Understanding China, One Blog at a Time

An American in China

Archive for June 15th, 2011

On Historic China

Posted by w_thames_the_d on June 15, 2011

These are observations from Herbert A Giles. I find it interesting to compare the musings of people who had visited China hundreds of years before to see how much, if an it has changed.

From Historic China, and other sketches (Herbert Allen Giles)
There have been, and are now, foreigners possessing a much wider knowledge of Chinese literature than many natives of education, but, strange to say, such translations as have hitherto been given to the world have been chiefly confined to plays and novels! We hold that all those whom tastes or circumstances have led to acquire a knowledge of the Chinese language have a great duty to perform, and this is to contribute each something to the scanty quota of translations from Chinese now existing. Let us see what the poets, historians, and especially the scientific men of China have produced to justify so many in speaking as they have done, and still do speak, of her bulky literature. Many, we think, will be deterred by the grave nonsense or childish superstitions which they dare not submit to foreign judges as the result of their labours in this fantastic field; but to withhold such is to leave the public where it was before, at the mercy of unscrupulous or crazed enthusiasts.

Posted in Cultural oddities | Leave a Comment »

Chinese Witticisms and Mindless Chinese Banter- Conversing with Chinese

Posted by w_thames_the_d on June 15, 2011

The people who reside in China, if I may be so bold as to make such a sweeping generalization, suck at the art of interesting conversation. I don’t know if all those decades spent reciting Mao’s flowing words while raising the red book in homage have inhibited the neurons responsible for the art of charm, wit or even a modicum of interest, but the Chinese definitely do not have this.
As an example, I just got my beautiful locks cut (will blog later) and this has lead to the non stop prattling on about ‘hey did you see he got his hair cut?’. This followed by dozens of colleagues rushing up to me to ‘strike up a conversation’ , ‘hey did you get your hair cut’. Glaring down my nose at them, I run a stubby hand through my now marine-like locks and consider their words. What I typically do is to dis-affirm such idiotic things with a ‘no’ and then go about my job. To the locals this is confusing as they had heard that I did get my hair cut and all of their teachers have trained them, Pavlov-like to say, “hey did you get your hair cut?”. Unfortunately they have not been trained in the art of responding to my words.
Another example would be that as I stuff a chocolate muffin into my mouth and savor the savage mastication I deal upon its chocolaty goodness, some Chinese will choose that moment to bumble over and stare, infant-like at my bulbous cheeks and say, “hey you are eating a muffin aren’t you?”. Here is a hint, most fat people, or even not so fat people who love chocolate, do not want to be screwed with when they are making love to an enticing morsel of chocolaty goodness. Not only is your presence not warranted/needed, but is probably despised at the moment. Thus to state the obvious at this point, earns one the wrath of the fat man.
But I guess when you come here you have to take the bad with the good. Like the fact we must ingest air that turns our lungs into the playground of bacteria and plague, all for the delight in living with a body of people to whom conversation is as much an irritant as one of those eyelashes that gets stuck into your eyeball until someone tells you to open wide and they blow in it….

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Beijing and Taiwan

Posted by w_thames_the_d on June 15, 2011

From The Beijing Consensus-new (Stefan Halper)

An equally important element in Chinese engagement with the developing world has been its diplomatic crusade to isolate Taiwan—an ally of the United States and one that Washington has pledged to defend, as detailed in the Taiwan Relations Act passed by Congress in 1979. The map of states that have shifted diplomatic relations from Taipei to Beijing in recent years further illustrates where China’s finance, trade, and investment have brought new influence. At the time of writing, the only African countries left that recognize Taiwan were Burkina Faso, Gambia, São Tomé and Príncipe, and Swaziland. This is not a new struggle. But recent years have seen a sharp decline in the number of countries that have diplomatic relations with Taiwan. The cause for the decline is simple: China’s artful application of checkbook diplomacy. In January 2008, Malawi announced it had cut diplomatic relations with Taiwan; Taipei couldn’t match the Chinese offer of $6 billion in aid.11 Malawi was the fourth country to break relations with Taiwan in three years. In a similar format, Senegal broke relations with Taiwan in October 2005, signing an agreement that reportedly included an initial $600 million in financial assistance from China.12 Chad followed suit the following year after a series of secret meetings with Chinese officials, for which the specific amounts involved were not revealed.13

Posted in Big brother... | 6 Comments »

China and Libya

Posted by w_thames_the_d on June 15, 2011

One of the Communist mouthpiece news sources this morning was playing a soundbite by Libya who was pandering to China and saying that among other things, due to the fact that China is unencumbered by a colonial past that they are in a unique position to help Libya. Yeah…… sounds like the Libyans are afraid of having a country/region who will impose morals/decency upon them to shape their future. I think all other dictators have shown that they agree with the words of Libya.

Posted in Big brother... | 2 Comments »

China and Foreigners

Posted by w_thames_the_d on June 15, 2011

This was written over 150 years ago from Historic China, and other sketches (Herbert Allen Giles)
Chinese are daily and hourly exemplified in the unsatisfactory relations which exist as a rule between master and servant. That the latter almost invariably despise their foreign patrons, and are only tempted to serve under them by the remunerative nature of the employment, is a fact too well known to be contradicted, though why this should be so is a question which effectually puzzles many who are conscious of treating their native dependants only with extreme kindness and consideration. The answer, however, is not difficult for those who possess the merest insight into the workings of the Chinese mind; for just as every inhabitant of the eighteen provinces believes China to be the centre of civilisation and power, so does he infer that his language and customs are the only ones worthy of attention from native and barbarian alike. The very antagonism of the few foreign manners and habits he is obliged by his position to cultivate, tend rather to confirm him in his own sense of superiority than otherwise. For who but a barbarian would defile the banquet hour “when the wine mantles in the cups” with a white table-cloth, the badge of grief and death? How much more elegant the soft red lacquer of the “eight fairy” table, with all its associations of the bridal hour!

