Encountering China (May 19, 2013, The China Story)
This essay was commissioned as a review of Kin-ming Lius edited volume, My First Trip to China: Scholars, Diplomats and Journalists Reflect on their First Encounters with China, Hong Kong: East Slope publishing, 2012. As it turns out, The China Story offers a more commodious destination for these reflections. My thanks to Linda Jaivin and Gloria Davies for their comments on draft versions of this essay.
GOVERNMENT / POLITICS / FOREIGN AFFAIRS
Chinese web activists see new pressure from censors (May 17, 2013, BBC)
For years it has been difficult to work out who is winning China's internet battle: the forces of censorship or the forces of freedom of expression. But the country's new government, in power for only a few months, appears to have launched a new offensive, closing the social media accounts of some influential opponents.
Restraint is the new red in China (May 19, 2013, The Los Angeles Times)
President Xi Jinping is pressing the Communist Party's elite to cut back on lavish living amid growing public resentment. The economic effect is far-reaching.
China Premier Li Keqiang in India for first foreign trip (May 19, 2013, BBC)
China's Premier Li Keqiang is travelling to India in the first stop of his maiden foreign trip since taking office. Upon his arrival in Delhi, Premier Li will hold talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, followed by dinner at the Indian leader's residence. Border tensions and trade ties are expected to be among the issues discussed by the two men. The neighbours are the world's two most populous countries.
Xi Jinping in surprise inspection of Sichuan quake towns (May 22, 2013, South China Morning Post)
President Xi Jinping yesterday visited areas of Sichuan hit hardest by last month's magnitude 7 earthquake, meeting survivors and inspecting reconstruction work at a Hong Kong-funded school building. It was his first visit to Lushan county in Yaan, the epicentre of the April 20 quake that left more than 200 people dead, at least 13,000 injured and millions homeless.
Jury duty: trial and error (May 22, 2013, Global Times)
Eight years ago, Liu Yuexin, now 55, decided to apply for a part time juror position in the Xicheng district of Beijing. Having worked as a mediator with a grass-roots organization, he wanted to further explore his passion for the law. Now, he is on his second five-year term as a juror and has been involved in cases involving criminal, commercial and civil laws.
Ai Weiwei rages against state abuses in song, Dumbass (May 22, 2013, BBC)
Chinese artist and dissident Ai Weiwei has released an expletive-ridden heavy metal music video criticising abuses of state power in China. The track, given the English-language title Dumbass, reconstructs his 81-day detention in 2011, including what he says is an exact model of his cell. The video shows impassive prison guards accompanying Ai as he eats, sleeps, showers and even sits on the toilet. Ai himself sings the lyrics, few of which are fit to print.
Return of Ideological Attacks Threatens Reform in China (May 23, 2013, China Real Time)
A harsh denunciation of Western political models specifically, constitutionalism has left President Xi Jinping with an old battle on his hands, one that threatens to divert attention from his reform agenda.
China, North Korea and the Tale of Two Fishing Boats (May 23, 2013, Bloomberg)
Is the Chinese governments uneasy friendship with North Korea costing it the publics confidence? A curious confluence of recent events involving two fishing vessels suggests that might be the case.
North Korean leader sends special envoy to China (May 23, 2013, AP)
After months of ignoring Chinese warnings to give up nuclear weapons, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un sent a high-level confidant to Beijing on Wednesday, in a possible effort to mend strained ties with his country's most important ally and a sign that he may be giving diplomacy a chance. The trip by Vice Marshal Choe Ryong Hae, a senior Workers' Party official and the military's top political officer, is taking place as tensions ease somewhat on the Korean Peninsula after near-daily vows from Pyongyang to attack Washington and Seoul in March and April.
Pope Issues First Appeal for Chinese Catholics (May 22, 2013, Time)
Pope Francis has issued his first appeal directed at Catholics in China, long the source of concern for his predecessor Benedict XVI. Francis urged special prayers Wednesday for Chinas faithful that they may live their daily lives in service to their country and their fellow citizens in a way consistent with the faith they profess. The occasion was a feast day that is celebrated in particular in Shanghai.
