Archive | March, 2013

Rising Chinese cities and Taiwan’s anti-Korea attitude rears its ugly head again

31 Mar

I think this is fairly obvious but it’s still good to read about it. Yes, besides Beijing and Shanghai, there are other happening cities in China. Rapid progress is being made in cities like Hangzhou and Chengdu in business, industry, travel and even conference hosting. As the article points out, China has the most number of hotels in the world at 406,480 hotel rooms, and business travel spending expected to approach US$245 billion this year. I can’t quite fathom what these numbers mean exactly, except that these are huge amounts.

For some strange reason, Taiwan has a long-running grudge against South Korea that manifests itself as envy, jealousy, bitterness, and self-righteous whines about being bullied and taken advantaged of. This Chinasmack piece shines a spotlight on a recent occurrence of anti-Korean attitudes in Taiwan, this being after Korea’s victory over Taiwan in the World Baseball Classic. Some of those signs by Taiwanese fans are really classic.

Chinese design and cricket

30 Mar

So the BRICS summit finished without the leaders agreeing to a new development bank, though they didn’t throw away the idea. It’s not that surprising since there’re several major things they need to agree on, such as where it’ll be based and the financial commitment each must pledge, but in time they’ll likely work out these issues.

Today’s random link shows off Chinese design. China is well-known as a manufacturer of objects, but as for design, not so much. These objects are an attempt to change that, combining China’s heritage with everyday objects. To see more Chinese design, this site which I just found seems to be a good place, combining news about the latest developments in all aspects of design such as architecture, product design, and fashion.

China participates in many sports, but cricket? Yes, though mainly at grassroots and youth level, as this cricinfo article describes. There are several leagues in the big cities like Shanghai and Guangzhou, with several promising Chinese players mentioned in detail.

Xian, Hong Kong tourism

28 Mar

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Xian City Wall, which surrounds the entire central downtown core and span 13.7 kilometers.

Xian is going to begin major multibillion-dollar renovation of an ancient district to attract more tourism. This sounds good because the city is ripe with so much history. As the former capital of China during the Tang Dynasty and several other dynasties, it’s got much more than just the terracotta warriors.

The Hong Kong Maritime Museum is profiled in the NY Times here. Formerly located at Stanley, on the south side of Hong Kong Island adjacent to the sea, the museum has been revamped and is now in Central, right at the edge of Victoria Harbor.

The South China Morning Post has a cool diagram of the Kowloon Walled City, a notorious massive fortress-like residential complex that was completely razed in the mid-90s. It was cramped, crime-ridden, squalid, and literally lawless (the police did not have jurisdiction over it, and housing and sanitation regulations did not apply) but apparently beloved by its residents. The authorities built a public garden park on the site of the Walled City, with remnants of old buildings and a historic gate preserved for display. The garden is nice, but it’s a pity they couldn’t have left more of the structure intact.

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The Kowloon Walled City park.

First Lady Peng and luxury homegrown brands

27 Mar

China’s first lady, Peng Liyuan, continues to make waves as she accompanies Xi Jinping on his official trip to Africa. She’s attracted a lot of attention for her glamorous looks and poise (though I think too many writers are using “glamor” to describe her), as well as for her elegant wardrobe. What’s really good and surprising is that it’s apparently all homegrown brands. This should definitely help boost to these Chinese luxury brands and first lady Peng should be commended for that.

Snow, golf, drinking, and maids

25 Mar

Beijing looks fantastic for a change after a burst of snow in the nation’s capital last week. Meanwhile this golf prodigy, who should be in grade school, is set to play in a European Tour event. And according to this CNN list, China is the no. 2 drinking nation in the world. I know people love their baijiu there, but I’m not sure how much of the population drinks it. For one, I imagine that more young Frenchmen drink wine or young Australians or Germans drink beer than young Chinese drink baijiu.

Filipino maids have lost a court appeal in Hong Kong to allow domestic helpers to apply for permanent residency. It’s not surprising, when you consider how closed Hong Kong is. Granted highly skilled, upper-middle-class professionals won’t find it hard at all to apply for residency, but for Southeast Asian maids from the Philippines or Indonesia, that’s a different story. To understand how worried Hong Kong was about this case, the court was even considering transferring it to Beijing for final judgement. If you know about how worried many Hong Kongers have been about life under Beijing’s rule, you’d realize how drastic this was. Hong Kong is a small place and densely populated, so there are valid worries about hundreds of thousands of maids applying for residency and then bringing their families. However when you’ve got people who’ve been working in Hong Kong for over 10 years legally, as one of the maids who brought the case have, then maybe you’d think they could be given residency since they’re practically living here.

