Chinese archeologists have mapped the layout of Shangdu (better known as Xanadu), after large scale excavations that included the use of GIS in remote sensing and aerial archeology. The capital, located in Inner Mongolia, was built in 1256 under the command of Kublai Khan, the first emperor of Yuan Dynasty, who was enthroned there four years later. It became a summer resort after the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) moved its capital to Ta-tu or Dadu (built by the same architect, located in present-day Beijing) in 1276, and was destroyed during a peasant war at the end of the dynasty. The regional government has submitted an application for World Cultural Heritage status for the site to UNESCO, currently under review. Xanadu has captured the imagination of the West ever since Marco Polo first extolled its beauties in his Books of the Marvels of the World, subsequently immortalized by Coleridge in a poem fuelled by opium fevered dreams. Other recently discovered Yuan Dynasty artifacts include a priceless porcelain vase as well as a sunken ship - part of an invading Mongol armada - off the coast of Japan.
Anticipating a season long lockout, several NBA players signed contracts with teams in the Chinese Basketball Association. Now that a labor deal has been reached, leaving for the NBA won't be easy.
In 2009, Urumqi, China exploded in riots. The assessment of Western media was on-going ethnic clashes. Behind the scenes, Beijing now stands accused of The Xinjiang Procedure, ground zero for the organ harvesting of political prisoners. [more inside]
US President Barack Obama is in Australia today. The main policy announcement is a new, permanent US Marine Corps presence on Australian soil. This is interpreted unambiguously as a 'containment strategy' for China and other Asian nations, with Australia playing the loyal deputy Sheriff. Most Australians don't think we should be forced to choose.
Some Google Earth enthusiasts have found a strange and unexplainable grid pattern in the middle of China's Gobi Desert.
About one tenth of China's farmland is polluted with heavy metals, with whole villages being poisoned. All too frequently, local governments have reacted by ignoring the problems and even denying treatment (HRW report).
Yesterday, Russia's first interplanetary mission in 15 years launched sucessfully from the Baikonur Cosmodrome. It ran into serious problems almost immediately. In jeopardy are a sample return mission from the Martian satellite Phobos, The Planetary Society's Living Interplanetary Flight Experiment (LIFE), and China's Yinghuo-1 Mars orbiter.
A group of retired Chinese senior citizens singing and dancing to Lady Gaga's Bad Romance on live TV. [SLYT]
Carbon dioxide emissions increased by the largest amount on record in 2010, exceeding the worst case scenario outlined by the IPCC four years ago.
Testing by Food Safety News has shown that more than 75% of the honey being sold in the United States does not qualify to be labeled for sale as "honey". [more inside]
The Divine Craft docked with the Space Palace on Wednesday, and no one said anything! Cmon space fans, this is the first Chinese space kiss!
China’s Fox News: Meet "Global Times", the angry Chinese government mouthpiece that makes Bill O'Reilly seem fair and balanced.
China's post office is not normally a place you would associate with love. However, Beijing authorities, alarmed at the skyrocketing divorce rate, are promoting a new service in which the post office will send a love letter to your partner – after a delay of seven year [sic]. [more inside]
There is this perception that the only China skeptics are foreigners. Let me tell you that is completely wrong. The debate within China is much more interesting and much more ferocious than the debate outside of China about problems with the growth model. Michael Pettis is a professor at Peking University's Guanghua School of Management, where he specializes in Chinese financial markets. Here he talks about China's economic prospects.
The California—based Oakland Institute released a report earlier this year that documents some of the problems caused by the acquisition of land by foreign firms, including Indian ones, in Ethiopia and other African countries. Putting this global trend of ‘land grab’ under the spotlight, the report highlights the social and environmental costs of this phenomenon that have been largely overlooked by the media. Outlook interviewed Anuradha Mittal, the India—born—and—educated founder and executive president of Oakland Institute, to find out why she thinks India ought to share part of the blame of causing “depravation and destitution” in Ethiopia. text via Outlook [more inside]
The Eunuch Admiral: A Ming cup leads to a Berkeley scholar and the marvelous tale of China’s greatest seafarer.
Shame on you! Wear the green scarf! Do not put the green scarf in your schoolbag. Don't back down! Proudly wear the red scarf!
35 days, 2822 miles through 9 states at a cost of $252.51 ($7.21 per day). George 'the Cyclist' Christensen spends a good part of each year bicycling through a different country and wild camping in places like Iceland, Turkey, China, the foot of Mt Fuji and around Lake Victoria; And writing about his travels on his blog from libraries and internet cafés. For the past eight years, too, he has also followed the Tour de France after first watching upwards of 70 films [in 12 days] at the Cannes Film Festival.
