版权所有 - 中国日报�(ChinaDaily) China Daily <![CDATA[A special educator for special kids]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-09/15/content_37510008.htm Despite being thrown into the deep end 14 years ago with a posting to a school for children with severe intellectual disabilities, Shi Xiaojing overcame the odds to become a champion for these individuals.

Shi Xiaojing started her teaching career 27 years ago as an English teacher at Meilong Central Primary School before working at Xinmei Primary School in Shanghai's Minhang district.

Her career was progressing smoothly. In fact, she was even promoted to the dean of studies and assistant to the headmaster at Xinmei Primary School. In 2005, when the former principal of Qizhi School retired, the district's education authority assigned Shi to be its successor.

While this might seem like a natural career progression, it was one that marked the beginning of a new but uncomfortable journey for Shi - one that revolved around teaching kids with severe intellectual disabilities.


Shi Xiaojing (central) poses for a photo with students from Qizhi School in Shanghai, where she has served as the principal since 2005 and has won awards for her dedication and contributions to special education. Provided to China Daily


"It was difficult in the beginning. I didn't know what to do when children had emotional episodes during class. But I set a goal of understanding the needs of every child within six months," said Shi.

Every morning at 7:10, Shi waited for the school bus to arrive at the gates before welcoming every student, a gesture that few principals do. She also made it a point to observe classes, read publications on special education, consult former principals of the school and attend training sessions.

Six months into this new role, Shi met one of her students at a mall when queuing up to buy moon cakes for the Mid-Autumn Festival. The boy was so excited to see her that he yelled her name as he ran across the mall.

"I can still remember the weird stares that the people in the mall were giving him," she said.

"At that moment, I made a promise to myself that I would do my best to foster the acceptance and inclusion of children with mental disabilities."

Today, 14 years after that posting to Qizhi School, Shi has gone on to become a key figure in the special education scene in China. She has also won several awards for her contributions, such as the National Special Education Award in 2013 and the Shanghai Labor Medal in 2018.

"Children with intellectual disabilities have the right to education, dignity and hope in life just like everyone else. I hope to help them, encourage more people to understand them, and to ease the burden on their families," she said.

Under Shi, Qizhi School developed an emphasis on designing individualized education plans for each child. She has also spearheaded the school's efforts in cooperating with hospitals and universities to introduce Chinese pinyin education into speech rehabilitation training. In addition, the school has developed an exercise to help kids improve the use of their lips and tongues so that they can better enunciate words.

Another highlight of her career is overseeing the construction of a specialized studio to teach autistic children. Shi said this was done because the number of students suffering from autism has been growing over the past decade. Currently, a third of her students suffer from autism.

"Language is the most vital bridge for human communication. Many medical reports show that a lack of proficiency in language is a common problem faced by children with mental disabilities. As such, it is imperative that we tackle the language issues," Shi explained.

The welfare of her colleagues has also been a priority since the day she joined. One of the first things Shi did as the new principal was to set up a direct line of communication between herself and her teachers.

In 2006, she received an email from a distressed young teacher.

"The teacher told me that she was going crazy and that her mind was filled with scenes of children screaming, crying and fighting in the classroom. She was one of the few teachers who majored in special education, but she left the school eventually," she said.

"So, how can we protect and care for teachers who work with students who have a wide range of learning, mental, emotional and physical disabilities in the classroom all day? We have to do more," she added.

"Special education needs more care and love than general education. Deep compassion and immense patience must be given to both children and teachers."

To help teachers cope with their jobs, Shi said that the school offers a "beautiful campus featuring gardens, bridges and ponds" where they can unwind after work. She also communicates with her teachers frequently to understand the problems they are facing.

"I also frequently tell the faculty that they are doing one of the most honorable and grateful things in the world to build their confidence," she said.

Another measure Shi has taken is to ensure that teachers are armed with the right skills for dealing with such children. To this end, she sends her teachers for training in various fields, including psychotherapy, behavioral intervention and child rehabilitation.

The efforts of Shi and her faculty have not gone unnoticed.

"Our family is lucky to have Shi and the school. Thanks to them, children with autism will never be hopeless," said Wang Tongfen, the grandmother of a boy named Chen Haowen who has autism.

Wang said that her grandson's speech has improved so much since attending the school that he is now able to host ceremonies and activities.

Xu Bin, a 20-year-old young man who has autism, is another testament to the effectiveness of the school's education. His condition has improved so much that he is now working for the school as a clerk.

His mother, Xu Wenjuan, expressed her gratitude to the school, saying that she never expected her son to be able to work in life.

"We need to improve job availability for people with intellectual disabilities in Shanghai," said Shi.

"We need professional experts and young educators dedicated to the cause and more support from the government and society."

Shi also noted that she is looking to establish more places that special needs children can eventually find work at, such as coffee houses and bookstores.

"I really like these unique children and I want to do something for them, even after I retire," she said.


2019-09-15 12:46:09
<![CDATA[Cafe staffed by special needs youth becomes a hit]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-09/15/content_37510007.htm Chengshan Road in Pudong New Area is a relatively quiet area with no commercial buildings or shopping malls in its vicinity. Despite this, the Dream Workshop Cafe that is located along the road has attracted thousands of customers since its opening in July.

The main draw of this cafe is not its coffees or desserts - it is the employees.

Staffed with eight full-time and 10 part-time waiters, most of whom are youth with disabilities from the Pudong Special School, the cafe is a joint venture between the school and a private sponsor.

According to He Yutian, the manager of the cafe, the establishment aims to show people that despite their disabilities, each staff has a unique ability to be proud of. For instance, Ying Hao, who has Down syndrome, is adept at the piano and can make a good cup of coffee. Yang Ankun, who is autistic, is good at remembering numbers and is hence responsible for keeping track of visitor numbers every day.


Customers leave notes of encouragement (above) at the Dream Workshop Cafe (top). Photos by He Qi / China Daily

Ying, who has also had to take on reception duties, said that he appreciates the training he has received, and that his latte art has been improving.

"I've never been late for my job. The reason I love my job is that I hope I can take care of my parents in the future," Ying said. "We treat the cafe as a home. The work is busy, but I never feel tired. I want to learn more coffee-making skills and improve myself."

Each employee works eight hours a day, six days a week, and helps in several areas, such as making coffee, preparing meals and serving guests.

"All the waiters consider the cafe as their home. They have never been late for work and love doing what they do. They are more serious and careful than able-bodied people and are eager to be valued at work," said He.

Yang Bin, a teacher from the special school, said that Dream Workshop Cafe used to be located within the school, which was established in 2000 and formerly only catered to deaf-mute students. The school only expanded its education offerings to those with other types of disabilities in recent years. It currently has 380 students.

To help students secure a job in the society, the school has over the years offered courses that teach students how to create soap, wash cars, do gardening and craft pottery. It was only last summer that the school invited a team from Mellower Coffee to teach its students the craft of coffee-making.

"We had many concerns before opening. The location is relatively secluded and we had no experience of running a cafe. We were also concerned that our students could not adapt to serving customers from outside the school," Yang Bin said.

To help the students ease into their roles, teachers and parents helped with the daily operations of the cafe in the initial stages and advised the manager how to deal with his special needs staff.

"These youths work very hard because they cherish the chance. Most of them wake up at 5 or 6 am and want to be in the store earlier and leave the store later," he said.

According to Yang Bin, the cafe serves an average of 100 guests every day and has already been a profitable venture.

"We will seek support from the government and enterprises to help maintain this project and attract more people to join us," said the teacher. He also revealed that there are plans to launch a car wash and a small grocery shop beside the cafe to provide more job opportunities for the students.

"The ultimate goal of education is to help students go further in their careers. Even these special needs children are working hard to show their value in society - we able-bodied people should certainly be doing more," he said.


2019-09-15 12:46:09
<![CDATA[A special educator for special kids]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-09/13/content_37509932.htm Despite being thrown into the deep end 14 years ago with a posting to a school for children with severe intellectual disabilities, Shi Xiaojing overcame the odds to become a champion for these individuals.

Shi Xiaojing started her teaching career 27 years ago as an English teacher at Meilong Central Primary School before working at Xinmei Primary School in Shanghai's Minhang district.

Her career was progressing smoothly. In fact, she was even promoted to the dean of studies and assistant to the headmaster at Xinmei Primary School. In 2005, when the former principal of Qizhi School retired, the district's education authority assigned Shi to be its successor.

While this might seem like a natural career progression, it was one that marked the beginning of a new but uncomfortable journey for Shi - one that revolved around teaching kids with severe intellectual disabilities.


Shi Xiaojing (central) poses for a photo with students from Qizhi School in Shanghai, where she has served as the principal since 2005 and has won awards for her dedication and contributions to special education. Provided to China Daily


Shi Xiaojing interacts with students on campus. Photos Provided to China Daily

"It was difficult in the beginning. I didn't know what to do when children had emotional episodes during class. But I set a goal of understanding the needs of every child within six months," said Shi.

Every morning at 7:10, Shi waited for the school bus to arrive at the gates before welcoming every student, a gesture that few principals do. She also made it a point to observe classes, read publications on special education, consult former principals of the school and attend training sessions.

Six months into this new role, Shi met one of her students at a mall when queuing up to buy moon cakes for the Mid-Autumn Festival. The boy was so excited to see her that he yelled her name as he ran across the mall.

"I can still remember the weird stares that the people in the mall were giving him," she said.

"At that moment, I made a promise to myself that I would do my best to foster the acceptance and inclusion of children with mental disabilities."

Today, 14 years after that posting to Qizhi School, Shi has gone on to become a key figure in the special education scene in China. She has also won several awards for her contributions, such as the National Special Education Award in 2013 and the Shanghai Labor Medal in 2018.

"Children with intellectual disabilities have the right to education, dignity and hope in life just like everyone else. I hope to help them, encourage more people to understand them, and to ease the burden on their families," she said.

Under Shi, Qizhi School developed an emphasis on designing individualized education plans for each child. She has also spearheaded the school's efforts in cooperating with hospitals and universities to introduce Chinese pinyin education into speech rehabilitation training. In addition, the school has developed an exercise to help kids improve the use of their lips and tongues so that they can better enunciate words.

Another highlight of her career is overseeing the construction of a specialized studio to teach autistic children. Shi said this was done because the number of students suffering from autism has been growing over the past decade. Currently, a third of her students suffer from autism.

"Language is the most vital bridge for human communication. Many medical reports show that a lack of proficiency in language is a common problem faced by children with mental disabilities. As such, it is imperative that we tackle the language issues," Shi explained.

The welfare of her colleagues has also been a priority since the day she joined. One of the first things Shi did as the new principal was to set up a direct line of communication between herself and her teachers.

In 2006, she received an email from a distressed young teacher.

"The teacher told me that she was going crazy and that her mind was filled with scenes of children screaming, crying and fighting in the classroom. She was one of the few teachers who majored in special education, but she left the school eventually," she said.

"So, how can we protect and care for teachers who work with students who have a wide range of learning, mental, emotional and physical disabilities in the classroom all day? We have to do more," she added.

"Special education needs more care and love than general education. Deep compassion and immense patience must be given to both children and teachers."

To help teachers cope with their jobs, Shi said that the school offers a "beautiful campus featuring gardens, bridges and ponds" where they can unwind after work. She also communicates with her teachers frequently to understand the problems they are facing.

"I also frequently tell the faculty that they are doing one of the most honorable and grateful things in the world to build their confidence," she said.

Another measure Shi has taken is to ensure that teachers are armed with the right skills for dealing with such children. To this end, she sends her teachers for training in various fields, including psychotherapy, behavioral intervention and child rehabilitation.

The efforts of Shi and her faculty have not gone unnoticed.

"Our family is lucky to have Shi and the school. Thanks to them, children with autism will never be hopeless," said Wang Tongfen, the grandmother of a boy named Chen Haowen who has autism.

Wang said that her grandson's speech has improved so much since attending the school that he is now able to host ceremonies and activities.

Xu Bin, a 20-year-old young man who has autism, is another testament to the effectiveness of the school's education. His condition has improved so much that he is now working for the school as a clerk.

His mother, Xu Wenjuan, expressed her gratitude to the school, saying that she never expected her son to be able to work in life.

"We need to improve job availability for people with intellectual disabilities in Shanghai," said Shi.

"We need professional experts and young educators dedicated to the cause and more support from the government and society."

Shi also noted that she is looking to establish more places that special needs children can eventually find work at, such as coffee houses and bookstores.

"I really like these unique children and I want to do something for them, even after I retire," she said.


(China Daily 09/13/2019 page5)

2019-09-13 08:12:19
<![CDATA[Cafe staffed by special needs youth becomes a hit]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-09/13/content_37509931.htm Chengshan Road in Pudong New Area is a relatively quiet area with no commercial buildings or shopping malls in its vicinity. Despite this, the Dream Workshop Cafe that is located along the road has attracted thousands of customers since its opening in July.

The main draw of this cafe is not its coffees or desserts - it is the employees.

Staffed with eight full-time and 10 part-time waiters, most of whom are youth with disabilities from the Pudong Special School, the cafe is a joint venture between the school and a private sponsor.

According to He Yutian, the manager of the cafe, the establishment aims to show people that despite their disabilities, each staff has a unique ability to be proud of. For instance, Ying Hao, who has Down syndrome, is adept at the piano and can make a good cup of coffee. Yang Ankun, who is autistic, is good at remembering numbers and is hence responsible for keeping track of visitor numbers every day.


Customers leave notes of encouragement (above) at the Dream Workshop Cafe (top). Photos by He Qi / China Daily

Ying, who has also had to take on reception duties, said that he appreciates the training he has received, and that his latte art has been improving.

"I've never been late for my job. The reason I love my job is that I hope I can take care of my parents in the future," Ying said. "We treat the cafe as a home. The work is busy, but I never feel tired. I want to learn more coffee-making skills and improve myself."

Each employee works eight hours a day, six days a week, and helps in several areas, such as making coffee, preparing meals and serving guests.

"All the waiters consider the cafe as their home. They have never been late for work and love doing what they do. They are more serious and careful than able-bodied people and are eager to be valued at work," said He.

Yang Bin, a teacher from the special school, said that Dream Workshop Cafe used to be located within the school, which was established in 2000 and formerly only catered to deaf-mute students. The school only expanded its education offerings to those with other types of disabilities in recent years. It currently has 380 students.

To help students secure a job in the society, the school has over the years offered courses that teach students how to create soap, wash cars, do gardening and craft pottery. It was only last summer that the school invited a team from Mellower Coffee to teach its students the craft of coffee-making.

"We had many concerns before opening. The location is relatively secluded and we had no experience of running a cafe. We were also concerned that our students could not adapt to serving customers from outside the school," Yang Bin said.

To help the students ease into their roles, teachers and parents helped with the daily operations of the cafe in the initial stages and advised the manager how to deal with his special needs staff.

"These youths work very hard because they cherish the chance. Most of them wake up at 5 or 6 am and want to be in the store earlier and leave the store later," he said.

According to Yang Bin, the cafe serves an average of 100 guests every day and has already been a profitable venture.

"We will seek support from the government and enterprises to help maintain this project and attract more people to join us," said the teacher. He also revealed that there are plans to launch a car wash and a small grocery shop beside the cafe to provide more job opportunities for the students.

"The ultimate goal of education is to help students go further in their careers. Even these special needs children are working hard to show their value in society - we able-bodied people should certainly be doing more," he said.


(China Daily 09/13/2019 page5)

2019-09-13 08:12:19
<![CDATA[The hand that's shocked and able]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-09/08/content_37508654.htm Chinese neurosurgeon, Tian Hong, is bringing his patients relief from debilitating motor function disorders with skill and compassion, Li Yingxue reports.

Li Xiaoyun, 62, lies awake, blinking, as doctor Tian Hong finishes drilling two holes in her skull.

Into both of the freshly-bored cavities, each about 14 millimeters in diameter, he gently inserts a 1.25 mm probe electrode.


Tian Hong performs a deep brain stimulation surgery on a patient. Photos Provided to China Daily

When the probe electrodes make contact with the brain nucleus, as planned, Tian turns on the power. Suddenly, the tremor in Li's hands, an affliction from which she's suffered for nearly 20 years, just stops and her hands lie still for the first time in decades.

Before surgery, Tian had asked Li to complete a series of seemingly everyday tasks, which, because of her shaking hands, proved to be insurmountable challenges. They included holding a glass of liquid, writing her name and touching her fingertip to his.

Now, Tian asks Li to poke a chopstick into the opening of a small bottle, something which until minutes ago would have been an impossible task. But now? Slowly, but steadily, she manages to do so.

Tian instructs her to count aloud from one to five and to perform a few other simple tasks, just to make sure her other functions are not being affected by the electrodes, while in the background a monitor frantically displays the signals emanating from them.

The four-hour operation continues as Tian signals to her anesthetist to put Li to sleep for the next partthe installation of permanent electrodes, their extension wire and an internal pulse generator.

Without the need for further incisions, Tian is able to insert all three components into the sleeping Lithe wire runs under her skin, down along her neck and is linked to the generator, which is placed just below the clavicle.

One month later, with her daughter Jin Jin, Li returns to Tian's office at the China-Japan Friendship Hospital in Beijing's Chaoyang district. The device was not switched on immediately after the surgery to give the brain time to recover from the minor wounds inflicted during surgery. That means Li's hands still shake, for the next few moments, at least.

After assessing data from her operation, and adjusting the settings of the implanted device accordingly via a remote control, Tian presses the power button.

Immediately, her hands stop shaking. Tian once again asks Li to write down her name, and her handwriting is close to perfect. Then the chopstick test is passed with flying colors as Li, with the adroitness of her youth, successfully picks up a small pill with the bamboo implements.

"It is a miracle!" Jin exclaims, with tears in her eyes, "a real medical miracle."

"Watching doctor Tian change the parameters of the device was just like watching him change the channel of a television. When he found the right channel, the miracle happened," Jin recalls.

After witnessing her hardship for the past 20 years, Jin was so excited to see her mother's steady hands working as they used to.

"At first, it was just one of her hands that started shaking, so she trained herself to use the other hand to eat. This disease developed slowly, but in the past three years, it gradually took over both of them, and then her head and, eventually, she could not eat by herself anymore," says Jin.

"My dad and I had to take turns to feed her each meal. My mom is tough, though, and she would not let us help her get dressed, even though it took her a long time to manage with the tremors in her hands," says Jin.

In Kunming, Yunnan province, Jin had consulted with many local hospitals and tried different medicines, but no doctor gave a confirmed diagnosis of her mother's condition, which gradually worsened.

In April, Jin's sister saw an online video of Tian performing brain surgery on a 69-year-old man from Dezhou, Shandong province, curing his shaking hands. She immediately forwarded the video to Jin. It was clear then that Tian was Li's best hope of a rescue from the grip of this debilitating illness.

Associate chief physician at the neurosurgery department of the China-Japan Friendship Hospital, Tian specializes in diagnosing and treating epilepsy, Parkinson's disease and essential tremor.

After studying Li's symptoms, Tian suggested that Jin bring her mother to Beijing for a more detailed examination.

"Doctor Tian diagnosed my mom with essential tremor and suggested the deep brain stimulation procedure and the electrode implants," says Jin.

Surgery always carries risk and none more so than brain surgery. Tian was careful to lay the dangers out for Li and Jin.

"Unlike a routine surgery, such as removing a tumor, DBS is a functional surgery which carries the risk that the patient may lose some essential functions after surgery. It's more of an exploratory procedure," says Tian.

According to Tian, unlike surgery that save people's lives, DBS surgery simply aims to improve the patient's quality of life, noting that, "because movement disorders are not fatal, the patient has to decide whether they want to take the risk or not."

Tian says that, because most of the movement disorder patients he treats have suffered with their respective conditions for years, many have developed mental disorders as a result. Equally, family members who've witnessed the deterioration of their loved ones, and have to care for them, often manifest mental and emotional complaints as well.

"Sometimes neurologists also have to act as psychiatrists, especially before surgery," says Tian.

After weighing up the pros and cons, the chance of having her normal life back was too great a reward, so Li opted for surgery.

"My confidence in the surgery came from Tian. He is passionate and professional, and he is gentle and kind to all of his patients. We are lucky to have met him," says Jin.

Preparation for surgery is key, as Tian needs to locate the nidus of the condition. It goes without saying that the brain is a complicated organ, with a network of millions of cells and neurons. Locating the root of the problem, therefore, is not always that easy. Tian needs to use a combination of experience and technology to detect it.

"The nidus is like an enemy that has disguised itself and infiltrated an army unit," says Tian. "What's more, it has made itself so integral to the working of the unit, that if you take it down, you need to have a good one to take its place."

The electrode is that replacement and the success of the surgery relies on finding the exact position to place the electrode - in this case, nuclei around 5 mm in diameter.

"It's not just about managing to hit the target. You have to hit the bull's-eye," says Tian.

After Tian is happy the device works normally, he gives Jin leave to take her mother home to Kunming to recuperate. One of the tolls taken on Li's body by the condition, however, is that the years of shaking has sapped the strength in her arms, so she needs more time to recover. She also has to avoid the induction cooker because of its magnetic field, and be wary of thunderstorms.

"Compared to not being able to fend for herself these inconveniences are a small price to pay. The recovery process is worth it as she is getting better," says Jin.

The battery powering the device planted in Li's brain will last for at least 20 years, and each year, Li will need to visit Tian for a brief review, but that is all. Tian is also able to monitor Li's electrodes remotely and adjust their parameters as necessary.

Before her condition took hold, Li used to help out in the cafeteria of a local school and was a good cook. Jin has missed her mother's cooking, especially her fried chili with pork, and she hopes that, in the future, she'll be able to enjoy her mom's cooking once again - as long as it's done on a good old gas stove, of course.

2019-09-08 10:05:51
<![CDATA[The brains of the operation]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-09/08/content_37508653.htm Aug 19 is the second Chinese Doctors' Day. Tian Hong, associate chief physician at the neurosurgery department of China-Japan Friendship Hospital, spends his morning with outpatients and his evening performing brain surgery.

"The surgery went well, and that is my way to celebrate the doctors' day," Tian writes on his WeChat moments.

It is a regular day for himbesides taking on new patients, each week he will prepare for and perform around three or four brain surgeries.

Growing up in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region, the 44-year-old did his master's degree in neurosurgery at Norman Bethune Health Science Center of Jilin University in Changchun, Jilin province.

"I found it interesting studying the brain. I was impressed by a surgery where the patient remained awake while a tumor was being removed because the surgeon needed to check whether there was an effect on his brain functions," Tian says.

In 2011, he was the visiting scholar at Barrow Neurological Institute in United States and he joined the China-Japan Friendship Hospital's neurology department in 2014.

Now, Tian specializes in diagnosing and treating epilepsy, Parkinson's disease and essential tremor. He has successfully performed hundreds of brain surgeries, especially deep brain stimulation, a neurosurgical procedure involving the placement of a medical device called a neurostimulator in the brain to treat Parkinson's disease and essential tremor.

Besides treating patients and exploring new solutions to movement disorders, Tian is also keen to educate the public more about epilepsy and Parkinson's disease.

"All of these disorders need to be diagnosed by neurologists," Tian says.

Tian thinks epilepsy is a public health issue."People always have a misunderstanding of epilepsy. Some think it cannot be treated, and others are afraid of those who suffer from it, but they should not be discriminated against," says Tian.

"On the other hand, some people do not pay enough attention to sufferers of the condition. They should not drive or swim, because an attack when driving or swimming will not only put their lives in danger, but also the lives of others."

Tian thinks people should learn to treat epilepsy in an emergency situation, because if an attack lasts for more than five minutes, the patient's life will be in danger.

According to Tian, of all 5 million Parkinson's disease sufferers in the world, China accounts for more than 2.2 million of them, and it's a disease that people should pay more attention to in their elderly parents.

"Even though we do not know the real cause of Parkinson's disease, we can control the disease with medicine, and if it gets too bad, surgery can also help to improve the quality of life of the sufferer," says Tian.

Looking at his phone he notices that someone had commented on his WeChat post.

It is from the daughter of one of his patients and it reads: "Thanks for your hard work! Get some rest!"

It was the best Doctors' Day gift he could have received.

2019-09-08 10:05:51
<![CDATA[NCPA drama set for anniversary debut]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-09/08/content_37508652.htm To mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China, the National Center for the Performing Arts will premiere its new play The Crossroad in Beijing on Oct 2.

Following the fortunes of four soldiers serving with the Northwest Field Army, one of the main forces of the People's Liberation Army during China's War of Liberation (1946-49), the production is based on real-life stories from the battlefield, according to Zhao Tiechun, vice-president of the NCPA.

Zhao says it took the NCPA two years to prepare the script for the play, which will run through Oct 6.

"We revised the script six times, and the play is now set against the backdrop of the winter of 1948. To collect historical material and learn more about the real stories of the soldiers and their families, we had to travel to many cities in China, including Huai'an and Nanjing in Jiangsu province," says the play's scriptwriter Li Baoqun in Beijing. "These heroes fulfilled their obligations and showed their loyalty to the country. We pay tribute to them while celebrating the birthday of the nation with this play."

The Crossroad opens with the scene of a blizzard hitting areas near the Yangtze and Huaihe rivers, where a decisive battle is about to take place. The stage set, says designer Zhang Wu, will feature many metallic elements - from "flying bullets" to railway tracks.

The lead actors include 61-year-old Wu Jing'an, who plays the role of Zhang Yuefeng. The award-winning actor is known for his work in both film and TV dramas.

"Zhang Yuefeng is a brave soldier, who encourages other soldiers to fight amid the flames of war," says Wu during a recent rehearsal of the play at the NCPA. "A man has to make choices at all times. During those war years, making a choice was a serious issue. He lived on the battlefield and had to make a choice between his family and his duty."

Other cast members include actors Hong Tao, Zong Ping and young actors from the NCPA Drama Ensemble.

"When you watch a play in the theater, you either get something new, which you don't know, or get something old, which you may have already forgotten. In the case of The Crossroad, we wanted to show the audience something from the past, which may not be familiar to younger theatergoers," says director Gao Xiaodong.


2019-09-08 10:05:51
<![CDATA[Language speaks for a world of unity]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-06/09/content_37478710.htm Esperanto is an orphan language. It does not have a single country or region that it calls home but it aims to unite mankind. It may sound unfamiliar to most people but Chen Ji finds it a way to make friends from different backgrounds and use it as a platform to spread the culture of China.

Magazine director believes Esperanto can foster harmony among cultures through a shared way of communication

Esperanto is an orphan language. It does not have a single country or region that it calls home but it aims to unite mankind. It may sound unfamiliar to most people but Chen Ji finds it a way to make friends from different backgrounds and use it as a platform to spread the culture of China.

Chen's love for the language has grown during her 21-years working in a magazine called El Popola Cinio, which means China Report. It is the first printed Esperanto magazine published in China. Chen is the director of El Popola Cinio and heads a staff of about 10 people.

"Many people believe Esperanto has niche appeal, but to me it is a kind of language that comes with warmth", the 47-year old said.

She explained that Esperanto is a platform for people from different backgrounds to communicate, and the communication has gone beyond just learning a language to making real friends. The language has 28 letters and is based on the Latin script.

Esperanto means "one who hopes". It was invented by Polish-Jewish ophthalmologist Ludwik Lejzer Zamenhof in 1887, who hoped to foster universal peace by creating a neutral language.

According to Zamenhof, he created the language to reduce the "time and labor we spend in learning foreign tongues" and to foster harmony between people from different countries.

"Were there but an international language, all translations would be made into it alone... and all nations would be united in a common brotherhood."

Esperanto has spread to 157 countries and regions. More than 10 million people have mastered and used the language.

The language was introduced to China at the beginning of the 20th century, and once enjoyed support from cultural professionals like Chinese educator Cai Yuanpei and Chinese writers like Lu Xun and Ba Jin.

It was once taught in universities and was made an option for foreign language examinations.

China even held two World Esperanto Congresses, in 1986 and 2004. Back in the 1980s, Esperanto was a popular foreign language because of its simplicity compared to English. The Beijing Association for Esperanto estimated it had over 300,000 Chinese speakers back then.

However, the 130-year old language is today used by just a handful of people in China.

Esperanto is an auxiliary language that does not intend to replace other languages, Chen explains, adding that it does not belong to any country and offers an easy and equal option for communication without imposing any cultural requirement.

"We just want to make others know more about it and cultivate a sense of language equality", she said.

Some argue that Esperanto does not have cultural roots and is doomed to failure. Chen disagrees with such views, saying the language has its own dynamic.

For individuals, Chen said, "we speak Esperanto to deepen communication and connection with like-minded people."

"We hope to use this language to communicate, but we also hope that through this language, the language and culture of all ethnic groups can flourish."

After she graduated from China Women's University in 1998, Chen was offered employment by El Popola Cinio and studied Esperanto for two years before working as an editor there.

El Popola Cinio was founded in 1950, and is affiliated to the China International Publishing Group. It is one of the three outlets in China that publish in the language, beside the website China.org.cn and China Radio International.

Esperanto readers regard it as an important source of information about China. Some loyal readers have even donated their property to the magazine to support it.

One donor, from Belgium, sold his property and donated about $500,000 to the magazine, according to Chen.

"It is a magazine with high quality content, which focuses on China's social culture and reflects modern life," Chen said.

At the end of 2000, the magazine stopped publishing its printed edition and opened a website. Chen's team still run a public account on Wechat, as well as Twitter and Facebook accounts.

At the beginning, when they opened their Facebook account, Chen said they received a comment from a reader, who posted a photo showing all the printed magazines collected from 1951 to 2000.

"I was deeply touched. Esperanto created closeness between us and our readers, and I think that makes it different from other languages."

Apart from running website and new media platforms, Chen and her team also publish Chinese literature every year in Esperanto like Fortress Besieged and The Yellow Storm.

Through turning the online magazine to a news website covering major political news in China, Chen and her team has been trying to fit Esperanto to the internet, which is a natural meeting point for geographically dispersed Esperanto speakers.

"The way we promote China should be creative as media forms change with new technology, and it is also a way for the innovation of Esperanto," Chen said.

Esperanto shares a common goal of building a community with a shared future for mankind, pursuing peace, equality and harmonious coexistence, she added.



2019-06-09 15:00:12
<![CDATA[Diplomat looks back on a country going forward]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-06/09/content_37478709.htm Eugenio Bregolat, who has served an unprecedented three terms as Spanish ambassador to China, has a deep sentimental attachment to the country.

A good friend of China, the retired diplomat has experienced the outstanding development of the country over the last 30 years, and helped cultivate ever-deepening ties between Spain and China.

His knowledge about China and the Chinese culture have been recognized by his peers and friends, and was reflected in his book The Second Chinese Revolution, which explores some of the key areas to understand the country as well as the different aspects that have played a fundamental role in its profound changes.

"I have had this exorbitant privilege of being an ambassador of my country to China three times," the 76-year-old told China Daily in Beijing. "My personal, family and professional connections with China are very strong. I have been so incredibly lucky."

His connections with China date back to his first tenure as an envoy of Spain to China between 1987 and 1991, and he worked as an ambassador in Beijing again from 1999 to 2003, and from 2011-13.

Bregolat said he has witnessed the "unbelievable" changes of this country.

"What has happened in China is the speediest and widest-ranging process of economic growth in the world's history. It has progressed in such a short period."

In Bregolat's eyes, Sanlitun, a downtown area in Beijing where many embassies are located, is the epitome that represents the country's rapid growth.

He recalled that, when he came to Beijing 32 years ago, there were many bicycles around the Sanlitun area and just a very few cars, most of them with diplomatic number plates.

Then in 1999, he could see from the embassy's gate the Capital Mansion building a new 50-story skyscraper, Bregolat said.

"And now you can see new Sanlitun, a street full of bars, pubs and shopping centers with name brands," the senior diplomat said. "So what has happened here is really amazing. It's a testimony to how hard-working the Chinese people are, how good the country's leadership has been and how appropriate the economic policy has been," he said, adding all these things explain what China has achieved.

While witnessing the changes to Chinese society, Bregolat has also seen the rapid development of the relationship between China and Spain and also that between China and the European Union, as well as the profound changes of the international landscape.

"The relations between our two countries are developing very quickly," Bregolat said. "President Xi Jinping's state visit to Spain in November last year was very important, and will boost bilateral cooperation not only in the political field, but also in the economic, trade and investment areas."

China is Spain's largest trade partner outside the EU. Bilateral trade was over $33.7 billion last year. The two countries signed an agreement on the third-party market cooperation during Xi's visit to Spain to strengthen their partnership under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative.

Bregolat said Spain considers this initiative very positive.

"Spain is already collaborating with China through companies' cooperation on a number of projects. And we are open to considering more opportunities and to strengthening the cooperation between our two countries in the Belt and Road initiative."

He said the BRI focuses on infrastructure connectivity, which is greatly needed in many countries in Asia, Europe and other parts of the world.

Bregolat hailed the Second Belt and Road Forum on International Cooperation, which was held in Beijing in April.

"I think that the discussions were very open and positive as they involved the procedures to implement the initiative, taking into account the ecological and other factors, and trying to avoid, mitigate and solve problems," he said, adding some criticisms about the BRI are "biased and not justified".

Bregolat sees the importance of people-to-people exchanges in promoting China-Spain relations, saying his country wants to increase the number of Chinese tourists to 1 million next year from 700,000 last year.

"The exchanges are increasing at a very positive pace. This is a great contribution to the dialogue of civilizations to make our people to know each other much better, " he said.

"Dialogue among different civilizations is essential if we are going to have a peaceful and prosperous world," he added.

The Spanish diplomat also mentioned that the cooperation between China and the EU is "extremely important", saying he was happily involved in this relationship.

He said that, besides the close economic connections, the EU and China share similar positions on a lot of issues such as climate change and the Iran nuclear deal.

They both uphold the multilateral international system with the United Nations at the core as well as the multilateral trading system with the World Trade Organization at the center, he added.

Bregolat also talked about the differences between China and the EU in such areas as market access and bilateral investment, expressing the hope that they could solve their differences through negotiations.

Bregolat still travels frequently between Spain and China and plays a significant role in promoting the economic, cultural and people-to-people exchanges between the two countries.

Bregolat said his connections with China will be even stronger due to his son, who is living in Shanghai and works for ZARA, a Spanish fashion brand popular among Chinese youngsters.

He brought his son to China for the first time when the boy was only 2 years old. The boy spent many years in China when his father was the ambassador.

"He will be 35 years old in July, and he lived longer in China than in Spain. He has made China his second home." Bregolat said.


2019-06-09 15:00:12
<![CDATA[Sweet story of success]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-05/04/content_37465122.htm Entrepreneur uses sugarcane grown in Yunnan village to help alleviate poverty, Chen Meiling reports.

Wan Jixiang could have made a fortune as an owner of five restaurants, but he chose to take the hard way - to develop a brown sugar business in his hometown, Yuba village, a poverty-stricken area in Qiaojia county, in Yunnan province.

Having experienced the bitterness of poverty, Wan, now the Party chief of Yuba, aims to improve the lives of his fellow residents by making use of its sugarcane and unique sugar-making technique.

It's not enough to help only one person get rich, he says. "My dream is to bring wealth to all the villagers," the 46-year-old said at a recent funding ceremony in Beijing.

In late March, Wan was named one of the 100 rural representatives who had made significant contributions to the country's poverty alleviation efforts in 2018.

The nationwide selection was jointly organized by the China Soong Ching Ling Foundation, People's Daily and Ping An Insurance (Group) Company of China.

Wan's father passed away when he was 13, leaving his mother to take care of six children.

At the age of 18, Wan started to work away from home to help feed the family. He spent seven years as construction and stainless steel worker, and another seven years building up a catering business with an annual profit of around 10 million yuan ($1.49 million).

In 2010, Wan returned to the village where he grew up, lured by local policies to encourage native entrepreneurs to participate in rural revitalization.

Yuba village is a major production base for "small-bowl" brown sugar, a 200-year-old intangible cultural heritage of Yunnan province.

To make the sugar, sugarcane juice is first boiled and stirred and then poured into small bowls to cool down - giving it unique aroma and taste.

About 67 hectares of land in the village produces about 8,000 metric tons of sugarcane and 100 tons of brown sugar every year through 12 processing workshops run by the villagers.

However, due to poor transportation and a lack of standardized processing, "small-bowl" brown sugar is sold only in the surrounding areas.

To solve this problem, Wan and his team set up a cooperative to purchase brown sugar from the villagers and help sell it through online and offline channels.

Villagers who invest in the operation become shareholders and can earn dividends.

Wan has also registered a trademark called "Yuba" for the brown sugar, produced a packaging design and expanded the sales of brown sugar to restaurants and stores in the county.

Since January, more than 5 tons of brown sugar have been sold, earning 120,000 yuan. And the annual income of the local people has increased from about 1,000 yuan to 3,500 yuan, according to Wan.

Villager Yan Changgui, 46, and his family used to live off the sugarcane crop and by doing menial work.

Then, in 2017, he developed cancer, making life more difficult for his family. But thanks to money from the cooperative, medical help from the government, a basic living allowance and free tuition for his child, he has been able to manage.

Recently, the village faced a new challenge when it was announced that all the processing workshops, as well as 40 percent of sugarcane planting areas, were to be taken over by 2020, to make space for the construction of the Baihetan hydropower station - the country's second-largest hydropower station after the Three Gorges project in Hubei province.

However, Wan saw a business opportunity here.

He now plans to use about 200 hectares of farmland to grow sugarcane, set up a cattle farm and establish a new brown sugar processing factory.

"Villagers can now earn a stable income by working at the farm and factory or by receiving dividends from land shares. And the residual crop from the sugar processing can be used to feed cattle," he says. "Besides, a processing factory can help us to get a food production license and take our brand to big supermarkets in other cities."

The villagers have received a government grant of up to 5 million yuan for the project.

Despite Wan's efforts, there are still people who doubt the cooperative, which upsets Wan's supporters like Liu Ronghua, 30, who has worked in the village since 2017.

But Liu, who is the only village official in Yuba with an undergraduate education, is certain the cooperative is working hard to alleviate poverty.

Recalling his disappointments, Liu says he was once asking villagers to join the cooperative as shareholders when some of them interrupted him with questions and said: "I will consider it if the cooperative performs well."

Wan often spends sleepless nights thinking ways to persuade villagers to join the project.

Speaking about his experiences, he says: "At first, they don't believe me, so I tell them if we don't change, this place will always be poor. And I promise them a different future."

Liu says Wan has won high praise from villagers because he has proved himself trustworthy as a person who is willing to help others regardless of his own profit.

2019-05-04 07:04:51
<![CDATA[Factory gives new lease of life to struggling mothers]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-05/04/content_37465121.htm
Ruan Meiyin instructs a worker at her garment factory in Ningde, Fujian province. The entrepreneur has offered jobs to hundreds of needy mothers over the years. [Photo provided to China Daily]Ruan Meiyin, the director of the Meixiang garment factory in Yangzhong town, Ningde city, Fujian province, says she hopes to help more poor mothers to enjoy a better life.

Mothers who have no assets, no job, no knowledge or skills are welcome to work at her factory, says the 46-year-old entrepreneur.

Ruan attended a ceremony in Beijing in late March as one of 100 rural representatives who had made significant contributions to the country's fight against poverty in 2018.

Each employee is given a sewing machine, which they use to make a section or an item of clothing. And ski suits, gym wear and work suits produced by these rural women are exported to Europe and the United States.

"Most of them (the women) face serious financial difficulties. And they cannot go far away, or even leave home to work, because they have to take care of their children, the elderly, or sick family members," says Ruan. "So we want to at least give them a stable income."

In 2005 when the factory was founded, there were only six female workers and 10 machines. Now, Ruan's factory has expanded and has several branches, covering a total area of 1,100 square meters, which provides employment for mothers from about 100 poor families in four villages, at a monthly salary of around 3,000 to 4,000 yuan ($448 to $598).

Ruan says she understands the difficulty of those mothers, given her own experience.

"I hope more mothers like me (who find it difficult to balance work and family life) can have a flexible job," she says, adding that employees can choose to work either from home or in a factory.

Ruan, who was born into a poor farming family, lived a hard life with her siblings.

She left home in 1994 to work at a garment factory in Fuzhou, the capital of Fujian province.

At the age of 32, she decided to quit her job and start her own business in her hometown, so she could take care of her sick mother and her young child.

By that time Ruan and her husband had about 80,000 yuan which was not enough to open a factory.

Later, they received 30,000 yuan from the Happiness Project, a charity program which was launched in 1995 to help mothers escape poverty by the China Population Welfare Foundation, a nongovernmental organization.

When Ruan set up her business, many of the workers didn't even know how to measure clothes, so Ruan taught them one by one.

Once, when all the sizes were incorrect and the delivery time was approaching, Ruan found herself under pressure.

"I cried, but I sorted things out throughout the night," says Ruan.

"I'm a person who cannot be beaten down by difficulties."

Ruan says the most difficult time she faced was when she ran out of capital.

"For some reason, the client didn't pay on time, but we needed to pay the workers' salaries on time."

Now, she produces clothing for companies in Taiwan, who sell the products overseas. Her monthly turnover is around 150,000 yuan.

In 2013, the factory became a "poor mothers' entrepreneurship base", working with the local government to provide workers with a salary, dividends, money at festivals and a year-end bonus.

Many workers have benefited from this.

Yu Erqin, 38, who worked at the factory for two years, paid 10,000 yuan to become a shareholder. Last year, she opened her own garment factory.

Huang Xihua, who lost her husband in a car accident and had a craniotomy, says she is grateful for Ruan's help in the factory.

"Though I was not skilled, Ruan welcomed me. I'm happy I can learn and work here," Huang says.

2019-05-04 07:04:51
<![CDATA[New focus brings a greater vision of progress]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-05/02/content_37464943.htm US attorney, won over by country's energy, praises the role of special economic zones

An attorney specializing in corporate and international law always thought that the lifelong focus of her career would be Europe - until she went on a life-changing journey to Asia in the 1980s.

Lisa Ferrell, who was educated in the United States and lived, studied and worked in Europe, said Asia's dynamism appealed to her.

"As soon as I worked in Asia, I could sense a tremendous energy and excitement, and felt that Asia was the future of the global economic environment - and that turned out to be the case," Ferrell said.

She cites China as a particular example of this vibrancy. Ferrell first visited the country in 1987 and began her decadeslong connection - both business and personal - with the country.

"It's a region of the globe where there is just a lot of innovation and energy," said Ferrell, whose first stops in China were Shenzhen and Hong Kong.

"China was still very much developing," a stark contrast with the economies that she was more acquainted with in the US, Europe and Japan. But she was impressed by how hardworking, friendly and professional the people were.

Ever since then, Ferrell has been representing Chinese companies with US business interests as an attorney, companies she has "greatly enjoyed working with because they display such a high degree of professionalism and innovation".

The companies, Ferrell explained, faced the challenge of navigating different legal systems and cultures as they sought to enter the US.

Ferrell started out representing financial companies and has since expanded to companies in more diverse industries. In 2016, she helped Tianyuan Garments, a Suzhou-based clothing manufacturer, set up shop in Little Rock, Arkansas.

The manufacturing plant, which brought an investment of $20 million and 400 jobs to the community, featured unprecedentedly innovative automated production lines and was hailed in the mayor's 2019 State of the City speech as "something to get excited about" for being the "only manufacturer of Adidas apparel in the United States".

Ferrell and her husband have formed other deep ties with China by adopting three Chinese toddlers about 15 years ago.

The children, two boys and a girl, were from Hanzhong and Xianyang, cities close to Xi'an, capital of Shaanxi province.

"That absolutely has been one of the most wonderful experiences for my husband and me," she said. "They just bring us incredible joy."

Now 20, 16 and 14 years old, the children have each adapted well to life in the US, sharing the same interests as their peers.

"They have a unique opportunity to serve as a bridge between the country they were born in and their home," said Ferrell, who said all three have been exposed to Chinese language and culture by taking Mandarin courses.

They've also developed a global view with their backgrounds and are all interested in international careers, said Ferrell. "They'd be interested in internships in China, and in studying there," she added.

"Frankly, wherever your children are from, whether they're raised in Peru, France, or the US, China is such a huge and significant global player, knowing and learning as much as you can about China is important for one to become successful," she said.

Over the years, Ferrell has taken her kids to China a number of times, the latest trip being last December for Christmas. Among the many places they visited was Hanzhong, the birthplace of her two sons.

The family took advantage of China's high-speed railway system, which whisked them from Xi'an to Hanzhong in 90 minutes.

Back in 2002, the trip would have taken Ferrell more than 14 hours; and in 2005, she took a plane - an old jet aircraft that traveled once a day between the two cities.

On her latest trip, Ferrell "didn't even look into taking a plane" because of the convenient railway system. There are more than 60 high-speed trains operating daily between the cities.

She also visited Shenzhen, a city that to her is "unrecognizable, in a positive way" compared to her first visit back in 1987.

There is still the tourism and historic side, but the quality of businesses, its educated population and international businesses making their home there, means there is much more to appreciate, said Ferrell.

Ferrell and her husband, who have been working on a real estate development project in Little Rock since 2008, also looked into Shenzhen's booming real estate industry.

They met with vendors who supply construction products and visited their factories and facilities. "They are clean, modern - they are as advanced as you would want them to be," she said.

She said Shenzhen's success highlighted the success of special economic zones, a model she has repeatedly argued could be copied in the US, especially in her home state of Arkansas.

"China is an impressive development story. It has led forward five generations of change in just one generation," she said.

"Last time I was in China, if I needed directions, I would just look for somebody who was in their 20s or 30s and approach them," said Ferrell, who does not speak Chinese. "I'd apologize for not speaking Chinese and ask for their help. And 60 or 70 percent of the time the folks spoke English. That's very impressive."

Having deep connections with both countries, Ferrell expressed hopes for the China-US bilateral relationship, which is entering its 40th year.

"Both countries have a tremendous amount to offer to the globe, and both have a tremendous amount to learn from each other," said Farrell. "And a strong partnership on a business and legal level would really benefit all the players."

2019-05-02 07:47:55
<![CDATA[Student's zeal for China takes him on adventure of a lifetime]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-05/02/content_37464942.htm A high school student from New York with a passion for China probably has visited more places in the country than many Chinese people.

Max Horne, 18, who also goes by his Chinese name Hong Mingwei, speaks fluent Mandarin and has visited China seven times since 2015. He has been to Beijing, Shanghai, Suzhou, Hong Kong, Chengdu, Kunming, Lijiang and Tibetan areas in southwestern China.

"I have been studying Chinese for the past seven years, and I loved every minute of it," said the senior at the Riverdale Country School in the Bronx, New York. That study paid off last year, when Horne won a national Mandarin speech competition for high school students.

Max Horne (right) poses with his host family in traditional Tibetan clothing in the summer of 2016. Provided to China Daily

"When I was in our lower school here at Riverdale, we had a unit on the Silk Road in our social studies class. We had already studied a lot of China's engagement with the West through trade during a much earlier period. I became very interested in Chinese culture," Horne said.

"I became aware of how different it was from culture in the United States, and how much I wanted to understand more, and how much I feel I have an obligation to understand it more. That was a very great thing to be challenged with as a young person, to think globally and differently."

Adventures in China

The classroom turned out to not be big enough for Horne's ambitions. In 2015, he visited China for the first time on a summer program.

"We went to Lijiang in Yunnan province and did a homestay with the Naxi ethnic people. We stayed in a small village called Ji Xiang Cun, which literally means 'a village of prosperity'," Horne told China Daily, in an interview conducted in both Chinese and English.

In that village, he studied Chinese in the morning and experienced the culture in the afternoon - learning about how they farm and take care of chickens - part of the Dongba culture, the Naxi people's distinct religious cultural and linguistic heritage.

"I still remember when the chickens and other livestock all broke out and ran toward us. We needed to get them back to the yard as soon as possible. That was fun," Horne chuckled, waving his arms to show how he helped gather the animals.

In the summer of 2016, Horne went on a monthlong study program to China's westernmost regions, including the Tibet autonomous region, Sichuan, Qinghai and Gansu provinces.

Instead of taking a nonstop flight, he bought a standing ticket for an 18-hour train ride to Tibet, and the kindness of strangers made an impression.

"During that trip, I ran out of food to eat and water to drink. When we got to a smaller village's train station, a man got on with some of his own produce ... a big cucumber. He broke it in half and gave me half of it, because he thought I was hungry and alone. I think that moment completely changed the train ride."

Horne started to talk with the passengers next to him and made friends. Some of them were migrant workers going back home; some were businesspersons going to western China.

"Whoever they were, they had a story to share," he said. "My ability to speak Chinese allowed me to hear their stories and share mine."

During that trip, Horne spent a few days in a remote nomadic area of Qinghai province to experience the region's Tibetan lifestyle, and he was struck by the local host family's hospitality.

"We took all of our meals on the floor of the tent, which they could tell I was not used to," Horne said. "Without my asking, they drove many kilometers to the nearest town to acquire a table and chairs just for my use. The family gave up their only available mattress for the duration of my stay to ensure that I could sleep comfortably."

Horne said they carried water up from a local stream in large jugs, "so that I might comfortably wash my face each morning and have ample water to drink".

"They gave me all that they had to give. It was enough - more than enough. It was wonderful."

The Mandarin champion

Horne took all his cherished memories back to the United States and shared his story at the 13th Chinese Bridge Speech Contest for US high school students at the Confucius Institute at the University of Massachusetts-Boston in 2018.

"To both China and Chinese, I am so thankful for the new ways of thinking you have opened my eyes to and for making me contemplate more deeply the true meaning of compassion," Horne said fluently in Mandarin in his speech titled "Heavenly Tibet and the Hope in My Heart". He won the championship for the advanced-language group.

Horne said that being able to speak Mandarin is the gift of a lifetime, and he decided to pass it on by starting an after-school Chinese program at Riverdale.

"I feel that the gift of China was given to me by my Chinese teacher and all the other educators. So I really wanted to pay it forward and give that gift of understanding China and Chinese culture to other kids," he said. "I teach some third, fourth and fifth graders simple Chinese, and it's really about exposing them to something new and hoping that later on they are engaged with China and study Chinese."

Horne said that "in the Chinese classroom, we are not only working to learn Chinese. We are working toward a more peaceful world. What happens in the Chinese classroom - it's beautiful. It's magical."

Unlike many other US high school students, Horne is something of a "Chinese local" who knows how to shop on Taobao (Chinese shopping website), sing Mandarin songs in Tik Tok (a short video platform also known as Douyin in China), and listen to popular songs that are often used in square dancing in China.

"I firmly believe that all of us, regardless of nationality or cultural background, have a moral obligation to work to understand those different from ourselves," Horne said, showing off the smartphone case he bought on Taobao.

Horne recently got accepted to Harvard University, and he said "with much certainty" that he plans to engage with China "for the rest of his life".

"It's hard to say at this point what that engagement will look like, whether it will be in academia, in diplomacy, in economics. ... But I definitely want to study China in a very intellectual setting. I want to learn more about Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism. I want to take a lot more in-depth look at what makes China, China in a scholarly way."

Horne said he himself is a good example of the two countries' people-to-people exchanges.

"I think of the 40 years of US-China relations, all of the people that I had the privilege to encounter throughout my years of learning Chinese. It really enriched my life, both academically and personally. That is what it means to me. It means 40 years of friendship."


2019-05-02 07:47:55
<![CDATA[Veteran kebab-maker still full of passion]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-05/01/content_37464837.htm

Changsha swears by Hu Yunwu's secret seasonings

Although Hu Yunwu had a surgery done a few months ago and is still recovering from it, he arrives at his kebab store, located in Pozi Street in Changsha, the capital of Central China's Hunan province, at about 4 pm every day.

Then he begins to use his sauces and seasonings to marinate his meats to prepare them for barbecuing.

Before Hu arrives at his kebab shop called The Hu' s Barbeque Shop, he usually visits major meat and vegetable bazaars in Changsha to purchase fresh and high-quality ingredients.

Hu Yunwu, a man who has made and sold kebabs off and on for more than 38 years, poses in front of the graffiti his son designed for his kebab store in Changsha, in Hunan province. Provided to China Daily


"If you refuse work hard, then you will never be able to earn a big profit," says Hu.

"In addition to my sauces and seasonings, fresh and quality ingredients are key to my brisk business," Hu adds.

Hu, born in 1960, has made and sold kebabs off and on for more than 38 years, and is called "the king" by locals in the central Chinese metropolis after his story was broadcast by CCTV's program of "A Bite of China" a few years ago.

With Hu's sauces and seasonings and good barbecue skills, his kebabs are well received by local residents and tourists.

Speaking about his food, a Changsha resident says: "Hu's yakitori is really delicious, and I buy it almost every week."

The business at Hu's shops is brisk, although his prices are usually a little bit higher than other kebab stores in the city.

And his cumin beef and cumin mutton are particularly favorites with local diners.

Many of his customers are from other parts of the country.

"So, if I stop my business a day, many of my clients, particularly those who have come from far away to enjoy my kebabs, will feel disappointed, and I really don't want to disappoint them," says Hu.

Hu started his kebab business at the end of 1970s when he failed to find a job with the local government or State-owned units that used to be regarded as "iron rice bowls", indicating a secure and lifetime job.

Hu says he then took to barbecuing and selling kebabs after learning the technique from vendors who came from the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.

At first, he used to barbecue and sell his kebabs along local streets, despite objections from his parents.

But as his barbecuing skills improved, and thanks his fresh and high-quality ingredients, sales of his kebabs kept increasing.

Later, in 1983, Hu rented a stall at 200 yuan a month in Changsha's Dongtang Square, a busy part of the city, to sell his kebabs. And his business has not looked back since.

"My stall, that is usually open from 3pm to 10pm, can sell between 600 and 700 yuan worth of kebabs a day and can yield a net profit of more than 10,000 yuan a month," says Hu.

Thanks to his hard work and attitude, Hu was a millionaire in 1980s, becoming a model to emulate for his friends and relatives.

After Hu opened his first kebab store in the heart of the city's in 1990, he quickly opened three branches in Changsha in the following years.

All the four stores do brisk business, with one of them even selling more than 17,000 kebabs a day, earning 40,000 yuan daily, according to Hu.

Meanwhile, Hu is also a wholesaler of food ingredients for major hotels and restaurants in Changsha, and teaches local chefs how to make cumin beef and mutton.

After Hu became successful, he bought three motorcycles and an imported Volkswagen sedan.

But after a few years, Hu's business began to decline after he lost interest, and the business was handed over to his younger brother to operate.

Hu's stores then began to close one after another due to the lack of professional staff.

Worse was when Hu got addicted to gambling.

"I lost more than 400,000 yuan a night in a casino in Macao in 1990s," he says.

But redemption was at hand when Hu opened a new kebab store in Pozi Street, a famous local snack site in Changsha in 2007 to restart his business.

Now Hu's kebab store can earn anywhere from 200,000 to 300,000 yuan a month.

Although Hu is growing old now he is still full of passion for his kebab business. And he recently became a web celebrity after he created the first skewer bullfrog in Changsha.

Hu now has a shareholding system for his staff. And 16 of them have been given from 0.5 to 5 percent of his company's shares.

Separately, Hu's son Liu Zhijie, born in 1995, has returned to Changsha to help Hu run the kebab store.

Speaking about his role, Liu, who studied in a university in Thailand, says: "It is my family business and I hope I can continue to run it in the years ahead."

Contact the writers at zhengcaixiong@chinadaily.com.cn

2019-05-01 07:17:35
<![CDATA[Inventor's unique take on the yangqin opens up numerous music possibilities]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-05/01/content_37464836.htm

Standing by a black grand piano near the window, Li Yanrong, a Chinese musician and professor, is controlling the instrument and guiding a female vocalist via an iPad.

"The piano is an instrument for solo performance. But with the help of an iPad, it can work as a band," Li says.

A professor of music theory at the Northwest Normal University in Lanzhou, in Gansu province, Li does not only teach music, but also works on inventions related to musical instruments.

He believes that improving instruments is an important part of innovation in the music field.

Li Yanrong, a musician and professor, shows off the super yangqin that he invented. Provided to China Daily


"I try to put new life into traditional instruments through combining them with computers and internet technologies," he says.

'Super yangqin'

Now, Li's latest passion is the yangqin.

The Chinese yangqin, which was introduced from the West as the dulcimer to China 400 years ago, developed into a folk instrument after many improvements, according to Li.

The "super yangqin" Li has invented is played with two hands but can be made to sound like a band.

Through digitization of the traditional Chinese yangqin, the super yangqin can be connected to the internet - which Li believes offers huge possibilities.

"The super yangqin can also be used for distance teaching via the internet. And it can be co-played over long distances too," Li says.

"For instance, I can play music with someone on the other side of the planet through the internet by sharing the super yangqin."

And with 5G it will have more functions, says Li.

Meanwhile, the invention has sparked a lot of discussion in the music industry.

And with compliments have come criticism.

A professor of Chinese yangqin from the Chinese Conservatory of Music, who did not want to be identified, says he is excited by the super yangqin and he thinks it is a brilliant invention.

"It's amazing that Li thought of a way of arranging the piano keys in a column order," he says.

A yangqin player got in touch with Li after learning of the super yangqin, hoping that he can give a show with the new instrument.

But some people said it's not good enough to be called an invention.

"An electric synthesizer facilitated by a keyboard can replace all the instruments in the world. So, the digitization of a single instrument is meaningless repetition," a yangqin fan, who did not want to be named, says.

"There is little high technology in this so-called invention."

But Li is optimistic, saying that any new instrument cannot replace an existing traditional instrument just like the electrical piano has not replaced the traditional one, and the electronic guitar has not made the traditional guitar disappear".

"New instruments just add more possibilities, and they will find their definition and role gradually."


Through the new instrument, children can more easily fall in love with music, Li says.

And Chinese education authorities have been encouraging the introduction of instruments such as the clarinet and harmonica into classrooms.

"However, those instruments are dull and unattractive," Li says.

"The super yangqin, however, can be customized for various groups such as school learners, music professionals or for those with a general interest in music."

In addition, the super yangqin can be used in China's rural areas, says Li.

And thanks to its multiple functions, it can be used for cultural performances in rural areas since it's easy to learn and much easier to play than a piano or a violin.

Contact the writers at dujuan@chinadaily.com.cn

2019-05-01 07:17:35
<![CDATA[Wang family's lion dance tradition roars on]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-02/04/content_37435327.htm Two brightly colored lions prance in, blinking their formidable eyes and deftly hopping onto poles to the lively beating of drums and ringing of bells.

Northern-style techniques of troupe have been passed down for over 100 years

Two brightly colored lions prance in, blinking their formidable eyes and deftly hopping onto poles to the lively beating of drums and ringing of bells.

Tapped on the head, one lion jumps up into the air, rolls over and lands on two pole tops, each action cheered by the audience.

Tumbling and prancing, the two lions grow fiercer with the bursts of applause. Another performer, wielding a martial arts staff, joins in as the performance by the Wang's Lion Dance troupe continues.

In Honghai village, in the Hongsibao district of Wuzhong, in northwestern China's Ningxia Hui autonomous region, the Wang family's lion dance techniques, passed down through the generations, are recognized as the best in the region and surrounding areas.

Traditionally viewed as a way of preventing disasters and seeking good luck, lion dances are performed widely in China and elsewhere in Asia, especially during special occasions such as festivals and grand events.

Two performers mimic a lion's movements in a lion costume - one holding the head, another the tail.

There are southern and northern styles of lion dance in China, varying in costumes, decoration and moves, with more martial arts element featured in the northern form.

Wang Lin, 55, is the fifth successor of the family's lion dance. Its techniques have been passed down for over 100 years, beginning with his great-great-grandfather, Wang Baocang, late in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

When he was a child, Wang Lin started to practice lion dance under the guidance of his father, Wang Hanzhang, and his grandfather.

"At that time, the elders were very strict and I would get punished unless my practice went well," he said.

When the family moved to Hongsibao district in 2004, Wang Lin and Wang Hanzhang tried to rekindle the family tradition by buying new equipment and costumes and organizing children in the family and the neighborhood to practice lion dance.

Wang Lin's three children still recall those workouts, when they practiced basic skills and various moves all day long. The soreness in their muscles not only honed their skills, but also ingrained lion dance into their lives.

Because the Wangs' Lion Dance follows the northern tradition, performers should not only master various moves, but also martial arts weapons such as swords, spears and halberds.

There are no shortcuts for northern-style practitioners.

Take the part of playing the lion's tail as an example: the performer must hold on to the belt of performer playing the lion's head with one hand, and raise and sway the lion's tail with the other. Even during breaks, the performer needs to keep on interacting with the audience and constantly swing the tail, demanding a high degree of professionalism.

However, things did not all go smoothly for the Wangs following their move to Hongsibao district, even though there was an upsurge in community interest in lion dance after their arrival.

Lion dance was gradually ignored as children living nearby started school, and then later went off to seek work in cities. The advent of new technology such as television and the internet also outshone ancient performance arts.

Performers and funding were hard to find, making it increasingly difficult to organize a proper lion dance.

Things picked up for Wangs' Lion Dance in 2017, as China's rural vitalization strategy was implemented.

Lifted out of poverty, Honghai village has gone through impressive changes and villagers are attaching greater importance to health and cultural inheritance than ever. Wang Lin now feels more confident about the future of Wangs' Lion Dance.

"I am sure the stage will grow bigger," he said. "Performing lion dance can not only build up the body, but also pass on a positive living attitude.

"As long as youngsters want to learn, I'll teach them myself. The heritage and the spirit should always be passed on."

Over the years, Wang Lin was the lion dancer and his father the drummer. Now, they have retired to the audience, ready to give the stage to members of younger generations.

Lion dance is still a compulsory course for family members, and the young generation put on a marvelous show at the 2018 Lantern Festival fire show in Hongsibao district.

As a successor, Wang Lin said his family shoulders not only the responsibility to pass on the techniques, but more importantly, the spirit of the lion dance and its cultural essence.

With the Lunar New Year approaching, his schedule became busier once again.

He took out his phone and sent text messages to his children, who work in other parts of the country: "Come back home soon. We'll start to rehearse the lion dance for the new year!"

Huang Chen contributed to this story.

2019-02-04 07:01:37
<![CDATA[Oroqen elder's classes preserve ethnic language]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-02/04/content_37435326.htm Every Saturday and Sunday morning for the past three months, Wu Xiaodong has waited for her students at the ethnic primary school in Xunke county, Heihe, in northeastern China's Heilongjiang province.

The retired kindergarten principal, whose name in the Oroqen language is Wucharkan Xiaodong, has been teaching the ethnic group's language to members of the public for free since late October. About 20 people, ranging in age from 3 to 60, attend each two-hour class.

"Despite efforts by both government and some individuals to protect the language, it is in danger of disappearing due to modernization," the 79-year-old said. "I only hope what I do can slow down the process.

"There are no limitations on the students who are interested in learning the ethnic language. My students include teachers, civil servants and housewives."

The sixth national population census of 2010 found there were 8,659 Oroqen people in China, mainly living in Heilongjiang and the Inner Mongolia autonomous region. About 3,900 - 45 percent of the total - were in Heilongjiang.

Unlike some other minority languages, the Oroqen language is only spoken and it has no written form.

That means Wu has to convert each word into pinyin or Chinese characters with similar pronunciation when writing on the blackboard in class.

It is a creative solution to the problem, but not an easy one to master.

Wu spent nearly six years finding Chinese characters or pinyin with same or similar pronunciations for about 5,000 Oroqen words, covering numbers, daily life and hunting.

"There are about 1,300 Oroqen people in Xunke, but I know very few of them can speak the Oroqen language," Wu said. "Most people younger than 60 do not speak the language anymore.

"Even though I can speak it fluently, I can't remember all the words due to my old age and lack of a language environment. To record some unfamiliar words, I have visited almost all the Oroqen seniors in the county."

She has been working to preserve the language since 2016, when she began giving irregular Oroqen lessons to pupils at the ethnic primary school.

"From that year, Heihe city began to organize an annual, province-level Oroqen language contest that aims to arouse the younger generation's interest in learning the language," Wu said. "Sometimes, before the contests or Oroqen festivals and performances, I would be invited to give the pupils some targeted lessons."

Similar international competitions are held in the neighboring Russian city of Blagoveshchensk.

"During these contests, I found that contestants from Xunke performed worse than those from other regions," she said. "The Oroqen people in Xunke moved out of the mountains earlier and had more opportunities to embrace modern culture, which hastened the extinction of ethnic culture in the county. Even though it means that we are more developed, I feel quite upset.

"The pupils I taught also told me that they are interested in our ethnic culture, but few of their parents could speak the Oroqen language to them. Furthermore, all the young parents hope their children can speak standard Mandarin and fluent English, to help them enter good universities and then find decent jobs."

She then had the idea of starting a class mainly for adults, hoping it would encourage young parents to pay attention to their own culture and provide their children with a better Oroqen language environment. During each class, she teaches her students 30 words, interspersed with instruction about traditional Oroqen culture, including clothing, singing, dancing and hunting.

"I have received great support from my family members," Wu said. "My son, who is a teacher at the ethnic primary school, helped me apply for the classroom and also gives students in the school lessons on the Oroqen language every week.

"My granddaughter keeps helping me collate my teaching materials on a computer, even though she cannot understand the Oroqen language spoken by the older generation. I often discuss the meaning of language inheritance with her. I am quite clear that despite the efforts, we are still facing the danger that the language of our people might fade into history, but I hope it can leave a mark."

Mo Renjie, 23, a senior student at Wuhan University of Technology, attended Wu's class for the first time when he returned to the county after his final exam.

"I am quite familiar with Wu, a respected senior in our Oroqen family," he said. "In the past, I often asked her questions about the Oroqen language and culture. The public class is of great significance for all the Oroqen people, especially for our young generation.

"I can only speak a few words in Oroqen due to the lack of a language environment and good learning methods. My classmates (at the university) have shown great interest in my ethnic background but I am really ashamed every time they ask me to speak my ethnic language.

"I also hope people like me, who are outside our hometown, can bring our culture to a wider platform, which may greatly help heighten our ethnic pride," Mo said.

2019-02-04 07:01:37
<![CDATA[Expanded rail bridge in the 'pipeline']]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-11/25/content_37309742.htm Trains 'connecting companies, countries and people', says president of pan-Eurasian enterprise

Russia and its partners want to widen their Eurasian bridge with a "pipeline for trains", according to Alexey Grom, president of pan-Eurasian railway company United Transport and Logistics Co Eurasian Railway Alliance.

UTLC ERA is a state-owned, joint-stock company registered in Moscow and co-owned by partners Russian Railways, the National Union Belarusian Railway and Kazakhstan Temir Zholy, the national railway company of Kazakhstan.

"Railway is one of the main tools to bring us closer in Eurasia. The areas where the rail is developing, the life is developing, and our people start to live better," says Grom.


Alexey Grom says he is optimistic that railway has a key role to play in connecting companies, countries and people. Liu Jia / China Daily

"I'm always looking for new developments. This is the best time for this industry. And I'm optimistic that railway has a key role to play in connecting companies, countries and people," he says.

Grom, who is Russian, has worked for 25 years in the rail transportation industry. He is an enthusiastic proponent of initiatives aiming to boost Eurasian connectivity, particularly projects to unleash railway's potential.

"I like all the initiatives which help us get close to each other, because we understand that development benefits all the countries and people who live on this new Silk Road," Grom says.

"And we support these initiatives, not only in words, but also in practice. Our so-called railway bridge between South Asia, China and Europe is developing very fast. We are creating the so-called pipeline for trains at our Eurasian economic area," he adds.

The UTLC ERA family networks include 35 rail and transportation companies from the Eurasian region. They currently operate 50 regular routes for railway transportation on the Eurasian transit corridor between cities in China and Europe.

"We have up to 15 trains a day between China and Europe. In five days, you can get your cargo from the Chinese border to the European border, despite the 5,430-kilometer distance. This route is safe, reliable and fast," says Grom.

Earlier this month, UTLC ERA sent two trains with containers to Chengdu, Sichuan province. The containers had originally been sent by sea from Rotterdam, Netherlands, arriving at the Russian port of Kaliningrad. The launch of these pilot trains was part of the company's multimodal transportation development project, which aims to boost Europe-China transportation through Russian ports.

Grom says UTLC ERA's target is to hit a handling capacity of 1 million containers by 2025.

By the end of October, the volume of freight traffic operated by UTLC ERA had reached a record 214,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (one TEU is equivalent to a standard 20-foot shipping container), which is 38,000 more than the total amount last year.

"It is developing. Like three years ago, nobody believed it could develop so fast. But now we see from the real figures that capacity within European borders has increased a lot in the past two years. The number of railway trains between China and Europe is increasing a lot. We see more and more European companies and countries are involved in this process. This is our common Eurasia future," Grom says.

"I also appreciate the initiatives from the European Union. It is important to see the first result after these initiatives had been declared by the European countries. Because it is important to see the practical things," Grom says, speaking about the EU's strategy to connect Asia and Europe.

Although there are 25 shipment points and destination terminals that already cover major European countries, and about the same number of terminals in China, UTLC ERA is looking for alternative transit routes in Europe and opportunities to expand their services to other such Asian countries as Japan, South Korea and Vietnam.

Last month in Shenzhen, Grom presented the Eurasian Rail Alliance Index at the 13th China International Logistics and Transportation Fair. ERAI is a composite index of the cost of transit container shipments in the Eurasian rail corridor across the territory of the Eurasian Economic Union between China and the EU.

He emphasizes that rail transit traffic through the East-West transportation corridor has become competitive, thanks to high delivery speed and optimal rates for freight transit services.

"If you ask me what is the future of trains - freight or passenger - I would say it is very reasonable to have combined trains," Grom says.

"I think it is a good idea to have fast-speed trains from China to Europe and vice versa, as it will bring perspectives for many industries in our common Eurasia. I also think it's a good idea to use the tracks for our railway which we are creating in Eurasia both for passenger trains and container trains," he adds.

There are already some promising projects under construction in Russia, with both China and Europe involved, which aim to provide new technology trains that could combine passengers and freight in one train, Grom says.

The 770-km-long Moscow-Kazan high-speed rail line is one example. It is expected to serve approximately 10.5 million passengers in its initial year of operation. The line's passenger and freight rolling stock will be jointly developed by Russian Railways, China Railway, Sinara and China Railway Rolling Stock.

Russia and China are currently building the Tongjiang-Russia Railway Bridge across the Heilongjiang River, known as the Amur River in Russia, which links the city of Tongjiang in northeast China's Heilongjiang province with Nizhneleninskoye, Russia.

The Chinese part of this first cross-river railway bridge between the two countries was completed in mid-October. The bridge, which uses a set of rails that can adapt to Russia's 1,520-mm and China's 1,435-mm track gauges, is expected to become a new international channel connecting China, Russia and Europe.

There is currently only direct freight rail service linking China and Europe. However, Belgium and China are working on a program to launch a passenger train line between Europe and China. The so-called Diamond Silk Road is to connect Antwerp and Shanghai by a passenger train running through 10 other cities including Brussels, Moscow, Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia and Beijing.

"If you ask me which is more important, passenger or cargo, I would definitely say passengers. Cargo is transited for the benefits of these passengers from these countries. These railway projects will boost connectivity not only in infrastructure but also in people-to-people communication," he says.

In Grom's mind, Eurasia is a region with unique advantages regarding competitiveness and connectivity. Due to booming trade along the new Silk Road, businesses and people in the region should establish relations on a personal level, he says.

"On the one hand, we are so different. But on the other hand, this difference between us has encouraged us to be connected even more. And it will offer opportunities for us - we are all neighbors - to know and learn about each other," he says.

In addition, Grom says: "We are all in one supply chain. It's very important to synchronize our developments. There is no value if someone will be ahead in this race.

"We all have to be winners. What I call 'win' is that we are playing on one team. To be the winners is to have us all involved, unite our efforts and work together for our common Eurasian future."


2018-11-25 11:17:33
<![CDATA[Road trips reveal Xinjiang splendor]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-09/22/content_36964138.htm Detailed routes give access to the region's diverse cultures and scenic attractions. Cui Jia and Mao Weihua report from Urumqi.

The diverse cultures and breathtaking views found in the vast Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, which covers a sixth of China's territory, make it perfect for road trips.

Locals often tell people proudly that, apart from the sea, everything on their travel bucket list can be found in the region: golden deserts; great, red-tinged canyons; turquoise high-plateau lakes; and snowcapped mountains. Xinjiang has been described as China's best-kept secret by CNN Travel.


Some of the highlights along six of 10 detailed self-drive routes in Xinjiang (clockwise from far left): Muztagh Ata (Kashgar-Pamir route), the G217 Highway (western Tianshan route), Urho ghost city (northern Tianshan route), the Flaming Mountains in Turpan (eastern Tianshan route), Miran ruins (Tarim Basin route), Bosten Lake (southern Xinjiang route). See more on introductions of individual routes marked by their corresponding color. Photos Provided to China Daily

The region's roads have improved considerably in recent years, luring people back for more road trips.

"Many of my clients have told me that driving around Xinjiang is an addiction," said Zheng Jinbin, who runs a recreational vehicle rental company in the regional capital, Urumqi. "So many of them are frequent customers from other parts of China. They particularly enjoy the transitions in scenery, which can sometimes be so different even when they are driving along one road."

The Tianshan Mountains divide the region into two parts - north and south - with different climates and cultures.

Xinjiang is home to people from 14 ethnic groups, and their cultures have been well preserved, while at the same time having greatly influenced their neighbors. In the region, people driving out of a Mongolian autonomous prefecture can find themselves entering a Kazak autonomous prefecture.

Head south to experience Uygur culture and find traces of the ancient Silk Road. Many roads in southern Xinjiang were built along the ancient trade routes connecting China and Central Asia.

You can feel and taste the Silk Road in Xinjiang today. Kuqa county in Aksu has long been famous for its big naan bread, a legacy of the Silk Road. Travelers passing through Kuqa, a kingdom during the Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 220), needed to stock up on food there, since the next place they could replenish their supplies was far away. Instead of carrying many regular-sized naan, they found it more convenient to carry the bigger version.

Kuqa is just one of the counties in southern Xinjiang whose name resonates with Silk Road history. Driving through them takes travelers on a journey back in time as they pass the names of ancient kingdoms dotted along the edges of the Taklimakan Desert, the world's second-largest shifting sand desert and the largest desert in China.

In ancient times, the Taklimakan, which means "the place of no return" in the Uygur language, was a place travelers were likely to avoid. But modern-day travelers can drive along roads built in the desert for a unique experience.

The first road across the Taklimakan was opened to traffic in 1995. At 522 kilometers, it is still the world's longest desert highway. The second one, stretching 424 km, was completed in 2007, and a third, covering about 330 km, is expected to open in 2021.

"Driving on the road in the Taklimakan is like driving on another planet," said Wang Yong, 63, who has been driving around Xinjiang in a recreational vehicle with his wife. "You are on your own most of the time, with the company of sand dunes that are like ocean waves. Human beings just seem so insignificant."

As of Monday, the couple had spent 40 days in Xinjiang since leaving their home in Yulin, Shaanxi province.

Head north to roam the grassland with Kazak nomads on horseback. And don't be surprised to see a special lane on the highways dedicated to sheep and herdsmen during seasonal migrations. In fact, the drivers are the trespassers because the highways were built on the routes used by locals for thousands of years to move livestock in search of pastures among the mountains.

Unlike other places in China, Xinjiang's vast grassland stretches through mountain valleys, meaning travelers can enjoy views of green pastures against a backdrop of snowcapped mountains.

There are shortcuts in Xinjiang, cutting through the Tianshan Mountains, that allow people to travel between the north and the south of the region. The most famous is the G217, a highway built for military purposes in the 1970s. The 562.7-km road, which is closed in winter, connects Dushanzi, in the city of Karamay in northern Xinjiang, with Kuqa in the south.

Many have called it the most beautiful road in China, because it takes travelers through the snowcapped Tianshan Mountains, verdant valley grasslands and the Kuqa Grand Canyon.

"As soon as you climb over to the southern side of the Tianshan Mountains, the view changes suddenly," Wang said. "The snow on the mountain vanishes and is replaced by green grassland. You know you've arrived at Kuqa when you are weaving through incredible landforms weathered from red sandstone by wind and rain over centuries. It is just magical."

Long road trips between the scenic spots in the vast region may have put many people off in the past, but more people are now discovering that the road trips might actually be the best part of the journey.

The regional tourism research institute recently released 10 detailed routes in Xinjiang for people to follow while driving around the region at their own pace. Each route takes six to nine days to complete.

Contact the writers at cuijia@chinadaily.com.cn

Northern Tianshan

Eight days, 2,243 km

What to see:

Urho ghost city

It is named "ghost city" for the frequent strong winds that whistle and howl over a series of yardang formations, rocky protuberances shaped by wind moving over what was once the bottom of a lake. Urho is one of the top three such landforms in China according to China National Geographic. It has also been used as a location for several famous movies, including Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

Kanas Lake (photo above)

The lake lies on the border between China and Kazakhstan. The turquoise mountain lake is surrounded by forest and grassland. It is said to be the most beautiful lake in China, so watch out for crowds. The locals call it "the garden of God". The view in Kanas is often compared with that in the Alps. Some say a "monster" inhabits the waters of the lake, which is 188 meters deep.

Tianshan Tianchi (Heavenly Lake)

The alpine drift lake was shaped in the Quaternary Glacier period. People can walk around the lake on a boardwalk while enjoying the view of the snowcapped Bogda range of Tianshan.

Western Tianshan

Nine days, 2,224 km

What to see:

Sayram Lake

The lake, renowned as a pearl of the Silk Road, is the largest alpine lake in Xinjiang. It is like a brilliant emerald inlaid in a basin surrounded by the Tianshan Mountains. Summer and autumn, when the water is peaceful and the lake's surface is as smooth as a mirror, are the best seasons to visit.

Tekes county

Tekes' county seat is the only community in the world planned in the shape of a bagua - the trigram symbols used in Taoist cosmology to represent the fundamental principles of reality. Hop aboard a hot-air balloon to see the community from above and try to work out why the county seat doesn't even need traffic lights.

Narat grassland (photo above)

Narat means "the place where sunshine first appears" in the Mongolian language. Located in the heartland of Tianshan, it is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Though outshone in scale by the Hulunbuir grasslands in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region, the most famous grassland in China, Narat features rolling grassland, undulating slopes, soaring peaks, fertile valleys and crisscrossing rivers.

Eastern Tianshan

Nine days, 2,500 km

What to see:


Harvest time in Xinjiang turns the wheat in a giant field and the different shades of grassland and forest at higher altitudes into a sea of gold and green in Jiangbulake. People in Jiangbulake, which means "source of the holy spring" in the Kazak language, have been planting wheat near the mountains for more than 2,000 years.

Yiwu desert poplar forest (photo above)

The desert poplar forest in Yiwu county is famous for its strangely shaped trees, the result of enduring such a harsh environment for thousands of years. Some of the trees are more than 4,000 years old, and it's the densest desert poplar forest in China. Fall, when the leaves turn golden, is the best season to visit.

Yargul ancient city

With a history of more than 2,000 years, it is one of the best-preserved ancient cities in China. The ruins of mud-brick buildings still visible feature temples, civilian dwellings and government offices.

Southern Xinjiang

Eight days, 2,465 km

What to see:

Bayanbulak grassland

Bayanbulak means "abundant spring" in Mongolian. It is the second-largest grassland in China. A winding river flows through the middle section. When the sun reaches a certain height, people can see its reflection at every turn of the river. To add more romance to the grassland, it is the highest-altitude breeding ground for swans in the world. Every year, when the snow melts and flowers bloom, thousands of swans and other migrant birds fly in from India and Africa.

Kuqa Grand Canyon (photo above)

The red sandstone walls in the canyon twist at every turn, bouncing light in different ways. Some have likened it to Antelope Canyon in Arizona, United States. It's best to come in the late afternoon, during the "golden hour" of the sun's light.

Kizil thousand-Buddha caves

The caves are said to comprise the earliest major Buddhist cave complex in China, having been developed between the third and eighth centuries. There are 236 cave temples in Kizil. Although the site has been damaged and looted by explorers from Europe, Japan and the US, around 5,000 square meters of wall paintings remain.

Tarim Basin

Six days, 2,600 km

What to see:

Tarim desert poplar forest

Stretching over 100 square kilometers, it's the largest wild desert poplar reserve in the world. People can enjoy the tree-lined scenery along the Tarim River by driving on the road in the reserve.

