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Exploring China’s peripheries: Southwest 西南 Day 4: Dali 大理, Yunnan province

January 10th, 2013 4 comments

Exploring China’s peripheries: Southwest 西南
// Day 4: Dali 大理市 county-level city
Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture 大理白族自治州, Yunnan province
by WanderingChina

Dali is an ancient capital where its old city walls still stand. Not UNESCO protected like Lijiang, it was the seat of power for the Bai kingdom Nanzhao which thrived during the eight and ninth centuries. Later, the Kingdom of Dali regined from 937-1253AD. Dali was formerly a significantly Muslim part of South China.

#1

#1 To get to Dali from Lijiang, this was the recommended approach. Winding through mountain passes and snaking over gorges, the journey looking out of the  train window was picturesque as infrastructure-crazy Yunnan impressed yet again. The tremendous effort to connect through the extremely rugged hills and mountains of central Yunnan is awe-inspiring. No High-Speed Rail here yet, however. Expect to share cabin space socialist style if you choose the sleeper coach- everyone had to respectfully share a highly limited space. The alleyways are probably just 60cm wide.

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Exploring China’s peripheries: Southwest 西南 Day 3: Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, Yulong Naxi Autonomous County, Lijiang, Yunnan province

January 6th, 2013 2 comments

Exploring China’s peripheries: Southwest 西南
// Day 3: Jade Dragon Snow Mountain 玉龙雪山 (Yu Long Xue Shan)
Yulong Naxi Autonomous County 玉龙纳西族自治县, Lijiang, Yunnan province
by WanderingChina

This AAAAA-rated tourist destination found in a Naxi autonomous county would price even the most eager out of the game. But when I arrived, they were there by the busloads, 4WD-loads, the list went on – the snaking queues to take the shuttle buses up to the various peaks and attractions were intense. The mountain mastif is the southernmost glacier in the northern hemisphere and consists of thirteen peaks all higher than 4,000m. The highest point is Shanzhidou 扇子陡 that stands at 5,596m. Read more…

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Exploring China’s peripheries: Southwest 西南 Day 2: Lijiang, Yunnan province

January 4th, 2013 1 comment

Exploring China’s peripheries: Southwest 西南
// Day 2: Lijiang 丽江 Prefecture-level city, Yunnan province
by WanderingChina

Old meets new: Next stop was Lijiang, a historically rich city that harks back to the ancient southern silk route. Located in the Northwestern part of Yunnan, more than 1.2 million reside here.

#1 Old meets new: Next stop is Lijiang, a historically rich city that harks back to the ancient southern silk route. Located in the northwestern part of Yunnan, more than 1.2 million reside here. The monolithic impression of Han Chinese dominance ends here. The Naxi tribe (totalling 300,000 in total across Yunnan and Sichuan) is rather dominant here. Architecturally, buildings in the old town, relics from the middle ages are largely made of brick and wood, featuring carved doors and brightly painted windows

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Exploring China’s peripheries: Southwest 西南 Day 1: Kunming, Yunnan province

January 3rd, 2013 3 comments

Exploring China’s peripheries: Southwest 西南
// Day 1: Kunming, Yunnan province
by WanderingChina

Featuring 10 photos a day, here is a first-hand journey into learning more about China’s interior.

Pre-amble
Prejudices can have a habit of clouding perspective. It is unlikely great powers, be it the U.S. or China get to where they are today without significant struggle and effort. These photo stories of my travels around China as a ‘returning’ overseas-born Chinese sojourner are intended to dispel the myth of China as a monolithic entity. By closing the gaps between myth, misconception and first hand experience, perhaps these images will shed light on China’s struggle and ability to harness 1.3 billion narratives to become a collective force for forward motion.

Having explored most of the developed eastern coast, I was keen to see just how much work was being done to spread the benefits of China’s rise to its interior and peripheries. Xi’An, in China’s central north-west was as deep as I had travelled to before. Eager to learn more and experience China’s promise of equitable growth and armed with a tablet computer (disclaimer as I decided to travel ultra-light, without a purpose-built camera), I head to China’s southwest with Yunnan and Sichuan province in my sights.

