China-- Your impressions?

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Re: China-- Your impressions?

Post  Yakima Canutt on Wed May 18, 2011 7:53 am

ROFLMAO

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Re: China-- Your impressions?

Post  Constance on Wed May 18, 2011 11:00 pm

Xinhua/Shanghai Daily | 2011-4-28


Family planning policy stays firm


CHINA will maintain the strict family planning policy it imposed a generation ago to keep the birth rate low and the economy growing, President Hu Jintao said in remarks before the release of census data.

China has the world's largest population and credits its family planning policy introduced in 1980 with preventing 400 million additional births.

The population is now more than 1.3 billion. Data on the first census in 10 years will be made public today.

Hu told top state leaders at a group study of the Political Bureau of the Party Central Committee on Tuesday that the policy - which limits most urban couples to one child and rural families to two - should be maintained and improved. But no birth rate target or other specific details were given.

Hu said China is a big developing country with a population of more than 1.3 billion, which is a fundamental reality that should be kept in mind when making decisions and taking actions.

There has been growing speculation among Chinese media, experts and the public about whether the government would relax the family planning policy soon, allowing more people to have two children.

The family planning policy has curbed China's population growth but brought new problems, such as an expanding elderly population that demographers say will be increasingly hard to support as the young labor force shrinks.

Hu said that social security and services for the elderly should be improved and he called on officials to formulate strategies to cope with the aging population.

The president also called for efforts in building China into a country strong in human resources.

The one-child policy is blamed by some for the country's skewed sex ratio. Some families with a strong preference for boys sometimes resort to aborting female fetuses. Demographers worry the imbalance will make it hard for men to find wives.

The male-female ratio at birth in China is about 119 males to 100 females, with the gap as high as 130 males for every 100 females in some provinces. In industrialized countries, the ratio is 107 to 100.

Problems concerning the sex ratio should be addressed, and gender equity efforts enhanced, Hu said.

Government statistics showed China recorded 12.13 births per thousand people in 2009, comparable to birth rates in the United Kingdom, Australia and Denmark.

It is above the very low birth rates of around 7 or 8 per thousand found in countries such as Japan and Italy.

But it is well below the 23 births per thousand that the United Nations reports for India, which is expected to overtake China as the world's most populous nation by 2025.

http://www.shanghaidaily.com/nsp/National/2011/04/28/Family%2Bplanning%2Bpolicy%2Bstays%2Bfirm/

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Re: China-- Your impressions?

Post  precinct14 on Fri May 20, 2011 3:11 am



They take being left standing at the altar seriously, over there. Thankfully, the bride that never was, was hauled back in ok.

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Re: China-- Your impressions?

Post  eddie on Sun Jul 24, 2011 4:35 pm

The Fat Years by Chan Koonchung – review

Jonathan Fenby enjoys a dystopian portrait of the world's most deceitful superpower

Jonathan Fenby The Observer, Sunday 24 July 2011


A boy waves a Chinese flag at a celebration of the Communist party's 90th anniversary in Tiananmen Square, June 2011. Photograph: AP

The problem with writing novels set in the near future is that time catches up with you. The Fat Years, set in a China of 2011, appeared in Hong Kong in 2009. At first glance, it might seem that history has overtaken Chan Koonchung's book, since the terrible events it describes have not come to pass. But in fact, the book's central theme remains as valid as when Chan wrote it. Despite being officially banned, the novel has enjoyed a considerable underground audience in mainland China, even becoming a smart item for society hostesses to give to guests, as Julia Lovell notes in her illuminating preface.


The Fat Years by Chan Koonchung

The Fat Years remains valid because it is not simply a "what might happen" exercise in futurism. Its central conceit – that collective amnesia overtakes the entire country – is an all-encompassing metaphor for today's looming superpower and the question that lies behind its material renaissance since the 1980s – namely, whether a booming economy and an increasingly free individual society can be contained within the political straitjacket of a one-party system that seeks to retain all the levers of power for itself.

The novel's starting point is that a month has gone missing from the official record and from popular memory in a China which bestrides the globe economically, right down to owning Starbucks. Something terrible took place during the vanished month, but the regime, through nefarious means that are only revealed at the end of the novel, has managed to effect a state of near total forgetfulness.

The central character, Old Chen, sets out to find what happened and to understand why everybody is so extraordinarily happy, as he himself is at the start of the book, living in Happiness Village Number Two, and content in the realisation that China has enjoyed continuing growth and ever greater social harmony while the west has wilted after the economic tsunami of 2008.

The person who sets him on this quest is an old flame he meets by chance, Little Xi, an online dissident with an obnoxious Party-lining son. They join with others who question the country's euphoric condition. They meet characters who have made it materially and those who have suffered – on the one side, a real estate tycoon, a jetsetting political adviser and a high-price prostitute; on the other, an underground Christian and a former slave worker. To conclude their investigation, they kidnap a senior official and he spills the beans as to what lies behind the "fat years".

The theme of collective memory loss is particularly apposite in a country where the past is manipulated by those in power and where no public discussion of the official version of, say, the events of 1989 is permitted. Whether a nation can progress without confronting its own past is a question that hovers over the country, which again adds to the novel's pertinence.

