The news out of and about China this week is incredibly eclectic, just like China itself.
Zhou Is Butt of Online Jokes as China Allows Mirth Over His Fate (July 31, 2014, Bloomberg)
One of the biggest storiesa bombshell, reallyout of China this week was the long awaited official announcement that former security chief Zhou Yongkang is the subject of a corruption investigation. Since Xi Jinping came to power over a year ago, there have been rumors of such an investigation, but the topic was so sensitive that it was censored in the media and online. That all changed on July 29, when suddenly it was OK (and encouraged) to not only talk about Zhou Yongkang, but to also make fun of him. David Tweed writes about this about-face in Bloomberg:
Brave enough to touch the tiger's butt?
That's the challenge in a game featuring the image of a tiger on Tencent Holdings Ltd.'s WeChat messaging app regaling users since a corruption investigation into retired security chief Zhou Yongkang was announced July 29. Zhou is the highest-level official to fall in China's bid to sweep away both "tigers and flies" in an anti-graft campaign.
The mere fact that WeChat's almost 400 million users can access the game reflects how discussion of Zhou's fate is no longer taboo, and may even be encouraged, as the Communist Party builds support for a case against him. The game highlights the shifting censorship landscape in China where leaders and sensitive topics may be off limits to ridicule for yearsuntil they're not.
Watching the Chinese propaganda machine in action is almost a thing of beauty.
Harvard Is New Summer Hot Spot as Chinese Students Crowd Boston (July 29, 2014, Bloomberg)
In case you're wondering why Hainan Airlines has seven flights a week between Beijing and Boston, the folks at Bloomberg have the answer: university tourism:
Chinese students have a new favorite summer destination: Harvard University.
So many students and their families are visiting Boston-area schools such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Tufts University that Hainan Airlines Co. started direct flights to Boston from Beijing in June and increased the number from four to seven a week in July and August. Tufts gets so many requests from large organized groups that it runs separate tours for them.
Joining 40,000 Muslims Breaking Ramadan in Kashgar (July 29, 2014, Far West China)
Josh, the blogger behind the site Far West China, made the trek to Kashgar to witness the Eid celebrations marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Here's a bit of his first-person account:
My alarm went off at 5:30am local time this morning and the sky was already filled with the soft light of dawn. This is only my 3rd day here in Kashgar, a lively town on the western edge of Xinjiang, and although the intense heat has consistently drained me of energy I was surprisingly excited to jump out of bed. I was excited because I was preparing to witness one of my favorite events here in Xinjiangthe breaking of Ramadan fast at Kashgar's Id Kah Mosque.
Stepping out of the hostel where I am staying I walked through the wide streets of the new Old Town toward the yellow-bricked Id Kah Mosque. While the rebuilt history looks nothing like the Old Town I remember, it still retains a comfortable charm that somehow still feels like Kashgar.
Joining a group of Uyghur men slowly making their way in the same direction my eyes were drawn to the sight of a young boy following his father to prayer. With his miniature prayer mat tucked under his arm just like his dad, he reminded me of how my own son is now beginning to mimic everything I do. Many of these Uyghur Muslims come from all over the Xinjiang region to attend this prayer at the mosque and it's a huge honor for the young boys to participate.
Upon exiting the alleyway leading to Id Kah I was struck by the view to my left of the beautiful mosque and the endless stream of Uyghur men entering the main gates of the mosque.
The post includes a great video of the scene around the mosque.
Photos: Scenes From 21st-Century China (July 29, 2014, The Atlantic)
And finally, some great photos from around China:
The People's Republic of China, the most populous country, and the second-largest economy, in the world, is a vast, dynamic nation that continues to grow and evolve. In this, the latest entry in a semi-regular series on China, a homemade 3-ton tank, a man inflating tires with his nose, a massive teapot-shaped building, nearsightedness-prevention devices, a replica Sphinx, and much more. This collection offers only a small view of people and places across the country over the past few months.