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The Nicaragua Canal

Land of opportunity – and fear – along route of Nicaragua’s giant new canal "In an era of breathtaking, earth-changing engineering projects, this has been billed as the biggest of them all. Three times as long and almost twice as deep as its rival in Panama, Nicaragua’s channel will require the removal of more than 4.5bn cubic metres of earth – enough to bury the entire island of Manhattan up to the 21st floor of the Empire State Building. It will also swamp the economy, society and environment of one of Latin America’s poorest and most sparsely populated countries. Senior officials compare the scale of change to that brought by the arrival of the first colonisers."
posted by dhruva on Jan 20, 2015 - 59 comments

Our deep integration is because of confidence, but our disagreements are

China seeks to export its vision of the Internet. The Internet should be “free and open, with rules to follow and always following the rule of law,” Lu Wei said, in somewhat contradictory fashion, at the November conference. Asked whether he would consider allowing Facebook in, he was more direct: “I can choose who will be a guest in my home.” He wants others to assert the same power. [more inside]
posted by Nevin on Jan 2, 2015 - 33 comments

Technocracy

Maotanchang caters mostly to such students and prides itself on eliminating the distractions of modern life. Cellphones and laptops are forbidden; the dormitories, where roughly half the students live, were designed without electrical outlets. Romance is banned.

Inside the Chinese cram school, “there’s nothing to do but study.”
posted by four panels on Jan 2, 2015 - 66 comments

Chasing Paper

An investigation for Scientific American by MeFi's own cgs06 uncovers evidence of widespread fraud in scientific publishing's peer review system. Alarming signs point to the Chinese government as a source of institutional support and funding for questionable papers and fake peer reviewers. [more inside]
posted by overeducated_alligator on Dec 19, 2014 - 26 comments

Inside Beijing's Airpocalypse

"If all the other schools have a dome, then we’ve got to have a dome." Inside Beijing's airpocalypse, a city made 'almost uninhabitable' by pollution
posted by gottabefunky on Dec 17, 2014 - 61 comments

Of Chinese Censorship, Punning and Braising

"China’s Web Doorkeeper", Lu Wei, may be the most powerful man on the Internet (NYT), and he has "ratcheted up restrictions in what is already the world’s most sophisticated system of online censorship." He addressed the 7th China-US Internet Industry Forum yesterday and everybody was listening (SCMP). But there is one big question: Will he joining the country’s print and broadcast watchdog's new campaign to “crack down on the irregular and inaccurate use of the Chinese language," specifically puns and wordplay (Grauniad)? If so, he may have issues with Google searches that match up his name with a new category of take-away food in Taiwan called "lu-wei" (“lu” means braised and “wei,” flavors) (Inquirer).
posted by oneswellfoop on Dec 3, 2014 - 19 comments

Asian Art - Sale Record

A large, Yongle-Ming period Buddhist embroidery sold at auction this week for $45 million - the highest price ever paid for a piece of Asian art. The 11ft x 7ft (335cm x 213cm) silk & gold thread thangka from the early 15th century depicts "Raktayamari, a meditational deity in Mahayana Buddhism, in an embrace with his consort, Vajravetali." ~~~ Full screen hi-res zoom frame /// Short overview video /// NYTimes /// Note the 'Lot Notes' and 'Features' tabs in the main Christie's link (where there are overview/context essays too).
posted by peacay on Nov 29, 2014 - 21 comments

Open your eyes and smile

This wasn’t a reality show, nor was it one of the elite bookings Anna enjoyed back in New York or Milan. We were there for a fake beauty pageant, one our Beijing modeling agency had booked us for, telling us it was a “fashion show” and providing no further details. It was only after we boarded our early-morning flight to Ordos that the true nature of the event was revealed. “We’re on our way to another ‘Miss’ thing,” a Ukrainian girl said from her seat with a groan. I was hired as Miss America; Anna, despite being Brazilian, as Miss Chile. It would have been the strangest 36 hours of my life—if, over the previous two months, I hadn’t done it twice before.
Life as a Fake Beauty Queen in Small-Town China
posted by divabat on Nov 24, 2014 - 3 comments

