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Why China Celebrates Christmas (December 21, 2013, ChinaSource Blog)
Christmas is a global holiday, and it looks pretty much the same wherever goes is in the world. Including China. Once banned as a sign of bourgeois decadence, Christmas has made a roaring comeback in the Middle Kingdom. A recent article in the official English daily Global Times looked at why China celebrates Christmas. Not surprisingly, the writer highlighted the vast amount of economic activity generated by the holiday. Christmas in China, like anywhere else, is good for business. It puts people in a mood to spend money, gives them plenty of things to spend it on, and rewards the spending with the good feelings that come with giving and receiving gifts.
GOVERNMENT / POLITICS / FOREIGN AFFAIRS
Paying a price to cross Chinas border (December 20, 2013, Washington Post)
The outside world has been shocked at the prospect of two major news organizations shutting down. But to Chinese who have dared to utter unauthorized truths, this is a familiar pattern: If you behave, you can talk. Cross the line? We have our methods. And one of the most battle-tested methods is to withhold permission to cross Chinas borders. For Chinese critics of the government, the border long ago acquired a political toll booth: Whichever way you cross, you pay a price.
The New Face of Chinese Propaganda (December 20, 2013, The New York Times)
But this year, Ive noticed a new kind of propaganda: billboards and giant posters, with fresh designs, typefaces and graphics, in many cities. They are ubiquitous: They have been put in parks, along building construction sites, on school walls and in other public places. There has been little coverage in the press. Who created these posters, and why? How much did they cost? Its all a mystery. The messages vary, but their most conspicuous feature is affirmation of the party, like A strong Communist Party means happiness for the Chinese people! and Why is China strong? Because of the Communist Party. Ive noticed three variations on the theme.
Chinese Security Official Is Focus of Corruption Inquiry (December 21, 2013, The New York Times)
One of Chinas top security officials is being investigated by the Communist Party for suspected serious law and discipline violations, according to Xinhua, the state news agency.
'Chairman Mao will bless you': Why tourists flock to Mao's birthplace (+video) (December 23, 2013, Christian Science Monitor)
Ten million people are expected to visit Mao's birthplace this year, making it the second most popular tourist destination in the world.
China legislators vote to end labour camps (December 25, 2013, AFP)
China's top legislative committee voted Tuesday to abolish "re-education through labour" camps introduced more than half a century ago, saying they had served their purpose.
In a Beijing suburb, an unorthodox architectural tribute (December 25, 2013, Christian Science Monitor)
A Beijing municipality builds in the Russian Orthodox style, thumbing its nose at a central government crackdown on lavish public works.
11 slogans that changed China (December 25, 2013, BBC)
China is marking 120 years since the birth of former leader Mao Zedong. During his tumultuous three decades in power, Mao elevated political sloganeering to an art form. Although Mao's successors have shaken off many of his more extreme doctrines, they continue to deploy slogans at a dizzying rate. Here are 11 slogans that transformed China.
China marks Mao Zedong's 120th birthday anniversary (December 26, 2013, BBC)
Celebrations are being held in China to commemorate the 120th birthday of Mao Zedong, the founder of modern China. Top leaders including President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang visited the Mao mausoleum in Beijing to pay their respects. Thousands queued through the night near his childhood home in Shaoshan, Hunan, to see a huge fireworks display which is said to have lasted four hours.
On Chairman Maos Birthday, a Conflicting Legacy for Xi Jinping (December 26, 2013, China Real Time)
Some party insiders and analysts say Mr. Xi is taking a hardline political stance early in his tenure to ensure he has the authority to take on powerful interest groups opposed to further economic liberalization.
What is Mao Zedongs Legacy 120 Years Later? (December 26, 2013, Jottings from the Granite Studio)
Leftists in China see the Chairman as a bulwark against the excesses of the reform era, a symbol of world revolution and a way for them to explain to girls why hanging around Haidian bookstores beats getting a job. Nationalists use the image of Mao as an unsubtle reminder to todays leaders that The Chairman wouldnt have put up with any of this crap from Japan. Beijing taxi drivers hang him from their rearview mirror, which I guess makes Mao the patron saint of bad driving and navigational incompetence.