Posted in Cultural oddities | Leave a Comment »

2 2 And a Bottle of Water

Posted by w_thames_the_d on June 15, 2011

Posted in Photos | Leave a Comment »

China to Brainwash or Teach “Socialist Patriotism” In Hong Kong Schools?

Posted by w_thames_the_d on June 15, 2011

China is attempting to brainwash the Hong Kong youth, well you can read for yourself and let me know what you think…
excerpt from here

“Hong Kong (AsiaNews / Agencies) – The national education must help students understand why China became socialist and how the Communist Party came to government, this is the suggestion of Wang Guangya, Director of the Beijing office for relations with Hong Kong and Macao.
In a meeting with young local students, he stressed that although Hong Kong has its own curriculum for “national education”, it should learn something from education in China. The “basic elements” applicable to Hong Kong are: “First, the history of China .. What was the experience of the Chinese people over the past 5 thousand years? Second, fostering an under standing of contemporary Chinese history, especially what happened in the last 150-200 years. If you don’t have such knowledge, you will find it difficult to understand why China chose to follow the way of socialism since 1949… Don’t take it negatively when you hear the phrase national education”.
There has been a lot of debate in Hong Kong on the issue of “national education”. Last month the Office of Education released a document that seems to be a popular demand to make up to 50 hours of national education compulsory in schools.
The democratic movement has expressed the fear that such an education is likely to be a form of “brainwashing”.
Much of the population of Hong Kong is made up of people who fled from China because of the repression of communism and the arrival of Mao. The city was also at the forefront in defending dissidents during the Tiananmen Square riots in 1989.
Aware of the criticism in this regard, Wang explained, “ The better the work done on national education, the better the Hong Kong-mainland relationship will be.”
continue here

Posted in Big brother... | 1 Comment »

Riot Police Re-take Guangzhou China

Posted by w_thames_the_d on June 15, 2011

Guangzhou had a series of riots and here is the result….

– Zengcheng, near Guangzhou. Residents look on as riot police patrol

Posted in News From China- Whats hot | Leave a Comment »

Ancient Chinese Book Peddlers

Posted by w_thames_the_d on June 15, 2011

Historic China, and other sketches (Herbert Allen Giles)

EDUCATIONAL LITERATURE A ramble through a native town in China must often have discovered to the observant foreigner small collections of second-hand books and pamphlets displayed on some umbrella-shaded stall, or arranged less pretentiously on the door-step of a temple. If innocent of all claims to a knowledge of the written language, he may take them for cheap editions of Confucius, with which literary chair-coolies are wont to solace their leisure hours; at the worst, some of these myriad novels of which he has heard so much, and read–in translations–so little. It possibly never enters our barbarian’s head that many of these itinerant book-sellers are vendors of educational works, much after the style of Pinnock’s Catechisms and other such guides to knowledge. Buying a handful the other day for a few cash,[*] we were much amused at the nature of the subjects therein discussed, and the manner in which they were treated. The first we opened was on Ethnology and Zoology, and gave an account of the wonderful types of men and beasts which exist in far-off regions beyond the pale of China and civilisation. There was the long-legged nation, the people of which have legs three chang (thirty feet) long to support bodies of no more than ordinary size, followed by a short account of a cross-legged race, a term which explains itself. We are next told of a country where all the inhabitants have a large round hole right through the middle of their bodies, the officials and wealthy citizens being easily and comfortably carried a la sedan chair by means of a strong bamboo pole passed through it. Then there is the feathered or bird nation, the pictures of which people remind us very much of Lapps and Greenlanders. A few lines are devoted to a pygmy race of nine-inch men, also to a people who walk with their bodies at an angle of 45 degrees. There is the one-armed nation, and a three-headed nation, besides fish-bodied and bird-headed representatives of humanity; last but not least we have a race of beings without heads at all, their mouth, eyes, nose, &c., occupying their chests and pit of the stomach! “And of the cannibals that each other eat, The Anthropophagi, and men whose heads Do grow beneath their shoulders.” The little work which contains the above valuable information was published in 1783, and has consequently been nearly one hundred years before an enlightened and approving public. [*]

Posted in China Fact, Cultural oddities | Leave a Comment »

You Must Smoke in China

Posted by w_thames_the_d on June 15, 2011

From The Beijing Consensus-new (Stefan Halper)

One had to laugh in May 2009, when local officials in Hubei Province were ordered to smoke a quarter of a million packs of Hubei-branded cigarettes in order to boost the local economy and stave off the downturn. Officials who failed to reach their targets or who were caught smoking non-Hubei brands faced fines. Even the teachers of local schools were issued with smoking quotas. Special task forces were unleashed on the population, barging into school staff rooms unannounced to search the ashtrays and waste baskets for evidence of “non-compliance.” 47 Only in China, one might suggest, could the government propose something as inventive as banning people from not smoking.

Posted in Big brother... | Leave a Comment »