Sitting in the comfortable west, it is easy for critics of China to be censorious about the way so many people accept the rush for wealth accumulation and close an eye to the regime's political record and its human rights abuses. But the crude fact is that, after a terrible century and a quarter up to 1978, in which China went through the worst protracted experience of any nation in history, the present era may, indeed, seem like the "fat years".

To touch on so many issues, either directly or by implication, in such a compelling narrative is a triumph, abetted by an excellent translation by Michael Duke. One can only hope that Chan, who was born in Shanghai and raised in Hong Kong, continues to write about the China of today from his current vantage point in Beijing. That will, in its way, be a test of whether the warnings of The Fat Years come true. We can only hope not.


Jonathan Fenby, author of The Penguin History of Modern China, is working on a book on contemporary China, to be published next

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Re: China-- Your impressions?

Post  eddie on Mon Aug 01, 2011 9:08 pm

Exiled author Ma Jian banned from visiting China

Writer warns of increasingly repressive political regime after he is stopped from entering Chinese mainland from Hong Kong

Tania Branigan in Beijing guardian.co.uk, Friday 29 July 2011 12.44 BST


Chinese author Ma Jian was barred from entering mainland China during a recent visit to Hong Kong. Photograph: Martin Argles for the Guardian

One of China's most acclaimed authors, who is now a British citizen, has warned that its "increasingly harsh" political climate has echoes of the Cultural Revolution after authorities barred him from entering the mainland.

Ma Jian, author of Red Dust and Beijing Coma, was prevented from crossing the border from Hong Kong on Saturday. He had previously returned hundreds of times since leaving China in 1986. Officials have given him no reason for the ban or any indication of how long it will last.

"The fact that I have been denied entry is an indication of how repressive the regime has become," said Ma. "It is vitally important for me, both personally and for my writing, to be able to return to China freely, so being barred entry has caused me deep concern and distress.

"I suspected that my trip to Beijing this summer might be problematic because of the increasingly harsh political climate in China. And sure enough, for the first time in my life, I have been denied entry."

The 58-year-old said this clampdown felt different to others he had witnessed over the last three decades, and suggested that a lack of international reaction was partially responsible.

Citing the imprisonment of Nobel peace prize winner Liu Xiaobo and the two-month detention of Ai Weiwei, he warned: "There are echoes of the Cultural Revolution, when no sounds could be heard other than the deafening voice of the Communist party. This current clampdown began with the Beijing Olympics. The government discovered that they could suppress all forms of dissent, and still receive the approbation of the international community."

Ma is a permanent resident of Hong Kong, having moved there shortly before his first book was denounced by the Chinese authorities in 1987. He left for the UK when Hong Kong was handed back to China in 1997 and lives in London with his partner and translator Flora Drew and their children.

Although his works are banned on the mainland he has been able to return regularly, but said his movements are closely monitored.

Ma added: "When I travelled through the Chinese countryside while researching the book I've just finished, almost every friend I stayed with along my route was later questioned by the police."

He was also summoned to see state security officers while visiting Beijing in 2008. They said they were watching him closely but that as long as he stayed away from politically sensitive people such as Liu Xiaobo, and did not contact the media while on the mainland, he could return whenever he wished.

Ma said he had been in Hong Kong for a book fair last week and wanted to buy books in Shenzhen before flying back to London. He now fears he will be unable to make a long planned trip to Beijing next week with his family. His 88-year-old mother is in frail health and has yet to meet his youngest children.

"Many people have suggested that the clampdown is connected with an internal jostling for power ahead of the change in government leadership next year, but I think something more fundamental is going on, something relating to the nature of the Communist party itself and the totalitarian regime's inability to adapt to modernity and to respond to natural yearnings for free expression," he said.

"My hope is that the Chinese government will come to realise that it is futile to repress free speech, and that contrary to what they believe a regime's strength rests not its suppression of a plurality of opinions and ideas, but in its capacity and willingness to encourage them."

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Re: China-- Your impressions?

Post  Constance on Tue Aug 02, 2011 1:59 am

I've read two of his books. Highly recommended.

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Re: China-- Your impressions?

Post  eddie on Thu Nov 03, 2011 9:20 pm

Will China Help Europe Out Of The Red?

By Holly Williams, China correspondent
Sky News


The G20 summit will showcase a historical shift in power to the East, with Europe looking to China to rescue it from its financial woes.

Klaus Regling, the head of the European Financial Stability Facility, recently visited Beijing to try to persuade the Chinese to put their money into the European bailout fund.

Thanks to its 30-year boom, and exports that far outstrip what it imports, China has the world's largest foreign currency reserves - around U\$3trn (£1.9trn).

More than one-third of that is already invested in American treasury bonds, and it is estimated China holds another 600bn euro (£517bn) in euro-denominated debt.

If China does stump up some cash for the fund, it will not be out of kindness.

China buys foreign debt because it has an interest in doing so: the US and Europe are its two biggest export markets, so by keeping them afloat it is insuring that its best customers keep on buying.

But China may need some convincing when it comes to the European bailout. After all, with several European economies in crisis, such an investment would not be without risk.

Some believe China will ask for political concessions - like being recognised as a full market economy, which would give Chinese companies greater access to Europe, or an end to the arms embargo that the EU placed on China after the 1989 Tiananmen massacre.

Others think that is unlikely.