Miran Ruins

Miran is an ancient oasis town on the southern rim of the Taklimakan Desert. The town, with a sophisticated irrigation system, was once on the ancient Silk Road. It was also a thriving center of Buddhism with many monasteries. Many artifacts found in Miran demonstrate the extensive and sophisticated trade connections these ancient towns had with places as far away as the Mediterranean Sea.

Taklimakan Desert (photo above)

It's the world's second-largest shifting sand desert and the largest desert in China. Meaning "the place of no return" in the Uygur language, the desert was a place travelers were likely to avoid. But modern-day adventurers can drive along roads built in the desert for a unique experience.


Eight days, 2,120 km

What to see:

Kashgar old town (photo above)

When walking around the maze-like old town in Kashgar you will be surrounded by Uygur-style buildings with beautiful decorations. You can also get a taste of authentic Uygur culture and food. For the best old town experience, drop the map and get lost in the maze. The old town was used as a stand-in for Afghanistan in the 2007 movie The Kite Runner.

Karakul Lake

At an altitude of 3,600 meters, it is the highest lake on the Pamir Plateau. The lake is popular among travelers for the reflection of Muztagh Ata (7,546 meters) in the mirror-like water, whose color ranges from a dark green to azure and light blue.

Tashkurgan stone fort

It's also called the stone city. Located on the Pamir Plateau, the fort with a history of more than 2,000 years, served as a major stop along the Silk Road and was the capital of various kingdoms. Although it's now a ruin it still has a commanding view of the area, from the majestic snowcapped mountains behind it to the beautiful wetland in front of it. A permit is required to travel from Kashgar to Tashkurgan.

2018-09-22 07:03:11
<![CDATA[More Rwandans learning Chinese]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-07/29/content_36666385.htm Schools are introducing the language to students, saying this is the direction in which world is going

When student Pacifique Izabayo enrolled to learn Chinese, he didn't think he would succeed, since his schoolmates had said it was such a complicated language to learn.

But the 20-year-old senior six-year student from Akagera International School, in the Rwandan capital of Kigali, says that after two years, he's found the going easier.

"When I started, I quickly noticed it was not as difficult as people said," he recalls.

He adds that his liking for the language grew, and the following year he attended a national competition, called the Chinese Bridge Competition, in which schools teaching Chinese nominated candidates to compete.

Izabayo says he did so well that he was next chosen, with two other Rwandan students, to go to China to test his skills in an international competition with students from 92 countries, with his country eventually winning third prize.

Izabayo's case is not an isolated one. Currently, hundreds of Rwandan children are attending Chinese classes at school to learn one of the most spoken languages in the world.

For now, Izabayo still aims to pass levels 5 and 6, to have a fuller knowledge of Mandarin. He says his knowledge of the language has already started to bring him financial rewards, even before finishing his formal high school studies.

"During the holidays, I continued learning Mandarin at a Confucius Institute," he says.

"Last time my teacher hooked me up with a Chinese guy in order to help me practice the language in everyday life, and I was able to make money with translations, and now I pay my school fees myself," he says.

In addition, he has gained new Chinese friends, and they support each other in everyday life.

"Chinese is as easy to learn as English. It only requires your attention, as with any other language.

"We mostly hear that China is developing very fast, and I think it should create opportunities for the young generation if we learn their language," he said.

In Rwanda, a tiny, landlocked country in East Africa, Kinyarwanda is the national and administrative language and the first language of almost the entire population.

It is one of the official languages alongside French, English and Swahili. All the languages are taught in schools.

Recently, some schools introduced their students to Mandarin, saying the move reflected the direction in which the world is going.

Valens Harerimana, principal of Akagera International School, says the decision to introduce Mandarin was made two years ago and was implemented with the help of the Confucius Institute.

"We have many activities conducted by Chinese companies and individuals, and as time goes on, they increase rapidly," he says.

"We see them in all sectors of national life, including in infrastructure (projects) and business. We thought our children would be more competent and attractive in the employment market if they also learned Chinese."

A representative of the Confucius Institute at Kigali Teaching College at the University of Rwanda says more people are getting interested in the Chinese language because of China's increasing activities in Rwanda and Africa in general.

Since 2009, more than 4,000 students have enrolled in Mandarin classes all over the country with the help of the college, she says.

To date, the Confucius Institute has signed cooperation agreements with three private schools and all the colleges of the University of Rwanda to provide teachers for students to learn the language at no charge, other than registration fees.

"The Chinese government pays and takes care of the Chinese teachers, who hold master's degrees in Mandarin, and they have also trained 30 Rwandans so that they can come back and teach others," the Confucius Institute representative says.

However, the number of teachers is still very low compared with the increasing numbers of students every year.

"That's why we want more Rwandans to go to China and get a master's in Mandarin and come back to assist the available Chinese teachers," she says.

Rwanda and China have had strong bilateral relations for more than 40 years, but ties were strengthened following the visit by President Xi Jinping, who stopped there as part of his African tour before going to the BRICS summit in South Africa this week.

For china daily

2018-07-29 14:35:33
<![CDATA[Building on 'developmental peace']]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/24/content_36443394.htm

Head of pan-African think tank says China's approach plays to continent's strengths

China is gaining ground in Africa because of its successful approach to, and implementation of, "developmental peace", says Peter Kagwanja, the president of the Africa Policy Institute, a pan-African think tank based in Nairobi, Kenya.

For the past four decades, since China's successful implementation of reform and opening-up policy, it has developed and followed a creative approach in addressing social and economic challenges - an approach it has replicated in Africa, too, according to Kagwanja, who adds that trade and investment are areas in which China is currently gaining favor in Africa.


Peter Kagwanja, president and CEO of the Africa Policy Institute and his latest book (below). Lucie Morangi / China Daily and Provided to China Daily

"Peaceful development means empowering people to empower themselves," he says. "It is hard to manipulate a people that believes it has a stake in the community's development, people who have hope. The middle class are the defenders of democracy."

Kagwanja, who is also the institute's CEO, says developmental peace is the foundation on which the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation was established, offering both China and Africa a platform on which to formulate and implement goals based on this approach.

"Africa wants a partner who believes in its developmental growth. China definitely offers a different approach that gives play to our strengths and prevailing environment," he says, adding that China is doing this through FOCAC.

The third FOCAC summit will be held in Beijing in September. With several meetings already taking place in Kenya and China to build momentum while shaping discussions for the forthcoming summit, Kagwanja's new book, Paving Africa's Silk Road: China-Africa Relations in the 21st Century - The Development Turn, offers a glimpse of these discussions.

He says the book idea came from deep reflection and extensive research while preparing for the second FOCAC summit, which was held in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 2015. During the meeting, President Xi Jinping announced a financial commitment of $60 billion and announced a 10-point comprehensive plan for finance, capacity building and infrastructural development as the driver of Africa's independent development.

"It is valuable input into the ongoing conversation around China-Africa relations in a highly globalized world," says Kagwanja.

A lot of information was gathered during that time, he says. "But one thing that was clear is our determination to move away from history and build a better future. It is a convergence of dreams," he says. "When you find a partner who believes in shared prosperity based on mutual respect, equality, nonhegemonic and harmonious existence and does not dictate a model of governance, then there is mutual belief in the win-win approach. There are many commonalities we share."

In the book, Kagwanja says that despite China's rise, it cannot ignore Africa, which is the last frontier. The continent continues to be the main source of strategic natural resources and has the world's fastest-growing and youngest population.

"In the 21st century, the destiny of the two civilizations is inextricably linked. In 2000, China formed FOCAC as the spearhead of its engagement with Africa, marked by a sharp development turn in Sino-Africa relations," he writes.

Notably, goals earmarked during the three-year FOCAC implementation period have been beleaguered by rising anti-globalization sentiment and sluggish economic growth in Africa due to depressed commodity prices.

Nevertheless, a lot has been gained during the period as well, and infrastructure modernization stands out. The Abuja-Kaduna railway in Nigeria, the Mombasa-Nairobi rail line in Kenya and the Addis Ababa-Djibouti railway in East Africa have been completed using Chinese technology and financing.

An underdeveloped sector has been Africa's dilapidated infrastructure, which is unable to support the continent's ambitions and booming population. "Built decades ago, in spite of fueling the mushrooming of cities along the railway, they were not interconnected," Kagwanja says. "The new railway designed by Africans themselves will be interconnected and support intra-African trade."

He says he is confident that the FOCAC summit this year will align the forum's goals with the continent's Agenda 2063, a development blueprint that has resulted in the recent launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area. The AfCFTA, signed by 44 presidents and heads of states in Kigali, Rwanda, in March, underpins the continent's growth in intra-Africa trade in manufactured goods.

Infrastructure expansion is likely to bring an uptick in borrowing as African governments increase their spending, Kagwanja says.

"Africa's leadership is now acutely aware of the cost of building new infrastructure. But we cannot stop eating because of fear of choking. I think the most important conversation now should be around debt sustainability. This is in addition to China-Africa industrialization and agriculture modernization programs. These are going to be the big three in FOCAC."

Moreover, Africa is acutely aware that transportation infrastructure alone is not feasible, and an ecosystem around it should also be considered, he says.

"Attention needs to be put on modernizing ports to ensure they support the viability of the railroad. Such projects also need an effective management model to prevent it from collapsing, and thus the need to launch capacity building programs. All these are additional costs."

Other issues that are likely to become clearer at the upcoming FOCAC summit will be China's increasing role in Africa's security and its position on trilateral partnerships. "China has been seen as a protector of the developing world and has taken a stance contrary to other permanent members in the (United Nations) Security Council besides Russia", says the scholar.

"Its policy is in working with multilateral, established organizations such as the UN and the African Union. It has also responded to humanitarian disasters. China uses soft power in Africa and not hard.

"China believes in solutions designed by Africans themselves, and this has always been its policy. But increasingly it has been forced to step in, in situations such as mediating peace in South Sudan. FOCAC may therefore give us a clearer picture."

On trilateral relations, Kagwanja says: "To widen and deepen the impact of FOCAC, China should continue engaging Africa using existing agencies."

Nonetheless, Africa has reaped big benefits from FOCAC, he says. It has strategically repositioned Africa back to a global platform. This has been witnessed by an upsurge in emerging partners such as Turkey, India, Russia and Middle East nations that are eager to do business with the continent.

There is also growing confidence that Africa can reverse its fortunes, Kagwanja says. "It is not by coincidence that Africa is proactively participating in global discussions over issues such as the Paris Climate Agreement and the (UN) Sustainable Development Goals that borrowed heavily from the Agenda 2063."

2018-06-24 14:46:57
<![CDATA[GOLDEN AGE]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/22/content_36436478.htm After China's reform and opening-up began in the late 1970s, the following decade saw a burst of literary activity, with today's influential writers shaping their ideas and words back then.

In his new book, critic Zhu Wei shines a light on the 1980s that shaped modern writing in the country. Yang Yang reports.

After China's reform and opening-up began in the late 1970s, the following decade saw a burst of literary activity, with today's influential writers shaping their ideas and words back then.

In the preface of his new book, Chong Du Bashi Niandai (Reread the 1980s), literary critic Zhu Wei describes scenes from the decade in Beijing, saying that people would talk about literature all night long, or hang out like "lovers", walking from modern author Zhang Chengzhi's house to fellow writer Li Tuo's. And after eating watermelon under streetlamps, the people would walk along a city street to another author Zheng Wanlong's house.

Zhu also mentions that people watched rebroadcasts of World Cup soccer matches over drinks in the'80s.

From Franz Kafka and William Faulkner to Alain Robbe-Grillet, Juan Rulfo and Jorge Luis Borges, and from Jean-Paul Sartre to Martin Heidegger and Ludwig Wittgenstein - the discussions about the literary figures and their works were "like swallowing a date whole due to longtime hunger", Zhu writes.

"As Huang Ziping put it, as the writers were increasingly being 'chased by the dogs of innovation'. They were caught up in a race against time to try and absorb the diverse styles of Western literature."

During the '80s, Zhu, who was in his early 30s and an editor at China's top literature magazines - first China Youth and then People's Literature would ride his bike through Beijing's hutong (alleys), visiting one writer after another.

"The writers of that generation are successful today, which is largely due to that great period. ... People back then were very open-minded and intimate, so they understood and inspired one another," Zhu, now 66, says.

In the gold mine of contemporary Chinese literature in the 1980s, Zhu "dug out" important writers, such as Nobel laureate Mo Yan, Yu Hua, Su Tong, Ge Fei, Liu Suola and A Cheng, by publishing their first short stories in the magazines.

Although aspiring to become a top literature editor like American Maxwell Perkins, Zhu left People's Literature in 1995 and landed the position of editor-in-chief for the Lifeweek Magazine, an influential Chinese publication.

"People in People's Literature thought I wasn't suitable for the job of literature editor. Besides, the 1990s saw the gradual decline of literature and the rise of news media," Zhu says.

But his connection with literature was never severed. At Lifeweek Magazine, Zhu wrote a weekly column about novels. In 2013, he started writing a series of blogs online under the title The 80s and I to record his interactions with writer friends while keeping memories about his own early life alive.

After his retirement in 2015, Zhu started writing articles in the same magazine about authors in the '80s and his interpretations of their works after being invited to do so by its new chief editor.

"Compared with my interactions with them, I wanted to focus more on my interpretations of their works and their writing phases, which helps readers to better understand their works," Zhu says.

"Each writer is trying to give his or her answers to social problems. Each has their own stand. If you don't understand the background for their creativity, novels are just stories ... Once you attain their thoughts by learning about a writer's intention, your life is actually enriched."

In Chong Du Bashi Niandai, Zhu includes systematic interpretation of representative works by 10 prominent contemporary authors: Mo Yan, Wang Meng, Li Tuo, Han Shaogong, Chen Cun, Shi Tiesheng, Wang Anyi, Ma Yuan, Yu Hua and Su Tong.

While writing one piece on every author in his book, Zhu says, his main job was to read carefully all of their works. And while providing his interpretation of some details in their texts, he would ask the authors themselves if he wasn't so sure.

Ge Fei, a professor of Chinese literature at Tsinghu University and also a writer, says: "Zhu Wei was an impressive editor in the 1980s and one of the best literary critics in China, even back then. In Umberto Eco's words, he is a 'model reader', who can capture writers' intentions in the details hidden in the texts that are usually overlooked by most readers."

Ge, who has been Zhu's friend for 30 years, adds: "That is why he could befriend so many prominent writers."

One day Zhu sent him a message saying, "I am going to write about you," Ge says, adding that Zhu then asked him to mail all his works to him and told him to stay on call in case he had questions for Ge.

"It seemed unreasonable. I felt uncomfortable at first, but it's been his working style all these years - trying to do things as perfectly as possible."

Since he retired, Zhu has been working at least eight hours a day, reading or writing.

"I chose the 10 writers according to one standard - that is, whether they have provided a new writing style. There are some more writers that I haven't included in this book, but my next one will cover them, including Wang Shuo and Wang Xiaobo," Zhu says.


Zhu Wei's new book, Chong Du Bashi Niandai, features 10 prominent contemporary authors: (clockwise from top left) Han Shaogong, Li Tuo, Yu Hua, Wang Meng, Wang Anyi, Chen Cun, Ma Yuan, Mo Yan, Shi Tiesheng and Su Tong. Photos provided to China Daily

2018-06-22 07:15:28
<![CDATA[A library on wheels drives literary fun in Athens]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/22/content_36436477.htm The Mobile Library of the City of Athens came to life this summer, promising to fill as many neighborhoods as possible with books for children and adults.

The central districts of Syntagma Square, Petralona and Pagkrati, among others, are some of the loan centers for the library "visits" in June, as part of Athens' role as World Book Capital for 2018, organizers say. The colorful minibus, loaded with 1,000 books, was at the Serafeio Athletic and Community Complex in the city center last week.

There are more than 3,000 titles available in the full collection of the project. Books offered are in Greek, English and French, and most fall in the literary category. The lending process is simple: Thanks to an automated electronic system, Athens' residents can become members of the library and borrow up to two books at a time free of charge.

Both the vehicle and the books are a loan from Veria, a city in northern Greece, and they will be returned once the program is over in coming spring. Until then, the mobile library travels the streets of Athens with the support of the municipality's Cultural, Sport and Youth Organization and the Municipal Library of Veria.

"'Books everywhere' is the slogan of the mobile library and in the two weeks from the beginning of the program, more than 60 citizens became members," Foteini Pitta, the librarian and project coordinator, says.

With over 250 related events, Athens is celebrating being World Book Capital for an entire year. The celebrations began in April. Seminars, conferences, workshops, reading events, and activities for adults and children have turned the city into the place where the universal heart of the written word is beating.

"One of the great challenges of the event is to bring books to neighborhoods that do not have libraries and, more importantly, to bring non-readers closer to the book and attract their interest," Georgios Foutas, from the organizing committee behind the Athens World Book Capital 2018 activities, says.

"For this reason, the mobile library will be stationed in all seven municipal communities of Athens, often seeking presence in sports venues and major events and celebrations of the city," he adds.


2018-06-22 07:15:28
<![CDATA[Chinese crime fiction in the UK]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/22/content_36436476.htm LONDON - The English version of Death Notice, a popular Chinese crime-fiction work by contemporary writer Zhou Haohui, has just been published in Britain.

The thriller, which has sold more than 1.2 million copies in China, is set in the southwestern Chinese city of Chengdu. It follows an elite police squad as they hunt a vengeful killer who sends death notices to - and then executes - criminals the law cannot reach. Its British publisher, Head of Zeus, introduces the book on its website as "a hi-octane, hi-concept, cat-and-mouse thriller that adds an exhilarating new gear to police procedures".

Nicolas Cheetham from Head of Zeus tells Xinhua that he was struck by the book's "exemplary plotting and pace", and the final twist is brilliantly done.

He believes that good stories, helped by good translation, can transcend national borders and win the hearts of readers.

"This is so for science fiction and crime fiction. The most important thing about a translation is that it should not read like a translation. So you need, first and foremost, a good translator."

The translator, Zac Haluza, currently lives in Shanghai. He's a freelance translator and writer from the United States.

Head of Zeus is building a list of the best fiction from around the world, including historical fiction, science fiction, romance and crime fiction.

"Chinese fiction is a particular focus," Cheetham tells Xinhua, noting that it had published Liu Cixin's Three-Body trilogy.

The publisher has sold 400,000 copies to date, and it has more books coming from a selection of China's best science fiction writers.

"Given the success of Chinese science fiction in our market, it is not surprising that we started looking for the best in Chinese crime fiction," he says. A leading contemporary master of suspense in China, Zhou Haohui is the author of more than 10 novels exploring human nature, criminal motives and the art of detection.

Zhou's works have been translated into French, English, Korean and Japanese, and many have been adapted for film and television.


2018-06-22 07:15:28
<![CDATA[HOWARD'S WAY]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/22/content_36436475.htm "A free-range chicken, marinated for three hours with rosemary, minced garlic, honey, pepper and rock salt, and then roasted in an oven at 140 C for 16 minutes and 100 C for five more minutes ... I couldn't wait to rip off a leg and eat it while it was still hot - it's just too delicious."

A high-flying experimental chef has brought his trademark scientific approach to contemporary Chinese cuisine with his new Beijing gourmet eatery. Li Yingxue reports.

"A free-range chicken, marinated for three hours with rosemary, minced garlic, honey, pepper and rock salt, and then roasted in an oven at 140 C for 16 minutes and 100 C for five more minutes ... I couldn't wait to rip off a leg and eat it while it was still hot - it's just too delicious."

This is how a typical micro blog post by Howard Cai reads. It shows his quest to apply his knowledge of chemistry and science to improve and perfect his own cooking techniques, while allowing him to show off his characteristically creative approach to interpreting Chinese cuisine.

"Chinese cuisine is not that complicated or mysterious. The processes are easy to describe and just need a dose of rational thought to perfect," says Cai. "Cooking is all about heat, ingredients, the release of proteins, and how they combine with amino acids."

Labeled as a renowned gourmet, whiskey expert and international food critic, Cai prefers to see himself as a man who understands cooking and likes to live his life.

Born in 1966, Cai had an unconventional start to his culinary career. He worked as a civil servant in China, but later decided to further his knowledge by studying in Australia before moving to the United States to work in chemistry in 1992.

The food in the US could not match his expectations as a gourmet, so he started to research how to alter ingredients in a lab, which in turn led to him to discover a revelation about Chinese cuisine - it can be made in scientific way.

"It turns out that for meat soup, it only needs 40 minutes to cook, since after that there is no more protein to release before calcification sets in," Cai says, adding that he conducted hundreds of experiments.

After studying the makeup of the ingredients most widely used in Chinese cuisine, Cai tried to develop his own dining concept that used fresh, seasonal and quality ingredients to create the "deliciousness" of his contemporary interpretation of Chinese cuisine.

He set up his first Howard's Gourmet Workshop restaurant in Guangzhou in 2005, and expanded it into northern China this year after setting up his successful Hong Kong outlet in 2015.

Cai chose the newly opened landmark mall WF Central in the Wangfujing area of Beijing as the location for his restaurant as it has a view of the Forbidden City.

"It's the best time to start in Beijing, as the logistics here help me get all the ingredients I need in time," says Cai.

Howard's Gourmet doesn't offer a menu, so it requires a high degree of trust between Cai and the diners. Cai feels it is both an honor and a responsibility to serve his diners as they are willing to give up three to four hours of their day to enjoy a meal at his restaurant.

"For me, to eat in my restaurant is like buying a ticket to a concert. You only come because you like my dishes, so you don't need to order - just follow my way of serving," Cai says.

"Forty percent of our dishes are classic ones and the other 60 percent are based on local ingredients. Hong Kong has high-quality seafood and Guangzhou is famous for fowl, while Beijing's popularity lies in the quality of its meat, such as its lamb and pork."

Cai designed a standard cooking method for each dish, so that all his chefs are able to make the same dish again with exactly the same flavor. "It's not a traditional way of cooking Chinese cuisine that relies on the skill of the chefs. I break down the cooking process into different steps, where each chef handles one step," Cai says.

"One dish needs at least two or three chefs to complete, and the process allows them to supervise each other's work to control the quality of the dish.

"And I don't do plating. The ingredients are just served on a plate the way they look. They are natural art forms, and the taste is all that matters."

Cai's concept was not immediately accepted when he returned to China and started his first workshop in 2005. For the first year, he found it difficult to make ends meet. Each morning at around 5 am, Cai and his chef would shop in the local market to source the ingredients, which he insisted on doing for the first year and a half.

The next year, he realized that many of his customers were traveling from as far away as Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong or Sichuan province just to try his dishes - and an increasing number of actors and singers were joining the fray.

"When famous people come to eat at my place, they are relaxed, and I think eating is a way to pass on the happiness," says Cai.

Cai opened Howard's Gourmet in Hong Kong in the end of 2015. It soon became a regular haunt for Hong Kong celebrities. English soccer star David Beckham even invited Cai to his house in London to cook for his family.

On Jan 16 this year, Meituan-Dianping released its first Black Pearl Restaurant Guide and Howard's Gourmet Hong Kong was among 28 "must visit once in a lifetime" three-diamond-rated restaurants. For Cai, a meal is like a symphony, where he gets to design different parts of the concert.

"The main course is one highpoint and the staple dish is another. And you will finish with a sweet dessert that brings it all to a smooth conclusion."

Hot-and-sour noodles is one of the signature staple dishes that Cai initially designed for his wife, who comes from northwestern China. "She likes strong flavors, so I use two different kinds of chilies and three types of vinegar to make the soup base for the noodles," says Cai.

Crispy pig trotters, crab-meat with scallion and ginger sauce, and sliced-bambooshoot soup are supporting acts for the meal. Eschewing the traditional ways, Cai makes the bones of the pig trotter crispy, and prefers to puree the scallion and ginger. For the bamboo shoots, to maintain its freshness and cut through the bitterness at the same time, Cai places them into water at a temperature of 55 C, which he found brings the best results after many experiments.

"I'm not a cook, so I just want to make the most delicious flavors and create food for the people I love," says Cai.

If you go

11:30 am-2:30 pm, 5:30 pm-10 pm. 307, 3/F, WF Central, 269 Wangfujing Street, Dongcheng district, Beijing. 010-6522-1297.


Howard's Gourmet's founder, Howard Cai, shows off his creative approach to interpreting Chinese cuisine at his newly opened eatery in Beijing's Wangfujing area. Photos provided to China Daily

2018-06-22 07:15:28
<![CDATA[French chef films quest for new flavors]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/22/content_36436474.htm NEW YORK - In the new documentary The Quest of Alain Ducasse, the esteemed French chef steps off a small plane in the middle of the Gobi Desert in Mongolia. As he stands pondering the vast emptiness, a motorcycle suddenly appears, as if out of nowhere, carrying two men. The bemused chef chuckles: "There are customers everywhere."

For Ducasse, 61, that seems to be a fundamental truth and a driving force. The man oversees a veritable empire, with 27 restaurants across the globe, and 19 Michelin stars among them. From his first three-star triumph as a young upstart at the Louis XV in Monaco, to his haute-healthy, no-meat Paris eatery at the Plaza Athenee, to his recently opened restaurant at the opulent Palace of Versailles, where a special royal dinner costs 1,000 euros ($1,156), he seems on a nonstop mission to expand. In September, he'll open a new restaurant on an electric boat floating along the Seine.

There was a time when Ducasse, who grew up on a farm in southwestern France, spent most of his hours at the stove. Now, he seems to spend most of them in the air, crisscrossing the globe, tasting new menus and seeking out new flavors. In an interview at a New York gathering marking the release of the film, he politely deflected a question about how many frequent flyer miles he's amassed, but he did remark that he'd recently traveled for 20 hours to the mountains of Peru - just to taste a cup of coffee.

"It was very good coffee," he says, with typically deadpan delivery.

His constant travels, as portrayed by director Gilles de Maistre, have a very different goal than, say, those of the late Anthony Bourdain, who sought to explain cultures to his viewers through food. For Ducasse, the goal is to gain inspiration for his restaurants. He gets much of it from Japan.

"It's my only quest," he says in the film, sampling a slice of fresh tuna in Kyoto, "tasting things that I haven't tried yet".

Foodies, especially those with an affinity for haute cuisine with a healthy twist, will no doubt find much to enjoy in the documentary, which follows Ducasse around the world for the two years leading up to the opening of Ore, his Versailles eatery.

Director de Maistre says it took him quite some time to persuade Ducasse to do the film. "After a while, he got used to me," he says. His goal, he adds, was simple: "I wanted to see the world through his eyes and see his vision of gastronomy."

Critics have noted that the film does suffer, though, from narration that occasionally sounds adoring - even worshipful. Some viewers might also have wanted more of a look at Ducasse the man, away from his work. We never see his family, or what he does in his spare time - if he has any.

There is, however, one poignant personal scene when the chef reflects upon the most harrowing moment of his life, a 1984 small plane crash in the Alps that killed several colleagues. Only Ducasse survived. "It wasn't my time," he muses, pragmatically.

The film illustrates Ducasse's exalted position in France and we see him hobnobbing with more than one French president, but we also see him in jeans in the garden, picking raspberries or tasting a raw zucchini. Despite his poker face, he can be funny: A good meal, he tells a gardener, depends on who you're with. "If you're not in good company, it's better to be alone with a good vegetable," he jokes.

We see a man who can lose his patience, for example when he sees a staffer serve prepoured Champagne, rather than pouring in front of the guest he admits that sends him "into hysterics". Additionally, we see someone who's clearly competitive: after inaugurating a high-end cream puff kiosk at a Tokyo rail station, he buys a competitor's cream puff elsewhere for comparison, tasting it back in his hotel room.

According to the film, Ducasse "is said to have a perfect palate, as others have perfect pitch". Ducasse himself is much more prosaic about his gifts. Being a great chef is, he says, "95 percent hard work and 5 percent talent".

We also see a socially conscious side of Ducasse, cooking a meal for locals in Brazil from unused leftovers at the Olympic Village and visiting the cooking school he's created for underprivileged youth in the Philippines. Perhaps the most entertaining behind-the-scenes food moment comes at the sturgeon farm near Shanghai where Ducasse gets his caviar. If you've never seen a sturgeon the size of a minivan being sliced open to display its glistening eggs, it's worth your while.

With his elevated status in French cuisine, you'd think Ducasse might look down on the celebrity chef phenomenon, with reality shows and TV cooking competitions. He says he doesn't. "It's good for our industry," he said at the recent New York gathering.

Standing next to him, one can't help but pose that question you'd want to ask any celebrated chef: what does he eat at home?

"Maybe vegetables from the garden," he replies. "Low protein, low sugar. No wine." It fits in with his overall philosophy: "We must eat better, and less."

Associated Press

2018-06-22 07:15:28
<![CDATA[PUBLISHERS' LONGEVITY SPEAKS VOLUMES]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/22/content_36436473.htm The China Social Sciences Press recently turned 40. To mark the event, 300 scholars and publishing professionals from around the world gathered in Beijing to celebrate.

Four decades on, a publishing giant is still creating waves with its unique works. Mei Jia reports.

The China Social Sciences Press recently turned 40. To mark the event, 300 scholars and publishing professionals from around the world gathered in Beijing to celebrate.

For Liu Binjie, former publishing minister and now director-general of the Publishers Association of China, the setting up of the publishing house came at a key moment when China was adjusting its road ahead, emancipating minds, and was launching the reform and opening up.

During the social transformation of the past four decades, the publishing house has been a witness and a maker of history, he says.

"It (the publishing house) established itself as the top name for Chinese academic achievements in social sciences, globally," says Liu.

Its first book was Productivity Improvement - published in September 1978 - which was a translation of a speech by Donald C Burnham at Carnegie-Mellon University.

The book sold 100,000 copies, showing how much the Chinese wanted to learn about the world outside, says Wang Bin, an employee from the publishing house.

Meanwhile, its first title published overseas - 1989's A General Introduction to China was a coproduction with the UK's Pergamon Press.

Speaking about the first foray overseas, Zhao Jianying, the president of the publishing house, says: "It (the publication) signaled one of its main missions - telling China's stories to the world."

Recalling how the publishing house has grown over the years, he says: "We started with tens of employees, but have more than 200 now. And from the thousands of yuan we earned when we started, we are earning more than 200 billions ($31 billion) now. Additionally, we have published over 20,000 titles."

One of publishing house's top sellers is its 11-volume series The Cambridge History of China.

It has spanned generations of editors since 1992, and survived a slump when such works were out of fashion in the 1990s-early 2000s.

Shu Jinyu from China Reading Weekly says the series is still a best-seller in its genre, with 20,000 collections sold every year.

The series was followed by the 12-volume The New Cambridge Modern History.

Wu Yin, a former deputy head of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and one of the experts who worked on The Cambridge History of China, says that the publication of the series established the influence of the publishing house, showcased China's academic achievements, and influenced a generation of Chinese scholars.

Zhao adds that the publishing house is the source of 276 Chinese titles, mostly academic books on philosophy and social sciences, that have been published internationally.

It has also introduced more than 200 top Chinese scholars to the international community.

Separately, in 2017, the publishing house was listed first in a study on influential Chinese publishers when it came to libraries overseas.

When it comes to the 20 foreign publishers it works with, Springer Nature is a key partner.

Leana Li, the executive editor with Springer Nature's Beijing office, says that there are some high impact books in its China Insights series, known also as Understanding China series in Chinese.

Speaking about the collaboration, Li says: "We respect the intellectual and cultural traditions of CSSP's brand, and we trust our partner's editorial insights," she adds that Springer Nature sees China as a very important and promising market, and has more than 200 full time employees in China to explore its scholarly life.

"China is now among the world's strongest and biggest sources of scientific research output, and the share of English language academic literature authored by Chinese researchers is increasing quickly and steadily," she says.

Cai Fang's Demystify China's Economy Development is one example of a book from the China Insights series.

In the book, using facts and economic logic, the author explains how China's opening-up policy can boost the growth of its economy.

"The series is more about changes and the current situation, trying to offer authoritative and in-depth explanations," says Zhao.

The series, published in many languages, has 15 titles, including the award-winning The Path of China's Peaceful Development, and Yan Xiaojun's Why is China Stable: Stories from the Grassroots.

As for the future, two more series have been planned, one explaining Chinese systems, and the other a "Brief Reads" series on Chinese history and traditional cultures.

In other developments, the publishing house set up a branch in Chile in 2016, and one in France in 2017, to boost its global links.

Speaking about the publisher's global ambitions, Zhao says: "Quality, good topics, authoritative authors, and easy-to-read works are our core aims."

To promote influential authors is a way that Zhao suggests will help the publishing house. He cited the works of late authors Ji Xianlin, Fei Xiaotong and Qian Zhongshu as examples.

The publisher is very much in tune with recent trends. It is a typical example of one of the latest publishing trends of "publishing academic books for wider readership" with "simpler and smaller version of the thick books" written by authoratative scholars.

However, it also carries on with its mission of focusing on the most recent and in-depth research findings in social sciences.

For this, it is working on a 35-volume series called History of Contemporary Chinese Academic Thoughts.

The project, which began in 2008 and involves 400 experts, aims to record all the achievements in Chinese philosophy and the social sciences.

Some of the books are first-time publications in their specific area, like the one by Ma Dazheng about Chinese borders.

"I believe we are at the best time in our history," says Zhao. And it seems he has good reasons to say that.

2018-06-22 07:15:28
<![CDATA[Malaysian pianist gives Chinese folk songs a modern twist]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/22/content_36436472.htm Four years after her A Dream of Red Mansions piano concerto, renowned Malaysian pianist Claudia Yang recently debuted her latest work, Twelve Chinese Folk Fantasies for Piano and Orchestra, a series of modern adaptations and compositions of Chinese folk songs.

Using piano pieces and orchestral accompaniments, Yang, along with Russian composer Artem Vasilliev, reinterpreted nine Chinese songs including Caiyun Zhuiyue (Colorful Clouds Chasing the Moon), Moli Hua, (Jasmine Flower) and Zai Na Yaoyuan De Difang (In that Place Wholly Faraway).

"What I have adapted or written has a sense of modernity," Yang says about the 12 folk fantasies.

Yang's fondness for Chinese folk songs comes from her multicultural background.

Though she was born and raised in Malaysia, Yang has an ancestral home in Fujian province and was first introduced to Chinese folk music as a child.

Yang, who studied piano and singing from the age of 4, won third place in a Malaysian regional vocal contest, before joining a choir in Muar town and gaining access to local folk music ensemble, where she learned to play traditional Chinese instruments including the guzheng and erhu.

Although Yang chose to study piano professionally in Vienna after graduation from middle school, her love for Chinese folk music was undiminished.

"I remember I had a cassette of Chinese folk songs, and I enjoyed listening to it so much that I even took it to Vienna. I am never tired of listening to the songs."

Besides her interest in folk music, Yang is also fascinated by the stories behind the songs.

"The reason I chose folk songs is that they are close to everyday life, because they are often inspired by tales of love, scenery or festive events. They have stories."

Based on her interpretation of Chinese folk music, Yang also composed three songs from scratch, Xishui Bian (Creekside), Chuan Ge (Barcarolle) and Langfang Qing Ge (Langfang Love Song).

These songs are designed to be fairly easy to play, as Yang hopes that people can perform them, even senior citizens who have just started learning the piano.

"I want folk songs to be a part of people's lives - like listening to them at home or when driving."

To achieve this aim, Yang found Vasilliev, a composer with a "modern and harmonious style".

Speaking about Yang, Vasilliev says he is amazed by her "unique" performing style.

"She is able to exhibit different performing styles and skills. Not only can she perform traditional folk music, but she also excels at Russian classical music."

The folk fantasy series is listed in the "Chinese Culture Going Global" project of its production company, Ennova Culture, and as the artistic director of the company, Yang is planning to showcase the series on a global tour in 2019.

Speaking about the project, Yang says: "Many Westerners today want to know about Chinese culture, and, as a foreigner, I can take Chinese orchestras global, and let people know about China. I feel this is something I can participate in."


Malaysian pianist Claudia Yang. Provided to China Daily

2018-06-22 07:15:28
<![CDATA[Building healthcare in China]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/06/content_36148427.htm Roberta Lipson, CEO of United Family Healthcare, has developed a network of hospitals and clinics in major Chinese cities

It is very hard to build a successful business anywhere, even in your own country in a simple industry that does not require large amounts of capital or technology. Since she arrived in Beijing in 1979, Roberta Lipson, CEO of United Family Healthcare, has built, from scratch, a company that includes comprehensive hospitals as well as primary care clinics in Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Qingdao and Guangzhou. Four more hospitals will open this year.

How did she succeed in the difficult, complex and capital-intensive healthcare industry in a socialist country undergoing fundamental reforms?

Roberta Lipson, CEO of United Family Healthcare, believes China presents big opportunities for foreigners. Provided to China Daily

Lipson says she developed a deep interest in China in college, about the time of President Richard Nixon's trip to Beijing in 1972. "We were seeing a glimpse of what was going on in the country, and it was so interesting to me because it was a country that had taken a very different path, and it was just becoming accessible. As things started accelerating in terms of the relationship between the US and China, and also because of China's opening-up and reform, I wanted to be part of it. So I continued my Chinese language studies and then went to business school so I could develop a career related to China."

"From an early day, I saw that I could perhaps make some kind of contribution in the healthcare world as it related to the overall societal development. This was too attractive to walk away from," she adds.

Lipson was unable to find a job in China immediately after finishing business school in 1977, so she took a job working for a pharmaceutical company, which tied in with her interest in healthcare. Two years later, she got a job in Beijing working for a US trading company that mostly imported commodities such as crude oil, iron and steel and the metallic element molybdenum. The company hired her to find US technologies, especially medical technologies, that could be useful in China.

She recalls that, at that time, foreigners were required to live in designated hotels. "For the first 10 years I lived in Beijing, I lived in a hotel room and took every meal in a hotel dining room. In the dining room, only one fruit or vegetable was available. You never had both cucumbers and tomatoes. But compared to the way most people were living, we were living a very luxurious life. There was separation between local people and foreigners. We could interact on our formal business, but it was very difficult for foreigners to interact in a personal basis with local people."

"Wow! So much has changed over the years," she says.

In 1982, she and another American woman founded Chindex. They initially imported many kinds of equipment, including big machines for ports and mines. But they soon specialized in medical equipment.

"China was closed for the whole 10 years of the 'cultural revolution' (1966-76) and the hospitals when we got here had nothing in terms of hardware. We saw that opportunity and I think we helped to change the way healthcare was delivered at that time. Before, the doctors had their stethoscope and their two hands to rely on. We brought the first ultrasound, the first MRI, the first patient monitors, the first electrosurgical generators, the first ultrasound scalpels. Later, the first surgical robot. So many technologies we brought for the first time really changed the tools that doctors have to do their business with," she says.

However, even with the new technologies, Chinese and foreigners alike were unhappy with healthcare in the early 1990s.

"We had the idea we could build a small hospital in Beijing that could cater to the needs of the expat community. At the same time, we believed it could be a demonstration site for many tweaks that we thought could be useful in China," Lipson recalls.

When she first pushed this idea, there was skepticism from Chinese healthcare authorities as well as US investors. "It was met with a certain amount of disbelief that an American for-profit company would be interested in building a hospital in a socialist country."

"In 1994, after Deng Xiaoping's 'southern tour', it became clear that attracting foreign investment was a priority for China." So, arguing that Western healthcare was important to attract foreign workers and investors, she persuaded the government to give the green light for the hospital in Beijing.

Wall Street was skeptical. "China was still very much a place of mystery for the finance community in the US. So it wasn't so easy to convince them of this plan to build healthcare in a socialist country. We did end up having an IPO on NASDAQ in 1994," she says.

In 2014, Lipson concluded that the stock market did not account for the long-term value of the company, so United Family Healthcare was taken private and outside shares were bought by management and private equity investors TPG and Fosun.

UFH started small. At first, it occupied just two floors of a building, with an international school occupying the upper floors. Most of the first clients were expats.

But that changed. Today, 80 percent of the patients at UFH are Chinese. "We didn't know if Chinese people would eventually want to be our clients or not. Some Chinese people started coming. At the beginning they were a smattering of returnees who had experienced foreign healthcare and maybe came back to China with insurance. Then the sports stars and movie stars. One of their big motivators was privacy. On the other hand, when they came to have babies with us, they were always excited to talk about their experience with the media afterward. As a result, the things that were different about UFH got talked about more and more in the press," Lipson says.

Lipson, who has devoted her entire professional life to improving healthcare in China, says that she is a big fan of the Healthy China 2030 blueprint laid out by President Xi Jinping in October 2016.

"China has made a lot of investment in the top-tier hospitals in urban centers. They have done a lot on medical research. The problem is that there are still great disparities," she says.

"Healthcare reform in any country is very difficult. It is very complex. There are a lot of vested interests and it is very hard to change. But China has been trying really hard and is finally making some really big progress. Over the last 10 years, they have gone from not many people being covered by social health insurance to the 98 percent covered now. That is huge progress."

"Healthy China 2030 focuses on grassroots issues. It emphasizes sharing responsibilities with individuals for their own health. At the same time, it will develop grassroots primary care doctors to keep people healthy through various programs - public health education, vaccinations, getting people active, encouraging healthy lifestyles and participation in sports and individual fitness," she adds.

"It is extremely important that Healthy China 2030 focuses on the training of primary care physicians. Medical education has been overspecialized and there are not enough trained primary care physicians. This has been hard to overcome, but the government recognizes how important it is to improve the primary care that is available at the grassroots level. The government is really working hard to implement a tiered system where people can get more care at the primary level," she says.

Lipson says she will have her hands full in the next year guiding the building of four hospitals, but, after that, her goal is to build a new world-class medical school.

Although the Chinese economy is much more developed than when she first arrived, Lipson believes there are still big opportunities for foreigners as well as Chinese in China.

"Sometimes young people ask me if I think there are opportunities for entrepreneurs in China today. I think there are. China continues to be developing and changing at such a rapid rate. Maybe there is not an opportunity to start a medical equipment distribution business - other people have already done that. But because of the rate at which technology is changing and the rate at which Chinese consumer needs are changing and the rate at which the government openness is changing, I think there are still huge opportunities. It is just a matter of finding them."


2018-05-06 14:23:54
<![CDATA[Green route is the only way forward]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/07/content_35986736.htm Scientist acknowledges China's efforts toward environmental conservation, and says Africa is well-placed to follow its example

Targeted conservation-related policies and regulations, together with consistent funding for research, have set China on the path toward reining in pollution. Africa can learn from this, helping it meet sustainable goals and reduce pollution-related deaths, says Liu Jian, chief scientist of the United Nations Environment Programme.

Pollution has become the world's No 1 killer, jumping to the top of the priority list, says Liu. According to a World Health Organization report, at least 12.6 million people died in 2012 of environmentally related deaths. Air pollution accounted for half of these deaths.


Liu Jian says air pollution can only be curbed by solutions designed from the source. Provided to China Daily

Nevertheless, China's strong leadership and commitment are reversing the trend, while promoting investment in the green economy. During the third UN Environment Assembly Forum, held in December, Chinese environmental projects and one individual won the UN's top environmental awards. The winners were Saihanba Afforestation Community, Mobike and Wang Weibao, chairman of Elion Resources Group, who won the Lifetime Achievement award.

"Private business has a key role to play in cutting pollution," Liu says. In its efforts to transform the country into "Beautiful China", its government has worked closely with scientists and corporate enterprises.

Such cooperation within the UNEA is long overdue, says Liu. During the previous session, the private sector was left out, and Liu was determined to change this. Only a year into his job, it fell upon him to organize a forum that would discuss achievable ways of cutting emissions. "I wondered whether the policymakers and scientists were enough to meet our green solution goals," he says.

Liu was aware of the Emissions Gap Report, produced by the UNEP and released in 2017. It said joint efforts between the government and the scientific community can only meet one-third of the commitments made in the Paris Climate Agreement. Partnership with the business sector was therefore urgently needed. "Unless businesses change their water utilization, energy production using coal, and soil management, pollution will persist. No one is to be left out in this campaign," says Liu.

Since 2006, Achim Steiner, the former executive director of the UNEP, has promoted the green economy concept, says Liu, adding that the idea started to catch on. "This concept is a paradigm shift, since it forces all players to address pollution from the source and not the end. Air pollution can only be curbed by solutions designed from the source. This is revolutionary and has triggered several green investment opportunities," he says.

Therefore, the dynamics of the UN Global Science-Policy-Business Forum on the Environment on Dec 2 and 3 had changed. "We created an opportunity for the private sector to engage with the policymakers and scientists in seeking to enable policies and attractive incentives that will increase green investments for new businesses," says Liu.

Enthusiasm was high in the business community. Only 400 people were expected to take part, but Liu's team received around 1,900 application. Only 800 participants were allowed, with an emphasis on the private sector. The forum was self-financed.

"The private sector is decent and smart and it is time to tap into their knowledge and resources to reach sustainability goals. Most of them are surprisingly on our side and have proved to be farsighted and visionary. Look at the solutions they are implementing in developing countries, and most of them agree that green is the avenue toward sustainability. They say that if you are not turning green then your business is facing a dead end, with no hope. That is why I believe the popularity of the forum will increase, especially among the business community. We are learning from the World Economic Forum but not limiting ourselves," he says.

During UNEA 3, participants agreed that, for the world to have cleaner air, $18.6 billion of investment is needed. Liu says that, for this to happen, there is a need for stronger political, intellectual and entrepreneurial leadership.

First, environmental conservation needs to be prioritized in global business forums, he says. "During the recent World Economic Forum in Davos, only two heads of state - India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron - addressed environmental issues. The environment is important, since it dictates sustainable development," he says.

Second, scientists need to proactively identify sources of pollution and solutions in terms of innovation and technology, linking with entrepreneurs for implementation. "Only when you put these three groups together will results be seen," says Liu.

He says that his office is working with the governments of the United States, China, Europe and India to reach out to the business community. Multinational companies such as IBM and Philips are highly receptive, he says.

"We are keen to expand this conversation to nonstate actors, and hence the need for a new name. We are still consulting but we are thinking of naming it the World Environmental Forum, to give a voice to everyone and also promote leadership in innovation. Perhaps by April we will have a way forward."

On Africa, he says the continent is in the pole position to be the launchpad of a green revolution. "Africa is the land of hope. It has more potential than China and India, and even the US and Europe. Comparisons can be made on per capita net resources, and Africa ranks first in water, for example, followed by China, then India. Africa is rich when it comes to renewable energy potential. Research shows that a solar farm covering a third of the Sahara desert could power the world six times over."

Africa is yet to exploit its hydro power potential on its two biggest rivers, the Congo and the Nile, he says. It has huge bio-mass potential in addition to a young, educated and cheaper workforce as the rest of the world enters the aging phase.

"This is the land of hope," he says. "There is no reason Africa cannot do better in green economy. There is already a blueprint, and some countries, such as Kenya, are already setting the pace. Otherwise, the continent will replicate previous mistakes."

Efforts should be made in controlling car emissions by setting standards on exhausts, and China is already doing it, Liu says, adding that such moves need courage. This should start from increasing investment in research, he adds.

Previously in China, there were discrepancies between investment in science and technology and economic growth. In 1987, a national program called the National Knowledge Innovation Program was launched, thus increasing investment in science and technology to about 10 times that of the previous 20 years. "China is now knocking on the door as an innovative country. Its long-term investments are showing benefits in the economy. It has a competent team that meets the needs of the economy," says Liu.

Africa, and particularly Kenya, is in the best position to build such a team, he says. "Not necessarily to cover every aspect, but to support the essential part of the economy that holds a comparative advantage, similar to what Denmark and the Netherlands have done. Investing in science is costly but rewarding."

Among the most discussed topics during the UNEA 3 forum was the Belt and Road Initiative and the effect the huge infrastructure project will have on the environment. Liu says countries will have to implement different approaches and policies to increase the success rate of the initiative. "Strategies around conserved sites such as national parks and water bodies will be different from those for bare land and will thus need site-specific designs. The one-model-suits-all approach will not work. Plans will have to adjust to the socio-economic needs of host countries, too."


2018-04-07 07:33:41
<![CDATA[A lifetime searching for cures to end the scourge of malaria]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/07/content_35986735.htm Veteran researcher from long line of TCM practitioners is devoted to finding treatments for diseases plaguing mankind

Although he will be 82 years old this year, Li Guoqiao still works late into the nights on his lifelong quest to apply compounds derived from traditional Chinese medicine to treating malaria and cancer. He works so late that he says coffee is his favorite food.

"My father, my grandfather and my great-grandfather were TCM practitioners," says Li, chief professor at Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine." TCM is based on thousands of years of experience and is effective against specific diseases. Malaria is the number one killer in infectious diseases, and cancer is number one in noncommunicable diseases. So I chose applying TCM to these two as my lifetime target.


Professer Li Guoqiao receives the Order of the Green Cross of the Comoros from Fouad Mohadji, vice-president of Comoros. Provided to China Daily

"I have seen many poor families die of malaria in Hainan and Yunnan, plus in Cambodia and the Comoros and throughout Africa. The disease takes the lives of young children. It tears families apart. I felt I must find the quickest and cheapest way to eliminate it," Li says.

In the late 1960s, Vietnam requested help from the Chinese government to fight malaria. In 1967, a research program called Project 523 tested many compounds and approaches based on TCM. Eventually, the team was able to isolate the active ingredient artemisinin from the sweet wormwood shrub, which traditionally has been used to treat malaria.

In the early stages of Project 523, artemisinin was shown to be effective in clearing the malaria parasite from laboratory rats. Li's major contribution was to show that artemisinin was highly effective in curing human malaria patients, especially those infected with strains of the malaria parasite that were resistant to previous frontline drugs. Artemisin quickly cleared the parasites from the blood of malaria patients more rapidly than any other anti-malarial drug. A key factor is that it was able to pass the blood-brain barrier and cure patients infected with often-fatal cerebral malaria.

Li, who taught acupuncture at the university from 1961 to 1967, was initially assigned to examine whether acupuncture could be effective against malaria. After 1969, he even infected himself with malaria, but found that acupuncture was ineffective.

"I turned to doing research on cerebral malaria patients for four years and found some new ideas that were not even in the textbooks," he says.

"In October 1974, the director of the 523 project went to the county in Yunnan where I worked and handed the project of researching the clinical effects of artemisinin to my team. We quickly confirmed its effectiveness, after which I was engaged in the research of artemisinin for the treatment of cerebral malaria for years, and I was the first one to do clinical tests of it," Li says.

He recalls an especially memorable case from that time: "At 9 pm, I received a call from a hospital in Gengma county, a remote part of Yunnan province. The patient had cerebral malaria and had a stillbirth at noon. She had lost a lot of blood and could not be transfused. She had been given a dose of artemisinin, but was still near death. Maternal cerebral malaria has the highest fatality rate.

"A lab technician and I spent the night preparing blood serum and drugs. We caught a bus at 5 am and arrived at the foot of the mountain at 8 am. We hiked up the mountain and finally arrived at the hospital at 9 pm and continued the artemisinin treatment. The patient came out of the coma 50 hours later and was found to be negative for the malaria bacteria within 72 hours."

Traditional methods of dealing with malaria focus on mosquitoes, either trying to eliminate them or stopping them from biting people by using indoor spraying or distributing insecticide-infused sleeping nets.

Li has been a pioneer in applying an alternative approach called mass drug administration, which aims to eliminate the malaria parasite directly from the human population. The idea is to give artemisinin to all (or, as much as possible) of the population at one time thus eliminating malaria within a target region. Since malaria is not carried by animals, eliminating it from humans can get rid of the disease. Artemisinin is usually administered in a compound with another anti-malaria drug, because malaria is unlikely to be resistant to both.

He first tried mass drug administration in South China's Hainan province. "From 1975 to 1980, I engaged in research on MDA in Hainan, as it is the hottest zone in China. We handed medicine to patients three times a year in order to control the morbidity. But the effect was not very good, because only 60 to 70 percent of the people took the treatment. A lot of the elderly and children did not know we were sending out medicine, so they would not line up for it. Plus, at that time, the side effects of the medicine were relatively strong."

Cambodia is the second place where Li and his team tested the mass administration of artemisin compound therapy. He found high rates of uncontrolled malaria in the Mekong region. "At that time, the traditional way to control malaria was by eradicating mosquitoes, but I thought the key was to eradicating the plasmodium that humans carried. In the hot areas, over half of the people carried the parasite, reaching 80 to 90 percent in some regions."

"In 2004, there was an epidemic outbreak of malaria in Cambodia, so they allowed me to do a test. At that time I tried a method of hiring one person with a high school education as 'head warder' in every village. He registered all households, found out how many people were infected, then took the medicine house-to-house," Li says. In three years, the malaria rate fell by 95 percent. However, people brought in malaria from outside the target area, so the rate of infection rose again.

In 2006, Li and his team began a mass drug administration program in the island country of Comoros in East Africa. Li worked on the program there until 2008, when he had to return to China after having a stroke.

In a test case on the small Comoran island of Moheli, the cases of malaria fell by 94 percent within two months. Li also found that the malaria parasite had been greatly reduced both in humans and in mosquitoes: "The humans that carried the malaria parasite fell from 23 percent to 1 or 2 percent, and the portion of mosquitos carrying the parasite fell from 3 percent to nearly zero," Li says.

After applying mass drug administration of an artemisinin combination therapy to the Comoros' two other major islands, malaria cases fell from 103,000 around one-eighth of the population in 2010 to fewer than 2,000 cases in 2014. Deaths fell from 54 to zero, according to data from the Comoros Ministry of Health.

However, Li says his task is not finished. Without further work, malaria could come back. "Studies in Cambodia and the Comoros show that (mass drug administration) is the only way to control malaria quickly, but it failed to eliminate malaria," Li says.

"The first important point I proved in the Comoros was that the number of plasmodium-carried mosquitoes reduced as the number of human plasmodium-carriers decreased. The second point is, even after the MDA, there are still five to eight malaria patients every month. Though the number is small, there is a risk that the malaria could come back," Li says.

So Li continues his lifelong work. He and the team at Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine are now working on a method, called PCR (polymerase chain reaction), that they have shown can effectively test for malaria using only one drop of blood.

"The cost of using PCR was $10 per person, which was too expensive for the local people. My team started to research our own reagent and succeeded. We reduced the cost from $10 to $1 a person, which makes PCR a popular, safe, fast and cheap way to check for malaria and ensure it does not come back" after mass drug administration, Li says.

Contact the writers at davidblair@chinadaily.com.cn

2018-04-07 07:33:41
<![CDATA[Sneaker city is always a step ahead]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/06/content_35984064.htm When the Chinese delegation walked into the stadium for the opening ceremony of the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, their striking white outfits grabbed the attention of fans and immediately had social media abuzz.

Sportswear hub Jinjiang ups its game in search of global gains

When the Chinese delegation walked into the stadium for the opening ceremony of the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, their striking white outfits grabbed the attention of fans and immediately had social media abuzz.

The outfit was produced by Anta Sports, China's leading sportswear brand with a market value ranked third globally, behind Nike and Adidas.

Come the 2022 Games in Beijing, China's finest will be sporting Anta gear again.

"We reached a partnership agreement with the Chinese Olympic Committee (COC) for cooperation in the fourth Olympic cycle starting in 2009," said Ding Shizhong, CEO of ANTA Sports.

Last year, Anta sold 60 million pairs of shoes, which, if lined up end to end, would span 1.5 times the flight distance between Beijing and Los Angeles.

Anta is based in Jinjiang, Fujian province, the world's largest production base for sneakers. The southeastern city produces 40 percent of China's sports shoes and 20 percent of the world's, with many other big brands like Xtep and 361 Degrees also made there.

Survival of the fittest

Once an important port city on the Maritime Silk Road, Jinjiang has a tradition of cultural exchange and overseas trading. Since China's opening-up in the 1980s, Jinjiang entrepreneurs have capitalized on the city's geographical advantage to sell imported goods to other parts of China. Sneakers proved particularly popular.

Eratat is recognized as Jinjiang's first shoe company and claims to have produced the city's first pair of sneakers in 1983.

In 1987, 16-year-old Ding took sneakers produced in Jinjiang to Beijing. Four years later, he started up the Anta company, even though, he recalls, "the concept of 'sports footwear still did not exist".

Soon, though, there was an "explosion" in demand and, consequently, sneaker factories.

"There were wholesale markets all over China," Ding said.

The industry reached its peak around 2008 when Beijing hosted the Olympics, with Jinjiang home to over 3,000 factories, including 21 listed enterprises.

"After that, however, the problem of excessive supply was aggravated, as so many factories were turning out similar products," Ding said.

In the cut-throat battle for profits that ensued, many of the brands disappeared, leaving Anta, Xtep and 361 Degrees as the main survivors.

Secret to success

Ding says his secret to success is innovation. "In 2005 Anta set up China's first high-tech sports-science lab," he said.

Expenditure in research and development grew from one percent at the beginning to its current level of 5.8 percent of annual revenue. Anta has also set up design centers in the United States, Japan and South Korea.

"In China, the middle class is rising," Ding said, explaining that this is how Anta managed to acquire several international brands, including Fila, Descente and Sprandi. These acquisitions have brought more high-end customers and introduced Anta to a global market.

As of June last year, Anta had opened 67 more Fila outlets to bring the total number to 869, as well as opening 15 more Descente stores in China.

Xtep, meanwhile, has cashed in on the marathon craze which is sweeping the country, and now sponsors dozens of races nationwide.

Celebrity endorsement is another major marketing strategy, with Anta and 361 Degrees signing NBA stars such as Kevin Garnett and Klay Thompson to promote their brands internationally.

Jinjiang's sneaker giants are also targeting domestic tie-ins. As well as the COC deal, Anta last year signed an eight-year contract to become an official sponsor of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympics.

"Anta will not only provide high-quality service to Beijing 2022 but will also work to help promote the development of winter sports in China," said Zheng Jie, executive director of Anta Sports.

Both Zheng and Ding joined the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympic Winter Games torch relay at the invitation of Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee.

'City of sports'

Jinjiang's sportswear brands are also aiming to expand into other fields. On March 14, 361 Degrees unveiled a plan to enter the gaming sector by working with top Chinese e-sports club QG.

Homegrown brands are a major factor in the rapid growth of China's sports industry, which had a total output of 1.9 trillion yuan ($294 billion) in 2016, according to recent government figures. By 2025, that figure is expected to reach 5 trillion yuan ($774 billion).

Jinjiang now boasts over 3,000 sportswear companies. In 2016, the total value of its sports industry had reached 147.2 billion yuan ($23.3 billion), contributing to 34 percent of the city's overall industrial value.

Recently, the Jinjiang government mapped out a plan to accelerate the industry's expansion through investment, technological innovation and public service. It says that by 2020, Jinjiang's sports industry will be worth 180 billion yuan ($28 billion) while consumption in the city is expected to hit 3 billion yuan as more than 40 percent of its residents take up regular exercise.

Jinjiang will host Gymnasiade 2020 and four consecutive biennial FISU University World Cups in soccer from 2019 to 2025, boosting the city's credentials as a "city of sports" as opposed to just a "city of sportswear".

At a party last year marking the 10th anniversary of Anta's public listing, Ding sang a song that is popular among Fujian dialect speakers called Dedicate Yourself And You Will Win.

It could well be the slogan for the city of Jinjiang.

2018-04-06 08:24:54
<![CDATA[2022 Games venues on schedule and 'sustainable']]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/06/content_35984063.htm The preparations for the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games are progressing well on all fronts, with construction on schedule and venues being built with sustainability in mind.

Beijing 2022 will use 26 competition and non-competition venues in three zones-Beijing, Yanqing and Zhangjiakou.

International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach believes that Beijing 2022 will set a new standard for sustainability.

"Beijing 2022 can set a new benchmark for a sustainable Olympic Games, on one hand benefiting from the legacy of Beijing 2008, and on the other developing a new winter sports destination in a sustainable way," Bach told Xinhua at February's Pyeongchang Winter Games.

With less than two years before the test events, the construction of major competition venues has to be finished before the end of 2019. Some work cannot be carried out in winter, especially in the mountainous Yanqing Zone, making hitting that deadline more difficult.

The Beijing Zone will be home to curling, ice hockey, skating and the newly established Big Air across 13 venues, including eight from the Beijing 2008 Summer Games, four new builds and one temporary.

The Yanqing Zone, located 74 kilometers northwest of downtown Beijing, and with a total of five venues, will host three sports (alpine skiing, bobsleigh/skeleton and luge).

The city of Zhangjiakou, about 180 km from Beijing in Hebei province, will have eight venues in total and will host skiing and biathlon.

The transport infrastructure is also taking shape.

Construction has begun on the Beijing-Zhangjiakou Intercity Railway, which will reduce train-travel time between the two cities by around 40 minutes.

Of the venues from the 2008 Games to be used, the Bird's Nest Stadium will stage the opening and closing ceremonies, while the National Aquatics Center, aka the Water Cube, will host curling.

Close by in the Olympic Forest Park, the National Speed Skating Oval, dubbed the Ice Ribbon, is under construction and is expected to be completed by the end of 2019.

Twenty-two separate light strands (or ribbons) flow up and around the oval in homage to the sport it will host, creating a stunning spectacle by night.

Other venues will also feature high-tech enhancements. The National Aquatics Center will be repurposed from Water Cube to Ice Cube thanks to the installation of a transferable rink, while the National Skeleton and Luge Center will feature a special roof to protect the track from the rays of the sun in order to save energy.

2018-04-06 08:24:54
<![CDATA[MMA fighting for piece of the Thai pie]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/06/content_35984062.htm

BANGKOK - As someone who has practiced Thai boxing (Muay Thai) for 30 years, Chatri Sityodtong knows very well the challenges he faces as he tries to bring his version of mixed martial arts (MMA) to the Southeast Asian nation.

Sityodtong, who left a Wall Street career to start the ONE Championship in 2011, said the first major problem was a Thai misconception about the series born of televised western versions of cage fighting.

"Thais have a misconception, they think ONE Championship is about MMA," Sityodtong, who has Thai and Japanese parentage, told Reuters in an interview.

"MMA is what our western counterparts use to promote violence. Real martial arts is about respect, humility and discipline."

Given the long history of martial arts in Thailand, the country should be a fruitful recruiting ground for fighters and audiences alike.

But getting Muay Thai boxers to take up MMA has been a challenge, with the fighters reluctant to learn new rules and techniques, especially around ground fighting, which does not feature in the local codes. Muay Thai fighter Thaweechai Chatarasuk underwent some MMA training before deciding to stick to what he knew.

"Muay Thai is better, you can learn more from it," he said.

The chairman of the Kru Muay Thai Association, Chinawut Sirisompan, says MMA has good promotion and media but Thais prefer stand-up striking techniques and are "bored" by ground fighting.

ONE Championship CEO Sityodtong is no stranger to Muay Thai, having trained with legendary Muay Thai coach, the late Master Yodtong Senanan, who gave him the ringname Chatri. His familiarity with its old traditions and rituals that pay homage to masters and respect for opponents, is helping the ONE Championship connect with Muay Thai fans and practitioners.

The ONE Championship is seeing more Muay Thai athletes joining its kickboxing and MMA league, Chatri said.

Muay Thai-to-MMA convert, Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke, says it helps if Muay Thai fighters understand MMA rules, especially around ground fighting.

"Muay Thai gives us an advantage in MMA," he said. "Thais should keep an open mind and give MMA a chance."

Female ONE Championship athlete Rika Ishige said that if Thais took time to understand the rules they would see it was not barbaric.

"The thing that will bring (Muay Thai) further on in the future is MMA," she said.

Sityodtong's vision is to build a venue that will bring Asia together through martial arts and believes the rags-to-riches stories of its athletes can help.

"Ninety five percent of our athletes come from incredible backgrounds of tragedy and poverty," he said.

"Their spirit to overcome adversity represents authentic martial arts."


2018-04-06 08:24:54
<![CDATA[CVL spikes in popularity]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/06/content_35984061.htm After years of living in the shadow of China's all-conquering women's national team, the country's professional volleyball league is finally enjoying the limelight.

Rejuvenated women's league hits new heights, Shi Futian reports

After years of living in the shadow of China's all-conquering women's national team, the country's professional volleyball league is finally enjoying the limelight.

On Tuesday, the curtain closed on the upgraded 2017-2018 China Volleyball League season, with the women's final between Tianjin and Shanghai racking up viewing figures that the dramatic action deserved.

Tens of millions of fans watched online as Tianjin claimed its 11th league title by clinching the deciding match of the seven-game finals to claim the 3 million yuan ($470,000) first prize in front of around 3,500 spectators at Luwan Gymnasium in Shanghai.

Tianjin's 18-year-old Li Yingying capped her stunning season with another scoring blitz in the final, racking up 43 points to easily surpass the 21 points of South Korean Shanghai rival Kim Yeon-Koung, 30.

Li totaled 206 points over the seven games and 804 throughout the season, making her the youngest player in CVL history to break the 800-point mark.

"This season just made me a more mature player with a better mentality," said Li.

Tianjin coach Chen Youquan hailed his team's performance, saying: "Both teams were strong and this was an amazing game.

"Although Shanghai had a great performance in terms of attack and defense, we handled the pressure and displayed our skills."

It was a fitting end to a season in which the CVL and its business operation partner iRENA, has launched headfirst into the future by rolling out an ambitious 70 million yuan ($11 million) reform plan designed to improve its product on every level.

"Our goal is to create the best volleyball league in the world and start a new era for the CVL," said Eric Gao, CEO of iRENA.

"We have seen a very successful season. We have made a lot of effort going into marketing and promoting the CVL and we are glad there have been a lot of improvements in various areas."

Gao said cultivating more superstars such as Team China captain Zhu Ting will be key to achieving that goal.

China's top spiker Zhu, the world's most expensive players who began her career in the CVL and is now playing in the Turkish league, has helped drawn global attention to the sport.

"China's women's volleyball team has enjoyed remarkable achievements on the international stage. For the league, we must improve the competitive level and popularize the sport to as many people as possible.

"It's also important that a top league has the ability to attract superstars as well as create future homegrown superstars."

Shanghai's South Korean star Kim, the MVP at the 2012 London Olympics, joined Shanghai this season and more international stars are expected to follow her to China in the near future.

All Star action

In a bid to further lift the league's profile, the CVL's All Star extravaganza will take place over the course of two days, April 13 and 14, at Shenzhen Bao'an Stadium in Shenzhen, Guangdong province.

Passions have obviously been stirred during the season, with fans casting 28 million votes online by April 1 to decide the 56 most popular players.

Friday's action will focus on exhibitions of skill, with the men's and women's All Star games taking place on Saturday. Fans will also have a chance to interact with their idols, with several activities, including a fans' meeting and a stars' red carpet show, planned.

The CVL has upped its game on the media front, too. Unlike many leagues, it has steered clear of exclusive copyright and instead operates a policy of sharing content in order to gain the maximum exposure.

The league boasts over a dozen online media partners, such as Ali Sports and Sina Sports, with a record 500 million people watching CVL games on different platforms throughout the 2017-2018 season.

Social media is another vitally important tool for the league, with increased activity on the likes of Weibo and WeChat attracting over a billion hits this season.

The CVL has broadened its spectrum of partners and sponsors to include sectors beyond the sphere of sports, including the food industry, internet finance and the automobile industry. This season saw the launch of "theme days", featuring special events offered by title sponsors.

The CVL also spent big on upgrading facilities to provide spectators with a better experience. For example, Beijing's Guangcai Gymnasium installed new equipment, including an advanced LED screen and sound meters, and now provides a "theater-style" experience thanks to a major renovation of the seating arrangement and the construction of tunnels for the players.


Tianjin players celebrate after beating Shanghai 3-2 in Game 7 of the 2018 China Volleyball League finals to earn their club its 11th CVL crown on Tuesday at Luwan Gymnasium in Shanghai. Xinhua

2018-04-06 08:24:54
<![CDATA[Klopp keeps cautious despite Reds' romp]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/06/content_35984060.htm LIVERPOOL - Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp warned his side will still have to "work like hell" to reach the Champions League semifinals despite taking a commanding 3-0 quarterfinal first-leg lead over runaway Premier League leader Manchester City.

Liverpool boss says his side must 'work like hell' to finish off City

LIVERPOOL - Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp warned his side will still have to "work like hell" to reach the Champions League semifinals despite taking a commanding 3-0 quarterfinal first-leg lead over runaway Premier League leader Manchester City.

City leads Liverpool by 18 points in the Premier League, but its only league defeat this season came in a 4-3 thriller at Anfield in January, and it suffered an even worse fate on Wednesday to leave its hopes of winning the European Cup for a first time hanging by a thread.

Just as in the January meeting between the sides, the prolific Mohamed Salah, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Sadio Mane were on target for the host.

"We beat the best team in the world so that's a really good performance," said Klopp.

"It was good tonight, but I am not interested in being good. In this competition it is about going to the next round, and we are not in the next round. Let's talk about it after the next game.

"We will really have to work there again like hell."

Klopp's caution is born out of the fact that City thrashed 10-man Liverpool 5-0 in their only previous meeting at Etihad Stadium this season.

"We conceded there already five. How can I say it is not possible?"

City boss Pep Guardiola insisted he still believes despite his side's most comprehensive defeat of the campaign.

"I think in this room there is nobody except the guy talking to you who believes we are going to go through," said Guardiola.

"Tomorrow we are going to try to convince ourselves that in six days it is 90 minutes more and we are going to try."

Liverpool's night was slightly marred when Salah limped off with an injury early in the second half.

"After the game he said: 'I will be good, I will be fine.' But now we have to wait for the real diagnosis," added Klopp on the Egyptian star's fitness. City could already be crowned English champion by the time the sides meet again for the second leg in six days' time should it beat Jose Mourinho's Manchester United in Saturday's derby.

Guardiola's side has been in stunning form for the large majority of the season, but he lamented a poor 20-minute period in the first half that has likely cost them a shot at European glory.

"The result is tough but I don't have (the) feeling we played to concede that result," said Guardiola. "But in this competition (what happens) in the boxes makes all the difference and they were so good in those situations."

City was well aware of the cauldron it was facing from the off as its team bus was battered by bottles and cans on its arrival at Anfield.

Klopp was quick to apologize as was the club in a strongly worded statement condemning the actions of its own supporters.

Agence France - presse

2018-04-06 08:24:54
<![CDATA[Hero sacrifices his life after saving couple from blaze]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/05/content_35982234.htm Soldier pays ultimate price as he tries to rescue one other person from fire

A young Henan soldier sacrificed his life when he rushed into a blazing building three times to save people in Wuhan, the capital city of Hubei province, on March 3.

Li Daozhou, 29, sergeant major assigned to a helicopter regiment of an airborne brigade under the PLA Air Force, rushed into the blaze to save a couple over 80 and in a bid to save their 51-year-old daughter who had cerebral palsy.

Li Daozhou's comrades-in-arms attend his funeral in Guangshan county, Henan province, on March 7. Li Hai / For China Daily

On that fateful night the daughter was at home alone as the fire broke out. Her parents arrived to find the fire had taken hold. They called the property management office immediately and went in to rescue their daughter, but became trapped inside.

Li was waiting for his wife who worked at the property management office.

He picked up two fire extinguishers and rushed into the fire.

"When we arrived at the fourth floor, there was a horrible smell of burning," Li told Huang Yihao, from the property management office before going back inside again.

Smoke was billowing through the windows and the 140-square-meter home was shrouded in smoke, Huang said.

The elderly father, surnamed Wan, was saved first and then Li rushed back into the fire to rescue the mother.

"My daughter was still trapped inside," Wan recalled later as he was reluctant to leave without his daughter.

Li had no time to rest and he told Wan firmly: "You go downstairs first, I promise to save your daughter."

Li went back into the inferno for the third and last time.

Finally, the fire was completely extinguished the next day after firefighters battled it through the night.

The rescuers found the remains of Li and the daughter, with Li actually trying to carry the daughter out before he was overcome by the smoke.

He was honored as a martyr by the military on March 5.

Li joined the PLA Air Force in December 2005, and took part in rescue efforts after the Wenchuan earthquake in 2008.

On March 7, he was buried in the Martyrs' Memorial Park in his hometown in Guangshan county, Xinyang, Henan province. Thousands of people stood on the roadside to honor his memory and pay their respects.

"It was very sad," said Cao Deyi, 41, Li's middle school teacher in his hometown. Cao actually encouraged Li's ambition to join the army when he was a teenager as his leadership qualities were evident.

"We are proud of him," Cao said.

Li's house in Guangshan county is being looked after by his uncle, Ruan Congyou. The 48-year-old insists on opening the door in the morning, and turning on the light in the evening, to honor Li's memory.

Ruan said Li was in his hometown on March 2, the day before the terrible fire. He never thought it would be their final meeting.

They took part in the traditional custom of worshipping ancestors on the 15th day of the first lunar month in the Chinese calendar.

"He went to see his family: to see his parents, his wife, 5-year-old son and 10-month-old daughter in Wuhan, but then the fire occurred," Ruan added.

He pointed at a wedding picture hanging on the wall: "Li married his wife here, nearly six years ago."

A fund for Li's children was established. It has reached 980,000 yuan ($156,000) in March.


2018-04-05 07:47:49
<![CDATA[Student's creativity gives him an inside track on success]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/05/content_35982233.htm A Henan undergraduate was admitted to a PhD course at the Institute of Mechanics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, to study aerodynamics in Beijing due to his proven ability and creativity.

Yan Chang, 21, a senior graduate of the School of Mechanics and Engineering Science in Zhengzhou University, said he had joined a team researching "a moving model rig for high speed trains" with professors in Beijing.

"For me, it is also a mind-expanding experience and I am interested in doing research, " he said.

Clockwise: Yan Chang assembles an underwater robot in his lab at Zhengzhou University, Henan province, on March 21, Qi Xin / China Daily. Yan studying in the university library, Provided for China Daily. Yan displays a drone in his university lab on March, 21. Qi Xin / China Daily

Curiosity is driving his ambition.

Wang Xiaofeng, Yan's head teacher in Zhengzhou University, said Yan's ability was outstanding, and he had an excellent team spirit.

As a team leader of the robotics laboratory, a technology innovation platform for undergraduates in Zhengzhou University, Yan said the laboratory was their home over the past four years.

"Most of us knew each other and struggled together as freshmen, but we also have 'new blood' joining us. We do experiments again and again, from daybreak to sunrise. We spend most of our summer or winter vocations in the laboratory," he said.

"The laboratory witnessed our growth, and we were proud of our camaraderie," Yan said with a smile.

He and his team won first prize in the 2015 RoboCup final, for underwater robots in Guiyang, capital of southwest China's Guizhou province, competing with about 400 teams from more than 300 colleges around the nation and overseas.

"It is an international contest and has been held annually since 1999 with the idea of advancing the role of artificial intelligence. This competition broadened my horizons," he said.

Under the leadership of Yan, his team obtained five invention patents and 18 utility model patents, achieving more than 20 national-level scientific and technological innovation awards.

Yan has nimble hands even though his middle and ring fingers were joined at birth.

Yan was born in a small village of Xinyang, in Henan province. He underwent corrective surgery when he was 4 years old.

"My ability can be dated back to my childhood. When I was young, I would like to take toys apart and see what it was inside," he said.

A tai chi enthusiast, he said the discipline has helped him see the bigger picture in work and in life.

"Experiments may fail, sometimes, but tai chi gave me a positive mental attitude," he added.

Chen Hongye, secretary of the Communist Youth League of School of Mechanics and Engineering Science, said openness was good for innovation, and students communicating with other students and professors was a good way to brain storm.

Contact the writers at shibaoyin@chinadaily.com.cn

2018-04-05 07:47:49
<![CDATA[LONG AND WINDING ROAD]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-03/31/content_35954554.htm On March 22, 1963, the Beatles released their debut album, Please Please Me. Recorded in EMI's Abbey Road studio, it reached the top of the British album charts in May of that year and remained there for 30 weeks before being replaced by their second album, With the Beatles. It also started the journey of arguably the most legendary and revolutionary rock bands of all time, brought into being by its four members - Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr - in Liverpool in 1960.

A new documentary about the Beatles influence in China is coinciding with a Beijing exhibition to mark the 55th anniversary of the band's first album

On March 22, 1963, the Beatles released their debut album, Please Please Me. Recorded in EMI's Abbey Road studio, it reached the top of the British album charts in May of that year and remained there for 30 weeks before being replaced by their second album, With the Beatles. It also started the journey of arguably the most legendary and revolutionary rock bands of all time, brought into being by its four members - Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr - in Liverpool in 1960.

Fifty-five years later, from March 22, 2018, 28 famous Beatles albums including Abbey Road, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and The Beatles 1962-1966, have been made available on major Chinese streaming services, such as QQ Music, Kugou and Kuwo.

To mark the 55th anniversary of the release of the band's debut album, a Chinese documentary titled Here Comes the Beatles, has been launched on three online streaming music services under Tencent Music Entertainment Group-QQ Music, Kugou and Kuwo. With one episode being streamed online each week, the documentary, which has five episodes, has veteran Chinese singer-songwriters and music critics sharing their memories of the Beatles and discussing the bands enduring influence.

An exhibition, titled The Beatles, Tomorrow, is currently under way at the Today Art Museum in Beijing. Kicking off on March 24 and running until May 27, the exhibition displays posters, newspaper articles, album cover art, famous quotes, videos, audio clips and more than a hundred photos of the Beatles, from behind-the-scene shots to live shows, spanning from 1963 to 1972 and shot by photographers from Britain's The Mirror newspaper.

"The first time I read about the Beatles was in a youth magazine in the 1980s when I was a student at the Central Academy of Drama in Beijing," recalls renowned music critic Zhang Youdai in Beijing at the exhibition's opening ceremony. "Their name was literally translated into Chinese as jia ke chong. The article said that the band influenced a whole generation of young people in the 1960s and I was curious about them and their music."

Then Zhang asked one of his classmates, a Japanese student, to buy him a cassette during a trip to Hong Kong at that time. Unfortunately, his classmate bought a cassette by a band from the Philippines covering Beatles' songs.

"When my Japanese classmate finally bought me the legal recording of the Beatles, I listened to their songs and realized why they influenced so many people," says Zhang. "They invented a new sound for a rock band. I particular enjoyed their impeccable vocal harmonies."

As he grew up, Zhang became a big fan of the Beatles and bought the band's albums on his travels around the world. One of his favorite songs from the band is called Carry That Weight, which was written by Lennon and McCartney and was released as a single from their album Abbey Road in 1969.

"I particularly like the lyrics: 'Boy, you're gonna carry that weight, Carry that weight a long time'. When I listened to that song in my 20s, I was overwhelmed then and I am overwhelmed even today," says Zhang. "Undoubtedly, they are one of the greatest bands in the world and their legacy can still be felt today around the world."

Besides Chinese fans, the Beatles have also been a great inspiration for Chinese singer-songwriters.

Beijing-based indie band, The Life Journey, traveled to London to record their new album, titled Always Be There, at Abbey Road Studios last year, as a tribute to the Beatles.

They have collaborated with Scottish musician and producer Howard Bernstein, professionally known as Howie B, who has worked with artists like U2.

The four members of the band also took a picture outside the studio, imitating the cover photo of the Beatles Abbey Road album, which is regarded as one of the most iconic images of pop history.

"There were lots of tourists taking photos on the road. Because of the Beatles, people make the pilgrimage to London to follow in their footsteps. We were deeply impressed," says Kong Yang, the band's lead vocalist.

"When we were working in the Abbey Road Studio, we felt close to not only the Beatles but also to George Martin, who produced many of the Beatles' classic albums," adds guitarist Huang Zijun. "Producing an album is like doing experiment in a lab. It's the achievement of all four members of the Beatles and George Martin."

The band was founded by lead vocalist Kong and guitarist Huang when they were about 16 years old. In 2005, they moved from their hometown, Liuzhou, in South China's Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, to the capital to pursue their music dream. So far, they have released eight studio albums.

"We admire the Beatles' creative songwriting, which evolved along with their personal growth. It's amazing to think that 50 years later we are looking back on their music, which is still vibrant and pioneering," says Kong.



2018-03-31 07:59:44
<![CDATA[Gifted, young violinist made his return to China]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-03/31/content_35954553.htm After making his debut in China by performing with Mariinsky Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Valery Gergiev at Harbin Grand Theater in August, Swedish violinist Daniel Lozakovich returned to China, joining in the Verbier Festival Chamber Orchestra's tour in the country.

From March 23 to April 1, the Verbier Festival Chamber Orchestra visits Chinese cities, including Beijing, Guangzhou, Xi'an and Nanjing. Under the baton of Hungarian violinist and conductor Gabor Takacs-Nagy, who is also the music director of the Verbier Festival Chamber Orchestra, Lozakovich performs J.S. Bach's Violin Concerto No 2 BWV 1042.

