Theres a void called the countryside visions of dying village life (February 28, 2013, Danwei)
Migrant workers tend to be presented as an anonymous mass, and thought of either as a problem for Chinese cities and infrastructures, or an example of inequalities and discrimination in contemporary China. This weeks post invites us to look at rural-urban migrations from a different angle, by focusing on the relationships and continuity between cities and country towns. Zhang Zejias Theres a void called the countryside and Li Tianqis These old people back home who got old both explore this ongoing attachment to the rural hometown. Through the vision of a dying rural world, they also reveal the complexities of personal attachment to rural memories, the strength of family networks, and the significance of yearly return journeys to the rural hometown for city dwellers.
GOVERNMENT / POLITICS / FOREIGN AFFAIRS
A hacking hub? (February 21, 2013, The Economist)
As suspicion mounts over the Chinese government's involvement in cyber-attacks, our correspondents discuss the latest allegations made by Mandiant, an American information-security firm.
New top diplomats in China signal focus on U.S., Japan, North Korea (February 22, 2013, Reuters)
China is signaling that it is keen to get on top of troubled ties with the United States, Japan and North Korea with the likely appointment of two officials with deep experience of these countries to its top diplomatic posts. Current Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, ambassador to Washington from 2001-2005 and a polished English speaker, is tipped to be promoted to state councilor with responsibility for foreign policy, three independent sources said. China has only five such councilors and the post is senior to that of foreign minister. Yang, 62, will likely be replaced as foreign minister by Wang Yi, China's ambassador to Japan from 2004 to 2007 and a one-time pointman on North Korea. Both will be appointed during March's annual full session of parliament, the sources said.
'Second Generation Red' fall in behind Xi Jinping (February 24, 2013, Sydney Morning Herald)
Nostalgic and disillusioned sections of the Communist Partys "red aristocracy have rallied strongly behind the new leader, Xi Jinping, in gatherings over the Spring Festival break. At the largest reunion, held on Saturday at the Peoples Liberation Armys August 1 film studio in West Beijing, children of revolutionary leaders lauded the Xi administration for correcting the Partys course at its critical moment of life and death, when it was in danger of abandoning socialism altogether.
Tibetan Monks Self-Immolate in Anti-China Protest (February 25, 2013, Time)
Two Tibetan monks in their early twenties have set themselves on fire in protest against Chinese rule, near dozens of pilgrims who had gathered for prayers to mark the end of the Tibetan New Year festival. The Washington, D.C.-based International Campaign for Tibet said one of the monks self-immolated on Monday outside a temple in Luqu county in northwestern Gansu province while the other set himself ablaze Sunday at a monastery in neighboring Qinghai province. Both died. The latest burning protests bring the total since 2009 to 106.
China's Xi Affirms Goal of Unification With Taiwan (February 25, 2013, AP, via ABC News)
Chinese leader Xi Jinping reaffirmed China's desire to bring Taiwan under its control in a meeting Monday in Beijing with the honorary head of the island's ruling party.
Open letter to NPC on human rights (February 26, 2013, China Media Project)In an open letter circulating on Chinese social media today, a group of more than 100 prominent individuals including academics, journalists, lawyers, economists and former Party officials call on Chinas government to immediately ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, or ICCPR. The treaty, one of three main components of the UNs International Bill of Rights, commits ratifying parties to a series of core individual civil and political rights, including freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and due process. Addressed directly to the Standing Committee of Chinas National Peoples Congress (NPC), the open letter poses a strong challenge to Chinas incoming leadership ahead of the annual two meetings of the CPPCC, which are scheduled to convene on March 5 and March 3 respectively. The language of the open letter is reasoned and constructive, outlining Chinas past achievements on human rights, including the Chinese Communist Partys early pledge to fight for human rights and freedom.
China considers overhaul to streamline government (February 26, 2013, AP)
Though details of the streamlining have yet to be announced, General Secretary Xi Jinping and other Communist Party leaders opened a three-day meeting Tuesday to discuss a reorganization plan, state media reported. The closed-door meeting of the Central Committee will also approve the appointment of top government officials who will be publicly announced early next month at the annual session of the ceremonial legislature. That will complete a power transition begun in November when Xi was installed as party leader. A goal of the government consolidation is to create "super ministries" that pull together a jumble of agencies with overlapping duties in broad fields such as transportation, media, energy, finance and health.