Chairman Mao the Daoist immortal, and his Bodhisattva friends (May 23, 2013, ChinaSource Blog)
One of the easiest places to see real live Mainland Chinese folk beliefs is in the front seat of a Chinese taxi. And one fun thing about Chinese culture is they tend not to have our Western hang-ups about openly discussing differing beliefs, whether Buddhist or Atheist or Christian or whatever; it's just generally not as awkward for them. I find it refreshing, and I'm still not totally used to it.
Audio: Misconceptions about the Chinese Church (The Gospel Coalition)
SOCIETY / LIFE
Gatsby From Afar (May 17, 2013, WNYC)
Evan Osnos, China correspondent for The New Yorker, talks about what international readers and movie-goers learn about the U.S. from The Great Gatsby.
China president takes charge of sweeping economic reform plans sources (May 17, 2013, Reuters)
Chinese President Xi Jinping has taken charge of drawing up ambitious reform plans to revitalise the economy, sources close to the government said, shunning policy stimulus for fear it could worsen local government debt and inflate property prices. A consensus had been reached among top leaders that reforms would be the only way to put the world's second-largest economy on a more sustainable footing, said the sources, who are familiar with the plans and Xi's involvement.
Abducted Chinese boy finds his way home with Google Maps, 23 years later (May 17, 2013, Shanghaiist)
This is incredible. A Sichuan man, abducted as a five year old and taken to Fujian province, found his way home after spending years analysing Google Maps to work out where he came from, according to Nhaidu.
Chinese tourists warned over behaviour abroad (May 17, 2013, BBC)
A senior Chinese Communist Party official has called for Chinese tourists to behave more politely when travelling abroad. Wang Yang, one of China's four vice-prime ministers, said the "uncivilised behaviour" of some Chinese tourists was harming the country's image. Among problems he singled out were talking loudly in public and spitting. However, the BBC's Celia Hatton in Beijing says some Chinese complain they are treated badly abroad. Foreign travel is becoming ever more popular among China's increasingly affluent citizens.
Deadly floods sweep southern China (May 18, 2013 BBC)
Deadly storms are sweeping across southern China and authorities are bracing for yet more torrential rain. At least 55 people have been killed in flooding and landslides, mostly in Guangdong province in the South.
On Hong Kong Shelves, Illicit Dirt on Chinas Elite (May 19, 2013, The New York Times)
The Peoples Recreation Community bookstore and several others on Hong Kongs teeming shopping streets specialize in selling books and magazines banned by the Chinese government, mostly for their luridly damning accounts of party leaders, past and present. And at a time when many Chinese citizens smolder with distrust of their leaders, business is thriving.
Children Of China's Wealthy Learn Expensive Lessons (May 20, 2013, NPR)
In China, having too much money is a relatively new problem. But the rapidly growing country is second only to the U.S. in its number of billionaires, according to Forbes magazine. And now an enterprising company has set up a course for kids born into wealthy families, who are learning how to deal with the excesses of extraordinary wealth. For a moment, it looks like this high-end shopping mall in the southwestern city of Chengdu has been taken over by baby bankers. Kids in maroon neckties, white button-down shirts and khaki trousers are holding a charity sale to raise money for earthquake victims. They're on a course dubbed a "mini-MBA" at China Britain Financial Education.
The Most Beautiful Volunteer Liao Zhi Talks about the Two Earthquakes She has Experienced (May 21, 2013, Chinese Church Voices)
The article below, translated from the mainland site Gospel Times, is about a young dancer named Liao Zhi who lost both of her legs in the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake. She has since been fitted with artificial legs and has returned to dancing. After the earthquake in Yaan last month, she went to the area as a volunteer.
