September 5, 2013

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A Novel Approach to Chinese History (September 1, 2013, ChinaSource Blog)

If you're a China buff, here are 10 books I recommend for learning about Chinese history through what I'm calling a novel approach. I've placed them chronologically in terms of Chinese history and instead of telling you much about the story, will share a bit about why you need to read it from a historical perspective. History, in this case, consists of both the well-known "big" events, and the lesser known daily events. Together, they are woven together to form the fabric of a society, culture, and people.


The Confessions of a Reactionary (August 27, 2013, China Change)

(The article first appeared in Life and Death in China (a multi-volume anthology of 50+ witness accounts of Chinese government persecution and 30+ essays by experts in human rights in China). When I wrote it, Xu Zhiyong was under house arrest; when it was published, he had already moved to the Beijing Third Detention Center. I dedicate this little essay to Xu Zhiyong and all those reactionaries whose homes have become prisons or who have made prisons their homes. Teng Biao)

The Patriotic Education of Tibet (August 21, 2013, The Diplomat)

In Tibet, the greatest casualties of Chinese governance have been religion and culture. From its invasion, or liberation in Beijings eyes, of Tibet in 1949, through the years of Democratic Reforms and Cultural Revolution, to today, China has converted a land of Buddhism and open-minded philosophy into a territory where a government and its laws control faith and dictate belief.

The uncertain death of constitutionalism (September 2, 2013, China Media Project)

The dispute in China over the issue of constitutionalism has raged on for several months now. The word constitutionalism and the ideas with which it is associated have been subjected to an attack the intensity of which we have never seen.

China's Crackdown on Social Media: Who Is in Danger (September 2, 2013, Tea Leaf Nation)

The popularity of social media has given rise to a great increase in social activism in China, as grassroots information is disseminated rapidly, moving ahead of the censors. Remarkable achievements include the downfall of several prominent officials after independent investigative reports were posted on Weibo and went viral.

Jiang Jiemin: China sacks former energy chief (September 3, 2013, BBC)

China has sacked a top official responsible for overseeing state-owned companies amid a corruption probe, Chinese media say. Jiang Jiemin was removed from office due to "suspected serious disciplinary violations", state-run news agency Xinhua said, citing authorities. The term is commonly used to refer to corruption. Mr Jiang has not commented publicly on the allegations. Chinese authorities announced they were investigating Mr Jiang on Sunday.

The Purge (September 3, 2013, Foreign Policy)

Many of his supporters in the Communist Party and the military are thought to have been purged. The biggest remaining question of the Bo affair is what will happen to Zhou Yongkang, the feared former security chief who former New York Times Beijing correspondent Nicholas Kristof once described as "a man who brightens any room by leaving it." Now, the net may be closing in on him: On Sunday, the Communist Party announced an investigation into Jiang Jiemin, a senior official in charge of state-owned companies and a protg of Zhou's, in a move many see as further encroaching on Zhou himself. Bo's public downfall was shocking; Zhou's would be unprecedented.

China's anti-graft body orders mooncakes off the menu (September 3, 2013, AFP)

China has banned officials from buying mooncakes with public funds during an upcoming holiday, as the Communist leadership promotes its crackdown on corruption. The pastry, a traditional food during the Mid-Autumn Festival which this year falls on September 19, has a sweet, heavy filling often made from lotus seed paste or red beans.

How real is China's anti-corruption campaign? (September 4, 2013, BBC)

China's anti-corruption campaign seems to be gathering steam by the day. Chinese citizens are subjected to a near-constant stream of headlines in the country's state media, announcing new investigations into business executives and political officials alike. Here are some answers to help explain the latest revelations from the party's campaign against bribery and corruption.

China's ex-security chief helping probe, not target: sources (September 4, 2013, Reuters)

China's former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang, one of the country's most powerful politicians of the last decade, is helping authorities in a corruption probe and, contrary to media reports, is not currently the target of the investigation, sources told Reuters. The investigation could take weeks, maybe months, to complete. Even if Zhou is implicated, he is unlikely to follow in the footsteps of disgraced ally Bo Xilai and face prosecution, said the sources, who have ties to the leadership or direct knowledge of the matter.