China unveils new stealth missile frigates (February 26, 2013, The Guardian)
China has launched the first ship in a new class of stealth missile frigates, state media have reported, amid ongoing tensions with neighbouring countries over Beijing's maritime claims. Its navy is building a total of 20 Type 056 Jiangdao class frigates to replace older models and bolster its ability to conduct patrols and escort ships as well as submarines in waters it claims in the South and East China Seas.
Social Change Leaves China Struggling to Define Role of Law (February 27, 2013, China Real Time)
As of March 1, dog owners in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen who disobey a new law mandating the use of pet restrooms are subject to an $80 fine. According to another new regulation approved in Beijing late last year, children are required to visit elderly parents often. These and other recent legal developments including a pair of domestic violence cases with wildly different outcomes illustrate how unprecedented social changes in China are provoking new questions about the role of law in society, and creating problems for law-makers, citizens and courts alike.
Chinas future success depends on rule of law, says Locke (February 27, 2013, South China Morning Post)
Chinas future success will depend on the fair application of its laws, says United States ambassador to China Gary Locke. China has a bright future, but this success depends on the implementation of rule of law, Locke stressed in Beijing on Monday, Huanqiu.com reported. Locke made the remarks while opening the Philip Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition at the Renmin University of China. The student debating competition was a simulation of a dispute between countries before the international court of justice. Locke said that for any modern government to rule effectively, it has to do so in accordance with the rule of law. It also has to continuously update its laws as society changes.
Young NPC member does internet search to find out her duties (February 28, 2013, South China Morning Post)
One of the youngest members of the National People's Congress said she had to do research online to find out what her duties would be at the annual meeting in Beijing next week. Tie Feiyan, 20, newly appointed to the nations highest legislative body, said on Wednesday she was still unable to tell the difference between proposals and suggestions, the Southern Metropolis Daily reported on Thursday. NPC members are eligible to propose legislation to the congress agenda and vote on them. They can also make suggestions, or give feedback, on topics of discussion. Tie is one of the only two members born after 1990, out of all 2,987 NPC members who will participate next weeks meeting. Chen Ruolin, a diver and London Olympic gold medallist, is the youngest member, by only four months. Tie was told she was a member only last week, and had to do research online to find out what her duties would be.
US hackers attacked military websites, says China's defence ministry (February 28, 2013, BBC)
Hackers from the US have repeatedly launched attacks on two Chinese military websites, including that of the Defence Ministry, officials say. The sites were subject to about 144,000 hacking attacks each month last year, two thirds of which came from the US, according to China's defence ministry. The issue of cyber hacking has strained relations between the two countries. Earlier this month a US cyber security firm said a secretive Chinese military unit was behind "prolific hacking".
For Chinas Catholics, new pope brings hope (February 24, 2013, Washington Post)
Of the long list of problems the next pope will inherit once the white smoke rises in Rome, few on the diplomatic front can rival the bitter, intractable relationship between the Vatican and the Chinese government.
China's Church through Western Eyes (February 25, 2013, ChinaSource)
Scanning the headlines on any given day, one cannot but take note of the vastly different portraits of China which emerge. Is China an economic powerhouse? An emerging superpower? A confident player on the world scene? A rapidly growing consumer market that will soon dwarf those of many developed nations combined? Or is China an economic basket case? A corrupt kleptocracy? A growing threat to regional stability? A perennial violator of human rights? The answer, of course, is a resounding "yes." Depending on where (and when) one looks, any or all of these descriptors, plus many more, could be reasonably seen as accuA similar phenomenon is at play in how observers outside China view China's church. Current perceptions seem to follow one of these four narratives:
China Isn't Trying to Wipe Out Christianity (February 25, 2013, Christianity Today)
Last week we ran a wire story about a new report from ChinaAid, the Texas-based human rights group led by Bob Fu. The report claimed that incidents of government-sponsored persecution of Christians rose by 42 percent between 2011 and 2012. It also said that the Chinese government had launched a three-part plan to "completely wipe out house churches." Here two other key voices on religious freedom in China respond to the ChinaAid report, countering some of its conclusions.