"I have performed the piece many times. I try to find the composers' characters in their works. When I play, I try to become the composers," says Lozakovich in Beijing recently.

At 17, the violinist, who was born in Stockholm, Sweden, is hailed as one of the most exceptional young musicians in the world. As he recalls, he decided to become a violinist when he saw the instrument for the first time as a child.

"My mother wanted me to become a tennis player, and I tried hard to convince her that I want to become a violinist," he says. "I tried to compose a violin concerto at 9 years old but I am still not finishing yet."

He started his violin studies at 6 years old in 2007, and made his concerto debut with the Moscow Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra and Russian conductor Vladimir Spivakov two years later.

Performing as a soloist throughout Europe with orchestras now, including Vienna Chamber Orchestra and the Konzerthausorchester Berlin, he has signed an exclusive recording deal with Deutsche Grammophon in 2016 and will begin his cooperation with the label by recording two orchestral albums and a recital album.

Since 2012, Lozakovich studies at the Karlsruhe University of Music, and he is mentored by German violinist Eduard Wulfson. Currently, he is a student at the College du Leman in Geneva.

In his spare time, Lozakovich enjoys playing football, boxing, tennis and chess. Musically, he is also inspired by jazz.

"I enjoy different kinds of sports, which makes me more flexible," he says. "I don't practice for long hours. The brain needs to function and it's much more effective to practice with your head."

"My goal as a violinist is to help people with music. No one hates classical music. Some just don't know it," he adds.

Lozakovich has a long time relationship with Verbier Festival, an international annual music festival, which takes place for about two weeks in late July and early August in the mountain resort of Verbier, Switzerland. The violinist has been performing at the festival since 2015.

Founded by Martin Engstroem in 1994, Verbier Festival also has an academy, which nurturing young musicians from around the world, including Lozakovich. In 2000 and 2005, Engstrom set up the Verbier Festival Orchestra and the Verbier Festival Chamber Orchestra, which tours worldwide with young musicians aging from 15 to 29 years old.

"This is our fourth tour in China and we perform with these young soloists, who best show our ambition to promote the young talents," says Engstroem in Beijing. Besides Lozakovich, Chinese-American pianist George Li also joined in Verbier Festival Chamber Orchestra's tour in China.

Born in 1953 in Stockholm, Engstroem obtained his degree in Music History and Russian at Stockholm University. In 1975, he moved to Paris and became a partner in the artistic agency Opera et Concert, working closely with Austrian conductor Herbert von Karajan (1908-89) for many years. In 1986, he moved to Switzerland.

"All the rehearsals and master classes at the Verbier Festival open to the public. We want to present young musicians," says Engstroem, who has invited Chinese musicians to perform at festival, including Chinese pianists Lang Lang and Yuja Wang. "Those musicians are willing to come back to the music festival since we have a long relationship since they were teenagers."

Engstroem came to Beijing for the first time in 1997 as a production team member of the opera Turandot by Giacomo Puccini, which saw a joint collaboration of conductor Zubin Mehta and Chinese film director Zhang Yimou.

He was impressed by the fast development of the country and the classical music scene here.

"Many great orchestras have performed in China but for Verbier Festival, it's more youthful and it shows a different way of making music," he says.

2018-03-31 07:59:44
<![CDATA[Green route is the only way forward]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-03/11/content_35826773.htm Scientist acknowledges China's efforts toward environmental conservation - and says Africa is well-placed to follow its example

Targeted conservation-related policies and regulations, together with consistent funding for research, have set China on the path toward reining in pollution. Africa can learn from this, helping it meet sustainable goals and reduce pollution-related deaths, says Liu Jian, the chief scientist of the United Nations Environment Programme.

Pollution has become the world's No 1 killer, jumping to the top of the priority list, says Liu. According to a World Health Organization report, at least 12.6 million people died in 2012 of environmentally related deaths. Air pollution accounted for half of these deaths.


Liu Jian says air pollution can only be curbed by solutions designed from the source. Provided to China Daily

Nevertheless, China's strong leadership and commitment are reversing the trend, while promoting investment in the green economy. During the third UN Environment Assembly Forum, held in December, Chinese environmental projects and one individual won the UN's top environmental awards. The winners were Saihanba Afforestation Community, Mobike and Wang Weibao, chairman of Elion Resources Group, who won the Lifetime Achievement award.

Private business has a key role to play in cutting pollution," Liu says. In its efforts to transform the country into "Beautiful China," its government has worked closely with scientists and corporate enterprises.

Such cooperation within the UNEA is long overdue, says Liu. During the previous session, the private sector was left out, and Liu was determined to change this. Only a year into his job, it fell upon him to organize a forum that would discuss achievable ways of cutting emissions. "I wondered whether the policymakers and scientists were enough to meet our green solution goals," he says.

Liu was aware of the Emissions Gap Report, produced by the UNEP and released in 2017. It said joint efforts between the government and the scientific community can only meet one-third of the commitments made in the Paris Climate Agreement. Partnership with the business sector was therefore urgently needed. "Unless businesses change their water utilization, energy production using coal, and soil management, pollution will persist. No one is to be left out in this campaign," says Liu.

Since 2006, Achim Steiner, the former executive director of the UNEP, has promoted the green economy concept, says Liu, adding that the idea started to catch on. "This concept is a paradigm shift, since it forces all players to address pollution from the source and not the end. Air pollution can only be curbed by solutions designed from the source. This is revolutionary and has triggered several green investment opportunities," he says.

Therefore, the dynamics of the UN Global Science-Policy-Business Forum on the Environment on Dec 2 and 3 had changed. "We created an opportunity for the private sector to engage with the policymakers and scientists in seeking to enable policies and attractive incentives that will increase green investments for new businesses," says Liu.

Enthusiasm was high in the business community. Only 400 people were expected to take part, but Liu's team received around 1,900 application. Only 800 participants were allowed, with an emphasis on the private sector. The forum was self-financed.

"The private sector are decent and smart and it is time to tap into their knowledge and resources to reach sustainability goals. Most of them are surprisingly on our side and have proved to be farsighted and visionary. Look at the solutions they are implementing in developing countries, and most of them agree that green is the avenue toward sustainability. They say that if you are not turning green then your business is facing a dead end, with no hope. That is why I believe the popularity of the forum will increase, especially among the business community. We are learning from the World Economic Forum but not limiting ourselves," he says.

During UNEA 3, participants agreed that, for the world to have cleaner air, $18.6 billion (15 billion euros; £13.4 billion) of investment is needed. Liu says that, for this to happen, there is a need for stronger political, intellectual and entrepreneurial leadership.

First, environmental conservation needs to be prioritized in global business forums, he says. "During the recent World Economic Forum in Davos, only two heads of state - India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron - addressed environmental issues. The environment is important, since it dictates sustainable development," he says.

Second, scientists need to proactively identify sources of pollution and solutions in terms of innovation and technology, linking with entrepreneurs for implementation. "Only when you put these three groups together will results be seen," says Liu.

He says that his office is working with the governments of the United States, China, Europe and India to reach out to the business community. Multinational companies such as IBM and Philips are highly receptive, he says.

"We are keen to expand this conversation to nonstate actors, and hence the need for a new name. We are still consulting but we are thinking of naming it the World Environmental Forum, to give a voice to everyone and also promote leadership in innovation. Perhaps by April we will have a way forward."

On Africa, he says the continent is in the pole position to be the launchpad of a green revolution. "Africa is the land of hope. It has more potential than China and India, and even the US and Europe. Comparisons can be made on per capita net resources, and Africa ranks first in water, for example, followed by China, then India. Africa is rich when it comes to renewable energy potential. Research shows that a solar farm covering a third of the Sahara desert could power the world six times over."

Africa is yet to exploit its hydro power potential on its two biggest rivers, the Congo and the Nile, he says. It has huge bio-mass potential in addition to a young, educated and cheaper workforce as the rest of the world enters the aging phase.

"This is the land of hope," he says. "There is no reason Africa cannot do better in green economy. There is already a blueprint, and some countries, such as Kenya, are already setting the pace. Otherwise, the continent will replicate previous mistakes."

Efforts should be made in controlling car emissions by setting standards on car exhausts, and China is already doing it, Liu says, adding that such moves need courage. This should start from increasing investment in research, he adds.

Previously in China, there were discrepancies between investment in science and technology and economic growth. In 1987, a national program called the National Knowledge Innovation Program was launched, thus increasing investment in science and technology to about 10 times that of the previous 20 years. "China is now knocking on the door as an innovative country. Its longterm investments are showing benefits in the economy. It has a competent team that meets the needs of the economy," says Liu.

Africa, and particularly Kenya, is in the best position to build such a team, he says. "Not necessarily to cover every aspect, but to support the essential part of the economy that holds a comparative advantage, similar to what Denmark and the Netherlands have done. Investing in science is costly but rewarding."

Among the most discussed topics during the UNEA 3 forum was the Belt and Road Initiative and the effect the huge infrastructure project will have on the environment. Liu says countries will have to implement different approaches and policies to increase the success rate of the initiative. "Strategies around conserved sites such as national parks and water bodies will be different from those for bare land and will thus need site-specific designs. The one-model-suits-all approach will not work. Plans will have to adjust to the socioeconomic needs of host countries, too."



Liu Jian, chief scientist of the UN Environment Programme and acting director of the science division

Nationality: Chinese


1998-2003: PhD in physical geography, joint program of Graduate School of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and University College London.

1993-94: Visiting scholar (urban environment) and recipient of British Foreign and Commonwealth senior fellowship, University of Manchester, UK.

1983-86: Master of soil science (energy transformation and nutrient cycling in farmland ecosystem), Beijing Agricultural University, China.

1979-83: Bachelor of soil science, Hebei Agricultural University, China.


2008-10: Chief of UNEP Climate Change Adaptation Unit.

2005-08: Deputy secretary of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Previous posts included director of the Chinese Ecosystem Research Network, research professor and deputy director-general of the Bureau of Resources and Environment of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and manager of the Environment Program of the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development .

Areas of specialization:

· Climate-change assessments

· Enhancement of science-policy interface and integration of climate-change science into policy-setting and negotiation processes

· Ecosystem research and management, especially the monitoring, research and demonstration of ecosystem research networks

· Climate-change adaptation, especially ecosystem-based adaptation


Liu is director of the International Ecosystem Management Partnership of the UNEP, which aims to promote science for policy on ecosystem management in all developing countries. He is also a visiting professor of the Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

2018-03-11 07:49:09
<![CDATA[Keeping the flame burning]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/21/content_35716164.htm The Moon Shines on the Maplewoods Ferry, a classic Huadeng opera play of Southwestern China's Guizhou province, is a landmark in the 300-year history of the local opera form. And it earned lead actress Shao Zhiqing, the Plum Blossom Prize, the highest theater award in China, in 2007.

Veteran actress Shao Zhiqing has devoted her life to promoting Guizhou's Huadeng opera, Fang Aiqing and Yang Jun report

The Moon Shines on the Maplewoods Ferry, a classic Huadeng opera play of Southwestern China's Guizhou province, is a landmark in the 300-year history of the local opera form. And it earned lead actress Shao Zhiqing, the Plum Blossom Prize, the highest theater award in China, in 2007.

Shao, a delegate to the 19th CPC National Congress - who was recently recognized as one of the representative inheritors of this national intangible cultural heritage by the Ministry of Culture - is a key figure in the development and promotion of Huadeng opera, which she has been involved in for 40 years.

Meanwhile, she has so far given more than 28 lectures on the spirit of the 19th CPC National Congress, both in Guizhou and other parts of China, including Shanghai and Guangzhou, as a representative of the nation's literary and art workers.

Speaking about Huadeng opera, Shao, who aims to focus on boosting its repertoire and training, says: "President Xi's report to the 19th CPC National Congress has not only boosted my confidence in Guizhou's Huadeng opera, but also points to the future direction."

The Moon Shines on the Maplewoods Ferry depicts two decades in the lives of traditional winemaking families at the beginning of the 20th century. And without any villain or dramatic events, it showcases Guizhou's renowned wine culture.

The film version of the award-winning play was released in December. It was highlighted during the "Guizhou Cultural Week" at the 19th China Shanghai International Arts Festival in October.

As the director of the Guizhou Huadeng Opera Theater, the sole professional troupe of the local opera form, Shao pays a lot of attention to creating realistic plays.

As of now, work on two original plays is under way. One is set in Huamao village of Guizhou province, known for its poverty alleviation achievements, and which President Xi visited in 2015; while the other is based on rural doctors.

Meanwhile, Shao keeps herself occupied with opera performances both in Guiyang, the provincial capital, and at the grass-roots level.

Giving an example of her commitment, Cao Lijie, deputy director of the troupe, says: "Once she was locked in a toilet right before a performance. She then tried so hard to open the door that her hands were bleeding, but ignoring her injuries she got onto the stage.

"She has driven us to be practical and steadfast in our work."

Even a lack of infrastructure fails to put off Shao. And the troupe typically prepares several stage designs to suit various surroundings. "We are even ready for outdoor performances with a couple of lights," she says.

Of all the 40 students recruited for professional training in Huadeng opera in 1978, Shao is the only one who remains in the troupe.

The next batch was enrolled in 1987, and it was not until 2013, with cooperation between the troupe and Yunnan Arts University, that there was a professional training class of 30.

Now, recruitment for the next batch in cooperation with the Beijing Vocational College of Opera and Arts, is on.

For the past 26 years, the troupe has had to recruit students that majored in singing, dancing or acting before teaching them Huadeng opera from scratch.

"It was hard for them," says Shao. "Sometimes I taught my students six to eight hours at a time, sentence by sentence. I could see that they were getting tired, but I had no choice."

And things may be about to change soon. Guizhou's provincial government has recently released its suggestions on the development of local opera forms.

And with more national and local support, Shao, who is still in the thick of things when it comes to Huadeng opera, says: "I will try my best to create high-quality works that are worthy of the times."

Contact the writer at fangaiqing@chinadaily.com.cn

2018-02-21 08:13:14
<![CDATA[Documentary fosters deeper cross-cultural understanding]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/21/content_35716163.htm She was not trained as a director. She has no stars in her crew, or even people with acting experiences. However, her documentary has become a big hit, especially with audiences in China and Africa.

Hodan Osman Abdi, a Somali academic who has lived in China for about 12 years, says she is trying to show the diversity of Africans in the eastern parts of China with her recent documentary film Africans in Yiwu.

The six-episode documentary film, which took more than two years to showcase the daily lives of more than 20 people from 15 African countries who live in Yiwu, an export-oriented city in East China's Zhejiang province.

Earlier in 2017, the film was selected as the opening movie for the Lusaka International Film Festival in Zambia. And it has been shown across the world on CCTV-4 and across Africa on StarTimes channels.

"The people in the film are not stars, not big figures. They are just normal people trying to lead better lives and fulfill their dreams. Just like you and me," says Abdi.

Many foreigners come to Yiwu, the city's Party chief Sheng Qiuping said in 2015, when he was the city's mayor - about 15,000 foreign residents from more than 100 countries and regions were in the city then.

In addition, more than 500,000 overseas businesspeople visit Yiwu each year.

The stories of Africans and the Chinese should be told and written by themselves, not by others, the Somali Ambassador to China Yusuf Hassan Ibrahim, said at a ceremony in Beijing which introduced the film.

Abdi, the Somali co-director of the film, also a lecturer in African film and media at the Institute of African studies at Zhejiang Normal University, says she believes the increase in the number of cross-cultural media products catering to both Chinese and African viewers, coupled with the increase in their availability for mass audiences, is playing a positive role in boosting understanding between Chinese and African people.

"Showcasing the fact that both the Chinese and the Africans are diverse people with diverse cultures and habits is significant," she says.

"Ten years ago, the Chinese generally associated Africa with disease, famine and war," she says. "And the number of Africans living in China wasn't that big either. But now the general perception of Africa in China is gradually changing for the better.

"They no longer think Africa is a single country. And an increasing number of people are able to tell that it is a large continent with diverse people and diverse cultures.

Abdi also believes China's economic boom of the past 10 years has not only increased people's wealth but also opened their eyes.

Africa, which is now appreciated for its natural resources, business opportunities, wonderful weather and beautiful nature, has become a popular travel destination for business and pleasure. The cross-cultural communication that results from these travels is a key factor that has the potential to promote understanding, she says.

The media also plays a key role in shaping common perceptions and misconceptions, she says. "The Chinese media engagement in Africa has been successful in promoting a better understanding of China. However, they still lack the ability to adjust to the specific cultural aspects unique to the African market," she says.

"So, there should also be a focus on the translation and adaptation of popular African literature, film and TV programs to encourage mutual understanding."

Abdi says in her own country, Somalia, most people consider the Chinese to be resilient and diligent.

"The general perception is that the Chinese are hardworking and never slack, and that is why they have been able to achieve the amount of success they have in such a short time," she says, adding that the older generation remember the complex and good-quality infrastructure projects constructed by Chinese companies and often praise their knowledge and abilities.

The biggest similarity between China and Somalia is that both countries are proud of their long history. The respect for customs and traditions is something they share, she says.

"The Somali people consider the Chinese to be their friends and companions and generally have a very positive image of China. They also believe China is the home of knowledge and wisdom. This is one of the reasons large numbers of students from Somalia have been coming to China since the early 1980s to continue their higher education. And the numbers have been increasing, especially in the past decade."

Abdi traveled to Jinhua, in East China's Zhejiang province, in 2006 and then began her undergraduate life at Zhejiang Normal University, majoring in business administration.

She says she was influenced by her uncle, who had studied in China decades ago.

"I always used to hear fascinating stories from him that made me even more curious about the country.

"As soon as I arrived in China, I was completely mesmerized by the natural beauty, the people and the unique culture."

Abdi, who comes from a traditional Arab society, was able to feel the influence of Confucian philosophy on Chinese culture and found it to be at the core of the Chinese identity, promoting many values similar to those within her own society.

"We share a common cultural ground with Chinese people, such as respect for elders, the importance of family, the collective way of thought, the cultivation of morality and self-restraint, as well as an emphasis on hard work and achievement. This helped my integration into the society and made me feel at home," she says.

After arriving in China, Abdi began to study Chinese and did well from the start.

Her track record of achievements includes more than 20 prestigious prizes in national and regional contests.

One of them was the 2010 Silver Award in the third session of Chinese Bridge, held by China Central Television.

She admits that her language abilities were key to her successful integration, but strongly believes that setting high goals and working hard is what got her to where she is today.

After completing the usual four years of undergraduate studies in just three years, she got a scholarship for her master's degree from the Confucius Institute, and was later on recognized as an outstanding foreign student in China.

The prestigious Chinese government scholarship allowed her to begin studying for her doctorate at Zhejiang University, majoring in media and communication studies.

Abdi says she intends to focus on the China-Africa and China-Arab media and cultural exchanges.

"I hope to introduce the excellent literary and fine art of Africa and the Arab countries to China, as well as showing China's 5,000 years of cultural brilliance to African and Arab countries, allowing more Arabs, Africans and Chinese to cross cultural and linguistic barriers and get to know each other's rich and diverse cultures and their subtleties," she says.

For now, she continues to work in China to foster better understanding between the two sides, "not only through academic output, but also through the utilization of popular media to promote a better image".

She says: "I believe it is my responsibility to utilize the knowledge I have gained from both my academic endeavors, as well as my other experiences to promote mutual understanding between my Africa and my China, both of which I consider home. For the time being, I believe that China is the best place to begin."

Abdi also believes that African students in China play a vital role in boosting China-Africa relations.

"African students in China are in a unique position in this day and age and are of more importance to China-Africa relations than they realize," she says.

Her belief is that students can help navigate the development of African countries in multiple areas by first "making the effort to better understand the historical, political and cultural aspects surrounding China's economic development".

She also believes that their role in changing the stigma surrounding Africans in China is extremely important. Through their communication with Chinese people, they are able to influence public opinion at the grassroots and spread a more positive image of Africa in China.

Through learning the Chinese language, culture and history, African students can better communicate their own cultural values and better influence their surroundings. They can also contribute to the development of China into a global power, while also using their knowledge to positively contribute to the building of a better Africa, she says.


Hodan Osman Abdi, a Somali academic who presents the diversity of Africans with her documentary film Africans in Yiwu. [Photo provided to China Daily]

2018-02-21 08:13:14
<![CDATA[CARTWHEELS ACROSS THE DECADES]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/20/content_35714896.htm

Emotional reunion as Sudanese acrobats meet Chinese instructors from Wuhan after 46 years, Zhang Xingjian reports

More than four decades ago, a group of Sudanese acrobats were sent to the Wuhan Acrobatic Troupe and underwent three years of professional acrobatic training from 1971 to 1974, as part of the Agreement on Sino-Sudanese Scientific, Technological and Cultural Cooperation signed by the Chinese and Sudanese governments in August 1970.

Four decades later, nine of the Sudanese acrobats have returned to China and once again met their beloved instructors in Wuhan, capital of Central China's Hubei province, between Nov 18 and 20.

From barely knowing each other to establishing a deep affection, the protagonists of this story mark their beginning at the No 3 Courtyard in Dongting Xiaolu Street of Wuhan, where the Sudanese got their first taste of Chinese acrobatics.

"A total of 50 trainees between the age of 8 and 15 were sent to Wuhan in late October 1971. I was the youngest girl in the class, and had no idea what an exciting life experience I was about to enjoy," Nahed Shrhabel Ahmed Mohamed said in halting Chinese.

The 55-year-old was the only female acrobat in the "Back to China" tour. These days, she is head of the training department of the Sudan Acrobatics Troupe and a noted gymnastic acrobat in Sudan.

She has three daughters, and the youngest, age 9, is studying gymnastics in her spare time.

"She is such a cool girl who likes to mix the rhythms of pop music with gymnastic movements, and I think it is a breakthrough for acrobatics," she said, smiling.

Mohamed did not expect to revisit China at all, until she got the invitation letter from an officer of China's Ministry of Culture one night in September.

She was overcome with joy reading the letter, she said. "China has undergone such tremendous changes in many aspects over the past four decades resulting from its reform and opening-up policy, and I couldn't wait to see those miracles, and most of important of all, my kind instructors.

"The moment I saw my instructor Yao Jinmei, I was moved to tears. The feeling of long-awaited reunion was so amazing. And I hugged her tightly," she added.

Born in 1938, Yao Jinmei was called "Mother Yao" by Sudanese acrobats, due to her professional teaching standards and meticulous care for each trainee.

"At first, I felt pressure after accepting the task to coach these foreign children. Cultural differences, the language barrier and homesickness were all a big challenge for me," Yao recalled. "I still remember the astonished look they had when they saw the Chinese acrobats set an example for them. But I kept telling them Rome was not built in one day, so they have to be persistent and patient."

According to Yao, Sudanese acrobats had a tough training life in Wuhan, as the city is burning hot in summer and freezing cold in winter. They had to train in a single posture again and again in such conditions. "If they want to succeed in the future, they have to endure the hardships. After all, no pain, no gain."

Apart from "Mother Yao", "Father Zeng", whose real name is Zeng Qinglin, was another star Chinese instructor. And Yasir Mohamed Musa Abdelrahman was one of his trainees.

The 50-year-old man expressed his gratitude for "Father Zeng" on many occasions.

Abdelrahman's parents were not willing to send him to learn acrobatics initially, as they thought it was too dangerous and their son may be out of work after returning.

Zeng had to talk to his parents several times to persuade them, and they were moved by the Chinese coach's sincerity.

At present, Abdelrahman serves as the permanent acrobatics coach in Sudan and helps many locals realize their acrobatics dreams.

"To be honest, I was a little afraid of 'Father Zeng' in the beginning, as he was strict in his teaching. But because of him, I have realized the smallest negligence in daily training could lead to disaster in stage performance," he said. "However, he was a considerate man. He once took the whole class to the Lushan Mountain scenic spot, and I loved the spectacular natural scenery there."

Zeng turned 81 in 2018, but he still remembers those Sudanese acrobats.

"I have been teaching acrobatics for more than four decades, and the promotion of Chinese acrobatics in African countries is definitely the thing I would like to be remembered for most," Zeng told China Daily.

Zeng managed to train three batches of Sudanese acrobats in the 1970s, contributing to the birth of the first national-level acrobatic troupe in Sudan.

"I often flew to Sudan in those years and selected candidates one by one. Many Sudanese boast good physical conditions and have an edge in plyometrics exercises, which is a solid foundation for becoming a qualified acrobat," he said.

Thanks to the joint efforts of Chinese instructors and Sudanese trainees, the students mastered more than 20 acrobatic techniques including aerial acts, the pagoda of bowls, wire-walking, tightrope-walking, trick-cycling and hand walking.

It is worth noting the trainees finished their tasks half a year ahead of schedule. In May 1974, they returned to Sudan and founded the first acrobatic troupe the same year.

"It was not an easy task for us to establish the troupe starting from scratch. But our 'Chinese parents' provided all the performance props, stage clothes and basic stage settings for free, and it really helped us a lot," Mohamed said.

The brand-new troupe at first had difficulties recruiting proper students. The locals had misgivings about such a unique art form.

To tackle the problem, Wuhan Acrobatic Troupe sent some Chinese acrobatics coaches, including "Father Zeng", to teach overseas. They not only focused on teaching work, but also racked their brains to find new ways to promote acrobatics.

It worked. More and more young locals showed interest in learning acrobatics, which helped keep the troupe alive and blossoming.

Reputed as the "flower" to signify friendly relationships between China and Sudan, the Sudan National Acrobatic Troupe is well-received both in its homeland and African countries as a whole.

"Each time the audience bursts into thunderous applause, I just know I am so lucky to choose the best job I ever had in my entire life," said 60-year-old Sudanese acrobat Ibrahim Abdalla Ali Abdalla, who also visited China last year. Since its birth, the Sudan National Acrobatic Troupe has performed on many important diplomatic occasions and become one of the most influential art troupes in the African continent.

The late Sudanese president Gaafar Muhammad Nimeiry considered the troupe the "Art Card" of Sudan.

The late president, in the name of the national government, also honored each Chinese acrobatics coach who participated in training work with a medal for the great contribution Chinese acrobats had made in the development of Sudanese culture.

"I really appreciate the Chinese government and related experts' efforts in bringing up professional acrobats for my country. Chinese acrobats from Wuhan have made great contributions to consolidating the friendship between China and Sudan," the late president once said.


This photo taken in 1981 shows the graduation ceremony of the second batch of Sudanese trainees who came to Wuhan to learn acrobatics.

2018-02-20 07:47:31
<![CDATA[Turning ideas into growth]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-01/21/content_35548554.htm


Robert C. Merton says a well-functioning financial system is central for global economic development. David Blair / China Daily

Nobel-winning economist Robert C. Merton says financial innovation is key to the future of Asia

Robert C. Merton's career demonstrates how scientific research can transform the real world.

The work he did, along with colleagues Myron Scholes and Fischer Black, in the early 1970s on how to calculate the value of options and other derivatives was immediately useful to banks, traders, investors and other financial practitioners. Before this work, many useful financial products could not be made available because no one knew how to determine the costs or risks. Now his work is the foundation of a trillion-dollar industry.

"With the options model, we became well-known right after writing the models down. Scholes and I took it to Wall Street before it was even published. In two years, it went from being a pure idea to being used by everybody in the markets," he says in an interview with China Daily.

"Texas Instruments created a special hand calculator for the people on the floor of the Chicago Board Options Exchange because they didn't have computers at that time and weren't allowed to have telephones. They couldn't do it in their head. There was no way they could do this trading without our equations.

"Scholes called TI and asked for a royalty. They said no, it's in the public domain. We knew that, we put it in the public domain. He asked if we could at least get a free calculator and they said no," Merton recalls.

"Financial innovation has been enormously valuable, and we've made great progress around the world," he emphasized in a recent speech to the Belt and Road EMBA Program for Southeast Asia at the People's Bank of China School of Finance at Tsinghua University.

"A well-functioning financial system, one that allows risk management, raising funds and so forth, is a mechanism by which scientific or technological ideas get turned into growth. It's not magic. Implementation is a huge part of innovation. Those who tell you the real economy and the financial system are separate - that's a fiction," he said in the speech.

Merton, a longtime professor at Harvard and MIT and winner of the 1997 Nobel Prize in Economics, sees his role as that of an engineer looking for solutions.

By financial innovation, he means creating new types of tools and financial contracts that allow people to eliminate unnecessary risk or to be more efficient and productive.

For example, the main historical problem for banks is that their funding, mostly deposits, is short-term but their loans are long-term with fixed interest rates. If interest rates rise, the bank could be in trouble. Merton explains that so-called interest rate swaps, in which the bank swaps its fixed-rate assets with a counterparty that has floating rate assets, solved this problem that had plagued banks since they were first created.

Insurance, which is a financial product, allows people to be prepared for catastrophic events without having to set aside a huge portion of their wealth as a safety net.

"High savings rates more often reflect a poor financial system than a culture of saving for the future. If you have a well-functioning financial system, you don't have to save personally for that one chance that your house burns or some bad thing happens," he tells China Daily.

However, not all financial innovations are good. "I can't dream of a way for bitcoin to succeed," he says.

Merton says that he does not want to give specific advice to China or other countries. But he does want to talk about things that are strategic and especially wants people to understand the benefits of financial innovation.

For example, in his speech to the Belt and Road EMBA students, Merton made a plea for them to consider the role of finance as an integral part of the Belt and Road Initiative.

"When you are thinking about the Belt and Road overall, infrastructure, roads and transportation are important. But don't forget the financial system. It may look intangible, but it's very real. A well-functioning financial system is central for global economic development. If you are going to really integrate economies along the path of the Belt and Road, you need an integrated financial system. You don't have to have one currency or one financial system. One currency is not usually a good idea. But, the financial systems should work together," he said.

"The places along the road that don't have good financial systems are going to be logjams. If a country does not have it's own financial system, it can't really develop growth opportunities. It's not good enough to say we'll provide financing from outside," he said.

Merton refuses to give advice or answer questions outside his specialization.

Immediately after finding out that he had won a Nobel Prize, he received advice from Paul Samuelson, who was a very famous economist and one of the earliest winners of the Nobel for economics.

"Samuelson, who was my mentor, took me aside and said that the Nobel Prize is not for the renaissance man of economics, it is for a very specific thing. Now, they will think you not only know everything about economics, they will think you know everything. They will ask you medical questions," Merton recalls.

In his speech at the PBC School of Finance, Merton presented his research on the costs to Chinese investors of not being able to invest worldwide. A central tenet of finance science is that the optimal tradeoff between risk and return for an investor is an index of all the assets in the world. Using data from 1993 to 2015, he calculates that the expected return to a China-only portfolio would be three percentage points less than that of a world portfolio.

That may not sound like much, but over 24 years, roughly a generation, a pension fund would lose out on half its potential value by not investing worldwide. That's a huge problem for an aging society, he said.

Not wanting to present a problem without suggesting a solution, Merton proposed a financial product that he calls a "total return swap".

He proposed that China's pension funds sign contracts with large institutional investors such as the sovereign wealth funds of Norway or Singapore. The contract would say that, each year, the Chinese funds pay the outsiders the total returns from their investments in the Chinese stock markets. The outsiders pay the Chinese funds the gains from the world index fund. No actual stocks change hands and capital controls can remain in place.

This illustrates how financial innovation can solve a problem. Chinese pension funds increase their expected returns by diversifying their risks worldwide. International investors, in exchange, get more access to the returns of the Chinese markets. Such a win-win solution significantly increases the real wealth and reduces the risks of all parties, he says.

Merton says that in fall 2012 he made a commitment to himself to "return, and return, and return," to Asia. Last year, he spent more than 15 weeks in the region.

Explaining that Asian governments are looking seriously for solutions, Merton says: "I don't mind going to Europe as a vacation, but going there as a policy adviser is a nightmare. They don't even like academics. The US has been doing it for a long time and is a little better.

"China has to be open," he adds. "You cannot do Belt and Road and stay a closed economy. You cannot be a world leader and have a reserve currency if there are capital controls."

"China's middle class is approaching the same size as the entire population of the United States. They will need far different financial services. When you get things done is when there is need for such change."

He says that China's need for new financial services, and its commitment to the Belt and Road, gives it a chance to leapfrog even the best practices of the past to build an innovative new financial system.



Born: July 31, 1944, in New York City


Bachelor of science in engineering mathematics, Columbia University

Master of science in applied mathematics, California Institute of Technology

PhD in economics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Career highlights:

Named a full professor at MIT at 29

Elected a member of American Academy of Arts & Sciences, 1986

President, American Finance Association, 1986

His book Continuous-Time Finance was published, 1990

George Fisher Baker Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School, 1988-1998

Elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences, 1993;

Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, 1997, for new methodology to value derivatives

John and Natty McArthur University Professor, Harvard University 1998-2010

Establishment of Robert C. Merton (1970) Professor of Financial Economics professorship at MIT, endowed by colleagues and former students, 2005

School of Management Distinguished Professor of Finance, MIT, 2010

Resident Scientist, Dimensional, 2010-

Book recommendation: Andrew Lo, Adaptive Markets: Financial Evolution at the Speed of Thought

Favorite film: The Sting

Music recommendation: Antonin Dvorak's New World Symphony

Food: Anything Italian

2018-01-21 07:39:23
<![CDATA[Chinese poets take pride of place in Moscow]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-12/16/content_35317016.htm "China has an unmatched poetic tradition that spans centuries"

At the start of the month the 10th Moscow International Poetry Biennale 2017 closed in Moscow. This year for the first time the biennale was dedicated to a single country, China. Thirteen Chinese poets, including Yu Jian, Yang Lian, Han Dong, Chen Dongdong and Li Suo, were invited to read poems to the public and to converse with their peers and readers. China Daily talked to the festival organizer Natalia Azarova via email. She is also a poet and translator.

This was the Moscow International Poetry Biennale 2017, and Russia's rich history of poetry is well known. Is poetry still a popular genre in the country, and what does it mean for Russia and its people?


Chinese poets visit the Kremlin during the Moscow International Poetry Biennale 2017 this month. Photos Provided to China Daily

Poetry was very popular in the 20th century. At the turn of the century there was another splash of popularity when poets considered underground were able to publish their works, but this was fleeting. Things are now ambiguous. On one hand the role of poetry as a part of a standard upbringing is falling, but at the same time the number of self-taught poets is rising. Poetry forms such as rap are very popular. So you can clearly say that pop poetry, as well as poetry as a means for communication, is growing. So festivals like this allow us to bring more people into the fold of academic, professional poetry.

Chinese poets were invited for the first time. Why did you invite them and why these particular poets?

In previous biennales participants came from many countries. This is the first time it was dedicated to a single country. This is no coincidence because China has an unmatched poetic tradition that spans centuries. Russian readers are aware of classical Chinese poetry, but modern Chinese works are a mystery to them. We believed the 13 poets we invited reflected the depth and width of modern Chinese poetry, representing different regions, ages and writing in different styles, some being members of Chinese poetic society and others being independent. For us it was the most representative group of Chinese poets that has gathered outside China, and we are proud of that.

In the consumer society we live in, what do you think the position of poets and poetry is? How important is it for people to read and write poems?

Poetry itself can be consumer-driven when it is part of a show, when the way in which it is presented becomes more important than the material and its essence. However, poetry that implies a complex perception is inherently anti-consumerist. One must not forget that poetry is an art that has always existed - unlike prose, cinema or even art - so even a modern consumer-based society poses no threat to poetry or its existence.

What do you feel about contemporary Chinese poetry, compared with Russian poetry and with ancient Chinese poetry?

We enjoyed the quality and the depth of the poems we read and listened to. Some of the poems had been translated earlier and some were in the process of being translated. What we consider a major success is that we paired two poets, Russian and Chinese, with each other who were translating in a process called poet-to-poet translation, and we feel that the quality of the individuals who took part in was comparable. Modern Russian and modern Chinese poetry has a lot more in common than we had thought. I think that despite language differences, modern Russian and Chinese poetry have more in common with one another than do modern Chinese and classical Chinese poetry with one another. Comparing Chinese classical poetry to modern Chinese poetry is like comparing a golden horse carriage with a Mercedes. No matter how beautiful the carriage might be, you'll always opt to hop into the car.

Are there fewer female poets in Russia and in the world? Do you think there should be more female poets?

Yes, there are indeed more male poets than female in the world, and that holds true in Russia. However, in Russia that proportion is more balanced, particularly in the younger generation. The situation is slowly changing, but I don't think we should force this process; it should come naturally. Otherwise you would have these unnatural situations where you would have a mandatory sex quota for a poetic award, as occurs in some European countries. I would be offended if I gained an advantage based on being a woman.


2017-12-16 07:21:28
<![CDATA[Meeting people's expectations for a better life]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-12/15/content_35310879.htm Doug Baker is CEO of Ecolab Inc, a global leader in water, hygiene, and energy technologies and services based in the United States.

Ecolab predicts more joint efforts from the Chinese government, industry and the public to solve crucial challenges

Editor's Note: The Communist Party of China has concluded its 19th National Congress and the country will hold the annual Central Economic Work Conference next week. China Daily asked business leaders from major multinational companies for their views on economic development here and the country's global leadership role.

Doug Baker is CEO of Ecolab Inc, a global leader in water, hygiene, and energy technologies and services based in the United States.

What has been China's biggest achievement during the past five years and the most notable change?

China has put in place sound environmental policies, which will serve the country well and accelerate the development of its consumer economy.

The government has a clear plan and is providing consistent leadership - and the people have energy and enthusiasm for the future. The entrepreneurial spirit of the Chinese people is a major factor in the country's achievements.

I continue to be impressed with the wide range of startups that are leveraging the power of digital technology to advance the economy.

The government has made several smart moves. The open-door policy has created a more positive environment for foreign investors, while the government's plan to fund education has cultivated talent.

The country's innovation strategy has also boosted numerous technology startups. The focus on raising food safety standards, and a commitment to environmental stewardship, are both starting to produce tangible results.

What three words would you use to describe China today?

Committed. Confident. Innovative. China is showing a commitment to sustainable growth and is confident because its achievements have strengthened the country's belief in a bright future. China is also becoming innovative after embracing technology and is leaping over legacy systems to drive new capabilities.

What are your impressions about major economic and industrial policies released during the 19th CPC National Congress?

It set the tone for China's economic direction for the coming years, so it is very important. We were encouraged to see that China intends to become more open, with greater market access, especially in the service sector.

It also pledged to protect the legitimate rights and interests of foreign investors. But there were two things that particularly interested me.

First of all, China will speed up reforms for protecting and restoring the environment. From our perspective, by better managing resources, such as industrial water, businesses can reduce their environmental impact, and improve health and safety.

They can also enhance operations and production efficiencies, maximize asset protection and reliability, and also reduce costs. Economic and environmental interests are mutually reinforcing.

Secondly, China will support a market-oriented system for technological innovation in which enterprises are the main players. We believe Ecolab can play an important role in driving innovation in China.

We have almost 30 years of leadership in utilizing remote monitoring, diagnostics and controls in our business. And we have our third-largest research and development center located in Shanghai, with approximately 100 scientists dedicated to new technology.

One example of innovation, which focuses on the Chinese market, is our work on UHT milk cleaning. We developed a special program utilizing Ecolab's "surface energy-enhanced clean-in-place technology" and adapted the alkaline for ultra-high temperature surface treatment.

This helps customers save time cleaning and reduces water and energy consumption, which supports sustainability goals.

What is the biggest challenge China faces and how can the country overcome it?

The biggest challenge for China is uneven development and the people's ever-growing expectations for a better life. The aging population is one important trend facing the country and the rest of the world.

This demographic change will increase government pension and healthcare spending, as well as drive growth in the consumption of services and products for the elderly.

Another challenge is water scarcity. By 2030, there will be a huge water demand-and-supply gap of 199 billion cubic meters in China. Improving industry water efficiency is an important part of the solution.

We have seen, and will see more, joint efforts from government, academy, industry and the public in China to solve these challenges. The government has launched different policies to rebalance water resource consumption.

Ecolab has the expertise to help customers across nearly every industrial segment to consume less water and better manage its use. We have several pilot projects for improved industrial water treatment in China.

We have also been working closely with the government to share our knowledge.

What will China be like in five years and what is the country's long-term future?

I believe China will continue to play an important role on the international stage. With strong enforcement of its environmental policies, air quality will improve.

I also believe that China's food safety standards will continue to rise to meet increased consumer expectations.

China is already considered one of the three mega-markets for Ecolab for its strategic significance. We are excited about the opportunities ahead, which will help the country achieve its goals.

What is your impression of President Xi Jinping?

I think President Xi is a strong and dedicated leader. During the past few years, the world has witnessed many positive changes in China under his leadership.

The economy keeps growing faster than international expectations, a culture of innovation has been fostered, anti-corruption campaigns have been carried out, and there is a growing commitment to protect and preserve the environment.

How do you view China's role in the world today?

There is significant growth in China's international influence. The country is transforming from a regional power to an important international player.

What is the most unforgettable experience you have had in China?

On my last visit, I was impressed with the fast-growing home meal delivery market. What has been built in such a short time is remarkable. For us, it is a great opportunity to think about how we can help scale and advance this growing segment of the food service industry.

I am also encouraged by the government's determination to advance environmental protection. By issuing higher emission standards and reducing pollution from industrial manufacturing, China is working to balance environmental protection with sustained economic growth.

Which sectors offer the most opportunities for development?

Our mission in the world and in China is to support cleaner water, safer food, abundant energy resources and healthy environments. We help our customers provide these benefits to society, while protecting and preserving the environment.

In China, we see a number of trends that are relevant to Ecolab's expertise.

With a rising middle-class, consumers are spending more on food and expect improved quality. So sanitation and hygiene in food manufacturing and in food retail are big opportunities for us.

To support the booming online food delivery industry, we are partnering with Meituan Dianping to develop technologies that can better solve new food safety challenges.

China is also paying more attention to environment protection and is enforcing regulations and standards. We have the capabilities to help customers from different industries comply with regulations and operate efficiently.

Another area concerns China's aging population. This will generate more healthcarerelated needs in the coming years. We see healthcare as a growth opportunity for Ecolab and we are strengthening our ability to support high standards of cleanliness in healthcare environments.

Finally, China's digitalization transformation and IoT (internet of things) development are accelerating. We believe that digital transformation influences not only our daily lives, but also how business gets done, particularly in the Chinese market.

As a digital leader, Ecolab will leverage technology to enhance customer value creation and provide a superior customer experience to grow our business in China.

What are the most innovative trends or products in China?

The biggest innovation trend is everyone is going digital. At Ecolab, we are working with our customers to install monitors and sensors that collect data 24/7 and transfer that information through the cloud for analysis.

This will generate comprehensive reports with recommendations. Customer service is greatly enhanced through digital technologies. It also improves the work experience for our associates. The impact of digital innovation is pervasive and overwhelmingly positive.

China is known as a global manufacturing giant, but what will be the nation's "calling card" in the future?

I would say digitalization. China has an active digital investment and startup ecosystem. With the development of this technology and policy incentives, Chinese enterprises are gradually becoming leaders in their fields.

Today, China is among the top three in the world for venture-capital investment in key types of digital technology. One in three of the world's unicorns (startups worth more than $1 billion) are Chinese. Many of them are expanding internationally.

I believe China has the potential to be at the forefront of the world's digital frontier in the coming decades.

What opportunities will the Belt and Road Initiative throw up for China and the rest of the world?

It will open up new opportunities in various fields, including trade, communications, tourism and investment. As China welcomes other participants to these projects, the resulting cooperation will support stability.

At Ecolab, we see great opportunities for our company through this initiative. Major infrastructure projects create demand for our capabilities in water, hygiene and energy technologies, as well as services that protect people and vital resources.


Visitors walk past the Ecolab Inc booth at an exhibition in Chicago, Illinois, the United States.Bloomberg Via Getty Images

2017-12-15 07:37:20
<![CDATA[Tireless performer]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-12/09/content_35265764.htm

For Chinese dancer-choreographer Chen Ailian, who is nearing 80, age is just a number

Legendary Chinese dancer-choreographer Chen Ailian is showing no signs of slowing down even as she approaches 80. Over Sept 14-16, she did three nights of performances to celebrate her career spanning 65 years. She played the role of Lin Daiyu, a teenage heroine in the dance drama A Dream of Red Mansions, which is based on a novel of the same title written by Cao Xueqin during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

Chen, who was born in Shanghai and grew up in an orphanage, started to study traditional Chinese dance in Beijing in 1952.

The same year, she watched a performance by the late Russian ballerina Galina Ulanova in Beijing.

After the Beijing Dance Academy was founded in 1954, Chen was transferred to study there.

Chen is among the first dancers trained after the founding of the People's Republic of China and one of the most influential dance masters in the world. Since 1957, she has starred in the ballets Fish Beauty, White-Haired Girl and Farewell My Concubine. A Dream of Red Mansions is her favorite and the ballet premiered in 1981, combining traditional Chinese dance with Western ballet and modern dance. The Chinese classic has been staged more than 600 times in a span of 36 years.

In addition, Chen is still an outstanding dance educator. In 1989, she founded her art group Ailian Troupe. And in 1995, she founded the Ailian Dance School.


Chen Ailian interacts with fans at the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China in Chengdu, Sichuan province, after giving two performances of the dance drama A Dream of Red Mansions. Photos by Jiang Dong


2017-12-09 07:43:41
<![CDATA[Scents from the maze]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-12/09/content_35265763.htm World-renowned French perfumer Serge Lutens unlocks his enigmatic labyrinth of inspiration and creation in this exclusive interview with China Daily Lifestyle Premium

Aesthete, poet, alchemist, wizard... there's no shortage of words to describe the 75-year-old master perfumer Serge Lutens. Indeed, for half a century, this multi-talented artist has delved into numerous lines of work. Initially a photographer for fashion magazines such as Vogue, Harper's Bazaar and Elle in the '60s, later that decade he was commissioned by Christian Dior to create its first make-up line. In the '80s, he was the man behind Shiseido's image strategy and put the Japanese cosmetics brand on the international scene. Ultimately, he unleashed an olfactory storm when he released his first exclusive perfumes under his own name in 1992. His luxurious unisex scents - with enigmatic names including Féminité du Bois, Ambre Sultan, Fille en Aiguille and De Profundis - hold a special place in modern perfumery.

Your shop, Les Salons du Palais Royal, is a unique and enchanting place - a world that can be seen, felt and smelled. What does this house of perfumes reveal about its creator?

The Palais Royal was created 25 years ago. Besides marketing, it was a personal vision that set a precedent, as you may know. Obsession, love, passion and creation are not a matter of activity, but passivity. We have no choice, they act upon us; we are under their power.

How do people coming in perceive this place? I can't tell. As for myself, I am no longer the person I was when I created this shop. Anyway, the crucial thing in that story is that it initiated the quest for my own identity through fragrance and the Arab world.

The garden of the Palais Royal, your riad in Marrakech (where he has been living for more than 20 years), a fragrance laboratory and even your exclusive bottles of perfume are all enclosed spaces that seem to harbour some mystery. What's your relationship with enclosures?

It's the same one that everyone has with the origin. The first enclosure is the uterine wall; one takes shape inside it. What the mother feels, how she lives or refuses to live will have such a great influence on the germination that it will imbue us forever.

Maybe it's this natural enclosure that I reproduce - for instance, with the Palais Royal gardens, around which you can walk, endlessly retracing your steps. This is probably a part of my story.

As for the house, I'm inventing in Morocco - it is also exterior to me.

I'm the one who looks at the enclosure, looking at my own confinement like a voluntary prisoner, happy to be in jail. Protected, but outside, contemplating the jail with envy.

The skin is another type of enclosure. What do you think of fragrances that leave an intoxicating wake?

The wake always comes from a person one traces back, a bit like a boat's wake. It's a scar, an invisible wound. If so, you can consider fragrance as a plaster, the skin of the air.

Hong Kong means "fragrant harbour". What kind of scent does this place inspire in you? Are there Chinese influences in your fragrance Mandarine Mandarin?

Anytime I travelled and loved a country's atmosphere, I found a reference point. In my case, they're all about femininity, and thus rely on images. Hong Kong was an immediate shock. I love these small lanes with their narrow stalls, this feverishness, this tension - whose scents are reminiscent of poison and seduction.

Sometimes I crossed paths with women dressed in pyjamas, walking on the road with picks in their hands and carrying a burden on their dainty shoulders. One could have thought these light women were made of fish bones - a line articulated by legs. Their faces were absent. They were hidden behind the large, drooping straw hats they wore. Of course, it was a practical outfit, but to me it was the perfect embodiment of what could be described as an ideal by the great fashion designer I sometimes hoped to become. Stamina, fragility and beauty. I met Hong Kong through this vision of woman, through this encounter with myself.

Mandarine Mandarin isn't a fragrance of China, but a fragrance for the one who likes to play with China and the mandarin peel, the one who is fascinated by Mandarin - a hermetic and unknown language to him.

In contrast, Nuit de Cellophane is a fragrance in which Chinese osmanthus - jasmine tinged with mandarin - is very present. The ambition to gather a smell and a country in a single scent was inspired by a vision of femininity, and thus of myself, since it was within me. Femininity is never external to me; it's part of my roots, it shaped me.

You once said, "We only create what we need." What do you need today that you could create tomorrow?

Creation can't be convened...

2017-12-09 07:43:23
<![CDATA[Coffee with ... Anais Mak]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-12/09/content_35265762.htm

The 28-year-old founder of fashion label Jourden was raised in Hong Kong, trained at Paris fashion design institute Studio Bercot, then came back to start her own brand. With her clothes sold in well-known department stores across the globe (including Barneys, Lane Crawford and Le Bon Marche), the LVMH Prize finalist recently designed a game app for one of her favourite Parisian retailers, Colette

Were you a fan of fashion from a young age?

My mom had a passion for fashion when I was really young; she loved reading Vogue, while I loved reading Teen Vogue - the stories about young girls throwing birthday parties and wearing designer brands. But then I dressed like a normal kid, looking at clothes from a distance. I think for that generation in Hong Kong, a lot of people naturally grew interested in fashion - when Joyce Boutique was bringing foreign designers to the city, like Tom Ford, Issey Miyake, Christian Lacroix, Dries Van Noten... the influence was unconscious.

How did the experience in Paris shape your views?

I'd say it's a training of taste, rather than technical. But it helped me clear my mind on knowing what I wanted to pursue. I really confronted my own identity. I was looking up to the Western fashion scene before, and I still look up to it now, but I feel more comfortable as to why I aspire to certain things - that you're not trying to become someone else, but you're honest with your own aspirations.

Do you find people in Hong Kong and in Europe have different attitudes towards fashion?

Hong Kong is a city where everyone is interested in trends and shopping in general - once they appreciate something, the next step is buying it. But if you're in Europe, you write editorials or critiques, read about it, make nice images about the things you appreciate, or buy it - buying is one of the many options. In Hong Kong, though, to participate in fashion, you just buy.

So, there's a lot of consumption power at work ...

It's very inspirational. I grew up here, so it's how I've been surrounded. It's the culture here - people like to feel the ownership of products to feel that they're part of it, which means a lot of curiosity and eagerness in participating. I think it's a very honest energy and it's brave. If you're at a museum, you have distance - a comfort zone between the work and yourself. But when you actually put something on yourself, even if it's part of the experiment, I think it takes a lot of courage.

Before you started Jourden, your first capsule collection came out of a summer holiday and was bought up entirely by local fashion influencer Hilary Tsui. What was the story?

Studio Bercot gave me a nice foundation, but I was really impatient to connect with the real industry. It was the first year of college. I travelled back to Hong Kong during the holiday and worked on a one-off collection of 20 pieces, mixing different exotic leathers. I was very lucky to get introduced to both partners of (local fashion boutique) Liger - Hilary (Tsui) and Dorothy (Hui). It was very important for me to understand that a good product can communicate with an audience without any marketing or strategic plans.

As a natural part of business, how do you deal with marketing today?

I work with a sales agent and a PR agent. I realised at a very early stage that I was going to focus more on doing my collections well and stay where I was strong. But I enjoy doing branding - it's about the statements you want to make with your brand, ultimately. We do all the images, art direction and graphic co-branding in-house, but then how to actually push the things to a bigger audience... that's the responsibility of the PR machine.

Jourden was nominated as one of the LVMH Prize 2015 semi-finalists. What was the competition like?

I didn't believe in competition before, because I think there's a disconnect between celebration of creativity and actually making a brand sustainable, as well as having a real appeal in the market and being commercially successful. But the LVMH Prize was more, in the sense that... there were more than 1,000 applications that year, with 26 semifinalists including Vetements, Off-White, Jacquemus, and Chinese brands such as Sankuanz and Simon Li. We brought our collection to the showroom in Paris for three days, where they had a panel of judges, consisting of editors, buyers, models, bloggers and designers. It was really monumental for me.

What's the inspiration for Jourden?

My only inspiration is the "girl of the present". I'm always very reactive to my own surroundings. I like to talk to all kind of girls - all ages or all styles. I think girls and their desires are more complex than we understand. So when I produce a collection, I always bear in mind this complexity. Practically, stores try to categorise brands with price points and a certain aesthetic. So they give us names such as "developing designer" or "advanced contemporary group". But during my creative process, my only inspiration is "girls of the present".

Have you ever thought about designing clothes for men?

No. I don't think I understand men enough to dress them well.

What was the game app you designed for Colette?

Let me show you! [takes out phone] Colette bought our clothes in the very early stages and the vibe was really good, so I suggested doing this game app for the launch of our SS15 collection. It's called Colette Arcade and is still free to download on the iTunes store. In part one, you need to take off the clothes and all the accessories of the characters. Then in part two, you can also create your own avatar - styling up with Jourden clothes. With Colette, it's always very fun and playful.

Who are your favourite designers?

I really like Ryan Lo - he works in London, but grew up in Hong Kong. He has a really strong Hong Kong influence in his work. Prada has the most influence on me, both commercially and creatively. Miu Miu as well.

And what was the last book you finished reading?

Lately I've been a fan of Japanese culture, so it was Kikujiro to Saki by Kitano Takeshi.


Anais Mak, 28, founder of fashion label Jourden, designes a game app for one of her favourite Parisian retailers, Colette. Ricky Jiang / China Daily


2017-12-09 07:43:23
<![CDATA[On his majesty's service - and at his mercy]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-12/03/content_35181685.htm Missionaries in China from 16th century had royal reins placed on their work

"The moment they sought help from a Chinese emperor was the moment they placed themselves in the hands of these powerful - and often equally intelligent - men. But the manipulation, if that's what you want to call it, was mutual," says Zhang Xiping, whose book Following the Steps of Matteo Ricci to China offers tantalizing glimpses into a group of adventurer-missionaries who arrived between the 16th and 19th centuries. Most would never see the land of their birth again.

One example involves Emperor Shunzhi (1638-1661), the first emperor of the Qing Dynasty to enter Beijing, and Johann Adam Schall von Bell, a German Jesuit missionary who so impressed the young emperor that he regarded him as his mentor and confidant.  


Matteo Ricci and Xu Guangqi, a Ming Dynasty politician and scientist who Ricci befriended. Photos Provided to China Daily

In 1652, the religious leader of Tibet, the Dalai Lama, planned to travel to Beijing and pay tribute to Shunzhi. As with the preparation of every major event of the time, a close reading of the stars was required. The task was traditionally reserved for the emperor's Astro-Calendric Bureau, an organization headed by Schall von Bell and later by his missionary successors, who also were astronomers.

Schall von Bell reported to Shunzhi that sunspots had appeared and that a "threatening meteor" was seen close to the Pole Star. The sunspots were interpreted as representing the Dalai Lama, who was about to obscure the radiance of "the sun" - the emperor himself. And the now "threatened" Pole Star, in the north, was a symbol of royal authority in feudal China.

Based on Schall von Bell's report, Shunzhi turned down a proposal for him to meet the religious leader in person on the outskirts of Beijing and then escort him to his royal palace, a proposal that Dorgon, the young man's powerful uncle and prince regent, had insisted on.

"The refusal (to meet the Dalai Lama on the outskirts of the capital) is very likely to have been seen as a snub, at least a signal that the emperor did not hold Tibetan Buddhism in particularly high esteem," Zhang says. "And this was exactly what Schall von Bell, a man dedicated to the promotion of Christianity, would have loved to see."

In fact, from the very beginning, the Jesuit missionaries tried to reach out to men at the top. Matteo Ricci (1552-1610), believed to be the first Jesuit missionary to enter Beijing, sought repeatedly but in vain an audience with the then Emperor Wanli of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).

There were many reasons for these failures, including a war the Ming emperor had with Toyotomi Hideyoshi of Japan between 1592 and 1598. However, Ricci did succeed on other fronts, befriending many members of the social elite who later paved the way for him and those who came after him.

Among them was Schall von Bell, who came to Beijing about 1623, 13 years after Ricci died. Soon establishing himself among a group of open-minded intellectuals, some of whom may have known Ricci, Schall von Bell was recommended to Emperor Chongzhen in 1630. It was under the last Ming emperor's auspices that he, with Chinese astronomers, completed the landmark Chongzhen Calendar.

"By the time Schall von Bell entered himself into the service of Chongzhen, the discrepancies between the existing calendar and the solar year had become so glaring for the topic to appear on the civil service exam," Zhang says. "All Chinese emperors believed that their right to rule was mandated by Heaven. It was likely that Chongzhen, facing the imminent demise of his empire, might have hoped for a reversal of things through a rereading of Heaven's messages."

That did not happen, of course: After 276 years, the Ming Dynasty ended tragically with the suicide of Chongzhen, who hanged himself from a tree in one of his royal gardens. Founders of Qing, China's last feudal dynasty, became the new rulers. Fear and turmoil reigned in the capital. However, for Schall von Bell, this initial chaos proved to be the beginning of a new era in which the missionary saw himself rise to a prominence previously unimaginable.

The Chongzhen Calendar, the product of his hard labor, was adopted by the Qing court. Moreover, he was able to cultivate a close relationship with Emperor Shunzhi, the ambitious and wide-eyed young master. For the next half-century, despite occasional twists and setbacks, Jesuit missionaries in China enjoyed a prolonged honeymoon, first with Shunzhi and then with his son and successor Emperor Kangxi.

Kangxi owed his very life to the French missionary Joachim Bouvet (1656-1730), who pulled the emperor from the abyss of death with a dose of quinine. Bouvet, together with his fellow Frenchman Jean Francois Gerbillon (1654-1707), also acted as the math teacher for Kangxi, who seemed to have inherited the curiosity of his short-lived father.

However, Kangxi, who became emperor when he was 8 and dealt a fatal blow to his political foes to secure his own role when he was 15, probably knew more about balancing power than any of his missionary teachers or aides.

He harnessed the powers of the missionaries with great skill. On one hand, the emperor employed their knowledge to the fullest, pushing them to work doubly hard.

He used cannons devised by the missionaries to wipe out powerful rebels (The Ming Emperor Chongzhen had also relied on the missionaries' cannons to halt the advance of Kangxi's ancestors.) and he engaged many of them in one of the biggest projects of his reign - mapping his vast empire.

For about a decade, between 1708 and 1718, groups of missionaries were sent from the capital to different parts of the country, where they carried out detailed surveys drawing on their astronomical and cartographical knowledge, before returning with maps crisscrossed with latitudinal and longitudinal lines. One French missionary is even said to have died of overwork on the southwestern Chinese border.

The emperor was ever conscious of ensuring that the Jesuit missionaries' presence did not drive a wedge between him and those who viewed Christianity as a menace to Confucianism, the dominant moral system of Qing China.

Li Xiumei, associate law professor at the Beijing Administration Institute, has spent the past decade looking into the lives of these Jesuit missionaries, many of whom were buried on what is now the campus of the institute.

"Missionary work during the early reign of Kangxi was in its heyday," she says. "There are estimated to have been 200,000 to 300,000 believers across the country. And the emperor approved the building of several churches within his own capital, but that does not mean he was behind the spreading of the Catholic faith."

In fact, by keeping the most talented and hardest-working missionaries within his own service, the emperor in effect kept them from going about their holy mission.

"For the missionaries, who would not have enjoyed such high-profile presence without the Chinese emperors' patronage, the royal favor was in fact a double-edged sword," Li says.

Later, in 1692, Emperor Kangxi, facing contentions rising from within the Catholic missionaries in China, issued the Edict of Tolerance Toward the Catholic Faith. It decreed that all missionaries wishing to stay and do missionary work in China must show respect to local culture and customs. The events leading to the issuance of the edict marked a turning point in the relationship between the missionaries and the Qing rulers.

When Emperor Yongzheng, the son of Kangxi and a devout Buddhist, succeeded his father in 1722, he further tightened the control over Western missionaries, banning their religious activities in almost every corner of his empire.

However, one place was exempt - the Forbidden City in Beijing, the royal palace and center of power for hundreds of years. There the missionaries continued to serve the emperor with their expertise in nonreligious matters.

"Sometimes they seemed more like decorations to the court than daring and passionate men who had traveled the globe guided by an urge to convert," Li says.

One of them was the Italian Giuseppe Castiglione (1688-1766), a missionary-turned-court painter whose half-century stay in China coincided with the reign of three Qing emperors. In one of his portrait busts, Emperor Yongzheng appears wearing voluminous brown curls - a wig style popular with the Western monarchs and aristocracy of his time.

Castiglione later became the de facto official portraitist for Emperor Qianlong, son and successor of Yongzheng. Qianlong also recruited the Polish missionary Florian Joseph Bahr and his Czech counterpart Johann Walter, among others, in forming his own chamber orchestra.

Combining the concept of perspective essential to Western paintings with a color palette and brush stokes that were unmistakably Chinese, Castiglione gave his own interpretation on canvas of Ricci's cultural adaptation and accommodation theories, which are believed to have accounted for the Jesuit missionaries' success in China.

"By providing a detailed pictorial account for the Qing Dynasty's longest-reigning emperor, Castiglione himself became part of the history he helped preserve," Li says.

"Qianlong appreciated Castiglione's service so much that he allotted a piece of land to him in the capital's suburb, something that was clearly against his law. But at the same time, the Italian, who also helped lay royal gardens and introduced the technique of enameling to China, never got a free day to preach before his death at the age of 78."

The death was deeply mourned by Emperor Qianlong, whose decree upon hearing the news was inscribed on the painter's tombstone steps away from those of Ricci and Schall von Bell.

In 1644, when the Qing soldiers stormed into Beijing, many missionaries fled, but not Schall von Bell. He chose to stay inside the little church that Ricci was allowed to build in Beijing about 1605. Beside him was the Chongzhen Calendar, which he planned to present to his new master in exchange for trust and support for continued missionary work.

"His willingness to take the risk is admirable," Li says. "But keeping in mind the favor and endorsement he had previously received from the Ming emperors and his official friends, it is clear his real faith lay with no one of this world, but with God alone."

2017-12-03 14:35:07
<![CDATA[Home for drifting souls]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/18/content_34683403.htm Self-styled 'poetic idealist' creates havens for lovers of literature

If there is a term that can best describe Qian Xiaohua, owner of the Librairie Avant-Garde bookstore in Nanjing's Wutaishan region, Jiangsu province, it might be "poetic idealist".

Wearing a pair of black-rimmed glasses and a black shirt, Qian, 53, looks like a teacher, serious yet amiable, humble yet lighthearted.

In his many articles and poems, he often describes himself as a lonely soul drifting across a strange land. And at one point in his life, the loneliness and sleepless nights he faced was so tremendous it threatened to devour him. This was when his dream of running a purely intellectual bookstore as a haven from the outside world came crashing down around him.


"A good bookstore should become a symbol of a city's spirit. It can help to improve the quality of people's lives, and allow the nation to develop and prosper," Qian Xiaohua says. Provided to China Daily

After opening his first 17-square-meter bookstore in Nanjing in 1996, Qian had encountered consecutive failures by the early 2000s, after investing heavily in two more bookstores, one near the Confucius Temple, and the other in Nanjing's central business district, Xinjiekou. Hearing of the failure of the Confucius Temple bookstore, many publishing houses urged Qian to repay debts of up to 2.5 million yuan ($376,300).

"This chilled my heart. I couldn't believe that fellow humanists could do this to another humanist," Qian said in a previous interview.

In 2005, after negotiating with the landlord to close his bookstore that had failed after just two years, Qian took a taxi back to Guangzhou Road, the location of his other bookstore.

In the run-up to this, Qian's father had died and he had broken up with his girlfriend of five years. He had originally planned to fulfill his dream of building a 160-meter-long reading corridor in the avant-garde-decorated bookstore in the basement of a shopping mall, to create "a room for people to rest their souls."

It was a stormy afternoon. As he climbed into a taxi, tears started running down his face as he set off for Guangzhou Road.

"It was the most difficult time in my life. I sold my house and had to sleep on the desk of the bookstore," he says.

He quoted the line "The soul is a strange shape on Earth" from Austrian poet Georg Trakl's poem Springtime of the Soul as the slogan for the Librairie Avant-Garde, a line that taps into feelings of displacement and homesickness.

"In Nanjing, I'm a stranger from another city. Staff working at the Librairie Avant-Garde are all strangers from other cities, many of our readers are strangers from other cities, and the books on our shelves are also strange souls from other cities. The bookstore itself is a strange shape on Earth, a home for drifting souls," he says.

Qian, unmarried and childless, treated his bookstores like children. So far he has had 13 bookstores, all different from each other with their own designs, names, and types of books.

"I don't repeat myself or bore customers with the same atmosphere. Each of my children is brand-new, has their own personality and can blend in with their location," he says.

The Yongfeng Poets' Society near the Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum among his 13 bookstores is devoted to poetry, the literary genre that Qian prefers above all the others.

In the flagship store Librairie Avant-Garde in Nanjing, regarded as one of the most beautiful bookshops in the world, poetry collections are always given pride of place, "to show my respect for poets," he says.

"Poets are a special group of people. They are the torchbearers of our times. Poems are the desperate songs from their hearts," says the Jintan, Jiangsu province, native.

Sometimes when he talks, Qian appears to enter a different space from the here and now, before lapsing into a stream-of-consciousness: "Poets are lonely people, unique. I think only lonely people can fight with wolves. Poets are wolves in the wasteland, howling with despair. They compose poems from no other place than their lonely hearts."

It might be said that one of the worst disappointments in life might be the gap between one's words and deeds. But Qian has somehow managed to stick to his ideals in both his personal and professional lives.

Librairie Avant-Garde is a kingdom of poetry, says Qian, adding that he will often pay very high prices to obtain the right collections of poetry for his bookstores.

In September 2016, Qian visited Charing Cross Road in London, a street famous for its secondhand and antique bookstores, where he bought poetry collections by a 100 poets published in the 1820s, including William Wordsworth and George Gordon Byron.

"They were all fine little books. With these and the other works of poetry I have, I want to build a poetry corner at the Librairie Avant-Garde, and let readers absorb the brilliance of these poets in a dark corner, another world, within the bookstore," he says.

Qian has been at pains to create an air of academic solemnity at his flagship bookstore. Two large black crosses hang above the entrance and exit of Librairie Avant-Garde, while huge black-and-white portraits of literary giants such as Albert Camus and Franz Kafka adorn the walls, joined by a statue of The Thinker by Auguste Rodin. For him, a bookstore, like a church, is a space for people to take a spiritual breakaway from their daily business.

The quality and range of titles at the bookstore attracts many lovers of poetry. One-fifth of the more than 100 employees at Librairie Avant-Garde write poems, including Qian himself.

In the article "My Bookstore Is a River" written for the 20th anniversary of the store's opening, Qian includes one of his poems In the Street of Peking, which ends: "In the street of Peking/Watching the children, fathers, and grandfathers, who are lighting firecrackers/Reminds me of being alone, tears running down my face/ ... into the whole long night."

This year, Librairie Avant-Garde will help a staff member publish a poetry collection using crowdfunding. Next year, Qian will publish a book about his mother, which will include his poems.

Besides poetry, Qian has persisted with another principle he has stuck to over the past 21 years, even during the hard times: to sell only books about philosophy and the arts - but never best-sellers, which he claims "harm the soul of a nation."

Nowadays, in the face of major competition from online retailers, many bookstores are forced to mostly stock best-sellers as sell coffee and fruit juice to help them turn a profit.

"I don't think it makes much sense for those kinds of bookstores to exist. A good bookstore should become a symbol of a city's spirit. It can help to improve the quality of people's lives, and allow the nation to develop and prosper," he says.

But Qian is aware that like any other any business, a bookstore still needs to survive financially. Librairie Avant-Garde has tried a variety of new business models over the past two decades in an attempt to realize its founder's ambitions.

In May 2008, many bookstores in China were forced to close down as e-commerce boomed and e-books grew in popularity. But Qian started his own company making culturally creative products, including bags, postcards, notebooks and posters. He also opened a cafe.

In the first year that Qian started the new business model at Librairie Avant-Garde, revenue generated by the cafe and product sales accounted for 30 percent of the bookstore's total sales, and 40 percent of its profits. Now these two sections make up 60 percent of annual sales and 50 percent of annual profit for the bookstore.

"China's bookstores are now going through a phase of creative transformation, from traditional to multifunctional. For us, we sell coffee and more than 3,000 kinds of cultural products. They diversify our products and services, attract more fashionable people, and promote the sales of books," Qian says.

However, at Librairie Avant-Garde, Qian keeps 300 free seats for readers, and the bookstore, closed to Nanjing University, is called the second library for students.

Qian stresses that the essence of a good bookstore still lies in the quality of its books. In this age of consumerism, publishing houses in China are producing less books about literature and the arts, than comparatively less serious academic books, which Qian says is not conducive to the country's development.

"I truly admire Liu Suli, the founder of Wansheng Bookstore in Beijing. He has been persisting in his humanist ideals, promoting academic literature and the fighting for soul of the nation."


2017-11-18 07:55:53
<![CDATA[China donates 9,130 Chinese books to schools in Cambodia]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/18/content_34683402.htm

PHNOM PENH - The Chinese Embassy here on Monday donated 9,130 Chinese language books to five universities and schools in Cambodia. The beneficiaries are the State-owned Royal University of Phnom Penh, Asia Euro University, Min Sheng Chinese School, Duan Hua Chinese School and Li Qing Chinese School.

Speaking at the handover ceremony held at the embassy residence in Phnom Penh, Chinese Ambassador Xiong Bo said the books included literature, history, geography, tourism, education, arts, culture, language and agriculture with a total cost of 330,000 Chinese yuan ($50,000).

He said the donation was aimed at promoting Chinese teaching and further enriching the teaching resources of Chinese schools in Cambodia.

"It's the second time that the Chinese Embassy donates reading books to schools in Cambodia," Xiong said. "I believe that the books will help Cambodian students and researchers to learn and to understand better about China."

The ambassador said as more and more Chinese investors and tourists came to Cambodia, the demand for Chinese speaking would be surely on the rise.

Chhun Hok, vice rector of the Royal University of Phnom Penh, said the university opened a Chinese Language Center in 2007 and a faculty of Chinese literature in 2010. To date, the center had offered short courses to 1,700 students and the faculty had provided bachelor's degrees to 175 students.

"The books will be very useful for students to study and to understand better about Chinese culture and development," he said.


2017-11-18 07:55:53
<![CDATA[Art form inspires student audience]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-10/06/content_32913161.htm When I was a freshman in 2015, the performance given by former art troupe members really amazed me.

Dozens of girls were performing on the stage. They were beautiful and elegant, making the performance totally different from what I had seen before.

"Wow!" was also the reaction of many other students who watched the performance, which was given outdoors for the first time.

Although I was a native of Fengyang county and knew the Fengyang flowerdrum dance more than other students, I had not been more interested in performing it than the others.

It was the performance that attracted me. I decided to join the troupe immediately afterward.

There were more than 100 students competing for about 20 positions.

After three rounds of interviews, which took one and a half months in total, I was in, making me very proud of myself.

The performance offered me totally fresh and inspiring knowledge of the old art.  

Since 2013, the performance has become a tradition of the university.

Former troupe members told me they were also mostly attracted by the performance.

Best known for agricultural majors, Anhui Science and Technology University does not have any art majors. So, all the troupe members started from very basic training, which has been really painstaking.

Majoring in business administration, I am now head of the students' flower-drum dance art troupe, but I have never thought about becoming a professional actress after my graduation.


I have barely seen any other young people who can rely on performing the dance as their career. The art has great potential, but the market is not big enough.

Students keep joining the troupe and keep leaving as they graduate. I think such a situation is advantageous, as new members keep bringing new vitality to the troupe.

We cannot perform the art as our profession in the future, but we do believe that we are professional.

Li Man speaks to Zhu Lixin

2017-10-06 08:14:22
<![CDATA[Worthy envoy for the flute]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-10/06/content_32913148.htm Chinese bamboo flute player Tang Junqiao will team up her students from the Tang Junqiao Bamboo Flute Ensemble of the Shanghai Conservatory of Music to do two performances on Oct 15 at Beijing's Poly Theater.

Tang Junqiao, who is to perform in Beijing with her students later this month, is creating global interest for a traditional Chinese wind instrument with her talent

Chinese bamboo flute player Tang Junqiao will team up her students from the Tang Junqiao Bamboo Flute Ensemble of the Shanghai Conservatory of Music to do two performances on Oct 15 at Beijing's Poly Theater.

Titled Classic for Kids-The Bamboo Flute Story, the concerts are part of the 20th Beijing Music Festival, the annual music event created by famous conductor Yu Long in 1998.

The show will feature eight music pieces, including Flight of the Bumblebee by Russian composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, A Love Before Time by Grammy Award winners, Tan Dun and Jorge Calandre and The Moon Represents My Heart, a pop song performed by the late Taiwan singer Teresa Teng.

"We want to do music works, which the audience is familiar with. The bamboo flute is a versatile instrument and the audience will be surprised to learn the variety of sounds which the instrument can produce," says Tang.

The ensemble, founded in 2013, has 33 students from the middle school affiliated to Shanghai Conservatory of Music and students of the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, who are pursuing their bachelor's and master's degrees in bamboo flute performance.

Speaking about the ensemble, Tang, who is now in her early 40s, says that she did not expect the ensemble to garner the international attention that has received. So far, the ensemble has performed in Singapore and Malaysia in 2013 and at the Gyeongju World Traditional Wind Instruments Festival "Manpasikjeok" in 2016.

Speaking about her work, she says:

"It is a challenge to introduce a traditional Chinese instrument ensemble when most people like Western instruments, like the violin or piano. But I am proud that we made it, and I hope more young people will appreciate the beauty of this ancient instrument and join us."

Tang developed a passion for the instrument from an early age.

Born into a musician family - her father and uncle are both bamboo flute players in a local traditional Chinese opera troupe - Tang picked up the instrument naturally as a child.

At 7, she started learning the instrument as well as other traditional Chinese instruments, such as the suona.

Then, at 11, Tang was admitted to the affiliated middle school of the Shenyang Conservatory of Music and five years later, she gave her first solo recital.

She moved to Shanghai in 1992 and studied at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music under the guidance of two bamboo flute artists, Zhao Songting and Yu Xunfa.

"One of the things my teachers taught me was not to imitate them. They encouraged me to develop my own music style. Since then, I have been trying to be different musically," says Tang.

Her big break came in 2000, when she was the principal bamboo flute player of the Shanghai Chinese Orchestra.

Tang, who was 26 then, was approached by Chinese composer Tan Dun to perform on the soundtrack of Ang Lee's Oscar-winning martial arts movie Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon in collaboration with erhu player Ma Xiaohui and cellist Yo-Yo Ma.

The movie won four Academy Awards, including for the Best Foreign Film and Best Original Score.

The collaboration enabled Tang to travel around the world to perform with internationally celebrated symphony orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic, the German Bamberg Symphony and the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

"The movie (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) provided me with lots of opportunities to communicate with musicians and to let me play Chinese music for the world," says Tang.

One of Tang's most frequently performed music pieces is Chou Kong Shan, a concerto for bamboo flute and a symphony orchestra.

Composed by Chinese musician Guo Wenjing, the concerto was rarely performed earlier because of its technical complexity.

But in August 2003, after leaving the Shanghai Chinese Orchestra, Tang visited Guo in Beijing and told him that she wanted to play Chou Kong Shan in her solo recital in Shanghai two months later. Guo then told Tang that the symphonic portrait of Tang Dynasty poet Li Bai's portrayal of Sichuan was very demanding for a bamboo flute player due to the notes.

However, Tang practiced for more than 10 hours a day for two months and fulfilled her dream of presenting the work in Shanghai along with Shanghai Symphony Orchestra.

In 2005, Tang performed Chou Kong Shan with the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center in the United States.

In its review of her performance, The Washington Post said: "Bamboo flutist extraordinaire Tang Junqiao displayed her virtuosity in a nearly unlimited breadth of timbres in Concerto for Bamboo Flutes and Orchestra by Guo Wenjing. In Junqiao's hands, the flute was capable of an enormous range of sounds: glissandos, soft trills, nasal buzz, birds and even wind. Her lightning technique in the allegro section made one think of a recording at fast-forward speed."

Now, Chou Kong Shan is not only one of her most well-known pieces, but also brought her love.

In 2009, Guo and Tang got married.

Today, besides being an ambassador for the Chinese bamboo flute, Tang also performs many of Guo's other pieces.

"He inspires me. I am so lucky to have this unusual life, which is brought about by music," she says.

Contact the writer at chennan@chinadaily.com.cn



Chinese bamboo flute player Tang Junqiao.Photos Provided to China Daily

2017-10-06 08:13:49
<![CDATA[Coral scientist sees new tide of hope to protect Hainan reefs]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-10/03/content_32801237.htm Restoration of the precious resource and ensuring its survival is Chen Hong's lifetime mission

What lies beneath has intrigued Chen Hong since childhood and he has devoted his life to exploring the mysteries of the seas, especially the "lungs of the oceans", coral reefs.

"Look, these are coral seedlings we planted in Xisha in April 2014. They are growing fast," said Chen, a 52-year-old oceanic scientist, showing recently taken pictures, smiling like a veteran collector who has struck gold.

Top and right: Chen Hong, director of the Hainan South China Sea Institute of Tropical Oceanography, grows coral seedlings in waters around the Xisha Islands. While above, from left, Chen at work during a survey of reefs in Indonesia. Provided to China Daily


"After more than 10 years of experiments, we have mastered at least six kinds of technology for growing coral under different environments and the survival rate of corals such as goniastrea (resembling a sponge) is as high as 90 percent," Chen, director of the Hainan South China Sea Institute of Tropical Oceanography, said at his new 1,500 square-meter laboratory at Yazhou Bay, Sanya.

Coral reefs are the forest of the ocean and are at the top of the biodiversity system where almost all kinds of living marine categories have representative species living among them.

Charles Darwin, the father of modern biology, described coral as "one of the most wonderful things in the world". Healthy reefs attract fish, algae and other marine life forms, gradually evolving into a biological supermarket and eventually "an undersea city".

Reefs account for less than 0.25 percent of sea area, but shelter and nourish more than one quarter of the oceans' fish resources.

"Global warming, land-based sewage, illegal fishing activities, wild multiplying of thorn starfish predators and too much tourism are threatening the coral reef ecosystems. My heart was broken seeing many of them turning white in response to stress," said Chen.

He explained that as sea temperatures rise, zooxanthellae parasitic plants, vital for the coral's survival, are expelled.

Without zooxanthellae, bleaching occurs and the reefs will die.

In 2003, Chen set up his research institute in the wake of a large area of albino coral, after years of research work in Sanya at the southern tip of tropical Hainan island, dubbed "China's Hawaii".

As a young man Chen was inspired by a United States' documentary showing Jane Goodall's research into African wild gorillas. "It fascinated me and made me yearn for a lifestyle of pure research into nature and a report about the development of the Sanya Ocean Experimental Station attracted me to this dreamland of Hainan after graduation from Zhejiang Ocean University in Zhoushan in 1986," said Chen.

Since then he has acted as a Chinese "Don Quixote", as some people call him, spending most of his earnings on research and losing himself in the laboratories studying the growth of various corals and leading his teams in monitoring the waters in Hainan, with support from local governments and institutions.

The sometimes harsh conditions are not to everyone's taste, said a friend, but Chen has overcome a host of problems.

"People have their own values in life. I can lead a very comfortable life with my technology. But I want to do more for society and the ecosystems. The only thing I feel ashamed about is that I have made no contribution to my family," said Chen, uneasily.

As a participant of a number of Hainan's sea ecosystem research projects, he has gone to Xisha with his teams about 20 times, planting more than 9,500 corals, tridacna clams and large-size seaweed.

