Danwei Picks

Stories of a changing Beijing

Danwei Picks is a daily digest of the "From the Web" links found on the Danwei homepage. A feed for the links as they are posted throughout the day is available at Feedsky (in China) or Feedburner (outside China).

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Cranes on the CCTV building (photo by rudenoon)

Review of 'Last Days of Old Beijing': Jeffrey Wasserstrom writing in Newsweek:

Michael Meyer's impressive new book, 'The Last Days of Old Beijing: Life in the Vanishing Backstreets of a City Transformed' goes a long way toward illuminating some of the scenes that have come to symbolize early-21st-century China, at least before the unrest in Tibet and the Sichuan earthquake. They include wrecking balls knocking down beloved small businesses; schoolchildren dragging their migrant-worker parents, who have never been in a restaurant, into a KFC; human-powered vehicles in a land of high-rises, evoked by the canopied pedicab set against construction cranes...


Christian Evangelism and the Olympics: At The Huffington Post, Monroe Price writes about American evangelical Christians, and what they have been saying about missionary activities in China, of which the government takes a rather dim view.


Rules for post quake construction: From The China Daily:

China on Monday promulgated the regulation on reconstruction after the May 12 Wenchuan earthquake. It was the first of its kind in the country, specially for a single massive quake, which led the reconstruction work into a legal orbit.

Premier Wen Jiabao on Sunday signed a State Council order to make it effective. Xinhua was authorized to publish the regulation that became effective on Monday.


The agent in economy: Adam at Shanghai Scrap reports a helpful hint he received from the flight attendant as his plane was approaching Beijing Airport:

"It is illegal to take photos over China, or in Chinese airports."


Blogger suggests temperance, accused of brown-nosing: Yu Qiuyu blogs that the western media is showing its anti-China stance by reporting on complaints about the earthquake while the rescue effort is ongoing (translated by ESWN). At Global Voices Online, John Kennedy translates some online reactions:

I've seen shameless, but I've never seen this shameless. People kiss butt, but that's to stay on the boss' good side. Yu Qiuyu this super butt-kisser extraordinaire, like your average race traitor from back in the day, has squeezed out a few alligator tears and shouted to the people: knock it off, the imperial army still means well for you.


Unity and natural disasters: Chris at the bezdomny ex patria blog looks at an article in the latest issue of Chinese National Geographic that discusses the impact of disasters on national unity.

Every kind of natural disaster can be found in the oracle bones of the Yin ruins, such as: droughts, floods, earthquakes, windstorms, thunder storms, locust plagues, also solar eclipses and lunar eclipses, because the Shang people also saw these astronomical phenomena as natural disasters. If we say that the oracle bone inscriptions are the source of the Chinese people's characters, then we can say that anxiety about natural disasters is one of the motive forces behind the coming into being of Chinese characters.


A conversation with Xujun Eberlein: The Other Lisa interviews Xujun Eberlein about her new story collection, Apologies Forthcoming:

It also occurs to me that few westerners know the subtleties and nuance surrounding the participating parties in the CR. I once did an informal poll among writers I workshop with on what they thought of the Red Guards, and the answers were pretty much uniform with the representative one being "pretty much the same as the Hitler Youth." This is quite baffling and at the same time very interesting. As we know (I'm aware of the pitfall of generalization) Americans hate the communist government of China; but did they know the biggest thing the Red Guards did was to break China's state apparatus? Should a communist hater applaud or condemn that? There is just no simple black-and-white answer.

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From 2008
Books on China
The Eurasian Face : Blacksmith Books, a publishing house in Hong Kong, is behind The Eurasian Face, a collection of photographs by Kirsteen Zimmern. Below is an excerpt from the series:
Big in China: An adapted excerpt from Big In China: My Unlikely Adventures Raising A Family, Playing The Blues and Becoming A Star in China, just published this month. Author Alan Paul tells the story of arriving in Beijing as a trailing spouse, starting a blues band, raising kids and trying to make sense of China.
Pallavi Aiyar's Chinese Whiskers: Pallavi Aiyar's first novel, Chinese Whiskers, a modern fable set in contemporary Beijing, will be published in January 2011. Aiyar currently lives in Brussels where she writes about Europe for the Business Standard. Below she gives permissions for an excerpt.
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From the Vault
Classic Danwei posts
+ Korean history doesn't fly on Chinese TV screens (2007.09): SARFT puts the kibbosh on Korean historical dramas.
+ Religion and government in an uneasy mix (2008.03): Phoenix Weekly (凤凰周刊) article from October, 2007, on government influence on religious practice in Tibet.
+ David Moser on Mao impersonators (2004.10): I first became aware of this phenomenon in 1992 when I turned on a Beijing TV variety show and was jolted by the sight of "Mao Zedong" and "Zhou Enlai" playing a game of ping pong. They both gave short, rousing speeches, and then were reverently interviewed by the emcee, who thanked them profusely for taking time off from their governmental duties to appear on the show.
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