And though you hate this song You'll be humming it for weeks

If Chick Chick is Rong I don't wanna be right. By Chinese pop legend Wang Rong Rollin.You gotta admit it's a step up from doing patriotic songs about China's claims to the Daioyu Islands like she did last year. (Send all blame for this here.)
posted by MartinWisse on Nov 19, 2014 - 20 comments

How Fake Fossils Pervert Paleontology

A nebulous trade in forged and illegal fossils is an ever-growing headache for paleontologists. [more inside]
posted by brundlefly on Nov 18, 2014 - 7 comments

"By the assembly line I stood straight like iron, hands like flight"

The poetry and brief life of a Foxconn worker: Xu Lizhi (1990-2014) is an article about a 24-year old Chinese assembly line worker and poet who committed suicide last month. He worked for the electronics manufacturer which makes products for a range of companies, including Sony, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and Nintendo. The post includes Chinese originals and English translations of Xu Lizhi's poems. His death and poetry have garnered much attention, such as these blogposts from The Wall Street Journal and The London Review of Books.
posted by Kattullus on Nov 12, 2014 - 19 comments

The first step is admitting that you have a problem.

The US and China just reached a major climate deal on cutting emissions. [more inside]
posted by tonycpsu on Nov 11, 2014 - 46 comments

Dare you enter the gates of Chinese Hell?

The Chinese hell scrolls presented here treat the afterlife as a spectacle, as a display intended for public consumption. Ostensibly based on popular tales such as Tang Emperor Taizong's visit to hell in the first half of the seventh century C.E., they attract their viewers through their dark and yet cartoonish torture scenes, appealing to the same morbid curiosity fed by gothic novels, horror movies and Halloween ghosts in the West. Yet their main function was not entertainment but didactic, propagating a basic message of retribution. Every act of goodness will be rewarded; every act of evil will be justly answered.
-- From the introduction to the online collection of Chinese hell scrolls developed by Ken Brashiek at Reed College.
posted by MartinWisse on Nov 11, 2014 - 17 comments

The Myth of China's Super Schools

The Myth of China's Super Schools China had all the elements necessary for an industrial revolution at least four hundred years before Great Britain, but keju diverted scholars, geniuses, and thinkers away from the study or exploration of modern science. The examination system, Zhao holds, was designed to reward obedience, conformity, compliance, respect for order, and homogeneous thinking; for this reason, it purposefully supported Confucian orthodoxy and imperial order. It was an efficient means of authoritarian social control. Everyone wanted to succeed on the highly competitive exams, but few did. Success on the keju enforced orthodoxy, not innovation or dissent. As Zhao writes, emperors came and went, but China had “no Renaissance, no Enlightenment, no Industrial Revolution.” [more inside]
posted by modernnomad on Nov 2, 2014 - 62 comments

American mothers around the world

Joanna Goddard has been interviewing American women raising their children in other countries, to hear how motherhood around the world compared and contrasted with motherhood in America. She's talked to parents in Norway, Japan, Congo, Northern Ireland, Mexico, Abu Dhabi, India, England, China, Germany, Australia, Turkey, and Chile. [more inside]
posted by Banknote of the year on Oct 10, 2014 - 50 comments

The Future of China's Confucius Institutes

As Western universities drag their feet, the future of China’s soft power push might be in the developing world. Confucius Institutes have been under close scrutiny recently, as many academics argue the Chinese government-funded institutes wind up restricting academic freedom at their host universities. In July, the American Association of University Professors published a report blasting the Confucius Institute model as a partnership “that sacrificed the integrity of the [host] university and its academic staff.” The AAUP recommended shutting down U.S. Confucius Institutes unless they could meet certain standards of academic freedom and transparency.
posted by Nevin on Sep 30, 2014 - 12 comments

Massive Pro-Democracy Protests in Hong Kong

"Hong Kong police have used tear gas to disperse thousands of pro-democracy protesters near the government complex, after a week of escalating tensions." Hong Kong: Tear gas and clashes at democracy protest. Hong Kong's unprecedented protests and police crackdown, explained. South China Morning Post Topics: Occupy Central [Paywall after a few free articles]. Occupy Central with Love and Peace is on Twitter, and there is a live thread on Reddit.
posted by milquetoast on Sep 28, 2014 - 68 comments

Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz

Bargeloads of art and exhibit materials have been going out to the former prison island of Alcatraz recently, all for an imprisonment- and human rights- and freedom of expression-themed exhibit by Chinese activist dissident artist Ai Weiwei, who designed and directed the installation while remaining under detention in Beijing. The barged materials include over a million Lego blocks, assembled in San Francisco.
posted by muffuletta on Sep 24, 2014 - 6 comments

Who is really listening?