China 'smiling official' Yang Dacai jailed for 14 years (September 4, 2013, BBC)

A Chinese official who caused an outcry by grinning at the scene of a bus crash has been given a 14-year jail sentence for corruption. A Xi'an court found Yang Dacai guilty of taking bribes and possessing "a huge amount of property of unclear origin", state-run news agency Xinhua said. The bribes and illicit property would be confiscated by the state treasury, Xinhua added.

As Africa welcomes more Chinese migrants, a new wariness sets in (September 4, 2013, Christian Science Monitor)

In Congo, Chinese are settling in with businesses and bargains that locals love. At one copper smelting plant, Chinese and locals work together but live apart.

Head of Xinhua says Western media pushing revolution in China (September 4, 2013, Reuters)

Western media organizations are trying to demonize China and promote revolution and national disintegration as they hate seeing the country prosper, the head of China's official Xinhua news agency said in comments published on Wednesday.

Chinese official Yu Qiyi 'drowned by investigators' (September 4, 2013, BBC)

A Chinese official who died during interrogation was allegedly drowned by Communist Party investigators, a state-run newspaper has reported. Yu Qiyi, who was the chief engineer of a state-owned company in Wenzhou, died on 9 April. His head was held in a tub of icy water by six investigators attempting to extract a confession, the Beijing Times reported, citing prosecution documents. The investigators will be tried for intentional assault, the report said.

Is China's corruption crackdown really a political purge? (September 5, 2013, CNN)

The Chinese refer to more minor officials accused of corruption as "flies" and their more senior counterparts as "tigers." So far, the campaign has claimed more flies than tigers. But the list of high-flying officials who have gone from fame to shame include Bo Xilai, the fallen former party chief of Chongqing, who was recently put on trial and is now awaiting the court's verdict.


Draft Proposal for a Law of Religion Unveiled (September 3, 2013, Chinese Church Voices)

In recent years, think tanks and government research offices have been openly discussing the issue of religion and law in Chinese society, and putting forth proposals for resolving numerous religious issues that continue to plague the government and society. One think tank, the Pushi Institute for Social Sciences in Beijing has long argued that the fundamental problem is that religion sits outside of the rule of law in China. In other words, there are no laws that either protect (or prohibit) religion; there are only regulations designed to supervise and manage religion.


15 Killed In China Ammonia Leak (August 31, 2013, NPR)

A liquid ammonia leak at an industrial refrigeration unit in Shanghai hasNPR's Frank Langfitt says the leak occurred before noon on Saturday at a cold storage facility in the city's northern Baoshan District, which handles seafood. Besides the six in critical condition, 20 others were injured, according to the Shanghai government. The Associated Press reports that the government identified the plant as Weng's Cold Storage Industrial Co. Ltd., but gave no further details. The cause of the leak was not immediately known, the AP said.

Chinas Demographic Timebomb (September 1, 2013, World of Chinese)

China is getting rich fast, but it is getting older even faster and this is causing problems, big problems. I will bore you with a few facts and figures later (check out the infographic) but the crux of the matter is that Chinas working age population peaked last year, three years earlier than anybody predicted. From here on in, every year the number of working people in China is getting smaller and the number of retired people is getting bigger, and this likely to continue for at least 20 years. Retired people are going to need cash and resources to live, and there are going to be less people creating the cash to fund it

How to: avoid seat belt fines while still unnecessarily risking your life in Chinese traffic (September 1, 2013, China Hope Live)

In China we usually couldnt wear seat belts even if we wanted to. Taxi drivers have them tucked into the seats to get them out of the way, or theyre dirty and hard to pull out from lack of use. But recently Ive noticed a lot of taxi drivers doing this: [] Theyve started wearing the seat belt without clicking it into place. Every time I ask them they tell me how much money and how many points theyll lose if a traffic camera catches them without a seat belt (something like 6 points and a few hundred I forget exactly but its steep.