Chinese Single Womens Ideal Men: Secondhand Suitors Surprisingly Popular (May 21, 2013, Tea Leaf Nation)
A recent survey of over 35,500 single ladies in China offers some insight into Chinese womens attitudes towards men and marriage. The survey, which included questions such as Why are you still single? and What kind of man do you hope to marry? shed light on the types of men that single Chinese women prefer, with some surprising results.
13 Arrested in Beijing for spreading rumors (May 21, 2013, Shanghai Daily)
Police in Beijing said yesterday that 13 people have been arrested for allegedly spreading rumors and disrupting public order by inciting a protest after a young woman's death earlier this month. A statement from the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau said the woman surnamed Yuan, who fell to death from a clothing market building in Fengtai District on May 3, had committed a suicide. The statement said a police investigation had ruled out possibilities that Yuan had been assaulted or murdered. Yuan's death, however, spawned swirling rumors on the Internet claiming she had been raped and murdered by the building's security guards, which prompted a protest outside the building on May 8, the statement said.
Does the Great Firewall Shape Chinas Internet Habits? (May 22, 2013, China Digital Times)
However, a new study by two graduate students at Northwestern University argues that cultural factors have more impact on web usage than does censorship.
Tea Time Chat Are Chinese Tourists Uncivilized, or Just Misunderstood? (May 22, 2013, Tea Leaf Nation)
Tourism season is approaching in many parts of the world, so we asked our contributors their thoughts on a recent assertion by Chinese politician Wang Yang that the uncivilized behavior of Chinese tourists abroad was damaging the countrys reputation.
Living in China? What do you do about food safety/pollution? (May 20, 2013, China Hope Live)
Other than spending tons of money and eating only imported products, I dont know if its possible to eat safe and clean in China (and outside China, safe and clean is really just an illusion anyway, but thats another topic).
Cadmium Rice Is Chinas Latest Food Scandal (May 20, 2013, The New York Times)
Cadmium rice, as its dubbed, or rice laced with levels of the metal cadmium that exceed national safety standards, has become the latest food scare in China, sparking a health and P.R. scandal in a nation long used to and deeply worried about unsafe food.
Beijing struggling to replace prisoner organ harvesting with volunteer donation system (May 20, 2013, Shanghaiist)
According to the Health Ministry, more than 60 percent of kidney and liver transplants in China last year sourced the necessary organs from executed donors. Although the government is keeping mum on the exact number, annual executions have been estimated at 6,000-8,000 people.
China's bird flu outbreak cost $6.5 billion (May 21, 2013)
The H7N9 virus appears to have been brought under control in China largely due to restrictions at bird markets, but caused some $6.5 billion in losses to the economy, U.N. experts said on Tuesday. Health authorities worldwide must be on the lookout to detect the virus, the experts said, which could still develop the ability to spread easily among humans and cause a deadly influenza pandemic.
Finally, Great Data on Air Purifiers in China! (May 22, 2013, My Health Beijing)
But finally we have new data points specific to the machines available here in China. Mentioned in Shanghai Daily, they report on the Shanghai Consumer Rights Protection Commissions new analysis of 22 air purifier models.
ECONOMICS / BUSINESS / TRADE
China Housing Bubble Cools, But Prices Still Higher (May 18, 2013, Forbes)
Chinas property market cooled a bit in April, but home prices are still on the rise, the National Bureau of Statistics said Saturday. Of the 70 major Chinese cities tracked by NBS, 67 saw home prices increase in April compared to March, with the highest growth rate at 2.1%, down from the 3.2% in March. All the first-tier cities like Shanghai and Beijing saw their price hikes slow, but they are still higher than before.
Outlook for Chinas Economy Just Keeps Getting Worse (May 23, 2013, CNBC)
The unexpected contraction in China's factory activity in May has heightened the risk of a further slowdown in the second quarter, after the world's second largest economy grew at its slowest pace in three years over January to March, said economists.