China condemns Japan PM Shinzo Abe's Yasukuni shrine visit (December 26, 2013, BBC)
China and South Korea have condemned Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for visiting a shrine that honours war dead including convicted war criminals.
Crackdown stymies China church's Christmas meeting (December 23, 2013, AP)
Lawyers and Christian churchgoers said they were blocked from meeting in a central Chinese county Monday to commemorate Christmas and draw attention to the detention of a pastor and his aides. The canceled meeting at the church in Henan province's Nanle county came during a monthlong crackdown on the church over a land dispute that pits its popular preacher against the county government.
Ten Commandments of Christmas (December 23, 2013, Chinese Church Voices)
Suddenly its Christmas again, with the white-bearded Santa Claus, the beautifully decorated Christmas trees, and the sounds of Christmas carols reminding us of the timeless Christmas story. How should we celebrate this day on which we commemorate the birth of Jesus? A Weibo user recently posted a piece titled, The Ten Commandments of Christmas: Lord Help Us Have a Blessed Christmas.
China's detained bishop Ma 'given political lessons' (December 24, 2013, BBC)
As prisons go, it's a relatively pleasant one. The Sheshan seminary can be found on a quiet leafy lane that could just as well be in Tuscany as its true location, the outskirts of Shanghai. There is no barbed wire in sight and no guards, just a solitary, rather friendly watchman on the front gate. Nonetheless it is, as our inquiries confirm, being used for the effective confinement of China's missing bishop, Thaddeus Ma Daqin.
Christians in Beijing flock to church (December 26, 2013, Xinhua)
In China, hundreds of Chinese Catholics have flocked to Beijing's biggest cathedral for the Christmas Eve mass. This years mass was held in three languagesMandarin, English, and Italian. There were so many in attendance that some had to stand outside and watch the service on large screens. Some of the attendees expressed their happiness and best wishes to others.
The 2013 Grinch Award (is for your educational benefit) (December 27, 2013, China Hope Live)
Just because a Chinese Christian is in trouble doesnt mean theyre in trouble just because theyre a Christian. Their Christianity may have something to do with it, or it may have almost nothing to do with. China being as it is, the whys are usually a little more complicated and a lot more pragmatic. This is not the Mao Era.
SOCIETY / LIFE
The Ghosts of Chinas One-Child Policy (December 19, 2013, vocativ.com)
The children who fall outside even the revised law are hunted, secretly traded or completely ignored.
Video: How do Chinese people spend Christmas? (December 20, 2013, BBC)
As the western world eagerly anticipates the festive season, in China Christmas will be a relatively subdued affair. Schools and businesses will remain open and life will continue as normal for the majority of the population. But not everyone lacks festive sprit. The BBC spoke to shoppers in Beijing, who are embracing some Christmas traditions.
Traditional Chinese Manners: How Well Do You Know Them? (December 20, 2013, The Beijinger)
A set of images describing traditional Chinese mannersmostly related to dininghas been recently making the rounds via Chinese social media. There's no particular origin sited for these manners, nor an explanation for why most revolve around the dinner table. However, there's no arguments from netizens that these are traditional values that deserve upholding, and many expressed surprise that they had never been taught these things when they were young.
Chinese tourism: 'Finally, we are seeing the world' (December 21, 2013, The Guardian)
Chinese tourists now outspend holidaymakers from all other countries. But how will the superpower's taste for travel change the world of tourism and how can Britain cash in? Abigail Haworth reports from the favourite hot spot 'Chinese Beach' in Thailand.Video: All I want for Christmasis wacky gifts from China (December 22, 2013, Reuters TV)Christmas is fast approaching, but what can you get the person who already has everything? Reuters' Anita Li scours China's biggest online shopping site, Taobao, for some unique ideas.
Chungking Mansions: Inside Hong Kong's favourite 'ghetto' (December 22, 2013, BBC)
Eyesore, ghetto, jungle, goldmine, little United Nations. These are all words that have been used to describe Chungking Mansions, a building complex that is seen as both a foreign island in Hong Kong and an important part of the Chinese city's identity.
