Archive | October, 2013

The Xibe of Northwest and Northeast China

30 Oct

Almost 250 years ago, thousands of people from a Manchurian subtribe journeyed westwards to China’s furthest region Xinjiang to help protect the nation’s borders, being expert archers and horsemen. The descendants of these Xibe people still reside there, while thousands of kilometers on the other side of the nation, their kinsmen still reside in their original homeland in the Northeast. Recently, people from the Northeast Xibe made a journey to Xinjiang to recreate the one their ancestors made long time ago. It’s a good article about a people, who while not numerous, with a fascinating heritage and history. It’s unfortunate that their culture and language has mostly eroded, at least in the Northeast, while interestingly it has survived more in the Xinjiang Xibe, though isolation plays a big part in it.

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Film about injustice

29 Oct

There’ve been a lot of big-budget movies coming out of China recently and most of them are of the historical action sort or comedies, but this one seems rather intriguing. It deals with contemporary issues in society, specifically things like corruption and abuse of power and violence that afflict many Chinese, as well as materialism, prostitution and cruelty towards animals. It seems like it’s worth watching, though it hasn’t been released in mainland China yet and might even be censored a little. No doubt, there should be more movies, or novels or plays, that explore these issues in China.

What’s a “diaosi”?

29 Oct

Here’s a good article explaining what a “diaosi” is in Chinese society. It seems similar to a geek, though maybe it’s a little more vicious in terms of meaning, or otaku, though perhaps not as obsessed with online gaming. It’s very likely that as China becomes more prosperous, mainly in major cities, standards are rising, though not necessarily for the better, as materialism becomes more and more prevalent and valued. When it comes to marriage for example, young men in cities like Beijing and Shanghai should own a home, a car and have a high salary. Likewise a diaosi can apply to a random guy making a decent salary in a decent job, but who isn’t wealthy, good-looking or have much connections. Disclosure: one of the coauthors is someone I know. But that didn’t cloud my judgement about the article.

Nanjing mayor busted and Harbin darkness

21 Oct

The biggest high-level corruption case in China is in Nanjing, whose mayor was recently fired for alleged corruption. Besides that, he’s been criticized for being personally abrasive and callous in his governance. It’s sad to see this happening in Nanjing, a fine city which I visited in 2011, but it’s good if it’s a genuine effort to crack down on corruption. The WSJ column (the first link) goes into more detail about the official media coverage and the possible lessons to be learned from the mayor’s arrest.

Meanwhile Harbin, China’s northernmost major city, saw some horrific air pollution on Monday, resulting in very poor visibility and even school and highway closures. It’s being attributed to the turning on of the citywide heating system due to winter, the burning of corn waste by farmers after harvest, and a lack of wind. No doubt, heavy industry has a lot to do with it. Events like this must surely push the authorities to try harder to cut down on pollution.

Go Guangzhou Evergrande!

19 Oct

I’ve been a bit tardy with this news, but congratulations to Guangzhou Evergrande on reaching the Asian Champions League finals. They will face FC Seoul over two legs, the first being on Oct. 26. Evergrande became the first Chinese team to reach the final since 1996 when Dalian Wanda did it, and if they win, they’ll be the first Chinese team since Liaoning in 1989. Making this achievement sweeter was how devastating their victory in the semifinal was, when they overwhelmed Japanese side Kashiwa Reysol 4-1 and 4-0. Evergrande also won the Chinese league for the third season in a row.
On the national front, China suffered a big setback when they drew 1-1 with Indonesia in an Asian Cup qualifying match they were widely expected to win. The other two teams are Iraq and Saudi Arabia, both of whom are formidable Asian opponents. China is currently second after three games, the midpoint stage of group qualifiers, so there’s still hope.

China, the forgotten ally

19 Oct

A new book is out that makes an interesting case about China’s role during World War II which it fought the longest due to Japanese invasion in 1939 and subsequently lost about 14 million people. Titled the Forgotten Ally, the writer makes a strong claim that China’s importance during that great conflict has been ignored and overlooked, which has led to it being sidelined from the ensuing postwar regional developments, most specifically in the lack of a formal peace treaty between China and Japan. He argues it here in a NY Times opinion piece, while you can check out a review of the book here.  However I won’t go so far as to tie China’s current stance on the South China sea to its lack of proper recognition from the US and the West following WWII. It’s a very complicated case that brings up Chiang Kai-shek, the leader of China during WWII and directly afterwards. He’s been negatively portrayed as incompetent and stubborn, so much that the relationship with the US, then China’s main ally, deteriorated heavily during his reign. He’s also seen as the man who “lost China” to the Communists, having been forced to flee to Taiwan in 1949. On the other hand, Chiang was on the brink of defeating the Communists when Japan attacked and then followed up with fullscale invasion.

