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July 23, 2010

A teary Chinese blockbuster

Wall Street Journal Hong Kong writes about Aftershock, Feng Xiaogang's new commercial offering:

Mr. Feng employs a meticulous re-creation of the 1970s and 1980s to full advantage, pulling the heartstrings and imagination back to what many longingly recall as simpler times. He puts to good use his atypical show-business training in the plebeian world of the military drama troupe, where he built stage sets some 20 years ago.

On the cultural revolution

Didi Kirsten Tatlow for the New York Times:

While the Cultural Revolution is not a taboo subject per se, to this day research and writings are strictly controlled. One or two individuals have opened private museums, such as Peng Qian, in the southern city of Shantou, where he was formerly deputy mayor. The content is carefully calibrated. Ms. Wang says the government has identified only senior officials who were killed, plus a few “celebrities,” while ordinary people are ignored. She finds that deeply offensive. “It should be all about the victims,” she said.

China's Hamlet, open to interpretation

Raymond Chou on the virtues of the new and controversial Dream of the Red Mansions TV adaptation:

First of all, the scene of washing her dead body is from the original novel. Second, the suggestion of nudity, very tastefully done and with no improper exposure whatsoever, is consistent with the clues hidden in the story. Daiyu's most famous scene is that of her burying flower petals in the garden, an expression of her pessimism and gloomy disposition, and also a figurative rehearsal of her own burial. One of the lines from her poem from that scene goes "They arrive pure and depart pure". Another line from Baoyu is less poetic, but speaks of the same thing: "One comes to this world and leaves it naked." Here, nudity signifies purity.

Sacrifices leave us with a priceless heritage

For the China Daily, Bruce Humes takes a look at Fan Wen's series of novels set in China's ethnic Tibetan regions:

The trilogy spans most of the 20th century, hopping back and forth between the decades and capturing the non-linear Tibetan sense of time. Fan's imagination almost seems to get the better of him as Living Buddhas levitate and Shamans summon spirits to do battle, but the stories are firmly rooted in the locale's colorful history. Historical fiction with dabs of highly entertaining "supernatural realism" thrown in, if you like.

Bruce Humes previously interviewed Fan Wen in 2009.

Imperialists and child care

hu-shi.jpg

A translation of a 1929 essay by Hu Shi, thanking imperialists and missionaries for bringing modern ideas about child care to China.

Omron workers on strike

Jonathan Soble in The Financial Times:

Several hundred workers walked off the job at an Omron factory in Guangzhou, which supplies electronic components to carmakers in the region...

...Industrial unrest has hit a range of foreign companies in China this year as the rising cost of housing and other items has fuelled resentment among a new and more outspoken generation of migrant workers.

But Japanese companies, particularly in the automobile industry, have suffered the most frequent and serious labour problems, with workers at eight Honda and Toyota suppliers in China striking in May and June.

The article begs but does not ask the questions: Is there something about the way Japanese factories are managed that is causing worker dissatisfaction?

July 22, 2010

Birmingham City in Beijing

A Modern Lei Feng discusses the match between Birmingham City and Guoan:

Surprised by the size of the crowd, by all accounts it was around 50,000 last night, to watch a practice game between Guoan’s backups and a middling EPL team, but on further reflection, I get it. For many, this was their first chance to see the Bird’s Nest. This was the cheapest ticket to a sporting event at the Nest since the Paralympics track and field. I think a lot of people jumped at the chance to see their side play at the stadium, not caring who the opponent was.

Worst floods in a decade

Lily Kuo reports for the LA Times:

Flooding from torrential summer rains, which has killed at least 700 people and displaced millions, is the worst China has suffered in more than a decade, officials said Wednesday.

The rains, which began in May after a severe drought in southern China, are inundating cities and villages throughout the country. Well over half of China's provinces are now enduring monsoon-like downpours, flooding and landslides.

"Compared to the same period for the last 10 years, losses from the flood are much higher this year," said Liu Ning, secretary-general of the government's flood prevention department, in a press conference Wednesday in Beijing.