Chinese Government Researchers Recommend Idiot-proof Cellphones for Peasants (December 22, 2013, Tea Leaf Nation)
Some Chinese government researchers dont appear to think much of the countrys 651 million people living in the countryside. In its 2013 annual report on the development of the Internet in rural China, the state-run China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC), which monitors and analyzes the Chinese web, advised Chinese telecom companies to roll out idiot-proof smartphones for rural customers.
Laowai is a Four Letter Word (December 23, 2013, Sinopathic)
Being an outsider is pretty much the lowest scale to occupy on the Chinese social hierarchy. You are not trusted; your customs and habits are strange and unfamiliar; you are the unknown that stands in contrast to the family circle; your existence is a contradictory definition of that which this Chinese.
China to ease one-child policy early next year (December 24, 2013, Reuters)
Changes to China's strict one-child policy, which will allow more parents to have a second child, will begin to roll out early next year, state media said. The policy change is expected to go into force in some areas of China in the first quarter of 2014, Yang Wenzhuang, a director at the National Health and Family Planning Commission, told the official Xinhua news agency.
Christmas China Style (December 25, 2013, World of Chinese)
Its the most wonderful time of the year! But wait a minute, do all of those magical moments, the spectacular lighting, the crowds, the carol singers, the western festive spirit and goodwill to all men, etc. even apply in China (the ancient jewel of the far east? Quite simply, yes, they do!
Chinas Top Internet Moments of 2013 (December 25, 2013, China Real Time)
Without further ado, here are China Real Times favorite Chinese Internet moments from 2013, listed in chronological order:
Mama Huhu: Parenting, Chinese style (December 26, 2013, Go Chengdoo)
Based on having been a parent in a Chinese family for seven years now, and, more recently, the manager of the Chengdu based children's center the Music Box, here is my list of ideas to survive, understand, and embrace as much as possible the Chinese parenting way.
China's urbanization rate to hit 60 pct by 2018: blue book (December 27, 2013, Xinhua)
China's urbanization rate is expected to hit 60 percent by 2018 at the current rate of urbanization, according to a blue book released on Thursday by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. China's urbanization rate will top 54 percent by the end of 2013, according to the book.
EDUCATION / HISTORY
Universities and colleges urged to end ties with Confucius Institutes (December 17, 2013, Canadian Association of University Teachers)
The Canadian Association of University Teachers is calling on universities and colleges to sever their ties with institutes subsidized and supervised by the authoritarian government of China.
Migrant children to be able to sit college entrance exam (December 24, 2013, China Daily)
Starting next year, the children of migrant laborers in Shanghai will be able to enjoy the same rights to education as local children, according to the municipal government. Under the new policy, the children of migrant laborers who have obtained temporary residence permits for the city and registered as flexible employees can get an education in the city's primary and middle schools. The same administrative requirements will applied for migrant children who want to gain entry to the city's vocational schools.
China vaccines: Authorities probe babies' deaths (December 24, 2013, BBC)
The number of babies who have died in China after being vaccinated against hepatitis B has risen to eight, state news agency Xinhua reports. A newborn baby died on Monday in a hospital in Sichuan province after being vaccinated on Sunday afternoon. Chinese health experts are looking into the deaths of several babies who received the vaccination in a government immunisation programme. Investigators have been sent to the company that produces the vaccines.
ECONOMICS / BUSINESS / TRADE
Map: Chinas World Trade (December 11, 2013, Chinese Relations)
China does more international trade than any other country on the face of the earth. China is the single largest trading partner of all red countries and territories. China is the second largest trading partner of orange countries.
China Rejects 545,000 Tons of Corn From US (December 20, 2013, AP)
China has rejected 545,000 tons of imported U.S. corn found to contain an unapproved genetically modified strain, the country's product safety agency announced Friday. China's government is promoting genetically modified crops to increase food production. But it faces opposition from critics who question their safety, especially those imported from the United States.