First stop is Yunnan’s capital – Kunming.

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Abigail Washburn: Building US-China relations … by banjo

December 22nd, 2012 4 comments

As Abigail Washburn shows us with her banjo and music, it’s actually really easy to connect with the Chinese and yet be so captivating. What an awesome soul!


When America throws her weight around with petty politics, she is squandering her privileged position to affect our world towards greater good. Judging from the audiences response, I guess I am encouraged her message is not lost. To the Americans who engage China and the world with a heart like Washburn, bless you.

Chinese Music Video

November 27th, 2012 2 comments

This music video has been circulating amongst PLA enthusiasts back home; pretty cute.

http://v.youku.com/v_show/id_XNDgwMjgyMjky.html

My impressions of China so far

November 24th, 2012 50 comments

I have now been living in China for almost 4 month and I’d like to write a little about my impressions so far from personal experience and in talking to the people. As you all know by now, my views on things like the rule of law, human rights and democracy may be quite different from some of yours (see the posts and comments here, here, here, here, here and here for example).

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Does China need a new religion for the 21st century?

August 21st, 2012 31 comments

(This will be a controversial post so let me explain in detail before throwing any cyber tomatoes) Hu Jintao and many other top ranking Chinese officials have spoken about the need for cultural influence and development of Chinese culture. But Chinese culture does not have as much influence in the rest of the world today and now even among Chinese, much of their traditional culture is being replaced with outside influences. I believe that as China becomes more wealthy and politically influential some level of cultural influence will come with that as well. But I don’t think economic development alone will do the trick for seriously developing one’s own cultural influence among one’s own people and others people.

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Categories: aside, culture, General, history, Opinion, religion Tags:

“十送红军”

August 21st, 2012 2 comments

刀郎和云朵的声音太美了! 下面是他们唱的老歌: “十送红军.” 我小的时侯听过这首歌. 不知道是那一年代的. 你认识吗?长征时候的红军真正了不起.

“Journey to the West”

August 17th, 2012 5 comments

Following is Dao Lang (刀郎), one of my all-time favorite Chinese singers, performing the theme song to the new “Journey to the West” (“新西游记”) movie (or is it TV series?). Also in the video are behind-the-scenes of the production. As you all should know, “Journey to the West” is a Chinese classic, about a monk heading to India in search of scriptures. He is accompanied by three disciples, with Sun Wukong (孙悟空) the most powerful, and really, the main character. Lyrics are beneath the video.


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Riots in Assam

August 16th, 2012 19 comments

There has been terrible violence in India’s Assam region recently and the violence has spread to other parts of India.  Since this is a blog on China, not India, I am not going to dig too much into the cause or even meaning of the riots.  But I do want to point out the relatively “favorable” coverage India is getting.

In almost all reports I see, India is cast as the force of stability (and humanity), with the forces of conniving politicians and ethnic-based politics the root of instability.  By comparison, when ethnic violence occurs in China, the opposite story is told, with ethnic-based politics held in high regard (under the guise of “human rights”) and any efforts to stabilize the situation seen as somehow oppressive and barbaric.

You see this fairly uniformly across Western media in all Western countries, including even self-professed “independent” news sources such as the global post.  Here is a recent article global post had on Tibetan self immolations – which place the blame squarely on China.  The Tibetans who burned themselves – and by extension the Tibetans who rioted in 2008 – were seen as oppressed people who had a right to riot, to fight back and were cheered on for their presumptive courage. There was never a reference to the official Chinese perspective on what’s really going on. Read more…

Letter to mom by then 9 years-old badminton superstar, Lin Dan (林丹)

August 5th, 2012 21 comments

Gold Medalist Lin Dan at the London 2012 Games (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)