An international mobile subscriber identity (IMSI) is a unique number, usually fifteen digits, associated with Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) and Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) network mobile phone users. An IMSI catcher is a device, used by the NSA drone program, the police, criminals, Chinese spammers and spies all around Washington DC and the world to spoof the identity of a GSM cell tower and intercept cellular voice and data communication. They come in all sizes and flavors, from tiny or body-worn professional surveillance devices, to easy to order off the shelf solutions, to Chinese DIY (links in Chinese) and have spawned efforts to retaliate with an IMSI-catcher-catcher. IMSI-catcher technology has become increasingly widespread, with far-reaching constitutional and technical implications.
posted by T.D. Strange on Sep 22, 2014 - 13 comments

Measure of the Sierra Madre

China's Island Factory
New islands are being made in the disputed South China Sea by the might of the Chinese state. But a group of marooned Filipinos on a rusting wreck is trying to stand in the way.
posted by Joe in Australia on Sep 9, 2014 - 5 comments

Why can't our education system be more like theirs?

In China, there are now more than 200 Waldorf elementary schools, filled with the children whose parents are looking for a more child-centered alternative to the test-driven state education system. Why can't Chinese schools be more like American schools? Meanwhile, in America, Stephen Pinker argues that Harvard and other elite universities are wasting their resources on athletes and musicians, and should select students by standardized test scores, the way Chinese colleges do. Why can't American schools be more like Chinese schools?
posted by escabeche on Sep 7, 2014 - 56 comments

Paying a parking ticket in China's Far West

I’m not here to gripe about a ticket that I admittedly earned. What I couldn’t believe was just how difficult it was to pay the fine. [more inside]
posted by Nevin on Sep 6, 2014 - 17 comments

Rise like a phoenix

During the late 1970s, the Warsaw Pact states had the Intervision Song Contest, an ideologically-sound Communist alternative to Eurovision, held in the Polish seaside resort of Sopot and attended by mostly Soviet-aligned and non-aligned states. The contest as such last ran in 1980; 1981's was cancelled due to the rise of Solidarność and the protests in nearby Gdańsk and it never returned as an international spectacle. But now, Russia is reviving the Intervision contest, after a 34-year gap. [more inside]
posted by acb on Sep 3, 2014 - 31 comments

The origins of that stereotypical Chinese nine-note riff

Kat Chow, with NPR's Code Switch, put together a short piece on the history and the prevalence of the well-known nine note "stereotypical Asian theme." As described in a 2005 Straight Dope forum question: You know, the one that goes dee dee dee dee duh duh dee dee duh. Featured heavily in braindead Hollywood flicks made by clueless directors who want to give a scene an "oriental" feel. Also a variation of it can be heard in David Bowie's "China Girl." [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Aug 28, 2014 - 46 comments

The Internet sees censorship as data, and feeds on it

In a scientific study of Chinese online state censorship, Harvard researchers not only gathered large amounts of social media in real time from within the country but created a large amount themselves to see what got through and what was removed. Through this method, they reverse-engineered what they describe as "the largest selective suppression of human communication in the recorded history of any country". The results, to use a popular term, will surprise you. [more inside]
posted by Devonian on Aug 28, 2014 - 31 comments

Southern China's diverse karst landscape of mountains and caves

In the southern portion of China there is an expansive karst landscape, formed by the dissolution of soluble rocks such as limestone, dolomite, and gypsum. The region is home to the South China Karst UNESCO World Heritage Site, which is actually seven different notable features, as well as the visually impressive Moon Hill, some of China's supercaves, and Xiaozhai Tiankeng, the world's deepest sinkhole. You can climb Moon Hill, but it's best to plan ahead. You can also explore China's great caves, but it is necessary to explore between October-November and February-March to avoid the monsoon seasons, and getting down Xiaozhai Tiankeng requires a lot of gear. You can read more about the Tiankengs (giant dolines or sinkholes) in the karst of China (PDF).
posted by filthy light thief on Aug 26, 2014 - 6 comments