During his exploration in Xisha, he found new coral species and a seaweed bed ecosystem, which have enriched Xisha's ecodiversity. He also tried laser measurement equipment and coral transplanting devices he himself has developed.

"Our restoration efforts also led us to discover that with global warming, shell algae can grow and cling on coral chippings to form small coral reefs, inspiring a new technical solution to the ecological restoration of reefs.

"And it is amazing to see that soft coral forms a relationship with shellfish, with the latter helping clean harmful tiny seaweed and soft corals to provide living space for the shellfish," said Chen, adding these findings could have a global impact.

"It is very hard to plant the coral. We have to bind the coral seedlings in a net and then dive to the sea bed and pin the net on rocks with steel nails to keep them from being swept away by waves," said Chen.

After that, checks and monitoring must be conducted in the following days and even months or years to make sure they survive.

Xu Daoning, a local fisherman was so moved by Chen's hard work and determination that he often helped him.

"A normal diver can stay under water for 90 minutes a day, but he has dived several times a day each for 90 minutes, planting as many as 500 corals in one day."

Chen has won a number of awards for his scientific research in safeguarding the coral.

He has grown 60,000 corals, 200,000 coral-accompanying species and constructed demonstration zones covering 6.7 hectares for coral reef restoration over the past 10 years.

"We are now able to replant all kinds of hard coral through asexual reproduction of a single polyp and this can effectively solve the problem that asexually reproduced corals are not able to survive strong typhoons. This year, we will grow another 200,000 corals," said Chen, who has a blueprint to grow one million corals in Hainan's sea waters in the next few years.

Chen is planning to build "coral gardens" as demonstration zones in waters around Phoenix island in Sanya Bay.

The coral gardens will help construct an ecosystem that encourages fish, shellfish and sea plants to form a completely new ecological landscape.

"I will continue diving to explore but speed up my development of robots that will function as coral growers and I will then be able to concentrate more on research," said Chen, who is in talks with domestic robot-making companies.

"China is comparatively weak in basic research on coral resources but is catching up quickly and taking a leading position in fields such as coral reproduction, transplantation, disease control and ecosystem monitoring," said Chen.

"Coral reefs are becoming more and more vulnerable and the coral reef systems need more and better protection. The mission is important and I will keep on doing my duty, bit by bit," said Chen, adding that he has given a number of lectures to local fishermen.


2017-10-03 07:47:12
<![CDATA[Japanese media star fights against anti-China bias]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-10/03/content_32801236.htm For the past 45 years, since Beijing and Tokyo normalized relations, Yasuhiro Tase, a leading Japanese media professional, has always sought to bolster the often-fraught ties.

On Oct 8, 1944, Tase, son of a Japanese medical-corps solider, was born in Heihe in Northeast China's Heilongjiang province. The city, which borders Russia, was part of a Japanese puppet state known as Manchukuo, in the area of Manchuria, at that time.

In April 1945, the corps to which Tase's father belonged to suddenly retreated to Japan to prepare for a "decisive battle" with the United States on Japanese soil. Tase's mother learnt about it from others after her husband left home.

"My mother carried me on her back and walked to China's border with Korea, and then got on a ship to Japan," Tase recalled in an interview with China Daily before the 45th anniversary of the normalization of bilateral ties, which fell on Sept 29.

"It was a long and arduous trip. She had no food, and could not breast-feed me due to malnutrition. Fortunately many Chinese people, mainly local peasants, fed us. Some let us spend the night at their home. Without them I would not have survived."

Tase said his father did not go on the battlefield in China and did not kill Chinese people.

"However, he was in China as a Japanese soldier. So, I still feel regret for the Chinese.

"Besides, my mother kept telling me how the Chinese helped us. So I felt obliged to do something for Japan-China ties. It is like my fate."

"Always keep in touch."

When studying at Waseda University, Tase participated in a speech contest among Japanese universities. The theme of his speech was the importance of building good ties with China.

After graduation, Tase joined the Nihon Keizai Shimbun, a major Japanese newspaper, as a political reporter. He stayed there for 45 years and was Washington bureau chief. Later, he became an independent media professional on political issues.

"I have been working for the media since the normalization of Japan-China relations and have exerted my efforts in the field to promote the ties."

As a famous media figure, Tase has been in delegations of Japanese politicians on their China visits, and met many Chinese leaders.

"When I came with Kiichi Miyazawa on a China visit, before he became prime minister in 1991, a former Chinese leader showed me how to peel a lychee. As I was leaving Beijing, he had somebody send some lychee to the train. I have kept the scene firmly in my mind."

Tase is on familiar terms with many Chinese diplomats, such as Wu Dawei and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, both former Chinese ambassadors to Japan. He also made friends with many Chinese scholars and students when he stayed at Harvard University and taught at Waseda University from 2006-10.

"I have promised many Chinese friends that no matter how bilateral relations change, we will keep in touch."

Neutral reports on China

"When I was young, I never thought about writing negative reports about China. At that time, about 80 percent of Japanese people liked China, but things are totally different nowadays," Tase said.

He said the change is linked to the state of Japanese politics.

"Led by right-wing politicians, the whole of Japan has been turning right. Personally I want to stick to objective reports. But as the whole society is turning right, that makes me look leftist."

Tase believed the negative emotions against China are also partially due to biased reports in the Japanese media. "There is a big problem with the Japanese media's reports on China."

He recalled that about five years ago, when anti-Japan protests broke out in major Chinese cities due to Japan's "nationalization" of the Diaoyu Islands in September 2012, Japanese TV channels were full of scenes such as angry Chinese citizens smashing Japanese-brand cars, which were isolated cases in China.

"The footage shocked the Japanese. I was working for a TV station and sent a cameraman to Beijing to take such pictures. But after his arrival the cameraman called me, saying 'Mr. Tase, I can't find such scenes here. Can you tell me where to film the scene'?"

Five years on, during business trips around Japan, Tase saw many Chinese tourists.

"At first I thought they were here for shopping, but after talking I found many Chinese visitors go to places that even Japanese people do not know about. They like Japan very much and found the places on the internet. That was an important discovery."

However, he found that there are not many Japanese tourists going to major Chinese cities such as Beijing and Shanghai.

"Why is that? Is there something wrong with the Japanese media's reports on China?"

He said China's development was very quick in terms of innovation and Japan can learn a lot from China. But Japanese media reports on China still focus on the negatives, such as air pollution. "Against such a background, it is not surprising to see a limited number of visitors," he said.

A new mission

However, in July Tase was deeply impressed and encouraged by communication and exchanges involving the younger generation.

"I attended a concert of a popular Japanese rock band Radwimps in Shanghai. About 8,000 Chinese young people were there. It was unbelievable. The Chinese youngsters did not speak Japanese, but they all sang in Japanese with the band.

"After the concert, I saw many young people who could not get in, waiting outside, as they failed to get tickets. I realized that as times change, relations between the two governments are no longer that important. In such events, hearts of the two people are closely bonded."

In frequent visits to China, Tase found that South Korean music is very popular here. "It is a regret that not many people listen to Japanese music. Vice-versa, it is hard to hear Chinese music in Japan.

"My mission for the rest of my life will be introducing music of the two countries to each other and to forge another platform for communication between the two nations," said Tase, who is also a singer and music producer.


2017-10-03 07:47:12
<![CDATA[Retired police dogs still being of service]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-10/02/content_32762173.htm Officer dedicates his time to caring for canines

"Xiaolong, jump!"

"Xiaolong, rescue!"

Xiaolong, a 10-year-old retired police dog, reacted to the verbal instructions and hand gestures given by his handler, Bai Yan, on the TV show Brilliant Chinese.

Bai Yan, a policeman in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, performs a daily health check on Gongzi. Photos Provided to China Daily


Bai continuously encouraged his old "comrade" with words like "well done" and "good boy" as Xiaolong gnawed a rope with his teeth during a hostage rescue mission.

"It was his favorite mission during his service in the unit. He could bite through the rope in only five seconds! Now, it takes longer but we play the game just for fun," Bai said with a sigh.

Xiaolong, a Great Dane and Malinois cross, was adopted by Bai and was trained and worked in the police dog unit for 8 years.

He is spending his remaining years with 15 other peers in a retired canine home founded by Bai in Hangzhou.

"Nursing retired police dogs is different from taking care of seniors," said Bai, 55, a policeman in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province. "It is necessary to play with them in order to maintain their physical and mental health."

Back in 2004, Bai attempted to organize the first canine unit for the local police station because of the great help dogs can offer.

Twenty-six police dogs, including German shepherds, Malinois and Labradors, were recruited in Bai's brigade through a strict screening process.

The canine force was used in a wide variety of duties including patrol, search and detecting illicit substances.

With more than 3,000 missions on average, these well-trained police dogs were regarded as heroes by Bai and his colleagues.

"One time we tracked suspects with a dog on the highway. The suspects noticed us and sent three of their accomplices to attack us," said Bai. "But they didn't know we had canines in the van. The canines pounced on them and subdued them soon after I sent the order."

Kaxi, a German shepherd, was honored as a "meritorious canine" by the department of public security of Zhejiang province in 2009 for helping crack over 200 cases and arrest more than 80 suspects.

Police dogs retire from the squad after eight to 10 years of service.

"I found my brave canines were staggering when they ran in 2009, and I knew at that time that my buddies were getting old," said Bai.

The public security departments in China help retired police dogs by arranging for them to spend their later lives in the units they served, or letting them be adopted by their handlers. Caring civilians can also apply to adopt the retired canines.

"There are not enough shelters for retired police dogs in local police stations, and the welfare system for retired canines is not perfect yet," Bai said.

"The best choice for a retired dog is being adopted by his handler. However, there are few handlers in our brigade and their apartments are usually too small to shelter the big canine. Only six dogs were adopted after retirement while the others had no place to go," added Bai.

"I once sent Jack, one of the retired canines in my unit, to a local friend who promised him a good life in 2009," said Bai. "However, when I came to visit Jack two months later, I found he was chained, lying on the ground with leftovers on his side."

"They are my comrades who have worked with me and kept me company for more than eight years, they are my friends and family. I want to give them a dignified retirement," said Bai.

Bai took Jack back and started to contemplate the later years of the retired canines in his squad.

He built the home for retired canines at his own expense with the help of colleagues and friends in early 2010 in Yinhu neighborhood of Hangzhou, defining it as "home for retired canines".

Not only new kennels but also equipment for training courses are built for the canines to secure them a comfortable retirement.

"I get up at 4 am every morning and go to the canines' home to say hello to them. Then I check them and feed them. After that, we play games," said Bai. "They are old now, so every course or game we do is conducted much slower."

Sixteen retired police dogs, including Xiaolong and Jack, are spending their later lives in the retired canines' home.

Gongzi, at age 13.5 the oldest canine in the home, was diagnosed with a skin tumor months ago and the disease has worsened over time. Bai, disregarding his friends' suggestions to end the dogs' life with euthanasia, studied medical books and treated Gongzi with the methods and prescriptions he obtained.

"I raised Gongzi and treat him like my own boy. I am really happy that Gongzi is still there," Bai smiled. "Doudou, one of the retired canines, has an eye disease. I wash his eye and massage him every day, and take him for walks."

Four of the retired canines brought to the home have died in the last seven years, and were then buried under the tree in the courtyard with their name tags hanging on the tombstones. Bai visits these departed "friends" on memorial days.

"A dog is different from other animals. It knows you and can feel your emotions. They are my comrades at work and my family in my life. They will cheer me up with various funny gestures when I am upset," Bai said, laughing.

"My canines know that I never smoke or drink. Whenever strangers offer me a cigarette, they will growl to warn them to stop. If a terrorist is about to launch an attack on me, they will protect me with their lives," Bai said with pride.

"The police dogs need companionship, especially after retirement. They need you to play with them to make them feel safe. Ten years with them is not a long period in my life, but to them, it is their whole lifetime," Bai said.

Bai finances the canines' home on his own and has refused material and assistance from the public and charities.

"I haven't calculated the money I've spent on them because I don't care how much it costs," said Bai. "What I really want is to raise people's concern for retired police dogs and let the canines do something good for society even as they get old."

Cheng Si contributed to this story.


2017-10-02 07:44:45
<![CDATA[Training methods provide top skills]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-10/02/content_32762172.htm Four national training centers and research quarters have been set up across the country to fulfill the need for police dogs. The four centers focus on different fields involved in canine training, such as dog disease control and prevention, information management and police dog training research, and are responsible for operational guidance of dogs from certain areas and provinces in China.

Popular selections for use of police dogs include the German Shepherd for its keen sense of smell and high intelligence, Malinois for its talents in explosives detection and suspect tracking, and the Rottweiler, which is famous for its incredible biting power.

The centers are in Shenyang of Liaoning province, Nanchang of Jiangxi province, Nanjing of Jiangsu province and Kunming of Yunnan province.

"Canine training centers in China have adopted a training method called positive reinforcement, which helps keep the rejection rate of canines at 5 to 10 percent during the training process," said Bai Yan, a police officer in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province with 13 years experience in police dog training.

"Canine training centers in China have abandoned the training method of negative reinforcement because of its high reject ion rate and the injuries it causes the puppies, and have adopted the positive method, such as giving additional stimulus and awards to the canines," he said.

Dogs are selected for training when they are eight months old, though Bai would like to see them chosen even earlier. "If the training starts for dogs at two months old, the dogs can easily become dependent on the handlers and the tacit understanding between the pair can be enhanced with time," Bai said.

Handlers select candidates from a group of puppies and take these potential police dogs through the training period.

According to a report by Beijing Youth Daily, the training courses aim to examine the puppies' nature, health and courage, and are followed by a judgment on their future potential and direction for training.

The general training period usually lasts three months, during which the canines will be trained to obey orders from handlers in the first month and receive targeted training courses for their future assigned work in last two months.

Dogs trained for searching in snow and detecting explosive items can master their skills and perform missions four weeks after they have practiced in the field. The dogs will be assigned to different public security departments and brigades after finishing their training courses.

For the officers, the dogs are classified as police inventory and losing a police dog is as serious for its officer as losing a gun. And intentional killing or hurting the dog is legally defined as criminal behavior.

The average service time for police dogs is eight years, during which daily and annual health checks will be conducted to secure their health and working conditions. Canines retire from the units after eight years, but those who suffer from disease will be eased out during their service.

The retired police dogs in China will be found new homes by the public security departments or the units they served. Some of the retired canines spend their remaining years in the units and others can be adopted by the handlers. Civilians who love dogs can also apply to adopt retired police dogs.

Cheng Si contributed to this story.

2017-10-02 07:44:45
<![CDATA[A new chapter for publishing]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-09/24/content_32413539.htm Executive believes the digital age has potential to revolutionize academic books

Annie Callanan believes China's Belt and Road Initiative is not just about trade and infrastructure but about connecting the world in many different ways.

The newly appointed chief executive officer of UK academic publisher Taylor& Francis insists the initiative is just as relevant to an industry like publishing.

"The modern infrastructure today is technology. So yes, it can be about things such as building roads and airports but it can also be about technology infrastructure that connects countries," she says.


Annie Callanan, the newly appointed chief executive officer of UK academic publisher Taylor& Francis, says she sees the Belt and Road Initiative as a way to break the barriers that prevent the transfer of knowledge across borders. Yan Dongjie / China Daily

Callanan says she sees the Belt and Road breaking down the barriers that prevent the transfer of knowledge across borders.

"It is about fusing technology with knowledge and the learning process, to create frictionless communications and collaboration, particularly between the scholars of different countries," she says.

Callanan, who was appointed to her new position at the end of June, was speaking during the Beijing International Book Fair at the China International Exhibition Centre, now one of the flagship international publishing events, rivaling even Frankfurt.

"It is absolutely one of the key book fairs now. We are here to show our respect for our Chinese partners and for our colleagues that we work with, and to stand behind our brand in this market," she says.

It was also an opportunity for the 54-year-old American to meet up with some of her China-based staff for the first time.

The China office, which was set up as a representative office in 2005, now reports directly to the head office at Milton Park, Oxfordshire, and no longer to the Singapore Asia head office.

"That was an important reorganization. There is now a China-specific focus, as well as an Asia focus. My primary objective in coming here was really not to focus on participating in the book fair but to engage with my colleagues who represent us here on the ground and, equally important, to get to know some of the stakeholders."

She says China is a very important market for Taylor & Francis, the UK publisher which was founded in 1852 and is now part of Informa, the multinational events and media group. Its best-known imprint is Routledge.

"It is extraordinarily important. This is a growing hub of innovation, knowledge, wisdom and opportunity. And we are underserved in this market today. We have to embrace all the potential that exists here," she says.

Callanan is particularly keen to forge greater commercial links and partnerships in what is not only the largest publishing market in the world, after the US, but also where publishing began with the first printed book during the Tang Dynasty (618-907).

"We are looking at all the potential partnerships with the publishing community, aggregators, booksellers and other entities," she says.

Callanan has moved from New York, where she spent almost her entire career, to rural Oxfordshire in the United Kingdom to take up her new position.

"I am a New Yorker, but now my family and all our pets have moved. My family and I are passionate equestrians so we have brought our horses over. And we are in this spectacular countryside and loving it. It is very different from New York, for sure."

Publishing is also a new direction for Callanan, who has spent most of her career in the technology sector. She was previously chief executive officer of Quantros, a provider of digital solutions in the healthcare sector.

"Although it is my first publishing role, I have been in the ecosystem of publishing. For the past decade and a half I have been leading transformational organizations, leveraging technology to really pursue new value in new ways."

Callanan, who did bachelor's degrees in both English and fine art before studying finance at New York University, began her career with a Wall Street database company in the 1980s.

Since then she has held a number of key senior-level positions at a number of companies.

She believes it is important for women to hold senior positions in business - as is increasingly the case in China - but she does not think her gender has ever held her back.

"I've never seen any barriers in front of me. I have always pursued things that I was passionate about, so I have never really seen these obstacles. It doesn't mean they don't exist, but I have never focused on or really noticed them. I am well aware that I might be more fortunate than other women," she says.

"I have a 14-year-old daughter and I'm thrilled to be living at a time when we can all pursue our passions."

Digital publishing in China was again a major theme at the Beijing book fair this year. Callanan says it remains a major challenge for the publishing industry.

"A lot of re-imagination still has yet to occur. Many of the digital output formats are still very closely aligned with their print counterparts, such that they closely resemble them," she says.

The publishing executive believes digital has the potential to revolutionize academic books, in particular, since new formats enhance the learning experience and make it easier.

"We see the emergence of some very new trends that move beyond linear sequential text. You only have to look at what YouTube has been able to do in terms of very quick, easily digestible experiences that can facilitate people to learn."

According to some industry observers, China is a complex market in this regard since there remains a legacy of textbook rote learning, while at the same time young consumers obsess over the latest digital gadgetry. Callanan, however, does not think there is much value in thinking about China as a special case.

"I suspect there are far fewer inherent differences in how people learn. It is more about cultural norms that have been established over the years, based on the availability and nature of different learning materials," she says.

One of the publishing challenges in China has been copyright, with many popular books pirated and sold on the streets - textbooks being particularly vulnerable.

Callanan says she is actually less concerned about copyright theft in China than in other markets.

"I am just a few weeks into the job, so that is a big caveat, but I am not so much worried about China than in other parts of the world. I think, from listening to my colleagues, there is respect here for copyright."

One challenge that Callanan meets in her in-basket is Brexit and how the publishing industry will navigate its way around the UK leaving the European Union.

"I think it is too early to be definitive on this issue," she says. "If, however, we can create the right value frameworks for scholars to come together, to innovate, to share, to expand on a more rapid process of originating research and knowledge, then those boundaries that exist today around governments and geographies and languages will recede."

Callanan says it's important for the publishing industry to be diverse, which is why China is such an important market now.

"When I look at the way the China story is being told, it often has a Western filter. What diversity should mean is that we really do have a diverse perspective and allow voices from countries like China to be unfiltered and directly heard," she says.

Conatact the writers at andrewmoody@chinadaily.com.cn

2017-09-24 13:25:36
<![CDATA[Bringing movies to life for the blind]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-09/10/content_31808333.htm


Du Chengcheng describes movies for the blind at a cinema in the Jiangjiadun community in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province. Photos Provided to China Daily

At a cinema for the visually impaired in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province, Du Chengcheng, 29, describes what is happening on the screen so blind people can "watch" movies.

She says that in the past seven years, she has described 200 movies for nearly 5,000 blind or visually impaired people and written commentaries on more than 30 movies.

The cinema was founded in 2001 in the Jiangjiadun community, where Du works in the community service office. Under the Hawthorn Tree was the first movie Du ever "described". After downloading the movie, she watched it 10 times. She even "watched" it with her eyes closed so she could better understand how her audience would experience it without her commentary.

When the lights came on after the screening, she saw that many in the audience were crying, which Du took pride in. She knew they would not have been able to experience the film so deeply without her commentary.

Gui Yuchun, 54, who lost eyesight because of a brain tumor, regularly visits the cinema. "The last time I had seen a movie was when I was a child. Now 20 years have passed and I can 'see' the movies again, thanks to Du," Gui says.

Wu Yuanmei, deputy secretary of Jiangjiadun's community service office, calls Du a "loving angel".


2017-09-10 14:13:32
<![CDATA[Gold Is A Many Splendored Thing]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-09/02/content_31458996.htm The treasures of an old center of imperial power and opulence go on display in a modern-day economic powerhouse

As surprising as it may seem, Hong Kong and the province of Shaanxi, 1,500 kilometers to the northwest, have a common heritage: the two places were at the crossroads of international exchanges, cultural and commercial.

Of course there have been differences, too. Shaanxi's heyday was between the 7th and 10th centuries as a powerful Tang Empire ruled China and many of its current surrounding regions from the province. Hong Kong, a speck in the South China Sea, would not burnish its credentials as a financial powerhouse until more than a millennium later, a century after the British colonized the island in the mid-19th century.

Yet the unique cultural identity of both was minted as a result of a wind from the west - in Tang's case - and waves of influence that constantly broke on its shore - in Hong Kong's case. While Hong Kong has remained vibrant, its culture continually forged and shaped by multiple forces, Shaanxi has settled down over the centuries, as an inner Chinese province that is relatively secluded, museums being one of the most obvious repositories of its glorious past.

And now that glorious past burns brightly in Hong Kong as the special administrative region celebrates the 20th anniversary of its return to China. Among the items being exhibited at the Art Museum of the Chinese University of Hong Kong are nearly 60 pieces (sets) of goldware and silverware, whose shimmering surfaces reflect not only the artisanal development of China, but also the country's history in general. All exhibits are from Shaanxi.

"What sets this exhibition apart from everything I have organized before is that this one tells a story, first and foremost, about a particular handicraft - metalwork, and more specifically goldwork," says Bai Lisha, of the Shaanxi Cultural Heritage Promotion Center. A veteran project manager, Bai is responsible for many exhibitions outside the Chinese mainland showcasing Shaanxi's archaeological heritage.

"Before, the narrative of a show was always spun around either a historical figure or period."

The metalwork highlighted here is split into nine categories, including forging, casting, gilding, and filigree and a very special one involves the use of blue kingfisher feather.

"In choosing exhibits for the show, I needed to ensure all these different crafts were represented," Bai says.

"Another criterion is beauty: what meets the eye and inspires the mind is infinitely more important than a particular object's historic value."

One of the highlights of the exhibition is an iron sword with a turquoise-embedded gold hilt. The sword, unearthed from a tomb dating back to the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BC), is held in the highest regard by archaeologists because of its beautifully wrought out and magnificently mounted handle. The S-shaped turquoise was meant to symbolize the curve of a dragon, Chinese civilization's most powerful totem.

As a prelude to the Warring States Period, which ended when Emperor Qin Shi Huang united the country in 221 BC, the Spring and Autumn Period brought the rising of one power after another, all buttressed by military might. The sword seems an apt metaphor for a time in Chinese history best remembered for endless maneuvering, military and diplomatic.

Another item of particular interest is a holder for an umbrella. The catalog calls it a coupling for connecting two parts of the long handle. With gold and silver patterns set against the bronze copper, it serves to remind gobsmacked viewers of the lengths their ancestors went to embellish their lives.

But of course this was just a privileged few, those who sat at the apex of the social pyramid, breathed its rarefied air and surrounded themselves with aesthetic beauty, not only in life but in death as well.

The umbrella is believed to be part of a copper chariot unearthed from the grand burial ground of Emperor Qin Shi Huang, who united China for the first time before going on to build the Great Wall.

Yang Junchang, a conservationist and expert in ancient Chinese metal craft, says the question of how the delicate, swirling patterns were produced remains open. The thread of gold, as if outlined on a copper surface by the finest Chinese paintbrush, is in fact the product of a mysterious and long lost art.

"We believe there are two main possibilities, the first being that gold was hammered into the pre-carved groove on the copper ware," Yang says. "The second is that the groove was filled in with a semi-molten amalgam of gold and mercury before being heated. The result: the mercury evaporated and the gold remained. The first method would have left traces of pounding on the metal, and the second one would have left pores produced by the mercury as it escaped.

"We regard the second method as the more sophisticated, but even with the help of a microscope we have yet to discover a single piece that reveals a porous texture.

Yang says the lack of progress is the result of the very few research objects that are available to his team.

"It's extremely hard for us to borrow from museums. For example, I've never had a chance to closely inspect that coupling piece I've just been talking about."

On the other hand, modern technology has transformed the work of archaeologists and conservationists such as Yang, whose deductions used to be drawn largely from field work. Between 2014 and 2016 Yang's team worked closely with researchers at the Chinese University of Hong Kong in an effort to unlock the secrets of the ancient goldsmiths. The project was funded by Chow Tai Fook, the Hong Kong-based gold jeweler long associated with the revival of ancient Chinese metal craft. Indeed, the exhibition is mainly the result of that collaboration.

"With their language advantage, our Hong Kong partners contributed partly through their research of English-language documentation," Yang says. "They were looking for evidence that might point us in a certain direction or help re-establish a long-lost link."

That link could prove crucial for the likes of Yang and Bai, who are trying to reposition their research, and to weave it into a broader narrative. Bai, for her part, is behind another exhibition in Hong Kong, on archaeological findings and sites along the ancient Silk Road, due to open in November.

The Tang Dynasty (618-907) represented the height of that exchange, an exchange China is seeking to revive now. In the seventh and eighth century, Chang'an (present-day Xi'an) as the capital of the Middle Kingdom, enjoyed a prosperity rivaled only by a few cities on earth including Baghdad and Constantinople of the great Byzantine Empire.

"Chang'an became a focal point on that nexus of trade, which took Chinese merchandise, including tea, silk and porcelain, to other parts of the world while bringing other sought-after products, for example incense, to the rich and powerful in China who reveled in their immense standing, material and social.

On display at the art museum in Hong Kong is a perfume sachet. The ingeniously constructed gilt silver ball with flower and bird pattern is a marvel of engineering. What is known today as the system of Cardan's suspension was set inside the ball, keeping it constantly horizontal and preventing the perfume powder from spilling when the sachet moves with the wearer.

"Here, aesthetics are by no means sacrificed to mechanics," says Jiang Jie, director of Shaanxi's Famen Temple Museum, from whose underground storage the sachet was discovered. "Only three such balls have been found. Two are housed in our Famen Temple Museum and one in the Shosoin in Nara, Japan.

"Tang was when the very essence of Chinese culture, such as tea and incense burning, was formed."

As Jiang says this he points to a four-legged receptacle woven exquisitely with gold and silver wire. It is a tea leaves holder, and it underscores the ceremonial aspect of tea culture.

"Most rulers of the Tang Dynasty were devout Buddhists. And Famen Temple, housing what was believed to be the tiny bone pieces belonging to Sakyamuni, the founder of Buddhism, was in effect the royal temple of worship. What was discovered in its storage - many were items of gold and silver - offers a tantalizing glimpse of a time when imagination was celebrated by a liberal society."

Bai says that the exhibits, as minute as some are, hold up a mirror to what was happening in society at large as well as in the minds of those who crafted the pieces.

"If you look at how metal art developed in China down the centuries there is a clear trajectory of change: personal whimsy gradually being replaced by well-guided endeavor, uncorseted imagination by auspicious images, and untamed beauty by a more stunning - or stupendous, depending on how it affects you - aesthetic."

During the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), China's last feudal dynasty, a technique named dian cui, or dipping of blue, became popular whereby the surface of gilt silver - mostly hair accessories - were covered with blue kingfisher feathers. The technique is extremely time-consuming, and the result is often a riot of colors as the resplendent blue clashes with gems of different hues.

"It is a visual feast, and one is constantly being reminded of the amount of time put into its making," Bai says.

"But something is lacking, and that, I believe, is the free spirit. Tang is not unique in its prosperity - the period starting with the Qing emperor Kangxi (1654-1722) and ending with his grandson Emperor Qianlong (1711-1799) was also marked by social stability and national power. However, the difference is that in the latter period China's door was closed. It is only with cross-pollination that the flower of art can bloom in true splendor."



An iron sword with gold hilt decorated with panhui patterns and turquoises, Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BC).Photos Provided To China Daily

2017-09-02 08:20:45
<![CDATA[Breathing Life Into Relics]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/31/content_31368517.htm A new TV show will feature three cultural relics from each of the nine most important museums in China. Wang Kaihao reports.

An upcoming variety show on China Central Television will bring together 27 Chinese "stars". But they are not people.

Last week, the national TV station said that it will release National Treasure toward the end of 2017.

The show will feature three cultural relics from each of the nine most important museums in the country and reveal behind-the-scene stories about them.

For example, film stars and other celebrities will be used to talk about the legends surrounding the artifacts. And, more such techniques from variety shows will be used in the program, says Yu Lei, chief producer of National Treasure.

But Yu says there are more surprises in store.

"We want to make the cultural relics look like people who have gone through the vicissitudes of life," she says.

"They have life and character. And, they represent the Chinese spirit and values."

Yu says that viewers will feel an emotional connection with the relics.

The Palace Museum in Beijing, also known as the Forbidden City, is the flagship museum. As China's imperial palace from 1420 to 1911, the institution houses more than 1.86 million cultural relics, and Shan Jixiang, director of the museum, says that it will be a challenge to choose just three items from its collection.

"It will be a tough decision," says Shan.

"The choices have to have historical, artistic and scientific significance," Shan says.

"But we won't deliberately create drama for the show or treat the relics lightly," he says. "The show is not going to mislead viewers."

The other eight institutions are all key provincial-level museums: Shanghai Museum, Nanjing Museum, Shaanxi History Museum, Henan Museum, and Zhejiang, Hubei, Hunan and Liaoning provincial museums.

All the museums have their own specialities.

For instance, Nanjing Museum, which is China's first national-level comprehensive museum from the time of Kuomintang rule, has an extensive collection.

The Shaanxi History Museum, which is located in Xi'an, known as the global metropolis Chang'an in ancient times, has relics from the Han (202 BC-220 AD) and Tang (618-907) dynasties, two peaks in the country's imperial history.

Hubei Provincial Museum is known for its collection from crucial archaeological discoveries. It houses bronze musical instruments like the bianzhong, or chime bells, found in the tomb of high official Marquis Yi of Zeng, dating back 2,500 years.

Shan says that the nine museums have also worked to bring diversity to the national treasures chosen.

Though the list of the 27 treasures remains confidential, there are some clues about the choices.

For instance, there are at least two bronze pieces: the Minfanglei, a wine holder from the Hunan Provincial Museum dating back to the late Shang Dynasty (16th century to 1046 BC), whose body was once lost and then found in the United States, and the Dake Ding from the Shanghai Museum, an item used for ancestor worship in the late Western Zhou Dynasty (1046 to 771 BC).

"If the viewers' response is good we will consider organizing an exhibition at the nine museums to exhibit the 27 items," says Shan.

According to producer Yu, National Treasure will run for more than one season.

And, she also plans to include Chinese artifacts housed in overseas museums in the future seasons.

Liu Wentao, deputy director of Nanjing Museum, says: "Museums are now a part of the lifestyles of the young," adding that nearly 70 percent of visitors to the museum are younger than 40.

Nanjing Museum is also known for its early adaption of digital technology to attract the younger generations.

"It is an inevitable trend for museums to become fashionable," she says adding that she has great expectations for the upcoming show.

Last year, Masters in the Forbidden City, a three-episode documentary on cultural relic restorers in the Palace Museum, went viral. It was then edited into a feature-length film to be released in cinemas.

Shan also says that as many as 15,000 people applied for cultural restorer positions in the museum in 2016, following the screening of the documentary.

"There's a stereotype that young people only like shows on romance or entertainment. But the documentary proves the vitality of programs with cultural depth," Shan says.

Zhu Tong, deputy editor-in-chief of CCTV, says that it is not surprising that TV variety shows in China now also reflect traditional culture.

Earlier this year, Reader, a CCTV variety show, which became a buzzword, invited celebrities, entrepreneurs and even ordinary people to read chapters from classics that reflected their values or views.

"Its success strengthened our confidence to give more voice to our culture," says Zhu.

"Cultural programs on TV need a new direction. And museums can take them in a new direction," says Zhu.

Contact the writer at wangkaihao@chinadaily.com.cn

2017-08-31 07:48:15
<![CDATA[The Transformers]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/31/content_31368516.htm Chinese fans of special effects eagerly await the latest in the Planet of the Apes series. Xu Fan reports.

Software-created on-screen magic has reached a new level with the sci-fi movie War for the Planet of the Apes. In clips of the new franchise movie, recently released by 20th Century Fox at a Beijing event, most viewers were amazed to see actor Andy Serkis' seamless transformation into Caesar, the story's leader of the apes.

When Serkis performs as an orangutan, he wears skin-tight clothing and his movements as well as emotions are captured with the help of sensors, making his act life-like. Though special effects have become a must-have for most big Hollywood movies, this film's behind-the-scenes footage still enthralled Chinese viewers.

"The scenes look incredibly realistic," says Lu Chuan, a Chinese film director who attended the event.

The third installment of the studio franchise the Planet of the Apes will hit Chinese mainland theaters on Sept 15, two months after its North American release.

In the new tale, Caesar and the other apes are forced into a war against a ruthless colonel and his soldiers. To avenge the murder of his wife and son, and rescue his captive fellow primates, Caesar embarks on a tough journey. So far, the movie is listed as one of the most anticipated films in September, according to the movie news portal mtime.com.

Anders Langlands, the visual effects supervisor of Weta Digital, a top company in the field from New Zealand, talks about how human actors are turned into primate fighters on screen.

"We spent a lot of time observing apes. A huge part of our job is just observing," says Langlands, who led the visual effects teams for X-Men: Days of Future Past and The Martian.

As the major characters in War for the Planet of the Apes are chimpanzees, artists of Weta Digital researched the animals' physical characteristics, moves and behavior. They used X-ray photos of some chimpanzees to get details about their skeleton and learn about their skin textures.

With nearly 1,000 people from Weta involved in the movie, the majority of the film was shot with visual effects. For the most complicated parts, more than 400 artists worked at the same time.

The hair on an ape's body was processed by software to ensure that changes in the environment, such as snow or bonfire light, are shown on the skin.

"In this film, we see Caesar go from just being a leader to people into being a legend in the ape world. So the film takes on a much grander scope because it becomes sort of an epic mythical journey," says Langlands.

One of his favorite characters is Bad Ape, an intelligent quiet chimpanzee who fled from a zoo.

"Bad Ape is such a different character ... He is so charming and he brings (out) very human and very innocent, curious qualities that the audience can identify with," he says.

"When all of your main characters in the movie are digital, it requires a very close collaboration between the director and the visual effects people to bring that to life."

US filmmaker Matt Reeves again directs this installment after he directed the Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014).

Meanwhile, for China, where the movie industry has taken off only in the past decade, achieving world-class special effects in domestic productions is an aspiration.

Xu Fei, the founder of Illumina, a Beijing-based special-effects studio, says, "The major problem is that most directors and producers don't know how to make such a movie. It needs imagination and a lot of pre-production communication."

But for some Chinese directors, a shortage of performing talent is the bigger problem.

Lu, the director of the effects-studded movie Chronicles of the Ghostly Tribe (2015), says it's difficult to persuade Chinese stars to play unconventional roles like the leader of apes, as they want their faces to be recognized by fans on the big screen only in mainstream roles.

"In Chronicles of the Ghostly Tribe, for example, I had to play the monsters myself," he says, adding that it did save him some time and money.

Li Yingxue contributed to the story.

Contact the writer at xufan@chinadaily.com.cn

2017-08-31 07:48:15
<![CDATA[Exciting start to Venice festival]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/31/content_31368515.htm VENICE - The 74th Venice film festival opened on Wednesday with Alexander Payne's sci-fi satire Downsizing in the opening slot that is increasingly coveted as a launchpad for the Oscars.

Starring Matt Damon and Kristen Wiig, Sideways director Payne's latest quirky creation is a tale of a lower middle-class couple in the US Midwest. But the new film's title is not a reference to job losses or selling off the family house. Instead the pair are considering signing up for radical new surgery that would help them become tiny versions of themselves, on the promise of a better life.

Written by Payne, a two-time Oscar winner for his screenplays, and Jim Taylor, the film will be seeking to emulate the success of La La Land, Birdman and Gravity - all Venice openers in recent years that went on to bag the Oscars and other prizes. Whether it does is likely to depend on how critics react to the film's intriguing plot, which Variety described as "Honey I Shrunk the Kids with a deeper social message".

Also being unveiled on the opening day is Nico, a bio-pic focusing on the final years of the Velvet Underground singer and Andy Warhol muse that is being shown in the festival's Horizons section dedicated to cutting-edge productions.

Directed by Susanna Nicchiarelli, with Danish actress Trine Dryholm in the lead role, the story catches up with one of 1970s New York's iconic figures in 1987 and 1988, the last two years of her life. It finds her battling a heroin habit but also finding fulfillment through her music and her relationship with her son.

Downsizing is one of 21 films competing for Venice's top prize, the Golden Lion, which will be handed out on Sept 9, along with a string of other awards.

As usual the international film lineup at Venice ranges from big-budget Hollywood productions, including George Clooney's sixth directorial outing, Suburbicon, to new works by indie favorites Andrew Haigh and Warwick Thornton. In total, 71 new full-length films will be shown over the next 10 days, along with 16 short films and two TV series.

Spanish superstar duo Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz team up again for a new drama about Pablo Escobar, Loving Pablo, in which Bardem plays the Colombian drug baron and Cruz his long-term mistress.

Bardem is also to be seen playing opposite Jennifer Lawrence in Mother!, a new film by Black Swan director Darren Aronofsky, that is one of several thrillers vying for honors.

Another spine-chiller features Ethan Hawke in Paul Schrader's First Reformed, which turns around a dark secret harbored by members of a church who are tormented by the deaths of loved ones.

Agence France-presse

2017-08-31 07:48:15
<![CDATA[Wong Jing returns to comfort zone with new gangster film]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/31/content_31368514.htm Wong Jing is a prominent figure in Hong Kong cinema. He has directed, penned and produced more than 100 films.

But in recent years, he has been in the news mostly for directing mainland productions such as the hit franchise The Man from Macao.

With Color of the Game, a thriller set to open across China on Friday, Wong will again be seen in his familiar zone of making films about gangsters in Hong Kong. The latest in the Color series has elements typical of such films: brotherhood, slums and street fights. The earlier films are Color of the Truth (2003) and Color of Loyalty (2005).

Starring Simon Yam and Jordan Chan, the Hong Kong actors known for their roles in gangster classics, Color of the Game is about a gang whose members get trapped in a conspiracy, pushing them to desperation.

The protagonists wear white clothes in the film, which Wong calls a "tribute to the cinematic art of violent aesthetics" created by Chang Cheh, a late master of Hong Kong cinema.

"I was fascinated with Cheh's movies when I was young. Most of his martial arts heroes wear white robes on screen, making it a sort of a symbol of top fighters," Wong, 62, said at a Beijing preview last week.

Wong is the movie's main producer.

In one of the film's funny scenes, a hooligan played by veteran Hong Kong actor Suet Lam is seen continuously eating rice to dodge questions from those whom he has betrayed.

"He fears answering the questions. If he opens his mouth to speak, it may get him and his family killed," Wong says.

The film is also a survival tale of people on the city's edges, not just a simple cat-and-mouse game between police and criminals, Wong says.

Hong Kong gangster movies helped establish a few actors in Hollywood once and inspired such films in the United States, but the genre has seen a decline over the past decade.

"It is a part of world cinema. I have faith that such movies with Hong Kong flavor won't vanish from the big screen," Wong says.

The film's characters speak Cantonese but it has been dubbed in Mandarin for the mainland market.

At a time when the Hong Kong film industry is facing a shortage of performers, directors and scriptwriters, Wong says he will focus on training new talent.

"I will reduce my directoral work on account of health, but help youngsters realize their dreams in cinema," he says.

And, Color of the Game does just that. While Wong has produced the film, he has helped younger filmmaker Kam Ka-wai direct it.

But the film will likely face some competition in the mainland market.

Thanks to the rapidly expanding industry, mainland filmmakers have shown growing interest in producing crime movies. Guilty of Mind, which is about a psychologist and a cop working together to hunt a serial killer, will also be released in September.

2017-08-31 07:48:15
<![CDATA[Kung Fu For The Future]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/30/content_31320126.htm Young practitioners are helping to preserve and promote Chinese martial arts. Zhang Zefeng reports.

Every day from 9 am to 5 pm, Liu Yi is busy at work as a human resources specialist in a State-run company in the Chinese capital. The demands of his job, which includes preparing regular career assessments, is much like that of many white-collar workers in the country.

But out of the office, the 28-year-old leads a life that few of his colleagues know about - the Beijinger is a serious Chinese martial arts practitioner. He specializes in the Three-Emperor Cannon Fist technique.

"Nowadays, fewer young people love what they do. They seldom cherish things because they believe nothing truly belongs to them," says Liu.

"The Cannon Fist has become an integral part of my life."

Liu started training in traditional martial arts at age 5. He now spends at least two weeknights honing his skills. On weekends, he meets his 53-year-old master, Wang Qi, to learn new techniques at the Temple of Heaven.

Their fighting skills are based on three legendary Chinese emperors - Fuxi, Shennong and the Yellow Emperor. Liu has been practicing the Cannon Fist, which focuses on speed and bursts of power, for nearly two decades. He says he still has a lot to learn.

Many of his fellow disciples quit classes due to social commitments and the pressures of modern life, such as work and marriage, but Liu persevered. He spends his spare time collecting and organizing written and video materials related to traditional Chinese martial arts. He is widely expected to be Wang's successor.

Liu is aware that certain types of kung fu, especially the less-known styles, are in danger of becoming extinct amid China's rapid economic development and the social transitions of the past decades.

He considers himself one of the young people across the country who are not professional kung fu practitioners but who try to devote as much time as possible to preserve and hopefully pass on the intangible cultural heritage.

A video clip of mixed martial arts fighter Xu Xiaodong knocking down self-proclaimed tai chi master Wei Lei within seconds went viral in April. The incident sparked a huge discussion in China about the merits of its traditional martial arts.

The Chinese Martial Arts Association later responded to the incident, saying that such "arranged private fights" are a violation of the law as well as "the morals and values of martial arts".

Liu says: "Traditional Chinese martial arts are not just about fighting skills. In modern society, imparting and inheriting these arts and the values attached to them are much more important than using them to fight."

Beyond battles

The value of martial arts lies in the philosophy, discipline and health aspects behind them, says Beijing-based TV and movie production manager Zhang Zehao.

Unlike many youth who enjoy modern forms of entertainment, such as computer games, Zhang spent most of his holidays during primary and secondary school learning kung fu.

"It was an important form of entertainment for boys of my age back in the northern countryside," the 38-year-old recalls.

Zhang later focused on tanglangquan (mantis fist), a fighting style inspired by the namesake insect's movements.

"Traditional Chinese martial arts are an irreplaceable part of our culture," says Zhang. "Fighting is only a part of it."

For example, in contrast with Western heroes, who save the world with science or supernatural abilities, Chinese prefer to entrust heroes with unparalleled kung fu and its admirable values so that they can overcome evil, he says.

Zhang himself tries to adhere to traditional Chinese martial arts' values, such as humility and respect for others, in his daily life.

"Kung fu is an accumulation of the time and thought invested in pushing one's limits," he says.

"You might not be invincible and beat all your competitors. But you benefit from the self-improvement that comes with the discipline of practicing it over the years."

Critical learning

Compared with combat sports like MMA, which adopt scientific training approaches carried out within a specific, concise framework, traditional martial arts seem to have developed into a more complex and - some claim to a degree - redundant system.

"Traditional martial arts contain too many variations. That's what many practitioners were actually proud of," says Liu Zhongyi.

The 36-year-old is a descendant of masters who practiced the Seven-Star Praying Mantis, a well-known, traditional northern-style kung fu.

"But if you want these arts to be efficient, they need to be more concise," he says.

Liu Zhongyi is a financial director in a State-run company in Shandong province. He spends about 90 minutes every morning practicing traditional martial arts.

"It has been my long-term habit," he says. "I love kung fu from the bottom of my heart."

Liu Zhongyi says he began to realize that there were some gaps in kung fu after training for about two decades. The mantis fist encompasses several different styles. His kung fu master also modified the techniques he learned.

"Certain skills in the Seven-Star Praying Mantis are only useful in my own circle. They are not applicable to other traditional martial arts," he says.

Liu Zhongyi decided to search for more "universal kung fu skills" that could be applied to other traditional martial arts and even such fighting styles as MMA.

Liu Zhongyi hopes to find the original and most efficient skills within the mantis fist.

"I want to have a clear view of my system that will be easy to teach and learn," he says.

New challenges

Many kung fu practitioners also worry about the obstacles in reviving traditional skills brought about by modern lifestyles and technology, with more people accessing martial arts information online at the expense of practical learning.

"We live in an era where knowledge far outweighs skills," says 36-year-old kung fu practitioner Daniel Huang from Taiwan.

"People know a lot about traditional Chinese martial arts, but that doesn't mean they can master it. There is a huge difference."

Huang grew up in Canada. His enthusiasm for traditional Chinese martial arts started in high school. Since his early 20s, Huang has been learning Chinese martial arts with Adam Hsu, a Taiwan master and educator specializing in traditional northern-style kung fu.

Hsu's kung fu possesses a distinctive beauty after years of practice, says Huang.

"If you describe it in terms of Chinese calligraphy, his strokes (or moves) would be very elaborate, rather than flamboyant."

In 2011, Huang established three hostels on the Chinese mainland to promote traditional Chinese martial arts. He regularly flies back to Taiwan to continue his training under Hsu.

"We want to find and preserve the origins of traditional Chinese martial arts," says Huang.

"It's like finding their stem cells, so that they can continue to evolve over time."

Contact the writer at zhangzefeng@chinadaily.com.cn


Traditional Chinese martial arts are adored by many Chinese fans, including (clockwise from above left) hostel founder Daniel Huang from Taiwan, Beijing-based TV and movie production manager Zhang Zehao and Liu Zhongyi, a financial director of a State-run company in Shandong.Photos Provided To China Daily

2017-08-30 08:45:53
<![CDATA[Courtyard in a class of its own]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/30/content_31320125.htm It is nestled in one of Beijing's traditional hutong (alleyways), but this is no ordinary courtyard - its doors are open to kung fu enthusiasts from all walks of life.

The Fly by Knight Courtyard is a martial arts-themed hostel that has been offering free weekly kung fu classes to visitors since 2011.

Students are taught fundamental skills that can be applied to different kung fu styles, says founder Daniel Huang from Taiwan.

"If kung fu is a pyramid, what we are doing is building a right foundation for them," he says. "They can be both physically and mentally prepared to learn skills at a deeper level."

Beijing-based tech engineer Yang Xinhao is a regular visitor.

"I have been interested in martial arts novels since I was young," the 25-year-old says.

"Here, they welcome newbies like me to the group. That places kung fu within reach."

The training has improved his physical and mental wellbeing, Yang says.

"Practicing with peers in the courtyard helps me find peace," he says.

The discipline and patience needed to build a solid martial arts foundation has also benefited his career.

"It motivates me to focus on the essentials of any task and do solid work."

The hostel has hosted more than 300 kung fu students, who are given free lodging in exchange for work. Most are from Taiwan and Hong Kong.

Taiwan student Liao Boryeu is currently spending his summer holiday working at the hostel. He has met many interesting people during his stay, including an astronomer and fresco artists.

"I can learn many things from them," says the 20-year-old visual communication major at Asia University.

"It improves my communication skills and motivates me to learn English better."

He enjoys painting and exploring the city during his leisure time outside of the kung fu lessons. "Practicing kung fu truly eases my mind and comforts my body," he says.

The hostel also offers free Chinese calligraphy courses. Huang regularly invites scholars and artists to give lectures on their respective fields.

Zhang Zehao, a volunteer martial arts teacher at the hostel, sees the place as a platform to promote Chinese culture.

"Domestic and foreign guests experience Chinese culture's essence here," he says.

2017-08-30 08:45:53
<![CDATA[Making Things Better]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/30/content_31320124.htm Competition becomes platform for youth to come up with innovative projects. China Daily reports.

In January, when Zheng Xuefen visited his grandmother, in her 70s and suffering from diabetes and hypertension, he noticed how difficult it was for her to remember to take her medication, let alone differentiate the various pills.

"I wanted to design a machine to help," says Zheng, a 20-year-old freshman from Zhejiang Industry and Trade Vocational College in Wenzhou, Zhejiang province.

His answer: a "Domestic Automatic Medicine Machine" that helped his grandmother take her pills properly. Seven months later, Zheng, together with his team, decided to enter his machine in the 2017 China-US Young Maker Competition.

His team didn't make it to the top 10, but they won an award for excellence.

"It's a bit of a pity, but I'm satisfied with the result. I've learned a lot," says Zheng, an electronic information engineering student.

Launched in 2014, the competition is now in its fourth year. Themed "Co-making the Future", this year's event rolled out in May in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province. It attracted more than 6,300 participants from China and the United States. The finals were held in Beijing from Aug 7 to 11.

This year's projects focused on sustainable development in fields such as education, environment, health, energy and transportation.

Sun Hongbin, the chairman of the judging panel, expressed his delight at seeing such a variety of projects created by young makers, and their concern for global issues.

About 300 finalists formed 70 teams and competed in the 24-hour hackathon in Beijing.

Getting ideas to work

Zheng says the experience he gained from the competition, such as improving his product and communicating with other teams in the finals, has sparked his interest in the academic field and he plans to further his studies.

He is also determined to "upgrade" his prototype machine into a product, so that his grandmother and many other patients are able to benefit more from it one day.

Samuel Kuhns and his team "Purdue MIND" from Purdue University became the only US team to make it to the top 10.

"The result is minor, compared to the information you've learned, to the relationships you've built, and to the culture you've experienced here," says Kuhns, who was in China for the first time.

The concept of a "maker" originated from Europe, before spreading to the US and the rest of the world.

A "maker" is someone who has ideas and brings them to fruition, and "to actually make something is key", says Fu Zhiyong, judge of this year's competition and director of the Service Design Institution, Academy of Arts and Design at Tsinghua University.

Some of the participants have actually kick-started their businesses after winning in the competition. They include Qiu Binghui, CEO of robots company Xiamen Jorn-Co Information Technology.

Qiu, 26, shared his experience from being a maker to an entrepreneur at the event's Innovation Forum.

His journey started when he won the third prize in the competition two years ago.

Qiu used to be a fan of robots, but buying one was too expensive for him. Two years ago, he came up with the idea to use smartphones as the "brain" in building a robot. He brought that idea to the competition.

His team had decided that once they won a prize, they'd put the product on the market. "Luckily, we won the third prize. So I became an entrepreneur from a maker right after the competition," says Qiu.

The competition provides a good platform and valuable opportunities for young people to start a business, he says.

But it's not easy at the beginning. "My team spent three months developing our product, but when it was completed, nobody wanted it," he recalls.

"We knew later that we had to start by researching a new product before designing one."

His company has finally found its focus - making DIY robots for children.

Starting them young

The competition has had a growing influence on youth because it has helped promote the spirit of being a "maker" and provided a platform for them to showcase their creativity, says Fu.

"We'd like to see more 'makers' start their businesses. We expect more of them to apply what they've learned here to their future work," says Fu.

Shen Yipei, an administrator of the Tsinghua Institute for Advanced Study in Humanities and Social Sciences, at Tsinghua University, led a team that won the competition in 2015.

Their product, Nut Fitness, is an "intelligent patch" on fitness machines. It can record information from the machines and provide feedback to help users with their fitness plans.

Most of the team members were about to graduate from Tsinghua University when they won the competition. But they have not started a business because they feel it is early days yet.

"I might start my own business in the future, but now I need to gain experience," Shen says.

"Besides communicating with people from different backgrounds, I've also learned about leadership, like how to find people and persuade them to aim for the same goal together."

Shen's project was suspended due to a lack of funds and technical support. But the seed of entrepreneurship was planted in Shen's teammate Cao Guang's mind.

Cao, an industrial design major, decided to accumulate experience at large enterprises with solid funding and production techniques, to maximize his design skills after the competition.

He worked for multinational Huawei Technologies as an industrial designer after his master's studies at Tsinghua University in June 2016.

He is now involved in the designing, modeling, producing, promoting and other aspects of developing a new mobile phone.

"It's the same process as what we did to make our product in the competition," Cao recalls.

Another team member, Zhao Hansen, a chemistry major who was responsible for hardware development in the competition, also gained inspiration and confidence from the event.

The biggest problem Zhao encountered during the competition was to upgrade the button on their product to a touch-sensitive one. "From the engineering design to the production, I had to solve the problems one by one. But I actually enjoyed the process."

The competition also inspired Zhao in interdisciplinary fields.

Last year, he started on his master's degree, including data analysis and math modeling in his studies.

"Before the competition, when I saw something that was inconvenient or served as an obstacle, I might just have talked about it," says Zhao.

"But ever since I became a maker, I'd think of ways to resolve these problems, to try and make something to change the situation and help society."

Contact the writer at liyingxue@chinadaily.com.cn


In an effort to "co-making the future", a total of 6,300 young people from the United States and China take part in the 2017 China-US Young Maker Competition, with its finals held in Beijing over Aug 7-11.Photos Provided To China Daily

2017-08-30 08:45:53
<![CDATA[US university omits last letter from Bard's name]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/30/content_31320123.htm LOS ANGELES - Visitors to the University of Southern California might well be muttering, "What fools these mortals be" as they stroll past a statue of the legendary queen of Troy and notice William Shakespeare's name seemingly misspelled at its base.

To USC officials, it's much ado about nothing.

"To E, or not to E, that is the question," the school responded in a recent statement when asked why Shakespeare's name is missing the last letter E in a quotation attributed to him.

The school notes Shakespeare has been spelled nearly two dozen different ways over the years. Officials say they settled on Shakespear, a spelling popular in the 18th century, because of the ancient feel sculptor Christopher Slatoff brought to his larger-than-life bronze work of Queen Hecuba.

The Bard himself was known to switch up the spelling of his last name during his lifetime, although he did spell it Shakespeare on the last page of his will, filed shortly before his death in 1616.

He referenced Hecuba in several of his works, most prominently in Hamlet, in which Hamlet asks how the legendary queen of Troy grieved over the death of her husband, King Priam.

Her statue was unveiled to great fanfare at the opening of the school's new USC Village earlier this month.

The $700 million project brings new restaurants, retail stores and other amenities to both students and the general public, as well as 2,500 new units of student housing. It represents the largest expansion in USC's history.

Hecuba was commissioned as a female counterpart to Tommy Trojan, the popular life-size bronze of a Trojan warrior that stands in the center of campus. Unveiled in 1930, Tommy Trojan has become a mascot of sorts to a school whose sports teams are the Trojans.

"This is our commitment to all of the women of the Trojan family," USC President C.L. Max Nikias said at Hecuba's unveiling.

Associated Press

2017-08-30 08:45:53
<![CDATA[Moving To The Beat]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/30/content_31320122.htm Hip-hop is emerging from its niche market in China to draw more fans. Chen Nan reports.

When the first season of The Rap of China opened on streaming site iQiyi in June, the country's first reality TV show focused on the genre ushered in an unprecedented wave of interest in hip-hop music.

The groups of Chinese rappers showcasing their talent, together with the four judges- Chinese-Canadian pop star Kris Wu, Taiwan musicians Wilber Pan, Chang Chen-yue and MC Hotdog (the stage name of Yao Chung-jen) - lending their weight to show, have fueled the rising popularity of a largely underground culture among Chinese youth.

Beijing-based company Modernsky, one of the largest indie record labels and outdoor music festival organizers on the Chinese mainland, has been quick to spot the trend - it is rolling out a two-day hip-hop music festival in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province, over Sept 2-3.

In 2016, Shen Lihui, the founder and CEO of Modernsky, set up a branch hip-hop record company, MDSK, with the aim of supporting local hip-hop talent.

The outdoor music festival, also named MDSK, will feature 22 bands and singers. PG One is part of the lineup. He had participated in the reality show, a singing competition focusing on hip-hop music, and became an instant star. The popular performer is a member of the Triple H (honghuahui in Chinese) hiphop label from Xi'an, capital of Shaanxi province.

"Each rapper of Triple H has distinctive hip-hop persona. They started from performing at local live-house venues and gathered a stable fan base with their clever rhymes. They were already stars in the hip-hop scene before the reality show," says Shen. "The reality show helped them to reach out to more audiences."

Triple H, founded in 2011 by rapper Liu Jiayu, better known by his stage name Dan Ke, signed on to Modernsky in 2016.

Other highlights of the festival include Theophilus London from New York's Brooklyn, and Japan's Hideyuki Yokoi, who is better known by his stage name Zeebra.

Shen, who started planning for the MDSK festival at the end of 2016, says he wants it to become an iconic outdoor hip-hop event, similar to the company's Strawberry Music Festival and other established brands.

To that effect, Modernsky plans to turn MDSK into a hip-hop festival touring across the country in 2018.

Chengdu, as a city boasting many local hip-hop groups and devoted supporters, is certainly suitable as the first host of the music festival, says Shen.

"Most of the groups rap in the Sichuan dialect, which is very creative and original," says Shen, adding that about 20,000 people are expected to attend the festival. "Young people enjoy hip-hop because it allows them to speak for themselves."

Female rappers are also featured in the festival, including 22-year-old Chinese rapper Vinida, who rose to fame after performing at Sing! China, a popular variety show aired by Zhejiang Satellite TV in 2016, and signed with Modernsky after that.

Chinese-American rapper Christine Ko, better known by her stage name Miss Ko, will also perform during the festival.

Born and raised in Queens, New York, Ko started rhyming words in high school to memorize her test materials and rapping soon came naturally to her. So far, she has released three studio albums and won the best new artist for her debut album, Knock Out, at the 24th annual Golden Melody Awards in 2013, which is considered the Grammy Awards in Mandarin music.

"Growing up, I was really pushed to focus on my studies, which was stressful and tough because I wasn't a good student at all. But music became my outlet to escape all that and express the different emotions I experienced: anger, pain, joy, injustice and so on," says Ko, who moved to Taiwan to learn Chinese after college and was later discovered by local rapper Soft Lipa and record label owner Dela Chang.

"Anything and everything can inspire me. Sometimes it's the beat. Sometimes it's an experience. Sometimes it's just what I feel and want to communicate at that moment," says Ko. "I once had some horrible pizza and turned that experience into a song.

"Hip-hop is all about attitude and believing in yourself, even when no one else does. I encourage anyone with an interest in hip-hop to explore the culture and become a part of it."

Contact the writer at chennan@chinadaily.com.cn


Promoting attitude and self-confidence, hip-hop is getting more Chinese youth interested, especially with shows such as The Rap of China and the upcoming MDSK music festival in Chengdu.Photos Provided To China Daily

2017-08-30 08:45:53
<![CDATA[Playlist]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/30/content_31320121.htm Music

Not Dark Yet

Even though they are sisters working in the same field, Shelby Lynne and Allison Moorer have always kept their distance from each other artistically. It's an understandable decision, but they sound so stunning together on their first joint project Not Dark Yet that you cannot help but wonder what took so long. Is It Too Much, co-written by the sisters, is wrenchingly beautiful as Lynne and Moorer sing separately and together about sharing emotional burdens.

Though that's the only original on the album, their harmonies turn Nick Cave's Into My Arms into something completely new, making it sound like a more reverent prayer than the original.

Lynne and Moorer have made more than their share of great records separately, but their collaboration on Not Dark Yet takes them to a new artistic level.


Notes on food

Food critic Dong Keping recently unveiled his new book Chi Xian'er (Enjoy the Taste) - Dong Keping's Food Notes in Beijing. He was an adviser for the popular TV documentary series, A Bite of China.

"It's about my personal gourmet experience in the past two years. Food would reach your mind through your stomach and each taste is indelible," Dong says.

Published by Qingdao Publishing House, the book recorded nearly 50 jottings about delicious cuisine from home and abroad, ranging from homemade noodles, Chaozhou dishes to sashimi. The book presents characteristics of delicious dishes and delves into their history and culture. With its guidance, gourmets would know where and when to taste yummy food, such as having globefish around Tomb Sweeping Day and eating eels in the summer in eastern China.


Fight for it

With plenty of shooting, explosions, and a wide range of outlandish characters and over-the-top villains, Agents of Mayhem is a game that is hard not to get addicted to.

The game is set in futuristic Seoul and takes the franchise in a new direction. Funded by Ultor, the organization of Mayhem has hired skilled agents that all have unique personalities, powers and weapons to take on evil. Players will work with a team of three, switching between them on the fly depending on the situation. If you don't like your team, you can trade them out so you have exactly who you want to work with.

When not working on the main single-player missions, there are loot boxes to find, hostages to rescue, races to compete in, outposts to take over and collectibles to search for. There's always something fun to do in the game.

China Daily - Agencies

2017-08-30 08:45:53
<![CDATA[The 5 yoga moves that give you energy]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/30/content_31320120.htm CHICAGO - Feeling a little run-down? Take a yoga break and boost your energy with the moves from Dana Trixie Flynn, the founder, director and instructor at Laughing Lotus. Grab a yoga mat and get ready to awaken your inner soul.

It's time to change your mood and your mindset.

"I'm a big believer that words can change your mood and energy quickly, as can clapping, which awakens the heart and energizes your body," Flynn says.

"By allowing your lungs to expand, and get extra oxygen into your blood and into the body, it can be a game changer in your day - and life."

Below are a few of Flynn's favorite yoga poses to recharge both the body and mind. Skip the coffee, and try her poses instead.

Wild warrior

1. Inhale the arms wide open parallel to the floor, exhale.

2. Clap the hands together and repeat. Inhale to open, then exhale and clap.

Powered by love

1. Take a wide stance with knees bent. Flex your (spiritual) muscles.

2. Straighten your legs and cross your heart with your arms.

3. Fly your arms high in the air and find a rhythm on your breath with the movement and mantra.

Thunderbolt twists

1. Inhale standing tall.

2. Exhale bend your knees into chair pose and prayer your hands to the right.

3. Inhale up to stand with long legs.

4. Repeat to the left side, hands in namaste (greetings).

5. Pick up the rhythm to a comfortable pace.

Magic takes guts

1. Drop into a squat, lift your heels if that helps and clap your hands together.

2. Throw your arms open to the side.

3. Breathe the hands back into a prayer.

4. Repeat to the other side. It takes guts to keep showing up, and never give up. Each time you practice, you step into the magic.

5. Feel the breath and movement get bigger and possibly faster as you open your shoulders and the life force (prana) uplifts you.

Chanting or singing adds energy because you are using your breath/life force.

Breath of joy

1. Sitting cross-legged, inhale your arms open.

2. Exhale and fold into yourself.

Move at your own pace. If you speed up the breath, the moment will flow more quickly or you can enjoy slow and deep breaths.

Tribune News Service

2017-08-30 08:45:53
<![CDATA[Blurring the lines of his, her clothes]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/30/content_31320119.htm PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania - What's the difference between men's and women's clothing? These days, the lines are blurred.

On runways around the world, designers are shaking up long-held societal and sartorial views of who should wear what. Take luxury designer Thom Browne. For his spring/summer 2018 men's collection, Browne re-envisioned the traditional men's suit with high and low skirts.

"It's about being open-minded to experience life the way you want it," the designer says.

Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele has infused his collections with pieces for men and women that are a hodgepodge of colors, textures, prints, fits and refreshed silhouettes. The message: Beauty is beauty - regardless of gender.

Some mall brands and fast-fashion stores have joined the gender-fluid conversation.

This spring, Swedish retailer H&M released a 19-piece unisex denim line made with organic and recycled cottons. At HM.com, hoodies, simple shirts, frayed shorts and more are pictured on both a male and female model and sized XS through L.

Last year, Spanish clothing retailer Zara rolled out a 16-item gender-neutral collection of T-shirts, sweatshirts, denim basics and Bermuda shorts called Ungendered.

In 2015, Target announced that it would begin phasing out gender-based signage for toys, bedding and other departments. It kept them for size-related items like clothing but aims to offer balanced options for both genders.

In June, Arizona State University professor Kate Hinde sparked a Twitter storm when she moved NASA graphic tees from Target's boys department to the girls department and tweeted a photo of it, driving home the message that girls can be scientists, too.

Target responded by saying that it also sells NASA shirts for girls.

"I don't think it's a fad. I think it's cultural," says Mary Wilson, assistant chair for fashion design art at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City.

"I think it's an evolution of society itself. Look at how we're almost becoming genderless in terms of identity outside of clothing. So maybe sooner than later we'll be looking at each other as individuals and not as segmenting who we are by what we're wearing."

She's noticed a gradual shift on campus.

"Students of Generation Z are asking to be allowed to design without being restricted by the traditional rules of gender," she says.

Even brands that don't identify collections as gender-fluid see the benefit of offering neutral pieces that invite the customer to choose how they're styled. The Edie Company - a go-to e-commerce brand for fuss-free V-neck tees, shirts, sleeved pullovers and casual dresses - is rooted in three philosophies: to be timeless/neutral, comfortable and a blank canvas.

"These components mean something different to everyone, based on what they're looking for," says the company founder Victoria Lopez. "It's about creating options for everyone."

Some gender-fluid fashion statements fall flat. Supermodel Gigi Hadid and her boyfriend, singer-songwriter Zayn Malik, outfitted in print-mixing Gucci suits, appeared on the cover of Vogue's August issue. Inside, the pair dished on gender bending.

"It's not about gender. It's about, like, shapes, and what feels good on you that day. And anyway, it's fun to experiment," Hadid says.

Malik adds that when he likes a shirt of hers, he just borrows it. "If it's tight on me, so what? It doesn't matter if it was made for a girl."

The magazine experienced a backlash, with many labeling the feature an example of appropriation. Genderqueer writer Jacob Tobia penned an editorial for Cosmopolitan that called it an elitist attempt to be "edgy".

"What's so annoying about this new and sanitized 'gender progressive' aesthetic is that it curates gender-fluid identities for those in the cultural elite in a way that totally whitewashes the lived experiences of gender-nonconforming people.

"Unlike how this new Vogue cover shoot presents it, the lived experience of being gender-nonconforming is rarely that fun and glamorous."

Vogue followed with an apology, stating that it "missed the mark" and looks forward to continuing the conversation - "with greater sensitivity".

Tribune News Service

2017-08-30 08:45:53
<![CDATA[Finding ways to maintain a long-distance relationship]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/30/content_31320118.htm The number of couples in long-distance relationships is on the rise, owing primarily to the decrease in job security that means many couples have to spend time apart if both are to remain employed and/or create stability of location for their family. Ease of travel, plus the fact that many young adults already in a relationship choose to go to university mean that rates are particularly high for couples in their 20s and 30s.

So what factors differentiate long-term relationships from those where couples live together or nearby, and are those in LDRs more likely than others to split up?

The factors that matter most to individuals in a relationship - trust, mutual commitment, good communication, comfortable levels of independence for each, and mutually satisfying levels of intimacy - are the same whether couples live together, nearby or far apart. There are, however, unique challenges faced by those in LDRs. Brooks Aylor at La Salle University reviewed the relevant literature and found four factors that set LDRs apart from other relationships.

First, there's an increased financial burden on the couple to maintain their relationship. Second is the difficulty defining friendships with others, in particular keeping those friendships within mutually agreed boundaries. Third are the high expectations - often unrealistically high - that individuals create for their partner while they're apart. Finally, Aylor feels it's more difficult for couples who communicate from afar to assess the state of the relationship and estimate accurately the strength of emotion each partner is trying to express. How might these issues be addressed?

Prioritize frequent meetings up, even though this may be costly. Aylor, together with colleague Marianne Dainton, found that couples in LDRs who had frequent face-to-face contact experienced less jealousy, were more trusting of their partner, and felt more satisfied in their relationship generally. Interestingly, Gregory Guldner and Clifford Swensen at Purdue University found no significant difference between levels of relationship satisfaction and overall time couples spend together, so total time isn't as important as frequency of meetings up.

Of course, with social media it's possible to communicate face to face without being in the same place. However, the myriad of non-verbal cues you pick up (mostly unconsciously) when you're actually together allow you to feel more confident you're "reading" your partner accurately. More frequent encounters also mean there's less time to idealize each other when apart.

Establish the clearest ground rules possible before separating, and review them regularly. Try not to please others - instead, establish rules that work for the two of you.

Make plans and share experiences, as this increases intimacy and satisfaction. For example, watch the same films or programs while apart, then share your reactions.

Vary the ways you communicate. Sending letters and gifts, for example, make interactions feel fresher and more personalized.

Finally, if you're in an LDR, take heart: in a survey of 485 individuals, Marianne Dainton found those in LDRs felt their relationship met or exceeded their expectations more often than those whose partner was nearby.

2017-08-30 08:45:53
<![CDATA[Dragon boat paddlers set for New York event]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/26/content_31141365.htm Multi-cultured show has lion dance and martial arts displays

Dressed in her Catch22 team-logo tank top, Stacy Wu hit for a morning exercise on the lake of World Fair Marina in New York on Aug 13, together with her dragon boat teammates. For the past month, they have come for training twice or three times a week, preparing for a race less than one week away.

Stacy, a New York-based analyst, is the pacer in the team, sitting in the front row, observing the water conditions, and setting up the pace for the boat with her paddle.

As a Chinese American, she learned about the sport from the annual dragon boat festival in Flushing, a Chinese community in New York where she lives.


The Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival in the Queens borough of New York on Aug 13. The annual event drew hundreds of participants, paddling aboard painted boats. Photos by Andres Kudacki / Associated Press

"I do really enjoy the cultural aspect of it," she said. "I would like to get in touch with my Chinese side."

This is the second year since Stacy joined Catch22, one of the most prominent dragon boat teams in the city. Born out of New York City's Flushing Bay in 2011, the team has been a breeding ground for dragon boat crews for years.

"Our teammates come from all over New York area, we meet them through our social media sites, through friends and family," David Woo, the coach and head of the team, told Xinhua.

Most of the paddlers are drawn to the team by its glorious competition record, not just Asian-Americans. It now has nearly 40 members. In New York City, there are quite a few competitive teams like Catch22, along side many other amateur and corporate teams, who can be spotted almost every summer weekend on the lakes in New York City.

Well-kept tradition, much-loved sport

In Chinese legend, the dragon boat culture emerged some 2,500 years ago, to mark Qu Yuan, an ancient Chinese patriotic poet, after he drowned himself in the Miluo River. To prevent fish and water dragons from eating his body, the locals beat their drums and splashed their paddles. This was the beginning of dragon boat racing.

Qu might never have imagined that his death would inspire a much-loved sport, not only in China, but also all across the world.

The tradition is well-kept in China, where dragon boat races, or the Dragon Boat Festival, are held in many cities on the fifth day of the fifth month of lunar calendar. Rules are also formulated to make the sport into regulated events.

In 1991, the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in New York City took a step future by bringing it to New York's Hudson River, trying to promote the image of Hong Kong.

It was supposed to be a one-year event, but the organizers decided to bring it back due to its popularity, Henry Wan, chairman of New York's Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival host committee, told Xinhua.

"It is now one of the largest summer festivals in New York City," he added.

Last weekend marked the 27th year of the event, and organizers reported a record number of participants: over 2,500 racers from some 200 well-trained teams paddled across the New York's Meadow Lake, which have turned this popular boating sport into a festive multicultural gathering, backed by martial arts performances, lion dancing, and so on.

Not just in New York. This water sport is now among the fastest growing team water sports in the world. Competitions are held in many countries in Asia, North America, and Europe as well.

Changes seen, teamwork going on

As the water sport prevails around the world, some changes occur for sure, tinted with local characteristics.

In New York, for example, the date of the festival is postponed from someday in June to early August, to adapt to the chillier weather, and give paddling teams more time to practice.

Also, some teams use modern speaker system to communicate, rather than depending on a drummer sitting in the front of the boat to set the rhythm of the strokes.

For most dragon boat events in North America, the old-fashioned dragon-headed boat, and drum as well, are still kept to carrying the Asian tradition, and the rules set by the International Dragon Boat Federation are abided.

As a competition, some techniques are necessary. When 20 paddlers are sitting in a slim boat, it is a test of grace, flexibility and synchronicity. Paddlers have to receive training to keep the boat going in the most efficient way.

"This is like the ultimate team sport," said Armando Gong, another Catch22 paddler, before he gets on the boat with others. They are preparing for the Riverfront Dragon Boat & Asian Festival at the following weekend, in Connecticut.

"For basketball and football, there are a lot of superstars who are very important to the team," Armando said. "In dragon boat, everyone is equal, everyone has to pull their own weight to the boat."

The difficulty is organizing a boat of 22 individuals, including one steersman, one drummer and 20 paddlers, to come at the same time, to practice and to produce one sound stroke, said David. To prepare for a race, all members come together and take part in race planning and strategy, and they have to get on an agreement before going onto water.

"There are 19 other people, who might have a different point of view, for all 20 to be all on the same boat is actually very difficult to be on sync," echoed Qing Liao, who paddles on the front row of the boat.

Once the unison is reached, the friendship they have achieved along the way makes the paddling experience more valuable, according to the paddlers.

"The unified bond between teammates and individual paddler can make or break a team," David told Xinhua before getting his group together for some pep talk.

"When you have that kind of chemistry, it's a lot easier to have one unified stroke to make a really fast boat," he said.

The camaraderie on the water stretches beyond the boat. To get better as a team, paddlers take their time to bond, to hang out, and to travel. Even during off seasons, they still work out together in gyms.

"I got sucked in, once you are in, it is just so part of your life," Qing said. Turning back to her teammates with a smile, she joined other Catch22ers for another round of paddling practice.


2017-08-26 07:15:43
<![CDATA[Brazilian teenagers live their Chinese Dream]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/26/content_31141364.htm Jober Ferreira Oliveira, a 16-year-old Brazilian student, had never dreamed of going to China before he was admitted to a special high school. Now, he's been to China twice, much to the envy of his friends.

Two years ago, Oliveira enrolled at Joaquim Gomes de Sousa Brazil-China Intercultural school, which is located in Niteroi City, Rio de Janeiro State.

Through the school he entered a football summer camp in China, where he played the game with locals, learned Chinese and visited museums.

Before the camp, the furthest place Robell had been to was Rio de Janeiro City.

"I made a lot of friends at the summer camp in China, and many of them are still in close contact with me. I taught them how to play football better, they told me more about China. Thanks to my high school, I grew to like China and Chinese people," said Oliveira.

Jointly held by the Confucius Institute of Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro and the state government, the school is the first high school in Brazil which uses Portuguese, Chinese and English as its teaching languages.

It provides the students with a standard high school education as well as lessons in Chinese language and culture. "I chose this school simply because I was interested in Chinese Kung fu in the films. However, Chinese culture was beyond my imagination. It was so vast that I have found much more to be obsessed with," Oliveira said.

Initiated in 2015, the school now has about 250 students. Apart from lessons of Chinese language, teachers from the Confucius Institute have been introducing Chinese culture to the students, such as calligraphy, traditional instruments and paper cutting.

To encourage the students to learn more about Chinese culture, the school held a football summer camp, enabling the students to visit China.

"I think we are changing these kids. Most of whom come from slums. Changing their worn-out clothes and getting rid of bad habits, they are now becoming hardworking and positive," said Yang Chao, a volunteer at the Confucius Institute. "More importantly, they are more and more interested in China and Chinese culture. In essence, they're creating their own Chinese Dream."

At the schoolyard, Xinhua reporters were greeted by the students with "Ni hao" - hello in Chinese. When Interviewed, they insisted on speaking Chinese, though some of them studied the language merely half a year.

"I have a Chinese name, Li Maoran," said 15-year-old Miguel Tavares. "I have not studied Chinese for long, but I participated in the Chinese bridge contest, and I will do it again this year. I like Chinese food and Chinese songs. I want to go to China!"

According to the director of the Confucius Institute Qiao Jianzhen, learning Chinese and going to China are regarded by the students as a chance to change their destiny. In effect, these Brazilian students are pursuing their own Chinese Dream.


2017-08-26 07:15:43
<![CDATA[Ethiopia receives a healing touch]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/19/content_30824153.htm Chinese medical teams provide medical assistance

Dr Zhang Xiaoyang, 53, is a man on a mission as he paces briskly through the corridors of Tirunesh Beijing General Hospital (TBGH) on the southern outskirts of this city on a hot August day. Named after Tirunesh Dibaba, a well-known Ethiopian runner and champion of the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics 10,000-meter and 5,000-meter races, the hospital built with Chinese finances and expertise showcases the multifaceted Ethiopia-China ties.

Opened in March 2012, the hospital has been offering health services in internal medicine, surgery, HIV screening and others.


Opened in March 2012, Tirunesh Beijing General Hospital has been offering health services in internal medicine, surgery, HIV screening and others. Photos Provided by Xinhua

Working far away from home

Zhang isn't on a one-man volunteer mission - he's been leading a 16-member Chinese medical team working at TBGH to treat Ethiopian patients over the past year with services ranging from neurosurgery to Chinese traditional acupuncture.

As the 19th Chinese medical team in Ethiopia, a unique medical partnership that can be traced back to 1973, Zhang knows he has a strong historical tie to uphold.

The team hails from China's Henan province, which has so far sent 19 such teams to Ethiopia over the past 44 years, involving a total of 327 volunteers.

With a 94-year-old father, 88-year-old mother, and a son in China, Zhang faces extra challenges to his mission.

"I keep in contact with my elderly parents, my three siblings, wife and son through social media site WeChat text, video and audio messages to cope with homesickness," says Zhang.

Sometimes, Zhang also tries to ease his homesickness by cooking Chinese food and chatting with his team members.

Nurturing life, risking occupational hazards

Zhang isn't the only parent that's been working in Ethiopia far from home treating Ethiopian patients at the hospital.

Wang Zhijing, 34, a gynecologist and a mother of two children, has been helping new mothers and their newborn babies in the hospital for the past year.

Despite sporadic shortages of medicines and occasions where she will use needles to treat an HIV-infected patient, Wang is unfazed by potential occupational hazards.

The Chinese doctors' presence has impressed many locals, like Dr Lidet Fekadeslassie.

"It used to be the case that we used to give Magnesium Sulfate medicine to pregnant patients with dangerous levels of blood pressure through blood vessels and thighs, but now I've learned that it can also be given safely through Glucose Intravenous infusion," says the 26-year-old Ethiopian medical worker.

Marealem Worku, 35, one of Fekadeslassie's patients, a new mother of twins, said that, with the combined efforts of Wang and Fekadeslassie, she's been receiving excellent treatment she didn't have when she gave birth to her first child at another hospital.

"Before and after I give birth, Wang measured my blood pressure, measured my weight, advised me on post-birth self-conditioning, a help that even my husband has noticed and appreciated," says Worku.

Part of a bigger picture

The 19th Chinese medical team in Ethiopia is not the whole story of Ethiopia-China health cooperation, but is just a part of it.

Earlier this month at a ceremony attended by outgoing Chinese Ambassador to Ethiopia La Yifan, an agreement was signed to support TBGH's efforts to develop its Trauma Treatment Center and Maternal Child Health Center.

"Even though Ethiopia is a developing country, actually it's a least developed country; its government and its people are concentrated so much on the development of the healthcare industry," says La, explaining why China is committed to helping Ethiopia's health sector.

At present both countries are working on the construction of centers on the hospital's premises, which highlights the growing Sino-Ethiopian medical and health cooperation.

Kebede Worku, state minister of Ethiopia's Ministry of Health, says that stronger Chinese assistance in the health sector is much needed as more and more Ethiopians need treatment in noncommunicable diseases.