Persecution in China Is Very Real (February 27, 2013, Christianity Today)
This is the latest in a series of articles on ChinaAid's report on persecution in China. Earlier this week, China Source's Brent Fulton and Open Doors's Jan Vermeer countered some of the conclusions of the report, noting that most Christians in the country do not claim they are being persecuted. Today, ChinaAid founder and president Bob Fu responds.
Beyond "Two Camps": The Complex Relationship between Official and Unregistered Church in China (February 27, 2013, ChinaSource)
Attempts by China watchers to unravel the complexity of China's Christian community often result in a bifurcated view depicting a pitched battle between the Three Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) and the house church. Liberal theology, political control, and collusion in persecuting believers characterize the TSPM, while the "real Christians" are to be found only in the house church, a bastion of evangelical faith set amidst an atheistic state that is out to destroy it. However, the complexity is not so easily unraveled. While this characterization may have been accurate in previous decades, the current situation is far less clear-cut. With China's reform and opening have come significant changes in the TSPM's role, in China's religious policy, and in the unregistered church community, all of which have brought, and continue to bring, a new level of complexity to the relationship between China's official and unregistered church streams.
Religion and U.S. Foreign Policy: An interview with Dr. Carol Lee Hamrin (February 28, 2013, Global China Center)
Carol Lee Hamrin is an independent author, speaker and consultant for nonprofit organizations supporting the growth of Chinas Third Sector. With a Ph.D. in comparative world history, and twenty-five years as a senior Research Specialist at the Department of State, Dr. Hamrin provides a long-term perspective on the remarkable transformation underway in China. Her special expertise is analysis of the way economic dynamics drive changes in society, culture and religion, and the implications for China and the world.
SOCIETY / LIFE
Video: The complicated Chinese family tree (NTDOfftheGreatWall)
Did you know that every member of a Chinese family is called something different? Depending on whether it's from your mom's side or your dad's side and their seniority? It gets quite confusing, so we will draw it out for you in a family tree and hope you can learn some Chinese along the way! :) Please don't mind our terrible handwriting!
Divorce rate rises for seven straight years in China (February 19, 2013, Peoples Daily)
People just need identity cards and household registration documents to get married in China, but it is hard to maintain a happy marriage. China has long advocated harmonious relations among family members, but is now experiencing waves of divorce. More than 1.2 million Chinese couples tied the knot in 2009, but nearly 2 million Chinese couples divorced in the same year. What factors have affected the Chinese people's marital happiness? Are they emotions, money, or children? In order to find answers, the "Well-being Magazine" and Tsinghua Media Survey Lab conducted a nationwide survey on the Chinese people's marital happiness in 2012.
Leftovers: unmarried Chinese women over 25 (September 24, 2013, The Guardian)
China has a rather unpleasant term for women who are still single in their mid- to late-20s. Why don't men suffer the same fate?
In China, Not Everything Has Changed (February 24, NPR)
A lot of journalism about China focuses on the country's rapid and stunning changes, but equally telling are the things that stay the same. I did my first story on China's re-education through labor camps back in 2001.
China Austerity Drive Becomes a Joke (February 25, 2013, China Real Time)
Chinas leaders have been talking tough about graft, greed and gross extravagance again. One sign theyre serious this time: Their willingness to have a little fun with it.
China ends Lunar New Year with molten metal showers (February 25, 2013, YouTube (AFP))
Chinese farmers perform a rare and dangerous ritual to celebrate the Lantern Festival: throwing arcs of molten metal against a cold hard wall in an explosion of sparks.
Watch: Preserving Shanghai's architectural heritage (February 26, 2013, Shanghaiist)
This timely investigation by the Financial Times comes after news this week that Cao'an Market, one of Shanghai's oldest and most loved wet markets, is to be closed, and highrise malls be built in its place.