Today, badminton superstar Lin Dan (林丹) triumphed over Malaysian friend Lee Chong Wei (李宗伟) for gold at the London 2012 Olympics. This is one of the most highly anticipated match-ups at the London games as both athletes have faced each other at major competitions in recent years, including the 2008 Beijing Olympics finals. In both Olympics, Lee has been Malaysia’s first gold medal hopeful in the country’s history. Earlier in the year at the 2012 London Open, Lee lost again to Lin, but it was due to injury. Badminton fans around the world, especially in Asia, adore them. Knowing the weight on Lee’s shoulders and his injuries, Chinese fans had a soft spot while watching him live. It was a nail-biting show for the Malaysian fans too. Lee took the first set at 21-15. During the second set, Lin over-powered, forcing Lee to give up hustling and instead conserving his energy for a final round of show-down. And, a show-down it was; the third set was neck-in-neck until Lin triumphed at 21 over Lee’s 19. So, who exactly is this Lin Dan? His letter home when he was a little boy said a lot. Read more…

The Shaolin Temple (少林寺)

July 28th, 2012 4 comments

The 1982 Jet Li movie, “Shaolin Temple,” was really something out of this world. As a boy, I was mesmorized by the feats of these kungfu monks. Never have I ever seen anything like it in my life. One of the scenes showed monks practicing the horse stance in a training hall in unison, with punches and feet pounding the brick floor, shouting out, “ha, haha” in rhythm. Where the monks held their stance, the brick floor gave and deformed into the ground. Dusts stirred at each strike. The monks were molding their bodies into instruments of force while nature gave way, more visibly from generations of monks pounding against it.

(Pictures I took within post below)


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Aggressive Culture?

July 24th, 2012 11 comments

Interesting perspective from American University Professor Emilio Viano on CCTV America, explaining Colorado shooting violence has something to do with America being an aggressive culture. Tough call in my personal opinion in linkage to the Colorado shooting, but I do agree with Dr. Viano’s observation that America has a propensity to use violence in tackling problems. When such behavior is sustained for a long period of time, then by definition, it becomes culture.

Shanghai Food Heaven

July 18th, 2012 3 comments

I love Chinese food! Today’s meal will be hard to top anywhere else in Shanghai. Next to the Marriott Hotel near 人民广场 (People’s Square) is a new mall about to open. However, the restaurant itself, on the 4th floor, is already open for business. I forgot to write down it’s name. The food was spectacular. Their pictures below.

Dried mushroom with squid.


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A conversation with Aminta Arrington on China

June 28th, 2012 7 comments

Aminta Arrington, author of “HOME IS A ROOF OVER A PIG: AN AMERICAN FAMILY’S JOURNEY IN CHINA”

Following is a conversation with Aminta Arrington, author of the upcoming book, “HOME is a ROOF OVER a PIG, an American Family’s Journey in China.” (See my book review in a prior post.) Since the writing, her family has moved from Tai’an to Beijing where she now teaches at Renmin University. We talked about learning Chinese, freedom and individuality, Chen Guangcheng, hope for U.S.-China energy collaboration, and more. Click on the play button or right-click on the link to save the podcast for local listening: link.

(The conversation was carried out in two sessions, which I later joined into one. I should apologize for the echo, an artefact of Skype some times, which I can’t remove after the recording has been made.)

Silicon Valley Melting Pot

June 25th, 2012 6 comments

I was at a corporate event yesterday, at Coyote Ranch, a bit south of San Jose.  Looking at the faces of people there, I was struck by how diverse the Silicon Valley population is.  Not to discount the atrocious past, or the discrimination that still exists today, I think America has the will officially to work towards racial harmony.  On a global scale, talents tend to migrate into areas where there is demand or opportunity.  Silicon Valley has attracted students, engineers, business people from China, India, and other parts of the world.  Steve Jobs was a by-product of that trend; his birth parents are ethnic Syrian and adoptive parents Armenian.  Following is a collection of pictures I took – and I shall refer to them as “Silicon Valley Melting Pot.”