Special report: China's debt pileup raises risk of hard landing. 'When China announced a nearly $600 billion package to ward off the 2008 global financial crisis, city planners across the country happily embarked on a frenzy of infrastructure projects, some of them of arguable need.' 'Barclays Capital has predicted a global recession would trigger a "hard landing" in China, with gross domestic product sinking well below the 8 percent mark seen as the minimum for assuring enough job creation to keep up with urban migration. A severe economic slump would depress land sales, a vital source of funding for local governments, and make their debt load even more precarious.' [more inside]
The Dalai Lama was prevented from going to South Africa for Desmond Tutu's 80th birthday by visa problems. So they used Google+ to "Hangout" instead.
''Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains'' is the greatest surviving masterpiece by Huang Gongwang (黄公望 1269-1354), one of the Four Yuan Masters; considered one of the finest of all Chinese paintings, it served as a model and inspiration for many subsequent literati artists. The scroll suffered fire damage in the early Qing and was divided into two parts. This summer, a special exhibition at the National Palace Museum in Taiwan reunited these two portions of Huang's masterwork for the first time in 360 years.
Tiangong 1, [the] latest demonstration of Beijing's otherworldly ambitions comes in a year when the US has wound down its space shuttle fleet and its partners have said the International Space Station (previously) should be buried at sea in 2020. Perhaps in its honor, [s]trains of the famed American patriotic tune (America the Beautiful) rang out following the launch of the Tiang Gong-1 experimental space station module late Thursday night. [more inside]
The hacker group Anonymous has ventured into new territory today with the launch of Anonymous Analytics, a site specifically targeted at corporate fraud. Their first report [PDF] is a caustic, entertaining evisceration of Chaoda, a Hong Kong agricultural company which has seen a wave of smaller scandals over the past year. Their stock is not looking good [more inside]
Red Song King Hao Di (Good Brother) sings "Without the Communist Party There Would Be No New China" (traditional recording), "The Words of Chairman Mao are Memorized by Heart” (info and lyrics), "Lake Water". [more inside]
An unauthorized Angry Birds theme park has opened in China. There is also a Blizzard-themed park called Joyland.
How Fast Can China Go? On June 30, China had the first official run of a $32 billion high-speed train line between Shanghai and Beijing. "Faster (820 miles in 288 minutes) and sleeker than any other, the needle-nosed CRH380A symbolizes China’s accelerating pace, even as it faces questions about safety, and taps into an ancient rivalry with Japan." On page four, the article discusses what happened less than a month afterwards on July 23rd: the country's first accident involving a bullet train that killed 40 people near Wenzhou. As a result, 54 high speed trains were recalled, train speeds were reduced and an overhaul of the high-speed rail system was launched by Chinese authorities. [more inside]
For China, yesterday marked the Mid-Autumn Festival, when Chinese at home and abroad gather to worship the Moon Rabbit, carry paper lanterns, and eat mooncakes. From its humble beginning as an agitprop-stuffed pastry, the mooncake has become a strong futures commodity in the People's Republic. Accordingly, authorities are stepping in; apparently everyone wants a piece of the
Shanghai singles are using IKEA to find love. Yes, IKEA has become a semi-public social space in Beijing and elsewhere in China (previously), but now one Shanghai IKEA is twice-weekly "taken over by a swarm of locals between the ages of 45 and 65 who come to seek out new love over free cups of coffee — a perk offered to holders of the Ikea Family membership card — and boxed lunches brought from home."
Which countries match the GDP and population of ● Brazil's States? ● China's Provinces? ● India's States and Territories? [more inside]
Hey, remember the ISS, that space station the Space Shuttle helped build before the shuttle was retired? Turns out humans might have to vacate that nifty space station for a bit. [more inside]
When Chinese artist Ai Weiwei was released from government custody it was with several conditions. Ai was slapped with a travel ban, was not to speak to the media about his detention and was banned from using social media. Since his release he has returned to Twitter, joined Google+, given an interview to a Party-run newspaper and on August 28 he published a piece in Newsweek that calls Beijing "a constant nightmare". [more inside]
Songs by Lady Gaga, Beyonce and Katy Perry are among those newly banned by China's culture ministry. Chinese Internet sites must remove them by 15 September in the interests of "national cultural security". Last May China banned a Mongolian protest song and arrested the student who made it, while Tibetan singer Tashi Dhondup was sentanced to one year and seven months’ imprisonment for producing a music album with “subversive songs”. Funnily enough, they also banned 'Guns'n'Roses' long awaited Chinese Democracy. No word yet on China Crisis.