Nobel Laureate Mo Yan: 'I Am Guilty' (February 26, 2013, Speigel Online)
For the first time since receiving the Nobel Prize in literature, controversial Chinese author Mo Yan has consented to an interview. Many have accused him of being too close to the regime. But he rejects the charge and finds sharp words for his detractors.
Censorships Many faces (February 27, 2013, The New York Times)
Censorship in China conjures the image of rigid, unsmiling authority, but that disapproving scowl can give way to a different expression and not always a consistent one. A film, for example, might be banned for 20 years, while the novel on which it is based sells briskly throughout that same period.
A Silicon Valley Campus with Chinese Characteristics (February 28, 2013, China Real Time)
Like most of Chinas high-tech manufacturers, Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. is located in an outsized and relatively isolated technology park. But unlike the bulk of Chinas electronics manufacturers, which set up cramped dormitories and massive dining facilities to manage legions of workers who come to do basic assembly, SMICs campus is actually pleasant. [...] Nearby is even a church, set up by SMICs Christian founder Richard Chang, where many employees worship on Sundays.
Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway records 100m passenger trips (February 28, 2013, Shanghai Daily)
Chinas high-speed railway line linking Beijing and Shanghai has recorded over 100 million passenger trips since it started operation in June 2012, railway authorities announced today.Built with an investment of 217.6 billion yuan (US$34.7 billion), the 1,318km railway linking Beijing and Shanghai has shortened the travel time between the two major cities to about five hours from the previous eight hours or more.
China restaurant takes down maritime dispute sign (February 28, 2013, BBC)
A Beijing restaurant has removed a sign banning customers from three Asian neighbours currently involved in simmering maritime disputes with China. The sign at the Beijing Snacks restaurant had said Japanese, Filipino and Vietnamese patrons were not welcome - and neither were dogs. The move provoked an angry reaction, with online comments accusing the restaurant of "extremism" and "racism". The owner did not comment further on the row when contacted by the BBC. The restaurant owner, named only as Wang, said he had not been forced to take the sign down but had done so of his own volition because it had generated "too much bother" and too many calls from the media. the AFP agency reports that he had "no regrets" and refused to apologise for any offence caused.
China acknowledges 'cancer villages' (February 22, 2013, BBC)
China's environment ministry appears to have acknowledged the existence of so-called "cancer villages" after years of public speculation about the impact of pollution in certain areas. For years campaigners have said cancer rates in some villages near factories and polluted waterways have shot up. But the term "cancer village" has no technical definition and the ministry's report did not elaborate on it.
BUSINESS / ECONOMICS / TRADE
Employers scramble as labor force shrinks (February 26, 2013, Shanghai Daily)
Chinese low-cost manufacturers are trying various ways to retain workers and attract new ones after the Lunar New Year holiday. Factory workers, mostly rural migrants, usually go home for the traditional holiday. But many take advantage of the break to find better jobs. The labor shortage comes as the economic recovery looks like it will worsen the problem. Also, China's labor force between the age of 15 and 59 shrank by 3.5 million last year. It is the first time the country has recorded an absolute drop in the working-age population in "a considerable period of time," Ma Jiantang, National Bureau of Statistics director, said last month. Companies have raised salaries or offered financial incentives in an attempt to retain workers.
Playing ketchup: China grabs share of tomato production (February 27, 2013, The Guardian)
Tomatoes do not feature in the Chinese national diet yet the country now grows more tomatoes for processing than anywhere except California. Once mashed into basic paste they are shipped mainly to Europe in industrial quantities to be processed into favourites such as puree, passata, ketchup, pasta sauce and salsa. The extraordinary rise of the country's tomato industry, which barely existed 10 years ago, is troubling growers in countries which have a rather longer association with the fruit, including Italy. Fresh and dried tomatoes as well as tomato powder, lycopene powder and oil and canned tomatoes are also exported from China.