Success and dedication

Over nearly 45 years of working in Ethiopian cities and towns, the Chinese medical teams have authored their stories of success and dedication.

Mei Gengnian, head of the first Chinese medical team to Ethiopia, died in 1975 in a car accident while he was serving local communities in Jimma town of Oromia regional state, 380 km south of Addis Ababa.

Buried near the spot where he died, his grave is being tended by a local family, and Mei's son has followed his father's footsteps by join-ing a medical mission to Ethiopia.

Amid success and dedication, China-Ethiopia health cooperation is continuing to progress as both sides have learned valuable lessons from each other.

More and more Ethiopians are coming to TBGH Chinese Traditional Medicine Center established in July 2015 to receive acupuncture treatment.

Despite the language barrier and different medical practices, both Ethiopian and Chinese doctors agree that they've learned a lot from each other.

Wang says she has learned how to have a better doctor-patient relationship and encourage better preventive health measures during her stay in Ethiopia.

Meanwhile, she urges Ethiopian doctors to learn from the Chinese doctors' experiences and be courageous enough to learn new skills and knowledge to improve their treatment of patients.


2017-08-19 08:45:46
<![CDATA[Band gives Inner Mongolian music a global stage]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/19/content_30824152.htm More than 10,000 kilometers from the grasslands of Inner Mongolia autonomous region, nine young Chinese musicians sing about their happy, carefree lives at the Kennedy Center in Washington. Anda Union is made up of seven men and two women, all from Mongolian ethnic minority. The band is considered one of the most successful Chinese ethnic minority bands to have gone global.

"We want to bring the Mongolian culture to a broader stage," says the band's lead Narisu.

Anda, which means sworn brothers in the Mongolian language, was formed in 2003. There are two singers, Qeqegma and Bilgbagatur, while the other members play traditional Mongolian instruments, including the horse-head fiddle, flute and a three-stringed instrument called sanxian. Their music also contains a unique style of throat singing.

All of the members were born in the 1980s and were students at Inner Mongolia Arts University, before being accepted by the Inner Mongolia Opera and Dance Drama Theater.

In 2001, they started performing together as a group, and two years later, they all resigned from the theater to focus on Anda Union.

The band won a national music competition hosted by state broadcaster China Central Television in 2006. They later met a British musician, who helped launch their first overseas tour in 2008.

Narisu says that many people worldwide enjoy the traditional style of folk music from Inner Mongolia.

"We play Mongolian folk music in a modern style," he says. "Our biggest wish is for Mongolian music to go global."

"Media outlets call us the 'Anda Union Phenomenon,' and I think our success comes from modernizing and globalizing our music," Narisu says. "We don't stray from Mongolian traditions, and love singing the folk songs that been passed down the generations for hundreds, or even thousands of years."

The band now spends half of their time touring overseas. They have toured the United States seven times and United Kingdom three times, playing more than 400 shows. Their second album, titled Homeland, was produced by Grammy Award-winning recording engineer Richard King. The album was featured by Songlines Magazine in 2016.

Narisu attributes their success to the broadness and extensiveness of Mongolian music.

"Via music we inherit the treasures and artistic resources of our ancestors," he says.

"In our music, you hear Mongolian epics, the melodies of the horsehead fiddle and the mystery of throat singing."

"Music bridges the divide between east and west," Narisu says. "Our music explains the beauty and the spirit of the Mongolian people."


2017-08-19 08:45:46
<![CDATA[Director unveils show at UK festival]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/19/content_30824151.htm Renowned Chinese film director Zhang Yimou, who's also known for directing the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympic Games, made the overseas premiere of his new conceptual performance in Edinburgh Fringe Festival last Saturday and Sunday.

Combining Chinese traditional arts and modern technology, and jointly performed by Chinese artists and foreign studios, the two-day show called 2047 Apologue was sold out to around 2,000 audience.

As the director of the show, Zhang Yimou delivered a video speech at the premiere, in which he said his new production is trying to touch on the question of "the relationship between human and technology, as well as the cultural collision and integration between China and the world, tradition and the future."

"It is not only a show or a story," he says, "but more like a reflection on puzzles that come with the rapid progression of technology."

The Chinese director says his inspiration have come from the hope that more children could spend less time on computers, more time on communication with family and friends.

Gorden, one of the audience, praised the artistic expression of the show, saying he was quite shocked and touched. "It uses a form I've never seen before."

Bao Yi, producer of 2047 Apologue, says that they chose Chinese Art and Culture Festival, which is organized under the framework of Edinburgh Fringe Festival, as their first overseas platform. Later this year, they plan to take the show to New York and Sydney.

Chinese Art and Culture Festival, organized by the Scotland-China Chamber of Commerce, has been held successfully for three consecutive years.

Song Jie, the chamber president, believes the overseas Chinese society can act as a bridge between China and the outside world, helping to bring Chinese arts and culture to the world stage.

The Edinburgh Fringe Festival is one of the largest art festivals in the world, covering a wide range of drama, music, dance, film and so on. It attracts millions of visitors from all over the world. This year, the Fringe runs from Aug 4 to 28, with more than 50,000 artists and performers bringing over 3,000 performances.


2017-08-19 08:45:46
<![CDATA[The poet with the crimson cassock]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/15/content_30123836.htm He is Living Buddha called Gyatse Phurjun Rinpoche, and he is different. Some say his writings are like the melodious love songs of the 6th Dalai Lama Tsangyang Gyatso. He talks to China Features reporter Wen Chihua

He is a holy man aged 36. And he writes poetry that touches laymen's hearts through his ability to combine the holy and the secular.

A poem from his first book, A Thought-Moment in the Secular World, reads:

Flowers evoke romance

When they bloom in the heart of a poet;

Flowers evoke the scenery

When they bloom in a the heart of a traveler;

Flowers evoke enlightenment

When they bloom in the heart of a mendicant


Clockwise from top: Gyatse Phurjun Rinpoche takes part in sutra debatings at the Ba Monastery in Qinghai province; Gyatse Phurjun Rinpoche receives an interview by China Features reporter. Photos by Wen Chihua and Provided to China Daily

"I love his poems, they are philosophical, Zen-like, and yet not recondite," says Zhang Yu, a woman in her late 40s with a grown son.

"I feel intoxicated and enchanted when I read them. It's difficult to believe they are written by an ascetic."

The author is not just a monk. He is a Living Buddha called Gyatse Phurjun Rinpoche in Qinghai province. He hears comments like these frequently. And he responds by saying, in Mandarin: "What I wrote in the book is nothing extraordinary. It's simply a record of my thinking, my personal feelings about the Buddha's dharma, and our society."

He writes every day, and in Chinese. This makes him different from most monks of Tibetan Buddhism, as few of them write in Chinese.

Some say his poetry and essays are like the melodious love songs of the 6th Dalai Lama Tsangyang Gyatso.

Gyatse Phurjun Rinpoche says being compared to Tsangyang Gyatso is inappropriate. He said that Tsangyang Gyatso was a great philosopher and a master of the history of Tibetan Buddhism.

He says: "Tsangyang's poems are written in a very metaphorical style, containing the wisdom of dharma. Those who have a deep understanding of Buddhism will get a lot from his writings. When eminent monks read his poetry, their doubts are resolved. People who read his poetry simply as love songs is a misinterpretation by the people outside Tibet."

For instance, one of Tsangyang's most recognizable poems, On the Eastern Hills reads:

Over the eastern hills rise

The pure white face of the moon;

In my mind forms

The smiling face of a beloved young girl.

"How would you understand beloved young girl here?" Gyatse Phurjun Rinpoche asks.

"Tsangyang Gyatso once said of himself, while living in the Potala Palace, 'I am the king of the Snow Land; Wandering in the streets of Lhasa, I am the most beautiful lover in the world'."

"Like Emperor Kangxi of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) who often traveled through the country disguised as a commoner, Tsangyang Gyatso visited women in Lhasa, because he wanted to better understand the layman's life and find ways to offer salvation to everyday people."

As the most revered Living Buddha, who was on the golden throne in the Potala Palace, Tsangyang Gyatso brought to Lhasa the most enchanting lyrics of all times. His songs were famous in every corner of the city then and are still popular.

By comparison, Gyatse Phurjun Rinpoche regards himself as an unknown Living Buddha on the Qinghai-Tibet plateau, who dearly loves writing.

"Writing has taught me to pay close attention to both the internal and external worlds. And writing my thoughts and observations reflecting this world full of uncertainties and anxieties," he says.

One of his readers says Gyatse Phurjun Rinpoche's voice "has hypnotic power, and can make you almost feel drunk".

Like the poem, Return to Silence, which goes like this:

The snow is like a dancer, falling gently on the earth,

It melts into the soil after the turbulence.

I'm like a snowflake, drifting quietly on this mortal world.

I return to silence, after having seen all the bustling of the world,

In the season I never expect I meet my bosom friends.

In the reincarnation I never cling to anything,

I seek a thorough understanding of human life.

Gyatse Phurjun Rinpoche's home is the 740-year-old Ba Monastery, which is also home to 160 monks.

His motivation for publishing the book is to help renovate Ba Monastery, and ensure the running of a welfare house and a nursing home in his hometown.

"I hope the monastery will provide a place where monks can study Buddhist scriptures, literature, English, and take computer lessons," he says.

Traditionally, a Living Buddha is in charge of a monastery's affairs. And Gyatse Phurjun Rinpoche is no exception.

As for his early life, Gyatse Phurjun Rinpoche was born on May 29, 1981, in Qumarleb county in the Yushu Tibetan autonomous prefecture of Qinghai province.

He is the fifth child and the only son of a herdsmen couple and was known as Sonam Wangchug until 1995.

He was 14 when he was identified as the reincarnation of the 14 Rateng Living Buddha. The announcement came as a complete surprise because his formative years were no different from that of his peers.

In his childhood he performed well in school, and was later admitted to the Communication Technical School in Qinghai province to study civil engineering.

Then, one day, his teacher informed him that his parents wanted him to return home.

It took him three days by bus to get home from the provincial capital Xining.

When he got home, he recalls, "the monks from the Ba Monastery were present.

"My parents had no idea that I was the reincarnated soul boy. But once I learned this, I told the senior monks that I wanted to study the dharma in the best institution in Tibet.

"Otherwise I would be just another Living Buddha unable to offer salvation to sentient beings, but living on their offerings."

In 1996, he was sent to the Sera Monastery in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, to began his full-time Buddhist dharma education under Khenpo Gashi Ngawang Dadrak.

Sera is one of the three main monasteries in Lhasa, along with Ganden and Drepung, where Tibetan monks undertake advanced studies.

Tibetan Buddhism has four main schools: Nyingma, Sakya, Kagyu and Geluk.

Gyatse Phurjun Rinpoche belongs to Geluk School which adopted the reincarnation ritual in the mid-16th century.

Panchen and Dalai are lineage disciples of Tsongkhapa, the founder of the Geluk School.

Nowadays, reincarnation is largely accepted as an inheritance right among various schools in Tibet.

At the Sera Monastery, he studied Buddhist scripture, Tibetan literature, and history.

And he also attended debates on the sutras, from early in the morning to the late into the night every day.

Then, one day in 2001, his mentor, the Living Buddha Sharu Tong, told him that he should go to live with the Han Chinese.

"My mentor didn't say why or what for. And because of my mentor, I came to Beijing on Sept 11."

In Beijing, he lived with migrant workers in a hostel for several months.

"I remember practicing meditation everyday. I didn't know how to speak Mandarin Chinese, and I didn't have enough money for food, so I only had a slice of bread every day. Water was free at the hostel."

The hardships and the pangs of hunger influence his writings today.

His experiences taught him sympathy and tenderness for ordinary people. And it was in the hostel that he realized why his mentor had sent him to live among the Han: He was needed to promote Buddhism in the regions where the Han Chinese lived.

To help him realize this goal, he joined Beijing Foreign Studies University in 2005 to study English and Chinese. And during the next four years, he took graduate courses in Buddhist philosophy and social psychology at Peking University. His studies turned him into the articulate and modern monk he is today.

Speaking about his mission, he says: "My responsibility as a monk is to pass on the Buddhist spirit to everyone who is ready to accept it."

Unlike monks in ancient times, who were hermits living according to Buddhism doctrine in isolated monasteries and temples, the main thing about being a modern monk, Gyatse Phurjun Rinpoche says, is to be involved in the world and real social practices.

"You cannot save all living creatures from torment if the monastery shrinks from contact with human society and fails to understand what really plagues men's souls."

Meanwhile, Gyatse Phurjun Rinpoche also serves as a Living Buddha for the Lhari Tongkhang village outside the Sera Monastery.

He also keeps in contact with his family.

Every time he returns to the Ba Monastery, hundreds of people attend his dharma assembly, hoping he will bless them by touching their heads.

"But I am just an ordinary man who bears the light of the Buddha," Gyatse Phurjun Rinpoche says.

"For the most part, I am no different from anyone in society. 'Living Buddha' is just a title," he says, wearing a smile.

A dimple on his left cheek makes him look like a youngster next door.

In fact, when he takes off his crimson cassock, Gyatse Phurjun Rinpoche can easily pass off as common man.

He enjoys the same things many urban young men enjoy: drinking good coffee; taking photos and sharing his interpretations of life on the social media platform WeChat.

"Tibetan monks all like the iPhone because it has a Tibetan writing system. So, we can text each other in Tibetan. It's easier, as it's our native tongue," he says.

These days he spends half the year on the road, in Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen, and in countries like the United States, Canada, and Australia, preaching Buddhist doctrines and explaining the practice of mindfulness in terms of contemporary life.

While he is in the West, he also studies Christian cultural values.

His efforts are in keeping with the Buddhist belief in open-mindedness and the acceptance of change.

He also believes that Tibetan Buddhism can reduce the anxiety of modern life regardless of one's religious views.

Gyatse Phurjun Rinpoche is now writing his second book, tentatively called As Affectionate as Mother.

"Writing helps me think clearly and helps me with my anxieties," he says.

Contact the writer at chihuaw@gmail.com

2017-07-15 07:11:24
<![CDATA[Value creation is key for great companies]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/02/content_29962304.htm China's economy needs to shift toward getting the most return from investments, says professor Liu Qiao

In 1995, China had no businesses with revenues large enough to be included in the Fortune Global 500 list of the world's largest companies. By 2015, 106 Chinese companies were on the list, gaining fast on the 128 based in the United States. Does this mean that China's corporate sector is healthy, even great?

Liu Qiao says that China now needs to emphasize the quality of capital investments, not just the quantity. In his new book, Corporate China 2.0: The Great Shakeup, the dean of the Guanghua School of Management of Peking University says the nation needs to build great companies that put value creation above sheer size.


Liu Qiao, dean of the Guanghua School of Management of Peking University. Provided to China Daily

"The Chinese economy has been successful over time because of high investment and an appropriate mix between government and the market. But the nation has reached the point where the economy needs to shift toward emphasizing getting the most return from investments," he tells China Daily.

Liu argues that companies should focus on the profits generated by invested capital. Size, measured by assets or revenue, should not be the goal. Great companies are able to make a high return on invested capital, or ROIC, over a long period of time. He writes: "Higher ROIC also makes the company financially able to produce great products or provide differentiated products over several life cycles, and ultimately exert inerasable influence on the world. ... If a company maintains a high level of return on invested capital for a long period of time, it is a great company."

Companies that are simply big don't create much value for their country. Liu notes that Chinese workers receive only 1.8 percent of the value of the iPhones they produce. China needs to export 800 million shirts to get enough profits to buy a single Airbus 380.

He sees Huawei Technologies, Alibaba Group, Xiaomi and SF Express as candidates to join the small group of truly great companies. However, he says, "we have many large companies, in terms of size. But it is about time to push on another dimension; we need to have more companies that put value creation ahead of size."

Balancing government, market

Fast growth has provided opportunities for all the people of China, Liu says. "In the past 25 years, GDP has increased more than 25 times. That means a lot to every Chinese. China's GDP when it started was very low. In the beginning of the reform process, capital was scarce, so anyone brave enough to do some investment got a high return. Now, China has almost accomplished the industrialization process. The service sector contributes over 50 percent of GDP. Since there is more capital, the return to new investments is lower, so it is important to put emphasis on (return on invested capital) to keep the economy going."

"China has identified an appropriate approach for developing this economy. The country has found a very nice balance between government and the market. But now the country needs to move to more entrepreneurship and more emphasis on investments that yield high returns. A five-year plan is basically a top-down approach. I'm not saying that a top-down approach is always wrong, but innovation and entrepreneurship is based on bottom-up efforts. The government can set up the guidelines and point out the big direction. But let the private entrepreneurs at the bottom make their own decisions and let private capital have more opportunities," Liu says.

"I'm not saying that government is bad. In a conversation, Alibaba executives said they used the market to become a great company. Remember the huge investment in 3G, the huge investment in the high-speed railway system and in expressways. There is no way e-commerce could prevail in China without this. So, government investment, despite problems, helps. What China needs now is a better balance between the two," he says.

Data presented in Liu's Corporate China 2.0 shows that private companies consistently have a return on invested capital that is 4 to 6 points higher than SOEs. So, encouraging the growth of the private sector and improving corporate governance can be seen as key to improving the efficiency of the overall economy.

The government is strongly pushing reforms to improve the efficiency of State-owned enterprises. In May, the National Development and Reform Commission announced a pilot program to introduce mixed-ownership reform in 20 centrally owned SOEs.

Liu says the government faces a dilemma: "They are encouraging the SOEs to put value creation ahead of size and are also implementing a new set of incentive mechanisms to ensure that the company will be profit driven. But a dilemma is that when the economy stalls, the government still relies on investment rate to boost economic growth and the SOE sector tends to be the pillar of this kind of policy initiative."

Room to grow

Liu says the greatest strength of the Chinese economy is that it is growing rapidly and there is still plenty of room for further growth: "I still believe that as long as the economy is growing and the market is big enough, those problems can be resolved eventually. For example, last year the GDP was 74.4 trillion yuan ($11 trillion; 9.8 trillion euros; 8.6 trillion). If you make the moderate assumption that real GDP growth will be 5.5 percent, by 2030 the GDP will be 157 trillion yuan - more than double the 2016 level. The bottom line is that if the growth is healthy enough, the existing problems can be resolved by larger size."

He writes that "through innovations in technology and business models, more private investment, and enhancement of institutional infrastructure, the Chinese economy can still grow at a moderate rate, 5 to 6 percent per year. More importantly, the quality of growth can be greatly improved as a result of improving investment efficiency. This is the new normal that President Xi Jinping has proposed. It is also the most realistic scenario China's policymakers should make every effort to achieve."

Liu acknowledges that the recent explosive growth in corporate debt means that China is not using capital efficiently enough. However, household debt and government debt is low by international standards. Furthermore, the government has a lot of tools in its hands, so he doesn't believe China will have a crisis like that in the United States in 2007 and 2008.

He sees the accumulation of human capital, skilled and industrious people, as the key to China's future growth. Also, the very deep consumer market creates abundant new opportunities. New investments in education and healthcare will drive the economy.

He also stresses the need for more research and development, both private and public. He notes: China outperformed on most of the policy targets in the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015). But it failed in one area - R&D as a percentage of GDP. We are just now reaching the 2 percent target, but we need to set a target of 4 percent."

Furthermore, companies with high R&D spending tend to outperform their competitors. In China, Huawei spends 15 percent of revenues on R&D, comparable to Facebook or Amazon, but there are few other Chinese companies that do this.

Liu concludes: "The central government can shift the policy discussion to the quality and sustainability of economic growth. What matters is whether you use capital more efficiently. It's all about whether you trust the market to achieve higher value creation - higher ROIC. It's all about this basic principle."


2017-07-02 13:26:48
<![CDATA[Man Of Steel]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-06/23/content_29860852.htm

The head of Thyssenkrupp has plotted a new course for the German industrial giant in China, with an emphasis on high-tech components and clean energy projects

Heinrich Hiesinger has transformed German industrial titan Thyssenkrupp AG, shifting it from its core base as one of the great global steel giants.

The 57-year-old chief executive officer has moved the company into high-tech components, elevators and industrial solutions, which cover clean energy projects.

By doing this, he has managed to expand Thyssenkrupp's business in China.

"This new focus has provided us with the opportunity to grow in China," Hiesinger said.

"We started to focus on the automotive industry, elevators and other sectors, as well as participating in the country's industrialization and urbanization programs," he added.

Thyssenkrupp, which is based in Duisburg and Essen, currently has 670 subsidiaries worldwide.

In China, it has more than 30 plants and centers.

Overall, its workforce totals 156,000 and is spread across 80 countries and regions. Last year, its sales revenue was 39 billion euros ($42.57 billion).

In an in-depth interview with China Daily, Hiesinger talked about Thyssenkrupp's business strategy in China, his green lifestyle and his love of hiking.

How do you assess the prospects of your business in China and the overall state of the economy here?

I think the target of 6.5 percent GDP growth from 2016 to 2020 is still among the highest in the world. You need to remember that in Europe the target is 2 percent while in the United States it is 3 percent. So, China remains one of the growth engines of the global economy.

Clearly the outlook is different sector by sector. We have quite promising areas, including automotive, clean energy, and environmentally friendly solutions.

There are other industries such as cement, mining, trucking and construction, where we might see setbacks. But overall if you look at the automotive and elevator sectors, these are very promising and much bigger than most of the other industries.

What are the group's plans in China during the next five years?

Naturally, the growth sector for Thyssenkrupp is the automotive sector. Last year, the country was by far the largest automotive market with 28 million cars manufactured here.

Right now, we are building one of the largest plants for steering technology in Changzhou, in Jiangsu province and we have just started construction for a new spring and stabilizers factory in Pinghu, in Zhejiang province.

We are also optimistic about the elevator industry, because one has to remember that China represents half of the global market in units.

In order to increase production in that sector, we are building a new plant in Zhongshan, in Guangdong province, including a test tower, which is 245 meters high. This will allow us to bring in cutting-edge technology such as high-speed elevators.

The central government has opened up more sectors to foreign direct investment in China, how will this play out for Thyssenkrupp?

We have never limited our investment in China. The automotive, elevator and plant businesses have been open to foreign direct investment, which is one of the reasons why we have more than 30 operations here.

Looking at the big picture, we have invested more than 2 billion euros in China. We have always strongly supported the country, and now it is good to see that more sectors are deregulating.

As we have seen in other markets, opening up sectors will be beneficial for overall economic development. It is the right way to go.

Tell us how you work with Chinese companies involved in international projects through the Belt and Road Initiative?

Well, for example in other markets, we are building one of the largest cement plants in Saudi Arabia. We are the main contractor when it comes to engineering, procurement and construction, or EPC. But we are working alongside a Chinese company during the construction phase.

So, here we are in the lead and they are joining us. In the Belt and Road Initiative, there will be times when Chinese companies know the country much better than we do.

In that scenario, they will lead and we will support them.

What are the main attributes you need to be a CEO of a company engaged in doing business in China?

First of all you need to be very fast and you need to localize your business. Customers in China are eager for the latest technology and this is an opportunity.

In other markets, clients can be reluctant to engage with new technology. But Chinese customers are very open and eager to be the first to use new technology. This is beneficial for us. In comparison, Europe is much more conservative.

What are your views on globalization when it comes to trade?

I believe it has been a big success. I really appreciate that China continues to deregulate industrial segments. But obviously in other regions of the world, for example in the US, we see that global trade is partly in danger.

Of course, there have been no concrete actions, just statements so far. We can only hope that rational thinking will prevail and that people understand that major economies can only benefit if we have strong global trade links.

How do you motivate your team in China?

We have around 18,000 people working for Thyssenkrupp here and the majority are Chinese. The number of expats is extremely low. They also recognize that as CEO of the company I have made the Chinese market a priority.

I come here as often as I can because the speed of doing business here is so much faster than in other regions across the world.

How do you handle business setbacks?

That is a good question. Every person will suffer setbacks at some time or the other, and so will companies. To cope with problems, you have to be positive - you have to meet the challenges head on.

It is also important to have a vision. This will help you overcome problems and solve them as quickly as possible. You usually find that after coming through a setback, you are mentally stronger as you have solved those problems. You also see that in staff members that have handled setbacks at work.

How do you spend your time when you are not working?

First of all, I'm convinced that even as a CEO you need to relax and take time off. If you get totally exhausted, you will not be able to fulfill your duties in the office.

You need to get away and reflect on how you plan to shape the future. I always try to free up time at weekends to relax and recharge my batteries.

What I really love is hiking. Luckily, my wife enjoys that as well and we have a dog, so we are highly motivated to get out in the country. In fact, you can often find us exploring the mountains near where we live.

Do you have a green lifestyle?

Well, in order to heat our home we use geothermal energy. Naturally, we do care a lot about the environment and we also have a large garden. As a boy, I grew up on a farm, so I have always cared about the environment, plants and animals.

Do you think your background as an electrical engineer is relevant to your present position as CEO?

Being an engineer is never a disadvantage. Today, it is all about innovation and it makes it much easier for me to follow what is going on than for somebody who lacks skills and knowledge in engineering. But then, I really liked being an engineer, as I found the work fascinating.

How do you resolve problems between different business sectors?

I try to get maximum transparency when it comes to data. If you achieve transparency, the problems can usually be solved and you know the right direction to take.

Of course, there are times when that does not work when it simply comes down to leadership. Then you have to make a decision to resolve the issue. But it must be done in a fair and correct way - that is essential.


2017-06-23 09:33:59
<![CDATA[Allianz seeks to bulk up in Asia in wait for market permit]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-06/23/content_29860851.htm German insurance group, Allianz SE, helped turn around asset manager Pimco in the United States.

Now, it is trying to bulk up on the other side of the world.

"Asia is still a relatively small part of the overall global portfolio but it holds a very big promise," George Sartorel, Asia-Pacific chief executive officer of Allianz, said in an interview.

"We have kept quiet in Asia, but our goal is to accelerate growth in the region. We see it really as the growth engine for Allianz," he added.

While it has managed to turn around Pacific Investment Management Co, Allianz has lost ground to other European insurers in the Asia-Pacific region, where a growing middle-class is driving demand for insurance. The region generates only about 4 percent of its premiums. Prudential Plc in London draws about 36 percent from Asia and Paris-based Axa SA about 10 percent.

"In terms of premiums and earnings, Asia is almost negligible at Allianz at the moment and compares poorly to Axa and even more so to Prudential," said Nick Holmes, an analyst at Societe Generale SA who covers the companies.

"Both Axa and Prudential have stronger historic ties to the region, which might be an advantage," he added.

Allianz joined with Standard Chartered Plc earlier this year to sell general insurance in the region through the bank's branches and digital platforms. In China, the Munich-based company is awaiting a license to sell online insurance nationwide in partnership with search engine Baidu Inc and asset manager Hillhouse Capital Management.

"While we got positive signals from the regulator, I think we need to be patient," Sartorel said. "If we pull that off, that is something transformational for us in China, giving us access to 800 million potential customers."

It remains to be seen how profitable a partnership with China's biggest search engine could be for Allianz, Societe Generale's Holmes said.

Banking partnerships are no bargain either for insurers. Allianz paid Standard Chartered about $200 million upfront to sell its general insurance products in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and China. The lender expects to receive at least $1 billion in payments over the 15-year life of the bancassurance agreement, including profit-sharing, people with knowledge of the matter said at the time.

It was still good value, according to Sartorel, 59, who oversaw Italy and Turkey at Allianz before taking on the Asia-Pacific role in 2014.

"We're confident because penetration is low and Standard Chartered is committed to the business model that we are planning to deploy across the geography," said Sartorel, who is responsible for markets including China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Japan and the Philippines.

Allianz is also in talks with a number of potential partners to expand its life insurance business in China, he said.

The insurer already operates a fully owned non-life insurer in three provinces and a life insurer that is present in eight of provincial-level regions in China.

Sartorel ruled out a joint venture with a mainland bank because of the low margins for insurers.

About two thirds of Allianz's insurance products in Asia are sold through agents and the remainder through partnerships with banks including HSBC Holdings Plc.

Likewise, Axa has joined with Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd to sell life insurance in China. It offers non-life insurance through a joint venture with Tian Ping Auto Insurance Company Ltd.

"We will in the future do more digital partnerships" Sartorel said, referring to the Standard Chartered agreement. "How do I compete with Ping An Insurance, which has a million agents on the street in China? Forget it."


2017-06-23 09:33:59
<![CDATA[Picture-perfect altered reality]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-06/21/content_29829489.htm


Like waving magic wands, young people apply photo-editing apps to get good or funny looks, to express their emotions and share them with friends on social-media networks. Photos Provided to China Daily

A growing number of Chinese are using photo-editing apps to modify their photos and curate their images. Deng Zhangyu reports.

The photos were taken. But they weren't ready. Far from it.

Ye Qian and her friends had snapped shots of a group gathering. Then, they dropped their heads over their phones, backs hunched as they operated editing apps to ensure everyone's image was perfectly polished before posting them online.

"It's a common scene at gatherings of friends," Ye explains.

"You have to modify the photos before sharing them. Everyone does it. We want to alter the photos to look better, usually giving people slimmer faces, larger eyes, flawless skin and longer legs."

The 23-year-old postgraduate student at a university in Hubei's provincial capital, Wuhan, has 15 apps for modifying photos on her iPhone. Each has a specific function for a specific subject - some for selfies, some for landscapes, a few for pets.

Such photo modification is an open secret, Ye says. All her friends do it, men and women.

"It's completely accepted," she says.

"If I only edit my own image in a group photo, the others will hate me."

Consequently, such apps are flourishing in China.

About 332 million Chinese have downloaded photo-editing apps, according to a November report released by data-analysis company Jiguang.cn. Nearly half of Chinese with smartphones - mostly people younger than 30 - use such apps, and the average user in the country has 2.4 per phone.

More than 3,400 such apps are in the market, the report says.

"Photo editing is a new tool for people to manage their online images, so these apps enable them to present themselves as they wish on the web," says Beijing Foreign Studies University internet culture expert Dong Chenyu.

Manipulating one's appearance in the real world is difficult due to body language, facial expressions and tone. But cyberspace enables one to not only control but also alter their presentations.

"These apps make people's obsession with perfection possible to actualize," he adds.

'Selfie smartphones'

But 25-year-old Xie Qi believes the apps aren't fast or convenient enough. So the human resources worker at a college in Zhejiang province's Wenzhou bought a smartphone specially designed to take beautiful selfies years ago.

It automatically renders skin flawless, faces slim, eyes large and irises colorful.

She usually takes two phones with her when she goes to parties or on trips - her "selfie smartphone" and one for ordinary use.

"Many of my friends also have two phones," she says.

"We're not perfect in real life. But altering our photos makes us appear beautiful and confident."

Xie still uses apps, even with her specialized phone, and spends five to 10 minutes editing each photo. She sometimes seeks friends' advice on creating perfect images.

Her mother also uses apps to remove wrinkles. Xie agrees this is a good way for her mom to present an idealized self on such social-media platforms as Instagram and WeChat in hopes of getting as many likes as possible.

Xie posted lots of selfies during her college years.

But she is more selective after graduation, since she views curating her online image as a priority.

"I can tell if a photo has been modified immediately upon seeing it," she says.

"I don't like ones that are too heavily edited. I make moderate modifications. At least my friends are able to recognize me." Dong says this is typical when users know that people familiar with them will see their posts.

"They balance their true selves with their idealized selves when editing."

Overdoing it

Still, overedited and even fake photos are common online, especially with the rise of internet stars.

Freelancer Xing Hanna says her friend was recently duped by altered photos when she selected a model to pose with her product from a group of portraits provided by web celebrities.

Her team was shocked when the woman looked nothing like her pictures.

"Photo-editing apps help online stars curate their appearances. But it's easy for ordinary people to worry about imperfections."

Xing is conventionally pretty and says she was praised as such while growing up. But she began to feel less secure as she was bombarded with over edited photos of beautiful women.

Her best friend, a good-looking woman, often asks if she should get plastic surgery. Xing's friends often ask: "Why is my chin not as long as online stars'? Maybe my eyes are too small? Why do they look so pretty in photos but I don't."

Xing also starts to doubt herself upon hearing such questions so often.

She knows these celebrities' personas exist only on social networks. They post perfect pictures but also claim ordinary backgrounds, which confuses the public. "I know those photos are edited," Xing says.

"But we can't help but compare ourselves with them."

Dong points out new trends and technologies usually bring new problems.

People need time to learn how to cope. He explains that studies have shown publishing moderately edited photos on social media makes people happy, and these apps are to physical appearance what clothes are to fashion.

"People are born to pursue beauty," Dong says.

"It's fundamental. These apps satisfy this drive."

Contact the writer at dengzhangyu@chinadaily.com.cn

2017-06-21 07:43:53
<![CDATA[Students up and running]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-06/21/content_29829487.htm


More than 3,000 students at Tsinghua University run its recent campus marathon. Held three times since 2015, it has seen a growing number of participants over the years. Provided to China Daily

A college jogging club is raising hopes that fitness will become a priority for more students. Guo Ying and Sun Qi report.

At 6 am every day, students gather at the Zijing sports ground of Tsinghua University in Beijing. After cheerfully greeting each other, they do warm-up exercises and then run as the sun rises.

They are members of Tsinghua's morning jogging club, founded by Yin Ximing, a PhD student from the School of Economics and Management at the university.

To stay fit and develop an early-to-rise, early-to-bed habit, Yin started jogging in the morning with some of his friends.

They met other Tsinghua students who are regular joggers and formed a loosely organized club in 2015. Gradually, the club drew more students. The club now has more than 400 members.

Despite different reasons for joining - some wanted to lose weight, some wanted to practice to pass the university's fitness tests and others ran to vent their emotions - all enjoyed running.

The club has no requirements for speed or distance, says Yin. No matter how slowly you run, other people run with you. This encourages participation.

More importantly, running brings a sense of control of their lives and bodies.

"The positive energy of sport drives study and life, and brings unexpected changes," Yin says.

Liu Bo, head of the Division of Sports Science and Physical Education at Tsinghua University, says the campus has around 40 sports clubs and associations like the morning jogging club.

Tsinghua has a long sporting tradition. More than half a century ago, it boasted the slogan "Fighting to work at least 50 years healthily for the motherland" to demonstrate its emphasis on physical fitness. The new slogan "No sports, no Tsinghua" shows sports is integrated into the university's culture.

Tsinghua has a tradition of testing students in long-distance running - 3,000 meters for males and 1,500 meters for females.

From this year, undergraduates are also required to pass a swimming test before receiving their graduation certificate.

Liu believes physical education in universities is under threat from the internet and the growth of entertainment options that are breaking the habit of physical exercise among students.

"Tsinghua's data from 2003 to 2015 showed male students slowed by about 30 seconds in running 3,000 meters and female students slowed by 17 seconds in running 1,500 meters. Similar declines are seen in other physical tests such as long jump, pullups or situps," Liu says.

The government's Middle- and Long-term Youth Development Plan (2016-25), released in April, aims to enhance physical health among young people, urging schools to "toughen the implementation of the National Students' Physical Health Standard and help develop the habit of lifelong exercise".

Other Chinese universities are adopting mandatory measures in physical education.

Xiamen University in East China's Fujian province, Sun Yat-sen University and South China University of Technology in Guangdong province, have listed swimming as a compulsory course.

Xi'an Jiaotong University in Shaanxi province requires students to learn tai chi, an ancient Chinese martial art.

Liu believes that in an exam-oriented system, physical education is often overlooked in primary and secondary schools. Once students reach university, it's hard to overcome physical inertia and embrace exercise. Tsinghua's mandatory measures have helped students develop better exercise habits to an extent, despite the initial complaints.

"The Tsinghua marathon has been held three times since 2015, and the number of entries grew from 2,200 in the first year to more than 3,000 this year. It is so popular that we have to draw entries now. It shows growing acceptance of running and physical exercise," Liu says.

Hu Kai, who won the 100 meters at the 2005 Summer Universiade (a multisport event for college students worldwide), has been one of Tsinghua's most outstanding student athletes. He has a doctorate and joined the staff of its Division of Sports Science and Physical Education. Hu believes many Chinese see physical education only as a way of improving fitness and overlook its education function in character-building.

"In many of the world's leading universities, competitive sports, such as rugby, are very popular. Courage, hard work and teamwork in the game embody the value of physical education," Hu says.

Yin's morning jogging club is growing fast, and some members are developing new sports groups such as evening jogging clubs and a winter swimming association.

China Features

2017-06-21 07:43:53
<![CDATA[Wenzhou-Kean University produces new graduating class]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-06/21/content_29829486.htm

The graduation ceremony could not have looked more American: a grand wood-paneled theater, beaming students in caps and gowns, a valedictorian speech and even dancers in leotards.

But the event was not taking place in the United States. It was happening in Wenzhou in East China's Zhejiang province.

The 213 young people who received their degrees on June 3 graduated from Wenzhou-Kean University, a school set up by New Jersey-based Kean University in partnership with Wenzhou University in 2014.

WKU is part of a growing trend of foreign universities setting up branches in China.

By January, there were 37 foreign university campuses on the Chinese mainland, according to the US-based Cross-Border Education Research Team, a 42 percent increase since 2014.

The students at WKU followed exactly the same curricula as their peers on the East Coast, but most have never set foot in the US. They received their US-style education entirely in China.

Gaining an international education without leaving the country has become an attractive option for many Chinese students.

The tuition fees are 45,000 yuan ($6,621) a year, almost one-third of what students would pay at Kean's main campus in the US.

But the students get an authentic US-style experience. All classes in Wenzhou are conducted in English, the majority led by more than 100 foreign teachers.

The school also follows the US system in prioritizing the students' personal development as well as their test scores.

"We encourage students to do interactive learning in the classroom instead of passive learning, and we want them to be lifelong learners, critical thinkers, great presenters and researchers," says Holger Henke, the vice-chancellor for academic affairs at WKU.

The mix of language and communication skills that students gain from this approach is expected to give them an advantage if they plan to continue their studies abroad. Of this year's batch, more than 70 percent have won places at graduate schools in the world's top 100 universities, according to Henke.

Many students admit that they chose the university because they saw it as a springboard to an elite school.

"I chose WKU because I believed it would bring me more possibilities to go overseas after my graduation," says Fu Xiaoting, a fresh graduate.

She will further her studies in computer science at North Carolina State University in the fall, hopefully to get master's plus doctorate degrees in the future.

According to Henke, studying at a foreign campus in China may actually be a better option than going abroad for some students, as the teaching staff members have more diverse backgrounds and are more attuned to their students' needs.

"Teachers at WKU are more aware of Chinese students' interests than those in US universities."

Pinata Winoto, an academic from Indonesia who teaches computer science at WKU, agrees that students benefit from the university's special learning environment.

"During their four years here, many students changed a lot - they became motivated, independent and developed a strong sense of social responsibility," says Winoto.

Winoto's student Pan Lijun is an example of how the university aims to help broaden students' horizons.

Pan says her experience competing in a coding contest run by Microsoft in 2014 was transformational.

"We won the third prize and, more importantly, I discovered what I want for my future through the game," says Pan.

She will start her postgraduate studies at the University of Toronto in September.

Liu Xia contributed to the story. Contact the writers through kanyubing@chinadaily.com.cn


2017-06-21 07:43:53
<![CDATA['Tomboy' emerges as an atypical singing star]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-06/10/content_29695808.htm Zhou Bichang will cover six cities across the Chinese mainland, including Guangzhou, Chongqing, Beijing and Shanghai, from August to December, to promote her latest album

When Zhou Bichang became the first runner-up in the Super Girl Competition, a Chinese version of American Idol for female contestants, broadcast by Hunan Satellite Television in 2005, she impressed audiences with her tomboy image and her assured and expressive singing, especially her distinctive interpretation of R&B songs.

Now, over a decade later, Zhou, who was then seen in a T-shirt, jeans and sporting black-framed glasses, has transformed into one of the country's best-selling pop stars.

In a black dress, delicate makeup and high heels, Zhou announced her upcoming national tour in Beijing recently.

To promote her latest album, Not Typical, the tour, which has the same title as the album, will cover six cities across the Chinese mainland, including Guangzhou, Chongqing, Beijing and Shanghai, from August to December.

One of the songs from the album, titled Obsession, released in April, has sold over 500,000 copies via three major online digital streaming music websites, including QQ Music, the music service under China's internet giant, Tencent.

The song, which is co-written by Australian composer Tushar Apte, who has written songs for Western stars such as Chris Brown and Maroon 5, was followed by another single, titled Er Ming, or Noise in the Ear, released on May 26.

The new album comprises "retro and trendy pop songs" by Zhou, who writes about her life experiences in the songs.

"The songs are about everyday situations. For example, we may be obsessed with something, or we may receive so much information that we feel sick of it," says Zhou, 31.

LA sojourn

She says the album and the tour is called Not Typical because when she looks back on her career, she does not consider herself a typical pop star.

After her success in 2005 while she was still a student at the Xinghai Conservatory of Music in Guangzhou, she did not hurry to embrace stardom.

After releasing her debut album, Who Touched My Violin String in 2006, Zhou took a break and went on to further her music studies at the Musicians Institute in Los Angeles, majoring in R&B vocal performance, one of her favorite music genres.

She released a double-CD album in 2007, titled Now and Wow, each with 10 songs, some featuring her R&B singing style.

The album achieved both critical and commercial success, and in 2010, the singer-songwriter launched her first national tour, Sing Along The Travel.

"It seems that I rarely convey my thoughts directly to my fans. The only way I can do it is through music," says Zhou, who has nine studio albums.

Early years

Born in Changsha, in Hunan province, and raised in Shenzhen, in Guangdong province, Zhou was introduced to music by her mother, a Chinese folk music teacher, and started singing and writings songs in high school.

She first gained international attention after winning the best worldwide act award at the 2014 MTV Europe Music Awards.

A year later, she became the first pop singer-songwriter from the Chinese mainland to hold two concerts at the iconic Hong Kong Coliseum.

Separately, Zhou initiated Begins to Love in 2015, an annual philanthropic concert, to help hearing-impaired children.

Besides being a singer-songwriter, Zhou is also enthusiastic about photography.

In November 2016, she held her first solo photo exhibition at Beijing's 798 Art Zone, a popular hub for contemporary art.

Titled Wander, the exhibition features Zhou's photographs from her travels over the past three years, and cover the Tibet autonomous region, Finland, France, New York and Iceland.

She says photography is a different way to see and experience the world.


2017-06-10 07:25:00
<![CDATA[Not your regular grandfather]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-06/10/content_29695807.htm


Top: Wang Deshun, who is dubbed "China's hottest grandpa", was recently featured in Italian brand Ermenegildo Zegna's latest campaign in China. Above: Wang wowed the country in 2015 after he showed off his toned physique on the runway during China Fashion Week in Beijing. Photos Provided to China Daily

While Wang Deshun is best-known for his impressive physique, the truly inspirational quality about this octogenarian is his tenacity in seeking out and getting through the struggles

Retirement for most senior citizens in China involves playing mahjong, taking care of their grandchildren and just shooting the breeze with peers at the neighborhood park.

Wang Deshun, however, has other things on his mind.

The 81-year-old said he prefers to "look for trouble" and take on more unconventional tasks that pose a sterner challenge. Despite having to juggle his time between working out at the gym, appearing at fashion shoots and acting in films and television shows, he claimed that life for him these days is still too easy.

"Age only becomes a barrier if you think about it. There is biological age and there is another that is determined by your state of mind," he said.

Wang first shot to international fame in 2015 after he showed off his toned physique on the runway during China Fashion Week in Beijing. Nearly two years after that incident, the octogenarian is still getting inundated with messages on his Sina Weibo page praising him as "inspiring" and being "the ultimate idol". Wang has more than 300,000 followers on the social networking site.

Today, people refer to him as "China's hottest grandpa", and his admirers extend to even luxury fashion houses. Italian brand Ermenegildo Zegna has featured him in their latest campaign in China called "Defining Moments". It could be considered quite a honor, considering how Oscar-winning actor Robert De Niro is part of the global campaign.

In the campaign video that was shot in Milan, Wang is flanked by actor Sunny Wang as he talks about the moment in his life that defined him.

Wang has become such a recognizable figure that his wife has banned him from accepting media interviews in an attempt to maintain their normal lives. As such, his son, who is also his agent, has been secretly arranging for interviews to be done at the gym Wang works out at daily.

A former colleague and friend of Wang described him as someone who can survive even in the depths of hell. Wang's daughter, Wang Qiu, joked that her father is akin to an imperial concubine when it comes to taking care of his body.

Wang's unusual penchant for hardship could be traced to the moment he was born.


A native of Shenyang, Northeast China's Liaoning province, he grew up in a time when his home province was occupied by Japanese troops.

Despite his father having a job as a cook, he was made to scour the train tracks every morning for coal dust that could be exchanged for pancakes, so as to help his parents feed his eight other siblings. He believes his mother gave birth to more than 10 children but only nine survived the harsh winter and hunger.

"Every morning when I left for the train station, I would see two people pushing a cart and picking up dead people who either froze or starved to death. They looked just like garbage collectors picking up trash from the street," he said.

"A biographer once asked me about my relationship with my mother. I told him we didn't have a relationship," he added.

Before starting his acting career in his early 20s, Wang worked as a bus conductor and a military factory worker. However, he had a yearning to be on a stage and he sought out this calling by signing up for free training classes offered by the local Workers' Cultural Palace, thus beginning his stage career at his hometown that spanned more than 20 years.

In 1979, after fainting several times on and off the stage, he was diagnosed with autonomic nerve disorder. He attributed it to the Stanislavski's acting system he had embraced. The doctor advised him to stop acting before the disorder developed further into more serious mental problems.

Wang decided to go with a less emotionally draining alternative - pantomime. At the age of 49, he relocated his whole family to Beijing, the only city in China where he believed pantomime would be appreciated. To prepare himself for the role, he joined the only gym in Beijing.

"It wasn't about looking good or leading a healthy lifestyle. I was doing it because you need a good body to convey the message in pantomime," said Wang.

He would labor for hours in the gym every day. He still continues to do so.

The family soon got in on the pantomime act as well. Wang's wife was the playwright and director. His daughter, a student of the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, was the piano obbligato. His son became the anchorman and gaffer.

While the family's performances were well-received, they nevertheless struggled to make ends meet. Back in 1980s Beijing where it was illegal to rent homes, Wang and his family ended up as vagabonds who had to constantly move between the homes of their friends in the capital.

"Those were tough times but they were also some of the happiest in my life," he said.


Things started to look up in 1987 when he became the first Chinese actor to perform at the International Pantomime Festival held in Germany. In 1989, the pantomime characters he created were included in an encyclopedia of Chinese society.

By the mid-1990s, Wang decided to slow down and do something less physically demanding. He opted to be a body artist who often took to the stage naked and covered in body paint.

Apart from working out four hours a day, he also trained himself to control his breathing so that he could appear like a living sculpture.

In 1994, the book A Hundreds Years of History of China in Pictures was published. It opened with Lin Zexu, the Chinese official who fought during China's Opium War. The book ended with Wang's contributions on the stage.

Wang said that his foray into the fashion world via China Fashion Week in Beijing was not something he had planned - it was simply born out of a favor to an acquaintance who was working with Chinese designer Hu Sheguang.

Despite being catapulted to stardom, Wang is insistent that fame has not gotten to his head.

If anything, he is still as frugal as before.

"Fame has not changed my life. The way I live today is no different from the past," said Wang, who today lives with his son and grandchild in Beijing.

"A bowl of rice and some tofu will suffice for a meal."


2017-06-10 07:24:39
<![CDATA[The rise of 'fresh talent' in China's modeling industry]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-06/10/content_29695806.htm Having young models front luxury brand campaigns seems to have become the passe thing to do these days, with a growing number of older personalities, some of whom can even be considered geriatric, claiming the spotlight.

Italian fashion house Dolce & Gabbana has featured three Italian grandmothers in its recent advertisements. Over at Celine, 83-year-old writer Joan Didion became the face of the French luxury brand's new campaign. Givenchy has done likewise by picking 49-year-old Julia Roberts to promote its women's wear collection.

However, young celebrities, nicknamed xiaoxianrou in Chinese - it literally means "young fresh meat" - still generate the biggest hype.

A 2016 report by Chinese tech giant Tencent showed that six out of the 10 most popular celebrities online are males, with the oldest being Li Yifeng, who is turning 30 this year. The report also stated that more than 50 percent of the fans of male celebrities are women.

Yang Ling, an assistant professor from Xiamen University who has been studying the culture of fandom in China, attributed the xiaoxianrou phenomenon to the fact that girls in Chinese society today are afforded as much freedom and financial support as boys, and this in turn allows them to indulge in idolizing young male celebs.

In commercial terms, young actor Kris Wu Yifan has already overshadowed famous actress Fan Bingbing as the second-most valuable celebrity in China. The 27-year-old also became the first non-British brand ambassador in the history of Burberry, donning the brand's signature trench coat alongside the likes of Eddie Redmayne and Romeo Beckham last year. Within weeks of Wu's endorsement deal, the number of followers on the brand's Weibo account hit 1 million.

Earlier in January, 35-year-old actor Hu Ge, who is arguably the "oldest fresh meat" in the Chinese entertainment industry, was announced as Emporio Armani's brand ambassador for China and the Asia Pacific. Hu is one of the youngest faces for the Italian luxury house.

Tang Xiaotang, a fashion commentator and founder of Nofashion.cn, expressed his skepticism about the ability of young celebrities to generate revenue for fashion houses. He pointed out that luxury brands, unlike fast-moving consumer goods such as shampoos or potato chips, are consumed by only those at the top of the social pyramid and that such individuals are unlikely to choose a luxury brand simply because it is endorsed by young celebrities.

He also said that having a massive number of followers on social networks does not necessarily translate to positive growth.

"The core value of luxury brands is creating aspiring dreams for their customers to achieve. That is why individuals such as scientists, directors or legendary figures traditionally dominate luxury brand campaigns," said Tang.

2017-06-10 07:24:39
<![CDATA[EU urged to expand its investment scope]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-06/04/content_29609505.htm New trade pact with China 'would be welcome', former Belgian leader says

With the Belt and Road Initiative now globally recognized, the European Union should further explore "ways and means" to invest in big infrastructure projects worldwide with China, according to Mark Eyskens, former Belgian prime minister.

The 84-year-old economist says the EU is enthusiastic about the free trade agreement reached with Vietnam, and adds that the next agreement must build further on this accomplishment interms of legal security, market access and dispute settlement.

"A new agreement with China would be welcome. Perhaps the Beijing-Brussels annual summit at EU headquarters at the beginning of June is a good opportunity after the Belt and Road meeting in Beijing to address this," Eyskens told China Daily at his office in Brussels.

Mark Eyskens, economist and former Belgian prime minister. Provided to China Daily

He says there is a huge need to build - to construct infrastructure such as railways, ports, roads to ports, airports - and this will be very costly, and it will not be easy to arrange the required financing.

The scholar and European political expert, who has published 58 books, says the essential global economic issue of today is investment, because the world's population will reach 10 billion by the end of this century.

He described China's Belt and Road Initiative as an invaluable aid for global needs.

He says the problem Europe has today is a lack of investment, because the bloc has other priorities. It has spent a lot of money on pensions and healthcare, although the European Union has made some effort to increase investment by earmarking money for the European Investment Plan (2015-17).

But he says it is not targeted enough and the money was not always used in the most efficient way. In fact a European Court of Auditors report criticized the European Commission's approach. There is a need to elaborate a grand strategy to truly create innovation and employment by stimulating intercontinental cooperation.

"The big infrastructure projects that can really spur innovation and growth are outside Europe, and many are in Asia and China," Eyskens says.

He says the Belt and Road Initiative is very important for the European Union, which needs to find the ways and means to reorient European investments to the big projects in the world.

"For instance, how Europeans should get involved in building airports, seaports, big channels and canals and so on is very important," Eyskens says.

Eyskens says Europeans are extremely interested in what China is doing, including the way that Beijing finances investment. In that regard, Eyskens says what China had done in creating the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank is "very important".

"With some European countries becoming stakeholders in the bank, this may become a great instrument for all," Eyskens says. "Investment must be a two-way street, with long-term benefits for all, embedded in multilateral agreements regarding fair trade, legal security, in-country value and corporate social responsibility."

If that can be done, he says, the European Investment Bank can possibly work as a partner. During the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing on May 14 and 15, the European Investment Bank signed a cooperation agreement with Chinese government.

"We've tried to convince the European Investment Bank also to go outside Europe, to Asia, where most of the world's economic growth is realized, and thus where innovation and employment are created."

He says that in 2013 the European Council decided to consider ways to assist European industries - as the Chinese and Japanese governments do - to acquire major infrastructure contracts through competitive long-term loans.

"This may happen in the near future and make AIIB and Europe truly complementary," Eyskens says.

Apart from infrastructure projects, Eyskens also suggests both sides can cooperate on big data, digital devices and all that has to do with modern communications and scientific research.

"In addition, it is also very important to invest in brains-and that requires, of course, education and research exchanges of scholars, professors and students," Eyskens says.

He says the University of Leuven, where he was chairman between 1971-76, is hosting about 2,000 Chinese students, and many Belgian students are studying in China at the big universities.

"That's wonderful for building the future together and learning from each other," he says.

Eyskens has been to China several times. When he was finance minister in the late 1970s he visited China and has been impressed by the changes made in the following decades.

He says China's reforms struck him as having transformed the populous country, and that Deng Xiaoping was a "very, very great statesman". He urges the EU to construct "a web of free trade agreements" with other economies.

"In front of a dilemma between a web and a wall, many people today what we call the victims of globalization - think they have to replace the web by walls surrounding countries, which is psychologically explicable, but makes no sense at all," he says, calling himself a European federalist.

"It is counterproductive and it's against the future, so we have to save our webs over and destroy the walls," he says.

With China and the EU considering a bilateral investment pact, Eyskens strongly believes that new French President Emmanuel Macron may support a free trade agreement between the EU and China.

He says the Trans-Pacific Partnership - a trade deal led by former US president Barack Obama with Asia-Pacific economic giants - is "dead", but the EU is ready to announce the restart of the talks of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership between the EU and US.

"This is in the best interest of both partners," he says.

As a European federalist, he believes the EU still needs to do a lot of work to build itself into a strong bloc.

In 1991, Eyskens, as Belgium's foreign minister, says Europe was an economic giant, a political dwarf and a military worm. Asked after 26 years if his views have changed, he responds: "My answer is no, no and no. I was indeed right then, and I am still right now with that sentence."

He continues: "We have no seat at the table of the Security Council. Germany is not at the table, while Germany is the biggest economy in Europe. So this is quite unbalanced indeed. In military terms, Europe is simply insignificant."

To change the situation, Eyskens urges an increased investment in defense, infrastructure and big research projects at the European level.

He says the European budget is 1 percent of European GDP, whereas the federal budget in the United States represents 27 percent of the country's GDP.

"So we have to increase the European budget. And then, of course, the national governments could lower their national budgets and lower their taxes; and, of course, the European Parliament should vote some taxation," Eyskens says.

His father Gaston Eyskens (1905-88) served six times as Belgian prime minister after World War II. At the age of 12, the young Mark Eyskens was introduced to then-British Prime Minister Winston Churchill during a visit to his father's house in Belgium. He remembers seeing the great statesman sitting in a chair and found him inelegant. He says he saw a rather fat old man chewing a big cigar.

"I had hoped for some important sentences that I would remember my whole life, but Churchill was half asleep," Eyskens recalls. "And he just says that I was an ice boy."

The person Churchill called a "nice boy" is now turning 84, having served as prime minister of Belgium in the 1980s and - as his father did - in many other cabinet posts for 16 years. He says he greatly benefited from being "in politics and with politicians since boyhood, because everyone came to my father's house".

Sitting in the 19th century office of the PA International Foundation about five-minutes from European Union headquarters, Eyskens says his lifelong career as politician in various posts has taught him how to compromise, which informs his role as foundation chairman, overseeing humanitarian projects and identifying solutions to issues of public health in several parts of the world.

But what has been most astonishing is his prolific writing. He is the author of almost 60 books on politics and economics. He says the secret is keeping busy and being well organized.


2017-06-04 14:09:24
<![CDATA[Remembering a unique road trip]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-05/30/content_29546841.htm Biking the Silk Road: Six-year-old Sophie's Fantasy Tour, published by New World Press in English recounts a child's epic ride along the ancient route

At the age of 6, Sophie Chen biked 2,100 km along the ancient Silk Road from Xi'an in Shaanxi province to Turpan in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.

Fascinated by the Monkey King stories from Journey to the West that her mum told her, Chen was surprised to discover from her father, a professional outdoor explorer, that there is a Silk Road that the Monkey King traveled.

At that time, she had just finished kindergarten, but in the following summer vacation, asked her father, Jack Chen, to take her on a bicycle journey to follow her superhero.


Sophie Chen's cycling adventure with her father helps her relate better to Silk Road-related history and geography in school. Photos Provided to China Daily

The father hesitated at first, but finally agreed.

"I was thrilled to see the Monkey King sculpture at the Flaming Mountain, and I loved the delicious grapes and raisins at Turpan," says Sophie, recalling the 76-day cycling journey of eight years ago.

"And naturally, I relate better to Silk Road-related history and geography in school," she says.

Speaking about her daughter, her mother Wu Tsui-hua says: "After the journey, she just doesn't give up easily."

Sophie, now 14, is in Beijing to release an English version of the book she co-wrote with father, Biking the Silk Road: Six-year-old Sophie's Fantasy Tour, published by New World Press.

The book is the daughter's travelog, followed by father's notes, comments and information on long-distance biking.

With 400 original photos and daughter's cartoon illustrations, the book is an interesting dialogue between two generations.

"This book will help readers understand the Silk Road through its unique landscapes and local people, as well as a father's viewpoint," says Dong Jingjing, the book's editor, adding that it is good read for children as well as adults.

From the daughter's perspective, the book vividly records the visual and emotional experience of the journey where the girl imagined camels in the shape of her favorite McDonald's logo, and the Yellow River as milk tea.

And the father's role was to "protect the bubbles of imagination" and to tell when to persist and when to give up, and to educate and to advise.

As Sophie writes in the book: "Apart from the horn noise which I really hate, there were other challenges for me. For example, I hate the hot weather in the Gobi Desert. If you ask me whether I want to ride a bike along the Silk Road again, I will say, 'Yes, if we can avoid the Gobi Desert'.


"The road in the Gobi Desert was not even there sometimes. I was so tired that I hoped Papa could drag me along. But he often rode ahead, not waiting for Mama and me, which made me cry many times," she adds.

Speaking of the challenges, Jack says that they encountered broken glass and floating husks in the farming areas, besides the strong wind and the scorching sun.

"Every time I saw her little figure riding, and saw her skin tanned by the sun I would feel sad and proud," Jack writes.

He also says that during the journey, most elderly Chinese they met believed the girl was suffering being on the road. However, many younger parents seemed to better understand the journey's educational significance.

"A tough journey can open a child's mind and exert far-reaching influence on him or her," he says.

Dong, the book editor, says: "In this sense, Sophie is a very lucky girl."

Now, Sophie is in her second year of junior high at Taiwan's Taoyuan, while her mother keeps a cafe to sustain the family.

As for her father, he works as a professional guide for bike journeys and other outdoor exploration activities.

At 25, Jack completed his first solo global biking expedition, spending some 400 days from 1998-99 on the road.

Then, from 2011 to 2014, he went on a second global bike tour, this time, taking 100 elderly people with him.

"They were old, and some of them were ill, but they wanted to accomplish their dreams of touring the world, and I believed that if we slowed down we could make it and we did." Chen says.

What made him slow down was the earlier trip with his daughter.

"I used to value speed first and ride 100 km per day. But when I was riding with my 6-year-old girl for the first time, she slowed me down to like 20 km per day, and gave me the time to appreciate culture and scenery along the way," he says.

Besides, the journey offered him a fresh view on parenting, and gave the family what soldiers often call the "comrade link".

"My wife and I realized that we have only a little more than 10 years to watch our children closely."

Before the Silk Road journey, Jack took Sophie on shorter bike journeys.

Now, after the journey, the family still does long-distance biking in the summer

At 11, Sophie crossed the United States; at 13, she reached the top of the 5,895-meter Mt. Kilimanjaro and also biked along the mid-Asian section of the Silk Road.

For the coming summer, it will be Europe.

"The Earth is vast and I just want to take my child to see as much of it as possible," says Jack.

2017-05-30 07:51:16
<![CDATA[Interpreter strives for right words to capture intent of great leaders]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-05/30/content_29546840.htm Kevin Lin has been the lead British government interpreter for conversations in Mandarin and English since the 1990s and translated discussions between Queen Elizabeth II and President Xi Jinping when China's president visited the United Kingdom in 2015.

Professional requirements and protocol mean he will never reveal the details of conversations involving global figures.

He says the art of interpreting is akin to playing a concert solo without rehearsals, and having to get every note right.

"I haven't made any major mistakes or caused any wars!" he said with a twinkle in his eye and in perfect English. "I always try to do as much preparation as I can but customers don't always understand that it's not how much you know, but how fast you recall it."

He formed his own interpreting consultancy, KL Communications, in 2005. It now has 11 staff members. All were out of the office on interpreting jobs when this interview was conducted; a testament to the company's success.

Lin has also written several interpreting textbooks that are required reading in China. He said his main message to students is to think about delivering the essence and intent of a speaker, not just the words.

Sometimes, an audience will let you know if the interpretation is correct, he says. He gave the example of a trip he made in 1998 with Tony Blair, who was then the UK prime minister. Blair was in Shanghai, where the stock market had just opened.

"Blair made a joke that I don't remember now and the few English speakers there laughed.

"When I interpreted the joke into Chinese, 1,000 traders burst out laughing, so I knew I had got it right."

Lin, 58, was born in what was then the small village of Putian in Fujian province.

"It was very poor. I was one of the few in my class who had shoes, not sandals. My parents were government employees."

After finishing school, he worked in the paddy fields for two years before applying to attend university after such institutions reopened following the "cultural revolution" (1966-76). To his surprise, he got a place at a Beijing university to study English. He taught English for a few years and then had the choice of applying for scholarships in either the United States or the UK.

"I was the only one in a group of 20 to pick the UK because I never liked to do what everyone else was doing," he says. "I often wonder about how I would have been a completely different person if I had gone to the US. I would have been richer but not necessarily a better person."

He did his PhD in linguistics at the University of Lancaster and to supplement his income, he sold life insurance.

"Then, I got a call from the BBC World Service, which was putting together a team of interpreters."

He spent seven years at the BBC, also working as a journalist before branching out on his own.

At first, he started a company doing web design. He had done some work interpreting for the British government starting in the 1990s but this only amounted to a few days a year for pocket money. But by 2005, he knew that China was going to become increasingly important on the world stage and he built his interpreting business through his good reputation and by word-of-mouth.

"I became well-known in China-UK related circles at the top and a lot of people referred me for jobs," he says. "I tried marketing after the financial crisis but that has never generated any business."

His current big project is working on machine translation software that he hopes to roll out by the start of next year.

"I want to prove that Google is not the only way," he said.

A highlight of his career was receiving an OBE from the queen in 2011. "I was the first to get such an award from the mainland as before it was given to people from Hong Kong," he says. "It wasn't for interpreting but for services to US-China relations and I felt totally humbled."

Do you have any regrets?

"I used to but not since my son, who's 8, was born. My wife is from Ukraine and she speaks English, Russian and Mandarin."

Do you think about your carbon footprint?

"Interpreters still need to travel and it's a necessary evil otherwise diplomacy would be worse off."

Are you paid too much?

"No, we are paid far too little. Our rate is on a par with plumbers and builders. I don't mean to disrespect them but our interpreters study for at least 15 years and have two degrees."

What would you most like to change about yourself?

"To talk less! My son also talks too much so it's in the genes."

Would you want to live anywhere else?

"Ideally, I would split my time with most of it spent in the UK and then somewhere warmer. But I do go there at least four or five times a year."

For China Daily


2017-05-30 07:51:16
<![CDATA[A dream that can fly in the sky]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-05/29/content_29542401.htm Kite maker sees his creations soar as he dazzles spectators with the colors and vision of his imagination

Can humans think in their dreams? Zhang Tianwei has no doubts about the answer. "Yes, I do."

The 79-year-old industrial artist and a retired technician has "thought out" solutions in his dreams to difficult aeronautical engineering problems at least twice in the past three decades. The results are plain to see as his "dynamic kites" in various shapes and sizes astound spectators as they seem to dance and frolic in the sky.

Zhang's kites can make nine movements simultaneously, propelled just by the wind, through built-in gearing systems, which are all handmade from simple raw materials like bamboo, wood and thread.

Zhang Tianwei displays his elaborate and delicate works of art depicting people and creatures. Huo Yan / China Daily

"The most useful metal pieces come from soft-drink cans, because the aluminum alloy is strong, corrosion resistant and malleable," said Zhang, pointing to a can on his table-turned workbench at home in Xi'an, Shaanxi province.

He cuts the can into 2-millimeter wide strips to make the "teeth" of the gear with a pliers, and a wheel is made from thick bamboo skin strips.

The wind wheel's axle is made from a pencil. He drills small holes into it and inserts thin wooden sticks, 1.5 millimeters in diameter, to fasten cloth or paper, which form the blades of a propeller.

"The diameter of the hole must not be wider than that, otherwise the stick would not be fastened properly," said Zhang. "Any minor errors would end in failure after days of hard work."

With a gust of wind to the wheels of one of his creations, a horse-and-cart frame made up of more than 1,500 pieces of bamboo skin strips tied together with nearly 5,000 knots, the "four-horses" can appear to gallop, shake their heads and swing their tails, and a "rider" can also move his arms to rein in the horses.

To raise the 2-kilogram structure into the air, it takes a 40-meter long kite combination, made up of 192 life-size Terrecotta Warrior kites in eight square formations.

Born into an industrial artist's family, Zhang learned how to make conventional kites from his father and grandfather from the tender age of 10. In the 1930s, his father was famous for making big kites "like small planes" in Xi'an.

But what motivated him to innovate the designs of a traditional kite was his participation in the 1986 First National Kite Competition in Weifang, Shandong province, as a representative of Shaanxi.

Although Zhang won a silver medal, the only medal the Shaanxi delegation obtained in that year's contest, he felt he had to improve.

"Weifang is the most famous place in China for its kite history and techniques. It was an eye-opening experience," he said. "They have reached such a height in applying conventional kite making skills that if I do not have my own unique strength and style it is almost impossible to win."

A book about a kite master, Wei Yuantai from Tianjin, which caught his attention in the 1950s when he was in junior middle school, proved inspirational. Wei was good at making kites that can seem to transform into various "creatures", such as a cock fighting in the sky. But this particular skill had largely vanished in the 1940s.

Graduating from a vocational school where he learned about machinery, Zhang believes his expertise in mechanics was a foundation for him to study Wei's works, and recover and revive the old-kite making techniques and improve them.

He started designing and making the elaborate kites in his own style after coming back from Weifang. "Conceiving the structure and the gearing system is the first difficult step, and then making the parts takes much longer and patience," Zhang said.

To make a crane kite open its mouth, swing its head, flap its wings and move its legs in the sky simultaneously, he must conduct a number of experiments to adjust his design and the parts to reach the "perfect" match.

His wife has been supportive but admits it was hard to understand at first. "I really could not understand his mania in making kites," Zhang Xiuzhen, 74, said. "But when I saw his happiness after making even a small breakthrough over these years. I gradually realized that making kites is a family heritage and part of his life."

Xiuzhen is now a skillful and experienced kite flyer in her own right, and "an important partner" to her husband in doing many kinds of experiments.

Zhang Tianwei appreciates her support and understanding.

He made fewer than 50 of his "dynamic kites" in 31 years, and every one is unique. "I always want to try new ideas in the next," Zhang said.

His works were shown in the Shanghai Expo in 2010 and appeared on Canada Post stamps in the 1990s. Foreign collectors bought his works. One of Zhang's concerns is that the craft may be lost after he passes away, as it is almost impossible to copy the kite, let alone learn the techniques, by just studying the blueprints.

Zhang is meticulous in drawing detailed blueprints for each of his works to help maintain the knowledge for future generations.

However, neither of Zhang's three sons are interested in learning his skills.

As a provincial intangible cultural heritage, Zhang hopes the government can digitalize his kite-making process in a more reader-friendly 3D format on computer to let young people experience the "mentally absorbing and brain-burning" tricks.

Contact the writers at liyang@chinadaily.com.cn

2017-05-29 08:23:54
<![CDATA[Building a bridge to span the traditions of his heritage]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-05/29/content_29542400.htm Listed as one of the four most famous historical bridges in the world, Chengyang Shelter Bridge (Fengyu Qiao) in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region has an elaborate timber design and structure, remarkably without any screws or metal bolts.

Yang Siyu, the designated rebuilder of the bridge, is the heir to this national intangible cultural heritage style of construction synonymous with the Dong ethnic group. It is called a shelter bridge because traditional dwellings are built on it.

"It's true in Sanjiang Dong autonomous county that when there is river there is a shelter bridge, as our Dong people believe that the timber bridge not only provides a shelter but also keeps bad luck away and brings wind and rain on time," said Yang.

Yang Siyu crafts a structure using skills and knowledge passed down from generations before. Gong Pukang / For China Daily

Born into a carpenter family, he was soon exposed to a world of wood and craftsmanship.

Yang's grandfather was one of the key constructors when the bridge was built in the 1920s.

"I picked up woodworking skills under my father's watchful eye when I was just 12 years old", said Yang.

His routine and schedule was extremely strict and Yang started with the very first step, chopping wood. Gradually he mastered the basic skills and soon started making the buckets which Dong brides carry as their dowry.

"I visited villages to make numerous buckets for brides, that is how I came to know the structure of a shelter bridge," he said. "Woodworking provides the first basic principles."

In 1983 when Chengyang bridge was destroyed by floods, a group of experts was sent to help restore it.

However, the restoration soon faced problems as no one knew how to reorganize the thousands of wooden parts that were torn down even though each part was carefully marked.

The bridge team then turned to Yang and his father for help.

The father and son managed to collect the materials for reconstruction and relocate the beam and poles by mental calculation over a period of weeks.

The experts were stunned both by their efficiency and accuracy, and Yang's fame began to spread.

"The key lies in the mortise-tenon joint, where one piece of wood is inserted into another. Get that right and the rest will follow. Restoration is just like piling up the building blocks once the joints are secure and accurate," explained Yang.

Without calculators or blueprints, the 62-year-old craftsman has helped build 100 pillar-supported dwelling bridges, 12 shelter bridges, and more than 300 models.

"I went to primary school for one year and then dropped out," a regret he still harbors but he is now an honored Master of China Arts and Crafts.

However, he would rather call himself a craftsman, able to construct an intricate bridge from the simplest first steps.

"Buildings with steel and concrete are no doubt solid but the timber building of the Dong is more inspiring and beautiful because it's much closer to nature," said Yang. "I have a responsibility to pass the wisdom of our ancestors to the younger generations."

He offers training to young people and more than 100 apprentices are ready to inherit the skills.

He has raised money to start a customs and crafts museum which teaches local customs free of charge. The bridge builder is spanning the generations.


2017-05-29 08:23:54
<![CDATA[Workers toil to restore perilous part of Great Wall]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-05/28/content_29534584.htm The Jiankou Great Wall, one of the most dangerous sections, got its name because the shape of the mountains and ridges resembles the notch in the end of an arrow.

Built in 1368 during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), the section has been decaying because of overgrown plants, the effects of time and strong winds.

Since July last year, scores of workers, organized by the local cultural heritage department, have begun maintenance work to restore and preserve the section.

Each day, workers collectively carry about half a metric ton of building materials up to the Great Wall.

"All of the workers here are older than 50," says Zhang Jianwu, the team leader. "The work is too arduous to be of interest to young ones."

Most workers are from Luanping, a mountain village in Fengning, Hebei province, and they are hardworking and acclimated to the rugged mountain trails. The work is expected to conclude by June.   


TARGET: The restoration work on the Jiankou section is expected to finish in June.


2017-05-28 08:23:42
<![CDATA[Applying the science of happiness]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-05/14/content_29338387.htm Peng Kaiping says employing positive psychology in planning and education can help people achieve happier, more meaningful lives

Despite almost 40 years of rapid advances in living standards, evidence shows that many Chinese people feel unhappy. Peng Kaiping argues that positive psychology gives insights into how individuals can improve their own happiness and how policies can boost public happiness.

Peng, who is the founding chairman of the psychology department at Tsinghua University and head of the wonderfully named Tsinghua Happiness Technology Laboratory, explains his decision to return to Beijing, after having achieved a tenured professorship at the University of California, Berkeley:


Peng Kaiping is chairman of the psychology department at Tsinghua University and head of the Tsinghua Happiness Technology Laboratory. Provided to China Daily

"I thought the sense of purpose and the ability to feel happy got lost in those years of economic growth. Chinese at that time didn't even want to say they were good at something. It sounds like humility, but it's not. It is just the habit of not saying anything positive - emphasizing the negative part. Chinese expressions are very negatively focused. They talk about challenges, obstacles and tackling problems, but seldom about happiness and inspiration. I felt very much I should work on promoting positive psychology in China."

Traditional psychological studies usually focus on mental illnesses and disturbances. But, beginning with the late 1990s work of Martin Seligman at the University of Pennsylvania, a new field has arisen that applies scientific analysis to understanding how people become happy. This is known as positive psychology.

Peng stresses that positive psychology is based on testable conclusions, not vague feelings. Psychological research shows that individuals can use technologies and training to improve their positive emotions and their feelings of living meaningfully. Especially, evidence from big data shows how policymakers can improve public happiness.

Peng did not start his career intending to be a psychologist. When he entered Peking University as a 16-year-old freshman in 1979, he was admitted to his preferred major - physics. On his arrival at the campus, he received a note instructing him to report to the new department of psychology, which had been created on the orders of Deng Xiaoping.

In 1978, Deng said that psychology must be important because the first visiting delegation of US scientists was headed by psychologist Richard Atkinson. Deng asked to meet with leading Chinese psychologists and was furious to be told that there weren't any, because the field had been banned since 1952.

Peng says he was lucky to be in the first class of 20 psychology students because the university invited famous international psychologists to teach these classes. He stayed at PKU to teach after his graduation and then went to the University of Michigan in 1989, eventually receiving his PhD. He became a leader in the field of social and cultural psychology and a professor at Berkeley.

His early research dealt with differences in the psychology and philosophy of Americans and Chinese. He found that Americans tend to analyze the world using Aristotelian logic, which emphasizes the characteristics of an object. Chinese, on the other hand, focus on holistic relationships.

"For example, how would you categorize a cow, a chicken and grass? Americans say that the cow and the chicken fit in the same group because they are both animals. Chinese usually put the cow and grass in a group, because the cow eats the grass," he explains.

Most Americans are unsatisfied if they cannot sort things into mutually exclusive categories. But, the yin-yang tradition leads Chinese to be more psychologically accepting of complex relationships.

Peng concludes: "The Swiss developmental psychologist Jean Piaget argued that this Chinese style of reasoning was not very developed. But, this is wrong. The great German philosopher Emmanuel Kant said there are two types of rationality - integrative and analytic. Earlier psychologists had not read Kant."

Chinese philosophy may also be more consistent with the insights gained from the correlations of big data.

Most studies use surveys asking people how happy they are, but that is very unreliable. "Instead of one-time information from college students in laboratories, big data gives you lots of longitudinal data from real life," Peng argues.

Peng and his colleagues used big data techniques to search 200 million users of WeChat and Weibo for keywords indicating joy, happiness or pleasure. Combined with other variables known to tie to happiness, especially education levels and crime rates, this big data was used to identify the five happiest cities of China - Hangzhou (Zhejiang province), Chuzhou (Anhui), Yuxi (Yunnan), Yingtan (Jiangxi), and Yangzhou (Jiangsu).

What underlying factors explain the high happiness levels of these very different cities? Peng lists three factors: "First, the people feel blessed because each of these places is traditionally rich in Chinese history and culture. Second, the governments have been following "happy city" policies and often talk about optimism and positive factors. Finally, these cities are not poor, even if they are not the richest."

"Interestingly, people in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou don't talk about happiness. Even the government doesn't talk about it. They talk about the problems they are going to tackle, but there is not a feeling of optimism. In the happy cities, the mayors and party secretaries express optimism. The interaction between the government and the people generates happiness."

Using big data techniques to analyze the last 200 years of writings in Chinese and 13 other languages, Peng and his colleagues found that Chinese writers were the least happy and most pessimistic. Spanish writers were the happiest. English texts were in the middle. "This is the reason I'm doing positive psychology," Peng says.

More than 170 Chinese cities have joined the Happy City campaign. Peng advises the government to boost happiness by talking about happiness and optimism. Don't fixate on negativity. Also, focus on removing misery, rather than trying to boost already happy areas. "If you have a beautiful picture, it won't help very much to add more flowers to it."

"Psychological education and positive experiences such as art or science make people happy. Make life convenient for people. It is very important to have a sense of working together, not a hierarchy," Peng advises.

"One city, Dehong in Yunnan, built an open, public space in the center of the city, instead of high rises or a city square. They show movies every night. It creates a sense of community since you can see almost everybody there," he notes.

Tsinghua is also working on integrating psychology into China's schools. Peng says that 140 school principals have signed up for a happy school program. Last October, more than 4,000 principals from around the country came to Tsinghua's campus for a meeting on positive education-the largest gathering of educators in Chinese history.

Kevin Rudd, the former prime minister of Australia, gave the keynote address to the third international conference on positive psychology at Tsinghua in 2015. President Xi Jinping invited him to breakfast before the conference and told him that the topic was very important.

Peng notes an interesting coincidence: "President Xi introduced the concept of a 'Chinese Dream' in 2013, one year after China's urban population passed more than half the population. Incidentally, the concept of an American Dream was proposed by businessman and historian James Truslow Adams in 1931, after the US became majority urban in 1930. Both originated when the people lost the traditional social support they had in their hometowns. The Chinese Dream has the same psychological foundation as the American Dream. Since China is a collective society, people want to make the country prosperous and happy."


2017-05-14 10:30:16
<![CDATA[Rising star]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-05/13/content_29332443.htm Léonore Baulac is the new principal dancer of the Paris Opera Ballet, one of the most selective ballet companies in the world alongside Moscow's Bolshoi Ballet and London's Royal Ballet. At just 26 years old, she's achieved the highest rank - here, she shares her rise to the top and her lifetime of dance, both on and off the stage

Was it your dream of a lifetime to become a principal dancer?

Indeed! I started dancing when I was four years old. At 11, I took part in a competition with my favorite dancer, José Martinez, as a member of the jury - I even had a poster of him in my bedroom at the time. I received the gold medal and since that day I dreamed of becoming a danseuse étoile (principal dancer) so that I could dance with him.

The world of dance is known as an extremely tough environment. Is it?

Well, when you're so committed to ballet, you don't have the same adolescence as others - I wasn't a party girl. But it wasn't a sacrifice; it was my choice. As for the cliché about the bad atmosphere at dance school, think of this: what happens when dozens of young girls are gathered in the same room? At that age, whether you dance or not, you're not the sweetest creature on earth.

Let's talk about the big day - how did you feel when Aurélie Dupont (the Paris Opera's new dance director) and Stéphane Lissner (the Paris Opera's director) made the announcement?

It was crazy! Of course, there were favorable circumstances, as it was the first time I danced Odile/Odette in Swan Lake, a leading role with Germain Louvet (who was appointed principal dancer a few days before Baulac) on New Year's Eve. But I was actually 100 percent focused on my interpretation in order to do the best possible show - and not thinking about a promotion. It's not good to dance while thinking, "If I don't dance well tonight, I won't be promoted." One, you never know what will happen and two, you prefer to think it won't happen anyway in order to keep the stress away.

So when I saw them climbing on stage at the end of the ballet, I thought, "Okay, they're here for me. Enjoy it, this is your moment - it only happens once in a lifetime." You know, it's very strange to be alone in front of 3,000 people - I bowed at least 12 times! In the past, whenever I looked at my watch and it was 11:11 or 22:22, I used to wish I would become a danseuse étoile. Now that it's done, I wish for peace in the world! (laughs)

What repertoire would you like to explore in the next few years?

I love to tell stories, to play characters and to move my audience to a different universe. I would love to dance in Pina Bausch's Rite of Spring. It must be a very different experience. The first time I saw it, I had an aesthetic shock. The dancers are barefoot, wild and covered with dust - the audience can even hear them breathing. This ballet gives a very special collective effect that I'd love to experience. As for the more classical repertoire, I love dramatic love stories. I really enjoyed dancing Juliet in Romeo and Juliet; the costumes were amazing. I would also like to dance in Onegin, Manon and Giselle. There's this amazing scene in Giselle when she turns mad; I'm sure it's a real thrill to dance.