Petting Zoo

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Aminta Arrington’s “HOME is a ROOF OVER a PIG, an American Family’s Journey in China”

June 22nd, 2012 4 comments

In this delightfully written memoir, “HOME is a ROOF OVER a PIG, an American Family’s Journey in China,” Aminta Arrington details the experiences of her all-American family, from suburban Georgia, fully immersed in language and culture in Tai’an, a relatively poor city in China’s Shandong Province. The title derives from the character, “家,” which Arrington recounts someone explaining to her the top radical means roof and the bottom pig. Embedded in the Chinese characters are history and culture which she found fascinating. Her genuine interest in this ancient culture lead her to adopt a baby girl, and it was out of the desire to want to offer her a bond with her roots that ultimately brought the entire Arrington family to China. Read more…

“Because of Love” by a father and his 3 years old daughter

June 2nd, 2012 2 comments

June 1 is the official children’s day in China. To the fathers who are musicians, athletes, artists, or simple laymen who have found ways to impart something they love to their children, it’s pure bliss. Following performance is by a singer with his 3 years old daughter, titled, “Because of Love” (“因为爱情“). It has become a big hit in China. Happy Children’s Day! Read more…

On Chinese Women Dating / Marrying White Men

May 10th, 2012 17 comments

I usually don’t have much problems with Chinese women dating and marrying white men.  Traditionally I typically view them on an individual basis. If the relationship last and works out for both parties, it’s a win-win for all – who cares about if two people are of different races?

Sure, I don’t deny that the phenomenon of Chinese women looking to date and marry white men do raise some broader potential social / cultural issues for me.  Why does it seem like some Chinese women are purposefully shunning Chinese men?  Why does one often find white men successful in looking to date and marry Chinese women but much rarer Chinese men dating and marrying white women?

I usually chalk up these nagging social issues to women looking to move up the social and economic ladder.

Because of the history of the last 200 years, Westerners typically make more money, are financially more successful and stable, than Chinese.  To the extent women (Chinese included) marry for security, dating and marrying white men seems only natural.  From the Chinese perspective, it might even be encouraged, if nothing else than to improve the quality of life some of its people through the fast track.

But recently, I came across this WSJ report that seems to turn that theory upside down.  It appears in Hong Kong, the real action is not of poor Chinese women marrying rich foreign men, which I understand, but rich Chinese women seeking out to marry white men.

The above picture apparently caused quite a stir and went viral in Hong Kong cyberspace recently.

Here is a copy of the WSJ article in full: Read more…

Crossing the gender divide

April 26th, 2012 9 comments

This post may appear a bit from the left field. The Youku video below is a performance by Ye Zihan (叶紫涵), who cross-dresses and performs as a woman. Some may even think he is very pretty. What’s more interesting is the Q&A with the judges that follows.

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Categories: culture Tags: ,

Disturbing trend of suicides in China

April 22nd, 2012 27 comments

China’s development has seen a dramatic rise in quality of life for many of its people as many people are well aware. But despite this improvement in quality of life, modern China also has some very high suicide rates. According to 2010 figures supplied by the WHO, China is ranked 9th in the world in suicide rates behind Latvia and ahead of Slovenia.

What accounts for this high rate and what are some things the government or others do to reduce this trend?

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A Dance Show to Remember

April 10th, 2012 11 comments

The following series of photos were taken by me few days ago featuring local dancers from Silicon Valley. I was really impressed by the stunning visuals, both in the costumes and the choreography. The red, the vibrance, and the amazing grace were all so ‘Chinese.’ While photographing, I was struck by the idea that this cool art is endowed in my heritage.

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Love and Hardship

April 9th, 2012 3 comments

As I have written a number of years ago (see ““Father’s Prairie, Mother’s River” – the feelings of one billion people on the move“), China is a country in transition. There are still hundreds of millions of people toiling away trying to survive. The following is a testimony to this idea that there are many diamonds in the rough, and China needs to continue to churn out opportunities for her people at breakneck speed. Anyways, story was revealed only after initially failing their performance on the popular “China’s Got Talent” show. I highly recommend it. Some of you might be moved to tears.


(To watch this on Youku.com, click here.)