Photographing Yao Ming

Jonah M. Kessel writes about the challenges for a short man to shoot the portrait of basketball playing giant Yao Ming, and shares some of the photos.

Dalian oil slick spreads to 430km sq

Jonathan Watts in The Guardian:

Chinese officials have warned of a severe threat to wildlife from one of the country's worst reported oil spills as an army of volunteers was dispatched to beaches to try to head off the black tides.

At least one man has drowned in crude during the clean-up operation, which has expanded as the area of the slick has doubled in size despite earlier government assurances that it was being contained and posed no risk to ecologically sensitive areas.

Five days after a pipeline explosion at the north-east port of Dalian, oil had reportedly spread over an area of 430 square kilometres, prompting a dispersal mission along the coast.

July 21, 2010

The rapid deterioration of the Three Gorges Dam

China Hearsay picks up a collection of headlines that netizens have been passing around showing that the flood-fighting powers of the Three Gorges Dam aren't what they were seven years ago.

Flood toll this year: 701 dead

From AP:

Flooding this year has killed 701 people, left 347 missing and caused tens of billions of dollars in damage, the worst toll across the board that China has seen in a decade, a senior Chinese official said Wednesday.

Three-quarters of China's provinces have been hit by flooding and 25 rivers have seen record-high water levels, Liu Ning, general secretary of the government's flood prevention agency, told a news conference.

A series on Christianity in China

NPR's Louisa Lim reports for a series about 'the spiritual revolution' in China. This story takes a journey through underground and open Catholic churches.

Google to shut web services and web support for Tianya

China Daily reports:

Google will also discontinue technical support for two services for local partner Tianya.cn this week, the firm said.

Tianya.cn utilizes Google's technologies to power some of its website functions.

According to the statement, Tuesday's changes were spurred on by consumer demand.

"We have always been trying to develop new products and services for our users. Some enjoyed great success while others failed," the posting said.

"In China, the website ranking page and lifestyle site were not welcomed by our users, that's why we decided to shut them down."

July 20, 2010

News in Chinese science fiction for July

The World Chinese-Language Science Fiction Research Workshop presents news-bites from the past month, including a huge array of awards.

Blogs, democracy and China's future

ESWN translates Zhang Wen's answers to questions from a French documentary producer:

My idea of democracy is basically the so-called "western democracy": elections, multi-party system and separation of powers. Actually, I don't think that democracy is divided into western and eastern democracy. The regional differentiation makes no sense. Anyone who wants to make the regional differentiation is either stupid or multifarious.

I once debated the so-called "Chinese-style democracy" with someone. I asked him what are the elements of Chinese-style democracy besides elections, multi-party system and separation of powers? He honestly replied: "I haven't thought it through." Democracy is the common fruit of human civilization, it is a universal value, it does not differ by region. Just like the market economy, everybody in the world can borrow it for their own use. You may need to add a qualifier such as "socialist market economy" but it is the same thing in practice.

Offshore oil spill closes Dalian port

Msnbc reports:

One of China's biggest ports shut Monday after an pipeline explosion triggered a major offshore oil spill. Armed with absorbers and dispersants, more than 500 fishing boats were deployed Monday to help contain the slick.

The aftermath of the weekend fire could add to pressure for stricter environmental standards in China, already reeling from a toxic copper mine leak in the south of the country that burst into headlines last week amid accusations of a cover-up.

Anti-drug smuggling boats launched against North Korea

Michael Rank reports at the North Korean Economy Watch.

July 19, 2010

Who defines what it means to be Chinese?

Geremie R. Barmé in The Wall Street Journal on the peculiar standards that China applies to ethnic Chinese who are citizens of foreign countries, and global Chinese identities:

The people that the Chinese are often most worried about are other Chinese.

Chinese living and working abroad have played an enormous role in the country's economic boom. For years, they have sent money back and offered hope to those at home during periods of calamity and chaos.

Yet holding a foreign passport doesn't make these expatriates any less Chinese. Of all people, they are expected to be most attuned to the complex realities of life in China. When they fall short, they are treated with official suspicion and individual disdain.