, and the most memorable one was


In translation,

Can’t you better understand the situation by comparing Chairman Mao with Gandhi?

I’m very happy to see this. It means that Chinese are no longer dazed by Ivy League credentials. They are beginning to think more independently, to have more confidence in themselves. Maybe in another decade’s time, non-STEM professor at Ivy will become an explicit negative signal among Chinese in China.


I stumbled upon the reddit by the handle wokeAZN. Guessing from his handle, he advises Asian-Americans on how to fight for equal rights. One of his main points, which I’ve long realized and written about on this blog, is that in the current system, privileged whites have no incentive to not preserve their privilege, which necessarily means depriving Asian-Americans. A representative comment on that would be

Correct. Asian-American activism as of today is entirely focused on begging the predominantly white owners to change their ways without even considering to challenge or disrupt the ruling mechanisms to begin with. Their weapons of choice are politeness, copying SJW concepts that worked for other marginalized groups and political correctness. Good luck with that.

Look at the recent Harvard and specialized NYC HS admissions controversy for example. Asians loudly speak up in droves protesting the process changes yet none of them even thought about the need to challenge and dismantle the administrations and institutions that are in charge of the admissions processes. Same goes for any activism directed towards Hollywood and the Western media etc.

This was in response to the quote:

“Nobody in the world, nobody in history, has ever gotten their freedom by appealing to the moral sense of the people who were oppressing them.”- Assata Shakur.

This is nothing but obvious to me. Reminds me of how in essence, Gandhi’s nonviolent resistance signals nothing but weakness. India’s nominal independence didn’t really liberate India. She remained at her core still a British colony. I recall how Chinese Marxist philosopher Ai Siqi (艾思奇) wrote of Gandhi’s nonviolent resistance with disdain, a fact I had commented on before in Chinese. The Chinese communists on the other hand actually won a war against America in Korea, the reason they are so despised in the West. So yes, if Chinese-Americans want equal rights in America, they should go unambiguously more in the direction of the Chinese communists. It’s not about morality; it’s about leverage. I heartily hope that Asian-Americans can stop exhibiting a form of Stockholm syndrome manifested in the form of defensiveness and attachment towards a system that treats them as second-class citizens.

I’ve written the following:

You can probably tell that I want Chinese to obtain more position of power internationally. It would make a better world. By default Chinese have less sense of entitlement which also hinders their rise to the top. I used to blindly revere the top STEM people. Now I realize that not only should you be strong technically but you should also have the political awareness of what your technical strength is going into. Who is reaping the fruits of your labor. A guy I know told me he got promoted, with the help of someone higher up, after he sort of went on strike and only then did management realize how much he was needed. See this is leverage. There are a lot of eager earnest people churning out a ton of value for the company without demanding more and executives love that. Their existence lowers the leverage of the value creators. I’m thinking of what could possibly give Chinese-Americans more leverage. Little, as they’re for the most part unwelcome in positions of power in the US. Again many Chinese have false hopes of meritocracy. Yes, it’s meritocratic up to a certain point, but in terms of actual political power it’s far from it. The Chinese who do get promoted in the media and politically by the mainstream American establishment tend to be those who are against collective Chinese interests. Why do you think the successful Chinese entrepreneurs in America have a hardware focus. Because those require real expertise with high barrier to entry.