"Everything is up for discussion, but the most important thing for the Chinese government is whether the investment is safe," said Li Zhengxin, an editor with Caixin, China's highest-circulation financial magazine.

"If we can gain some favourable policies or symbolic gestures, that's secondary."

Beijing has continued to buy euro-denominated debt over the past few months, and will almost certainly take on more.

Yet, the Chinese government clearly does not want to be seen as an easy source of money for cash-strapped advanced economies.

State-controlled media has said China cannot be "a saviour to the Europeans".

China's role as a potential saviour makes negotiating on other issues more difficult.

For several years, policymakers in both the US and the EU have asked China to allow its currency, the Renminbi, to appreciate in value.

It is widely thought the currency - which is pegged to the US dollar - is undervalued, giving Chinese companies an advantage vis-a-vis their Western competitors.

But Beijing has allowed the Renminbi to rise by only 4% this year, and it is even less likely to be accommodating now that it is being asked for help.

The country's leadership is also annoyed about a US bill that would impose tariffs on China for "manipulating" its currency.

Finally, the Chinese government knows its increasingly nationalistic public takes a dim view of helping out the West.

"It's like a rich man who has wasted all his money coming to a poor man for help," said He Xingyuan, an unemployed migrant worker in Beijing.

"We shouldn't help them."

A man who identified himself only by his surname Han said: "Western countries invaded us in the past.

"We can help them now, but they should give us something in return."

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Re: China-- Your impressions?

Post  Constance on Wed Nov 09, 2011 1:16 am

China's Great Gender Crisis

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/nov/02/chinas-great-gender-crisis?CMP=EMCGT_031111

China's great gender crisis
Chinese families have long favoured sons over daughters, meaning the country now has a huge surplus of men. Is it also leading to a profound shift in attitudes to women?

Newborn babies in Beijing: some families are beginning to think it may be an advantage to have girls
Photograph: FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images