What changes when you become a soloist?

A few years ago, when I was working on The Nutcracker with Germain Louvet, and it was my first great role, I remember that Aurélie Dupond prophetically told us, "You two will be soloists one day, I'm sure. You should prepare yourselves. Whether you want it or not, it will come and it's not an easy thing to deal with."

And she was right - being a soloist is very challenging. When people come to see an étoile, they expect something extraordinary and you have to give it to them, even if you're having a bad day. There's nobody you can hide behind. And there are a lot of things you have to think about as a soloist. I remember one night I danced Clara in The Nutcracker and the neck of the doll was broken. So I spent half of the ballet keeping the head on the bust in order to maintain that fairy tale mood and not let it turn into a horror show. These are the kinds of things one cannot imagine from the outside ...


Léonore Baulac, the new principal dancer of the Paris Opera Ballet. James Bort

2017-05-13 07:27:40
<![CDATA[Eau Naturel]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-05/13/content_29332442.htm Hiroshi Senju's sublime, large-scale paintings of waterfalls and cliffs are renowned for combining the techniques of abstract expressionism with Japan's centuries-old nihonga style of painting. Senju was the first Asian artist to receive an Honourable Mention Award at the Venice Biennale, his monumental Shrine of the Water God was recently added to the permanent collection of New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art and his oeuvre is showcased in the dedicated Hiroshi Senju Museum in Karuizawa, Japan. In this exclusive interview, Senju explains how nature has inspired his work

Why do you have such a fascination with waterfalls?

When I look at waterfalls, I see amazing, impossible scenery. The constant movement of the water attracts not only human beings, but also any animals that are nearby. I'm interested in the reaction between the water and gravity, and when I paint I pour the pigments from the top of the panels and create a waterfall on the surface of the paper.

Nature seems to play such a dominant role in your art ...

Since the ice age, the primitive era, humans have always tried to capture nature and to communicate with nature. So when you look at cave paintings there are bison or deer painted on the walls of a cave and that shows the curiosity of ice-age people - where did this animal come from and where is it going?

Looking back at the history of art and particularly depictions of nature, who do you most admire and what most influenced you?

I'd probably start 50,000 years ago when the first human made art - painted the animal on the wall, in a cave. And I love Renoir, Monet, Hokusai, Hiroshige ... the Italian Renaissance, too. In American art, Gerhard Richter. American contemporary artists successfully expressed things that you cannot see. Abstract painting has successfully given a form to something that is invisible.

You've said you're not a Japanese artist or an Asian artist. Can you explain how you position yourself in a world context?

In the present day, there is so much separation or alienation by race, whether it's Chinese, Japanese, Middle Eastern, American or European. I think it's very important now to talk as a human being, as a common denominator.

Tell us about the museum dedicated to your work in Karuizawa.

The architect was Ryue Nishizawa. It's constructed mainly with glass and is in the forest - so in a way, it's invisible. There is no artificial light. It's almost like you're walking in nature and you happen to come across my paintings.

And your New York studio is in an old power station?

I used to have a big studio in Tribeca in downtown Manhattan. But my paintings got bigger and bigger, and I could no longer carry them out through the elevator. My wife looked for a new location and found an old power plant in Westchester that I renovated. (The purpose of) a power plant is to generate electricity and bring light to people, so that place is an inspiration to me.

You're currently working on your Cliff series - 18 new pieces that will debut at the Sundaram Tagore Gallery in New York in November, and which will possibly be brought to Hong Kong next year. Can you describe your creative process for those works?

(Senju holds up a piece of paper and scrunches it up to demonstrate.)

I crunch up huge pieces of paper so they are damaged - but looking carefully at them, I can see cliffs. I pour pigment on top of those crushed papers and it falls because of gravity. It's collaboration with a natural phenomenon. In art history, I don't think anybody has used pigment on top of crushed paper. The reason I can do it is because I use Japanese mulberry paper, which is very strong.

Your work has been exhibited in Hong Kong before. What do you like to do when you visit the city?

When I'm in Hong Kong, I go shopping for antiques, especially for old Chinese works of art that surprise and inspire me. An 11th-century Chinese painting is almost like calligraphy - the scenery or the landscape is not brushed, but rather written. It's not just a painting; it shows thoughts and ideas.


Hiroshi Senju is noted worldwide for his sublime waterfall and cliff images, which are often monumental in scale. Kazuya Yamaguchi

2017-05-13 07:27:40
<![CDATA[China's Grisham says rule of law vital]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-05/07/content_29237375.htm Renmin University professor and best-selling novelist says country should move toward phasing out the death penalty

He Jiahong, one of China's leading legal experts, believes it is important that nobody in any system should be above the law.

The professor of law at Renmin University of China believes his country has made major strides in legal reform over the past 30 years.

He says the aim now is to move to a system of rule of law "in line with socialist and Chinese characteristics" as was outlined at the fourth plenary session of the 18th National Congress of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China in 2014. .

He Jiahong says rule by law is still rule by man but still using the law as a tool. Mai Tian / For China Daily

"The meeting said very clearly that we should establish rule of law. Rule of lawis very different from ruling the country by law," he says.

"Rule by law is still rule by man but still using the law as a tool. Rule of law is that no-one should be above the law. Everybody should be equal in front of the law."

He, a spry 63-year-old who owes his fitness to playing badminton and competitive soccer until he was 50, was speaking at a book fair at the China International Exhibition Center in Beijing.

He combines being a law academic with a career as a highly successful crime novelist and was launching new Chinese editions of his books, which feature his fictitious lawyer creation Hong Jun. Two of the novels Hanging Devils and Black Holes are published in English.

He, sometimes referred to as China's answer to John Grisham, says he is not as well known among English language readers compared to those of other languages because his publisher is Penguin Australia, which is restricted to publishing in Asia. His books are best-sellers, however, in France and they have also been translated into Italian and Spanish.

"They (Penguin Australia) can publish the books in Australia and Asia but not in the UK or the United States. I am trying to get contracts there too, however."

One of his current high profile roles is as director of the Center for Anti-Corruption and Rule of Law at Renmin University, which was set up last year.

He is also an expert adviser in this area to China's Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate, China's highest prosecution and investigation agency.

More than 100 officials above ministerial level have been probed for corruption in China since the current top leadership was elected at the end of 2012.

"The anti-corruption area is one where the rule of law has been applied to public officials in China and they have been very much subject to the law," he says.

"They can no longer bypass the law. They have to abide by the law and this is one area of legal reform that really has actually worked."

On one of the key legal issues - capital punishment - He is something of a convert.

He used to believe the country's stance on the death penalty should reflect public opinion. In a poll in 2002, 93 percent of the population supported it, although that is believed to have fallen to between 70 and 80 percent today.

"My position was that China should retain the death penalty because we have to respect public opinion," he says.

"I changed my mind after leading a group of people conducting a study on unlawful convictions for about 10 years. I noticed there were some loopholes in our criminal justice system and because it is just human nature, there were mistakes by judges, prosecutors and police officers. In the case of capital punishment, mistakes are always inevitably very serious ones because there is obviously no way to correct them."

He now believes China should gradually phase out the death penalty rather than move straight to abolition and says it is already moving in that direction.

"In the 1990s there were about 80 plus offenses that could be given the death penalty. With the amendment of the criminal law, this is down to 50 plus. We also have the death penalty with two-year suspension which is automatically reduced to life imprisonment. The death penalty could be applied in these cases but hasn't been since the founding of the People's Republic (in 1949)."

He was born in Beijing in 1953, the son of a military officer, who died when he was only 10 years old.

"I had a family background of intellectuals. My father had a college degree and my mother also had a very good education by the standard of the time. She was from a big landlord family."

During the "cultural revolution "(1966-76), He turned against his grandfather, who had been a general in the Kuomintang, the nationalist party led by Chiang Kai-shek, but was then reduced to being a street sweeper.

"I tried to cut a clear line between me and him at the time. I wanted to be a revolutionary and I thought my grand father was anti-revolutionary.

"So for several years I refused to see him. But when the "cultural revolution "was over I realized he was a good man. He had a long life, passing away at 95 so I had the chance to reconcile with him," he says.

He went to work on a farm in Heilongjiang in Northeast China before returning to Beijing in the late 1970s to work for a construction company but with aspirations to become a famous writer. It was meeting his future wife, Ren Xinping (a medical doctor to whom he has been married 35 years) that changed his life.

"Her parents wouldn't accept a plumber in a construction company as a future son-in-law so that made me take my examinations to go to university," he says.

He failed to get on the economics course because his math scores were not high enough and ended up doing law.

"I picked up law almost randomly but the more I learned about it, the more I realized the importance of it."

He went on to do a doctorate at Northwestern University before pursing an academic career, which has been mostly at Renmin, although he regularly lectures around the world.

He finally published his first novel, Hanging Devils, in 1995 and has combined his academic work with a literary career, although he has written a number of law books.

Some critics have drawn a parallel with him and his literary character Hong Jun.

"His experience is very similar but I wouldn't say Hong Jun is me. I essentially created a model lawyer for promoting the rule of law in China."

One French newspaper has described his central character as the Chinese Sherlock Holmes.

"I actually like Sherlock Holmes and also Agatha Christie. I have also had some inspiration from modern writers like Scott Turow and, of course, I have been referred to as the John Grisham of China since we have this similar background in the field of law."

He would like to see more legal reform in China, including the actual trial in court becoming a bigger part of any criminal proceedings.

"For many years the center of legal proceedings has been the investigation. You have the investigative agency, which is usually the police department and in court you have the prosecutor who will instigate the prosecution and then the judge will give the conviction. So the trial in the court room is not a substantive part of proceedings," he says.

"I have spent the past 10 years trying to persuade China's leaders on that and I was very happy by their decision (at the fourth plenary session in 2014) to move to a more trial-centered approach. This is the way to promote judicial independence."


2017-05-07 14:12:05
<![CDATA[Mastering the art of the bean]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-05/01/content_29152141.htm

Since graduating in music from Fujian Normal University, Qi Xiaolan, 45, has worked at a State-owned company in Quanzhou, Fujian province, doing a job that has nothing to do with art for 24 years.

But she has found an unexpected way to nurture her artistic side - coffee tasting.

Qi always knew about tea. She grew up in a city famous for a tea called tieguanyin, where virtually every household was deeply familiar with the arcane details of proper tea making, serving and drinking.

But Qi broke with the past. She fell in love with coffee around 2000, when cafes started to show up in the city, and she would observe how coffee was brewed.

"I like the atmosphere in the cafes, which is delicate and comfortable. There is an artistic feeling, and the fragrance of coffee permeates the whole room," she said.

Drawn by the comfortable atmosphere in the beginning, she started to learn the art of coffee tasting in 2014. The next year, she began Q-grader training in Beijing, a program offered by the Coffee Quality Institute, an organization founded by the Specialty Coffee Association, a nonprofit based in California.

During the training, which lasted for nine days, Qi was exposed to intensive and even "painful" courses focused on the art of tasting fine coffee.

"I had to sip from 120 cups of coffee a day on average," she said. "For example, there was a difficult part of the training where people learn to grade the sweetness, saltiness and sourness of water that tasted really plain."

After passing the required tests, she became a coffee grader accredited by the institute.

Unlike casual drinking, coffee tasting requires the taster to exactly identify the characteristics of coffee beans, such as their fragrance, the fragrance of extracted coffee and its aftertaste, Qi said.

Usually it requires sips from at least three cups to assess the quality of the beans, she said.

Also, coffee tasting is not only a matter of personal interest but an important way to help set the price of coffee beans, which can in turn affect the income of coffee farmers, Qi said.

Now, after getting to know a number of people who love coffee and who have tasting skills, Qi has gained access to quality green coffee beans of her own. She has renovated one of her apartments into a coffee classroom to communicate with others having the same interest.

The 150-square-meter house is equipped with all the equipments required to make and taste coffee, as well as a table that accommodates 12 people.

The classroom, she said, is open to family members and a small number of other local people from all walks of life.

The number of coffee tasters in China is "far fewer" than in countries where coffee is more popular, according to Qi. But that doesn't seem to bother her. A lot of young people in China are showing enthusiasm for coffee tasting, and the number of tasters is "increasing every year", she said.

"Everyone has their own goals and life interest", she added.

Studying coffee can be costly. Qi has spent about 300,000 yuan ($43,600) on her hobby.

"The biggest benefit of studying coffee is that it has opened a window for me to look through into the world," Qi said.

"I love beautiful things. After I started studying coffee, I met a lot of people who also love it. And that started a totally different life for me."

Contact the writers at wangyingyun@chinadaily.com.cn. Yang Jie in Fuzhou contributed to this story.

(China Daily 05/01/2017 page5)

2017-05-01 08:18:07
<![CDATA[Bridging borders with song]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-05/01/content_29152140.htm

Singer brings her magical voice to soulful performances that capture hearts in both Vietnam and China, Zhang Li reports in Nanning.

Do Thi Thanh Hoa was mistaken for a Chinese woman at first when she sang a folk song on Walk of Fame, China's popular television talent show (Xingguang Dadao).

But the 25-year-old, who was named champion of the month, is Vietnamese. She is a senior at Guangxi Arts University, based in Nanning, capital of Southwest China's Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region.

"It's unbelivable that a Vietnamese can sing our folk song so well," an expert reviewer of the live show commented.

Thanh Hoa was born in Tuyen Quang, a town near the China-Vietnam border. She was exposed to Chinese music and TV shows at early age.

"I grew up with the story of Journey to the West - my family is fancinated by it," she said before singing the melody.

Obssessed with music, Thanh Hoa sang day and night when she was a teenager. For example, she had won early fame in Vietnam by distinguishing herself from other contestants in various singing competitions.

She won third prize when a dozen aspiring young singers from China and Vietnam competed in a celebration of friendship between the two countries in 2011.

Thanh Hoa's talent caught the attention of Vietnam's Military and Arts University, which is regarded as the cradle of artists in the country. She enrolled, specializing in bel canto, an opera style characterized by the flexible, smooth delivery of high and low notes.

In 2013, she was recommended for a scholarship at Guangxi Arts University to learn Chinese folk singing.

"The thing that bothers me most is the language. I can't speak - let alone sing - in Chinese," she said.

She then tried to learn daily phrases by having conversations and listening and was prepared at any moment to write down the pronunciation of new words in a notebook.

As for her singing, she learned by imitating.

"I have to listen to a song over and over until the melody and lyrics linger in my head," Thanh Hoa said.

"Chinese folk songs are a fresh and sophisticated world for me. I spent lots of time studying the diversity of the language and the profound cultural background behind the songs, and I've gained endless inspiration and pleasure. You have to know the song as well as a friend."

With hard work, her tender, magical, mellifluous voice and soulful performances managed to smash musical boundaries between two nations.

In the following years, she sang like a lark in both Cantonese and Mandarin - and also in Vietnamese, of course.

In 2015 she was invited by the Vietnam government to sing for Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife, Peng Liyuan, who were then visiting the country.

"I sang songs that are popular in both countries," Thanh Hoa said. "Madam Peng asked me where I learned it, and encouraged me to further my studies in Beijing. I was proud that my songs could somehow create a little bit of connection and sympathy in the atmosphere between two nations."

From that time onward, she has known what she is singing for.

Though busy with graduation matters, she developed a plan for the future: "I will further my education in China next, and later impart what I learn in China to Vietnam to enrich our own singing arts - and more important, keep singing the friendship of two countries."

(China Daily 05/01/2017 page5)

2017-05-01 08:18:07
<![CDATA[Li Brocade Weaves Its Way To Global Fame]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-04/29/content_29142185.htm Embroidery often called rare living fossil

"Busy, tired but happy every day," is how Fu Xiuying describes her life. From the Li ethnic group on Hainan Island, Fu has won fame both at home and abroad for her double-sided Li brocade embroidery, weaving artworks using highly refined techniques that span 3,000 years.

Fu, 52, is entering the busiest period of her life since she was named in 2010 by Hainan authorities as a representative inheritor of double-sided brocade. UNESCO listed the brocade in its first endangered cultural heritage group in 2009. At the time there were only five masters of the brocade in China.

During the three-day Li new year holiday in late March, Fu received orders worth more than 110,000 yuan ($16,000), enough to keep her busy for the year.

And more orders are coming in, as the traditional Li brocade - often described as a rare living fossil - is used from everyday artifacts to high-end commodities highly valued by world-wide collectors.

She also teaches brocade techniques in a number of schools, universities and training centers in Li villages. The Li were the earliest settlers on the island and they were the first cotton growers in China.

Li women hold a special place in the country's textile industry development for their spinning, coloring, design and weaving and embroidering.

Despite her busy schedule, Fu relishes the opportunity to look after her 18-month-old granddaughter Ding Dang, and enjoys weaving her artwork under her watchful eye.

"When Ding Dang is able to understand more, I will tell her stories about the Li people and the brocade, prized tributes to the royal palace ever since the Han Dynasty (BC 206-AD 220)," said the proud grandmother.

Fu's potential encouragement for her granddaughter is in marked contrast to her approach to her elder daughter Fu Lirong. When her daughter told her that she would like to learn the traditional skills after graduation in 2008, Fu spurned the idea.

"I know how hard the job is for a woman and what was more depressing was that at the time I did not see a future for someone to follow that path," said Fu.

The Li ethnic group accounts for about 1.3 million people, and around 90 percent live on the island. Fu learned the traditional skills from her grandmother but it seemed to be a dying art due to social development and the introduction of modern textiles.

The number of people classified as masters of brocade techniques plunged from 50,000 in the 1950s to around 1,000 about 10 years ago.

"We display our ethnic history by embroidering symbolic designs on the colorful Li cloth. It's like a 'historical book"', Fu explained.

"In 2006 I lost my job as a grain store worker in Baisha Li autonomous county, my hometown. Worse, my husband passed away, leaving our two daughters. I had to shoulder the family burden myself," said Fu.

"I turned to my aunt for help. She was a master of embroidery and encouraged me to pick up and pass on the traditional skills. Under her guidance, I mastered the four basic skills for brocade making - spinning, dyeing, weaving and embroidery, a complete set of highly complicated techniques which very few have mastered," said Fu.

The time spanning 2006 to 2008 were the hardest years and she slept for just two or three hours a day to devote enough time for weaving and embroidery.

But the hard work and devotion paid off.

"A young man, who was intrigued by Li brocade at an exhibition in the United States, came to Baisha in 2013 especially for one of my double-sided tapestries. It depicted the landscape of the local Beauty Mountain," said Fu. She sold it for 68,000 yuan and the money gave her the confidence and freedom to continue her work.

Fu said she was impressed by the efforts of the Hainan government to save the techniques.

"The government's policies to protect the brocade heritage gave me new hope," said Fu.

"Attending the training courses arranged by the State for intangible cultural heritage inheritors has broadened my vision and inspired me."

In the past six years Fu has trained 356 primary and middle school students, as well as 2,368 women in mainly rural areas around cities such as Sanya, Wuzhishan, Baisha and Baoting in brocade skills.

The moon, stars, rivers, mountains, birds and flowers, even pots and bowls can inspire creations.

The double-side embroidery is both time and energy consuming. "A small piece of tapestry needs at least 15 days, a skirt needs one month to weave, and a traditional Li suit needs between 10 to 12 months," said Fu.

"Some people suggest simplifying the designs and skills to save time. But I refused. Baisha's skills and designs for double-side embroidery have been passed on for hundreds of years and can not be simplified. Simplification will lose the charm, characteristics and the market," said Fu.

Fu Lirong, her daughter, eventually won over her mother and has also become an inheritor of the embroidery in Baisha county. She understands her mother's passion.

"My mother is quick to learn. She cares about everything that could inspire her embroidery. Sometimes I saw her get up at 2 am, picking up her embroidery to catch a sudden inspiration.

"At first, I learned from my mother without letting her know and when she saw how determined and how interested in the traditional skill I was, she began to teach me."

The brocades are like the Li language and a cultural label and the designs are expressions of their passion, imagination and expectations.

"I used to worry very much about the future of Li brocade culture. Now the government has set up so many training centers and special villages to pass on the traditional techniques, and I have so many students around the province, I feel at ease.

"My students are very devoted and serious. They will be good teachers in the future," she said.



Fu displays her tapestry to tourists. Her intricate embroidery work and one of her dragon-themed double-sided tapestries.Provided To China Daily

2017-04-29 07:07:39
<![CDATA[A doctor in Africa whose medicine is humanity]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-04/29/content_29142184.htm Zhong Risheng was determined to go to Africa regardless of his family's protests. The continent's pull was difficult to ignore as was the doctor's passion to help people.

Working as an anesthetist in the Second People's Hospital of Nannning, he joined a Chinese medical team sent to Niger in 2004 without hesitation.

"The country was tackling poverty and poor healthcare, but you can never understand it unless you see it."

At the age of 34, the youngest of the 30 members of the team, Zhong arrived in Zinder, a city in south Niger.

Now 47, he can remember clearly the sights that greeted him.

The very first day he got to the hospital, a patient was sent for emergency treatment.

"I could barely understand what he said and we ourselves were suffering jet lag, but he looked miserable."

The equipment was rudimentary, and doctors had to diagnose based on their skill and observation.

On this occasion, the patient was saved but he was pretty sure that he was the only anesthetist in the hospital and probably the whole city.

Then it became apparent the scourge of famine had hit the area in 2005.

"Death from starvation was becoming more common and we could do little to prevent it. The doctors were depressed at their inability to save lives."

Doctors themselves had little to eat, just sweet potatoes.

"Even in the deepest frustration, we harvested hope from humanity," he said as many patients shared their precious peanuts and pumpkins.

Some of them even dedicated their amulets, usually made of fur or leather, making doctors feel truly blessed.

With seven of eight operations each day, the work took a toll and he fell to malaria.

"What I suffered is quite ordinary in Niger. Human beings are all equal before disaster and misfortune, that's why we help each other" he said modestly.

The medical team fulfilled their mission in 2006.

His second Africa mission was six years later in 2012. He went to the Comoros islands off the coast of Africa where 600,000 people shared just one anesthetist.

He delivered lectures once a week to train nurses and doctors and also helped to set up operation regulations.

"Knowing how to fish is better than having a fish. The mission of Chinese doctors is to impart knowledge and our humanitarian spirit," he said.

He put his experience in Africa on paper and his book Chinese Doctors in Africa won a prize.

"In 1963 the Chinese government sent the first medical team to Africa. As a result, 180 million people from 47 African countries and regions have benefited from China's aid," Zhong recounted proudly. "I am telling a truth that generations of Chinese doctors have sacrificed their youth or even lives for their career, a truth that people should know but few do."


Left: Zhong entertains African children. Middle: Saving lives is routine for Zhong and his team. Right: The President of the Comoros Ikililou Dhoinine received Zhong on Feb 13, 2014.Photos Provided To China Daily

2017-04-29 07:07:39
<![CDATA[Volunteers break barriers]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-04/23/content_29047367.htm


Zhang Chi enjoys a makeover in Kakuma, the largest refugee camp in Kenya.

A growing number of young kindhearted Chinese are visiting Africa as unpaid workers, engaging with people from countries across the continent

In 2014, a friend told Yin Binbin about the bleak lives of the residents of Mathare, a slum area in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya. As he listened, an idea occurred to Yin, then a sophomore at Shandong University in East China: He would volunteer to work in a school in the ghetto.

He never expected that his idea would bind him and children of the slums together for a prolonged period.

However, in the past three years, Yin and his peers, mostly college students, have raised more than 300,000 yuan ($43,570; 40,880 euros; 34,790) to rebuild two primary schools in Mathare. In addition, a "free lunch" program they launched with a Chinese NGO has helped more than 1,100 children in the poverty-stricken area, which has a population of about 500,000.

Despite China's growing economic presence in Africa, there has been a lack of engagement between the general public and their counterparts on the continent, according to experts. Now, young Chinese such as Yin are endeavoring to change the situation.

Despite his early enthusiasm, Yin was shocked by the terrible conditions at the Light Center primary school in Mathare. About 300 students were crowded into a stuffy, somber shed of no more than 180 square meters. There was no electric light, so Yin tried to reflect sunshine into the classroom by filling transparent bottles with water and placing them in a hole in the roof. The experiment failed, so the volunteers used the flashlights on their smartphones to help the students see what had been written on the blackboard.

The worst time every day was when the teachers cooked, because the shed, which was made from rusty sheets of iron, would be engulfed by smoke, making the children's eyes sting.


Depressed by the conditions, Yin, who was majoring in architecture, decided to transform the ramshackle school. With the help of social media, he and three other Chinese students raised 70,000 yuan in a week. They used the money to redesign the building. They purchased construction materials, guided workers with limited construction experience and built a new school.

The new facility won acclaim from the local community, and when someone asked Yin why he hadn't made school renovation a long-term project, he decided to launch the Dream Building Service Association.

The association raised a further 270,000 yuan and rebuilt a second school in 2015. Last month, it partnered with Deng Fei, who started the Free Lunches for Children in Rural China program, to provide meals for 1,103 students in five schools in the slum. They plan to expand the project to other schools in Mathare.

As well as building schools, the association has organized talent shows, art exhibitions and soccer tournaments to enrich the children's lives. Last year, a soccer tournament attracted 600 students from 20 schools, and more than 1,000 children displayed their works of art at an exhibition organized by the association, which is attracting a growing number of Chinese volunteers.

The association now has five full-time employees in Kenya, and about 70 volunteers arrive from China to help each year. An additional 69 contribute via the internet, according to Yin.

Other young Chinese have also rolled up their sleeves to help people in Kenya. Yuan Xiaoyi, a 21-year-old student at New York University, and three other female Chinese students founded an NGO, Care for All Kids, after Yuan volunteered to work in the country in 2013. The organization provides low-cost training for teachers from "informal", or unofficial, schools. Last year, the NGO organized training for teachers at more than 120 schools in Kenya.

Meanwhile, Zhang Chi, 22, an architecture student at Yale University, collaborated with refugees to set up a school when she volunteered to work in Kakuma, the largest refugee camp in Kenya.

"We want to inspire more people through the work we do. Many young people in China are eager to engage in international development - they just need a channel to begin," she says.

Expanding exchanges

Despite the efforts of young Chinese to connect with people in Africa, there is still not enough contact between the groups, according to experts.

Janet Eom, research manager of the China Africa Research Initiative at Johns Hopkins University in the United States, says the Chinese public has not yet caught up with the country's growing economic engagement in Africa, even though Confucius Institutes teach Mandarin and Chinese culture and volunteers help with health programs. For example, Chinese medical teams worked on the Ebola crisis, and training programs for local workers are emerging via Chinese agricultural and manufacturing projects across Africa.

"I think that in contrast to Chinese companies and investors, the general public in China is less aware of opportunities in Africa," Eom says.

Isaac Kwaku, chairman of the Sino-Africa Centre of Excellence Foundation in Kenya, says: "To our knowledge, there is not yet a significant presence of regular Chinese citizens on the ground in Africa. However, some organizations are doing an excellent job of expanding exchanges."

He says the center has worked with AIESEC, one of the world's leading nonprofit, student-run organizations, and with student associations at Peking University and the University of Hong Kong to bring students to Africa as interns.

"Based on the number of internship applications we receive every year, the number of Chinese students going to Africa as interns or volunteers is definitely rising," he says. "There has been a change in the interests of Chinese youth. Originally, the projects that brought young people to Africa were wildlife conservation or volunteer programs in informal settlements. Then, an increasing number of students became interested in researching different topics in Africa, and then in internships," he says.

According to Kwaku, there are still some obstacles to the promotion of mutual exchanges between Africa and China. One of them is "the lack of understanding of Africa as a continent, more than poverty, disease and wildlife. When young people come only for 'poverty tourism', they will never fully understand the dynamics and potential of the development of Africa and China-Africa ties."

Some Chinese NGOs have tried their hand at programs in Africa as well.

In June, when Zction, an NGO that mainly involves college students in China, tried to organize its first African volunteer program, the move attracted great attention. "Quite a lot of people signed up for it," says Lin Qianru, head of the organization's Shanghai branch.

The NGO arranged interviews and chose the 32 best-qualified candidates, but only six made the trip to Uganda, where they had volunteered to teach in a school. "Most quit because of parental opposition prompted by safety concerns," says Lin, a student at Shanghai International Studies University, who also met opposition to her trip.

"Although my parents, uncles and aunts were concerned for my safety, they showed support. I experienced more opposition from people of my grandfather's generation," she says, adding that seniors have an entirely different impression of Africa than younger people do.

"The village we stayed in is safe and the villagers are honest. We will have more programs in Africa soon," she says.

Guo Xiaojun contributed to this story.


2017-04-23 15:47:52
<![CDATA[Hidden beauty and martial arts movies]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-04/23/content_29047366.htm During a research trip to South Africa last summer, Zhang Chi visited several deprived areas to learn about the conditions facing the people who live in them. The first slum she visited was on the western outskirts of Cape Town, where the residents had built temporary shelters from sheets of iron and strips of linen on plots of deserted land.

Thanks to frequent media reports, the dusty roads and congested settlements were nothing new to the 22-year-old senior at Yale University, who is majoring in architecture. Instead, Zhang was interested in discovering what lay behind the tumbledown walls.

As she walked in, she realized that they enclosed tiny courtyards. Even though they were only a couple of square meters, each courtyard was full of flowers and artfully arranged plants. Some even had wooden tables and benches, giving a feeling of a South Asian hotel garden.

Zhang was greeted by a woman standing by the road who invited the Chinese student to visit her house.

To Zhang's surprise, the wooden front door had been carefully painted light blue and the tiny garden was full of blooming plants.

"From the outside, the house looked extremely small, but as we walked in, I found it was actually divided into four rooms. The first was clean and tidy. It was illuminated by a ray of light filtering through a window in the roof and filled with the bright color of the purple bedsheet as well as pink and orange toys propped against the light-blue wooden wall. There were also three photos of relatives hanging on the wall. I was deeply moved by her love of life," Zhang recalls.

"During my interaction with other slum dwellers, I was impressed by their optimism and their ability to build a future for themselves. They should not be regarded as a burden on society - all they need is an opportunity to learn some skills and earn other people's trust."

Lee Joi-tin is taking a gap year before becoming a senior politics student at the University of Hong Kong. He has chosen to spend the year as a volunteer at the Kakuma Refugee Camp in northwestern Kenya.

As soon as the 21-year-old arrived, he began to introduce himself to the residents. "I'm from Hong Kong," he told them. To his surprise, this perfectly normal introduction was greeted with looks of disbelief.

"The refugees asked me to clarify what I had said. At first, I wondered why, but then I realized an area of the camp is also called Hong Kong," he says.

The refugees began watching martial arts movies from Hong Kong more than 20 years ago, according to Lee, and their passion for the movies was clearly demonstrated by the unofficial name of the area.

"After they realized the differences between the two 'Hong Kongs', they repeatedly told me how much they loved Hong Kong movies. They even asked if I had met Jackie Chan or Bruce Lee," he says.

"My colleagues and friends are curious about the One Country, Two Systems concept, and they often ask me why my mother tongue is Cantonese instead of Mandarin."

It is still rare for Chinese to work in the camp, where the residents are more familiar with the presence of Western volunteers.

So far, Lee has spent more than six months at the camp, working with the residents to improve educational programs established by a local NGO called Solidarity and Advocacy in Crisis.

"I have been in the camp for so long that even some of my American friends have been called 'Chinese' by the kids," he says with a laugh.

Guo Xiaojun contributed to this story.

2017-04-23 15:47:52
<![CDATA[Rumor has it we're the best of friends]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-04/23/content_29047365.htm When I was learning to drive in Nairobi, capital of Kenya, my instructor once broke the silence with a short but astonishing remark, one I am unlikely to forget: "Chinese workers on construction sites in Africa are prisoners."

I was stunned. It was impossible to think such a thing. I talked with him about it for a long time, but he seemed confident that it was a valid fact, even though he failed to provide a single example.

I didn't expect that someone would raise a question related to my instructor's "valid fact" at an occasion as formal as an international forum. However, I was in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, covering a forum about investing in Africa, when a man asked during a Q&A session, "Why can't Chinese companies employ local laborers instead of bringing prisoners to Africa?"

Before the speakers could reply, a European woman stood up and said something similar to what I had told my driving instructor, "If you have an example, I will be all ears." She also updated my knowledge of the rumor, saying it had been around since the 1970s.

It wasn't the only rumor about China I heard during my 20 months as a correspondent in Africa. Others included: plastic watches from China are made by child laborers; all Chinese people eat dogs and even snakes; and Chinese men in Africa are injected with a special serum to prevent them from experiencing sexual desire during their stay.

In spite of the rumors, I felt the general public in Africa - at least in Kenya, where I was based - was keen to learn more about China.

When I was waiting to join a vigil for the victims of a terrorist attack in Garissa county, a young man came up and shook my hand. We began a conversation and were quickly joined by five other locals. They surrounded me and asked questions about China. They all listened carefully and we only said goodbye when it was time to attend the vigil.

Once, a boy came up to me in a rural area and touched my skin to see how different I was from him.

Compared with Westerners, Chinese people are still new to Africa. Though many of our grandparents' generation were there more than 50 years ago, the language barrier meant they didn't communicate very much with the local people.

Now, China's younger generation is arriving in Africa, speaking fluent English or other appropriate languages, so it's time to kill off the rumors and deepen the friendship between Africans and Chinese.

2017-04-23 15:47:52
<![CDATA[Ferryman guides its author into the world of literary success]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-04/16/content_28948536.htm Writer buoyant over massive popularity in China of romantic fantasy novel, says idea universal

Claire McFall says she is astonished by how well her book The Ferryman has done in China. In January, nearly 1 million copies of the Chinese version had been sold. In Scotland, the figure was about 10,000, which she regards as excellent, given how small Scotland is.

"It's incredible that the book is so popular in China, but the idea carried in the novel is universal. People love stories about love and being rewarded for being determined. So, even though there seems to be much cultural difference between China and the UK, underneath it's the same."

In January, McFall was in China to sign a contract giving a Chinese company film rights to the novel. The book is about the journey of a 15-year-old girl, Dylan, led by her "ferryman" Tristan, after she dies in a train accident. Dylan has to traverse a wasteland full of scary demons before can she reach the place where her soul can find rest.

"I want Chinese audiences to see the bleak, harsh but also gorgeous wasteland and, meanwhile, I want to see how Chinese people present the wasteland and add to their concept about it," McFall says.

As a teacher in Scotland, she says she had to spend an hour and 50 minutes driving through a "wasteland" as she traveled to and from school.

In a dream one night, she jumped on a crowded train. She dreamed she fell asleep and when she woke she found all the other passengers had gone. When she woke up in reality, she wrote down the details of the dream in a notebook and developed it into a book. On her journeys between home and school, she would spend the driving time making up what happened in the story, and in three months she finished the novel.

By the time The Ferryman was published in Britain in 2013, she had finished nine stories and her agent chose this one. However, in the first draft McFall wrote a sad ending where the hero and heroine went into two different worlds. It was suggested that she change the ending to a happy one, with both of them returning to reality as human beings.

McFall spent another six months discussing the book with editors and making small changes.

She has loved reading and writing since when she was a child, she says.

"If you want to write, you have to read a lot, not only things you love but also different genres and writing styles. Then writing will become a natural thing."

When she created the character of Dylan in the novel, she connected herself with the girl.

"It's based on me. I am always nervous, not very confident, nor comfortable with boys - and clumsy. Despite that, if you are determined and brave, you can achieve anything you want. It's my original concept for her."

At the end of the story, after Dylan arrives safely at her destination, falling in love with her ferryman, she becomes determined and brave enough to break rules to find him and take him back to the world, to "save him".

Now McFall has finished the sequel, which is also a fantasy, dealing with more problems in the real world brought about by various rules being broken during the journey in The Ferryman.

2017-04-16 14:36:08
<![CDATA[Chinese banks 'help meet national goals']]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-04/09/content_28848756.htm Biggest mistake Western observers make about the system is to believe that it is somehow unreformed, says veteran

James Stent insists China is not heading for a banking and financial crisis any time soon. The 71-year-old veteran banker says those who say that it is underestimate the ability of China's financial managers to deal with the issues.

"The Western critics are not wrong in identifying the problems. They are all real and big and challenging problems," he says.

"The only thing is by the time they've identified them, we've long since identified them and are working on trying to solve them within the Chinese political framework."

James Stent says the role of China's banks is to target money where it is needed and help meet overarching national goals. Zou Hong / China Daily

Stent, who is speaking in the lobby of the Beijing Jianguo Hotel, is one of the few foreigners to have first hand experience of Chinese banks, having been an independent director of China Minsheng Bank, China's biggest private bank, and China Everbright Bank.

He was in the capital to promote his new book, China's Banking Transformation: The Untold Story, an often brilliantly informative insider's account of how the Chinese banking system works, as well as examining many of the challenges it faces.

He says he wanted to address, in particular, some of the misconceptions many in the West have about the Chinese financial system.

"What a great deal of the book is about is that the Chinese political and economic framework, for cultural reasons, is extremely different from the American or the Western European ones."

Stent, both engaging and softly spoken, and who now divides his time between homes in Thailand and California, argues China has more of hybrid banking system.

"Western banks serve really one end, shareholder value; and incidentally, bonuses for senior management. In China, banks are not really very much about shareholder value at all, apart from keeping a score of their efficiency and competence.

"The role of China's banks is to target money where it is needed and help meet overarching national goals. Hence, the annual reports of many Chinese banks begin with the chairman reporting that the bank has successfully supported national economic goals."

Stent says this does not make China's banking system unique since it was also what led South Korea's economic transformation in the 1970s and is also an echo of that of Germany's emergence as an economic power in the 19th century.

"Park Chung-hee (South Korean president, 1963-79) used the same method and it is a development state model of banking. The German economist Friedrich List said that the free market approach of Adam Smith (the Scottish 18th century economist) was very good for Britain but it wouldn't work for Germany, who were the catch-up players of the day."

One of the major concerns about China is asset bubbles, particularly in the property sector, and the rising level of debt, which by some estimates is now 260 percent of GDP.

"It (the level of debt) is very much to do with the banking system. People are right to worry about this. The actual absolute level of debt, however, is not all that scary - the level is much higher in the US."

Stent is dismissive of those who suggest the US can support a higher level of debt because they have a more sophisticated and advanced financial system.

"Yes, you can see that in 2008, can't you?" he laughs.

"In the US, we like these crashes and we are going to have many more. I am going to live to see at least one or probably two more in my lifetime. They are part of how the US works. It is our frontier culture. The Chinese don't like this and they have a very different system."

Stent, who was born in San Francisco, just after the end of World War II, had his first experience of China when he went to the Chinese University of Hong Kong as a foreign exchange student while doing his degree at Berkeley.

"I studied Mandarin intensively there and that changed my life and everything has proceeded from that then on."

He experienced Asia again as a young officer in the Vietnam War but after graduating he started his career at Citibank in 1973, where he was soon transferred to its operations in the Far East. He then spent nearly two decades with the Bank of Asia in Bangkok, rising to be senior executive vice-president.

It was in 2003 he was approached by the late Jing Shuping, the then 83-year-old founder and chairman of China Minsheng Bank, China's biggest private bank, to join the bank's board.

"He wanted someone who had worked for a foreign bank on the board. Our first meeting was a broad ranging conversation. I think he basically wanted to see whether I could carry on a conversation with him in Chinese. I guess I passed that test."

Stent served three years on the board and then joined the board of China Everbright Bank, where he also became chairman of the audit committee.

His role was to help with instilling modern practices but the banker says the biggest mistake Western observers make about the Chinese banking system is that it is somehow unreformed.

He says former Chinese premier Zhu Rongji's reforms of the 1990s led to a "night-and-day" transformation of the banks.

"(Before the reforms) the banks weren't commercial banks. They were cashiers dispensing money like the treasury does. The people in the state-owned enterprises got the money and they never had to pay it back. It was like a grant."

He says that while some in the West think Chinese banks still operate like this, the reality could not be more different with modern systems in place and often employing China's "brightest and best".

"They were charged from the 1990s onwards with making sure the banks were very cautious about taking on risk and that they gradually adopted global best practices in banking, which was essentially that of the Anglo-American model," he says.

"It was done aggressively and very successfully, step-by-step prioritizing areas initially like corporate governance, which is where I first came in."

Chinese banks have gone on to be significant global players. Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the world's biggest bank by assets, has a controlling stake in Standard Bank, Africa's largest bank. There have also been many other link ups between Western and Chinese banks.

Stent says there is no denying that the Chinese government still has a major influence on where banks put their money in China.

"There can be weaknesses with this but it is also a great strength because it enables the mobilization of savings under a development state model so that funds go to priority areas."


2017-04-09 14:02:26
<![CDATA[Emotional dependence on wheels]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-04/03/content_28783258.htm Miniature die-cast Matchbox vehicles were one of the most iconic toys for those born between the 1960s and 1990s.

Avid collector Shi Ming tells of his love for amassing thousands of toy models from iconic brands like Matchbox and Hot Wheels

Miniature die-cast Matchbox vehicles were one of the most iconic toys for those born between the 1960s and 1990s.

Made by British manufacturing company Lesney Products, more than 3 billion toy vehicles have been sold by Matchbox across 12,000 model lines since the company's inception in the late 1940s, according to The Telegraph.

While the primary target audience of such toys are children, the brand does have its fair share of adult collectors in China.

Shi Ming, 41, the operations director of DHL Aviation Services in Shanghai, is one such avid collector who has a whopping 3,000 Matchbox cars in his collection. He can even name every car model that is on display in his home.

"It was so fascinating when my mom gave me my first Matchbox car during my elementary school year in 1986. It was very cheap, only 1.6 yuan ($0.25), but it was nevertheless very unique at the time," said Shi.

Shi, who has been collecting Matchbox cars for 31 years, said that the toys were more than just a form of entertainment - they were also his first foreign language teachers.

For instance, he remembered how he would excitedly read all the product descriptions that came with each vehicle, and this helped to improve his grasp of the English language. When children were only beginning to learn English during the fifth grade, Shi was already familiar with words such as "caution", "firefighting" and "refuse truck".

Shi added that these toys also gave him insights into another world beyond China. In the 1980s, China was home to just a handful of car brands, but Matchbox taught him that others such as Jeep, Volkswagen, Audi, Skoda and Reynolds existed elsewhere in the world. He also recalled how he would get excited whenever he spotted familiar foreign car brands in imported movies.

A major milestone in the history of Lesney Products was when the company produced a miniature model of Queen Elizabeth II's coronation coach in 1953. A few months later, the company's co-owner Jack Odell designed an even smaller model that could fit in a matchbox for his daughter to take to school as a toy. This formed the foundation upon which Matchbox would build its success.

In the 1960s, Hot Wheels, a new line of vehicles by US toy giant Mattel, emerged to become Matchbox's fiercest competitor. To keep up with the competition posed by these new toy cars that had racing-style wheels, sleeker tires and brighter colors, Matchbox bolstered the quality of its toys and expanded the number of models.

In 1982, Matchbox was bought by American Universal Toys and gradually opened factories in Chinese cities such as Shanghai.

Shi said that Shanghai Universal Toys Company, which produced miniature car models from 1982 to 2004, was pivotal in igniting an interest in miniature toy vehicles in Shanghai, adding that he bought many Matchbox models from the brand's official store on Beijing West Road.

Matchbox was eventually bought by Mattel in 1997 and the combination of these two iconic toy companies resulted in several stylistic changes to the toy vehicles. Instead of obtaining authorization from automobile brands and designing scaled-down miniatures of the real cars, Shi said that Matchbox started to create "some weird models" after the takeover, the notable ones being a helicopter that looks like a dragonfly, trucks shaped like cows and jeeps equipped with oversized wheels.

Shi said that while children loved the new Matchbox models, adult fans like himself found them to be unsatisfactory.

In 2004, the same year it released a new batch of toys that Shi said were very impressive, Shanghai Universal Toys went bankrupt due to financial problems. He said that the new collection was what inspired him to continue his hobby of collecting cars.

He later developed a fondness for Hot Wheels cars as well and has since 2007 amassed more than 1,500 toys from the brand. Shi said that he spends around 5,000 yuan every year on new additions to the collection. Shi said that some collectors buy these toys as a means of investment, too. He noted how some people would buy two sets of a collection - one for playing and the other for investment.

"A model I bought several years ago cost me just 16 yuan. Today the same model could fetch up to 160 yuan," said Shi.

There are several others like Shi in Shanghai and they belong to a toy club that organizes activities every year. Shi said the club allows him to share his joy of collecting with like-minded individuals such as Chen Yunling, who is the founder of a website for Matchbox toys collectors to share news and memories. He also operates an online forum that facilitates research on various models.

In China, most Matchbox lovers are based in Shanghai and there are smaller fan groups in Beijing, Wuhan of Hubei province and Guangzhou of Guangdong province. Shi said that he knows of some Western counterparts who have even more impressive collections that span more than 60 years and comprise a more diverse range of models.

Shi said that his Matchbox collection allows him to calm the mind. He also lamented how his 10-year-old daughter is more interested in electronic games than his historic toys.

"Some electronic games, like crossword puzzles or car racing, may help to develop intelligence but the negative effects, such as the damage to the eyes and cervical vertebra, are more obvious. I'd rather she spend more of her leisure time on a toy collection or playing with Lego," said Shi.

When asked if he would ever consider giving up his hobby, Shi was quick to say no.

"These aren't just toys. They are a matter of emotional dependence."

Cao Chen contributed to this story.



Shi Ming shows a small fraction of his collection of miniature toy vehicles.  Cao Chen / For China Daily

2017-04-03 07:19:13
<![CDATA[Tea master steeps young apprentice in ancient tradition]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-04/03/content_28783257.htm On a sunny March afternoon, Fan Shenghua sits in front of a big metal basin in his workshop, heating up fresh West Lake Longjing tea leaves.

Every morning, workers climb up a mountain to pick tea leaves behind Longwu village, one of the most famous places for growing West Lake Longjing tea.

In the afternoon, he heats up the collected leaves, a procedure that halts oxidation shortly after harvest and seals in the botanical magic.

West Lake Longjing tea is one of China's top teas and is grown only in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province.

Properly heating the leaves, known as panning, is essential to the quality of the tea, and it was listed as a national-level intangible cultural heritage in 2008.

The Fan family has grown and produced Longjing tea for generations.

"I started to learn the tea-panning skill when I was 14. And I haven't skipped a year yet," the 56-year-old master said proudly.

Panning tea is physically hard work. Fan shows a photo of his hands, with blisters and peeling on the palms and fingers. He has to do it with bare hands in a metal basin with temperatures up to 260 C.

"You have to touch the leaves with your hands to determine how much water is being removed," Fan said. "The length of time depends on when the leaves are picked, the weather and the drying time."

It takes him four to five hours to complete all the processes for each batch of finished tea, and he can process up to 10 kilograms in one day.

Most villagers have now purchased machines to do the work, as they are more efficient and faster.

"The young generations could not endure such hardship," he said. "It's tough work. But it ensures quality."

"It's easy to see if it is machine-processed, because it floats longer in the water and tastes more astringent."

Fan worries that one day no one will be able to make Longjing tea by hand.

He taught classes in school and had dozens of apprentices, "but no one lasted for more than one year. They come and go."

Fan's newest apprentice is Zhou Yunfeng. He practiced during summer and autumn last year, and this was his first day of the spring tea season.

The 19-year-old from a nearby village is a student from West Lake Vocational High School.

"I learned about the tea culture when Master Fan came to give classes in my school. I found I was quite interested in it, so I enrolled as an apprentice. I think I can bear all the hardships," Zhou said.

According to his master, Zhou was talented. "He has bigger palms that can hold more leaves and more sensitive hands. I'm confident of teaching him all my skills," said Fan.

The average price of Fan's handmade tea is double or triple what is charged for machine made tea, reaching 6,000 yuan ($898) per kilogram. "He can make a good living if he can stick to it."

Fan's son, who majored in tourism, will graduate from university this year. He taught him the skill and hopes it will become his career.

"He must produce tea. It's tradition. We need to pass it along. Still, young people have their own ideas," said the father.



Clockwise from left: Workers collect tea leaves in areas around West Lake in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, in late March. Fresh tea leaves are handpicked before being heated up to halt oxidation. Fan Shenghua (left) teaches his apprentice the traditional panning skill. Wu Yuanfeng / For China Daily And Shi Xiaofeng / China Daily

2017-04-03 07:19:13
<![CDATA[Easy does it for liberalization]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-04/02/content_28778586.htm China knows it must maintain a steady course to achieve long-term stability and contribute to the world

China's steady and controlled pace of capital market liberalization is essential for the country's long-term stable growth and its contribution to international development, according to Phyllis Papadavid, head of international macroeconomics at the Overseas Development Institute think tank.

Papadavid says China has the potential to champion globalization and advocate for emerging economies in the global governance system. But first it needs to achieve the objective of steady liberalization, while dealing with the major challenges of boosting domestic growth and reducing debt levels.

"China's ability to deal with these challenges at the same time is impressive, considering that some developing countries historically have found it difficult to deal with the challenge of liberalization alone. Examples can be found in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America," Papadavid says.


Phyllis Papadavid of the Overseas Development Institute think tank said China could play a coordinating role in setting up a regional institutional initiative to fill the global governance gap. Cecily Liu / China Daily

Historically, some emerging countries have liberalized their capital account controls too quickly. Liberalization in Latin America resulted in the 1980s debt crisis, a "lost decade" during which the region's countries reached a point where their foreign debt exceeded their earning power and they were not able to repay it.

"Some of those countries liberalized too quickly. They opened up prematurely and out of necessity because they needed international capital or were in crisis. Often yields escalated," she says.

Once capital flies to safe-haven options, such as the United States dollar, the Swiss Franc and gold, boom-bust cycles also ensue.

"Inflows of foreign investment into emerging market stock markets were followed by sharp reversals," Papadavid notes. "This had detrimental growth effects in countries that were most in need of inward investment to support growth."

The Latin America debt crisis had its roots in the 1960s and 70s, when countries including Brazil, Argentina, and Mexico borrowed large sums from international creditors to help with industrialization, and especially infrastructure programs.

Soaring growth rates in those countries meant foreign investors were happy to lend, but eventually, when the international capital markets realized that Latin America would not be able to pay back its loans, interest rates increased to an average annual rate of 20.4 percent between 1975 and 1982.

This led Latin America to quadruple its external debt, from $75 billion in 1975 to more than $315 billion in 1983, or 50 percent of the region's GDP. Capital flight followed and there was a sudden withdrawal of funds.

By comparison, China is managing its liberalization process well, because it is opening up its foreign direct investment channels in a slow and thoughtful manner, Papadavid says.

"Policymakers have already liberalized foreign direct investment channels considerably, but the focus of attention will now be on further liberalization in the financial account: opening up its bond market and equity market for increased foreign access," she says.

Despite its controlled pace, China's capital market has already liberalized significantly during the past few years. The Hong Kong-Shanghai Stock Connect, launched in 2014, allows foreign access to a significant portion of stocks in China's domestic market. China's gradually increased allocation to foreign investors of Qualified Foreign Institutional Investor and Renminbi Qualified Foreign Institutional Investor quotas has enabled many international funds and investment management companies to buy into China's stock and bond markets.

In 2016, China further liberalized its interbank bond market, which was welcomed by foreign investors. Valued at about $7 trillion, the interbank bond market is the third-largest globally, and the 2 percent foreign participation only points to large potential for growth.

Meanwhile, the liberalization of China's domestic capital market is being accompanied by the internationalization of the renminbi, which reached a milestone in its journey to become a global reserve currency in October when it was included in the International Monetary Fund's basket of special drawing rights currencies.

"In time, renminbi internationalization can bring more stability to the global financial system, as we move toward a tripolar currency world centered on the dollar, euro and renminbi," says Papadavid.

As of December 2016, the renminbi is the sixth-most widely used currency for international transactions, accounting for 1.68 percent of global payments.

Despite its small-scale, its potential is large: The renminbi is increasingly becoming a preferred trade currency for transactions involving China and its major trading partners, and many central banks, such as the Central Bank of Nigeria, are holding a growing amount of renminbi in their reserves.

China's liberalization comes as the nation is playing a stronger role in defending globalization and inclusive growth, as demonstrated by President Xi Jinping's speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in January.

Papadavid says China's leadership on globalization is encouraging, and she believes China is already contributing significantly to the inclusive growth agenda, with the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank being key examples.

"China has the capacity to contribute to the inclusive growth agenda because of its long-term growth prospects. President Xi's argument for emerging and developing economies to have more say in global institutions like the IMF is significant in demonstrating China's leadership role," says Papadavid.

She says one particularly interesting question is whether China will lead or coordinate a regional institutional initiative to fill the global governance gap.

"Adequate global governance is currently lacking. A China-led institutional solution to this could provide the liquidity and safety nets that are lacking for developing and emerging economies during times of crisis," says Papadavid.

Following the 1997-98 Asian Financial Crisis, Japan proposed the idea of an Asian equivalent to the IMF. This problem was that, while the IMF lent help to many Asian countries in crisis, the funding was given based on strict conditions, and borrowing costs were high. Although the idea never came to fruition, the growth of Asian economies suggests the time might be right for such an institution.

Papadavid says China could play a coordinating role in setting up such an institution, and in time, a stable and free-floating renminbi could offer an advantage for its coordinator role.

"Many developing countries already use the renminbi and it could become an invoice currency for loans to developing countries," she says, adding that the emergence of an IMF-equivalent in Asia would be a part of an institutional and economic rebalancing between West and East.

"The institutional rebalancing is an extension of previous Bretton Woods institutions, including the IMF and World Bank," she says.

The Bretton Woods system, created in 1944, was a monetary order intended to govern monetary relations between and among independent nation states. It was negotiated by advanced economies during World War II, including the US, UK, Canada and Australia. International institutions, including the World Bank and the IMF, were born from this system. Consequently, emerging economies had very little representation.

But as emerging and developing countries are growing in economic influence now, a new system is needed. Papadavid says she sees China and the renminbi as having roles in this system.

"As China internationalizes the renminbi, it is important for it to liberalize with a high level of transparency and communication. China already recognizes this," she says.


2017-04-02 11:43:26
<![CDATA[Star chaser]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-04/02/content_28778585.htm 'It's breathtaking even if you don't take any pictures,' says photographer in pursuit of scenes far from Earth

At a farm on the outskirts of Changchun, Jilin province, Tian Shiyu and his friends are taking pictures of the M42 Orion Nebula more than 1,300 light years from the Earth. The temperature outdoors is about -30 C. After seven hours in the cold, they finally get an image they are happy with.

Tian Shiyu, 28, has been a starry sky photo aficionado for four years. Before that he was just an amateur photographer keen on taking photos of his young daughter. He started to focus on the Orion Nebula in January 2014. In three years he has produced only three photos that he feels are satisfactory, but he says that's worth the effort.

He has spent tens of thousands of yuan purchasing high-grade equipment and was once stressed because he couldn't even understand the instructions without having professional knowledge.

Deep-space photography is a complete system - and a demanding one. Besides requiring skills and facilities, it involves an understanding of weather and how to overcome problems such as light from cities that reflects off the atmosphere and impedes the view into the void.

Apart from all that, Tian must ask his wife for leave every time he makes a date with the sky.

But the most difficult part is control, he says. Debugging and even modifying parts of the facility are sometimes necessary. He has also learned to manage his pictures in postproduction, to present his work to others more effectively.

"The starry sky is fascinating. It's breathtaking even if you don't take any pictures and just look in a place without light pollution," he says. "I just want to be a fan of the stars."

Photos and Text by Bai Shi


Tian Shiyu and his friends must drive 70 to 80 kilometers from the city to photograph the starry night sky. After getting clear of the light pollution, they must brave temperatures as low as -30 C for 10 hours at a stretch.





2017-04-02 11:43:26
<![CDATA[Gyllenhaal breathes 'life' into alien invasions]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-04/01/content_28768900.htm A multicultural cast headed by A-listers and a 'science reality' approach separates the latest entry into a venerable film genre from the rest of its extraterrestrial ilk

Eight decades after Flash Gordon hinted that aliens might not have our best interests at heart, mankind still risks destruction in the movies to make contact with extraterrestrial life.

From Frederick Stephani's 1936 big screen serial through the $1.2 billion Alien franchise to last year's Independence Day: Resurgence, the heroes of more than 500 space invasion films have been lining up to die in new and inventive ways.

This year's first sci-fi blockbuster is Life, a claustrophobic game of cat-and-mouse between the crew of the International Space Station and a rapidly evolving life form that caused extinction on Mars and now threatens all life on Earth.


Actor Ryan Reynolds, Director Daniel Espinosa, and actor Jake Gyllenhaal attend the Life premiere during 2017 SXSW Conference and Festivals at the ZACH Theatre on March 18 in Austin, Texas. Michael Loccisano / Getty Images for SXSW / AFP

Set in the near future, Daniel Espinosa's breakneck-speed thriller hits theaters last Friday with an international cast led by A-listers Jake Gyllenhaal and Ryan Reynolds.

"The script, pacing-wise, was blistering and terrifying. I mean, when I was reading it, you get to a couple of moments in the script, I was legitimately anxious, which is a very good sign," Gyllenhaal told AFP at a press day in New York.

The film reunites Reynolds with his Deadpool writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, although this white-knuckle suspense horror is short on the snarky humor that marked the 2016 superhero movie.

"There's nothing scarier than something that's just trying to survive and knows a little more than you do," Reynolds said at the world premiere at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas last Saturday.

'Science reality'

"I think people love that, and people love a claustrophobic thriller too. Hitchcock started doing it and now it's been around forever."

Comparisons with Ridley Scott's 1979 sci-fi horror Alien - in which a deadly extraterrestrial stalks the crew of a spaceship - are inevitable, especially since Alien: Covenant, the sixth installment in the iconic series, is fast approaching.

"I can see why people will compare it with Alien but science fiction came from an old idea of noir cinema. I wanted my movie to play into that old American tradition," Espinosa told AFP.

"Another big difference is the time, the era, when Alien was made. It was a post-atomic age when everyone was very much looking into the future. Young people today live in such a chaotic world that they don't think so much about what might happen in the next 10 years, let alone 100 years."

The point of Life, said Espinosa, was to make a thriller that would be entirely plausible today - a rover discovering a single-cell organism on Mars and bringing it back to the ISS only for it to grow powerful and turn hostile.

In keeping with the "science reality" approach, the production team consulted British geneticist Adam Rutherford, who has published influential books on the use of genetic modification to make new life-forms.

Espinosa worked with Rutherford to create an entirely original organism made up of cells that can each perform any bodily function, structurally superior to humans, with their specialized brain cells, eye cells, lung cells and so on.


The Life crew created a shape-shifter creature that adapts to its environment and can mimic whatever it comes into contact with, growing ever bigger, stronger and more threatening.

"We do not think that a life form would survive on the surface of Mars. The atmosphere is too thin and it would be sterilized by ultraviolet radiation," Rutherford said.

But he managed to come up with an idea for a creature that had survived for millennia by protecting itself from the Red Planet's harsh conditions.

"The idea was that the alien has been in hibernation, protected from the radiation beneath the surface of the planet," he said.

Early reviews have been mixed, with the Hollywood Reporter predicting that the "underwhelming" movie may "suffocate in the anticipatory atmosphere surrounding Alien: Covenant."

Other critics have been kinder, however, pointing to its lean directing and refreshingly multicultural cast boosted by non-US actors Hiroyuki Sanada, Ariyon Bakare and Olga Dihovichnaya.

"Life is a thrill when it's smart, but it's even more exciting when the characters are dumb - which is ultimately a paradox the film wears proudly, to the possible extinction of the human race," concluded Variety magazine.

Agence France-Presse

2017-04-01 07:45:40
<![CDATA[Actor-director Alice Lowe on the mother of all movies]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-04/01/content_28768899.htm Two things stand out immediately about British actress, filmmaker and rising star Alice Lowe that make her an unusual subject in the rarefied but often pretentious world of celebrity interviewing.

The first is the venue - a pleasant but utterly run-of-the-mill early 20th century bungalow she has rented to receive journalists in suburban Los Angeles - and the second is that she is breast-feeding.

"We could have gone to a restaurant but I didn't want to be somewhere where I'm like 'stay in your pram and don't fall into the waiter,'" she says, cradling infant daughter Della, who was bawling but has suddenly adopted the blessed out expression of a yogi.

Lowe's lack of airs could be explained by the fact that she's hardly A-list yet outside of the British TV comedy circuit. But you get the feeling that she'd be as down-to-earth with an Oscar on the bathroom shelf.

Her profile has been on the rise, in any case, with a starring role and writing credit on Ben Wheatley's exquisite serial killer comedy Sightseers (2012) and parts in Edgar Wright's Hot Fuzz and The World's End as well as Paul King's Paddington.

Lowe, 39, is doing the Hollywood publicity merry-go-round to promote Prevenge, a horror comedy she wrote and directed, not to mention appearing in every scene, during an intense 11-day shoot while she was heavily pregnant.

Another deliciously deadpan bloodbath, Prevenge follows delusional Ruth as she embarks on a bloody antenatal assassination mission she believes is being commanded by her unborn fetus to avenge the death of its father.

In the club

If the premise sounds outlandish, Lowe's directorial debut - which was released on March 24 in limited theaters and the horror streaming service Shudder - has been lavished with critical acclaim.

She was approached to make it while six months pregnant, and realized her initial hesitation was no more than an unconscious attempt to conform to how society expects pregnant women to behave.

She ended up making a movie that on one level is a natural heir to the revenge genre exemplified by Park Chan-wook's 2003 noir smash-hit Old Boy, but one that explores the way society patronizes pregnant women while at the same time limiting their life choices.

"One of the main things I wanted to say is that women are individuals and pregnant women are individuals. Everyone is different. That's one of the things you feel you're losing when you become pregnant," she says.

"It's like you're joining a group, some kind of club and there's this one-size-fits-all attitude that you're a mum ... and you're going to feel this way or that way."

Lowe also wanted to challenge the tendency of TV and cinema to reduce pregnant women to nothing more than their baby bump - and the inclination to worry about whether female characters in general are sympathetic.

"No one watches Taxi Driver and thinks this is a terrible representation of men, or taxi drivers. You do the same with women and everyone goes 'oh, she was so horrible, such a terrible representation of women,'" she says.


Far from being worn out, Lowe felt "superhuman" during the shoot, which includes a Halloween night out on the streets of the notorious Welsh party capital Cardiff, where real drunken revelers took the place of paid extras.

"I had guys coming up to me and shouting in my face 'I'm not scared of you!' and I had to say, 'I am actually pregnant, you know. This is a real pregnancy bump," she recalls.

"I saw some crazy things that night. We walked past a group of about 30 people standing around a fight between three men, one of whom was in a wheelchair. It was insane."

Lowe grew up in England's West Midlands and graduated in classics from Cambridge University.

Her TV career took off with Garth Marenghi's Dark Place, a short-lived but clever sendup of low-budget 1980s soap opera featuring actors talking over scenes from a horror series they'd made years earlier that got canceled.

Life following art as it often does, Darkplace itself was canceled after six episodes, although it got a second life on America's Sci-Fi Channel - now SyFy - and has gone on to become a cult classic thanks to YouTube.

Lowe has since appeared in many of Britain's most successful comedy series - from Black Books to The IT Crowd and The Might Boosh - but says her film career has allowed her to realize she's "just not that into sitcoms."

"I think in a way I got subverted into comedy," she says. "I do love comedy but I much more see the world as being a mixture of comedy, tragedy and everything else."

Agence France-Presse

2017-04-01 07:45:40
<![CDATA[Going against the grain]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-03/25/content_28677437.htm J Craig Venter, a biotechnologist and geneticist, who visited Beijing late last year to receive the VCANBIO Award for International Cooperation in Life Sciences and Medicine, talks about how he sees science

Being a scientist means one must challenge existing dogma and authority, says J Craig Venter, a biotechnologist and geneticist who visited Beijing at the end of 2016 to receive the VCANBIO Award for International Cooperation in Life Sciences and Medicine.

Venter, 70, was one of the first to sequence the human genome, and the first to create what is called man-made life: insert a synthetic genome into the cell of a bacterium, whose original genome was destroyed.

Venter and his team put watermarks on the synthetic genome, and one of them was a quote from Irish writer James Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist As a Young Man: "To live, to err, to fall, to triumph, to re-create life out of life."

J Craig Venter, who has been challenging authority all his life says, "You need big ego to succeed." Provided to China Daily


The first man-made cell survived and reproduced.

Now the Chinese version of his book Life at the Speed of Light is available in China.

The book, is based on a speech Venter gave in July 2012 at Trinity College, Dublin.

Venter's speech was titled "What is Life? The Physical Aspect of the Living Cell", and his lecture was influential because "it confronted the central problems of biology - heredity and how organisms harness energy to maintain order - from a bold new perspective.

With clarity and conciseness he argued that life had to obey the laws of physics and, as a corollary, one could use the laws of physics to make important deductions about the nature of life.

Motivated and eager

Despite of being one of the leading scientists of the 21st century, Venter almost failed to graduate from high school.

Growing up in California, Venter had bad grades at school.

In high school, Venter's only chance to succeed seemed to be swimming, and he might have competed in the Olympic Games if he was not drafted for the Vietnam War.

In Vietnam, Venter became a corpsman at a Navy hospital due to his high score in an IQ test. One of his tasks was to triage soldiers returning from battle, including the Tet Offensive, to decide who would live and who would die.

The job left him traumatized, and Venter decided to drown himself in the sea.

But as he swam, a shark prodded him and he changed his mind.

The experience in Vietnam influenced him in a lot ways.

For one thing, it convinced him to go back to school. "I decided that I definitely wanted a college education. I enjoyed the work I was doing in medicine so much that I was really interested in practicing it," he says.

Another major influence of the experience in Vietnam is that "it made me unafraid to take risks and try to do things," he says.

Venter would have stayed in the Navy, but he took a risk to go back to school.

Although a terrible student at high school and worried about starting college education from scratch, Venter was very motivated and eager to gain medical knowledge.

He went to college at 22, and in six years, he completed his PhD in physiology and pharmacology.

In 1976, he became a professor at the State University of New York, and in 1984, joined the National Institutes of Health.

Genome of life

Then, in order to sequence the genome, he started a nonprofit institute in 1992, and in 1995, the institute made a breakthrough, mapping the genetic code of a type of bacterium.

The way that Venter's team sequenced the genome outpaced scientists from six countries including the United States, China and the United Kingdom, so in 1997 Venter was invited to join their program to sequence human genes.

In the previous seven years, the scientists had only sequenced about three percent of human genes but Venter used the next three years to complete 90 percent, and in 2000, Bill Clinton, the then US President, announced that the program had completed 99 percent of the sequencing of the human genome.

Then, in 2010, Venter and his team created the first man-made cell.

Meanwhile, the team are also developing a technology that will help to bring the genome of life from other planets to earth to replicate alien life.

For instance, Venter says that if life is found on Mars, which he is sure will happen, machines sent to Mars will be able to sequence the genome of life and send the data back to earth.

'Big ego'

For years, Venter has been famous for his "big ego", although one of his colleagues told The New York Times that, "He's a very insecure person who compensates by coming across as very arrogant and aggressive. ????"

"You need big ego to succeed," says Venter, who has been challenging authority all his life.

"Scientists used to believe that proteins are the carriers of the genetic message ... But the existing beliefs in science, each of them, should be challenged and abandoned. That's what science should be about. It should challenge every aspect of what you've been told, " he says.

If people are successful scientists, that does not mean they are smart about looking forward and coming up with ideas beyond their narrow space, he says.

Venter says such a misunderstanding about proteins and DNA set back science by half a century.

"Just imagine where we would be with the genetic code if we had started in 1900 and tried to understand the genome instead of just thinking that proteins were the genetic material."

For him, the history of science is loaded with belief systems that ultimately get proved wrong.

"So the starting assumption of science should be that it is wrong."

Without challenging or questioning, accepting the existing dogma will kill creativity, so most of the major breakthroughs in science have happened from people changing fields and working in a different place, he says.

Speaking about himself, Venter says: "I was a protein chemist. But I moved to molecular biology and made all these discoveries that the molecular biologists could not make because they believed it was impossible."


2017-03-25 07:27:29
<![CDATA['Beauty's' Beast Dan Stevens breaks out behind the effects]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-03/25/content_28677436.htm BEVERLY HILLS, California - When Dan Stevens met his Beauty and the Beast co-star Emma Watson in preproduction, she wanted to get to work analyzing the story and the themes. He just wanted to talk about her UN speech about gender inequality.

"It was so impressive and so mighty in its message. I was so blown away by it," Stevens said recently.

He quickly realized that her ideas actually did apply to the film too. Between the spoiled Beast, the sleazy Gaston, the gracious Maurice and others, Stevens began to think about just how many different types of masculinity are on display in the film, which opened in theaters last Friday.

"Looking at these little elements of the patriarchy that she can smash through on her quest through the movie and the challenges presented to her as a girl, they tally so beautifully with Emma's project," Stevens said. "I love storytelling and fairy tale and myth and getting to grips with those fundamental elements is something that I really get a kick out of."

At 34, Stevens is perhaps still best known for his role as Matthew Crawley on the PBS period series Downton Abbey, which he somewhat infamously left five years ago to pursue other things stateside. In the interim, the English actor has found roles in edgy indies, like the home invasion thriller The Guest, and even in campier family fare like Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb as the overconfident Lancelot.

Now Stevens is on the verge of becoming a household name with a leading role on FX's edgy comic book series Legion and, of course, Beauty and the Beast by far his highest profile role since Downtown. Ironically it's also one where his face is largely hidden for most of the film.

"It's still my face driving it," Stevens said, insisting that his friends and family have said they can definitely tell its him behind the facial capture technology that turns the blonde-hair blue-eyed human male into a horned and hairy beast.

Besides, it allowed him to focus on the performance in the eyes something he studied in Jean Marais' performance in Jean Cocteau's 1946 version of Beauty and the Beast to prepare.

"It was very important to me to preserve the beast's soul through the eyes," Stevens said. "It's kind of the last human quality that he has shining through."

As a father to three children with wife and singer Susie Hariet Willow (7), Aubrey (4), and Eden (10 months) Stevens has an added interest in balancing hard R-rated genre work with more family-friendly fare.

"I almost certainly would have said yes to this whether I had kids or not, but it is a big factor and informs some of my choices for sure these days," the actor said.

He would often bring his kids to the Beauty and the Beast set to see him in action.

"I love it when crew members or other cast members bring their kids on," he said. "It helps you remember why you're making it and who you're making it for."

It also made for some amusing observations from his children. Stevens' costume consisted of stilts and a cumbersome gray muscle suit that the visual effects people would eventually use to morph him into the Beast in postproduction.

"My daughter said I looked like a hippo," he said. "It helped with that Beast feeling of feeling monstrous and like he didn't fit in."

With four other projects in various stages of postproduction, from a role in a historical drama about Thurgood Marshall to the rom-com Permission and Legion's renewal for a second season, Stevens is doing what he's always wanted.

"I'm having a great time just exploring a number of different areas that I never dreamed I'd get to explore," Stevens said. "And, hopefully, slipping into some quite unrecognizable roles."

The Beast isn't a bad start.

Xinhua - AP

2017-03-25 07:27:29
<![CDATA[China's desert warrior defends Dunhuang]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-03/18/content_28601151.htm Long-serving CPPCC member continues her work in advising the nation on how to best preserve its cultural treasures

If it had not been for Fan Jinshi and her team, the world cultural heritage at Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes in a remote Chinese desert might have long been destroyed by sand, weather or humans. Born and raised in Shanghai, Fan has spent half a century fighting an uphill battle to preserve the ancient Buddhist wall paintings at Dunhuang, in northwest China's Gansu province.

"It was not that I favored my job over my family, I just could not bear the guilt of having our ancestors' legacy destroyed," she told Xinhua in Beijing while attending the annual session of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).

The 1,600-year-old Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes are a huge collection of Buddhist art - more than 2,000 Buddha figures and 45,000 square meters of paintings spread among 735 caves.


Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes are a huge collection of Buddhist art - more than 2,000 Buddha figures and 45,000 square meters of paintings spread among 735 caves. Sun Zifa / For China Daily

It is China's first UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Desert warfare

Archaeologist Fan was sent to Dunhuang after graduating from Peking University in 1963. Her college sweetheart was assigned a teaching job in Wuhan, thousands of miles away.

While in Dunhuang, a desert outpost then, Fan lived in an abandoned temple. At first, she did not even dare go out to the toilet at night.

"I saw a pair of shining eyes in the dark. I thought it was a wolf," she said, before finding out that the eyes belonged to a donkey.

To protect the treasures from sand and dampness, Fan and other workers put doors on the caves, planted trees and started monitoring temperature and humidity in the caves. They also control the number of visitors.

"The carbon dioxide people exhale in the caves accumulates and will damage the paintings, so we allow a maximum of 3,000 tourists each day."

In the late 1990s, with tourism booming nationwide since national holidays were extended, the local government planned to go public with Dunhuang Mogao, but found Fan firmly in their way.

"The legacy would have been destroyed if it had been listed," she said.

The academy has now photographed and cataloged online all the sculptures and paintings. "Despite our efforts to minimize damage, we can't completely stop them from being eroded. But the digital database will last."

Fan was grateful when her husband joined her in Dunhuang in 1986 after 19 years of separation. Her two sons grew up in Shanghai with their aunt.

"I have not been a good mother or wife. With regard to my family, I'm full of guilt," she said.

Never giving up

Fan, 79, retired two years ago as the director of Dunhuang Academy but continues her efforts as a national political adviser.

She has spent International Women's Day in Beijing for the past 25 years as CPPCC typically convened for its annual sessions in early March.

As one of the longest-serving CPPCC members, Fan has raised many proposals for protecting China's heritage. Some have been accepted and led to changes in policy.

Fan recalls the proposal she made in 2003 which led to the establishment of the Dunhuang Tourism Information Center. The digital center opened to public in 2014 after 11 years of research, verification, planning and construction.

"The center helps tourists have a better understanding of what we do here, and doubles our tourist capacity," said Fan.

Another proposal resulted in changes to a planned railway line, which she thought would damage the grottoes.

For the past two years, she has been working on a proposal to use technology to protect sites across the country.

She proposed the Ministry of Science and Technology prioritize cultural heritage protection, have more sites digitized, and combine traditional antique repairs with modern technology.

"Dunhuang has benefited from digital technology and I hope our experience can be replicated in the whole country," she said.

This year, Fan has decided to retire from the advisory body. "I'm too old for the CPPCC job," she said. "But I will keep on working for our heritage protection."



2017-03-18 07:27:28
<![CDATA[Pig manure helps green revolution revitalize degraded soil]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-03/18/content_28601150.htm With a postgraduate degree, Shen Haimei could have chosen to make a fortune doing a regular office job. Instead, she has chosen to work with manure and offer organic fertilizers to farmers, free of charge. Shen, 45, an overseas returnee, is pursuing green agriculture in Harbin city in northeast China's Heilongjiang province.

Inside a huge gray capsule on Qingyuan Farm, 6,000 cubic meters of manure are under fermentation.

"It will turn into organic fertilizer in six months, and be applied to nearby farmland," she said.

Six years ago, she quit the dairy company where she had worked for over a decade, to study agricultural economy at Aarhus University in Denmark.

"Dung disposal facilities were way behind the increasing number of farms in China," she said. "Dung should not become a burden for the environment. We must figure out a way to make use of it."

When interning for an agricultural technology outreach center in Denmark, she was impressed by their advanced technology for disposing livestock dung.

"A truck was applying liquid manure fertilizer to farmland efficiently. Farmers recorded down the exact time and quantity of fertilizer added. All of this was new to me," she said.

She decided to bring what she had learned back to China and establish her own green business.

But after visiting nearly 100 farms, she was frustrated by the pollution caused by livestock dung and the huge waste of the resource, due to livestock raising being separated from farming in China.

"In the past, farmers did farming and raised some pigs or chicken at the same time. Livestock manure was used on their own land," she said. "But large scale farming has separated them."

In 2014, she started a company to re-connect farming with raising livestock, making personalized plans on dung disposal for each farm.

At the beginning, her idea was not welcomed by farmers. She knocked on the door of every farmer she could reach.

"I explained to them how excessive chemical fertilizer use would lead to soil degradation and low fertility, but organic fertilizers could make the soil soft again and increase productivity."

Over the years, agricultural experts repeatedly warned that the precious black soil in China's northeast, which was once fertile, had been degraded due to excessive use of chemical fertilizers and long-term cultivation, threatening stable output.

Now, with Shen's help, farmers are witnessing real changes in their land - soil becoming soft and loose, and production increasing.

Last year, Qingyuan Pig Farm joined Shen's efforts in developing the capsule technology to dispose around 12,000 cubic meters of pig manure a year.

Nestle Corporation also found her and reached a cooperation plan to dispose 80,000 cubic meters of manure a year in 10 capsules.

Making money has never been her priority.

"It is more important to develop the industry to turn dung into fertilizer, and encourage the use of organic fertilizers. This benefits the environment and agriculture in the long term."

China is making efforts to scale back use of chemical fertilizer and switch to organic alternatives.

According to local authorities, Heilongjiang plans to cut the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides from 2015 levels by 10, 20 and 30 percent respectively by 2020.

With 1.25 million yuan ($180,800) in financial support from the local government, Shen is now spreading organic fertilizers on 367 hectares of land.

Her green business has attracted young environmentalists, which has delighted her.

"I will continue to improve the technology with what I have learned abroad and hope to see China set a green standard for modern agriculture," she said.


2017-03-18 07:27:28
<![CDATA[The Ivy League village chief]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-03/05/content_28439820.htm A Yale graduate has transformed a rural settlement in Hunan province

Qin Yuefei first arrived in the village of Baiyun three years ago. The village in Hunan province - with narrow country lanes and similar-looking farmhouses - was a stark contrast to the New England residences and lecture halls of Yale University, from where Qin had graduated.

Villager Bin Hongying gave him a lift on his motorcycle to the four-storey building where Qin was due to take up his post as the village Party chief.

Since then, Qin has applied such techniques as crowdfunding, e-commerce and public relations he learned at Yale to rural China. He has solved countless family and housing disputes, and helped raise money from the government and private donors to improve local infrastructure.

"We are like family," Bin, 70, says of Qin. "He has done a lot for us. We hope that he can find a girlfriend and get married soon."

In February, Qin, the first Ivy League village official in China, won the annual Touching China award from China Central Television, recognizing him as one of the country's most inspiring role models.

"Lots of people question my decision. Why would a Yale graduate work in a remote impoverished village? Is he crazy?" says the 32-year-old.

Qin earns 2,000 yuan ($290; 275 euros; 234) a month - far less than many Yale graduates who work in Beijing and New York.

Qin says that he wanted to use his education to help people in rural China.

"What I learned from Yale is how to determine problems and how to use the scientific method to solve them," he says.

"Rural China interests me. The people are down-to-earth and their lives are very real. Also, there are many parents, just like mine, who hope to offer their children better lives and education. I want to help."

Going rural

Before Qin came to work and live in Baiyun village, he worked as the assistant to the head of Hejiashan village, 30 kilometers away.

Qin, who majored in political science and economics, helped transform the village's fortunes.

He raised 800,000 yuan from private and public sources to install street lights, improve irrigation and provide school buses.

In 2005, the Chinese government started encouraging university graduates to work in China's villages to improve rural administration and create more jobs for graduates.

Qin is among more than 220,000 university graduates who serve as village heads or Party chiefs around the country's over 500,000 administrative villages, according to the People's Daily.

Many wondered how graduates like Qin would manage the rigors of rural life.

When Qin first arrived in Hejiashan in 2011, he took morning showers, which villagers regarded as wasteful.

To gain their trust, Qin mastered the local dialect in three months, which helped him get closer to local people.

Qin continued to pay close attention to the needs of villagers after his move to Baiyun.

"Before he starts his job, Qin talks with us. He respects our lifestyle, and we trust him," says Wang Guangli, the village head of Baiyun, which has a population of 3,000 people with an average annual income of around 10,000 yuan per capita.

Serve for China

Qin was born in Chongqing to two factory workers. His mother, who played the violin and excelled in gymnastics, sent Qin to study English when he was 2. With financial help from relatives, she enrolled Qin in primary schools in Beijing and Shanghai.

In 2005, Qin graduated from Chongqing Nankai Middle School, passed the SAT with high scores and got full marks on his TOEFL exam, which enabled him to receive a full scholarship from Yale.