TECHNOLOGY / SCIENCE / ENVIRONMENT
Sandstorm pushes Beijing pollution levels off the charts (February 28, 2013, NBC)
Beijing and other parts of northern China were stung by hazardous air pollution levels Thursday as strong winds blew a sandstorm through the region. Air in the capital turned a yellowish hue as sand from China's arid northwest blew in, turning the sky into a noxious soup of smog and dust. At 6 a.m. local time, the U.S. Embassy's air quality index showed a reading of 516 for particles less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter. Known as PM2.5, such particles are considered particularly dangerous because they can lodge deeply in the lungs. On the American air pollution index, the air at that time and throughout much of the morning was classified as "beyond index."
Why Chinas State Soil Secrets Matter (February 28, 2013, China Real Time)
Anyone struggling to understand the uproar in China this week over environmental authorities decision to label soil pollution data a state secret need only look at a dispute unfolding in the countrys south between a Communist Party-controlled newspaper and several food companies. At the center of the dispute: the whereabouts of more than 10,000 tons of carcinogenic rice.
CULTURE / EDUCATION
Video: Photos of Chinese in California 1850 1925. (February 25, YouTube)
Photos of Chinese in California 1850 1925, .Courtesy the Library of congress.
Connection in China II (February 26, 2013, Inside Higher Ed)
I'm in China for the same reason that many other North American college officials have visited in recent years: to tap into the growing pool of millions of Chinese students looking for a college degree in the United States.  A Cornerstone professor who teaches creativity tells me that the first step in the innovative process is not problem-solving but problem-finding. My visit to China may not have given us the key to internationalizing our campus, but it may help us start by defining the problem: Before we can talk to the Chinese about the value of Cornerstone University, we may have to convince them of the value of a liberal arts education in the first place.
Photos: Rare, beautiful color photos from the Cultural Revolution (February 27, 2013, Shanghaiist)
An exhibition at Toronto's Stephen Bulger Gallery this month featured the photography of Zhang Yaxin, who during the Cultural Revolution was tasked by Jiang Qing (Mrs Mao and Gang of Four member) with documenting the Eight Model Operas in detailed, vibrant color.
FOOD / TRAVEL
Five Things That May Annoy You in a Chinese Restaurant (February 25, 2013, Lets Eat China)
LANGUAGE AND LANGUAGE LEARNING
The Apostles Creed & Lords Prayer in Chinese (February 24, 2013, China Hope Live)
If you visit a Chinese church, especially one of the legal, Three Self Patriotic Churches, youll find there are two bits they recite almost every single time. But its hard to hear clear enough to learn with everyone mumbling together.
Why Non-Chinese Make Good Chinese Teachers (February 24, 2013, Laowai Chinese)
I still believe that highly qualified native speakers of Chinese like Yangyang (whom I work with at Yoyo Chinese) do the best job. But she has lots of experience explaining things to English speakers and has figured out what they can understand and what works best. Simply put, theres a difference between a great speaker of Chinese and a great teacher of Chinese (the same could be said of any skill such as piano playing and piano teaching). Just because the country is full of Chinese speakers, it doesnt mean theyd be great Chinese teachers. Yangyang and others like her happen to be both. So what do I bring to the table? Its certainly not native-level Mandarin. But I offer the following three advantages (in order of importance) that native Chinese teachers may struggle to provide.
Creating Characters by SVG (February 26, 2013, Sinosplic)
A new project called SVG Hanzi (SVG /SVG ) allows anyone to piece together an image of a character by specifying its structure and component parts. Very cool!RESOURCES IN CHINESE (February 26, 2013, The Gospel Times)
50 Essential Chengyu: Chinese Idioms Made Simple Ebook (February 25, 2013, FluentU)
Weve taken 50 practical Chinese idioms and put them together in a neat, organized ebook thats essential for being fluent in Chinese.
Soaring Above Hong Kong on Foot (February 26, 2013, China Real Time)
Mr. Solomons book Cities Without Ground: A Hong Kong Guidebook, published late last year by ORO Editions, was written as an homage to a quirk of Hong Kongs urban landscape: The fact that its possible to walk for miles above ground, thanks to the citys densely layered pedestrian bridges that crisscross the sky, connecting buildings and spanning wide boulevards.
Image credit: Beijing329, by Stib Morten Waage, via Flickr