Vancouver DJ Louis Yu turned me on to the video series Sexy Beijing a few weeks ago. In it, a nice Jewish girl from the USA named Su Fei (her actual name is Anna Sophie Loewenberg) does a “Sex in the City” routine as she scours Beijing looking for hot Chinese guys and commenting on life there. Normally I’m not much of a fan when it comes to foreigners babbling about their grasp of Chinese culture as they spend most of their time with other expats and only have a cursory understanding of the local culture, but this lady is quite good at asking pertinent questions and getting direct answers from the locals, and certainly does not fall into that category. The production is quite good and I found myself enjoying them.
On 3rd July 1914, as Ivan Chen made his way down the steps of the Summit Hall building in Simla, he must have been aware of mixed feelings rising up inside him. He had done something which would have far reaching repercussions; and which would for years be remembered by many people on both sides of the Sino-Indian border, albeit in very different ways – He had just left the Simla conference.
After refusing to sign the agreement himself, he was made to sit in a separate room, and behind his back, was signed one of the most controversial and bizarre treaties in human history – The Simla accord.
For over a century, the intricacies of the border between India and China/Tibet have baffled scholars. In fact, the plot leading to the Simla conference and beyond actually plays just like a thriller movie or book. The sheer complexity of this problem can be judged by the fact that 36 rounds of negotiations have taken place between India and China at different levels since 1981; but they have yet to reach a settlement.
Rather than stick to just one country, I thought I’d highlight underground music from Hong Kong on this post and add a little bit from the rest of Asia on the end. On the left is the Analog Girl, one of the hottest acts on the continent. Hailing from Singapore, the electro-rock chanteuse was named by TIME magazine as one of the 5 Music Acts to Watch in 2008. Since that time she’s toured the world with her unique sound.
I also got interested in the underground music scene in Hong Kong after I discovered “The Underground Channel” on YouTube. After the jump, we’ll feature videos from Quasar, Tacit Closet, Soler, The Sinister Left, DJ Matthew Veith, Hardpack, Audiotraffic and Poubelle International. We’ll also hear from Jakarta’s Goodnight Electric, Malaysia’s Zee Avi and Beijing’s P.K. 14 along with Japan’s Vamp and YMCK. Finally for some of the older crowd, I want to introduce a couple of Enka style acts from Japan, which is surprisingly similar (at least to me) of some of the classic Chinese singers.
Today’s collection is very eclectic so hopefully there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
We’ve done some posts on China and Taiwan music in the past, but those were about the general music scene. Today I’d like to feature two videos created by Brendan Madden, who lives in Qingdao, is a teacher and member of the band Dama Llamas, and keeps up with the scene in northern China. I’ll also feature a few other bands you might not know, and some comments about where I think things are headed.
These two mini-documentaries show the trials and tribulations of trying to establish modern music venues in China. So far, the audience has too many non-Chinese expats along with too few locals, though locals form most of the bands themselves. Right now, Beijing is the hot spot in northern China with the most popular bands in the country. Outside of Beijing, legitimate venues are hard to come by and the money isn’t very lucrative. In these places, rock n’ roll comes strictly from the heart.
Events of the last week in Iran have been widely reported by the world press. Not long before, the press also reported on the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square incident of 1989. Were these two distinct events reported in a similar manner or were they treated as different and unique events? Let’s take a look at each and see what we can find.
1) Who are the good guys and who are the bad guys?
Based on the coverage I’ve seen, both governments were cast as being in the wrong and both protest movements as in the right. In the case of China, the government sent in tanks and used live ammunition to break up a protest movement that was alleged to have turned violent. Most of the reporters in the world press were located in or near the same area, and their reports reflected what occurred in that vicinity. Analyzes of this event in most cases pointed to the government as the culprit and the demonstrators as being victims and responding in a suitable fashion. Is this an accurate assessment? The Chinese government attempted to confiscate film of the event from foreign sources but those attempts were successfully evaded in most instances.
The Olympics are over (except for the Paralympics, that is) and people have trickled out of Beijing, but still in their heads and mine is probably this catchy (some say annoying) song that was sung by an ensemble of veritable who’s-who in today’s Chinese popular music world. Chinese people seem to really like this kind of qunxing (群星) or star-ensemble singing, where phrases are sung by their favorite stars.
How will Japanese athletes and their supporters be received during the Olympic Games in Beijing? Will they be booed by Chinese spectators? Will the Chinese show the propriety to stand up in respect when the Japanese national flag is raised and the Japanese national anthem played in the award-giving ceremonies?
From their past experiences in sports engagements with China, the Japanese are worried. How are they preparing themselves for possible slights and confrontations with the Chinese?
Four members of the activist group, Students for a Free Tibet, have staged a lamppost protest in Beijing, unfurling a banner that read, ‘One World, One Dream – Free Tibet’, as the Olympic torch relay entered its final stage in the host city on Wednesday 6 August. All four – two British and two American nationals, holding tourist visas – have been arrested and are currently in police custody. In their interviews with the BBC, parents of the two British protesters spoke of their pride and explained that they were otherwise not unduly concerned about their children’s safety. They added that following the arrests the British students had made direct contact with their respective families, confirming that they had been treated well in custody. It is believed that they will now be entered into the deportation process within the coming days, whilst human rights campaign groups, including Students for a Free Tibet, have claimed further protests will follow in the weeks ahead. Continue reading »
I’ve been in Beijing for a little over a week. While Western media seems mostly intent on investigating nail-houses and Internet access in the Olympic media center, I’ve been playing tourist. But because I’ve been to Beijing numerous times, no pictures of the Great Wall or Forbidden Palace. Here are a few stories from every-day life that caught my eye:
First, the first day of what I hope are numerous days of blue skies. This picture comes from Friday afternoon, looking at the Beijing railway station:
A first-person account of a trip to Beijing: I’m pretty amazed by the hospitality in China, especially how it keeps getting better and better. It’s not just the hospitality, it’s all the little things of general people behavior.
Quick update… although we don’t use this as our personal blog, this is a good time to mention I’ve just arrived in Beijing. Everyone in my family is fighting upper-respiratory infections (picked up in the US), and at times I wasn’t sure we’d make the flight… but we’re here.
It has been the case for well over 2000 years that with a huge population and rich diversities in custom, cuisines, dialects, culture, religions, ethnicities, and political views, it’s always a challenge for any Chinese government to unit its people.However, recent events provided the Central Empire another silver bullet in its arsenal to achieve just that, the butterfly effect.
It takes a real expert to explain the effect in details.The short and layman version is that a butterfly’s wings might create tiny changes in the atmosphere that ultimately cause a tornado to appear.In other words, a small disturbance might have huge and unintended consequences somewhere and somehow.
Examining what happened since middle of March will better illustrate my point.