At Yale, Qin learned about Teach for America, a nonprofit organization founded by Wendy Kopp based on her 1989 Princeton University undergraduate thesis, to recruit the United States' top college graduates to teach in some of the US' poorest areas.

"Sixty percent of the graduates from Yale and Harvard in 2010 applied for the program. Only the best among them can get the job. The number really shocked me. It made me think," Qin says.

The example of Teach for America and his own experience inspired Qin and other graduates to set up Serve for China in 2014, a nonprofit that recruits Chinese university graduates to work in poor villages.

Serve for China recruited the first 30 young people in 2016.

Tan Tengjiao, one of the first recruits, joined Qin in Baiyun.

The 28-year-old from Hunan's Hengshan county graduated from Renmin University of China and worked as a civil servant in Changsha's public security bureau for seven years.

"The life of a civil servant was secure and stable," says Tan, who's married and has a 3-year-old daughter.

"But my job was boring and I wanted to do something challenging."

Value of villages

Qin and Tan helped Baiyun's farmers establish a cooperative in October to produce and sell camellia oil, which is believed to be among the healthiest kinds of cooking oil.

"The local resources are great treasures. The value of those camellia trees had been ignored but now we make the best use of them," says Qin, adding that the fruit can also be made into soap.

By January, the cooperative had made more than 120,000 yuan selling camellia oil online. More ideas, such as building a factory and developing side products, like handmade soap, are planned.

"The success of the factory will attract young people to return to their hometown and work for the village," says Qin, who is also a deputy to Hengyang's people's congress.

One of the collaborators with Serve for China is the media figure Hong Huang, whose project Brand New China is devoted to promoting Chinese designers' clothing, furniture and household products.

"These young people see the value of the villages. They set a good example for young Chinese people," says Hong, who aims to promote the embroidery techniques of the Miao people in Yunnan province.

Qin says the work of a village Party chief is hard, and sometimes he only manages five hours of sleep. Although his contract will end in October, Qin plans to continue his work in Baiyun.

One of his favorite places is the rooftop of his house, where he reads, listens to music and watches nature.

Why would a Yale graduate come to work in a remote village?

"Why not? The food is healthy and safe. The view outside my window is beautiful. And I don't have to pay rent," Qin says.


2017-03-05 16:00:38
<![CDATA[Ford: 'I've got a bad feeling about this']]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-03/04/content_28433362.htm Harrison Ford, 74, has been reprimanded after making a dangerous error at a Californian airport, reportedly landing his plane on the wrong runway last month, and flying directly over an American Airlines passenger plane. The incident, which is currently being investigated by officials, could even lead to the long-term aviator losing his pilot's licence.

Harrison Ford's injuries, escapades and brushes with death

Harrison Ford, 74, has been reprimanded after making a dangerous error at a Californian airport, reportedly landing his plane on the wrong runway last month, and flying directly over an American Airlines passenger plane. The incident, which is currently being investigated by officials, could even lead to the long-term aviator losing his pilot's licence.

In the past, however, the movie star has experienced his fair share of danger, excitement and, injury, whether in the skies, or on the sets of his various movies.

Here's a timeline of some of Ford's many adventures (and misadventures):

1 1964: The car accident that earned him his facial scar - In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, audiences learn that the title character sustained his distinctive horizontal mark after catching a lash from a bullwhip - but in real life, that intriguing-looking scar on Ford's chin was caused by a 1964 car crash.

Speeding to his job at Bullock's department store in Orange County, California in his pre-Hollywood days, Ford reached down to fasten his seatbelt...and ended up hitting a telephone pole.

"A fast car crash, a real mundane way of earning it," Ford would later recall, when asked about the scar's origins.

2 1980: A bad bout of dysentery on the set of Raiders of the Lost Ark - As most movie trivia buffs already know, Ford's upset stomach indirectly helped create an iconic cinema scene. On the set of Raiders of the Lost Ark, the actor declared himself too ill to take part in a planned stand off with an expert swordsman, played by stuntman Terry Richards....and suggested that he his character would simply shoot his flamboyant assailant instead.

"I had chosen to eat native food, unlike Steven [Spielberg] who went to Tunisia with a steamer trunk full of SpaghettiOs, and I had suffered mightily for that," Ford recalled in 2011. "I was no longer capable of staying out of my trailer for more than it took to expose a role of film, which was 10 minutes, and then I would have to flee back there for sanitary facilities."

3 1999: Santa Clarita helicopter crash - In 1999, Ford was forced to make an emergency landing while practising auto-rotations in a Bell 206 helicopter, alongside a flight instructor. While both Ford and the instructor were uninjured, the helicopter itself, which crashed into a dry sandy riverbed near the Californian city of Santa Clarita, "landed hard", according to an official National Transportation Safety Board report on the incident and rolled over (Ford isn't named in the report, but news sources matched the dates with his accident):

The pilot was practicing autorotations to a power-on recovery. When he attempted to recover the power, the engine did not respond as quickly as anticipated and the helicopter landed hard, hitting on the rear heels of both skids. The flight instructor said that when he saw the pilot was late adding power, he attempted to correct the situation but was unsuccessful. The surface of the dry riverbed was mostly soft sand. The left skid heel contacted a log that was embedded in the sand and the helicopter pitched forward onto the skid toes and rolled over onto its left side. Both the flight instructor and pilot reported that there were no problems with the engine during prior autorotations, and, it was running after the helicopter came to rest. The engine was run in a test cell and met all of the manufacturer's perimeters. No discrepancies were found with the control or fuel systems.

4 2000: Rescues lost hiker and flies her to safety - In 2000, Ford turned volunteer rescue pilot and took to the skies in his own helicopter to help Sarah George, a hiker who had become stranded in the mountains of Idaho after suffering dehydration and altitude sickness.

The actor, who owned a ranch close to where George had been hiking, offered to join the rescue operation in order to save the local authorites money.

George, who was 20 at the time of the incident, didn't recognise her rescuer at first: "He was wearing a T-shirt and a cowboy hat," she told news reporters. "He didn't look like I'd ever seen him before."

After finding out who her the man in the hat was, however, she felt a little embarrassed: after being rescued, she'd been sick into a hat while travelling in Ford's helicopter.

"I can't believe I barfed in Harrison Ford's helicopter," she later told ABC news.

5 2000: Emergency landing - In 2000, Ford was flying a Beechcraft Bonanza plane in Nebraska, and found himself forced to make an emergency landing at the Lincoln Municipal Airport in Nebraska, after a gust of wind sent him off course from the runway. There were no injuries.

6 2001: Rescues lost Boy Scout - Cody Clawson, who is now 28, was just 13 years old when he went missing in a forest in Yellowstone Park. The Boy Scout, who had been camping in the woods, became separated from his companions, and found himself lost after wandering off a marked forest trail.

He spent 19 hours in the wilderness, sheltering overnight in a cave, before hearing rescue planes and spotting a passing helicopter the next day. With impressive resourcefulness, he signalled to the air craft by flashing a metal belt buckle.

"This guy came down and was shouting my name," Clawson, who now has a son of his own, later recalled, in an interview with the Daily Mail. "I was so relieved. He said, "We're here to get you, but you'll never guess who's flying the helicopter?

"In my mind I was like, "I really don't care", I just wanted to get out of there. But he said it was Harrison Ford and I didn't believe him."

Meeting Ford himself, Clawson said, made him feel as if he was dreaming.

"The pilot turned round and said, 'Good morning'. The way he said it reminded me so much of his role of Hans Solo in Star Wars. Then I was like, 'Oh my God, Han Solo has just rescued me, how cool is that'. 'I thought I was delirious at first but then realised I wasn't dreaming."

7 2014: Almost crushed by hydraulic door on the set of Star Wars - The Force Awakens: In 2016, when the Disney-owned company responsible for making the door were taken to court, investigators said that Ford, who was left with a broken leg, lacerated hand and dislocated ankle after the on-set incident, could easily have been killed.

According to experts who testified at the trial, the door, which was part of the Millennium Falcon set, acted like a "blunt guillotine", and was just "millimeters from [Ford's] face" during the incident.

The accident took place because Ford believed that the automatic door was not "live" at the time, and assumed that he would be able to walk through the partition. The judge later blamed the door company for this fact, stating that they did not properly communicate with cast-members.

Foodles, the company in question, pleaded guilty to the charges, and were later fined 1.6 million.

During an appearance on the Jonathan Ross Show, Ford later made it clear that he was not a big fan of the new technology: the doors on the original 1977 prop might not have been so high-tech, but at least they weren't dangerous.

"Now we had lots of money and technology and so they built a f------ great hydraulic door which closed at light speed and somebody said, 'Ooh I wonder what this is?'" he told the TV talkshow's host.

"And the door came down and hit me on my left hip because I was turned to my right. And then it flung my left leg up and it dislocated my ankle and as it drove me down to the floor, my legs slapped on the ramp up to the Millennium Falcon and broke both bones in my left leg."

8 2015: Vintage plane crash on Los Angeles golf course - Prior to the latest incident, Ford's most recent plane crash was in 2015, and took place in Santa Monica, California. The experienced pilot, who was at the controls of a two-seater vintage Second World War aircraft, was forced to crash land the plane on a golf course after the engine stopped working when he was mid-flight, 3000 feet in the air.

The actor, who suffered a broken pelvis and head injuries after the crash, was later praised for his decision to land the malfunctioning plane as swiftly and safely as possible, guiding it away from residential areas.

"Looking at where he crashed and how the plane went down, I'm sure there was a moment where he said, 'I'm not going to risk lives, whatever happens, happens. It's going to be just me'," a witness, golfer Eddie Aguglia, told NBC at the time.

"He risked life and limb by putting it down on the golf course instead of trying to go further to try to get back to the airport. Another 25 to 30 yards and ... I don't want to think about it. He saved several lives."

Asked about "his crash", the actor later told GQ Magazine: "I didn't crash. The f------ plane crashed. It was pretty simple."


Harrison Ford arrives at the European premiere of Star Wars, The Force Awakens in Leicester Square, London. Paul Hackett / Reuters

2017-03-04 13:08:25
<![CDATA[Why won't Philip Pullman leave His Dark Materials alone?]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-03/04/content_28433361.htm They say you should never revisit old loves. Maybe someone should tell internationally bestselling authors that.

Seventeen years after the conclusion of his enormously successful and richly constructed fantasy novel trilogy His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman is to publish a continuation of the story. The additional trilogy is described by Pullman as neither a prequel nor a sequel but an "equel", spanning time before and after the events of the first books.

Publishers, booksellers, journalists and readers have expressed delight that the already expansive world of Lyra, Will, Dust, daemons, the Magisterium and an alternate-universe Oxford will be expanded even further by its author.

But some of us have every reason to be cautious. A few years ago, I would have been thrilled about the prospect of more of Pullman's cerebral fictional-world exploration of theology and science (as well as more insight in to his irresistible concept of daemons - always the most seductive part of the books tome).

Pullman described his novels not as fantasy, but as realism about another world, and he puts it perfectly: the books speak to their young readers seriously about all the philosophical and existential messes that adults project onto the process of growing-up.

Yet the news has actually filled me with a sense of once bitten, twice shy. This isn't the only author's announcement of a new addition to a beloved work in recent years, and it hasn't always gone well.

It started with The Phantom Menace. George Lucas's original Star Wars trilogy was a cinematic masterpiece, perfect and complete. Many years after the original sensation, when Lucas decided to create prequels and add new CGI technology to the originals, fans were initially excited, but many were quickly disillusioned when they saw the results. Instead of expanding and adding to the universe Lucas had first conceived, these lacklustre new films managed to remove the sheen from the originals.

The Star Wars prequels have their supporters, but most fans admit they don't live up to the original trilogy, and Star Wars might have been a purer and better piece of work as a whole if they'd never been made.

Then there was Harry Potter. JK Rowling's original seven books are globally loved by a generation of readers. The series was carefully planned by Rowling to exist as a piece, and when she published the final book, Rowling said the story was finished and she didn't expect she would return to that world.

And yet, in the past two years, she has returned to them in grand style. As well as the five film prequels, beginning with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, we have seen a stage play co-written and developed by Rowling as a sequel to the stories, focusing on the adventures of the main characters' children and revisiting events in the original books. Fans have, once again, expressed disappointment.

Harry Potter and The Cursed Child has great things about it and is unmistakably part of the world, but it just isn't the same as Rowling's first series. It wasn't conceived to be part of the story from the beginning, and something about it interferes with our memories of the original.

And now His Dark Materials is set to be expanded, trepidation is running high among readers. Before the trilogy was released, the story and characters existed only in Pullman's head, but when we read them, they became ours, too. And since the books were published, Lyra and Will have continued to exist in the minds of readers who loved them.

Pullman's pen stopped, and our imaginations began. Every reader has their own version of what happened next, and what might have happened before the events of the books. Great fantasy is a starting point for a world that we can then inhabit ourselves. What would your daemon be?, His Dark Materials fans ask each other, just as Harry Potter fans compare which Hogwarts house they would be in.

So when Pullman or Rowling or Lucas step back into their world, with all the authority of having created it in the first place, and try to fill in more of the gaps they left, or extend the place in a direction we didn't expect, it's an unsettling experience. Imagine the person who originally built your house suddenly turning up and building an extension. You'd certainly be interested to hear their thoughts. But you don't live here anymore, you'd say. This is our home now.

Pullman's new books could be marvellous, and I truly hope they are. Either way, I'd read them before the ink was dry if I could. But he holds in his hands something beloved and precious, and the next few months until publication will be an anxious time.

2017-03-04 13:08:25
<![CDATA[What goes around comes around]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-03/04/content_28433248.htm I almost came to grief the other day in a small park not far from where I live when a boy trying to ride one of those yellow rental bikes you see all around Beijing lost balance and crashed to the ground just in front of me.

Why the days of a neat idea, bicycle sharing, may be numbered

I almost came to grief the other day in a small park not far from where I live when a boy trying to ride one of those yellow rental bikes you see all around Beijing lost balance and crashed to the ground just in front of me.

"Come on, son, try again," a middle-aged man told the boy, who was, I suppose, about 10.

"The handle's twisted," the boy replied.

"No worries. Let's find another one," the man replied, leaving the bike lying in a flower bed and walking off with the boy.

Within a few minutes there the boy was again, astride another shiny new yellow bike, practicing his riding skills.

"There are just no standards any more," my friend said. "Essentially his father just told him that it's OK to go around wrecking things."

All I could do was sigh in agreement.

Over the past couple of years many big Chinese cities have lived through what can only be described as some dire days when it comes to air pollution. However, against that, some very positive things have happened on the environmental front. One of them is the proliferation of bicycle-sharing services, something that can contribute, even if in only a small way, to taking cars off our roads.

Beyond environmental considerations, it is the ease of access to the service that attracts commuters. To use the orange bicycles of the company Mobike you download an app and pay a deposit of 300 yuan ($45). It costs 0.5 yuan for half an hour. There are no fixed pick-up or drop-off points for the bikes, which can be located with the help of GPS signals and then unlocked by scanning a QR code.


By the end of last year there were 18.86 million bike-sharing app users in China, says BigData research. Bike sharing service has delivered them convenience and given all of us a little environmental respite but, as with many innovations, there have been nefarious side effects as well.

Reports of all kinds of bad behavior abound, of which the following is but a small catalogue:

Case 1: Theft. Some thieves have even gone on to brazenly rent out the bikes they have stolen. Beijing Television told of a man who was found in possession of a bicycle belonging to the company Ofo. Ofo's signature yellow paint had disappeared under a coat of black paint and a baby seat had been attached to the bike. The man was said to have a monthly income of more than 10,000 yuan, well above the average salary in Beijing.

Case 2: Some people commandeer the bikes, clamping locks on them so that no one else can use them.

Case 3: Users lazily deposit bikes anywhere they like, without thinking about any inconvenience to others.

Case 4: A huge number of bikes simply disappear or are badly damaged somewhere along the line. In Putian, Fujian province, of 667 bikes that one company deposited in the city before the Spring Festival, 550 went missing. Damaged bikes have been found in various places.

Case 5: Some bikes are misused by children, such as for racing. Some children have been seen racing rental bikes on streets. In China children under the age of 12 are barred from riding bikes and tricycles on roads. Last month the Shanghai government called on Mobike, Ofo and the other big bike-sharing app operator, Bluegogo, to make their bicycles less accessible to children.

Case 6: The bikes are targeted by fraudsters. In Nanjing, Jiangsu province, and other places fraudsters have glued payment codes to the rental bikes that when scanned transfer money to the crooks.

This catalogue of woes spoils what ought to be a good news story in which someone comes up with a commercial idea that benefits the innovator, consumers and the world at large.

Positive things

So why do these very positive things always have to be tarnished by what is after all probably a small minority - even if the tale of the missing 550 bikes in Fujian strongly points in the opposite direction? Some reckon it comes down to the fact that many people simply lack a moral compass, not knowing the difference between right and wrong. I maintain that badness is innate to all of us, and that it is useless to call on those who lack moral values to practice self discipline. We all need regulations, admonition and the threat of punishment to keep us in line.

The man in Beijing who took the bike, repainted it and attached the baby seat was held in detention for two weeks. Two nurses caught outside the Beijing hospital where they worked unlocking rental bikes they had locked were detained for five days. They are said to have claimed that they were unaware that what they did was wrong and said they were sorry.

In the economic theory called the tragedy of the commons formulated about 180 years ago, William Forster Lloyd explained how the actions of users in a shared-resource system pursuing their own interests could spell disaster for the group, and he cited the example of a group of farmers grazing cows in a paddock, leading to overgrazing.

In modern day China the terrific bicycle sharing system that has sprung up over the past eight months is akin to grass. My fear is that because of the greed and thoughtlessness of a few, before long that grass will be dead.linjinghua@chinadaily.com.cn

2017-03-04 12:49:26
<![CDATA[Fado princess takes her art worldwide following stint as a busker]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-03/04/content_28433247.htm One day in 1999, when Dona Rosa was singing in Rua Augusta, a pedestrian street in downtown Lisbon, she met the well-known Viennese artist and impresario Andr�� Heller, who was looking for a fado singer for a TV production of an Austrian television company.

Blind since the age of 4, Dona Rosa literally rose from the gutter in Lisbon to become a leading performer of her country's distinctive folk singing style

One day in 1999, when Dona Rosa was singing in Rua Augusta, a pedestrian street in downtown Lisbon, she met the well-known Viennese artist and impresario Andr�� Heller, who was looking for a fado singer for a TV production of an Austrian television company.

The blind woman's singing - she made her living by performing on the street - touched Heller deeply. He invited to Rosa to participate in the TV production filmed in Marrakech. That opened the doors for Rosa's musical career - during the shooting, she met her German agent Uli Balss, who produces CDs and organizes concerts for Rosa all over the world - including her China debut next month.

The Portuguese vocalist, who has released four albums, has become one of fado's most notable performers. She is expected to give over 30 concerts worldwide this year, including Beijing on April 16 during her Hello, Destiny tour in China.

"Fado is a way of expressing our feelings from the deep of our soul. We'll invite the audiences to share and listen to the open language that comes from inside," says Rosa.

The ensemble is composed of Rosa on vocals and triangle, Raul Abreu on Portuguese guitar and vocals, and Tiago Pirralho on accordion.

The ensemble will play traditional and original songs, with the sounds of the guitar and accordion supporting the voice of Rosa. To go with the original music, the musicians have a beautiful poem written by a blind child about music, titled Can??o de Aliu, or Hello, Destiny.

Rosa notes that she also will perform a song titled Mudei de Olhar, which includes lyrics that mean "I change my way of seeing, I walk my way and I discover with surprise that the night began shining. During another song, titled Asa de Anjo, she will invite audiences to close their eyes "in order to see better".

Born in a poor family in 1957 in Oporto, Portugal, she lost her sight at 4 years old after falling ill with severe meningitis. Her family made a living by begging in the streets. Rosa decided to travel to Lisbon when she was 9 to go to a school for blind people.

"In my childhood, I remember looking for what I had seen in my dreams and not being able to find them when I was awake," says Rosa.

Always keen to sing, she found talent as a singer as she began singing in the street to survive.

She says that she never had a goal of being a fado singer, and she learned by herself singing in the street many hours a day. As she says, her learning process and techniques came from the school of real life.

"Sometimes I sing crying inside - by singing you are able to throw away some of the sadness," says Rosa.

Liu Zhao, founder of Stellion Era Cultural Communication, whose company promotes Rosa's upcoming China tour, says he got to know Rosa after being introduced by the traditional Tuvan group Huun-Huur-Tu. Liu has collaborated on the group's China tours since 2014.

A big fan of fado, Liu says that the music genre, which can be traced to the 1820s in Portugal and especially Lisbon. It is not a mainstream music genre, he says, but it is full of emotions, struggles and stories.

"Though Rosa has no academic background, her voice is powerful and real. We hope to introduce her music to Chinese audiences," says Liu.



Portuguese vocalist Dona Rosa is among fado's most notable characters. Provided To China Daily

2017-03-04 12:49:26
<![CDATA[Accidental footing that led to another path]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-02/25/content_28347404.htm Boy who might have been a master ended up as a servant

Was it chance or was it fate? The boy was just 4 years old and what delighted him most were his Shaolin training classes. But any possibility that he might even one day aspire to being a Shaolin master was shattered in a trice one day when he badly sprained his ankle during training.

From that point on any notions that Wu Rujun had of going further down the Shaolin path evaporated and instead another calling that in fact seemed a much more natural choice for him came into view: Peking Opera.

Rujun was born in Nanjing, Jiangsu province into a family with solid ties to this art form, his father being a renowned jinghu (a two-stringed fiddle who accompanies actors in the Peking Opera) musician and his mother a renowned singer. Yet the thought of passing on their artistry to their son barely crossed their minds, Wu says, until a friend visited the family, recognized the boy's talent and suggested to his parents that they teach him. Wu began to learn the jinghu from his father when he was 9.


The New Peking Opera Philanthropic Guanyin of Wu Rujun debuted in Nanjing, East China's Jiangsu province on Jan 22. Provided to China Daily

"Jinghu is too difficult for a child," says the actor, now 53, who has spent half of his life in Japan.

"It is different from the piano, each of whose keys has a specific pitch. Playing the two-stringed instrument is like playing wire ropes; you have to use various techniques and varying intensity to make it sound pleasant."

As he poured time and effort into practicing the instrument he drew more praise, and eventually the boy who might have become a Shaolin master had in fact become a servant - to the national treasure that is Peking Opera.

In six years of study at the National Academy of Chinese he pressed on with getting to know the jinghu eight hours a day and finally graduated with excellence in all subjects. His beautiful falsetto that contributed to his later success in playing a dan (female character) also appeared in this period.

Cultural innovation

Yet Wu's career got under way at a troubled time for Chinese traditional arts, when popular culture from abroad was tempting people away to other forms of entertainment. In fact, Wu says, about this time, in the 1980s, there were frequently more performers than there were people in the audience.

Many of Wu's colleagues got out of the profession, but Wu, determined to make something of his craft, sought to turn his skills to good account. He blended jinghu music with popular musical elements and created jinghu light music that gave the instrument, which has been an accompanying instrument for hundreds of years, into a mainstream instrument.

"Cultural heritage needs development and innovation," Wu says. "Chinese Opera art is extensive and profound. Chinese artists must share responsibility for spreading their country's traditional culture and popularizing it by being aware of related fields of art and music elsewhere."

For Wu, national boundaries do not exist in the arts. Peking Opera is a very masculine art form, but he learned from Japanese culture to add more sentiment to his theatrical works, he says, and created New Peking Opera.

Peking Opera as China's national treasure is a fusion of Chinese cultures of thousands of years old, while New Peking Opera looks for a larger blend at the global level, he says.

In Wu's version, the key elements of traditional Peking Opera are kept, but stylistic changes are made. For example, it highlights melody with thematic music that suits different roles, and actors don makeup and garments that are closer to modern life. Current trends are also reflected in the presentation, and the stage design features more illumination and the choreography more dance movements than is the case with the traditional version.

Wu migrated to Japan in 1989 with his Japanese wife, and in 2000 he founded the Japan Peking Opera Theater in Tokyo.

"After arriving in Japan I found people only had limited knowledge of Peking Opera, mainly about fight sequences, and few knew about the music, which is obviously hard to understand.

"Japanese audiences are well mannered, and everyone applauds at the appropriate time. But at first the applause was out of courtesy rather than being a genuine show of appreciation."

In the intervening years Wu has created more than a dozen New Peking Opera productions and presented many Chinese traditional female figures to Japanese audiences. Every year nearly 50 of his shows are staged in Japan.

Continuous dedication

Just as the accolades of those who witnessed Wu's performances as a boy pushed him to greater things, the applause he receives today continues to inspire him.

"Some audience members tie red flowers around their wrists, and when they applaud it looks like a sea of flowers. It really moves me and I really appreciate their love and support."

The concepts of peace and benevolence in traditional Chinese culture run through his works, he says. Recently Wu brought his new opera Philanthropic Guanyin back to his hometown of Nanjing and gave Chinese audiences a fresh taste of the magnificence of their traditional treasure.

The play is reckoned to be the first of its kind depicting the process of enlightenment of the bodhisattva of compassion, which is portrayed as a female figure Guanyin in Chinese Buddhism.

It debuted in Nanjing Culture and Art Center on Jan 22. It was put on show in Beijing's Chang'an Grand Theater on Feb 18 and 19, and it will go on tour in Japan in September as a tribute of the 45th anniversary of the establishment of China-Japan diplomatic relations.

Though Japan is very much home for Wu these days, he continues to be passionate about the growth of Peking Opera in China. Apart from presenting his works to Chinese audiences, he has also set up a studio in conjunction with Beijing Opera Troupe of Nanjing to cultivate prospective talent.

"My idea is to make use of my artistic performances to draw the people of my own country and of Japan closer to each other so that they understand each other better."


2017-02-25 07:10:51
<![CDATA[Financiers turned fashionistas get creative in New York]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-02/25/content_28347403.htm NEW YORK - His small workshop in a friend's house in industrial Brooklyn is a far cry from the glass skyscraper on Madison Avenue where he worked as an investment banker. But Eric Steffen is happy.

Aged 39, he's ditched his career in finance to reinvent himself as a menswear designer. At a table in the low-hanging, windowless basement, he unrolls denim and velvet. In a room on the ground floor stand a dozen sewing machines bought from a factory that went bankrupt.

It may have been a difficult leap and the success of his nascent company, Fitted Underground, far from assured. But in a city like New York, where fashion is a major industry and looking smart is a must, Steffen is not the only well-paid professional dreaming of a more creative job.

"I really enjoyed it. It was very fast-paced and I enjoyed the skill-set," the former investment banker says of his previous job.

"But I was not happy with a business where the model is maximizing shareholders' values. Productivity was my greatest asset: that's great for a machine, but not so great for a human being!"

But why tailoring? Steffen had always struggled to find the perfect pair of jeans for his former footballer legs. After getting a suit made to measure, he no longer wanted to buy ready-to-wear.

But with no design experience, he had to get some training: initially through private lessons and at New York's famous Fashion Institute of Technology, which offers relatively affordable night classes.

In April 2014, Steffen resigned from J.P. Morgan with the support of his wife, who was prepared to help financially. Nearly three years later, he has around 100 clients, "all word of mouth," and hopes sales of his $400 made-to-measure jeans will enable him to take on a staff.

'Word of mouth'

In contrast to his former employer, Steffen says he wants a company with a "more holistic business model" that maximizes "all the stakeholders' values, not just shareholders."

Not all fashion converts share Steffen's idealism, but many of them past the age of 30, are looking for personal fulfillment after slaving away round the clock for years at high-pressured New York companies.

That's the case for Gauri Sikka, 38, who is preparing to ditch her 10-year career in banking in April to launch a line of luxury dog clothes.

"Ever since I was a teenager, I always wanted to get into fashion," she says. "But back then, it was not considered as a respectable profession." Her father insisted she earn an MBA, so she did.

"My husband and I, we don't have any kids, we have dogs," she says. "They're like our kids, so we don't compromise: if I like something, even if it's a $100 sweater, I'll buy it."

After night classes at FIT and thanks to savings and her husband's support, she can now devote herself to her passion and has founded her own company, The Doggie Days.

She sees New York as a perfect niche market with so many well-paid professionals willing and able to spend lavishly on their pets.

One of her first creations is a cashmere bandanna, which her Maltese Dior has already modeled. She hopes to sell them for around $50.

Close to burning out

Former lawyer Nisha Jain specialized in mergers and acquisitions at one of Manhattan's most reputable firms.

Close to burning out in 2012, she abandoned her lavish salary to work, first as an intern then for pay at a ready-to-wear brand.

A year ago, she launched her own website "Niche Mrkt," which sells clothes for petite women such as herself.

Now a young mother, she still does legal work on the side to supplement her income, but says she is happy to have found an industry "that allows me to be more creative."

"I dictate what I do instead of being at the mercy of a law firm," she says.

All three entrepreneurs say they use the skills they acquired in their previous jobs daily: communication, negotiation and simply understanding how finance and businesses work.

And if their plans don't work out?

"In the worst case, if I fail," Sikka says, "I can always go back."

Agence France-Presse

2017-02-25 07:10:51
<![CDATA[Touching moments with mom and daughter]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-02/04/content_28101960.htm A revealing snapshot of Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds

Last year was a sad one when it came to celebrity deaths, but few were more heartbreaking than the death of Carrie Fisher and her mother Debbie Reynolds within only a day of each other.

In a new HBO documentary, which was originally due to be aired later in the year but has been brought forward to next week, filmmakers Alexis Bloom and, Fisher's friend, Fisher Stevens, followed both mother and daughter in 2014 and 2015. The film was Carrie Fisher's idea, who wanted her mother's life and legacy preserved and shared with the public.

The resulting film, Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds, is as sweetly intimate - and eye-opening - a portrait of two Hollywood megastars as fans could want. The two were living next door to each other and the film goes into their shared compound and follows their day-to-day lives as well as tackling everything from growing up in showbusiness, to Fisher's bipolar disorder to Reynolds's declining health. Here are some highlights:

1 How Carrie Fisher lost her virginity: Not only do we learn how Fisher came to have sex for the first time but how her mother attempted to manage the situation. Sat on the bed of a London hotel, she discusses the loss of her virginity with her friend, actor Griffin Dunne.

He also happened to be the man who took it, as a friendly act of unburdening her of something she didn't want anymore because she didn't want her boyfriend to know she was a virgin. But Reynolds, Fisher said, had a different idea. She offered to supervise her daughter's first time with a different man that she selected herself.

2 Why Carrie's voice broke her mother's heart: Something only occasionally seen on TV during Fisher's life was her singing. But she has sung in her mother's stage act since she was 13, and with parents like Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher it's no real surprise that she has a great talent for singing.

Archive footage of a 15-year-old Fisher being beckoned on stage to sing Simon and Garfunkel's Bridge Over Troubled Water (made even more interesting by the fact that Fisher later married Paul Simon) is juxtaposed with Fisher telling the filmmakers that she broke her mother's heart by not becoming a nightclub singer.

"I guess she doesn't want to be Eddie and she doesn't want to be Debbie. She wants to be Carrie so she'll do it her own way," Reynolds says tearfully. "I love that voice, isn't that a great voice? I wish I had it."

But Fisher seems to sing regularly in her day-to-life. Stood in her bedroom, she treats the camera to a few lines of I'll Never Say No from her mother's film The Unsinkable Molly Brown. Later, the pair perform together on stage in Las Vegas. Fisher, being Fisher, modifies the lyrics of the same song to "I'll weep because I'm bi-polar/Today is tomorrow if you do too much blow."

3 'I'm going to stay on stage until I drop dead': Debbie Reynolds's failing health: Though she wanted to continue working until her death (at one point she says, "As George Burns says that I'm going to stay on stage until I drop dead and then I'm going to have myself stuffed like Trigger then I'll put me in a museum."), Reynolds struggled to walk by herself and would often use a mobility scooter to get around. And watching her mother's health begin to fail clearly weighs on Fisher.

At the 2015 Screen Actors' Guild Awards, Reynolds was honoured with a lifetime achievement award. Backstage, as preparations are made for the evening, Fisher attempts to ensure that her mother will be comfortable, and that she'll have somewhere to lie down because, as she tells the staff, "she doesn't have much physical energy". Tears soon follow.

4 Carrie Fisher's Coke problem: During filming Fisher was preparing to appear in the new Star Wars film, The Force Awakens. She's spoken frankly before about how the producers would insist that she lose weight before filming begins. Here we get to see it in action.

"They make them report on my weight. They take measurements. It's intense," she exclaims, as she impassively uses an elliptical machine, under the eye of a personal trainer. Later we see the trainer pouring her beloved Coca Cola, of which she drinks more than a dozen cans a day, down the sink.

5 Carrie hits a wall in China: "When she was 13 her personality changed. It's a constant battle. It takes all of us to assure her that she's loved and that won't get her. It's hard," says a quietly emotional Reynolds to the camera.

We old see footage of Fisher, while still a young woman, having a manic episode on the Great Wall of China. Later, in the modern day, we see her mood switch while watching the film Funny Girl.

"I should have been a pair of ragged claws scuttling across the floors of silent seas!" she cries, in the same tone as having an epiphany.

Then she switches to doleful: "You know what would be so cool? To get to the end of my personality and just lay in the sun. I have to watch a little of this. I'm sick of myself."

6 Debbie Reynolds was a professional till the end: Even though she can barely climb stairs, Reynolds insists on still performing her stage show, only occasionally making references to retirement.

"I think I only got nervous once when I performed in front of the Queen of England," she reveals. "I went over with Bob Hope to do a show and I did get a little nervous. The crown and the jewels kind of threw me a little bit."


Debbie Reynolds poses with her daughter Carrie Fisher backstage after accepting her Lifetime Achievement award at the 21st annual Screen Actors Guild Awards.Mike Blake / Reuters

2017-02-04 15:17:47
<![CDATA['I don't feel that my parents love me less, but more']]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-02/02/content_28085036.htm Song Weiya, 13, a seventh grader from Qian'an county, Jilin province

At first I didn't agree with the idea that my mom wanted another child. I felt like she might love me less if we had another child in the family. However, my parents persuaded me, and I eventually agreed.

My young brother is now 6 months old, and he's really adorable. I really like him whenever I see him, and I babysit him for my mom. I don't feel that my parents love me less, but more. I also feel as though my status in the family is actually higher.

There are also many fun things in life. I can tease my little brother. I eat snacks sitting next to him, and he is always anxious and drooling that sometimes he even cries. Then, I sweet-talk him so he calms down, before I begin teasing him again by starting to eat again. I find this quite fun.

There have indeed been changes in my family. My father is now a stay-at-home dad. My parents look after my brother at home in the suburbs, while I go to middle school in the town. My school is far from home, so my grandparents look after me in the town. I go back to the countryside with my grandparents during the summer and winter holidays.

When I get to our house in the countryside, it's usually quite lively, and almost everything is about my brother. The house is often a mess because his stuff is everywhere.

Most of the time he is okay - he goes to sleep after he has been fed and he plays when he wakes. However, he does occasionally cry out for no reason, which is annoying. Well, I'm not at home often, so I guess I'm lucky.

There has been no change regarding pocket money, because my mother still gives me cash.

My relatives have shifted some of their attention to my brother, but I'm happy about that because I don't like too much attention.

Song Weiya spoke with Han Junhong.

2017-02-02 13:24:41
<![CDATA[A worthwhile trade-off for love]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-02/02/content_28085035.htm Zhu Mian, 34, English teacher in Nanyang, Henan province

I decided to have a second child after being encouraged to do so by Zihang, my older son.

He often asked me why his classmates in kindergarten had a brother or sister but he didn't. Both my husband and I are the only children in our families, so we could understand Zihang's loneliness and need for company in childhood.

Although I know how hard it can be to raise a child during the first three years, we decided to have a second child and give Zihang new and different childhood memories.

Our second child was born in December. After that, I moved into a confinement service center, and my older son lived with his grandparents.

During the first month there, he came to visit me several times. I could sense his excitement about having a sibling. He would keep asking where his brother was, and share his joy and pride with strangers in the hospital.

Meanwhile, I could also see him change day by day, although it is very subtle. There seems to be a growing sense of responsibility in him.

I chose to stay at the confinement service center because I needed a quiet environment to recover. There are many mothers having a second child, and the oldest is about 40.

The service costs about 20,000 yuan ($2,900), and our quality of life has also been affected because we had a second child. However, I feel fine about that, because it is a trade-off. As long as our children grow up happy and healthily, my husband and I will be happy.

Zhu Mian spoke with Qi Xin.

2017-02-02 13:24:41
<![CDATA['I always made sure I was there to help']]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-02/02/content_28085034.htm Guo Shouqin, 63, retired entrepreneur from Changchun, Jilin province

I am very lucky to have two children. My son and daughter were both born before the family planning policy was adopted.

Now they are each other's companions, which is the reason I encouraged them to have two children of their own. They listened to me and now they both have two kids.

I can say I am very experienced in taking care of children, because I started doing it when I was only 6 years old. In 1959, I moved to my elder sister's home in Changchun from Shandong province to escape a famine. My sister had five children, and I took care of them. Later, I raised my own children.

So, when my grandchildren came one after the other during the past 15 years, I did my best to help.

My first grandchild was born in 2002. When he was 1 year old, I went to my son's home in Changchun to take care of the baby. Every day was busy, but watching him grow up made everything worthwhile.

When my grandson was 8 years old, my daughter gave birth to a girl in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, in South China. The distance didn't stop me from going to her side. Later, both of my children had second children, and I always made sure I was there to help.

Looking back, I have been busy dealing with crying babies, feeding bottles and diapers since I was 49. Now I feel a little tired, but I have to carry on because my children are busy working every day and they need me. If I don't help them, they won't be able to survive.

Although days are not easy when children are small, the effort will pay off eventually - at least, I always believe so. Parents will die one day, and when that day comes the children will have each other to lean on.

Guo Shouqin spoke with Liu Kun.

2017-02-02 13:24:41
<![CDATA[Family life has changed]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-02/02/content_28085033.htm Du Runlei, 40, associate professor of biology at Wuhan University

After receiving our doctorates in biology, my husband and I traveled to the United States for further study, and we had our first son there in 2007. Our second son was born in 2011 after we returned to take up teaching jobs at Wuhan University.

The arrival of our second boy changed the atmosphere in the family. The burden on both parents and children has become lighter, because the attention is no longer focused on just one child.

The biggest change for me is that I am not as anxious as before. I am not saying that raising two children is easier, though. The experience we gained from raising our older son is helpful, but we still encounter new problems with the younger one. Also, the two boys are different from each other in many ways, and we have to raise and educate them differently.

Right now, our brief, happy moments are the times when the boys don't fight and just enjoy each other's company. At other times, we just carry on with a smile.

Du Runlei spoke with Liu Kun.

2017-02-02 13:24:41
<![CDATA[Good health is my new year wish]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-02/02/content_28085032.htm Fan Pingxian, 64, retiree

This year, we will celebrate Spring Festival in Anyang, Henan province. For me, seeing family members gathered together is the most important thing about the Chinese New Year celebrations.

I moved to Anyang from my hometown, Pingdingshan, also in Henan, in 2010 when my daughter gave birth to her first child, and I wanted to do my best to help her.

My daughter gave birth to her second child in November, and she is on maternity leave. Just days ago, she thanked me for being at her side. She said the arrival of the second child has made her life much busier than before.

I am glad I came to help, even though it means cooking three meals a day, taking my first granddaughter to school and doing some housework every day. I also tutor my first granddaughter, who is now a primary school student, although English is a course I cannot help with.

I did all these things to ease the burden on my daughter, who usually goes to sleep at midnight after feeding time and putting the new baby to bed.

The new baby has brought us a great deal of happiness, and we now have more fun and laughter around us.

It's my new year wish that every family member will stay healthy.

Fan Pingxian spoke with Qi Xin.

2017-02-02 13:24:41
<![CDATA[Shanghai's Spring Festival Fare]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-02/01/content_28080733.htm About 150 "guests" arrived early in chef Luo Yulin's kitchen - ducks.

Millions of Eight-Treasures Ducks graced the city's tables to herald the Year of the Rooster. Xu Junqian reports from Shanghai.

About 150 "guests" arrived early in chef Luo Yulin's kitchen - ducks.

The plucked and cleaned waterfowl destined for use in signature dishes overcrowded the already congested space.

Indeed, China's grandest annual feast is perhaps the grandest old tradition of its Lunar New Year's Eve.

That means a lot of ducks - and everything else.

So, the 142-year-old Shanghai Classic Restaurant where Luo works toiled at top speed to prepare for the big night.

The ducks were meant to arrive three days - rather than roughly two weeks - before the big bash. They were steamed three times with eight other ingredients, including chestnuts, mushrooms, ham and bamboo shoots.

The dish, known as the Eight-Treasures Duck, is revered in Shanghai as a main Spring Festival dish, akin to turkey during American Thanksgiving.

Luo wasn't worried about the ducks' early arrival. "We Chinese have a 'the more, the merrier' attitude about celebrating the New Year. The ducks count as more," he says, half joking.

The 37-year-old Shanghai native has worked in the kitchen for two decades, since age 16. He's a fifth-generation helmsman of the city's most historical restaurant.

It was founded about two decades after Shanghai became a treaty port and has since continued to enjoy booming business.

It's more than a go-to place for an authentic Shanghainese cuisine, aka benbangcai. The restaurant is believed to have actually invented some signature dishes of the gastronomical genre.

That includes the Eight-Treasures Duck. The dish not only arrives on the eatery's tables but also graces millions of plates across the city during Lunar New Year's Eve.

Luo attributes the dish's prominent position to several factors.

"It's the easiest signature dish for the celebration, which is our kitchen's busiest period. Most of the work can be done beforehand," he explains.

"And it's one of the few signature dishes that fit today's dining culture, which emphasizes health."

Adapting to that emphasis has presented the greatest challenge for Luo and his peers.

"We'd plop in a spoonful of lard when I first started," he says.

"Customers don't even want to hear that word now."

Luo followed his master to the Shanghai Classic Restaurant in the late 1990s, when Chinese began to dine out on Lunar New Year's Eve, rather than cooking at home, as economic development afforded a higher quality of life.

Today, it's difficult - virtually impossible, in fact - to book a table at the restaurant for the big night, sales manager Zhang Minmin says.

"Regulars finish their dinners and go downstairs to reserve for the next year. Vacancies only open up when someone passes away, which isn't uncommon, since many of our regulars are elderly."

Those who claim one of the 150 tables on two of the restaurant's six floors for the annual feast have only one set-menu option - eight cold and 10 hot dishes for 3,980 yuan ($580).

Loyal patrons say it's not only the food but also the atmosphere that keeps them coming back, despite the city's proliferation of restaurants. The establishment in located near Yu Garden in the heart of downtown.

The restaurant's supreme status as an icon and incubator of modern Shanghai cuisine harks to humble beginnings. It was founded as a hole-in-the-wall canteen for port laborers with a couple of tables.

It used the coarse and greasy ingredients of nearby Anhui province, from where many immigrants hailed, and the sweet seasonings and condiments of neighboring Wuxi city in Jiangsu province. This fusion became the distinctive feature of today's Shanghai cuisine.

The richness of Anhui staples enabled workers without much money to fill up on just one dish, plus rice. The saccharine and delicate elements from Wuxi added a refined touch.

Secrets of Benbang Flavor author Zhou Tong points out the cuisine - like the city - is a melting pot.

"If you trace the origins of the city - residents, architecture, food - you'll find very little is original. The city's strength comes from adapting and improving on things from other places. That's called hai style," he says.

Take the Eight-Treasures Duck. It's said to be a revision of a chicken-based dish using a nearly identical recipe and cooking method from Jiangsu.

The Shanghai version has been so successfully popularized that the original dish has been essentially forgotten, Zhou says.

Luo says: "As a younger person, I view my mission as modernizing Shanghainese cuisine so that it's appealing to my and previous generations."

Central to this is making the dishes lighter to cater to health-conscious diners.

He has reduced sugar and oil by a fifth - the best he believes he can do without compromising flavor.

Indeed, times change with every passing year.

Contact the writer at xujunqian@chinadaily.com.cn.


Chef Luo Yulin (left), is the fifth-generation helmsman of the 142-year-old Shanghai Classic Restaurant. He has witnessed the trend in which more people dine out on the Chinese New Year Eve instead of cooking at home.Photo By Gao Erqiang / China Daily

2017-02-01 07:38:38
<![CDATA[For financier, China was clear winner]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-01/30/content_28075611.htm Founder of ChinaEquity Group put his faith in nation's entrepreneurs, and never looked back

Wang Chaoyong has a rock-solid faith in Chinese investment, the kind of confidence that inspired the saying, "If you look after pennies, the pounds will look after themselves".

When Wang founded the first Chinese private investment firm, ChinaEquity Group, he gave it a Chinese name that translates as "To be profitable you have to trust China". Now, 17 years later, a company valued at about $5.6 billion (5.31 billion euros; 4.59 billion) that employs more than 50 people underlines just how well-placed that confidence was.

Wang, who was born in central China's Hubei province, was among the first group of Chinese students from Tsinghua University to study finance in the United States and with the first group of Chinese graduates to work on Wall Street. His entrepreneurial endeavors were inspired by the likes of Robin Li, founder of the Baidu Inc, China's major internet search engine, who was among the wave of returnees from overseas who founded businesses in China in the late 1990s.


Wang chaoyong, founder of ChinaEquity Group, says despite China's economic slowdown, his trust in investing in the market is undiminished. Provided to China Daily

"At that time, many Chinese returned home with advanced technology and good business models but could not find capital," the 51-year-old Wang says. "I thought I should make myself useful and help them with their startups, help them with fundraising and provide the investment services that go with that."

Wang was the chief representative of the multinational financial services company Morgan Stanley in China from 1993 to 1998 and worked for China Development Bank as a senior banker for two years. After seven years working in China he was confident about his knowledge of the market.

However, going it alone to start ChinaEquity and build a new brand rather than relying on foreign investment companies or state-owned capital meant success would be hard-earned.

"At the time, venture capital was not well understood in China," he says, adding that the first few rounds of fundraising were done overseas.

"But the good thing is that after overcoming difficulties early on, we were able to remain independent and to build our own venture capital and private equity brand.

ChinaEquity first focused on helping Chinese returnees to start businesses, providing investment and related value-added services, he says:

"There was this missionary zeal we had of helping overseas returnees link up with capital and realize their entrepreneurial dreams."

The company has now expanded its range to cover entrepreneurs in China, no matter what their provenance. Half of ChinaEquity's capital is invested in domestic entrepreneurs and businesses.

The country's rapid economic growth has given the company great opportunities, and the development of the internet sector during the company's lifetime has been notable, he says.

"We have witnessed, taken part in and promoted the development of the internet industry and other emerging industries. In the late 1990s there were just a few hundred thousand internet users in China, and now there are 700 million. That provides great growth opportunities for our investment projects and companies."

Wang says his strategy is always to invest in emerging industries and entrepreneurs but to be flexible enough to adapt to changes in the market.

"For example, 15 years ago all of our venture capital would have been invested in the technology, media, telecommunications and the internet sector," he says. "Ten years ago 70 percent was in the internet sector, and five years ago that was down to 50 percent. Now it's 30 percent, the rest going into the healthcare industry and culture industry, which includes sports and education."

Wang says that despite China's economic slowdown, his trust in investing in the market is undiminished, and he continues to see great potential.

His company now only invests in nine areas, he says: high-technology, advanced manufacturing, high-quality service and consumption, the cultural industry, the healthcare industry, the environmental industry, new energy, new materials and new business models.

China's restructuring and transformation in traditional industries will present more possibilities for investors, he says:

"In the emerging industries in which we invested, the companies' growth has been double or triple that of China's GDP. The economic slowdown is not a problem, but it is a test of our insights and our ability to spot the opportunities in the traditional sectors."

Wang says that in the past 17 years ChinaEquity has invested in more than 100 companies, the most successful being Baidu Inc. Now it's getting the best returns in sectors such as healthcare.

"We care more about the returns from each project we have invested in, so we invest in companies that are the unsung heroes in niche markets," he says, adding that there are more than 10,000 venture capital organizations in China, and the environment for starting companies is good.

"Good high-tech companies and internet companies, even when they are still at the R&D stage, can find investors."

At present about 80 percent of ChinaEquity's investment is in China. In Silicon Valley, California, it has funds invested in advanced projects and technology, such as artificial intelligence, self-driving cars and bioengineering technologies. It would like to bring them to Chinese market.

It has also been involved with funds in Europe that invest in the likes of the creative industry and life sciences.

"We also help domestic companies that are going global with merger and acquisition services. And I believe more venture capital and private equity brands will have influence in global markets because more Chinese capital is going global and making acquisitions," Wang says.

He says a good investor needs experience and the ability to learn rapidly. He is keen on literature, including books about history and philosophy that he says can broaden people's horizons and stimulate them mentally. He is also passionate about sports and was the co-founder of the China Silk Road Rally. He prefers to always look forward, putting setbacks and difficulties behind him.

"When you have setbacks you cannot give up, and you need to encourage companies not to. When you invest you need very rational analysis and to be positive and decisive. It is like a combination of science and art: You cannot be overly optimistic, but you must not be afraid to take risks. You need to find a balance."  

2017-01-30 11:44:21
<![CDATA[From a young age, a ticket to a dream role in paradise]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-01/28/content_28068118.htm When Ahmed Asim was a boy his career path had already been laid out before him

"My job is to make people feel at home, literally, since this has been my home for the past 30 years," says Ahmed Asim, room director of the St. Regis Vommuli hotel in the Maldives.

Between his generation and that of his parents, his country has turned from a gathering of specks in the Indian Ocean to one of the world's best-known and most desired escapes.

Yet for Asim, the notion of escape is virtually nonexistent, if not laughable.

"For me, this only provides an initiation to the outside world as they are coming to us in planeloads."

His entry into this world came early, he says. When he was at primary school, property owners invited him and his classmates to tour the resort islands, where human endeavor tries to emulate natural beauty in creating paradise on Earth - sometimes with unintended results.

"'Wow!' was my reaction," Asim recalls, casting an incredulous look. "Then I told myself: 'Someday I'm going to work here.'"

The wide-eyed child has given way to a soft-spoken man with a confident air, and in the meantime he has gained a diploma in hospitality and worked as a trainee butler and then as a butler for many years in a number of hotels, some of them luxury ones. He joined the St. Regis at Vommuli as room director in October, when preparations were being made for the hotel's grand opening.

"Between 50 and 60 percent of our 300-strong staff are Maldivians," Asim says. "Quite a few of us, including me, are in management."

Spending the bulk of his time in air-conditioned rooms or traveling in buggies from villa to villa, Asim's life is a world apart from that of his parents, who have seven children in total.

"Like most Maldivian families of their generation, my father made a living out of fishing while my mother did household chores. The sea around here is probably the calmest on Earth. I've never heard of anyone who died out fishing in the sea. But still, the sun and the wind can be unforgiving; that's why few young people are involved in fishing today."

His father usually left home about 5:30 am and fished for tuna all day before returning in the evening, he says.

"Ours was a small boat. There were also bigger boats on which one can go out fishing in the sea for weeks at a time. But whatever you go out in, small or big, fishing in the Maldives has to be by pole instead of by net. We do angling all the time. The fish nets are reserved only for the capture of baitfish - fish used as bait when angling.

"Our government has been very aggressive when it comes to environmental protection. That's why we still have what we had 20 or 30 years ago."

Asked whether angling is a financially viable way of fishing, Asim says that on a good day, a good angler can catch up to 2,000 tuna. The fish tend to appear in groups, and when you really think about it, that kind of catch suggests the fish must be virtually jumping onto the hook, if not directly into the boat.

These days, though, fishing has decreased compared with 20 years ago. Asim's parents stopped fishing about 15 years ago and now live in Male, the country's capital. The catch, apart from fulfilling local needs, goes on to the dining tables of tourists.

At the St. Regis, amid offerings of caviar, lobster, truffle, foie gras and Kobe beef, I discovered a course unpretentiously titled "Catch of the day". I tried it and did not regret my decision. Later, as I spent my last day in the Maldives at the Sheraton on Full Moon Island, I encountered the same offering and realized that it was a local signature dish.

Ayyoub Salameh, director of culinary service at the St. Regis, says the hotel buys 600 kilograms of fish each day from local fishermen for the consumption of guests and hotel staff. It also buys produce from local farmers.

"I don't think I'll stay in the country for life, so I'm going to deliver something for it," says the master cook, a Jordanian, who is also creating a garden for local spices and herbs.

Similar willingness is also expressed by Wong Chiu Man and his wife Maria Warner Wong, the architectural duo and Harvard graduates who designed the St. Regis at Vommuli.

"The Vommuli House is inspired by the extending roots of banyan trees," Warner Wong says. "The parts were prefabricated and pre-engineered before being sent to Vommuli for rapid erection with the help of Maldivian workers. In this way we have tried to be environmentally friendly while passing on construction skills to locals."

Once, the couple was invited for a drink at a nearby island, only to discover that the hostess, a Maldivian who had previously worked on the construction site at Vommuli, had fashioned her little bar using discarded plywood she had gathered from the St. Regis site.

Wong Chiu Man, asked about any misgivings he has about the hotel's design, said that if he had his chance again he would pay greater heed to any risks such a project posed to the environment. "The construction of the water villas did cause the bleaching of corals on a scale I hate to see."

But as tourists pour in, won't further stress be put on the country's unspoiled beauty and fragile ecosystem?

"I don't see that happening," Asim says. "First of all, the Maldives is a high-end tourist destination, as we cater to a niche market. This is especially true in our case. For the moment, the government has adopted a very positive attitude toward developing tourism. A college in Male offers a master's degree in hospitality and tourism."

However, he acknowledges that even though tourists started coming to the Maldives in the 1970s, it is only in the past five years that the country's tourism industry has really taken off.

Asim, married with a two-and-a-half-year-old son, sees differences in the ways childhoods were spent before and now.

"For me it was just the sun, sand and sea; for him it's more about colorful toys."

Because of Asim's job, he can see his wife and son as often as he would like to.

Fan Qianyi, a Chinese diving coach at Vommuli, says this kind of family living arrangement is common among young Maldivians.

"I've been here for four years but haven't seen many Maldivian women. Usually men work outside, on resort islands, while women and children stay behind, in what's known as the local islands. It reminds me of migrant workers in China - certainly not the best solution."

Twenty years ago, when Asim first visited a luxury hotel at a resort, he dreamed of being part of what he saw. He has higher hopes for his son. "I won't object if he wants to go into the tourism industry - my parents have been very encouraging and all my brothers work in catering - but it would be great if he becomes a doctor or a lawyer."

For some Maldivians, a simple life, though hard, may have started to change along with their long-held sense of contentment.

But with all the building and opening of luxury hotels, is there any talk about possible gentrification, the effect of which might be mitigated by the geographical isolation of each island?

"Such an idea has yet to come to the Maldives," Asim says.

2017-01-28 08:25:01
<![CDATA[Power of pictures drawn in sand]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-01/02/content_27839322.htm Liang Xianghua casts a fistful of sand on the backlit glass, and a waterfall comes alive beneath the nimble dance of her fingers.



Liang Xianghua, the sand painter, works on one of her pieces. Provided To China Daily

Liang Xianghua became a nationwide sensation with her first original work.

Liang Xianghua casts a fistful of sand on the backlit glass, and a waterfall comes alive beneath the nimble dance of her fingers.

The 22 year-old has gained nationwide fame for her sand animations since her first original work was adopted by China Central Television as a closing animation for its scheduled national news broadcasts.

Liang studied architecture at Guangxi University of Science and Technology in Liuzhou in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, but her celebrity has changed the course of her life.

"I think sand painting captured me while I was watching a video performance which portrayed the suffering of people during World War II. I was astonished by how this artwork melted people's heart in minutes," said Liang.

Equipped with a bag of rough sand she collected outside and the simple tools available in the university's painting studio, Liang began to copy sand animations she watched on video.

"I was fascinated by the way the sand pictures, music and the light combined with each other to create a flow of emotion", she said. "You can show things such as a child growing into an adult ."

Driven by her passion to master the techniques, she practiced for several hours every day. But in the beginning she was very frustrated by even the basics.

"I couldn't even do the first step well of casting sand evenly onto the backlit glass," she confessed.

Plenty of sand was sacrificed before she learned how to control it.

Sand animations can last five to seven minutes, but each one takes a long time to prepare as the animator has to design each frame and memorize every step.

Having studied architecture, Liang likes to paint the landscapes and buildings in Liuzhou where she has lived for years. To keep the images fresh in her mind, she never ceases traveling around on her scooter to see how the city is changing.

"The most challenging thing is to do the work in one go. You fail if you stop," said Liang.

After finding success with her first original animation, she was invited to do numerous commercial performances.

"It began to feel like a burden instead of being something enjoyable," said Liang.

Tired of doing commercial performances, she decided to press the pause button and focus on her major.

But an invitation from Malaysia changed her mind just as she was about to wash the sand from her hands.

This summer, she was invited by a Malaysian middle school, Sekolah Menengah Chong Hwa Kuantan, to give a performance at a ceremony that the Malaysian premier would attend.

Liang didn't want to do a live performance, but she agreed to do a video for the school showing its development over the years.

She received praise for her work and the performance was described as an eye-opener for the students according to the feedback she received from the school. This made her wonder if her art would be more meaningful if she created it for poor students.

As a volunteer this time, she participated in a summer program offering help to the pupils in a rural area, and gave the most impressive performance in her life.

"The villagers, old and young, all assembled in the square in front of the screen, waiting quietly on their stools. When the lights went out, they probably thought a movie was about to start," Liang said.

With a man standing beside her to hold the video and projector, she started her first performance. The audience stared at the screen in silence. She worried they didn't like it until a storm of applause broke out.

"I have performed on many splendid stages, but this is the first time I felt the power of my art. I believe I have found another reason to carry on; that is for charity," said Liang.



2017-01-02 07:31:29
<![CDATA['Preserving a magical world for posterity']]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-01/02/content_27839321.htm


A number of rainforest animals photographed by Jiang. Photos By Jiang Enyu / For China Daily

"A male Hainan gibbon sits alone on the branch of a tall tree, looking up to the sky with a melancholy look, as if meditating deeply on its future." Photographer Jiang Enyu wrote this sentence as the caption for a photo of a Hainan gibbon in his book entitled Tropical Rainforests of Hainan Island.

Jiang spent six years capturing the mysterious fast-moving Hainan gibbons with his camera. Historically in large numbers on Hainan Island, the only habitat of Hainan gibbons, the species is now listed as critically endangered as the total population is thought to number just around 25..

"From 1997 to 2003, I went to Bawangling National Nature Reserve in central Hainan, the only habitat of Hainan gibbons, three or four times every year and slept in tents for more than 10 days every time in the mountains. I would get up early at about 4 am with the forest workers and we would climb up the mountain using flashlights, with food and drinking water in our bags, to search for traces of Hainan gibbons in an area of 300 square kilometers," said Jiang.

"At that time I began to keenly understand the meaning of the phrase "looking for a needle in a haystack," Jiang recalled.

Why did Jiang spent so much time trying to photograph the elusive the apes?

"Hainan gibbons are the iconic animal in the rainforests of Hainan, China's only tropical province, and finding them showed that the ecosystem in Hainan's rainforests was still intact," said Jiang.

"The value and significance of generating public awareness about the importance of its protection is beyond words. People know a lot about the endangered giant panda and the ibis, but not many know about Hainan gibbons, which are at much greater risk of extinction and thus need even greater care."

Jiang decided to focus his reporting on the protection of the island's rainforests and the local ecological environment when he moved from Qinghai province to work at the Hainan bureau of Xinhua News Agency in 1988, when the island was established as a province.

Hainan island, which makes up less than 0.5 percent of China' land area, harbors one-third of the country's bird and reptile species, and 4,600 or one-seventh of its plant species.

"I was amazed by the rich biodiversity of Hainan's rainforests. It was a magic world to me," said Jiang.

While learning from field books on botany and geography, Jiang also became true friends with a large number of forest workers and botanists, who gave him much support and led him to a better understanding of the ecosystems on the island.

Jiang became so fascinated with Hainan's rainforests that for the past 20 years he has been five to six times every year for stays of between a week and more than a month.

During these, Jiang noticed that some local practices were risking the sustainability of Hainan's rainforests. He was deeply impressed by the rich diversity of life in Yinggeling and became worried about the illegal hunting that was taking its toll on the wildlife. It was at his proposal that the Yinggeling National Reserve, the largest reserve in Hainan, was established in 2004.

Back in 1956, rainforests covered 8,600 sq kmof the island, but large-scale deforestation resulted in a dramatic loss and only 5,800 square kms remained when an island-wide logging ban was enforced in 1994.

Today, relatively untouched rainforests can only be found in the isolated mountains in remote areas and most of them are now protected as nature reserves, such as Wuzhishan, Yinggeling, Bawangling, Jianfengling, Biaoluoshan, Exianling, Limushan and Jiaxi.

"Unsustainable development remains a threat to these unique natural assets, which are fragile beneath their majestic appearance. The protection of the remaining rainforests is the biggest challenge facing us when developing tourism and related projects on the island," Jiang said.

"We human beings are only part of nature, not its master. To nature, the only thing we should give is respect, love and care," said Jiang.

His two books, published by the China Publishing House in 2011 and 2014, have been collected by a number of universities at home and abroad, and they also serve as reference books for rainforest workers and researchers.


2017-01-02 07:31:29
<![CDATA[Creating a cultural identity]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2016-12/31/content_27829919.htm Intricate skills and an eye for exquisite detail are required for this delicate artwork, but the technique is in danger of dying out Hu Meidong reports from Xiamen and Wang Qingyun reports in Beijing

Chen Kongguo was working on a piece of carving the size of his palm in a crudely decorated workshop in Fuzhou, capital of Fujian province, in December.

He was carving a miniature traditional Chinese garden, featuring rocks of unusual shapes, pavilions and an arch bridge. The carving, along with dozens of others on the desk that were finished, are the fruits of the skills that he has spent more than four decades honing.

The 66-year-old is one of many cork carvers in Fuzhou, a city renowned for the art of sculpting traditional Chinese landscapes from the bark of cork trees. The art form is considered one of the "three art treasures" of Fuzhou, along with agalmatolite (a soft stone) carving and lacquer work, and was included in the list of national intangible cultural heritage in 2008.


The soft wooden sculpture of Temple of Heaven, a product of Zheng Xuezhi's company. Hu Meidong / China Daily


Cork carving is said to have originated in the city in the early 20th century, when an official returned from an overseas trip with a Christmas card carved out of cork and gave it to local wood carvers, who, after studying the card, developed intricate ways to chisel cork into Chinese landscapes such as pavilions, pagodas, trees and mountains.

Chen inherited the skills of cork carving from his father. "He used to bring unfinished cork sculptures from work and continue working on them at home in order to make more money and support the family. Me and my two younger sisters would help him with his work," Chen said.

"Since then, I have invested my whole life into the art." After training for three years, Chen, at the age of 16, got a job in a cork carving factory in Fuzhou, and worked there all the way through to 1997, when the factory closed. Chen's wages were enviable in the 1980s, when Fujian province exported cork carvings to more than 60 countries. "We had to work overnight for a week during the busy time," Chen recalled. However, overseas markets shrank in the 1990s and the province's battered cork carving industry failed to recover. Many cork carving masters chose to call time on their professional careers.

After the factory was closed, Chen found a job selling stainless steel, and shifted from job to job. Then he landed work in a cork carving factory about six years ago. The factory was set up by a businessman Zheng Xuezhi in 2010 in order to attract more people to cork carving in a bid to salvage the industry.

Cooperating with his co-worker Wu Ruizhen, Chen spent about five years on a large piece of artwork called "Pines, cranes and the rising sun", which won a bronze medal in a competition held by the China National Arts and Crafts Society this year. The carving, fixed on a glass-covered wooden plaque two meters wide and one meter tall, features sculptures of cranes flying or resting on a cliff under the crown of a big pine tree. Chen made the cranes, chiseling flakes from cork and glued them piece by piece to make feathers for the birds, while Wu, 54, specialized in carving trees, grass and flowers and took charge of creating the pine tree.

Wu used to work in the same factory with Chen. And like Chen, after their former employer shut it down, she had to change her profession and worked as a cleaner to make a living before finding work in Zheng's factory.

Now together in the same factory again, Chen and Wu relish their new opportunities. Each earns about 3,000 yuan ($430) working as a cork carver and gets a pension of 2,000 yuan a month. However, the salary seems to attract little interest for younger people.

"It's very difficult to find young people who want to learn cork carving. ... They think that the salary is too low, even lower than what they would make waiting tables in a bar or a restaurant," Chen said, concerned that exquisite techniques may be lost to the younger generation. Factory owner Zheng agreed. "People of Chen and Wu's age are the youngest cork carvers right now. Maybe they will be too old to continue making such handicrafts 10 years from now," said the businessman who has been developing and selling cork-carved artworks for more than a decade.

Bleak as the future for cork carving may seem, Chen said he hopes the government will lend more support to help the industry survive. "There is nothing else I can do. My passion is for this art. ... My passion and mission don't allow me to not do it. I will go on making cork carvings until the day my limbs can't move," he said.

Contact the writer at wangqingyun@chinadaily.com.cn. Yang Jie contributed to this story.

2016-12-31 07:27:18
<![CDATA[Love brews a passion for excellent taste]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2016-12/31/content_27829918.htm Every morning, the aroma of brewing coffee drifts across Xinglong, a small town in southeastern Hainan that boasts more than 180 coffee bars. This means the town, with its 30,000 population, has the highest density, per head, of coffee bars in China.

"Long before Starbucks swept the world, people in Hainan, China's only tropical province, were starting the day with a cup of coffee, popularly nicknamed "old daddy's tea," said Chen Peng. Chen knows the subject, is a specialist in tropical plants and has worked for more than 20 years at the Spices and Beverages Research Institute under the China Tropical Agricultural Plants Research Institute based in Xinglong, the home of the country's first State-run coffee farm.

Xinglong coffee, once graded as "world-class" by coffee lover and former premier Zhou Enlai, has been designated as the official coffee beverage for the Boao Forum for Asia, an annual event held in Boao, eastern Hainan, every March since 2002.

Since the 1950s more than 13,000 overseas Chinese from 21 different countries and regions, especially from Indonesia and Malaysia, have relocated to the region, introducing coffee customs and farming in Xinglong and other parts of the island.

"Xinglong coffee is full-bodied, with a soft and sweet finish. You don't even need milk," said Chen.

Like sommeliers considering the merits of a precious wine, Chen's taste buds can work wonders on coffee of various brands and varieties.

Chen, 52, has a colorful vocabulary to describe tastes, flavor and the "mouthfeel" of coffee. It can be mellow, light, soft, harsh, fruity, flowery and "untamed". The last is a particular flavor that only trained specialists like Chen, the only coffee barista with two top internationally recognized certificates in Hainan province, can identify.

Deciphering the taste of coffee and passing the exams required dedication and hard work, said Chen whose expertise was officially recognized with Q-Robusta-Grader and Q-Arabica-grader certificates from the Specialty Coffee Association of America and the Specialty Coffee Association of Europe in Hainan. There are about 50 people with the world's top two professional certificates in China.

"Once I agree to do anything, I will do my best. So starting from scratch, I taught myself through extensive reading, lectures and training courses at my own expenses to become an expert in coffee as soon as possible," said Chen. In 2012 Chen was put in charge of the institute's 4-hectare coffee plant demonstration base.

In five years, he has become an expert in coffee planting, harvesting, roasting, boiling and brewing and has a comprehensive knowledge of the theories and skills in processing robusta, the local coffee bean.

This expertise is deep-rooted and covers genetics, the advantages of quality robusta and how to make up any flaws and improve taste through after-harvest treatment and brewing.

Coffee drinking has ridden a wave of popularity recently in China, as economic globalization deepens and cultural exchanges grow. China's coffee imports surged from 13,900 tons in 1998 to 59,200 tons in 2015. Tea is still more popular but coffee is making inroads.

"I would like to help create more added value to the coffee business, including coffee planting, harvesting, processing and coffee-making and to help cultivate a coffee culture with Chinese characteristics," said Chen.

Chen established the Hainan Xinglong Sunshine Coffee Studio this year, a platform for coffee professionals and lovers to exchange their knowledge and skills on roasting, boiling and brewing.

Chen has conducted several training courses for coffee farmers this year. "Winners of various barista contests around the country used all the 26 quotas for a barista competition in late December on the first day of our announcement of the event, which was judged by top level instructors from home and aboard," said Chen.

He has invited Dr Manuel Diaz Pineda to train people in Hainan on how to treat and roast green robusta beans.

Pineda is an expert on green coffee bean treatment, roasting and robusta (made from the Coffea canephora plant, a species of bean with low acidity and bitter), as well as being an international advisor to the Food and Agricultural Organization, and a Q Grader instructor of the Coffee Quality Association.

Chen roasted robusta beans for a whole day recently. "The roasted beans, after about 10 days' brewing, will generate ideal tastes," he explained.

"Robusta can make specialty coffee. The competition helped change the old concepts about robusta as a low variety among coffee planters and consumers."

Through lectures, competitions and demonstrations at his studio, Chen plans to help promote Hainan brands and develop specialty coffee for Hainan. Though it produces a small amount of coffee beans, it is home to several Chinese coffee brands, including Xinglong, Fushan and Chunguang.

David Mino, a member of Specialty Coffee Association of America, visited Hainan and was amazed at how coffee had become a local beverage in a country famous for tea.

"Hainan coffee is like the classic espresso, but stronger. Every true coffee lover should taste it," said Mino.

Chen said: "I hope to create more added-value to coffee at my studio, to offer customers special warmth, special romance and a different understanding of coffee."

"There is no 'best coffee' in the world, there are only better ones," said Chen.


2016-12-31 07:27:18
<![CDATA[Putting Chinese diplomacy into frame]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2016-12/25/content_27768118.htm A look into the past of an accidental political photographer who managed to get up close and personal with some of the world's most high-profile leaders

Xu Genshun may already be 67 this year, but the memories of his profession as a political photographer are still as intact as the poignant images he once shot.

For example, he still fondly remembers the moments when former Russian leader Boris Yeltsin suddenly stepped out of his car to shake hands with Shanghai residents and the childlike smile of the former prime minister of Canada Jean Chretien as he rode a Phoenix bicycle through a busy street in the city.

"My photography approach was to tell the hidden stories in history using close-ups of facial expressions, attire details and body language," said Xu, who has throughout his illustrious 28-year-career photographed more than 800 visiting world leaders and other important guests.

"Those photos captured the dramatic changes taking place in Shanghai back during those times and were a way of recording how China's diplomatic relationships with other countries developed through years."

Born in 1949 when the People's Republic of China was founded, Xu went through the "cultural revolution" (1966-76) after graduating from secondary school and was assigned to the Shanghai Machinery Factory of Mining and Metallurgy.

He later studied journalism in Jiangxi University before becoming a professor at the Shanghai University of Engineering Science. His accidental foray into political photography only began when he started work at Jin Jiang Tower, the first five-star hotel in China run by Chinese. Jin Jiang Tower was at that time the hotel of choice of many world leaders during their visits to Shanghai.

"The monthly salary of a professor was only 156 yuan ($23), which was not enough for me to support my family. I was introduced to Jin Jiang Tower by chance and took up the role of an administration executive officer who was in charge of reception services for foreign leaders," said Xu of his decision to switch jobs.

Xu soon found himself attending a host of foreign affairs events and having to take photos of dignitaries to commemorate the occasion. Because of his role in the hotel, Xu said that he managed to capture images that were different from what was normally seen in the media.

"Being given such opportunities allowed me to record candid moments of many presidents and premiers. The images I managed to capture were quite different from the stereotypical serious and set-up shots printed in newspapers or seen on television," said Xu.

Excited by the fact that he had access to high profile individuals who could influence China's development and matters of the world, Xu was determined to take things a step further - get even closer to his subjects in order to capture the more intimate moments. He also wanted their autographs.

"I made it a point to appear in front of the leaders' bodyguards at every chance because I wanted them to be familiar with my face. I also made sure that I spoke with key Chinese leaders when these foreign bodyguards were watching so that they would know I was not a threat," said Xu.

His methods worked, and it even led him to precious encounters that few in this world could only dream of. After all, this was exactly how he managed to get up close and personal with the late Cuban leader Fidel Castro in December 1995. Castro even indulged Xu with a chat and gave him a cigar.

Part of his job also involved taking pictures of the wives of political leaders and Xu recalled how he was assigned to capture a group photo for a number of first ladies in Shanghai's Xintiandi area during the APEC summit many years ago. Xu added that the women were duly impressed with the speed at which the photos were printed and presented as gifts within just half an hour, a feat made possible only with the help of government staff.

"In my eyes, there is no group of women that can be on par with first ladies. They are extraordinarily elegant and beautiful," said Xu.

"The style I used to record the interactions between the leaders and their wives are different from the usual. I tried to capture those intimate moments where the leaders and their ladies were in a relaxed setting, such as close-ups of them whispering and making eye contact."

In 2007, Xu started sorting out the pictures he had taken to create a book titled State Guests in Shanghai and First Ladies in Shanghai which was published a year later. Han Zheng, former mayor of Shanghai, wrote the preface.

"The year of 2007 was an important year for China because of the upcoming 2008 Beijing Olympics and the 2010 Shanghai Expo. I wanted the book to show Chinese people the results of Chinese diplomacy over the last few decades," said Xu.

In addition to photos, his collection also contains images of the numerous menus that political leaders received during their dining receptions in Jin Jiang Tower, as well as commemorative envelopes and stamps bearing their autographs.

"I am planning to publish several editions of the menus that I have collected. I think cuisine is an integral part of Chinese culture and the type of cuisine served to foreign leaders reflected the economic and living standards of China at that time," said Xu.

"I also hope that I can cooperate with chefs in hotels or restaurants to recreate the dishes on the menus for the public."

Till today, Xu spends most of the day working in his 100-square-meter studio sorting volumes of documents and old photos that span 10 large tailor-made leather suitcases and several shelves. His collection includes envelopes autographed by over 400 world leaders, thousands of photographs of these leaders and their wives, and 280 dining menus.

"These photos I have shot, the menus for the foreign guests and the signatures I have collected, they are all part of history - they are the witnesses to the development of Chinese diplomacy and the rise of Shanghai."

Cheng Si contributed to this story.



2016-12-25 14:50:20
<![CDATA[Schrager makes his debut in China]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2016-12/25/content_27768117.htm He is already considered a septuagenarian, but prolific hotelier and entrepreneur Ian Schrager is nevertheless still breaking new boundaries, as evidenced by the opening of The Sanya Edition in China earlier this month.

The luxury establishment, situated near the shores of Sanya, Hainan province, is the 70-year-old American's first hotel in China and was created in partnership with hospitality giant Marriott International.

True to Schrager's renowned style of luxury, the new Edition features a private ocean within that allows guests to enjoy a range of water sports without having to leave the premises. This unique feature is said to be the first of its kind in China.

"China is the future. Building a hotel in China now is no longer about occupying a prime location or setting the right price point. It's about creating a unique experience," said Schrager in a recent interview in Shanghai. "Edition is a luxury brand in addition to lots of luxury brands. The hotel I want to create is the one that even if you take away the name, you will still know it's Edition."

Situated along the city's Haitang Bay, The Sanya Edition features 512 well-appointed rooms, five restaurants and an equal number of swimming pools.

Schrager has since 2007 been working with Marriott on the Edition series of hotels around the world. The Sanya Edition is the brand's fourth outlet globally, after London, Miami and New York. A total of 16 Edition hotels are in the pipeline, with the one in Shanghai scheduled to open in 2017. Following the merger of Marriott and Starwood earlier this year, Edition is the only brand that is being run independently by its own head office in New York.

Well-known for his efforts in pioneering the luxury and boutique hotel industry, Schrager has throughout the past five decades been revolutionizing the hospitality, entertainment, food and beverage, retail and residential industries.

He first shot to fame in the 1970s when he became the co-founder of New York nightclub Studio 54. Schrager later reinvented himself to become the hotelier who created Morgans, widely acknowledged as the very first boutique hotel in the world.

"I want to do lots and lots of hotels in China. Sanya is about to explode, not only for the traditional market, but also for the younger market," said Schrager, about his decision to pick Sanya as the location for the first Edition hotel in China.

Major hotel brands have in the past few years been setting up shop in Sanya, a coastal location that is dubbed as the "Hawaii of the East". For instance, the Haitang Bay stretch that The Sanya Edition is located on is also home to other major hotel brands such as Westin and InterContinental.

Just blocks away from the Edition, the Sanya Atlantis resort, a landmark project backed by the local government and an 11-billion yuan investment by homegrown conglomerate Fosun Group, has just completed construction. The 226-meter-high building will have 1,314 hotel rooms and house China's largest natural saltwater aquarium that will feature 60,000 sea creatures.

"It's not about how many hotels there are in the market at the moment. Take the iPhone for example - when it first came out, everyone already had a phone. It's not like Apple invented a phone," said Schrager.

"The product is what gives a brand meaning. Most of the time, when I walk into a luxury hotel, I don't know what to expect. There is no unique originality."

"Sometimes I feel we are more like a technology or entertainment company than a hotel," joked Schrager, who added that his team had worked hard to source state-of-art gadgets that would appeal to the locals.


2016-12-25 14:50:20
<![CDATA[Helping others make the most of life]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2016-12/25/content_27768116.htm Palliative care for terminally ill children and their families is still in a nascent stage in the country, but several organizations have in recent years been passionately championing this multidisciplinary approach

Having a child who is diagnosed with a terminal illness should not equate to suffering for everyone in the family.

Lyn Gould, the British founder of Butterfly Children's Hospice in Changsha, Hunan province, said that with good symptom control and family support, the child can still go to the seaside, visit Disneyland, or simply be out in the garden to play with the dog or friends.

The point is not to dwell on the imminent demise and be resigned to having sad memories of the child suffering in hospital, but to bring hope back to the family and allow the child to feel joy.

"When the child is gone, the family will still have those memories of their child being happy to help comfort them," said Gould.

When parents struggle to provide sufficient care for a sick child and end up abandoning him or her, Gould picks up the pieces. She has throughout the years found numerous babies who were abandoned. Many of them suffered from de-generative or neurological diseases such as cerebral palsy. Some of them even came with notes expressing their parents' regret and anguish.

Founded in 2010, Butterfly Children's Hospice can accommodate up to 18 children. In contrast to most orphanages in China where a caregiver has to manage 10 to 15 children, each nanny at Butterfly Children's Hospice takes care of no more than three and do not have to perform other duties such as cooking and cleaning of the premises. The home also employs licensed nurses to provide quality medical care for the kids.

This commitment to providing the best possible care to their children has meant that the hospice's largest expenditure is on staff salaries. Gould shared that the home's operational costs amount to around 250,000 yuan ($35,967) every month.

Since its opening, Butterfly Home has taken in 176 children. Half of them have since died while the rest are said to be recovering well from their illnesses. In addition, around 20 children have been adopted over the years, mostly by American or European families. Children who suffer from more serious conditions and require lifelong caring and special education, such as those with complex cerebral palsy, are sent to other institutions.

The scene in China

Butterfly Children's Hospice and the Children's Hospital of Fudan University had on Nov 19 jointly hosted an international forum to promote palliative care. The event in Shanghai was attended by medical professionals from Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia.

Studies have found that there are 21 million children in the world in need of palliative care. In China, the numbers are estimated to be around 4.5 million though experts say that only few families have access to such care.

According to statistics from the World Health Organization, 98 percent of the provision of palliative care for children is in high-income countries, while 98 percent of the need is in low-and middle income countries such as China.

A March 2016 article titled Barriers in palliative care in China, published in medical journal The Lancet, cited that the country ranked 71st out of 80 countries in the 2015 Quality of Death Index by The Economist Intelligence Unit and is "facing difficulties from slow adoption of palliative care and a rapidly aging population".

Some of the obstacles to palliative care in China, the report added, is the perception that only dying patients require such medical attention, a shortage of national strategies and guidelines, and a lack of trained palliative care physicians.

"Although policy initiatives have been taking steps to promote and improve palliative care in China, the mainstream health care system in China is still structured in a way to prevent its developmentChina's health care reform is underway; the voice of palliative care needs to be strong so that it can be firmly integrated into future health care system," stated the report.