His parents knew exactly what they wanted from their son: they called him Famiao, or "produce descendants". Yet when their first grandchild arrived, they refused to step across the courtyard of the family home to see the new baby. Qiaoyue was a girl.
When finally obliged to meet her, "they didn't even wash her face or comb her hair. I was furious," says their daughter-in-law, Chen Xingxiao.
"My father-in-law's friends would ask him, 'How come you haven't brought your grandchild out for a walk?' He would say, 'If it was a boy I would have done. She's a girl, so I won't.'"
Chen's righteous anger is perhaps more surprising than her in-laws' disdain. China's preference for sons stretches back for centuries. Infanticide, the abandonment of girl babies and favourable treatment of boys in terms of food and health has long produced a surplus of men. In the past two decades, the gap at birth has soared: the advent of ultrasound scans has allowed people to abort female foetuses, even though sex-selective abortion is illegal.
In the early 1980s there were 108 male births to every 100 female, only slightly above the natural rate; by 2000 that had soared to 120 males, and in some provinces, such as Anhui, Jiangxi and Shaanxi, to more than 130. The result is that more than 35 million women are "missing". Though China is not the only country affected – India's situation is similar – it has by far the widest gap; its one-child policy has exacerbated the problem.
The effects of the discrepancy are only now emerging in full. The country has tens of millions of men who are destined to die single. Some fear that the excess will lead to increased sexual violence, general crime and social instability. Yet campaigners see the first signs of hope, as more parents come round to Chen's way of thinking. Official statistics released this summer suggest the sex ratio at birth (SRB) has fallen slightly for two years running, to just over 118 males in 2010.
China's population and family planning chief, Dr Li Bin, said it showed the discrepancy "has been preliminarily brought under control"; while experts are more cautious, they agree that the figures offer some hope. The country's new Five Year Plan sets an ambitious target of cutting the ratio to 112 or 113 by 2016. Could China at last be poised to close the sex gap?
No one is claiming victory quite yet: in fact, the government has just pledged to get tougher, launching a new drive against sex-selective abortion. It is increasing safeguards – such as the requirement that two doctors are present at each ultrasound – and toughening punishments. Institutions, as well as individuals, will be held responsible for breaches; the worst offenders risk having their medical licences withdrawn.
"[In the short term] cracking down on illegal foetal sex testing and sex-selective abortions is very important and effective," says Professor Li Shuzhuo, of the Institute for Population and Development Studies at Xi'an Jiaotong University. But he acknowledges medical staff often find ways to indicate a baby's sex, despite the law. They may nod or shake their head; or use a full stop or comma at the end of medical notes – to indicate that parents have achieved their goal or must continue efforts to have a boy.
Other experts fear that cracking down on sex-selective abortion could lead to unsafe, illicit abortions or infanticide if the underlying wishes of the parents remain unchanged. In other words, the battle for China's baby girls will ultimately depend on changing preferences. But as Li points out, that is a long-term struggle, and society pays a high price in the meantime.
The roots of son-preference lie deep in Chinese culture. Traditionally, the bloodline passes through the male side. Women also "marry out", joining their husband's families and looking after their in-laws, not their own parents. For a long time, a son was your pension. Having a girl was wasteful. "Even though son-preference is not rational from the viewpoint of society as a whole, it is a rational choice for an individual," says Li.
Chen's home lies near lush rice paddies, where farmers in wide-brimmed straw hats bend double. The community used to rely on agriculture and believed a boy was necessary for the heaviest work in the fields.
"I can't really blame [my in-laws]; their view was a common one. We have a saying, 'The better sons you have, the better life we can have,' because men have more strength and can carry out more work," says Chen.
In fact, official policy has adapted to these assumptions. China's strict birth-control rules, introduced just over 30 years ago to curb a soaring population, restrict most couples to one birth. But there are several exemptions. Ethnic-minority families are allowed more than one child; couples who are both only children are permitted to have two. The most striking example is the exception made for rural households. While their urban counterparts are generally restricted to one birth, rural couples are allowed a second - if their first is a girl. The statistics show just how important producing at least one son is: the sex ratios for second and third births are vastly more skewed than for first children.
When Chen's daughter was born, a little over 30 years ago, the consequences of the ultrasound had yet to be felt in Shengzhou. But by 1982, 124 boys were being born for every 100 girls. Five years later that figure had risen again, to 129.
Then something striking happened: the ratio dropped steeply. By 1996 it was 109.5. Soon after, according to statistics, it returned to the natural level.
You do not have to look far for part of the explanation. Shengzhou is, it boasts, International Necktie City of the 21st Century, making 350m ties a year – or 40% of the world's supply – as well as huge quantities of gas stoves and cone diaphragms for speakers.
Its factories offer plenty of jobs for daughters, allowing them to make a hefty economic contribution to the household. Across the country, manufacturers have frequently preferred female employees, regarding them as more careful and less troublesome.
Many rural families have less land than they used to; and machinery is available to work the soil, making brute strength less important. China is beginning to develop a welfare system. And development has brought other changes – couples who move into cities have more exposure to new ideas, and less pressure from extended families, say experts.
Old habits and beliefs are eroding. In villages as well as towns, conjugal ties between husband and wife have become more important, while the filial links between parent and child have become less so. Young couples are more likely to live apart from relatives. Few parents can now count on a dutiful daughter-in-law caring for them; and many are noticing that daughters are doing a better job.
Chen admits that she was initially disappointed when her daughter was born. "Of course, I wanted to have a boy. But after giving birth, I thought: 'I don't care. This is my baby,'" she says.
"I looked around me; one of my neighbours had five sons and one daughter. One day, when he was 60 or 70, he wanted some money from his sons for living costs. He cooked a tableful of dishes and bought wine and invited his sons. But none of them agreed to give the money to him. He was furious and smashed the table with his stick. And I thought: 'Well, sons are useless.'"
Meanwhile, she noticed, daughters were returning to visit their parents, bringing gifts and money. Despite strong pressure from her husband and in-laws, she refused to have another child: Qiaoyue was enough for her.
Anthropologist Yunxiang Yan's work suggests that others in China are drawing similar conclusions – and that it is changing their attitude towards girls.
"You can see clearly that a trend of treating sons and daughters equally is slowly emerging in some regions and developing in others," says Yan, of the University of California, Los Angeles.
Some even think that son preference may partially correct itself. The surplus of men has increased competition for brides, meaning families must buy ever more expensive housing to ensure their sons can marry – increasing the economic attractiveness of daughters.
The government has spent an estimated 300 million yuan (£29.5m) trying to precipitate this shift in preferences. Li is the lead consultant in the Care for Girls programme, which combines carrot and stick with educational projects.
There are punishments for sex-selective abortions and extra subsidies for couples who do not use their right to a second child after having a daughter. One county in Fujian has built houses for daughter-only families.
But Ru Xiaomei, deputy director of the international liaison department at the National Population and Family Planning Commission, says the programme is designed to promote female equality in general. So there are roadside signs telling villagers that girls can continue the family line; focus-group discussions for mothers-in-law; help packages for women starting businesses and extra encouragement for girls to enter schools. Officials have even tried to promote the idea of men marrying into women's families, rather than vice versa.
A pilot programme in 24 areas, selected for their very high imbalances, saw the average ratio fall from almost 134 in 2000 to just under 120 in 2005 – still high, as the experts involved acknowledge, but a substantial improvement. It has since been rolled out across China; Li says it is hard to know how exactly how much of a difference it is making, but is confident it has shown results across the country.
Others have concerns: Dr Lisa Eklund of Sweden's Lund University suggests in a recent thesis on son preference that parts of the programme could backfire. Capitalising on gender norms – such as the idea that women are caring – may increase sympathy for girls in the short term, but in the long run reinforce stereotypes – and, thereby, son preference.
Similarly, the social and economic incentives "are partially based on the assumption that having daughters creates vulnerability ... They convey the message that daughters are not as valuable as sons, and that families with only daughters are in need of financial support," she warns.
Whatever the merits of individual policies, government intervention has helped to rebalance births. In the early 90s, South Korea had Asia's highest ratio at birth; by 2007, it had a normal rate. Experts suggest that reforming the family law system, expanding female employment and increasing urbanisation were key.
"I think that the preference for sons is decreasing in China, especially in the more affluent coastal areas, where the SRB shot up fastest earlier," says Dr Monica Das Gupta of the World Bank, who has been tracking son preference in Asia. "But you shouldn't expect to see the sharp decline you saw in South Korea, because South Korea is a small, homogeneous country ... The new ideas swept through the country very quickly. In China it will take longer because of its size and internal differentiation."
Professor Yuan Xin, of Nankai University's Population and Development Institute, warns that it will take at least 10 or 20 years' more work to end a preference that dates back thousands of years. Others think that is optimistic.
Chen says she has witnessed attitudes in Shengzhou shift in the past few decades. Even her in-laws have been won over, because her daughter treats them so well. "I'm not boasting, but I think I took the lead," she says. "There's been a very positive trend, but I won't say things have changed totally."
Recently, a neighbour agreed to have a second child under intense pressure from her husband's family, joking that she was damned if the next child was a girl. "It was twin daughters," says Chen ruefully. "The mother-in-law still wants boys.