The 808 Car Keys Micro Camera is a cheap, poorly made, difficult to use miniature DV camera that is nevertheless embraced by model RC pilots, experimenters, hobbyists, and adventurers. If you want to hack or mod your own, start with Chuck Lohr's vast 808 Car Keys Micro Camera Review page.
Enter the Cyber-dragon. "Hackers have attacked America’s defense establishment, as well as companies from Google to Morgan Stanley to security giant RSA, and fingers point to China as the culprit. The author gets an exclusive look at the raging cyber-war—Operation Aurora! Operation Shady rat!—and learns why Washington has been slow to fight back. Related: Michael Joseph Gross goes inside Operation Shady Rat."
"No way! Thieves are in the open, and a moral person must sneak around, this is turning things upside down! I don't care what others do, I must correct the meter. Please help me find a way." (via reddit)
As a teenager, Zhang Xin was a factory worker in the sweatshops of Hong Kong. She saved enough to fly to England and at 27, graduated with a Master’s Degree in Development Economics from Cambridge University. At 30, she and her husband started what is now Beijing's largest real estate developer. She is quite candid about China's challenges. Here Charlie Rose interviews the billionaire CEO of Soho China.
Evan Osnos joins a tour group from China as they traverse Europe. In the front row of the bus, Li stood facing the group with a microphone in hand, a posture he would retain for most of our waking hours in the days ahead. In the life of a Chinese tourist, guides play an especially prominent role—translator, raconteur, and field marshal—and Li projected a calm, seasoned air. He often referred to himself in the third person—Guide Li—and he prided himself on efficiency. “Everyone, our watches should be synchronized,” he said. “It is now 7:16 P.M.” He implored us to be five minutes early for every departure. “We flew all the way here,” he said. “Let’s make the most of it.” [more inside]
Two Chinese bullet trains have collided with two coaches falling off a bridge after a lightning strike disabled the first train and signaling failed to alert the second in time. A few months previously the railways ministry expressed and subsequently retracted concerns that builders had ignored safety standards to complete construction more quickly. [more inside]
Blogger BirdAboard discovers not one, but three fake Apple stores in Kunming, China.
Agony and Ivory. "Highly emotional and completely guileless, elephants mourn their dead—and across Africa, they are grieving daily as demand from China’s 'suddenly wealthy' has driven the price of ivory to $700 a pound or more. With tens of thousands of elephants being slaughtered each year for their tusks, raising the specter of an 'extinction vortex,' Alex Shoumatoff travels from Kenya to Seattle to Guangzhou, China, to expose those who are guilty in the massacre—and recognize those who are determined to stop it."
Le Figaro has a great article with photographs of the journey of human hair obtained as offerings to the gods by pilgrims in Tirupati to the beauty salons of New York and the heads of such as Lady Gaga and Beyonce. Since its in French, here's Mother Jones covering the same in English. A Spaniard in London does a photo essay while exporters show you a flowchart of the entire process. Highly valued and in short supply, remy hair, as it is known, is very different from the stuff you find being used in pesticides, pizza base and deer repellent (warning: Fox News link).
[Michelangelo Antonioni's Chung Kuo] as a documentary film was one which was draped with fascination for both filmmakers as well as an audience, rather than championing anti-whatever sentiments from either side of the world. Not having seen many movies, either features, shorts or documentaries made during the Cultural Revolution era or about that era in question (propaganda included), I think this Antonioni film has more than made its mark as a definitive documentary that anyone curious about the life of the time, would find it a gem to sit through.
"But it is the worry that the key source of corporate profitability — Chinese labor — may no longer be docile and cheap for much longer that mainly nags at the country's corporate guests as well as its rising capitalist class. And many fear that the very ruthlessness that Zizek talks about — the iron fist that the Chinese state has deployed over the last three decades in order to achieve the unbeatable 'China price' — has become a central part of the problem."
There are precious few 7-footers that can turn into a jump hook while chewing gum at the same time, much less make a living out of it on the pro level. Yet, there Yao was. And he would have been there, even if he was 6 inches shorter than his 7-6 frame. Maybe if it weren't for those extra 6 inches, he and his Rockets would have played into the conference finals last spring. Yao Ming Retires from the NBA. [more inside]
The £20,000 Samuel Johnson Prize for non-fiction has been won by Mao’s Great Famine by Frank Dikötter. Mao's quest to transform China through rapid industrialisation and the collectivisation of agriculture in the "Great Leap Forward" left up to 45 million people dead.