Kenji in Asia

J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, managing culinary director at food blog Serious Eats, recently took an extended trip to China and southeast Asia with his wife, Adri, after driving across the country during a move from New York to San Francisco. He documented his Asia trip on a personal blog set up to elude Chinese censors. [more inside]
posted by ultraviolet catastrophe on Aug 1, 2014 - 14 comments

Veto bunnies

Who uses their veto in the UN Security Council the most, and what for?
posted by tavegyl on Jul 31, 2014 - 16 comments

Ten Landmarks of the Chinese Cryosphere

“The Price of Cold”— the story of my recent adventures exploring China’s artificial cryosphere — is now online in The New York Times Magazine. In it, I visit the world’s first and only frozen dumpling billionaire, hang out with the chef leading a one-man refrigeration resistance movement, and visit refrigerated warehouses and R&D labs across the country. Meanwhile, for those of you for whom that is not enough refrigeration for one weekend, I compiled this list: ten stand-out destinations for the armchair Chinese cryotourist, based on my own travels while reporting the story.

posted by infini on Jul 26, 2014 - 15 comments

We use tortoise diplomacy ... like the Chinese use panda diplomacy

"...With China’s growing economic weight, disposable income and willingness to engage internationally, its ability to radically transform the fortunes of small countries has seen many governments re-orientate their diplomatic endeavors away from traditional bases in the West.
"But with so few resources available to them, and so little political capital to bank on, these lonely diplomats face a struggle against limited budgets as they scrap for crumbs from the giant’s table."

posted by frimble on Jul 22, 2014 - 2 comments

When it comes to China stories, people will believe almost anything.

Westerners are so convinced China is a dystopian hellscape they’ll share anything that confirms it. [more inside]
posted by gemutlichkeit on Jul 9, 2014 - 44 comments

Squueee....wheeeeeeeeeeee

Pandas on a slide (SLYT).
posted by arcticseal on Jul 8, 2014 - 30 comments

Risky Business

The Economic Risks of Climate Change in the United States (PDF); prospectus (PDF); press coverage (YT) - "The signature effects of human-induced climate change—rising seas, increased damage from storm surge, more frequent bouts of extreme heat—all have specific, measurable impacts on our nation's current assets and ongoing economic activity. [The report] uses a standard risk-assessment approach to determine the range of potential consequences for each region of the U.S.—as well as for selected sectors of the economy—if we continue on our current path..." [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Jun 24, 2014 - 34 comments

National Greatness

Francis Fukuyama on 'The End of History?' twenty-five years later: "liberal democracy still doesn't have any real competitors," but to get there... [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Jun 15, 2014 - 29 comments

halcyon; ephemeral; timeless

Beautiful, hopeful newfound photos of the protests at Tiananmen Square
posted by Mistress on Jun 7, 2014 - 52 comments

they cannot soar into the air and fly away so quickly

Liao Yiwu, poet, author of Bullets and Opium and former political prisoner, writes on the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre.
My father died in the fall of 2002. At the last hour, he couldn’t speak any more, but he would fix his eyes on me, his son, the political prisoner. The police had searched me and taken me away in front of him many times. He died worried about me. Maybe in his last moments, when he couldn’t speak anymore, he still wanted to tell me not to provoke the Communist Party. Tank Man vanished into thin air—another proof my father was right.

posted by frimble on Jun 4, 2014 - 29 comments

Chinese Lianhuanhua: A Century of Pirated Movies

Before bootleg DVDs, western movies were adapted into Lianhuanhua: linked picture books that could be bought or rented. While many stories were told, and many movies were "pirated" in this way, one of particular interest is Star Wars. [more inside]
posted by nubs on May 27, 2014 - 26 comments

With reference to the recently leaked NYT memo

How Naspers CEO Koos Bekker beat the New York Times at its own game by Michael Moritz [more inside]
posted by infini on May 26, 2014 - 12 comments

Inside the giant panda research centre

Photographer Ami Vitale was allowed exclusive access into the Wolong National Nature Reserve managed by the China Conservation and Research Centre for the Giant Panda as it trains pandas to be released into the wild. [more inside]
posted by latkes on Apr 23, 2014 - 6 comments