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Re: China-- Your impressions?

Post  eddie on Sun Nov 13, 2011 3:05 pm

Liu Xiaobo: new book lifts China's gag on jailed Nobel peace prizewinner

Liu Xiaobo, winner of Nobel peace prize, will have his collected writings published in English for the first time

Dalya Alberge
guardian.co.uk, Saturday 12 November 2011 20.00 GMT


Liu Xiaobo’s book contains a moving tribute to his wife, the poet Liu Xia. Photograph: EPA

The collected writings of Chinese Nobel prizewinner Liu Xiaobo have been translated into English for the first time, but there will be no interviews, bookshop signings or appearances at literary festivals. The author is not even aware of the English translation, because he remains incarcerated in a Chinese jail and his wife is under house arrest.

Liu, who won last year's Nobel peace prize, is serving an 11-year sentence that began in 2009 for "inciting subversion of state power". Friends have been unable to contact his wife, Liu Xia, even though she has not been charged with anything.

The 55-year-old former professor at Beijing University has repeatedly been detained or arrested and sentenced over the years for his relentless but peaceful political activities, calling for democratic reforms, including freedom of expression, and condemning China's treatment of Tibet. He was barred from attending the Nobel ceremony, and at the funeral of his father earlier this year he was forbidden from talking to anybody.

But, although silenced in China, his voice will be heard again in the west with the first English-language collection of his essays and poetry, which Harvard University Press will publish in January under the title No Enemies, No Hatred.

The 345-page volume will also include "evidence" cited against him by the Chinese court that sentenced him. The publishers describe the book as a critical insider's account of contemporary China, as well as comparative views of eastern and western cultures.

Work by a team of 14 translators has been edited by Perry Link, professor of comparative literature at the University of California. He said that, until the Nobel, Liu was little known in the west: "This collection offers to the reader of English the full range of his astute and penetrating analyses of culture, politics and society in China today."

Liu came to the attention of the authorities in 1989, during the suppression of protesters in Beijing's Tiananmen Square. He was sent to prison for 19 months. In 1995 there was another seven months behind bars, with no reason given, although it happened after he released a petition called "Learn from the Lesson Written in Blood and Push Democracy". In 1996 he fell foul of the authorities again for speaking out about China's one-party political system. Charges of "disturbing public order" led to his "re-education" – imprisonment in a labour camp for three years.

It was there that he wrote most of the poems in the Harvard volume, including a particularly tender one entitled Your Lifelong Prisoner, dedicated to his wife. Link said: "Xiaobo's humane values took shape most obviously during the late 1990s when he and Liu Xia, a poet, fell in love and married, and this poem was written then. He wrote it in a prison, so the contrast between 'unwilling physical prisoner of the state' and 'willing spiritual prisoner of my lover' has real-world significance."

Liu Xia was allowed to visit him once a month, making the 1,100-mile round trip from Beijing 36 times. Despite personal risks, he wrote repeatedly of police brutality – a woman beaten up "enough to disfigure her face" – and of the persecution of people "for their words", observing: "The price of freedom is to go to the limit."

Such a man cannot be silenced, Link said: "Once you've put someone in prison, other than… execute him, there's no further punishment to exact. In that sense it frees the writer. About six or eight years ago, he just made the decision: 'OK, no more self-censorship. I'm going to write down what I think exactly and if I go to prison, I go to prison.'"

The book's foreword has been written by Václav Havel, the Czech writer and fellow brave dissident whose own Charter 77, which called for human rights in 1970s Czechoslovakia, inspired Liu and other Chinese activists to put forward their own manifesto, Charter 08. Havel writes in the Harvard book: "Despite Liu's imprisonment, his ideas cannot be shackled."

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Re: China-- Your impressions?

Post  eddie on Sun Dec 04, 2011 2:37 pm

Sweetie And Sunshine Prepare For Life In UK

By Holly Williams, China correspondent
Sky News – Fri, Dec 2, 2011


Sweetie And Sunshine Prepare For Life In UK

Edinburgh Zoo is about to take delivery of two of the rarest animals on the planet - a pair of giant pandas on loan from the Chinese government.

Sunshine and Sweetie - Yangguang and Tian Tian in Chinese - are both seven-years-old. They have grown up together in the misty mountains of southwest China.

On Sunday they will embark on a 5,000 mile journey to Scotland, where they will become star exhibits at the Edinburgh Zoo.

The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland will pay more than £600,000 a year for the loan of the pandas, plus another £70,000 on imported bamboo. The pair eat 18,000kg of the plant every year.