Pro-life in abortion-saturated China (September 2, 2013, China Hope Live)

Chinese abortion rates are so high that Chinese temporary residents skew their host countries abortion stats. Pro-life encompasses more issues than abortion, issues for which China also provides plenty of fodder (China executes more people than pretty much everyone else, for example). But Im betting abortion is the one thats most in-your-face.

Follow the Money: Who Benefits from Chinas One-Child Policy? (September 3, 2013, Tea Leaf Nation)

When debating Chinas one-child policy, Chinas domestic media and observers overseas mostly focus on its impact on the population structure or incidences of inhumanity involved in the implementation of the policy (such as forced abortion). Almost unmentioned is the fact that the government is profiting fiscally from the policy by collecting so-called social support fees.

Chinese women dont hold up half the sky (September 3, 2013, Sinolicious)

The Great Magician that overnight gave women the right to be human was of course Mao who famously declared Women hold up half the sky. Unfortunately, however powerful a man he may have been, his declaration was no match for Chinas ancient culture. The truth is, Chinese women do not hold up half the sky, they hold up the whole sky half the time.

5 Years After Being Covered With Water, Chinese Village Emerges (September 3, 2013, NPR)

It's been a long time since the people who lived in rural Xuanping saw their little town, which was flooded by a powerful earthquake in 2008. But thanks to a steep drop in water levels, parts of their village in China's Sichuan Province are visible again, from homes and businesses to its school. The village's ghostly return began in July, when water levels fell from 712 meters to 703 meters above sea level a difference of nearly 30 feet, as news site reported.

The Puzzle of Identifying as Chinese (September 4, 2013, The New York Times)

Much has changed since China began opening up to the world following the death of Mao Zedong in 1976. But deeply held cultural beliefs predating that isolationist era persist. These include that laowai, or old outsiders, as non-Chinese are often called, are fundamentally different and can therefore never become Chinese, no matter how long their residency, recent books and interviews with writers specializing in cross-cultural issues suggest.

Photos: Chinas Big Yellow Ducks (September 4, 2013, China Real Time)

Chinese Police Rescue Babies From Traffickers, but Parents Dont Want Them Back (September 4, 2013, Time)

The tragedy of children being bought and sold, and the seeming indifference of their parents, has intensified the debate about the darker impact of Chinas one-child policy.

New China-wide telecom laws go into effect (September 5, 2013, Go Kunming)

Updated regulations governing individual cell phones, landlines and home internet services went into affect across China on September 1. Customers must now show valid identification when paying for some telecommunication services but details regarding enforcement and compliance remain vague.

Horror on high seas: Deadly tale told at China trial (September 4, 2013, USA Today)

The terrible tale retold at a trial this summer for the 11 survivors in the east China port of Weihai stunned people for its barbarity. It also raised questions about the kinds of seamen hired by fishing vessels, the standards of the labor agencies that recruit for them and the grinding poverty that forces many Chinese to work in hard conditions despite years of explosive economic growth.

Visa, Visa, Whos Got the Visa? (September 5, 2013, ChinaSource Blog)

After a summer of confusion, China's new visa regulations went into effect on September 1st. New visa categories have been added and requirements for some existing categories have been changed.

Listening to the masses: Another princeling in court (September 7, 2013, The Economist)

FOR those who feed on courtroom drama and lurid tales of the lives of Chinas elite, late August saw a double bonanza. First the corruption trial of Bo Xilai, a Politburo member whose son, the prosecution alleged, enjoyed a high-rolling lifestyle in the West. Then on August 28th Li Tianyi, the 17-year-old son of two well-known singers in the Peoples Liberation Army, appeared in court to face a charge of participation in a gang rape. The political reverberations of Mr Bos case are greater, but Mr Lis has aroused a stronger public reaction.