The struggle for socioeconomic position of Chinese-Americans I expect to be largely futile. It’s already very saturated at this point. Way more technically smart and well-trained Chinese than the system can tolerate. There are some rich Chinese who hit it big with entrepreneurship but they generally have far less political power than a white guy with the same net worth due to relative lack of elite networks. Those rich Chinese from China in the states have little actual power; all they can really do is make a dent on the real estate market, and fund some pro-Chinese activities there, though with that, there will only be increasing scrutiny. If Chinese are to gain massively, it would have to be based from what comes out of China. Basically become like the Jews. Develop a reputation of fuck with us too much and there will be consequences. To do so, China would have to play the extortion game very aggressively too. What leverage does China have now? For one, large market. This is why airlines have to accept demands to list Taiwan as part of China; if they don’t they lose a ton of business. What else? Potentially encourage the Chinese with hard to acquire expertise in critical STEM fields to stop working for American companies, go to China instead. Take it to the very extreme, if China/Chinese want to be truly feared on the international stage, they can once they’re adequately prepared to guarantee victory encourage North Korea to invade again as Stalin did in 1950 with a serious pledge to back them up, use anti-ship/anti-aircraft missiles to prevent Americans in Seoul from escaping, then America will negotiate with China to save members of their own political elite. China could demand complete withdrawal of US forces from the Korean Peninsula as a condition. Now, anti-ship/anti-aircraft missiles would make it not that hard to enforce blockades near one’s borders; the era of American military dominance by air is over. China is already in the process of deploying the state of the art S-400 it got from Russia to cover most of Taiwan and has already deployed its own, less advanced but still formidable, air defense system on the South China Sea islands, enough to render US fighter jets practically useless in the region.

How do you get an edge over a competitor? You can by improving yourself, making your product more competitive, that’s the good way. Like it or not, you can often do equally or more by directly sabotaging the competitor in a way you can get away with. The success of Microsoft, and many big businesses, had arguably much more to do with the latter. In the case of geopolitical influence, militarily evicting the enemy is necessary. It doesn’t have to turn violent, and ideally, it shouldn’t; all one needs is enough military power for the other side to give in on the negotiating table.

As an example of China’s exercising leverage, did you know that in the 50s, after the Korean War, the US would not let Chinese with STEM PhDs return? After a few years of negotiation, the Chinese government exchanged American POWs for the freedom of those Chinese with hard-to-obtain and strategically important STEM expertise to return to their home country, where they would make a decisive contribution to the success that China is today. China/Chinese, if they really want to get ahead, need to do similarly. Their struggle in America is a losing game. Yes, there are ways to succeed massively yourself, but more often than not the tradeoff is generating much more value/money/success for others, which could even count as an anti-success given the relative nature of success.

For Chinese, it’s okay if you piss off some elite Americans. You can always go back to China and find something reasonable there. China is not what it was twenty years ago. Plus, if you’re anti the American establishment, the Chinese government will likely support you. With Indians, it might be different, since India still is shit place. And Indians have for the most part already given up. Indians cannot even create their own Internet companies.

Speaking of which, I am trying out some Chinese internet products, and while there is still room for improvement, they seem to have created a reliable alternative. Weiyun (微云) for cloud storage, and integrated with WeChat. for Email. Both products of Tencent. There is also that Opera Browser, which originated from Norway, was acquired by Chinese company Qihoo 360, and it is faster and uses less memory than Chrome. Comes with ad-block and VPN by default too. I’m definitely sticking to that.

I’ll conclude with another comment of wokeAZN:

Good. Let them be afraid. TBH I live and eat because I’m taking wealth that previously belonged to whites every day probably. Not that I dispossess whites or whoever else on purpose, I just work and buy land, stock and assets here legally. So? What do you want me to do? Apologize and return my land and assets? Lol lol

Asians, keep acquiring your land and wealth while you’re here. if you dispossess whites unintentionally don’t feel bad about it.

He’s 100% correct. If Asian-Americans want equal rights, they should try to take as much from this country while contributing as little as they can in return. That’s the logical response towards discrimination. Either use this country solely to advance yourself and your group to the extent that you can, or don’t come here in the first place. There are even some Asians who bash their own for not contributing enough to the community, which is ridiculous. Seriously, have some sense of entitlement. It’s not really your community anyway. Yes, those rich Chinese who buy real estate here basically contribute nothing. If fact, they make lives harder for the middle-class by driving up housing prices. Well too bad.