Sunshine and Sweetie will fly to the UK on a specially fitted Fedex cargo plane, along with their "nanny" Xie Hao.

Mr Xie has raised the two since birth, and will stay with them in Edinburgh for a month before returning home to China.

"I've looked after them since they were little, so it will be painful being separated from them," he told Sky News.

"Sweetie is more sensitive, more of an introvert because she's a girl. But Sunshine is braver, so he may find it easier to adapt."

Sunshine and Sweetie will be the first pandas to live in Britain in nearly 20 years, and the first ever to be kept in captivity in Scotland.

The hope is that they will produce a cub during their 10-year stay.

Pandas are notoriously unwilling to reproduce in captivity. The Chinese breeding programme has used viagra, herbal medicine and artificial insemination in its efforts to increase panda numbers.

At one point keepers even resorted to "panda porn" - showing the animals videos of other members of their species copulating.

To help encourage the process in Edinburgh , the zoo has built them a new enclosure that includes three dens, a bedroom and a viewing platform.

If Sunshine and Sweetie do produce a baby it will be the first ever panda cub born in Britain.

The pandas will be on show from December 16.


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Re: China-- Your impressions?

Post  Constance on Mon Dec 05, 2011 6:38 am

In Chinese, the words for panda are shang mao, "mountain cat."

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Re: China-- Your impressions?

Post  Constance on Mon Dec 05, 2011 6:39 am

But, I wonder, why don't they have Chinese names? Their names must be translations.

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Re: China-- Your impressions?

Post  eddie on Mon Dec 05, 2011 6:45 am

I seem to recall a panda thread on ATUI, so I guess this is the AATU version.

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Re: China-- Your impressions?

Post  Constance on Mon Dec 05, 2011 6:50 am

In Beijing, I saw a panda rocking in a rocking chair.

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Re: China-- Your impressions?

Post  eddie on Sun Jan 29, 2012 3:05 am


Stephen Collins.

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Re: China-- Your impressions?

Post  eddie on Sun Jan 29, 2012 3:23 am

The Death of Mao by James Palmer – review

Disaster and intrigue in China after the cultural revolution

Rana Mitter

guardian.co.uk, Friday 27 January 2012 22.55 GMT


Tangshan City in Hobei province after the 1976 earthquake. Photograph: Bettmann/CORBIS

On 12 May 2008, a devastating earthquake ripped apart Wenchuan county in Sichuan province, southwest China. Military and civilian rescuers arrived swiftly at the scene, saving countless lives. Although more than 68,000 people died, the number of fatalities could have been much higher.


The Death of Mao: The Tangshan Earthquake and the Birth of the New China
by James Palmer

An indication of how much higher had been made clear on 28 July 1976, when the nondescript mining city of Tangshan in northern China was hit by an earthquake which measured 7.8 on the Richter scale and killed some 250,000 people. At the time, many Chinese regarded the disaster as a portent of great change. Already that year two major Chinese leaders, premier Zhou Enlai and senior marshal Zhu De, had died. And just two months later, on 9 September, Mao Zedong, the man who had led China for more than quarter of a century, himself went to meet his maker – Marx, of course.

James Palmer's book weaves together these two narratives of natural disaster and elite political intrigue to provide a lucid account of one of the eeriest moments in modern Chinese history. Palmer takes us inside Zhongnanhai, the party complex formerly inhabited by the emperors in the heart of Beijing, and brings to life the personalities jockeying for power as Mao lay dying of Lou Gehrig's disease. On the left, the cultural revolution group radicals were led by Mao's wife Jiang Qing, who once declared "Sex is engaging in the first rounds, but what really sustains attention in the long run is power."

The Chinese (and western) prejudice against powerful women has tended to give Jiang a uniquely demonic quality, and Palmer does well to remind readers of the role of figures such as the venal and overpromoted Wang Hongwen who whiled away the time during Mao's deathwatch by riding his motorbike and watching imported Hong Kong movies (although not simultaneously). On the right, the dying Zhou, stricken with cancer, sought to promote Deng Xiaoping, whose economic reforms he thought essential to rescue China from the inward-looking xenophobia of the cultural revolution. Yet this was not a melodrama of evil and good, or even radicalism versus reform. Even Zhou had plenty of blood on his hands, voting for all Mao's decisions to deepen the cultural revolution; in Palmer's telling phrase, he "saved more monuments than people".

Just a few hundred miles away from the chairman's deathbed, thousands of ordinary Chinese were about to meet a sudden and much more horrific end. The earthquake hit Tangshan with the force of 400 Hiroshima-sized atomic bombs, and its effect was felt as far afield as Beijing. Yet the help that arrived was patchy and almost all concentrated on the city, where the economically vital industrial equipment was located, rather than the rural areas. There were many heroic tales of people rescuing each other. There were also numerous cases of rape and looting. Palmer has interviewed survivors of the earthquake, some of whom had never before had a chance to tell their stories of struggling to survive in a city whose streets were lined with corpses and where help seemed very far off. One theme emerges clearly: the state was distracted by the crisis of succession and unable to deal with a more immediate and unexpected shock.