China's brand-new abandoned cities could be dystopian movie sets (i09)

China's building boom has created a ton of abandoned cities and massive ruins most of which are brand new, and have never had people living in them. Here are the deserted Chinese cities, mostly built in the last 10 years, which could be sets for your next dystopian movie.


China Diabetes Rate Now Higher Than U.S. (September 4, 2013, China Real Time)

China is now home to the worlds largest diabetes population. The number of people who have diabetes or early signs of the disease is greater than the entire population of the U.S.


Global education lessons: Chinas mentor schools bridge rich-poor gap (September 1, 2013, Christian Science Monitor)

As the US struggles with inequity between richer and poorer school districts, Shanghai's stellar urban schools offer hands-on help to rural schools with intensive teaching and administrative mentoring.

Chinese Educators Look to American Classrooms (September 2, 2013, The New York Times)

The United States State Department does not break down its data on visas by age and school type, but anecdotal evidence here suggests that increasing numbers of middle-class families are looking for a way out of Chinas test-taking gantlet. I didnt want my son to become a book-cramming robot, said Ruifans mother, Wang Pin, explaining why she sent him to live and learn halfway across the world.

Is a college degree worthless in todays China? (September 3, 2013, Offbeat China)

When her friends are ready to start their exciting journey in colleges, 19-year-old Ling Ling from a small Sichuan village is still trying very hard to get enough money to cover her tuition fees. Why? Not because her family is poor or anything, but because, according to her father, a college education is useless; and a college degree is a bad investment.

Soldiering On Campus (September 4, 2013, World of Chinese)

In the coming days nearly seven million Chinese students will start a new life as university students, many of them moving hundreds, perhaps thousands of miles from home. In the west, the first few weeks of university usually mean getting blind drunk, failing to get laid, and coughing up cash for dozens of student societies that you will never have anything to do with, (well, thats what happened to me anyway). The Chinese experience is not the same, instead of spending their first few weeks boozily roaming the streets with stolen traffic cones on their heads, they get to do something completely different: Compulsory military training.

Chinese Literature Textbooks Modified to Curb Deep Thinking (September 4, 2013, Tea Leaf Nation)

Why, given both Lu Xuns popularity and his accepted status as one of Chinas top modern authors, would his works be disappearing from the educational curriculum? An article analyzing the changes published by Xinhua News Agency, Chinas state-run media, noted that, Middle school students should not be reading anything too deep. Zhao Yu, an author quoted in the article, voiced his agreement with the decision, stating that, We shouldnt make students undertake reflection and critical thinking too soon; instead, we should let them gradually accumulate knowledge.


Sport in Ancient China (August 31, 2013, World of Chinese)

Tulou Communities, Closed Outside, Open Inside a Variety of Chinese Courtyard Architecture (September 2, 2013, Old China Books Blog)

Tulou are large, predominantly circular earthen structures of four and five stories (but sometimes having rectangular or other shapes depending on terrain), containing as many as hundreds of rooms in the largest examples, housing as many as eighty families of a clan essentially a complete village in one building.


Chinese Chicken Processors Are Cleared to Ship to U.S. (August 30, 2013, The New York Times)

The Department of Agriculture on Friday approved four Chinese poultry processors to begin shipping a limited amount of meat to the United States, a move that is likely to add to the debate over food imports. Initially, the companies will be allowed to export only cooked poultry products from birds raised in the United States and Canada. But critics predicted that the government would eventually expand the rules, so that chickens and turkeys bred in China could end up in the American market.

China's manufacturing activity at 16-month high (September 1, 2013, BBC)

China's manufacturing activity picked up speed in August, hitting a 16-month high, allaying some fears of a sharp slowdown in its economy. The official Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) rose to 51 from 50.3 in July. The PMI is a key gauge of the sector's health and a reading above 50 indicates an expansion.

