"The Wenzhou crash killed forty people and injured a hundred and ninety-two. For reasons both practical and symbolic, the [Chinese] government was desperate to get trains running again, and within twenty-four hours it declared the line back in business. The Department of Propaganda ordered editors to give the crash as little attention as possible. “Do not question, do not elaborate,” it warned, on an internal notice. When newspapers came out the next morning, China’s first high-speed train wreck was not on the front page." [How a high-speed rail disaster exposed China's corruption]
Mo Yan has been awarded the 2012 Nobel Prize in Literature. A Chinese novelist, born as Guan Moye, his pen name means "don't speak." His most famous novel, Red Sorghum: A Novel of China, was turned into an acclaimed film in 1987. Here are some interviews with Mo Yan: Granta, National Endowment for the Humanities and Paper Republic. Speculation was rife in China before the announcement whether Mo Yan would receive it, and the matter was controversial. For people who haven't read any books by Mo Yan, the Swedish Academy recommends Garlic Ballads [NYT]. For more news over the day, keep an eye on The Literary Saloon and The Guardian's liveblog.
In 1859 an American named Frederick Townsend Ward arrived in Shanghai. A sailor, mercenary, smuggler and filibuster, he created a force of Europeans to protect the city from, and engage directly in, the Taiping Rebellion against the Qing Dynasty, to avoid the complications of Western powers getting directly involved. After a severe defeat at Sungkiang/Songjiang, he decided to recruit from the local Chinese population instead, arming and training them in the Western fashion. This force was dubbed the 'Ever-Victorious Army.' [more inside]
The iEconomy: Apple and Technology Manufacturing. Since January, the New York Times has been running a series of articles "examining the challenges posed by increasingly globalized high-tech industries," with a focus on Apple's business practices. The seventh article in the series was published today: In Technology Wars, Using the Patent as a Sword. Related: For Software, Cracks in the Patent System and Fighters in the Patent War. [more inside]
In light of the US House Intelligence Committee recommendation that American companies should be blocked from carrying out mergers and acquisitions involving two Chinese telecommunications firms, ZTE and Huawei, how do people in the telecommunications industry think about Huawei? And what is really going on with the Shenzhen-based ICT conglomerate? Hosts Kaiser Kuo and Jeremy Goldkorn of the Sinica Podcast (recorded in Beijing) cover Huawei in depth in August at The Huawei Enigma with guests David Wolf and Will Moss.
Cigarettes: The Most Stable International Currency. In China, expensive cigarettes (not to be confused with counterfeits of popular brands) are sometimes used as bribes. Cash can be difficult to handle, or outright illegal, in some places. Since a smoking ban (and subsequent black-market trade in cigarettes) in US prisons, canned mackerel (previously on MetaFilter) has become the exchange medium of choice. [more inside]
"Zhang Yue, founder and chairman of Broad Sustainable Building, is not a particularly humble man. A humble man would not have erected, on his firm’s corporate campus in the Chinese province of Hunan, a classical palace and a 130-foot replica of an Egyptian pyramid. A humble man, for that matter, would not have redirected Broad from its core business—manufacturing industrial air-conditioning units—to invent a new method of building skyscrapers. And a humble man certainly wouldn’t be putting up those skyscrapers at a pace never achieved in history." [Meet the Man Who Built a 30-Story Building in 15 Days]
Photographer Travels China, Taking Pictures of Families and All Their Possessions Huang Qingjun has spent nearly a decade travelling to remote parts of China to persuade people who have sometimes never been photographed to carry outside all their household possessions and pose for him. The results offer glimpses of the utilitarian lives of millions of ordinary Chinese who, at first glance, appear not to have been swept up by the same modernisation that has seen hundreds of millions of others leave for the cities. [more inside]
Golden Buddha, Hidden Copper. "Twelve years after the Taliban blew up the world-famous Bamiyan Buddhas, a Chinese mining firm -- developing one of the world's largest copper deposits -- threatens to destroy another of Afghanistan's archeological treasures." Campaign to Save Mes Aynak.