Why One Chinese Textile Maker Sees His Future in the U.S. (December 23, 2013, China Real Time)
Over the past two decades, China has become the global capital of textile manufacturing, as firms abandoned places like South Carolina to take advantage of Chinas seemingly endless supply of cheap labor. Now, with labor and other costs rising at home, Chinese textile entrepreneurs are looking east over the Pacific and wondering whether its time to move back.Your Christmas Tree Lights Are Headed to ChinaThen Back to You (December 26, 2013, TIME)After getting chopped up, they'll be sold to you as doorknobs and flip-flops, as the recycling trade churns on.
Pacific Northwest Suffers After China Bans Shellfish Imports (December 26, 2013, NPR)
China has closed its doors to all shellfish imports from an area that stretches from northern California to Alaska. The state of Washington says it's losing as much as $600,000 a week. Among the shellfish not being harvested is the geoduck, a long-necked clam that can fetch up to $150 per pound in China. It's a major export for the Pacific Northwest.
Chinas Economy: 5 Barometers of Change in 2014 (December 27, 2013, China Real Time)
Here are five places to look in the new year for signs of just how serious Chinas leaders are about change and how well the economy is handling it.
SCIENCE / TECHNOLOGY / ENVIRONMENT
China's Rover Sends Back Lunar Panorama Image (December 21, 2013, Sky News)
China has released a panoramic picture of its Jade Rabbit rover's landing area on the moon, one week after the country's first probe landed without a hitch.
FOOD / TRAVEL / CULTURE
Spicy food makes Hunan the top hotspot (December 24, 2013, Xinhua)
The hottest food on the Chinese mainland is served in Hunan province, an online survey indicated.The province became renowned for its chili-based dishes after the song "Spicy Girl", sung by Song Zuying, a native of Hunan province, became a nationwide hit. The Hubei-based Chutian Metropolis Daily carried out the survey which saw Guizhou province come second. The province's Laoganma brand chili sauce is a popular addition to any table across the country. Chongqing municipality and Sichuan province in Southwest China tied for third place.
Pagan Practice in Chinas Shanxi Province (PDN Photo of the Day)
These photographs were taken in Shanxi Province in northwest China. They document old customs originating from pagan ritual practices, says photographer Zhang Xiao about the series Shanxi (published by Little Big Man, 2013). They are, in effect, a voodoo-esque form of totem worship. A number of these ancient customs still survive and remain some of the most important cultural practices during the Lunar New Year throughout most of Shanxi.
LANGUAGE / LANGUAGE LEARNING
Chinese Idioms Like a Boss: 15 Common and Useful Chinese Idioms (December 26, 2013, Fluent U)
Review: The Coming Chinese Church By Paul Golf and Pastor Lee (December 27, 2013, Christian Post)
How do you imagine the Church in China? Some of us with a vague idea might imagine a tense group huddled together in a front room, all sharing a single copy of the Bible that can be easily hidden at a moment's notice should the secret police decide to pay a visit. A reading of Paul Golf and Pastor Lee's book gives the impression that while this image had some foundation in truth in the past and is true in some places today, the whole picture is more complex.
ARTICLES FOR RESEARCHERS
China Rising: Still Depressing (December 21, 2013, The China Story)
Helene Chung was Australian Broadcasting Corporation Peking correspondent from June 1983 to July 1986. The first female posted abroad by the ABC, a decade earlier she had been the first non-white reporter on Australian TV. A fourth-generation Tasmanian Chinese, she has reported for BBC, CBS, NPR and Hong Kong radio and is the author of Shouting from China, Gentle John My Love My Loss, Lazy Man in China and Ching Chong China Girl: From fruitshop to foreign correspondent. In 2013, the ABC marks four decades of its Peking bureau, established when newly-elected Prime Minister Gough Whitlam initiated Canberras Peking embassy in 1973. The China Story Journal thanks Helene for sharing her reflections on her China adventure.
Beijings cross-Strait calculus (December 26, 2013, East Asia Forum)
The long-term outlook for Taiwans strategic autonomy from Chinese influence may gradually come into question, even though cross-Strait relations should be stable for the foreseeable future. Intensifying dynamics in the Beijing-Taipei-Washington triangle are contributing to this scenario; in particular, the Chinese leaderships internal consolidation, growing cross-Strait enmeshment, and US attention deficit.
Image credit: Joann Pittman, via Flickr