最近在美国,正在进行的对常春藤大学歧视亚裔的种族配额制度的案子在2018年6月中旬透露了哈弗录取人员给亚裔申请生更低的所谓的“个性评分”,以此为拒绝他们之由。可预料,这引起了一场稍同情亚裔的媒体大波,而7月出头没过多久,川普政府撤销了奥巴马时期推行的大学录取种族平衡政策并颁布了新政策指南的重要举措。同时,亚裔又在纽约市强烈抵抗市长de Blasio提出的将撤销特殊高中考试录取的案,为了种族多元化而改至holistic的录取方式,难以接受在现有制度,那些特殊高中的名额大约百分之七十都占于亚裔学生。加上,芝加哥大学,一所SAT分数分布很高的接近顶尖大学,已经把SAT考试改为可选而非必要的申请件。看来随着亚裔体抗议常春藤的歧视加热而稍有进展的同时,美国的某些其它教育机构又开始给以新的袭击。看来美国社会就是对亚裔不要好啊。为此,我当然也有自己的想法。










Harvard’s discrimination against Asian-Americans

It was revealed last week or so that Harvard systematically rates Asian-Americans lower on personality, on subjective traits such as “positive personality,” likability, courage, kindness and being “widely respected.” I’m not surprised at all by this. Though they could have at least been a bit smarter about this by keeping this shit off the record. Now the investigators could actually reveal something about their process to the public that would undermine the institution’s credibility.

Though I am an Asian-American, I will not try to pretend. It’s so far for Harvard’s institutional interests more or less rational to do what they’re doing. Asian-Americans have very little power and influence over the institution. Sure, there is no shortage of prominent Asian-Americans professors at Harvard, mostly in STEM, but they don’t actually have all that much influence over the institution, and are mostly being used by the institution to advance its own academic reputation. The same goes for being an Asian academic undergrad admit (who can, say, win a high place for Harvard at the Putnam Contest). There is also the implicit assumption that because Asians face race-related disadvantages in the career game, especially in the corporate world, due to unconscious bias, lack of ethnic affinity networks, etc, they should be penalized, as future career success, of a form not perceived as too threatening to the current elite, is crudely what admissions is optimizing for. So, life is not fair, get used to it, and do the little that you can to try to make things more fair (or more in your favor).

I’ve actually seen some not actually very talented Asian-Americans without hooks who did make it to HYP under very striverish behavior. They played the game of try hard resume optimization, of appearing less Asian. The thing is that most of those people end up not well at all after graduation. Don’t think that HYP guarantees a good job. There is no guarantee is today’s world. Those people did too little in terms of developing actually employable skills. What they got by playing the college admissions game was essentially a pyrrhic victory. Actually competent state school kids do much better than them in the workplace. So, don’t be stupid like that.

Even many actually smart Asian-American HYP grads don’t do all that great. A common outcome is a merely solid engineer at a respected technology company. Some go to a top grad school, but success much depends on the field. Academia has very few openings nowadays, though for engineering, due to industrial demand, it is much less competitive than math or science. A common route of course for the really technically exceptional is quant finance, though those positions tend to be taken by immigrants, who generally undergo a much more rigorous STEM education with less distraction compared to what Asian-Americans receive. The thing is that so many people are irrationally desperate to attend an elite school. Some middle class parents will burn a fortune to send their kid to some fancy prep school full of rich kids, where they easily end up at the bottom half of the school’s social hierarchy, let alone for an elite university. They lose sight of the fact that in many if not most cases, major determines what you do much more than school. There are many cases of these try hards wasting much time, money, and stress for nothing.

Like it or not, America is still very much a white country. Asian-Americans can and should try, but they shouldn’t realistically expect equality. If Chinese parents really want their son to become a lawyer or politician, they should probably stay in China. It’ll be hard there as well, but your odds of success will be probably at least an order of magnitude higher than in America. Here, I use only the male qualification of child in light of how “on average, Asian American women received higher personal ratings and extracurricular ratings than Asian American men.”[3] This is, of course, consistent with what goes on in the real world as well. And it is expected, considering how historically, sexism and racism have always gone together.