"Finding my way in Beijing was tougher than I'd ever imagined. But sharpening my skills at a local youth academy for ping-pong—a game at which I'd dominated friends back home for years—seemed like an opportunity not to suck. So what if it meant beating up on little kids at the school and old men in the park? This would be my key to assimilation. Nice plan—but then I stared down the pre-teen pong machines and got my first real taste of China's national pastime."
A colorful mural adorns Chao Tsung-song / Tibet House in Corvallis, Oregon. Commissioned by Corvallis businessman, David Lin, the 100 foot long mural depicts at one end, a cheerful Taiwanese countryside scene, and at the other, police beating Tibetan protesters and a Tibetan monk in the process of self-immolation. The Chinese government has requested that the mural be destroyed. Mr. Lin and Corvallis city mayor, Julie Manning, say, "no."
In 2003, the BBC reported that a population explosion of Great Gerbils had destroyed more than 4 million hectares of grasslands in China's north-western Xinjiang region -- an area about the size of Switzerland. By 2005 the damage covered 5 million hectares, and the Xinjuang Regional Headquarters for Controlling Locusts and Rodents were reported to be breeding and attracting pairs of golden eagles to curb the gerbil population. So McSweeney's Joshuah Bearman was assigned to the story. His report: An Investigation Into Xinjiang's Growing Swarm of Great Gerbils, Which May or May Not be Locked in a Death-Struggle With the Golden Eagle, With Important Parallels and/or Implications Regarding Koala Bears, The Pied Piper, Spongmonkeys, Cane Toads, Black Death, [and] Text-Messaging..
Tens of thousands of protestors have been gathering outside the Hong Kong government headquarters every night since the start of the new school year to protest the introduction of "moral and national education" classes at primary and secondary schools. At the forefront is Scholarism, a student group led by 15-year-old Joshua Wong. [more inside]
China's megalopolises are "awful places to live" claims an article in Foreign Policy by Isaac Stone Fish. [more inside]
"Today, the Chinese working class is fighting. More than thirty years into the Communist Party’s project of market reform, China is undeniably the epicenter of global labor unrest." — Eli Friedman from Jacobin
"Our bull is very strong, so let's call him Optimus Prime." A look at the sport of water buffalo fighting in southwest China. (Don't miss the video on the article page.)
Boingboing has the short version of a sad story in which some young independent designers have an unexpectedly successful Kickstarter for a novel idea for a pen. Young designers turn to Joiga, an American-Chinese manufacturing firm that "minimizes the risk of turning an idea into a market-ready product." Joiga underdelivers, causing massive delays for the designers. One year later, a new "men's gift" company offers a bad copy of the designers' pen made with the same plans at the same factories. The sad and sorry punchline? The manufacturing company and the men's gift company are run by the same guy, Allen Arseneau. Long version at Notcot.
Her name was Wu Zetian, and in the seventh century A.D. she became the only woman in more than 3,000 years of Chinese history to rule in her own right. [more inside]
WIRED has been running a fascinating series: Olympic Physics: Can Runners Benefit From Drafting?, Scoring the Decathlon, New [Swimming] Platform Is No Chip Off The Old Block [more inside]
Gu Kailai's trial has concluded but no verdict has been delivered. Many things about the political background of the murder trial, and Gu Kailai's personal motives, remain unclear, although it is said that Gu has not disputed the charge that she killed Neil Heywood. [more inside]
UK expatriate in China, Mark Kitto, who previously ran a publishing business in China that the state took over and wrote a book about that experience, is leaving China where he has lived for 16 years.
Modern day mainland Chinese society is focused on one object: money and the acquisition thereof. The politically correct term in China is “economic benefit.” The country and its people, on average, are far wealthier than they were 25 years ago. Traditional family culture, thanks to 60 years of self-serving socialism followed by another 30 of the “one child policy,” has become a “me” culture. Except where there is economic benefit to be had, communities do not act together, and when they do it is only to ensure equal financial compensation for the pollution, or the government-sponsored illegal land grab, or the poisoned children. Social status, so important in Chinese culture and more so thanks to those 60 years of communism, is defined by the display of wealth.