Beatings, evictions reveal ugly side of China's local debt pile (September 2, 2013, Reuters)

When Xu Haifeng's home was razed three years ago, she went to China's capital Beijing to complain about the city and county governments that ordered the demolition. Since then, she says family members have been kidnapped at least 18 times, typically having black bags thrust over their heads before being taken to a hotel-turned-illegal jail in the eastern city of Wuxi and locked for weeks in a tiny, windowless room. Xu's story is shocking even in a country that has become used to tales of arbitrary and sometimes violent land expropriations. It illustrates how the stresses from the deep indebtedness of China's local governments extend beyond banks into the lives of ordinary Chinese, as hard-up authorities resort to any means they can in a desperate scramble for funds.

China lowers 2012 GDP growth to 7.7% from 7.8% (September 3, 2013, AFP)

China on Monday lowered its figure for economic growth for last year to 7.7 percent from 7.8 percent, the National Bureau of Statistics said, in an unexpected downgrade for the key number. The world's second-largest economy has long been looked to as a potential driver of global recovery, but has put in a mixed performance in recent months. The new figure posted on the National Bureau of Statistics website remains the lowest for gross domestic product growth since 1999, when it expanded 7.6 percent.

Shanghai banks ready for Free Trade Zone (September 4, 2013, CNTV)

As cross border business becomes increasingly important to China, the upcoming Shanghai free trade zone, is poised to see a flurry of changes to financial policies, and financial services. The Free Trade Zone is expected to be launched on the 27th of this month. A move aimed to make Shanghai a leading international financial center.

Beijing land sales rise (September 4, 2013, Global Times)

The floor price of a land plot in Beijing hit 73,099 yuan ($11,925) per square meter during a land auction, Securities Times reported Wednesday. Beijing has set a price ceiling for home prices per unit in a bid to rein in the red hot housing sector in the capital. By the end of August, a total of 722 hectares of residential land were sold in Beijing, four times the area sold in the same period of 2012, with the transaction value of 100.9 billion yuan, hitting a record high.

Chinese Landlords in London (September 4, 2013, Economic Observer)

When Shen began to consider investing in property abroad, he had three choices: U.S., UK, and Australia. After various consultations, he decided that it would be London. Part of the reason was that his girlfriend had studied there before, he also believed the city offered the best return on investment.

Chinese Companies Investing a Lot Less Overseas (September 4, 2013, China Real Time)

Chinese firms have become more wary of making big-ticket transactions overseas as the countrys once-a-decade leadership transition leads to a slew of policy changes and tighter credit.

Hainan starts Chicago-Beijing direct (September 4, 2013, China Daily)

China's Hainan Airlines on Tuesday commenced nonstop service between Chicago O'Hare airport and Beijing, making it the only certified Skytrax five-star carrier in China and the first Chinese carrier to enter the Beijing-Chicago direct market. [] Hainan plans to use a Boeing 787 Dreamliner on the route beginning later this year. "Then that will be the first transpacific route operated with a Boeing 787 from O'Hare," said Chicago Department of Aviation Commissioner Rosemarie S. Andolino.


Beijing water shortage worse than the Middle East (August 29, 2013, China Dialogue)Beijings water supplies have dropped below a critical threshold, according to statistics released by city water officials.

To a Chinese Scrap-Metal Hunter, America's Trash Is Treasure (August 29, 2013, Bloomberg)

Zeng is one Chinese trader, in one rental car, traveling across the U.S. in search of scrap metal. By his estimate, there are at least 100 other Chinese traders like him driving from scrap yard to scrap yard, right now, in search of what Americans wont or cant be bothered to recycle. His favorite product: wires, cables, and other kinds of copper.

An Inside Look at Chinas Censorship Tools (August 30, 2013, China Real Time)

If you cant beat Chinas censors, why not join them? Thats what a Harvard University professor decided to do, in a creative effort to learn firsthand just how censorship in China works. To get inside the system, professor Gary King and two Ph.D. students started their own fake social network over the past year, whichwhile it never formally went onlineallowed them to reach out to some of Chinas many companies offering censorship software.