“Culture Shock – Chinese Americans in China”

April 5th, 2012 16 comments

This is a thought-provoking two-part documentary, titled, “Culture Shock – Chinese Americans in China,” produced by Stephy Chung featuring Chinese Americans’ experiences in China with Beijing Foreign University Professor Li Jinzhao (Center for Diaspora Studies) providing analysis from an identity point of view. Professor Li says that Chinese Americans in China are “constantly weighing the values [Chinese and American] and trying to decide which is better.” The documentary also features Kaiser Kuo, who explains how these Chinese Americans could channel their energy and perhaps embrace this idea of dual culturalism, which then allows them to bridge China and America. Read more…

The Retraction of Mike Daisey’s one-man show “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs” from ‘This American Life’

March 21st, 2012 17 comments

[Editor: this piece was co-written by Charles Liu and Allen]

To the credit of “This American Life” – a popular program on Public Radio International –  its producers over the weekend officially retracted its January airing of a version of Mike Daisy’s popular monologue titled “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs,” in which Daisy described first-hand terrible work conditions at Foxconn, a key supplier to Apple’s iPad and iPhones. There were simply too much distortion and fabrications of facts to ignore.

Both Allen and I actually heard the show in January.  It made us sad and angry at the time – not because we knew something was wrong – but because we got the sense that the story was too sensationalized.  Mike Daisy did know how to tell a story, but much of it sounded hollow to us.  It was too dramatized. It was so gloomy – so dark – so unapologetically one-sided. Read more…

Virulent racism endemic in the western animal rights movement

March 15th, 2012 72 comments

This blog may be taken as a second part my Collective Defamation article (with possible further blogs in the future involving other kinds of anti-sinitic defamation). It is inspired by recent events blogged by Charles Liu. Another vicious slander that is common in the west is that the Chinese are a cruel people. The image is made visceral, rage inducing, when a cute animal is shown being killed or tortured. These kinds of images are often made focusing on Chinese people as the perpetrators. This is an effective image that serves to single out and dehumanize the Chinese as a group and it is very effective.

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Some Thoughts on the Linsanity Surrounding Jeremy Lin

February 21st, 2012 55 comments

Like other Asian Americans, I have been following Linsanity over the last 2 weeks or so with great interest and pride. It’s not too often you see a twice-cut bench warmer become a starter and take a professional team in New York by storm like Jeremy Lin (林書豪) has. While the future of Lin as a mega star is not necessarily secure, with some saying that Lin is a phenom only because of his race and others observing that the Knicks has played mostly sissy teams the last couple of weeks, there are plenty of which to be proud even if Linsanity were to end tomorrow.

As a columnist in the Washingtonpost pointed out: Read more…

Happy Chinese New Year

January 23rd, 2012 7 comments

(This Chinese New Year greeting came via raffiaflower, and I took the liberty in sharing it.  DeWang)

Various ways of writing '爱' - photo by raffiaflower at Huang Shan (黄山)


Hi, there!

Every language has a word for love. But Chinese is probably the only language that has so many possible written variations of the emotion. This has been the way, even since before Qinshihuangdi unified China and imposed standardized measures, including the universal script. Yet the writing variations of the old kingdoms are still known today. In a park on the way to Huangshan (one of the five sacred mountains) I came across this stone tablet, with at least 50 versions of the word `love’ 爱! (picture attached) Sure beats Elizabeth Barrett-Browning’s: How do I love thee!

What better way to offer Chinese New Year greetings but with plenty of love, in all its written expressions. Read more…

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How Bad or Good is Chinese TV?

January 22nd, 2012 30 comments

Today also happened to be the day before new year (除夕)in the lunar calendar. I would like to wish everybody a happy, healthy and prosperous dragon year. Instead of the usual heavy subject matter, I would like to talk about something more light hearted. I am in a holiday mood today so I will address some concern about the lack of creativity in TV broadcasting in China. Instead of using academic discussion I will simply provide a link to a hot TV series that has taken my sister by storm. She is the one that actually sent it to me. In fact she considered this love/history drama so good that it triumphed all works from Taiwan and HK (of course that’s her personal view).

The TV series is “步步惊心” or “步步驚心”loosely translated as “Startling by Each Step”, I know the translation is always so corny. It is about a modern girl who went back through time to the later reign of Qing Kangxi period. If you are familiar with this period, you will know the palace intrigue that took place. Although it is considered science fiction, the costume and cultural aspect is very accurate. The author of the original work is 桐华. She did an awesome work by inter-weaning love and politics into the story.

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