The Great Wall of China (長城) took 2000 years to build, and stretches for 5500 miles. Yet pictures of that wonder of the world in popular media are typically restricted to the tourist-visited sections closest to Beijing. (There are several sections of the wall near that city.) Kuriositas has gathered some images that present the Wall from other areas.
French photographer Benoit Cezard, who has lived in Wuhan, Hubei province for six years, suddenly rose to fame on the Internet, after he orchestrated a series of photos in which Caucasians pose as migrant workers in China. Benoit Cezard is convinced that by 2050, China will overtake the United States as the world’s No.1 economy, and as the result, foreigners will come to China for manual and low-paid jobs, such as street vendors and sanitation workers, most of which are currently held by low-cost workers from rural China. text Via Ministry of Tofu shares photos along with Chinese netizen's reactions to the series.
"The last European monopoly, in any area, is crumbling. This recently-opened transfer window has underscored, more than anything else, that it is no longer the European football clubs’ birthright to sign the greatest players in the world." -- Leander Schaerlaeckens on the growing clout of Chinese, Brazilian, and (WTF?) Indian soccer leagues in grabbing the top talent
Bystanders are dwarfed as they stand watching a tremendous rush of water gushing through gaps in a dam in China, part of a carefully-choreographed operation to remove silt from the Yellow River
"The Canadian arm of the aircraft engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney closed a six-year U.S. government probe last week by admitting that it helped China produce its first modern attack helicopter ... The prosecution marked 'one of the largest resolutions of export violations with a major defense contractor in the Justice Department's history...'"
Mike McHenry has posted several photo pages of the Chinese firecracker and firework labels he's been collecting since 1968.
We speak the same language, which is climbing.
"Dwarfing even the $2 trillion borrowed for the Railway Ministry’s high-speed networks since 2008, and the thousands of kilometres of 4–6 lane toll roads with barely a vehicle on them, China’s building binge is the most striking example of what Prime Minister Wen Jiabao famously, but impotently, denounced in 2007 as the country’s “unbalanced, unstable, uncoordinated and unsustainable” model of economic development. Now, with house prices and sales sagging in response to government restrictions aimed at deflating history’s biggest ever property bubble, and with local governments as deep in bad debt as the developers, I asked the businessman what was to prevent the bubble actually bursting, in a spectacular financial explosion? "
China has announced it will launch Shenzhou-9 on Saturday morning at 6:37am EDT. The space mission will feature the country's first manned docking with Tiangong 1, a mini space station; the first Chinese woman to go into space, Liu Yang, and Jing Haipeng, the first taikonaut to venture into space twice.
The United States sees the world as Vietnam does: threatened by growing Chinese power. [more inside]
You may have seen Replacements, Ltd.'s print ads in the back of PARADE magazine (of Howard Huge fame). Replacements, both a seller and a resource for china and glassware owners, was one of the few North Carolina businesses to publicly take a stand [NYT] against the state's vote to ban gay marriage. As an employer, Replacements is one of only nine companies in the country to receive a perfect score for ten years straight in the Human Rights Campaign's Corporate Equality Index. But the company is also known for another surprisingly liberal policy: encouraging its 450 employees to bring their pets to work amidst millions of pieces of china and glassware. How many? A whole lot. [more inside]
China's has just released its report, "Human Rights Record of United States in 2011". This annual report covers gun crimes, OWS, freedom of the press, unemployment, and more. via
Revolutionary hardware backdoor discovered in China-made military-grade FPGA chips. Claims were made by the intelligence agencies around the world, from MI5, NSA and IARPA, that silicon chips could be infected. We developed breakthrough silicon chip scanning technology to investigate these claims. We chose an American military chip that is highly secure with sophisticated encryption standard, manufactured in China. Our aim was to perform advanced code breaking and to see if there were any unexpected features on the chip. We scanned the silicon chip in an affordable time and found a previously unknown backdoor inserted by the manufacturer. This backdoor has a key, which we were able to extract. If you use this key you can disable the chip or reprogram it at will, even if locked by the user with their own key. This particular chip is prevalent in many systems from weapons, nuclear power plants to public transport. In other words, this backdoor access could be turned into an advanced Stuxnet weapon to attack potentially millions of systems. The scale and range of possible attacks has huge implications for National Security and public infrastructure.