TECHNOLOGY / SCIENCE / ENVIRONMENT
Hackers From China Resume Attacks on U.S. Targets (May 17, 2013, The New York Times)
Three months after hackers working for a cyber-unit of Chinas Peoples Liberation Army went silent amid evidence that they had stolen data from scores of American companies and government agencies, they appear to have resumed their attacks using different techniques, according to computer industry security experts and American officials.
Hackers Find China Is Land of Opportunity (May 22, 2013, The New York Times)
The culture of hacking in China is not confined to top-secret military compounds where hackers carry out orders to pilfer data from foreign governments and corporations. Hacking thrives across official, corporate and criminal worlds. Whether it is used to break into private networks, track online dissent back to its source or steal trade secrets, hacking is openly discussed and even promoted at trade shows, inside university classrooms and on Internet forums.
FOOD / TRAVEL /ARTS
Adopted Chinese Girls and the Documentary, Somewhere Between (May 18, 2013, Know About China)
Last week, my husband and I watched the documentary, Somewhere Between, by filmmaker Linda Goldstein Knowlton. I highly recommend this film to you. It is about the lives of a group of teenage girls who were adopted from China and are now living in America with their adopted families.
Travel to China: Tips and Resources (May 20, 2013, Sapore di Cina)
This guide contains pretty much all the info that youll need to prepare your trip to China: VISA requirements, travel insurances, vaccinations, guidebooks, planes and trains, hotels, internet and phone cards. Also, youll find tips on where to eat, what to bring to China, when to travel to China, how to avoid the most common scams and how to bargain.
Balizhuang Mosque (May 21, 2013, World of Chinese)
Believe it or not, right across from Beijings Honglingjing Park, there is a 300-year-old mosque nestled in a sea of generic, high-rise apartment towers. Few people that live in Chaoyang on either side of the 4th Ring Road seem to have noticed it, but there it sits as one of the last defiant remnants of Beijings history in the otherwise ultra modern district.
Watch: World's highest railway gets 253km longer (May 22, 2013, Shanghaiist)
Check out this China View report on the 253 km extension underway on to the Qinghai-Tibetan railway, the world's highest railway. This marks the first extension to the famous rail line since it opened in July 2006. The video features Chinese workers hard at work building the extension which will link Tibet's capital city of Lhasa with it's second largest city of Xigaze.
Why You Should Visit Turpan, Xinjiang (May 22, 2013, Far West China)
When it comes to traveling the Silk Road in China, there are usually three must-see cities: Kashgar, Dunhuang and Turpan. Each city offers a unique insight into the history of the Silk Road along with proper tourist amenities to make the trip fun. So why visit Turpan?
LANGUAGE / LANGUAGE LEARNING
Using Audacity to learn Chinese (speaking and listening) (May 14, 2013, Hacking Chinese)
I have briefly mentioned that I use Audacity quite a lot (Recording yourself to improve speaking ability), but the more I use the software, the more I realise how awesome it actually is. Audacity is your best friend when it comes to recording yourself, mimicking others, manipulating recordings, managing media and recording things you arent supposed to record. Its also free of charge and can be installed on most operating systems.
ARTICLES IN CHINESE
普洱市基督教两会教牧培训班 9族同胞共聚一堂 (May 21, 2013, Gospel Times)
John Thomson Photographs Discussed in Online Audio (May 16, 2017, Old China Books BookBlog)
Just happened upon an interesting and detailed talk on the 19th century photographs of John Thomson.
Chinas Book of Martyrs: The Church in China (May 17, 2013, China Global Center)
So why review a volume like Chinas Christian Martyrs? What relevance do these stories of Chinese Christians and foreign missionaries who suffered death for their faith have for us today? Much, in every way.
LINKS FOR RESEARCHERS
How Censorship in China Allows Government Criticism but Silences Collective Expression (May 2013, American Political Science Review)
Event: Chinas New Exit-Entry Administration Law and the State Councils Draft Regulationsa Panel Discussion May 27, 2013 (May 23, 2013, US and China Visa Law Blog)
Image credit: Old Charm of Guangzhou, via Kevin Poh, via Flickr