It seems the long held social custom of Shanghainese to walk down the street in their pajamas is causing some discomfort to the organizers of the Shanghai World Expo scheduled for next year and a campaign has been started by the municipal government to end the practice.
It’s not that unusual to see middle aged women milling around on the street in their pajamas, or even walking to the subway or local shopping mall. So the slogan “No Pajamas in Public – be Civilized for the Expo” has been coined to end what the government feels is uncivilized behavior in a modern, world class city. As China Daily columnist Raymond Zhou said recently in “In Defense of Pajamas”:
“So, it’s not really about whether we like it, but rather about whether we are liked. Again, it’s the quintessential concept of “face” and “saving face”.
Not many Chinese are shocked to see a street full of pajama-wearing pedestrians, but if international visitors feel squeamish about it we should stop doing it. Or so the implied rationale for the crackdown goes.”
The city’s tactic to stamp out street pajama wearers was to create a team of 500 volunteers to use persuasion at bus stops and other venues to convince pajama wearing Shanghainese residents to change their clothes.
Everyone knows China is going through an industrial revolution right now. In developed countries such as the U.S., this took place in the late 19th century. The ratio between the number of rural and urban residents basically swapped because industrialization freed the bulk of the population from having to work in the fields to produce food for all. This phenomenon is occurring in China right now with her massive GDP growth in the last three decades. Despite the hundreds of millions of people having moved to urban areas, the number of Chinese citizens residing in the rural areas is still staggering – 750 million. If the final ratio is similar to other developed countries (which is likely), the scale of this population movement in the coming decades is mind-numbing. Imagine one billion people on the move in only a few decades! Continue reading »
At the Berlin Wall anniversary celebration a couple of days ago, the Germans arranged a thousand pieces of eight-foot tall Styrofoam slabs, symbolizing Berlin Wall pieces and each decorated with various arts, into a line of dominoes and started their toppling. This cascading action eventually came to a halt at a piece with apparently some Chinese calligraphy written on it, which stayed up. You can check out this youtube video for the full sequence of events.
There has been quite a bit of discussion going on in the Chinese forums regarding the symbolism of this scene. Well, this post has nothing to do with it. So if you have comments regarding Berlin Wall and China, please go to Allen’s post of that subject.
Wolfgang Kubin, Bonn University Professor of Chinese Studies, is a well-known critic of Chinese literature, a critic in every sense of the word. Every time he speaks about Chinese literature, he makes waves among observers of Chinese literature. He was famous for “trashing” Chinese literature, which has at various times being interpreted as trashing of Chinese literature in general, Chinese novels in particular, or novels by the sentimental “beauty writers” to be more exact. Chinese writers probably can also claim that Kubin is trash, but they have not done so. That shows a humility that contrasts sharply with Kubin’s elitist and dismissive criticism. Continue reading »
November 11th has now emerged as a new holiday dedicated to the singles in China. It essentially serves as an anti-Valentine’s Day, and is the Chinese equivalent of Singles Awareness Day (SAD), during which those unhappily unattached commiserate in their single status. Continue reading »
Lou Jing (娄婧) entered a competition reality show called “Let’s Go! Oriental Angels” (加油！东方天使) on Dragon TV. Though born and raised in Shanghai and a Chinese citizen all her life, her story is quite complicated. Her mother was married to a Chinese man but had an affair with an African American man and gave birth to Lou Jing. The African American man went back to the States before Lou Jing was born, the Chinese husband divorced his wife when he discovered she had an affair, so Lou Jing was raised by a single mother. She is considered a talented singer, speaks fluent Mandarin and Shanghainese and is Chinese in every way except for her looks and skin color.
However, upon entering this competition, she was shocked to find rude racial epithets hurled against her on the Chinese blogosphere. Was she really Chinese? Quite a few people felt she was not. They condemned her for her skin color and her mother’s infidelity. Many comments were blatantly racist.
I first became aware of this story when James Fallows mentioned it in his Atlantic blog. He wrote, “To be clear about the context: this is not a “blame China” episode but rather one of many illustrations of the differences in day by day social realities and perceived versus ignored sources of tension in particular societies. That’s all to say about it for now.” I want to explore those tensions further.
Here is something interesting I found on Youtube. For all the talk about China spreading propaganda and indoctrinating their children – you know teaching children about the greatness of their nation, their leader, their history … about the importance of social harmony … instilling hope for a better future – does the U.S. really look that different?
Louis Yu’s new show called Sound Unlimited has hit the net. This show features indie music from all over the world, including the hottest bands in China. The format is in Chinese and you can download the podcast here or subscribe to it on iTunes.