Palmer's account is written in enviably elegant prose. The narrative never flags and its judgments are humane and nuanced. The book argues that 1976 marks a moment of transition; after Mao's death, a swift series of internal coups and arrests brought the Gang of Four low and set the stage for Deng to take power within two years of Mao's death. The concentration on human stories means, however, that some of the factors that complicate the transition between the cultural revolution and the China of Deng Xiaoping are underplayed. We tend now to think of the era since Mao's death as the emergence of China into a capitalist world (in which Beijing has become one of the most skilled players). But during the first decade of reform, immediately post-Mao, the aim of Deng and his faction was to create a more market-oriented socialism in a world where they would engage with the USSR as well as the United States. In addition, important legal and economic reforms had already begun in the early 70s, along with the opening to the US. The death of Mao was a moment when China sought to rethink the cold war, rather than escape it.

Yet the significance of this book is reflected in the fact that a book entitled "The Death of Deng" would hardly have the same impact. Mao was the last Chinese leader whose death would unleash a personalised factional battle that could end in violence. In 2011, Hong Kong news sources wrongly reported the death of former Chinese president Jiang Zemin. The moment was embarrassing but not politically relevant. Yet just four decades ago, leaders did not retire and die peacefully. Former president Liu Shaoqi died as a prisoner in agony from medical mistreatment in a basement in 1969. Mao himself hung on as chairman to the last possible moment. Deng's achievement after Mao's death was to use his own force of personality to create a regular changeover of distinctly uncharismatic leaders.

Palmer ends with a reflection on the Sichuan earthquake of 2008. There, effective rescuers arrived within hours, unlike in Tangshan. But the aftermath of 2008 has been just as murky as in 1976. Locals who have tried to investigate official corruption that might have allowed substandard construction that caused buildings to collapse have been arrested and intimidated. The artist Ai Weiwei, who has spoken out on behalf of the earthquake victims, has been subjected to a (still ongoing) cat-and-mouse strategy by the authorities. This account of the links between natural disaster and elite politics in China is a fine work of history. But its real relevance may be that it shows how much has changed in China, and yet how little, since 1976.

• Rana Mitter's Modern China: A Very Short Introduction is published by OUP.

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Re: China-- Your impressions?

Post  Yakima Canutt on Wed Mar 28, 2012 5:32 pm

Fu Manchu plots to freeze the world's oceans with a diabolical new device. With his evil daughter, Lin Tang, his army of dacoits, and the help of the local crime organization led by Omar Pashu (whom Fu Manchu doublecrosses), Fu Manchu takes over the governor's castle in Istanbul which has a massive opium reserve, to control the largest opium port in Anatolia, a fuel for his machine.

He needs the help of an intelligent scientist with an ailing heart whom he has imprisoned so kidnaps a doctor and his wife to give him a heart transplant from one of his obedient servants. Opposing him from Interpol is his arch-nemesis Nayland Smith and also Dr. Petrie.

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Re: China-- Your impressions?

Post  eddie on Fri Apr 06, 2012 10:35 pm

Steve Bell on Ed Miliband

Edinburgh zoo's giant pandas fail to mate

guardian.co.uk, Friday 6 April 2012 01.12 BST




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Re: China-- Your impressions?

Post  Yakima Canutt on Thu Apr 12, 2012 12:00 am




Gugliotta: Tell me, Yu Hua, what are the thoughts you are having in regards to China today?

Yu Hua: The story of contemporary China can be told from many different angles, but here I want to tell it in terms of the copycat, a national myth playing itself out on a popular level.

The word here rendered as “copycat” (shanzhai) originally denoted a mountain hamlet protected by a stockade or other fortifications; later it acquired an extended meaning as a hinterland area, home to the poor. It was also a name once given to the lairs of outlaws and bandits, and the word has continued to have connotations of freedom from official control.


In the past few years, with the increasing popularity of copycat cell phones that offer multiple functions at a low price, the word “copycat” has given the word “imitation” a new meaning, and at the same time the limits to the original sense of “imitation” have been eroded, allowing room for it to acquire additional shades of meaning: counterfeiting, infringement, deviations from the standard, mischief and caricature. It would not be going too far to say that “copycat” has more of an anarchist spirit than any other word in contemporary Mandarin.


Copycat cell phones began by imitating the functions and designs of such brands as Nokia, Samsung and Sony Ericsson; to muddy the waters further, they gave themselves names like Nokir, Samsing and Suny Ericcsun. By plagiarizing existing brands and thereby skimping on research and development costs, they sold for a fraction of the price of established products; given their technical capabilities and trendy appearance, they soon cornered the low end of the consumer market.

With the rapid growth of the copycat industry there is now a dizzying variety of knockoff phone brands. One has recently appeared in stores under the mantle of Harvard University. Claiming to be manufactured by “Harvard Communications,” the brand presents President Obama as its spokesman and sports a beaming Obama on its advertisements. His smile, seen everywhere these days, has to count as the most famous—and the most powerful—smile in the world, but now it’s been hijacked and made to appear in promotions for Chinese copycat cell phones. “This is my BlackBerry,” Obama tells us with a grin, “the BlockBerry Whirlwind 9500!”



Obama is today’s symbol of that long-running American dream, but I am pretty sure he could never have imagined such an outlandish misuse of his image, and Americans at large would no doubt be flabbergasted to see their president serving as brand ambassador for a Chinese knockoff. We Chinese take it all in stride, for we don’t see anything wrong with copycatting Obama. After all, in China today, with the exception of the party in power and our current government leaders—plus retired but still living party and state leaders—everybody else can be copycatted, mocked and ridiculed, imitated and spoofed, at will.