Hong Kong’s identity issue

18 Oct

Anti-mainland feelings in Hong Kong has been growing in the past few years, leading some to try to arouse a more Hong Kong-centered identity. The Atlantic has a very detailel article about this “crisis.” It’s no secret that many Hong Kongers have a range of grievances against mainland Chinese, including tourists, pregnant women, wealthy home purchasers, and even university students. As a result, several movements and campaigns have formed or have gotten involved, which the article proves very useful information about. One such group is the one that runs the annual Tiananmen commemoration march. This latter group has a pro-country/pro-Chinese, anti-Communist party stance, but other Hong Kong groups have a more localized vision where they seemingly reject any association with China. It’s also interesting to learn that a large number of young people have an anti-mainland attitude, and it’s not a good sign. One big issue is that harboring strong anti-China views, besides ignoring reality in that Hong Kong is a part of China, allows people to conveniently blame many problems on China and its government, whilst foresaking personal responsibility on Hong Kong’s part. At the end though, the writer mentions the idea of loyalty to one’s nation not just because of ethnicity but to constitutional values- “constitutional patriotism,” as defined by Jurgen Hagermas. This is relevant and China’s leaders have recognized this issue and are trying to deal with this by promoting the “Chinese dream,” (as represented in part by those posters I mentioned in my previous post) which however is more centered on tradition and culture. I don’t fully believe that patriotism needs to rely on constitutional values, but at the same time, a nation should not rely on blind loyalty from its people.

Guangdong travel

17 Oct

Guangdong may not be the foremost tourist destination in China but it’s got some decent places to visit. This adventurous Hong Kong expat has a funny, enjoyable article about a few places to go to that maybe aren’t anywhere on any travel guidebook, but is still worth visiting. Other than Zhongshan, the supposed hometown of Chinese revolutionary hero and “Father of modern China” Sun Yat-sen, whose Chinese name is Sun Zhongshan, I’ve never ever heard of the other places. The only problem is that there are no photos with the article, which is a big shortcoming. The author makes a bit too much about being treated very well because she’s a Westerner (in other words, white) but other than that, the article is very good.

To make up for the article’s lack of photos, here’re photos of Guangdong, though not of the places mentioned in the article.

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The Chinese dream

17 Oct

When I first saw this article posted somewhere, I didn’t think much of it until I realized I’d seen some of these posters myself outside a nearby fire station. Apparently it’s part of a government-sponsored publicity campaign about the Chinese dream (中国). The images on the posters are from traditional Chinese arts such as paper cutouts, woodblock figures and so on. To be honest, they look quite good, so much that I thought they were ads for an art show or museum. They also have some deeper goals than just aesthetics, which the article talks about. The posters feature slogans about positive ideals, whilst poems or sayings are written on them as well.

Here’re two posters from outside a fire station in Beijing. The leftmost poster on the top one is headlined “da ai Zhong Guo” or Big Love for China, while the poster on the right says “zhu fu zhu zi” (I guessed the last character since it’s hard to make out), which I guess would be bless the ancestors and children.

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The poster in the middle below says “Zhongguo hao haizi” or China’s good children, and the one on the right says Zhongguo _ niu jingshen (I don’t know what’s the middle character in red), which means China_vigorous bull. The leftmost poster says “xi qu gao zou” which I think means good music, high performance.

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Golden Week concerns, and HK humiliation

9 Oct

China’s “Golden Week” just ended on Sunday and it seems I didn’t miss out on much. It seems that staying in or going overseas were better choices, because many of those who traveled around the country during this annual holiday week to mark the national day experienced a lot of “challenges.” This has raised a lot of concerns, so much that cancelling Golden Week and allowing employees paid leave, which they can take anytime, has been proposed. That would be a good idea, since it’d allow for more flexibility for both employers and employees, and spread travel and spending throughout the year as opposed to one week with enormous crowds everywhere.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong shows that it can be quirky if it wants. It’s a fact that ladies can be tough and intimidating, as opposed to being dainty, but this Cantonese-speaking female (as opposed to Mandarin) takes it to another level, giving her “man” a public beating, with him on his knees no less.