Didier Drogba seems set to follow in the footsteps of his mate Nicolas Anelka and head to China when his contract at Chelsea ends at the end of the month, but how much do you know about grassroots Chinese football culture? [more inside]
♫ As young as 18, I'd already written the application to join the party, but I was too embarrassed to turn it in to the party branch. I've studiously read the party constitution countless times - always felt I wasn't worthy of the party's requirements. ♫ Applying to Join the Chinese Communist Party : a music video (w/ English subtitles)
Galleries of old photographs of camels in America, Australia, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, China, Mongolia and India, in war | camel breeds | How the Camel Got His Hump from Camel Tales, Folklore & Legends| baby camels and lots more at this one stop site all about Camels. Previously.
In March, a young, male driver crashed a Ferrari in snowy conditions, killing himself and wounding the two female passengers. The Beijing Evening News posted a short story, complete with a picture of the wrecked car, but deleted it a short time later. A new story was put up a short time later, apparently without the picture of the wrecked car, but terms related to the crash were blocked from the micro-blogging site Sina Weibo (blocking on Weibo, previously). The news of the crash, and the subsequent (partial) cover-up were further marks against the Rich2G, the second generation of China’s moneyed class. More recently, Ferrari held an event to celebrate twenty years of the luxury car maker in China, spending $12,670 to rent a section (and drive a special edition "Marco Polo Red" 458 Italia) on top of the City Wall of Nanjing. The driver was caught on film driving tight circles on the ancient wall, leaving tire marks and further souring the public against Ferrari in specific, and the wealthy at large. [more inside]
Al Jazeera is closing its Chinese bureau after the authorities have refused to renew its reporters' press credentials and visas [NYT]. The Chinese government's reasons for this aren't clear, but Al Jazeera's recent coverage of China's "black jails" has been less than flattering.
"What appears as discipline or “tough love” from one perspective often appears as abuse from another."
On Tiger Moms: "What the controversy surrounding Chua demonstrates, however inadvertently, is that parenting techniques are always grounded in basic assumptions about the way things are and what matters to us. And they are always guided by some answer to the most fundamental of ethical questions—how to live?" [more inside]
Australian billionaire Clive Palmer has commissioned a Chinese shipyard to build Titanic II, a modernized replica of the unsinkable Titanic.
The blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng has fled home imprisonment and sought refuge, according to Chinese dissidents, at the US Embassy in Beijing. Chen gained fame for organizing opposition to forced abortions under China's one-child policy. [more inside]
Li Yang, founder of the most popular English-language school in China, Crazy English, (previously on MeFi) is now found to have beaten his American wife multiple times. Domestic violence is found in some 25% of Chinese marriages (!) but the actions of Li's wife Kim Lee to publicize the abuse has raised the profile of spousal abuse in a country where this was not often publicly discussed previously.
The Previous And Current Lives Of A World-Class Joke "At first, it was limited only to the Chinese-language Internet. More recently, it has appeared among foreign media. I just watched a clip of director James Cameron being interviewed on a talk show during which he said: "They were afraid that the Chinese men will reach out to touch the screen." When Cameron emphasized that "This is true," I knew that this is one of the most successful fake stories in recent years." [more inside]
"The world's most important story" – A decade of environmental journalism in China, by Guardian environment reporter Jonathan Watts.