In these past few years, Mao Zedong—our erstwhile Great Leader, Great Teacher, Great Commander and Great Helmsman—has been copycatted constantly. In the most bizarre instance, a female Mao impersonator appeared in southwest China, making such an immediate impact that she was hailed by the Chinese media as “sweeping aloft in majesty,” a literary expression to which Mao once claimed exclusive rights. When this 51-year-old woman made herself up as Mao and walked along the street, waving to the crowds that gathered, she looked uncannily like the Mao who waved to the parading masses from Tiananmen, and the crowds pressed toward her, rushing to be the first to shake her hand. In a moment the street was a dense throng of humanity, and it took her more than half an hour to walk just a few hundred yards.



Everybody felt that this female copycat was more like Mao than any male impersonator they had seen. Of course, the cost to her personally and financially was far higher, for she had to invest enormous effort to master Mao’s accent and mannerisms to the point where she could resemble him so closely in every way. Each time she made herself up to look like Mao, it took four hours and cost 2,000 yuan, or $310, in cosmetic expenses. To conceal her deficiencies in the stature department, she wore the highest possible elevator shoes. The real Mao was six feet tall, and she was not quite five foot six. After careful viewing of newsreel footage and endless hours perfecting the simulation of Mao’s gait, this female copycat Mao managed to walk with her thickened insoles in such a way that she looked just like Mao strolling along in his flat cotton shoes.

Once copycat cell phones had taken China by storm, copycat digital cameras, copycat MP3 players, copycat game consoles and other pirated and knockoff products came pouring forth. Copycat brands have rapidly expanded to include instant noodles, sodas, milk, medications, laundry detergent and sports shoes, and so the word “copycat” has penetrated deep into every aspect of Chinese people’s lives. Copycat stars, TV programs, advertisements, pop songs, Spring Festival galas, Shenzhou 7 space capsules and Bird’s Nest national stadiums have all made a splash on the Internet, each revealing their own special flavor and gaining instant popularity.


Copycat TV programs, released as videos on the Internet, tend to be send-ups of official TV programs, and China Central Television’s Network News, notorious for its rigidity and dogmatism, has become a perennial target of mockery. And some versions of Copycat News have been quite incisive in confronting sensitive social issues. When official media outlets hem and haw, Copycat News gets straight to the point, telling things as they are and adding liberal doses of derision and sarcasm. In one spoof, two completely unfamiliar anchors appeared in a skit inspired by the 2008 milk-powder scare. In the ponderous tones of Network News they announced that the regular anchors had been poisoned by contaminated milk and rushed off to intensive care; they had been brought in at the last minute to deliver that evening’s broadcast.


China Central Television’s annual Spring Festival gala provides the best possible chance for budding entertainers to make their name overnight. A decent female singer normally makes only about 1,000 yuan, or $155, for a day’s work, but after she makes an appearance at the Spring Festival gala, she can ask a much higher fee—10,000 or 20,000 yuan for a single song. The result is that getting a place on the gala program becomes a life-or-death struggle for many performers. They pull out all the stops, begging businessmen to underwrite them, imploring leaders to intercede on their behalf; sex is traded for money or power. The gala keeps growing and growing, giving the director endless headaches.



It is against this backdrop that copycat variety shows are broadcast on the last evening of the traditional Chinese year, the same time as the official CCTV gala. In 2009, more than a dozen such copycat events were broadcast on the Internet. As Spring Festival approached, their organizers unleashed a flood of copycat advertising, sending vehicles out into the streets to publicize their events, conducting news conferences in city squares, marching through downtowns holding aloft wastepaper baskets emblazoned with promotional quips. Advertising slogans for the copycat galas took multiple forms; one, borrowing Mao’s calligraphy, had the line: “The People’s Gala—for the people and by the people.” Viewers who are fed up with the CCTV gala—young people in particular—turn off their televisions on the last night of the year and flick on their computers. As they eat and drink, they can relish on the Internet the copycat galas produced by the grass roots.


From this we can see that the copycat phenomenon has a certain positive significance in China today. In this way, it represents a challenge of the grass roots to the elite, of the popular to the official, of the weak to the strong.


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Re: China-- Your impressions?

Post  pinhedz on Thu Apr 12, 2012 1:35 am

Chinese satirists playfully mock the Ukrainian tradition of welcoming visitors with gifts of bread and salt:




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Re: China-- Your impressions?

Post  Yakima Canutt on Tue Apr 22, 2014 3:36 pm


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Re: China-- Your impressions?

Post  pinhedz on Sun Apr 27, 2014 10:18 am

My impression is that China has discovered the motor car:


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Re: China-- Your impressions?

Post  Yakima Canutt on Mon Aug 25, 2014 4:20 pm

have you won any local talent shows with that impression?


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Re: China-- Your impressions?

Post  Yakima Canutt on Mon Aug 25, 2014 4:21 pm

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/08/a-secret-code-in-google-translate/378864/





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Re: China-- Your impressions?

Post  Yakima Canutt on Tue Sep 09, 2014 6:55 pm




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Re: China-- Your impressions?

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