A while ago, I wrote on here a rather cynical (or whatever you call it) piece in Chinese regarding elite US schools, which to my pleasant surprise a Chinese international of my acquaintance who attended Harvard commented on affirmatively. Its title has somewhat of a sensationalist provocative vibe to it, translated to English as “American elite universities as a political tool for brainwashing and uplifting (pseudo) elite of Chinese descent.” Of course, I have more or less the highest regard for the STEM being done at these top American institutions, though maybe it is a bit overrated. Much of the humanities and social science coming from those places I find quite questionable though, and that goes along with the cultural and political values fostered by these institutions. On that, I brought up how the former unsuccessful regime of China, the Republic of China, was led and run largely by Chinese graduates of Ivies of their time, who were but superficially Westernized and modernized Chinese. Despite their graduating from these elite schools, they lost the civil war and failed to modernize China, though perhaps that also had much to do with their being in the wrong time. Certainly though, many of the elite Chinese who played prominent roles in China’s modernization from the 50s on did advanced study in STEM in these top American schools. I’ll say that from my experience, it certainly does seem that these schools tend to select for Asians whose social and political viewpoints, often not very grounded on reality, tend to fit them into the aforementioned category, like Jeff Yang, with whom Steve Hsu had a debate. This is of course part of the pattern of American elites’ desire to bring elites of other countries into their circle, in a sufficiently subordinate position. On this, I’ll say how I’ve read comments on how over past half century or so, affirmative action by Harvard and other Ivies has won for American elites not only (a facade of) charity but also cultural and ethnic representatives to advance their interests in, say, African countries. For that, Harvard was useful as a binding force. Surely, Harvard has always played a quintessential role in persisting the rule and influence of the current American elite throughout the world, and like it or not, kissing the ruler’s ass is almost always the easiest way to rise up on the social ladder. In Chinese, to be America’s dog is spoken of as pejorative, but so what, there were and are too many small countries willing to do so, because it brings them, their elites in particular, much economic and political benefit.

Asians tend to be pretty obsessed with prestige. Chinese are very, and Koreans are especially so. In the 80s and 90s and 00s, a degree from a prestigious or good American school was much an upper mobility ticket in China. Now, this is much less so, because there are too many such Chinese now, and also maybe because people in China have increasingly realized that maybe these people aren’t actually all that good, in spite of their brand-name American school. A PhD from MIT from China once told me that now in China, companies are increasingly reluctant to hire “sea turtles;” you have to pay them more, when more often than not, you can find a local guy who can do the job as well or better for much less. This is a sign of devaluation of elite American institutions, and I believe this will continue, given the relatively low level of STEM education and preparation in America (which is impossible to hide to any actually smart, scientifically literate person) along with America’s overall decline.

The short-sighted and personally motivated decisions of the intellectually mediocre and politically delusional American elite over the past generation are, cumulatively, really taking its toll now, on the American economy and the credibility of its ruling class. Their elite institutions, nepotistic and corrupt in its admissions, are losing the public’s trust and alienating Asian-Americans especially, many of whom moved to a foreign country speaking little English with too much blind faith in the so-called American Dream that they sought for themselves and more so for their children. American elites may have thought that they themselves could neglect STEM, that there are plenty of talented foreigners, many of whom Asian, willing to do those jobs indefinitely, often grossly under-compensated and with their American-born, American-raised kids facing higher hurdles in education and at work. This might have been so decades ago, when in their home countries, there was still lack of economic opportunity for smart people. Nowadays, there is a booming and internationally competitive high technology sector in China, with India going that direction as well, in spite of brain drain into America. Collectively, the STEM expertise has over time not only grown itself but transformed into significant leverage for the group, so much that the elites running Harvard need to resort to rogue tactics to preserve themselves. I don’t exactly blame them. It’s just like how people who go the bullshit business and social climbing route do so largely to compensate for their inherent intellectual deficit; at least to me, that’s never a pleasant or honorable position to be in. But what else can you do, if not to accept defeat? I can already foresee such an entrenched group fighting desperately for its own survival. Harvard will do all that it can to get away with what it’s doing right now amidst much backlash. And it’s an extraordinary rich, powerful, well-connected institution, much able to manipulate the outcomes. Either they win, or they reform themselves accordingly, or they become slowly sidelined. We’ll see. I just hope they don’t resort to even nastier tactics. Though that tends to happen when power and survival is at serious risk.