 

BRICS and its world bank; HK clothing magnate politician

24 Mar

Xi Jinping flew to Russia for his first presidential overseas trip. Then later this week, he will go to South Africa (Durban actually) for a BRICS summit on March 26 and 27. The BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) are the largest developing nations in the world and are predicted to overtake the US and other major Western nations within a decade. For now, the upcoming BRICS summit is seen as important because there’s a strong possibility that these five nations will create an international development bank, an emerging nations version of the World Bank, which would be a very major undertaking. It’ll be a good opportunity for the BRICS to take a bigger role on the international stage and be able to assist the developing world more. The World Bank may have done some good work in the past, but it and its sister institution, the IMF (International Monetary Fund) are both controlled by Western nations. For instance, it’s basically set in stone that the heads of the World Bank and IMF must be Americans and West Europeans.

G2000 is a major Hong Kong clothing brand which I own a few items of, and its founder Michael Tien is a politician, a member of the Legislative Council and a district councilor in Tsuen Wan, New Territories. Here’s an interview in HK Magazine. He has some reasonable opinions concerning the mainland and the coming into power of HK’s current leader Leung CY. No doubt he’s very well-off, but he also has a social conscience, having participated in a reality show where he tries to live like the poor on 30 bucks a day.

It’s nice to see Guangzhou has got a cool “terrifying” amusement park, which warrants its own BBC article. One of the star attractions is a recordbreaking rollercoaster which is almost supposed to guarantee vomiting as an aftermath.

 

Another article about Chongqing

22 Mar

China is a massive country and it’s more than just Beijing and Shanghai. So enjoy another article about Chongqing, the megacity located on the Yangtze just north of Sichuan province. This article explores the burgeoning art scene in Chongqing. It’s mainly about an art district and several young artists and entrepreneurs, but it also goes into commercialism of art, government support/interference, development, and even Bo Xilai, the fallen ex-boss of Chongqing.

Illustrated China travel “maps”

22 Mar

Here’s a illustrated “map” of Nanjing‘s attractions from a site that’s full of hand-drawn travel maps. Here’s another one on Hong Kong, specifically the South side of Hong Kong Island. The best is the one of Beijing, though for some reason, terracotta warriors are included.

China travel and Chinese tourists

21 Mar

The biggest tourist spenders in Taiwan are, not Japanese, not Americans, not Koreans, but mainland Chinese. I know mainland tourists like to buy a lot of stuff in Taiwan, even from convenience stores like the one near my company. But to outspend Japanese, Singaporeans, and other tourists by a significant amount every day, that’s quite surprising.

The New York Times’ frugal traveler takes a trip up the Yangtze on just US$50 per day. He seems to be having a pleasant trip.

China’s beleaguered “balinghou”

20 Mar

China’s young (urban) people, the “balinghou”, face a lot of pressure, possibly more than their counterparts in the West, Hong Kong, or Taiwan, but are also criticized by their elders for being soft and unwilling to endure bitterness (chiku). This enthralling article, very long but well worth the time, will open your eyes about the problems that 20-somethings face, especially the huge generation gap between them and their parents. This is directly a result of the wildly contrasting societal shifts and shocks that have rocked China in the last several decades, from the strict austerity and turmoil under Mao to the economic reforms and liberalization under Deng Xiaoping. What this means is that, surprisingly, it is the parents who are often more materialistic and money-focused than their offspring. This then passes down to their children, who grow up without substantial values or goals other than to pursue money and richness. I’m not sure I fully agree with this implication, but the article is very informative and has some interesting stories of young Chinese. I’m always wary of articles (even one as long as this) that claim to cover entire issues that affect the whole nation, because I feel China is too big and vast. The author admits he’s talking about the young urban middle-class and not rural or lower-income folks, but even then, it’s a big group. I wonder if he mainly focused on Beijing and Shanghai, or did he also cover Sichuan, Guangdong, Henan, the Northeast, and other regions to write this story.

In Taiwan, a similar sentiment can be found among older people regarding those born between 1981 and 1991- so much so that there’s a widely used pejorative nickname The Strawberry Generation (which even has its own Wikipedia page).