Take a few minutes to check it out. It’s very rare (if not unique) to be able to find a music podcast from North America (in this case, Vancouver) that caters to the Chinese market. I can guarantee you that Lou knows his music and you’ll be exposed to many top bands you’ve never heard nor seen before.
admin’s note. The following is a blog post from 多维博客(h/t to Snow). Besides re-posting an article originally published on the Study Times (a weekly publication of the CCP’s Central Party School) in 2008, it drew a vigorous debate among Chinese with nearly 300 comments (I hope that someone could translate them too), many of them are interesting. Although we posted the Chinese version last year and A-gu commented on that, it was until recently that btbr403 volunteered to translate it. DeWang and Allen helped with the translation.
Following is the translation of the original post:
The Study Times of The Central Party School published an article by Zhang Weiwei (he was Deng XiaoPing’s interpreter, and he wrote an opinion piece The allure of the Chinese model ), a senior research fellow at the Modern Asia Research Centre, University of Geneva, Switzerland. He showed his excellent eloquence in the invitation only Marshall Forum on Transatlantic Affairs, saying that he had visited more than 100 countries, but couldn’t find one that achieved modernization via democratization. The European and American scholars present couldn’t find any examples to refute him. Continue reading »
Panda loves bamboo, and so did ancient Chinese musicians. Here is an image of a ceramic xiao (箫) player excavated from an Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220 AD) tomb in Sichuan province (also home to pandas). The dizi (笛子) is held horizontally. Both are made of bamboo. What do you get when you add the Mongolian morin khurr to the mix? Here is a composition involving these instruments: “梦回鄂尔多斯 (Dreaming Ordus).” Ordus (鄂尔多斯) is a city in Inner Mongolia, China.
In the second part of our interview with Robert Compton, We delve more deeply into his film “Two Million Minutes” which looks at the pre-university educational systems of India and China and compares them to the equivalent curriculum in the United States. Some of the topics discussed are:
1) What are the comparative number of science courses taught in high school and the amount of time spent on the social sciences and world history?
2) What do Indian and Chinese educators see as the areas most in need of reform within their own schools? Are there myths within the Chinese and Indian educational establishment as to their own perceived weaknesses?
3) How are China, India and the United States approaching the key 21st century industries, especially the ones concerning environmental and energy issues?
Donald Gallinger was an English high school teacher in New Jersey who spent September 2004 through July 2005 in China with his wife. He kept a meticulous journal which is the basis for his “Memoirs of China.” Imagine an intelligent and eloquent American from the Midwest who has no exposure to China is suddenly plucked from his home and planted inside China. This was essentially the case with Gallinger. He is genuinely interested in learning everything that is China. His memoir is a fun read. I highly recommend following the link above. Here, I took the liberty of copying one of his entries: Continue reading »
Dalai Lama is set to visit Taiwan next week. The Dalai Lama has been invited a group of local DPP officials representing several southern counties – where DPP support is especially strong.
The Dalai Lama has visited Taiwan twice, once in 1997 and 2001. However, soon after Ma took office on a platform promising to amend ties with the Mainland, a request for the Dalai Lama to visit was turned down by Ma, citing the timing as not proper. A Dalai Lama visit then could have derailed Ma’s plan for closer ties with the Mainland – and still has the potential to do so the same. Continue reading »
President Hu recently met with a delegation of ethnic minorities from Taiwan, and pledged further support from the mainland for whatever help Taiwan may need. Ethnic minorities in southern Taiwan, living often in remote villages, were the hardest hit group in Taiwan by the recent typhoon. Here is a translation of a story on the People’s Web by China News Wrap:
Hu meets delegation of ethnic minorities from Taiwan
It’s not often a guy working on his PhD in theoretical computer science is also one of the hottest Chinese DJs in North America, but there’s always an exception and Louis Yu (余雷) fits that role. Originally from Guilin, China, he’s currently in Vancouver, Canada studying at the University of Victoria while also doing a weekly podcast featuring world indie music.
And where can you find his 30 minute weekly podcast? It’s right here on www.wooozy.cn where you can catch this week’s show plus access the archive for all previous editions once you’re hooked. The difference with Louis’ show is that all the introductions are in Mandarin rather than English. It’s his way to bring a new style of music to an audience more familiar with Asian pop in a easy to digest manner. Starting in September, he’ll be switching to a show highlighting an equal balance of both Western & Chinese music.
Lou was kind enough to share his thoughts on China’s current music scene. As he is a Chinese expat very familiar with indie music throughout the world, I felt his opinions would be a nice contrast to the western voices we’ve heard reporting from China.