Sad Panda No More

After being separated from her long time companion, who was sent to another zoo in China, Sijia the panda started showing worrying signs of depression. So the staff at Yunnan Safari Park decided to make things a bit more fun for her, and built an amusement park in her enclosure, including a plasma television showing her feeds from other pandas around the world. [more inside]
posted by quin on Apr 20, 2014 - 13 comments

Short sci-fi film about a meteor heading to Hong Kong, blocked by China

香港將於33年後毀滅 (Hong Kong will be destroyed after 33 years) is a near-future sci-fi short film about a fictional meteor that is headed for Hong Kong and expected to impact in 2047, but the public at large does nothing to address this impending doom. It might seem like an innocuous enough film, but China thought there was more to the story than that, and State Council Information Office requested that websites immediately remove video, text, etc. that advocates the short sci-fi film about Hong Kongers “saving themselves” titled Hong Kong Will Be Destroyed in 33 Years. The Diplomat has a bit more information about the film's not entirely coincidental use of the year 2047, the year in which China's Special Administrative Region (SAR) agreement with Hong Kong is set to expire, possibly bringing an end to one country, two systems.
posted by filthy light thief on Apr 13, 2014 - 8 comments

"It looks like a ... "Dragon,” I say. "Artichoke,” says a colleague."

The Most Trafficked Mammal You've Never Heard Of [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Apr 9, 2014 - 60 comments

Abyssmal odds

The depth of the problem - this WaPo infographic hints at the immense challenges that Australian and Chinese search teams will face in recovering the Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 black box from its suspected location at the bottom of the Indian Ocean
posted by Blazecock Pileon on Apr 8, 2014 - 188 comments

How Reader's Digest Became a Chinese Stooge

How Reader's Digest Became a Chinese Stooge Larkin was delighted when Reader's Digest said it would take her work for one of its anthologies of condensed novels. Thirst would reach a global audience and – who knows? – take off. Reader's Digest promised "to ensure that neither the purpose nor the opinion of the author is distorted or misrepresented", and all seemed well. [more inside]
posted by modernnomad on Mar 30, 2014 - 38 comments

"smart, rich, and very cunning"

Scan the shelves in any bookstore in China and you are likely to find best-selling self-help books based on Jewish knowledge. Most focus on how to make cash. Titles range from 101 Money Earning Secrets From Jews’ Notebooks to Learn To Make Money With the Jews. The Chinese Believe That the Jews Control America. Is That a Good Thing?
posted by timshel on Mar 27, 2014 - 87 comments

Students take over Taiwan's Legislature amid China trade pact protests

Students take over Taiwan's Legislature amid massive protests against a trade bill with China. Student protesters stormed Taiwan's Legislative Yuan last week, overwhelming police, and have occupied it since as protests grew outside. Last night, another group of students stormed the Executive Yuan, but were removed, sometimes violently, by riot police. The Presidential Office is surrounded by barricades and police checkpoints. The protests began after the ruling party, the Kuomintang, declared a review of a China trade pact to be concluded after months of wrangling between it and the opposition in the Legislature. The students originally wanted the review to continue, but they're now demanding that it be scrapped altogether.
posted by Poagao on Mar 23, 2014 - 22 comments

Chinese human rights activist Cao Shunli dies in captivity

Cao Shunli died while incarcerated recently for advocating the right of ordinary Chinese citizens to have input into China's entry in the UN's Universal Periodic Review, a new set of human rights reports for every UN member state. She died because she was denied medical care. Her family has not been allowed to see the body. [more inside]
posted by Jacob Knitig on Mar 19, 2014 - 8 comments

it really is a very large pig

Elderly man rides giant pig through town. I don't think there's any need to say more than that, except that there are pictures.
posted by moonmilk on Mar 18, 2014 - 47 comments

All in all, this isn't bad.

China's air pollution is now so bad it "resembles nuclear winter", say Chinese scientists. The pollution is impeding photosynthesis and potentially wreaking havoc on the country's food supply. [more inside]
posted by stbalbach on Mar 3, 2014 - 53 comments

Documentaries and talks from the USC US-China Center

The University of Southern California's US-China Institute has a huge number of videos on YouTube regarding China, Taiwan, history, global diplomacy, etc. [more inside]
posted by jiawen on Feb 22, 2014 - 2 comments

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