China hit by earthquake (August 31, 2013, The Guardian)

An earthquake hit a mountainous area of south-western China on Saturday morning, killing at least four people and injuring 10 others, according to state media and the China Earthquake Administration. The quake, which was measured at magnitude 5.9 by the administration, and 5.8 by the US Geological Survey, shook several counties, including the scenic Shangri-La and Deqen counties in Yunnan province, and Derong county in Sichuan province just to the north.The official Xinhua news agency quoted the Yunnan provincial civil affairs department as saying four people had died in Deqen county.

China finds 100,000kg of poisoned dead fish in river (August 4, 2013, The Guardian)

Chinese authorities have scooped up about 100,000kg (220,000lb) of dead fish they say were poisoned by ammonia from a chemical plant, environmental officials and state media said in a reminder of the pollution plaguing the country.


Xilai Old Town (August 29, 2013, Go Chengdoo)

Xilai Old Town is the sort of place that's overlooked in most guidebooks aimed at foreign tourists and probably isn't at the top of the list of must-sees of most visitors to Sichuan. To be sure, the 1,700-year-old town doesn't dish up the culinary variety of Luodai (though it prides itself on its local tofu and duck dishes), nor does it boast the bustling streets of cinematographic Huanlongxi. Xilai nonetheless has its hidden charms.

Leshan Travel Guide The Giant Buddha (September 2, 2013, China Adventurer Travel Blog)

If youre traveling to Sichuan, China soon one travel destination you dont want to miss is The Giant LeShan BuddhaThe Tallest Buddha in The World. Check out the China Adventurer Leshan Travel Guide The Giant Buddha.

Nothing like it in the world: China's time-tripping steam railway (September 5, 2013, CNN)

Bagoua coal town that has seen its population fall from a peak of 20,000 to 1,500 in the years since the mine ceased operationis an anomaly in China. It's a town that's actually worse off in 2013 than it was in 1963.


Why Whats Funny in China Might Surprise You (September 4, 2013, The World)

Food poisoning is funny. I got dysentery once. That was funny. Well, not quite that funny the moment we sat down to talk over dumplings in Beijing. Appell has lived in Beijing on and off for several years. Recently Appell has been studying whats funny in China, which he admits has not been easy.


On the Noodle Road: From Beijing to Rome, with Love and Pasta (August 30, 2013, China Rhyming)

Some authors are cleverer than me instead of walking round mouldy old hutongs at 7am on freezing cold Peking mornings looking for traces of dead girls they choose a subject like food and find an excuse to go to Rome! Jen Lin-liu is clearly one such cleverer author. Her new book On the Noodle Road does indeed reach from some of the nicer hutongs of Peking to Rome as they say all roads lead to Rome.

The Tragedy of Liberation by Frank Diktter review (August 30, 2013, The Guardian)

For many years, historians tended to argue that the first decade or so of the Chairman's rule was generally benevolent and productive, with the rot setting in during the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution. Diktter takes a significantly different stance: the state was from its foundation shaped by violence and used coercion, both psychological and physical, to exert its will on the population. This version of the PRC is not a paradise lost: it was always hell.

The Badlands (Penguin Special): Decadent Playground of Old Peking (Penguin Shorts/Specials) [Kindle Edition] (by Paul French)

My Shadow Library: A Chinese Author on Book Piracy (Words Without Borders)I am also one of the many writers in China deeply affected by piracy. I write books about major political issues in China most of which become bestsellers. After my books are published, pirated copies routinely surface within a month or two. Pirating follows my books like a shadow, a shadow that I cant shake.


宗教非政府组织的定义Pacific Institute for Social Sciences)

论国家对宗教自由的适当限制 (Pacific Institute for Social Sciences)

基督教参与社会公益服务的现状思考 (Pacific Institute for Social Sciences)


The Chinese Communist Party (The Council on Foreign Relations)

Cultural Heritage and Urbanisation in China (August 29, 2013, The China Story)

James Toy Williams (Biographical Dictionary of Chinese Christianity)

Wang Jingchun (Biographical Dictionary of Chinese Christianity)

Image credit: Traffic in Beijing, by World Bank Photo Collection, via Flickr