In the case of incurable conditions, patients are often given morphine for pain relief. While it has been proven that morphine can effectively relieve pain and even be safely administered to infants, studies have found that many medical professionals in China are still apprehensive about using the drug. Gould said that Chinese doctors often feel as if they might kill the child because of the perception that morphine is too strong a drug.

Due to drug abuse countermeasures in China and many other countries, only certain doctors are authorized to prescribe morphine. Gould, who often faces problems with acquiring the drug for use in Butterfly Children's Hospice, said that education about morphine needs to improve in China. She emphasized that morphine should be seen as a vital part of palliative care.

"The holistic approach of palliative care means that we don't just treat the medical condition but also think about other aspects such as how a child is thinking and feeling," said Gould.

A holistic way to care

During the forum, Dr Lee Ai Chong from Malaysia emphasized that palliative care is not only meant for those with terminal illnesses. Rather, such care begins "when the illness is diagnosed, and continues regardless of whether or not a child receives treatment directed at the disease."

Chong also quoted the epitaph of American physician Edward Trudeau to explain the crux about palliative care, saying that it is "to cure sometimes; to relieve often; to comfort always."

According to Gould, palliative care for adults in Britain started in the 1970s but such care for children only emerged decades later in the 1990s. She attributed this to the flawed belief that children didn't feel pain and that suffering would only make them stronger.

"But children can't speak for themselves. They can't say 'my head hurts' or 'my belly hurts'. As the parent or nurse, you need to pay attention to their behavior and be the voice of the child," said Gould.

There are now 45 children's hospices in the UK, mostly supported by the government and charity organizations. Most of the hospices have outreach services in the communities so many children are cared for in their own homes by qualified nurses who have the necessary equipment.

Intangible support

A medical social worker with the Children's Hospital of Fudan University, Zhang Linghui and her colleagues make regular visits to the wards to comfort children and their family. An important part of their job is to provide emotion support to families where a child's demise is imminent or has occurred.

"Doctors and nurses take responsibility for the medical side of matters. We, on the other hand, offer psychosocial support," said Zhang.

"When a child died during the preparation for a marrow transplant, we had to help the parents face the reality and make arrangements so that the mother could hold her child one last time before making decisions regarding the funeral."

Zhang and her colleagues always attempt to help sick children build up hope and courage, as well as educate them about life and death. They do so by getting the kids to capture what they feel are the good things in life using cameras or by drawing with pencils. Zhang also recalled how an eight-year-old boy once approached her with the passionate declaration, "I am not afraid (of death). I will turn into an angel."

A few years ago, the team successfully helped a child with leukemia fulfill his wish of going to the Disney Park in Hong Kong.

"Though the child died, the family nonetheless could find solace in that he had fulfilled his last wish and left peacefully," said Professor Ji Qingying, vice president of Shanghai Children's Medical Center.

The social workers department in the Children's Hospital of Fudan University in Shanghai was established in 1998. Today, the department has 39 groups of volunteers and many of them do more than just provide emotional care to families. For instance, the social workers have to at times act as the communication bridge between doctors and families when treatments don't produce the desired results.

"Parents are often frustrated and blame the doctors when the treatments don't yield the expected outcomes. This is when we step in to calm these parents down and help them understand that the doctors want nothing but the best for their patients," explained Zhang.

In cases where a child's medical insurance is insufficient, social workers often help poverty-stricken families to source for financial assistance and they do so by contacting a host of charities and foundation on behalf of the parents.

A champion for the cause

Gould first visited China with her husband in 1994 and the couple had worked in various orphanages as part of an international team of volunteers. The experience was such a fulfilling one that they decided to return every year. In 2006, the Goulds made the life-changing decision to invest their time and money into the cause, selling their big home and cars back in the UK to move to Luoyang, Henan province.

"We knew that if we really wanted to make a difference, we needed to live in China," said Gould.

Despite her experience as a nurse in the UK, Gould said that she nevertheless had much to learn about pediatric nursing in order to help China's orphans.

"Whenever I went back to the UK, I would find an ex-colleague who could teach me more about it. So every time I returned to China, I knew a bit more about pediatrics," said Gould.

Due to her selfless efforts in Changsha, Gould has been featured in the media on numerous occasions. She said this has resulted in an increasing number of people in China becoming more aware and interested in contributing to the palliative care movement.

Gould has also been approached by local doctors who are interested in working together to develop healthcare models. She added that she is more than happy to offer consultancy services to help others set up their own practices. However, Gould noted that there are still local cultural beliefs and superstitions about death that stand in the way, but she is confident that these will eventually fade away in the future.

She is hoping that Butterfly Children's Hospice can through education and training initiatives help to further promote palliative care in China. The home is currently working on producing Chinese textbooks and training materials.

It has also launched a new educational video, which according to Gould is available to "any healthcare professional to useto educate people about palliative care: what does it do, what does it need." The video includes footage of parents speaking about their experiences in palliative care.

"We really felt that the one thing we could do through our work is to show people that we can care and make a difference for the children who will live very short lives," said Gould.

"And maybe in this way the government will see this as an essential model of care for children suffering from terminal illnesses."


2016-12-25 14:50:20
<![CDATA[Tommy Hilfiger says you can be too popular]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2016-12/03/content_27558335.htm The designer who transformed preppy American fashion into mainstream style talks about the arc of his career over five sound bites

Sometimes, there is such a thing as being too popular, Tommy Hilfiger says, explaining that after his label's crazy romp in the 1990s, he had to reinvent the brand.

Decked out in red trousers and a white shirt with blue stripes, and white sneakers - poster boy for his brand's staple colors - the 65-year-old designer chats with AFP about the evolution of his label, and his memoir American Dreamer, at the Miami Book Fair International on Sunday.


Designer Tommy Hilfiger speaks onstage during the 2016 Angel Ball hosted by Gabrielle's Angel Foundation For Cancer Research in New York City. Dimitrios Kambouris / Getty Images

1 Hilfiger's beginnings

"When I was a teenager, I didn't really know what to do with my life. I liked rock music, I liked the clothes they were wearing and I opened a small shop with $150 I earned from working at a gas station.

"I started with 20 pairs of jeans in a small shop. And then I started expanding on college campuses with very cool clothes.

"I opened it in 1969, when the fashion-music revolution was taking place. It was the summer of Woodstock, Jimmy Hendrix and The Who, and all of these incredible musicians that were wearing the most amazing clothes: low bottoms, headbands, beads, the hippie type fashion. It was really a movement with the young people and I wanted to be part of that movement."

2 From hippie to preppy

"I evolved away from this hippie style in the early 80s, because I wanted to make clothes that were clothes that everyone could wear. And I knew that if I redesigned American classics, and made classics new again, it would be a great business and at the same time it would be a lot of fun to do.

"So I took this preppy look I grew up with ... button-down shirts and chino pants, sort of sporty, casual. So I redesigned everything. I wanted to make everything new, unique, fresh and fun."

3 1985: who is this guy?

"I didn't really have any money for advertising. But I met this guy George Louis, a genius. He said: 'If you advertise the way other people in fashion advertise, it's going to take you 20 years to build a brand. You have to do something really different and disruptive, out of the box.' Then he showed me his idea. His idea was to compare me, Tommy Hilfiger, an unknown, to the biggest designers - Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein and Perry Ellis.

"And when the ad went up in Times Square, New York City, it said 'The four great American designers' and I was the fourth of them. At that time those were the biggest American designers and my name was with theirs. So everybody said 'Who is this guy?,' 'Who does he think he is?,' 'And by the way, what do his clothes look like?' So everybody was looking at the clothes.

"You have to be disruptive, you have to do something different, you can't do the same as everybody else. That's how you're going to succeed."

4 Hip-hop credentials

"In the early 90s, I started doing this athletic type of clothing, with big numbers, big logos, I went very bold with the logos. And the street kids started wearing it, and then the hip-hop kids started wearing it. And then Snoop Dogg, Puff Daddy and Jay Z, all them started wearing my clothes and it spread like crazy. The business became very big in the 90s, too big.

"When everybody is wearing the same thing, the first adopters usually say, 'I don't want to wear it anymore, because I've seen it everywhere.' It becomes too big.

"This is what happened with Abercrombie recently. Then the business goes through a difficult period, because a lot of people just stop wearing it. This happened to the Gap even.

"So we had to reinvent and the business took off again."

5 'Hurtful' rumors

Hilfiger battled a persistent online rumor in the late 1990s and early 2000s that claimed he had told Oprah Winfrey his clothes were not made for minorities. Despite the denial from both parties, the bogus story refused to die and the chat show host finally invited Hilfiger on set, in 2007, to clear up the mess.

"It's a lie, it's false, it was made to hurt my business and me ... The business continued to be strong, we didn't see the numbers be affected, but it was hurtful.

"I never would have made my clothes affordable and accessible for everybody had I not wanted everybody to wear the clothes!"

Agence France-Presse


2016-12-03 07:20:37
<![CDATA[Campus critters are nuts for Penn State's 'Squirrel Girl']]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2016-12/03/content_27558334.htm Penn State students know her as the Squirrel Whisperer, or even Squirrel Girl. Which suits Mary Krupa just fine.

Four years ago, the 22-year-old senior became an internet sensation for placing tiny hats on the ubiquitous rodents that live near Penn State's landmark Old Main building, and coaxing them to hold miniature props.

Though her Penn State career is winding down, Krupa is still up to her old tricks. Her photos of "Sneezy the Penn State Squirrel" continue to garner thousands of likes on Facebook and have been featured in magazines and calendars.

"It's nice to make something and see that people like it. But I didn't think it would last this long or become this popular," says Krupa, who graduates next month.


Mary Krupa plays with "Sneezy" the squirrel on Old Main Lawn in State College. Phoebe Sheehan / AP

She began interacting with Penn State's famously friendly gray squirrels her first week on campus in 2012. Krupa idly wondered what one would look like with a hat on its head, and, pleased with the result, sent a photo to her grandmother, who loved it.

With Penn State reeling from the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal, Krupa decided her fellow students could also use a laugh.

"Everyone was really just down in the dumps, and I figured that Penn State needed something good to take their mind off things, cheer up. And so I started posting these pictures on Facebook."

Krupa's anthropomorphized Sneezy would become an unofficial mascot - Penn State's very own Rocket J. Squirrel or Chip and Dale - and, over the course of her college career, the English major dreamed up many amusing scenes for the squirrelly star.

There's Sneezy pushing a tiny shopping cart filled with acorns. Sneezy holding a jack-o'-lantern at Halloween. Sneezy raking leaves, rooting for the home team and drinking tea, mostly while wearing an assortment of squirrel-size hats.

An unlikely celebrity

Mara Fitzgerald, 21, a Penn State student from Pittsburgh's Squirrel Hill neighborhood, is a longtime fan.

"I honestly knew who she was before I even got to Penn State because my older sisters went here and they told me about her," she says. "My mom knows who she is. I think everybody does."

Krupa is an unlikely celebrity. Growing up in a wooded neighborhood outside State College, she had always been fond of the birds, squirrels and other wildlife around her house.

People were another matter.

Diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, a milder form of autism, Krupa says she was a loner in high school, anti-social and awkward. Sneezy helped Krupa come out of her shell.

"The squirrel's actually a good way to break the ice, because I'll be sitting here patting a squirrel and other people will come over and we'll just start like feeding the squirrels together and chatting about them," she says. "I am a lot more outgoing."

On a mild November afternoon, Krupa looks for Sneezy in and around the majestic trees bracketing Old Main, calling softly, a container of roasted, unsalted peanuts under one arm.

A few minutes later, a plump female climbs up Krupa's arm and takes a seat on her lap. It's the current incarnation of Sneezy (there have been several). Krupa strokes the squirrel, then places her favorite hat - a fruited concoction made with her brother's 3-D printer - atop Sneezy's head. It promptly falls off, and the squirrel scampers away.

Even after she graduates, Krupa plans to stay in the area - ready to welcome the next class of Penn State squirrels.

"They're definitely wild animals, and I always respect them for being wild animals," says Krupa, who is minoring in wildlife science. "But at the same time, it's neat that they're willing to let me interact with them. We do seem to have this mutual trust."

Associated Press


2016-12-03 07:20:37
<![CDATA['West must nurture China friendship']]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2016-11/13/content_27361655.htm


George Osborne, former Chancellor of the Exchequer, says it is important that London's center position for the yuan's internationalization is not undermined by Brexit. Nick J.B. Moore / For China Daily

Former British chancellor says it is essential to pursue closer partnership with emerging giant

George Osborne, one of the principal architects of the "golden era" of relations between the UK and China, insists it is important for the West in general to build closer ties with the world's second-largest economy.

The former chancellor of the exchequer, who left office in July after Theresa May became prime minister, believes there is much to be gained from a closer partnership.

"Sometimes in the discussion about China in the West, people focus on the areas where we disagree and ignore the potential areas of cooperation. And I'm just saying, get them both in balance and see the positives as well as the negatives," he says.

Osborne, 45, who was speaking in his office in Portcullis House in Westminster with a panoramic view of the Thames in what was only his second interview since leaving office, argues that the emergence of China as an economic superpower makes it impossible to ignore.

"It is a country that is a very big part of our world and will go on being so forever. And so we have essentially a choice in the West. Do we ignore that? Well, you can't ignore China. Do you confront China? Or do you work with China to make for a more stable world order and a more prosperous global economy?"

The new golden era of UK and China relations seemed endangered over the summer when May called for a review of the proposed Hinkley Point C nuclear power station in which there was to be substantial Chinese investment.

It was one of the key investments announced during President Xi Jinping's state visit to the UK in October last year.

May's chief of staff Nick Timothy had raised security concerns about Chinese involvement in nuclear projects. It has now, however, been given the go-ahead.

"I thought it was extremely encouraging that, after looking at the facts and the details of the Hinkley Point nuclear power decision, the current government decided to proceed with that deal that I'd worked on with China and with France, as a great example of how China and the West can work together," he says.

"It is not bad to judge a government by its actions, and this new Conservative government has basically come up with the same decision that we came to in government just a few months ago."

A current major concern is whether the UK's decision to leave the European Union will affect future Chinese investment in the country.

Almost one-third of Chinese investment into the EU was in the UK in 2014. In a recent survey by EY Global Capital Barometer, 53 percent of Chinese respondents were less confident about investing in the UK. "We now need to do everything we can to avoid some of the dangers and difficulties that Brexit might offer up to our country. And one of those things is making sure it doesn't deter foreign investment, including from China," Osborne says.

"So I think we need to redouble our efforts to attract that investment, make it clear to Chinese businesses that their investment is welcome here."

Osborne says he will argue for as close a relationship as possible for the UK with Europe while being outside the European Union.

"I strongly believe it is in Britain's interest, Europe's interest and, indeed, more broadly in the interest of the world economy, that our relationship with Europe is as strong as it can be outside of the EU. Exactly what form that takes we are going to see now over the coming period and I'll reserve judgment until I see what the options are," he says.

"But I will be advocating that close economic relationship because I think it is good for the British economy. I think it is good for Britain as a place to invest and a jumping off point for Europe and I think it is good for the European economy as well because Britain is an important trading partner for many European countries."

Osborne has had a longstanding relationship with China, having first visited as a backpacker in the mid-1990s.

He made a number of high-profile visits as chancellor, including the one in September last year when he made a speech to the Shanghai Stock Exchange in which he called for the creation of a "golden decade" for UK-China relations. That acted as a curtain raiser for President Xi's visit to the UK a month later.

"I have gone from traveling around China with a backpack and staying in a hostel to dining at the president's table," he laughs.

His connection with China now extends to his 13-year-old daughter learning Mandarin.

"She comes home (from school) and studies Mandarin characters, like I did French. Frankly, I think that gives her a greater understanding of the world she is growing up in. I want more British children to learn the Chinese language at school."

Osborne put great effort into developing London as the most important global center for trading the Chinese yuan. For this, he worked with his then-opposite number Wang Qishan, who is now Secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, and Ma Kai, the current vice-premier.

"We really worked together to bring that business to the UK, to create clearing systems that would allow London to be a place where the Chinese currency could be better internationalized," he says.

"Now I would say that has been a huge success. Last year London overtook all other centers outside of China, including Singapore, for renminbi trading."

Osborne says it is important that this is not undermined by Brexit or an inability to pass financial services into the EU.

"Certainly, as we look at our negotiations for leaving the EU, one of the issues we should be focused on is making sure that Britain has as close as possible economic links with Europe, and that includes financial services," he says.

Osborne also wants British companies to do business in more remote areas of China. Last year he was the first UK minister to visit the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.

"It was a deliberate decision of mine to go there. I wanted first of all to explain to people that China is a very large country and that it is not all about Beijing and Shanghai. And, secondly, there is this very interesting Chinese ambition, the Belt and Road Initiative, and western China and Central Asia are a very important part of that," he says.

Osborne was also one of the first in the West to offer high-profile support for China's Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank, contrasting with the US, which failed to back it.

"I thought Britain could stay on the sidelines, or we can get involved and shape the organization," he says.

"I suspect the American response was driven primarily by the fact the administration was not going to be able to get any ratification through Congress - that is, it was realpolitik."

He says there is a danger of institutions like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank not fully representing big emerging economies like China.

"Now, 70 years on from the creation of most of them, we can either see them become irrelevant to these big emerging economies, like China, India and Brazil, or we can say they are relevant to you. Although you were not fundamental to their creation, you can be fundamental to their future."

Osborne, who is firmly committed to remaining in Parliament - unlike former prime minister David Cameron, who resigned his seat - says he wants to play an active role in the Brexit debate.

The British people decided to leave the EU, but they weren't asked to decide what new relationship with Europe they wanted to have, he says.

"I suspect that issue will be an absolutely dominant one in Parliament and you can't be a member of Parliament without being involved in it."

He also remains firmly committed to his personal mission of developing closer links between the UK and China

"I am going to continue arguing for that strong China relationship and economic partnership for that golden era, and making sure that on a fairly regular basis I am getting myself to China to see what is happening in that remarkable country."


2016-11-13 07:58:52
<![CDATA[The rise of Jack the giant-slayer]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2016-11/13/content_27361460.htm


British author Duncan Clark says Jack Ma essentially stands between two important things - the rise of the private sector in China and the rise of the internet. Fu Jing / China Daily

Author says internet tycoon Ma knew right from the start that Alibaba was going to lead the world

In the summer of 1999, a slightly built 35-year-old sat in his apartment in Hangzhou a year after US e-commerce giant eBay went public and Amazon online was developing into a heavyweight business player. He told a British author: "I am gonna be bigger than them."

That moment was when Jack Ma, founder of the world's e-business leader, Alibaba, first revealed his ambitions to writer Duncan Clark upon meeting him for the first time in Hangzhou, where his business is headquartered.

Clark, who began his own consulting business in China in 1994, recalled that Ma's startup company had hired fewer than 20 people.

Now things are radically different. From July to September, for instance, Alibaba earned $5 billion (4.5 billion euros; 4 billion) in e-commerce revenue, which is more than Amazon and eBay combined in the same period.

With such rapid expansion, Ma, who now employs 40,000 people, has become a frequent guest of state leaders as varied as United States President Barack Obama and Belgium's King Philippe. He has frequently debated e-commerce, digital economy and social progress on global stages.

Recently, his team announced it was setting up a European office in Brussels, headquarters of the European Union.

Just before President Xi Jinping's state visit to the United Kingdom, then-British prime minister David Cameron hired Ma as a consultant to the government on business.

Since getting in touch with Ma nearly three decades ago, Clark, the writer, chairman of Beijing-based BDA China Limited, has been closely observing how this English teacher-turned businessman fulfilled his dream in building up his business empire, against the momentous backdrop of a tenfold increase in China's per capita GDP during the period.

Clark spent a year incorporating his insights, observations and anecdotes into a book of nearly 300 pages, Alibaba: The House that Jack Ma Built. It was written in English but has already been translated into Chinese, Spanish, French and other languages.

"Jack is an interesting combination of humanity and ambition," Clark told China Daily in Brussels recently.

That is the lasting impression Clark has of the tycoon, now aged 52. In 1999, he was talking already very clearly about small and medium-size businesses and now, he says his e-commerce platform is still essentially a hub for small entrepreneurs.

"So I think the reason for using the word 'house', but not 'empire', is that he works for the small guys, the little guys," Clark says, referring to the English title of the book.

Clark says Ma maintains a style of informality and makes fun of his looks, his background and even his mistakes.

For example, according to Clark, after just after the internet bubble boom, Ma realized he had a lot of problems in his company, and that it was expanding too fast. He had an office no more than the size of a normal bedroom.

At the time, Ma had hired a foreign executive but cut his office to half its size.

"You know, many rich bosses in China have huge offices and heavy furniture. Well, he is very informal in that sense. So I think he doesn't bring people to his side by showing off," Clark says. "His charisma is built on his humanity. Don't mistake it. He is very ambitious."

Even though Ma has made an impression on Clark, he says this book is not for Jack Ma.

"I mean, it is an independent book. I don't have any connection with Alibaba," he says.

But Clark says he did invite Ma to Stanford University in 2011 when the writer was a visiting scholar there. Ma came to speak and gave an interesting speech on his dispute with Yahoo.

Clark sees that time as a key moment, as he was doing research on a possible book on the internet revolution in China, and the focus would be on e-commerce and social changes in the country.

"From that encounter, I think Ma essentially stands between two important things - the rise of the private sector in China and the rise of the internet," Clark says.

Though Clark intended to write the book in 2011, the real impetus came after Alibaba's successful IPO in 2014, though the stocks started going down soon before coming back again.

"I think it was the IPO made people realize that Alibaba is really a story," Clark says, adding that CBS filmed and interviewed Ma quite a long time ago, but didn't run the hourlong program because people in CBS asked "Is this company really that big?" Only when the IPO happened, did it finally broadcast the program, which it had put together a year and a half before.

After getting a publishing house's green light, Clark contacted Alibaba, which gave him access to the company so he could come to visit, talk to employees and do research.

But he has not seen Ma himself during the writing of the book, saying that he will one day write his own book so no one would misunderstand him.

"And after we did so much research on all of his speeches, there is so much of Jack's (material) already," Clark says.

He says that in this book he is actually critical of Ma and the company in some aspects, particularly on Alipay in 2011, which Clark felt was controversial.

On Ma's weaknesses, Clark says sometimes he is too blunt.

"I think some people will be miserable, like public relations people: They cannot control him," Clark says. "He loves to be very instant, and very spontaneous but also very strategic. He is like a stand-up comedian and can be spontaneous, depending on the audience. He is also a master diplomat in a way."

Even so, Clark says, Alibaba showed trust.

"Their trust is pretty good because even in an American company, if you say you are writing a book, they would probably require you to send them a copy and give you some suspicion," Clark says.

But Alibaba just told Clark that whoever he wanted to talk to in the company, he should just let them know. With such support, Clark talked to former employees, investors and competitors to find the true Jack Ma. Even those who were fired by Ma were interviewed.

Ma started out as a tour guide with humble beginnings. And Clark says Ma is still a tour guide but on a world scale now.

"The G20 in Hangzhou was fantastic imagery. He is the guide who grew up with tourists and now he's growing up with presidents of countries and CEOs," Clark says.

"He really got this passion" for introducing China, Clark says. "I think he is very proud of Chinese history and culture.

"I think, in a way, he is performing the same role he is always performing to send his message to trust in the internet and small businesses."

Clark says Ma has a global view on charitable undertakings, and has been heavily influenced by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett.

"He sees himself as a global citizen, and again, as a tour guide. His English is good enough to communicate, so people are drawn to him."

Buried in his work, Ma, according to Clark, cares about his own health and has his personal trainer traveling with him. He also meditates.

"He is surprisingly relaxed, and sometimes you see he is tired. He travels a lot," Clark says. "He doesn't seem stressed, and he is very relaxed on stage, even with President Obama."

According to Clark, Ma is a natural performer and loves being with people and crowds.

"He said he doesn't want to be famous, that he regrets running Alibaba," says Clark. "But this is just showmanship."

Yao Yueyao contributed to this story.


2016-11-13 07:58:52
<![CDATA[Helping hand for those in need]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2016-10/07/content_26982565.htm When outdoor sports enthusiast Xiang Dong established a rescue association in 2009, his main aim was to help others like him who might have become trapped or gone missing in China's wild places.

From earthquakes to trapped cats, one Hubei rescue team has tackled every type of emergency situation

When outdoor sports enthusiast Xiang Dong established a rescue association in 2009, his main aim was to help others like him who might have become trapped or gone missing in China's wild places.

His civil rescue team, however, has now had its fair share of international experience, including in the April 2015 Nepal earthquake that killed more than 8,000 people and injured more than 21,000.

Xiang, who also heads an intelligent control systems company, discovered his enthusiasm for outdoor sports while studying in Canada in 1998.He kept up his new interest after returning to China and eventually set up a mountain rescue association in 2009.

In 2011, the 49-year-old expanded the association to become a 30-member rescue team, specializing in geological disasters in urban and aquatic areas, as well as mountainous environments.

He named the team after the clouded leopard, which is known for its climbing abilities. Now, the number of team members has jumped to more than 200.

"I never thought to make it so big, but there are so many like-minded people," Xiang said.

The team consists of people from all walks of life in Wuhan, Hubei province, such as businessmen, professors, doctors, and retirees. But they all have one thing in common: the belief in saving people, Xiang said.

Firm in this belief, the team has now helped out with various emergencies, from the Ya'an earthquake in Sichuan to the Ludian earthquake in Yunnan and a shipwreck in Hubei, as well as numerous smaller incidents such as removing hornets' nests and saving trapped cats.

They were the first foreign volunteers to arrive in Nepal after the earthquake on April 25, 2015, carrying with them a number of high-end devices, including unmanned aerial vehicles and life detection instruments. Wang said his team was the first one from China to use unmanned aerial vehicles in rescue work.

During their fruitless search for survivors in Nepal, Xiang's team of volunteers worked tirelessly over three days in four different areas and their efforts were always greatly appreciated by the locals, he recalled.

"Every time when we finished with one task, the local people around us applauded and some policemen also saluted us," he said.

"Though many of us have seen people being rescued on TV after a huge disaster, this seldom happens. We are more often faced with death. But as long as there is hope, my team will not give up."

Danger is never far away in a disaster area, and Xiang's team nearly came a cropper in Ya'an in 2014 when a huge rock hit their command vehicle while they were inside controlling an unmanned aerial vehicle.

"I was frightened, but luckily the rock only damaged a car door," he said.

Xiang encourages his team members to undergo exercises with policemen and firefighters to improve their rescue skills and help keep insurance costs down.

Despite this, the purchase of 16 unmanned aerial vehicles and a series of other high-end devices that help with rescues in heavy smoke, fog and darkness has not come cheap.

Xiang estimated that he has spent more than 6 million yuan ($900,000) kitting out his team, yet he refuses to accept donations.

"Money could easily trigger conflicts among team members. Right now, all the money comes from me, so nobody can complain and all of us are concentrated on our work," he said.

"My biggest takeaway from running the rescue team is that it has made me realize that nothing is as important as life."

Contact the writers at houliqiang@chinadaily.com.cn

Members of the Clouded Leopard Rescue Team from Wuhan, Hubei province, work at the earthquake site in Nepal in April 2015. Photos Provided To China Daily


2016-10-07 07:43:29
<![CDATA[Emphasizing the importance of math]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2016-10/07/content_26982564.htm Having established an international reputation in the field of mathematics, US citizen Shing-Tung Yau is now hoping other young Chinese will follow in his footsteps.

"I sincerely hope that, one day, China's achievements in mathematics can be compared to those of the United States and European countries," said Yau, who is a professor at Harvard University.

Born in Shantou, Guangdong province, in 1949, Yau was raised in Hong Kong after his family moved there when he was an infant. He studied mathematics at the Chinese University of Hong Kong from 1966 to 1969 and has been teaching at universities in the US since obtaining a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley in 1971.

In 1982, Yau was awarded the Fields Medal, which has been described as the Nobel Prize of mathematics.

Yau has a strong willingness to raise awareness among Chinese of the importance of mathematics and nurturing talent to improve the country's mathematical research.

To do that, he established a math center at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, organized college student math contests and offered those who excelled in the contests opportunities to study at prestigious universities.

He also launched the International Congress of Chinese Mathematicians, a triennial gathering for Chinese math prodigies, in 1998. During the congress, the Morningside Medal of Mathematics, which has been dubbed the "Chinese Fields Medal", is issued to those aged under 45 who have excelled in related research. The seventh congress was held in Beijing in early August.

"China's research in mathematics has progressed rapidly, but it is still lagging behind that of Europe and the US," Yau said during the congress.

"China only has about a dozen excellent mathematicians, a tiny figure compared to its population, while the number in the US is in the hundreds."

The problem lies in the whole system of nurturing talent, Yau said. In his eyes, the teaching of math in China is test oriented, not interest oriented.

Many Chinese parents push their children to study math just for the sake of gaokao, or China's national college entrance exams. They don't actually realize its significance, or the diverse applications of this discipline in different walks of life, Yau said.

"Those saying 'mathematics is useless' know nothing about the subject," he said, listing a series of areas where it plays a key role: big data, secrecy systems and image processing, for example.

He also suggested that the Chinese government invest more in mathematics research.

"After all, you cannot expect someone to generate the greatest output if he is still struggling to make a living," he said.

Yau is happy that his efforts during the past few decades are paying off. The Chinese government is realizing the significance of the subject, with Premier Li Keqiang stressing the importance of basic math research during his visit to Peking University in April.


Shing-Tung Yau suggests the Chinese government invest more in mathematics research. Yin Nan To China Daily


2016-10-07 07:43:29
<![CDATA[Park rangers brave hardship to fight off poachers]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2016-10/07/content_26982563.htm Songtsen Langbo, a member of the Hol Xil National Nature Reserve patrol team, knows all there is to know about the unforgiving weather on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau - yet a patrol last month still nearly cost him his life.

For 11 days, he and five colleagues found themselves trapped by mud and snow in the 60,000-square-km reserve in Northwest China's Qinghai province.

"We were on our way back from a 25-day patrol, and our jeeps got stuck in the mud," said Langbo, who has led the nature reserve's fourth patrol group since May.

The group are tasked with catching poachers and illegal miners, and must complete their main patrol before winter.

Two other teams came to their rescue, but their vehicles also got stuck.

"We had to abandon our vehicles and we were totally exhausted. I was struggling to breathe at certain points," Langbo said.

"We ran out of fuel and food, and our satellite phones were not working. We had no choice but to walk several miles."

Altogether, six vehicles were severely damaged in the incident and three remain trapped in the mud.

Located about 4,500 meters above sea level, the Hol Xil National Nature Reserve is home to many protected species, including Tibetan antelopes, wild yaks and wild ass. It also has about 7,000 lakes.

"It is not unusual for teams to be trapped for a day or two, but more than that is not only rare, but rather risky," said Buchung, chief of the reserve management committee.

In the last five years, the reserve has reported more than a dozen instances of teams getting trapped in the wild, he said.

"Many of our patrollers work in extremely harsh conditions, which compromise their health. Added to this, are threats of violence from poachers," Buchung said.

He said the patrolling jobs are dangerous and some rangers have died in the past, such as Sonam Daje, a Tibetan official who was killed by poachers about 20 years ago.

Despite this, the rangers continue to deter poachers and protect the rare species in the reserve, especially Tibetan antelopes, whose numbers once shrank to less than 20,000 due to rampant poaching.

Intensive anti-poaching efforts have increased the animal's population to 70,000, and no killings have been reported for 10 consecutive years in the reserve.

"My family is very proud of me, but they don't know how risky my job can get," said Lhundrup Tsegye, 28.

Patrolling the Hol Xil National Nature Reserve, which is located about 4,500 meters above sea level, is challenging and can be dangerous. Zhi Wen / For China Daily

2016-10-07 07:43:29
<![CDATA[Day of tragedy that has saved others]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2016-10/06/content_26978213.htm An accident in which five boys drowned in Nanning, Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, has had positive repercussions: it has led to other lives being saved by a group of life guards set up in the aftermath of the tragedy.

Those rescued from the waters of a river in Nanning may owe their lives to others who were less fortunate. Ren Qi in Beijing and Huo Yan in Nanning report.

An accident in which five boys drowned in Nanning, Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, has had positive repercussions: it has led to other lives being saved by a group of life guards set up in the aftermath of the tragedy.

Local swimmers can always be seen in Yongjiang River, and some work as volunteer life guards to prevent even more tragedies.

Guo Huiren, 62, a winter swimmer, is one of the volunteer lifeguards, and he says he has saved many lives in the city's so-called mother river.

However, the endings have not all been so fortunate, and one day he says he will never forget is July 13, 2010, when the five boys, two of them twins, drowned while swimming in the river in southern Nanning.

Guo and friends from the local winter-swimming club set up the volunteer lifeguard service three days after the deaths.

It was at that time, too, when Guo, with other swimmers, set up the Guangxi Red Cross Life-Saving Volunteer Team on the banks of the Yongjiang. Initially it had 10 members, and today has more than 70, mostly retirees in their 60s.

"All the lifeguards are volunteers, and we're all experienced swimmers," says Ou Jian, the team captain. "Ten of us have received lifeguard certificates from the local government. Almost everyone on the team has saved people more than once."

Guo, one of its most skilled swimmers, has rescued about 30 people. However, this dates back to before the group started; he says his first was in 1983, when he helped save a woman who tried to kill herself by jumping into the river.

Most incidents involve young people or those unfamiliar with the river and its currents, he says.

"The deepest part of the swimming area in Yongjiang River is more than 20 meters, but near the riverbank it is only 1 meter. This means it is very dangerous for the uninitiated, who swim too near undercurrents, get pulled out and suddenly find they don't have the strength to swim back to the bank."

Volunteers keep watch during the day and late into the evening, when swimming becomes even more hazardous.

Guo says the team receives no financial support from the local government or any business; members raise their own funds. The inclusion of the Red Cross in its name is unofficial, and it receives no financial support from the humanitarian organization, he says.

"Our group is run independently, but we are verified by the Red Cross and it has given us a lot of support, such as offering training programs (for volunteers).

"We have no figures on the number of people we have rescued," Ou says, "but we're ready to give a hand whenever anyone needs help."

In addition to providing a lifeguard service, the team also promotes safety awareness. Members organize free lessons on the riverbank for young people to learn first aid, and go into schools and community centers to offer advice on how to stay safe in and around waterways.

Most locals who swim in the river now often use flotation devices, such as lifebuoys, Guo says.

"We call them tagalongs. If the swimmers encounter a dangerous situation a tagalong can help them survive it. We teach people useful tricks like this, and more importantly we teach them not to panic, stay calm and maintain the correct position if they are in danger."

Contact the writer at renqi@chinadaily.com.cn

Medical benefits seen in chilly dips

Yongjiang River, which runs through the center of Nanning, Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, is a popular swimming spot among residents, especially in the colder months.

Winter swimming has grown in popularity along the 133-kilometer waterway ever since Mao Zedong took a dip during a Communist Party of China meeting in the city in January 1958.

The activity reached a peak during the "cultural revolution" (1966-76), when the local government organized winter-swimming contests.

Guan Hong started swimming in the river in 1993 at the behest of his father.

"He was seriously ill at the time and I swam only occasionally," Guan says. "Before he died he persuaded me to swim every day, saying that staying healthy was the most important thing in life."

The 63-year-old is a member of the Guangxi Red Cross Life-Saving Volunteer Team and is among those to have received an official certificate from the regional government.

He believes winter swimming is good for the heart and vital capacity, and to prove his point he says that 10 years ago, after retiring, he cycled from Nanning to the northernmost part of the Inner Mongolia autonomous region, the birthplace of his parents, and a distance of nearly 3,000 kilometers.

"The whole trip lasted more than 20 days. When I reached my hometown all my relatives were astonished. If I hadn't done all that winter swimming I don't think I would have been healthy or strong enough to ride such a long distance."

Zhao Quan, 78, who has been swimming in the Yongjiang River since the 1960s, says: "Winter swimming is more than just a sport to Nanning people."

- Ren Qi

Members of the volunteer lifeguard group are from a local winter-swimming club. Huo Yan / China Daily

2016-10-06 07:24:26
<![CDATA[Chinese need to get head around mental health, says expert]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2016-10/06/content_26978212.htm Many Chinese still tend to think of any talk of mental health in a negative light, says Timothy So, a psychologist whose mission is to apply positive psychology to make more Chinese happier, and doing so even with the very young.

"Children's mental health can have a great impact on their whole lives," says So, founder and chief executive of the Winnovator Group Inc, a psychological service provider that focuses on children's mental health and wellbeing.

"My vision is to apply positive psychology in China and to help create a better world for people," So says.

So, 32, who was born in Hong Kong, studied psychology first at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, then at Aston University in England and then gained a PhD at the University of Cambridge. Mental health is a neutral concept with a spectrum that covers many states, such as mental wellbeing, sub-health and mental illness, but some Chinese tend to misconstrue it as mental illness, he says.

While many psychologists are preoccupied with treating mental illnesses, So is more interested in adopting a proactive approach to psychology and wellbeing. In practice, that means showing people how to use psychological tools and to become more positive.

Psychology in China is still applied in an immature way, and a lot of work needs to be done to educate people about the importance of mental health, he says.

"If you ask people whether they are under great pressure, many would say yes, but if you offer them professional service and products that could help them, they might not even accept them."

The Peking University Healthcare Group says that in China there are about 420 million children and teenagers. And Philanthropy News reported that of all Chinese children and teenagers under 17, about 30 million have faced mental disturbance, and about 5.2 percent of them are afflicted with mental ailments such as depression.

Feng Tingyong, a professor of psychology at the Southwest University Faculty of Psychology in Chongqing, says childhood is a key time for developing a person's intelligence and personality. In looking after children's mental health it is critical to give due attention to their potential and cultivate a good personality, he says.

So says the wellbeing of children has drawn growing attention in the past few years because their parents, mostly born since 1980, are more aware than their antecedents were aware of the importance of children's mental health.

"If you raise a child with better self-esteem, resilience and emotional social intelligence, he or she will be a better individual as an adult and is unlikely to suffer from depression. With current schooling there is a lack of education in children's mental health, and there is a gap in the market both in dealing with mental illness and improving mental wellbeing."

Winnovator says the company has hundreds of contracted psychologists worldwide who act as consultants in training and counseling. It works with kindergartens and educational organizations in China on programs that cultivate children's intellectual and emotional powers as well as their social intelligence and creativity.

Based on more than 2 million pieces of online data relating to children's mental development profile that Winnovator has obtained, it hopes to open several bricks-and-mortar child development centers in Beijing that specialize in children up to six years old by the end of the year. Winnovator has also launched a fund to support good programs on mental health in China.

"All our programs are educational and fun," So says. "We want to bring the best practice on children's mental health overseas to China, to teach children to grow in a way that makes them mentally happy. For me this is an industry that has not only great market potential, but can also make a great social impact."

With the China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation, Winnovator also offers professional psychometric systems and consultancy on mental health on left-behind children in China, whose parents work in cities as migrant workers. It also offers training to those who care for these children.

To promote sound ideas on raising children, Winnovator has also helped the Ministry of Education to compile a handbook on children's mental health.

"Although we start with children's mental health, our long-term vision takes in the whole of society," So says.

Winnovator has also worked with many companies needing to do psychological testing, training and consultancy. It has formed strategic partnerships with many real estate companies in China offering psychological services to residential communities in order to create a more harmonious and happy environment.

In 2009 So set up the Global Chinese Psychology Association, which has established a network of about 1,000 psychologists globally, aiming to apply positive psychology in China.

His PhD research at Cambridge was on positive psychology and wellbeing. With Professor Felicia Huppert he contributed to Britain's national wellbeing program that has been published every year since 2010.

Britain established the program as a means of measuring progress not just in terms of economic growth and standards of living, but in the quality of people's lives. Economic growth should take account of people's wellbeing, So says.

Since 2000 there has been more research in the West about positive psychology and people's wellbeing, and wellbeing has become an index that has caught people's imagination, he says.

"From 1950 to 2000 the world's GDP increased greatly, but people's wellbeing changed little, which is to say that money cannot buy happiness."

For the past few years So has published eight books on positive psychology in Chinese, all written by renowned psychologists, such as Martin E.P. Seligman of the United States. He has also met the political leaders of many countries keen to put wellbeing policy on their agenda.



Timothy So focuses on children's mental health and wellbeing. Provided To China Daily

2016-10-06 07:24:26
<![CDATA[Horse lover rescues the Bohai from extinction]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2016-10/05/content_26973631.htm Fan Jiayi never expected that the profound feelings he had for a Bohai horse during his childhood would lead him to a lifelong career of raising horses and quite possibly save the breed from extinction.

Now he is working on improving the qualities of the breed to make it more suitable for equestrian competitions

Fan Jiayi never expected that the profound feelings he had for a Bohai horse during his childhood would lead him to a lifelong career of raising horses and quite possibly save the breed from extinction.

At the Hesheng horse farm in Daxindian, a village in Penglai, Shandong province, Fan, the farm's owner, gently strokes a horse and whispers to it.

Fan's farm is China's sole base for preserving the Bohai horse, a famous breed in China. The Bohai horse was developed by interbreeding Mongolian horses and horses introduced from the former Soviet Union during the 1950s and '60s. The tall, well-proportioned and powerful yet gentle horses are found mainly in the northeastern part of Shandong province and the south shore of Bohai Bay.

The breed was used to pull carts and as packhorses in wars. But as mechanized agriculture grew more widespread in recent years, the number of Bohai horses fell sharply from its peak in the 1980s of more than 80,000.

Han Guocai, deputy director of the Horse Research Center at China Agricultural University in Beijing, said the number of Bohai horses had fallen to only 200 in 2007. Today, they are estimated to number about 1,000.

On Fan's farm alone, there are more than 200 adult Bohais, about half of them mares. Fan expects the herd could grow to about 500 in five years.

Fan, who is credited as the breed's savior, said his determination to rescue them from extinction grew out of an accidental encounter with horses.

In March 2007, Fan saw by chance that some horses, several of them Bohais, were about to be killed at a slaughterhouse in Wudi county, Shandong. Among them was a tough, powerful horse almost exactly like the one he had as a child.

The horse stirred an emotion buried deep in his heart.

"I had played with horses since I was 7 years old. Sometimes when I fell from a horse, it would stop and wait for me to climb on its back again. Horses can't speak, but they are friendly to people and they're very dependent. Each time I see horse killed, it is as if a knife has been plunged into my heart," he said.

"I thought, Why don't I take these good horses to my hometown? Then I can protect this breed and enrich tourism attractions in my hometown."

Fan bought the horses and took them home.

He went across Shandong to look for Bohai horses and finally found more than 30 Bohais for his farm.

Ma Ling, Fan's wife, has a notebook keeping track of what Fan has spent on horses over the years. In all, over the past nine years he has spent more than 200 million yuan ($30 million) on the farm. Ma said she even considered divorcing him, because her husband devoted all his efforts to Bohai horses, not their family.

"But I can't let the famous Bohai horses die out," Fan said.

After years of development, Fan's horse farm now covers more than 30 hectares and has stables, indoor and outdoor training grounds, shower rooms and a horse breeding center.

He invited the experts from Beijing to breed Bohai horses, as his farm is the only conservation base for the Bohai horse.

Meanwhile, he planned to breed Bohai warm blood horses. "Crossbreeding the Bohai horse with German warm bloods, we can breed the best warm blood of China within five to 10 years," he said.

At present, China has no warm blood horse breeds of its own.

Descended from both hot bloods - known for their speed and endurance - and cold bloods - better suited to slow, heavy work - Bohai horses present many characteristics of warm bloods without actually falling into the category.

"Although Bohai horses are big and have good physical strength, they are ponderous, so pure Bohai horses are not suited to competing in races," Fan said.

On Fan's farm, some 40 Bohai warm bloods can be born each year. Through six years' training, these Bohai warm bloods will be able to participate in domestic equestrian sports events, he said.

"Currently, horse clubs import warm bloods for international competitions at a high price. In five to 10 years, we will have domestic warm-blooded horses that are suited to racing, substantially reducing the price of racehorses," he said.

Fan realizes that he needs to make money to support his dream of protecting the Bohai horse and cultivating Bohai warm bloods.

He imported more than a dozen purebred, or pedigree, horses from Germany, Spain and the Middle East, and then used Bohai horses as surrogates mothers to give birth to purebred warmbloods through embryo transfers. The farm can breed some 20 purebreds a year, some of which are sold.

He also opened an equestrian school and indoor venues for tourists to watch equestrian performances and experience horseback riding. Thanks to cooperation with local tourism agencies, tourists have brought income to his farm.

Now, a 40-hectare facility to display famous horse breeds to tourists is under construction, and a 200-km racecourse built to international standards will be ready for world-class endurance races next year, he said.

"Money is poured into this horse farm every day, and it might take one or two decades to see profits. But I won't give up on Bohai horses in this life. I'll help the breed to continue for generations," he said.

Zhao Ruixue and Gu Jingwen contributed to this story.



2016-10-05 07:48:34
<![CDATA[Breeding warm bloods will boost industry]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2016-10/05/content_26973630.htm Han Guocai, deputy director of the Horse Research Center at China Agricultural University:

When I first came to Fan's horse farm, I was surprised by the efforts he had made to protect Bohai horses. I never expected there would be such a large herd of the breed.

Bohai horses are a precious breed of Chinese horses, which took 30 years to develop by integrating Mongolian horses and horses introduced from the Soviet Union during the 1950s and '60s.

But with the rise of mechanized agriculture, the number of Bohai horses, which were often used in farming, dropped sharply. To effectively protect this breed, we should protect pure Bohai horses as well as continue to improve their attributes to make them suited for new tasks.

We don't have domestic warm blood horses, but we can breed Bohai warm bloods by crossbreeding Bohais with overseas quality horses, such as European warm bloods. That would obviously enrich the domestic horse portfolio and raise the quality of domestic horses. The breeding process would take around 20 years.

Bohai warm blood horses would be well-suited for jumping and dressage competitions. Most domestic horse clubs now buy European horses for those competitions, even though they have to pay a high price for them.

Once Bohai warm bloods are cultivated, the cost would be greatly reduced, which would promote the development of equestrianism in China.

Ju Chuanjiang and Zhao Ruixue

2016-10-05 07:48:34
<![CDATA[A craftsman never stops learning]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2016-10/04/content_26969810.htm Give this man a coconut and he will soon present you with a masterpiece. Liu Xiaoli and Ma Zhiping in Haikou report.

Zhang Xingfu, 72, usually starts his day by carving a coconut shell at 8 am, sitting near the window with knife and shell in hands, something he has been doing for the past 50 years.

In fact, Zhang, a master of coconut carving in Haikou, Hainan province, could sit in his chair without leaving it until midnoon, so absorbed is he with the matter at hand.

Zhang, who was interested in drawing as a youngster, started to learn coconut carving when he was 13. He was paid just 15 yuan a month, he says, but he was happy.

"I didn't care about the pay. I was just happy that I was learning something that was related to drawing."

He had to learn how to peel and polish coconuts and how to draw before he finally got into the process of carving, and it was three years before he could turn out his first work.

The job calls for great patience - which is perfect for Zhang, who sees himself as a very patient man - and it takes about a month to produce a single carving.

The factory Zhang first worked in received many orders before the 1980s, and most were tourist souvenirs. But Zhang considered that there was more to his craft than that, and he studied hard with his teachers Lin Shixian, Gao Yusheng and Chen Yijin, renowned coconut carving masters in Hainan.

The dedication paid off when Zhang was chosen to work on two vases made from coconut shells that the government of Hainan was to present to Macao as a gift in 1999. Zhang was one of just 300 workers chosen to work on the project.

"It was a great honor and I was extremely proud," Zhang says.

Those in the craft regard the two vases, 1.99 meters high, with a maximum diameter of 800 centimeters, and weighing 80 kilogram each, as masterpieces. They are made from 5,200 coconut shells of similar color and luster, and about 32,000 sweet-scented osmanthus and 60,000 grains of sand form part of the finished vases.

"We spent the whole year on those two vases," Zhang says.

With those two works, Zhang's fame in the craft was assured.

The Hainan government also gave one of Zhang's works as a gift to Singapore's prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong, in 2013.

Ten years earlier, Zhang had left the carving factory but remained devoted to his craft.

"The factory shut down and most of the workers moved on to other things," he says. "Only a few are still coconut carvers."

Zhang has been invited to various cities and counties in Hainan to teach young people the craft, and at one stage he had a shop in Haikou in which he gave lessons free of charge. However, he was forced to close the shop after a year because the rent was too onerous.

Zhang has had many students from far and wide, including overseas, over the years, but most have eventually given up, he says.

"You can't really pass on your carving skills that easily, and it is difficult to make enough money to make ends meet, especially if you have a family to support. Still, I really want the craft to continue, so I am willing to teach anyone who is willing to learn."

This year Zhang, never too old to learn, went to Suzhou, Jiangsu province, to learn something more about his craft.

"I got the chance to work with a professional drawing teacher, and it helped me a lot. Drawing is the essential skill in coconut carving."

Now that his two children have grown up he can devote himself even more to carving, he says.

Coconut carving is regarded as a low-cost craft compared with sculpture and other forms of art. Zhang says he got his carving knives 59 years ago, and for them to be effective all he needs to do is sharpen them from time to time.

Coconut shells can easily be bought at the market for about 5 yuan (70 cents) each, and he is expert at discerning the best ones in terms of shape, color and hardness.

"But the perfect coconut shell is like a once-in-a-lifetime chance, a one in a million happening."

Shop owners have a good idea of Zhang's needs and make a point of saving coconuts with any unusual shape for him. In his home he has about 30 of his own works, and people have offered good money for them, but Zhang has turned them down.

"These are family treasures and not for sale," Zhang says.

And in the master craftsman himself, his son Zhang Minjie sees a treasure.

"I admire my father and am proud of him. There is always something I can learn from him."

Contact the writer at liuxiaoli@chinadaily.com.cn


Zhang Xingfu says he got his carving knives 59 years ago, and for them to be effective all he needs to do is sharpen them from time to time.Photos By Liu Xiaoli / China Daily


2016-10-04 08:02:25
<![CDATA[Internet star finds a city that tames his passion for travel]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2016-10/04/content_26969809.htm Donning a pink wig and pajamas to match, Josselin Sautetner, 32, a Frenchman, appeared in a music video singing a Chinese love song in various areas of Kunming, Yunnan province.

The song Sautetner sang, Thinking of You So Much, is a catchy number that has become popular in China over the past year.

It has appealed particularly to young female singers in music videos performing it in cities across the country to promote local travel attractions with a special appeal to young lovers.

Sautetner became an internet star after his music video presenting the delights of Kunming became a hit on Sina Weibo. The video was played more than 10,000 times just hours after going on the internet.

Sautetner, from Lyon, arrived in scenic Kunming in southwest China last November and was bowled over by its charms.

He calls himself "a Kunming resident from France", and he considers the city a haven that has allowed him to refocus on what is important in life.

It is not difficult to spot him. He is more than 190 cm tall and tends to stand out, as does his ability to speak various languages. When talking to China Daily, he exchanged greetings in pitch-perfect Chinese, and his Gallic roots give him a charm and vitality that seem boundless.

His passion for travel has taken him to a few countries, and he can speak English and Dutch.

In a previous life he had a steady job in the Netherlands but the urge to see, to explore, to reach out would not be compromised. He went to Africa to reflect on what he wanted to do.

After returning to France his wanderlust had probably only got worse, he says, and he came to China at the invitation of a friend in 2007.

He took the opportunity to visit a number of cities, including Beijing, Shanghai, Sanya in Hainan province and Chongqing.

Something was changing; he still had a yearning to experience the new, but the destination seemed to fit his requirements.

Even with little understanding of Chinese he was attracted by the culture.

"Deep in my heart I knew I was going to live in China," he says.

However, he had other matters to attend to, and he left, but returned in 2011 for a friend's wedding. It was not until last November, when he arrived for a third time, that he decided to settle in Kunming. "Although I have been to other provinces and cities, I was deeply intrigued by the climate and environment. It is wonderful here."

While in Europe, Sautetner was determined to learn more about China and improve his communications skills. He searched for Chinese-language songs on the internet and tried to familiarize himself with the lyrics, a dictionary on hand for anything he could not understand.

After settling in Kunming he was even more determined to get a grip on the language and enrolled in a course.

Now he can communicate with locals in simple Chinese and understand a lot of what he reads in newspapers, and he spends between four and five hours a day on the four key language skills: listening, reading, speaking and writing.

He uses WeChat in Chinese, he says, Asked about his online fame, Sautetner says making videos is simply a hobby and he has been amazed by the attention they have drawn.

"I'm an optimistic and extroverted person... I want to spread my joy by sharing videos."

The wig and pajamas, he says, allow him to take on an alter ego and become confident enough to sing in public.

Sautetner said he plans to produce a video every week and put it online. One offering, Because of Love, was released on Sept 2.

He prefers directing to singing and dancing, he says.

While he has no plans to leave Kunming, he realizes life can lead you to unexpected places, he says.

He wants to master the language and become a French language teacher in China. One expects this will come relatively easily to him given that he has already done a lot of the hard work.



Josselin Sautetner considers the city a haven that has allowed him to refocus on what is important in life.Shi Wenzhi / China Daily

2016-10-04 08:02:25
<![CDATA[The town that gives weight to sports]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2016-10/03/content_26964869.htm A small town in South China's Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region is a cradle of weightlifters.

Shi Zhiyong won the weightlifting gold in the 69-kilogram class at the Rio Olympic Games on Aug 10, and more than anywhere else the ripples of his achievement were felt in Wutong, a small town in Guilin, Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region.

Since the 1960s, Wutong, with a population of about 60,000 today, has produced more than 70 medalists in international weightlifting competitions, including Tang Lingsheng, a gold medalist at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, United States. In Wutong, people have been practicing martial arts for more than 2,000 years. It has many legends about dalishi, or men with unusual strength, and in front of many homes there are huge stone blocks which residents use in different ways to boost their strength.

Lion dance during festivals provides is an important occasion for dalishi, as the show ends with a martial arts performance. It is also the best time for kungfu masters to demonstrate their skills and strength.

"Troupes from different villages regard it as a competition," says Li Zhijian, a 53-year-old Wutong resident. "The martial arts performance is a matter of pride for a village. Participants take it very seriously."

Wutong residents believe strength is the foundation of good martial arts. Li remembers his physical education teacher in primary school, who used a hammer to pound his back ostensibly to strengthen his body.

The Wutong Center Primary School, which Li refers to, is a cradle of weightlifting champions. Shi and Tang, Olympic gold medalists both, graduated from the school under the guidance of PE teacher Tang Yungui, now 65 years old, who has been helping school students realize their weightlifting potential for more than 30 years.

Guilin hosted the Guangxi weightlifting championship in 1958, which had a deep impact on Wutong residents. Xiao Mingxiang, the first Wutong resident to break a world weightlifting record in the 1960s became the pride of the town's residents.

Tang was a student of the school when his PE teacher, realizing he had more strength than his fellow students, encouraged him to practice barbells. "Barbells can be really heavy, but the PE teacher's guidance stimulated my interest," Tang says. "Since Xiao was my hero at that time, my dream was to break world record."

But the "cultural revolution" (1966-76) ended his regular training regime at his most productive age. So, after completing junior middle school, he had no choice but to fall back on farming. "I thought my relationship with weightlifting had ended," Tang says. But he didn't stop practicing weightlifting.

Come the 1980s and Tang joined the school as a PE teacher and weightlifting trainer with about 40 students under his wing, including Tang Lingsheng and Xiao Jiangang, nephew of Xiao Mingxiang and a bronze medalist at the Atlanta Games and gold medal winner at the 1997 World Weightlifting Championship. At that time, the team had only one set of barbells so stone blocks were used in training.

For more than 30 years, Tang's daily training regime has been the same. He leads students on a jogging drill along a river at 6 am, and conducts their training class after school. For parents, his team is an "amateur sports school". Tang often tells students that if they try their best, they can become world champions.

"Weightlifting is part of my life. I will not give it up till the last day of my life. This is the belief I live by," Tang says.

The central government gives a subsidy grant of 600 yuan ($91) per month for his contribution to weightlifting as a sports discipline. He lives in the school and works on the farm when he has time.

Although the school gym, built in 2010, can accommodate 100 students, their number has shrunk from about 50 in the 1990s to 10 today. This is a big source of concern for him. "In the 1980s and 1990s, poor families believed weightlifting would help their children climb up the social ladder," Tang says. "But today children have more choices to build a better future. Very few are ready to endure the physical hardship of weightlifting."

Tang's son Tang Huazhou has followed in his footsteps. He is a PE teacher and weightlifting coach in the same school. With a bachelor's degree in PE, Tang Huazhou, 34, thinks differently from his father.

"People of my father's generation thought more about national and family pride. But today's youths are more practical and have more choices to plan their career," he says. "I hope weightlifters can learn more practical knowledge and skills that will help them build their careers, especially after they retire from active sports."

The Wutong local government has decided to build a weightlifting-themed park. "Not everybody can lift three times his/her weight overhead, even for a few seconds," Tang Huazhou says. "But everybody can draw inspiration from sportsmanship and help preserve the spirit of sports."



2016-10-03 08:38:00
<![CDATA[Amateur scholar brings a dialect to the fore]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2016-10/03/content_26964868.htm Ding Xu's computer is only 2 meters away from his wife's sewing machine, a breadwinner for the family. With the sound of the sewing machine in the background, Ding spent 34 years writing the first book on the roots of Hui people's dialect in Xi'an, Northwest China's Shaanxi province.

At the ceremony to launch the 500-page book in May in Xi'an, many Hui culture scholars, while lauding his work, said Ding had done something they should have done long ago.

"This is a wonderful work on language contact," says Sun Lixin, a researcher at the Shaanxi Academy Social Sciences. Language contact refers to the use of a dialect by people who influence the semantic development of a multiethnic community, according to Sun.

A 68-year-old retired worker today, Ding was born into the oldest Hui community in Qiaozikou in Xi'an and has lived there all his life.

"The Hui community is like a dialect island", Ding says. "People say the Hui ethnic group does not have its own language. What I am doing is trying to tell them that they are wrong, and the Huis not only have a language, but also their language has a long history and has deeply influenced the development of the city."

Attracted as he was to the evolution of Hui people's dialect from childhood, Ding turned his fascination of language into research after he enrolled in a college for adults in 1982 and majored in linguistics. He has an unquenchable thirst for words and expressions, and collected everything related to Hui people's culture, language and history in Xi'an. For about 30 years, Ding always carried a notebook and penned down every expression with Hui characteristics.

"Some words are only used by senior citizens today. When people die, some of the expressions they use die with them." Ding says. "I had to catch them all in time. Some witty remarks carry multiple meanings. Once they disappear, it's like a piece of diamond falling into the sea."

He started sorting his materials and drafting the book after 2003, when he retired from the factory where he worked. In 2004, a relative gifted him a computer. Crippled by high fever at the age of 13, Ding walks with a limp in one leg and has developed a hump, conditions that have aggravated with age. He wrote the book on the computer sitting on a wheelchair.

"I am a slow-witted person, so it took me decades to complete the march (which others could have covered in a few years)," Ding says. He loves French writer Honore de Balzac and is determined to become a historian of the Hui language.

"He seemed exhausted when he first held the book," says his wife. "He exhausted his energy writing the book."

Apart from conducting field research, Ding also learned Persian, Arabic, Turkish, Mongolian, Tibetan and Manchurian languages, which have played important roles in the development of Hui people's dialect in Xi'an.


The Hui people in China are an ethnic group made up of many sub groups, which include Uygurs, Kazaks, Arabs, Persians, Turks, Hans, Manchus and Mongolians, and believe in Islam. "The Hui people are an example of successful inter-ethnic fusion in China. Their dialect in Xi'an is a mixture of many languages, with the Chinese language as a base. Their dialect reflects their wisdom, humor and history," Ding says. For example, gangchuo means a leg in Hui people's dialect in Xi'an, a word that has its origin in a noun in Persian language which means "walking stick" and has a similar pronunciation.

"The Hui people's dialect in Xi'an is like a pearl in the treasure trove of Chinese culture and an important dialect of Northwest China. It has historical, cultural, ethnic and religious characteristics. And I have tried to highlight these characteristics."

Fa Dima, a Hui resident in Xi'an interested books, says: "Ding's book is easy reading. It reminds me of my childhood that I spent in my grandparents' home." She adds: "I didn't realize many words had disappeared from my vocabulary till I read Ding's book. It looks like a book on the Hui people. But it's a book for the world."


2016-10-03 08:38:00
<![CDATA[Xi'an and its Hui connection]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2016-10/03/content_26964867.htm

Xi'an, capital of Shaanxi province, was the starting point of the Silk Road during the Han Dynasty (202-220). Xi'an, then known as Chang'an, became an international metropolis as China's capital during the Tang Dynasty (618-907). Diplomatic envoys, businesspeople, missionaries and foreign students visited the city in droves those days.

During the Tang Dynasty, four immigrants from the Middle East and Central Asia reached Xi'an; they were to become the progenitors of the Hui people in China.

The khalifa or ruler of Arabia sent his envoy to Xi'an in 651 and thus introduced Islam to China. In the next 150 years, Arabian envoys came to China in 37 batches, and more than 4,000 of them settled in Xi'an. Some businesspeople from Persia and Central Asia also made Xi'an their home.

The ruler of Arabia also sent soldiers to Xi'an to help the Tang Dynasty rulers quell a rebellion between 755 and 763. Many of the soldiers, who were from Arabia, as well as Turkey and Central Asia, chose to make the city their home.

In the 880s, some Muslims of the Shia sect moved to northern China, earning their livelihoods by trading in cattle, and many of them settled in Xi'an. In the middle of the 9th century, people of nine families from Central Asia traveled to Xi'an and settled in the city. And some families in the suburbs of Xi'an still carry the names of those nine families.

During the Song Dynasty (960-1279), the Western Xia (1038-1227) rulers controlled the Hexi Corridor of the Silk Road in Gansu province and stopped immigrants from entering China. During the same period, the already settled immigrants started building mosques and forming their own communities in Xi'an.

During the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), imperial officials moved many Hui people from the Hexi Corridor to Shaanxi and Henan provinces. And during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), some Hui people moved from eastern China to Shaanxi. In late 18th century, Xi'an had eight large mosques and 13 Hui communities. About 91 percent of the 1.7 million Hui people in Shaanxi left the province after a rebellion in 1862, according Lu Weidong, a professor of historical geography at Fudan University in Shanghai.

During the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression (1937-45), many Hui people from Henan, Shandong and Hebei provinces fled to Xi'an. And in the early part of this century, about 70,000 Hui people were living in Xi'an, according to the city government.

2016-10-03 08:38:00
<![CDATA[Power play]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2016-10/02/content_26960095.htm Chinese nuclear companies should integrate technologies with this British supply chain to boost localization, says former head of UK Atomic Energy Authority

China has great nuclear capabilities and the integration of its technology into Britain's supply chain will benefit both nations, according to Barbara Judge, an influential industry consultant.

With the Hinkley Point power station finally getting the go-ahead, China is now hoping the Hualong One, its domestically made third-generation reactor, will pass Britain's rigorous generic design assessment, with an eye to it being included in a proposed plant at Bradwell, southeast England.

The reactor passed the International Atomic Energy Agency's generic reactor safety review in 2014, showing that it meets international standards.

"I understand perfectly why the Chinese would like to build Bradwell," says Judge, a former chairwoman of the UK Atomic Energy Authority who continues to advise governments and companies on the nuclear sector.

She explains that receiving approval from the UK Office of Nuclear Regulation means it will be easier to export Hualong One to other developed nations.

"If the Chinese indigenous nuclear technology is approved, it will be in the interest of the Chinese to build a power plant (in Britain), because they can use that example as a way to sell their technology to other countries.

"China will benefit from increased economies of scale of nuclear projects when involved in more projects overseas," she adds. "It's natural for China to want to develop overseas nuclear markets, as it is what many other countries with great nuclear capabilities are doing, including the United States, France, Japan, (South) Korea and Russia."

British Prime Minister Theresa May gave the green light in September to the Hinkley Point power station, which will be built in the West Country at an estimated cost of 18 billion pounds ($23.3 billion; 20.7 billion euros). Construction will be carried out by France's EDF, the main investor, while China General Nuclear Power Group will provide part of the funding.

The nuclear project will be the first built with Chinese investment in a developed market, marking a breakthrough for the nation's industry.

China has 35 nuclear reactors, with 20 more under construction, and aims to have at least 110 in operation by 2030. So far, however, domestic companies have participated only in projects in developing countries, including Argentina and Saudi Arabia.

As part of CGN's agreement with EDF to collaborate on Hinkley, the companies also will cooperate in two more British projects, at Bradwell in Essex and Sizewell in Suffolk.

Judge, who founded the UK-China Business Leaders Club, says Chinese nuclear companies should incorporate Britain's industry supply chain into their technology to localize designs for the UK market. This technology can then be exported to international markets, which would benefit Britain and China, she says.

British companies in the nuclear industry supply chain are now in talks to incorporate their technologies with that of potential Chinese partners.

Rolls-Royce, for example, signed agreements with CGN, China National Nuclear Corp and State Nuclear Power Technology Corp in 2014 to work together on projects in Britain and China. The company will support Chinese enterprises throughout the lifecycle of a nuclear project, offering engineering support, components and systems, emergency diesel generators, supply chain management and instrumentation and control technology.

"It's important for the Chinese to utilize the UK's nuclear industry supply chain in their proposed projects," Judge says, adding that it is also important "for China and the UK to develop a strong working relationship for projects in other countries".

Chinese companies are looking to participate further in Britain's nuclear sector by developing small modular nuclear reactors, which have a capacity of less than 300 megawatts. They are smaller than traditional nuclear plants and cheaper to build.

The SMR concept has been around for years - China, South Korea, the US and Russia all have designs - but so far no one has been able to build on a commercial scale.

After the British government launched a competition to find the best-value design for future projects, China National Nuclear Corp signed a deal with the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, which is led by Sheffield and Manchester universities, to collaborate on localizing its SMR design, the ACP100, should it win.

The government has committed 250 million pounds over the next five years to the competition, which is run by the UK Department for Energy and Climate Change.

"I'm a supporter of SMRs as they are quicker to build and less expensive," Judge says, although she adds that the main challenge is that regulators will not approve technology that does not have a customer, and customers will not invest in a project that uses technology that has not been approved.

"I'm a supporter of nuclear technology because it provides base load power generation without carbon, therefore is an important energy source. Nuclear energy technology is at an advanced stage of development, and China has an important role to play to push forward nuclear development."

Judge, a native of New York, began her career as a lawyer and was made partner at Kaye, Scholer, Fierman, Hays & Handler in 1978. Two years later, US President Jimmy Carter appointed her to the Securities and Exchange Commission in Washington. At 32, she was the youngest SEC commissioner and only its second woman.

In 2002, she became director of the UK Atomic Energy Authority and went on to serve as its chairwoman from 2004 to 2010.

A long-time advocate for strong UK-China relations, Judge first visited China as a tourist almost four decades ago.

"I was probably one of the earliest American tourists," she says. "I knew China would change, and I wanted to see the country before that happened.

"On my first trip I visited Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and Hangzhou. There were few foreigners back then and people were pulling my long blonde hair to see if it was real."

She has since been many times for business and is a director of several companies expanding in the Chinese market. She has also formed a partnership with Eve Group to help the Chinese fashion brand to enter Western markets.

In addition, Judge has given lectures at Chinese universities and says people in the West can learn from China's approach to education.

"I mostly lecture on nuclear power and the topic of women's education," she says. "I believe that for women to gain equality, they should study math, science and engineering. Chinese women are doing very well in these areas."



2016-10-02 08:07:21
<![CDATA[Strength that's only an atom deep]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2016-09/18/content_26817555.htm A new material made up of a thin layer of pure carbon may give China profound opportunities, a leading British expert says

China can play a globally significant role in graphene development and commercialization through scientific research, coordinating international scientific exchanges, and production, says Robert Young, a renowned graphene scientist and a professor of polymer science and technology at the University of Manchester.

Young, who is leading a major graphene collaboration between the UK's National Graphene Institute and the Beijing Institute of Aeronautical Materials, voiced support for the Chinese government's focus and push on developing graphene, adding that he is impressed by the good, fundamental knowledge of graphene already acquired by Chinese science organizations.

Robert Young says China and the UK can cooperate greatly in graphene research. Provided to China Daily

Graphene is one of the most interesting inventions of modern times, and has the potential to transform the field of material science. A thin layer of pure carbon, it is tougher than a diamond, yet very lightweight, and easily conducts electricity and heat. It has been used for a wide variety of applications, from strengthening tennis rackets to building semiconductors.

Graphene was first isolated from the mineral graphite at the University of Manchester by Andre Geim and Kostya Novoselov in 2004. The achievement earned them the Nobel Prize in physics in 2010. Owing to its short history, its commercial potential has yet to be unlocked.

"China's high-tech manufacturing industry, ability to invest heavily in the graphene sector and its abundance of highly qualified graphene industry talent all contribute to its advantages in the graphene industry," Young says.

He says China is going in the right direction in giving graphene an important role in its policies, such as in the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20), which sets out the country's development objectives.

China and the UK can cooperate greatly in graphene research in two key ways, Young says. "First, the exchange of talent is important. For example, in my team there are several Chinese PhD students doing graphene research, and I would expect they will in the future return to China and share their knowledge and expertise."

The other contribution China can make to the global graphene field is the hosting of academic and industrial conferences, to facilitate more discussions and exchange of ideas in the area, he says, adding that one example is the GraphChina conference in Qingdao in August, which facilitates graphene industry discussions.

Graphene has an important role to play for China, especially as it has been discovered at a time when China's electronics industry is also developing rapidly and will able to make the most of this material, Young says.

"Chinese industries are much more sophisticated compared with 20 years ago, and graphene can also greatly help China achieve its ambition of a structural shift toward high-end manufacturing," he says.

Currently, 70 percent of graphene's raw material, graphite, is found in China, giving Chinese graphene manufacturers a big advantage. To make the most of such an advantage, China has also established five graphene industrial parks to accelerate the industrialization of the material. The parks are located in Changzhou, Wuxi, Ningbo, Qingdao and Chongqing.

According to statistics from the UK's National Physical Laboratory, China has applied for 47 percent of the world's total graphene patents, and is currently the world's biggest applicant country.

The Beijing-based market intelligence firm ResearchInChina estimates that China's graphene market will grow to 200 million yuan ($30 million; 26.6 million euros) in 2018, compared with the current global market of $65 million. The global market in 2015 was worth $24.4 million.

Young completed his doctorate in materials science at the University of Cambridge 1972. Over the past few decades, he has worked with several groundbreaking materials including carbon nanotubes - cylindrical carbon molecules useful in nanotechnology and other fields - when they became popular 15 years ago. But he says graphene is the most interesting because it holds more potential.

Carbon nanotubes are atomically similar to graphene, but are harder to handle during processing, and do not have as wide and diverse a set of functions, so they do not appear to hold as much potential, he says.

"Graphene is an interesting material because it is thin, only one atom thick, but is very strong and stiff. It has multiple advantages, including the ability to conduct electricity well, to conduct heat well, and it is transparent.

"The interest in graphene is due to its multiple complex characteristics, as well as the attention it has attracted toward 2D materials, which were already discovered decades ago, but their potential can now be fully realized by combining them with graphene." Substances made up of a single layer of atoms are called 2D materials.

To fully unlock graphene's potential, commercialization is needed. The standardization of graphene production and securing production that is cost effective and of high quality are big challenges.

Young's team is working on the creation of a uniform standard for graphene. Standardization gives users of graphene reliable information on the chemical composition and structure of the material they receive.

"China can contribute a lot to this standardization process, because of China's abundant graphite deposits and its interest in pushing forward the standardization agenda. Once standards are created and adopted, ensuring consistency and cost efficiency shouldn't be too difficult, because the production of graphene is not a particularly expensive process," he says.

Young is leading two research collaborations with Chinese organizations. The first, in collaboration with the Beijing institute, examines how graphene could transform the transport sector by making aircraft and high-speed rail systems tougher and lighter. The research examines the effect of adding graphene to metals, including copper and aluminum, and to rubber and polymer resins. Aluminum is used mostly for the structural elements of aircraft, and adding graphene could make it tougher and stiffer.

Copper is used mostly for the electrical wires, and graphene could improve conductivity. Rubber components on an aircraft are mostly used for seals, such as around doors and windows. Polymer resins are used for adhesives, used to join components together, as in the case of composites. Adding graphene could make them more durable.

Young says this work mainly involves primary level research, and the Beijing institute would use the results for commercialization in China and globally.

In addition, Young is working with Hong Kong Polytechnic University on the applications of graphene in flexible electronics, such as its incorporation into clothing.

Despite graphene's numerous benefits, some scientists have questioned whether it will live up to its full potential, since attention could be drawn away by newer groundbreaking materials. That has been a pattern repeated with breakthroughs in recent decades. In the 1980s and '90s there was carbon 60, in the '90s and 2000s there was nanotubes, and now there's graphene.

But Young believes graphene will withstand the test of time. "Its electronic properties are unique. It is not only interesting in itself, but has also revived a huge interest in other 2D materials."

Such 2D materials have unusual characteristics that advance scientific development in applications such as photovoltaics, semiconductors, electrodes and water purification.

"Graphene's discovery also happened at a time when the world had developed the right analytical techniques to understand and reveal graphene's characteristics, and also a pool of applications, such as flexible electronics, opened up," he says.


2016-09-18 14:01:57
<![CDATA[Innovative plans map path for developing nations]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2016-09/18/content_26817533.htm China's success in the green economy will help to shape a new global growth model

China's efforts to balance sustainable, innovative economic growth with environmental protection is drawing a road map for other developing nations to follow, according to Indian consultant Pavan Sukhdev.

"By championing the green economy, China has embarked on an unenviable and rarely trodden path, the results of which will be the foundation of future growth models," says Sukhdev, the founder of GIST Advisory in Mumbai.

PAVAN SUKHDEV, founder of GIST Advisory, believes China is on the right path toward balancing economic growth and environmental conservation. Lucie Morangi / China Daily

He believes the efforts and support from the Chinese government show the confidence it has in devising innovative strategies that promote sustainable economic growth.

GIST Advisory, an offshoot the Green Indian States Trust, an NGO promoting sustainable development, helps governments and corporations to evaluate their impact on humans and the natural environment.

Sukhdev says China has taken up its responsibility as the world's second-largest economy by setting the right tone for future development, as evidenced in its 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20), which puts environmental conservation ahead of economic growth.

The plan comes at a time when there is a strong push to jump-start the global economy. However, he says several United Nations reports have used China as an example to show that this growth model can be achieved with the right political will.

"China has a big population and is seen as the world's factory, which comes with a whole range of environmental and ecological challenges," says Sukhdev, a goodwill ambassador for the UN Environment Programme. "But we can see that the country is well informed about the consequences of the 'brown economy' and is building a resources saving and environmentally friendly society using well-researched concepts. And it is working."

The 13th Five-Year Plan includes policies targeting renewable energy, energy efficiency and industrial production. Reports also indicate the country has met, or even surpassed, carbon emissions reduction goals in the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-15), and that the nation's renewable energy industry is already booming.

"China has about 60 percent of the world's solar heaters. Its solar energy industry is ahead and will probably dominate the global market," Sukhdev says. "The green economy is opening up opportunities for Chinese entrepreneurs."

Subsequently, he says, China is at the forefront of promoting capacity building to support the green economy, an area in which many countries are failing as they focus on fears of job losses and a small global market, rather than taking note of consumer trends.

"The millennial generation is interested in a cleaner and sustainable system. This means one cannot continue investing in the brown economy. China is preparing for this new era."

There are challenges, of course. China's coal industry, for example, employs more than 5 million people, so the transition to green energy needs to generate sufficient alternative jobs.

Nevertheless, China has a leg up compared with other advanced developing nations, such as India, Sukhdev says.

"There are many examples, but the one I like best is solar technology. Five years ago, I led a UNEP study (that found) one success story was solar heating in China, with about 40 million households using solar panels to heat water rather than coal.

"The green method is definitely cheaper and friendlier to the growing elderly population affected by rheumatoid arthritis and in need of viable, cheap heating solutions."

Such technologies could easily be deployed in Africa, he says, adding that the continent presents a big market for this industry and that Chinese companies are uniquely positioned to catalyze a green revolution there.

Africa's edge comes from its ability to start from scratch with minimal disruptions, he says. "Countries can start anew and decide on a new direction, away from the brown economy."

Despite the growing appetite recently among African leaders to invest in coal power, Sukhdev says China's renewable technologies, and its own trajectory toward the green economy, could prove invaluable.

"The brown economy offers visible benefits, but the costs are hidden. In the green economy, the results and costs are visible. This is what leaders need to weigh when making decisions."

Sukhdev is a board member of the Global Reporting Initiative, a network that helps developing nations to evaluate the risks of foreign investment in the extraction of natural resources. About 25,000 corporations and nations follow its guidelines, including some Chinese companies.

The guidelines are applicable for African states preparing for industrial takeoff, he says. "Governments have to recognize that investment is not a gift, but a means to an end, which should not inflict extra costs on a nation with national resources."

While the numbers of international funds and green projects are on the upswing, Sukhdev says regional institutions such as the African Development Bank are surpassing their goals, an indication of positive momentum toward the green economy in Africa.

He says a positive economic and social revolution is waiting to happen on the continent, and partnerships can make it happen faster. As part of the UNEP's Partnership For Action on Green Economy initiative, countries can draw lessons and find models that work, he adds.

"It creates learning opportunities. No one country has achieved complete success, but everyone is moving forward."

One member of the initiative is Jiangsu province in eastern China. Nestled in the Yangtze River Delta, the province enjoyed an economic boom that took a heavy toll on its environment. It has since introduced stringent measures to reverse the trend and has turned to the UNEP for support.

"I believe the success that will be recorded (in Jiangsu) will be replicated in other provinces, which will also join the program."

Sukhdev is optimistic of the initiative's success as it is based on partnerships and modeled on achieving economic transformation. "It's finally all about the economy," he adds.


2016-09-18 14:01:57
<![CDATA[Using the 'fan economy' to build franchises]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2016-09/17/content_26811006.htm iQiyi, the web-based entertainment arm of Chinese tech giant Baidu, will start to broadcast in October, a series based on the popular crime novel Mei Ren Wei Xian that loosely translates to "beauty lies within the dumpling", in a first major exploration of its franchise-building abilities, a senior company executive says.

Text is being turned into gold in China's entertainment world

iQiyi, the web-based entertainment arm of Chinese tech giant Baidu, will start to broadcast in October, a series based on the popular crime novel Mei Ren Wei Xian that loosely translates to "beauty lies within the dumpling", in a first major exploration of its franchise-building abilities, a senior company executive says.

Written for the web by an in-house team, the 36-episode thriller would also be adapted for the big screen and as a cellphone game in the future, Dai Ying, general manager, online drama production, iQiyi, says.

Since it became a fully-owned subsidiary of Baidu in 2012, her company has purchased the copyrights for more than two dozen novels, adapting them into web series in genres such as fantasy, suspense and romance. The Journey of Flower, a Taoist legend taken from an online script and then TV series, was among the biggest splashes on its streaming site last year.

Converting literary content to films, TV or web series, and games is a rising trend in China's entertainment world today. Seen aggressively in the works in the past year or so, this phenomenon feeds off what trade analysts describe as the "fan economy", running into billions of yuan. The valuation of companies is also said to increase when they buy such copyrights.

The rights of "entertainment industrial property", commonly known by its local shorthand "IP" (or intellectual property), include the copying, issuance, rental, exhibition, performance, broadcasting, dissemination, adaptation and translation of literature or art, and are generally valid for a limited period of time, according to multiple analysts.

Other than Baidu, tech giants such as Alibaba and Tencent are hiring writers to scour internet content that can be used to build entertainment franchises, targeted largely at young and wealthy Chinese. In this regard, fantasy seems to be a top theme. One-fifth of all dramas under production at iQiyi, for instance, are from this genre.

The tradition of outsourcing scriptwriting has been replaced by internal teams at such companies.

"This makes our engagement more active," Dai says.

Both young and old Chinese have shown interest in remakes of South Korean dramas and reality TV shows, encouraging Chinese companies to buy foreign copyrights, too.

Tiny Times, the film franchise on the lives of young, upwardly mobile Chinese, is probably the most successful example of the relatively new business. The four installments so far have made at least $200 million in box-office revenues. The franchise was born from a 2008 novel written by the films' director Guo Jingming. The book was adapted into a musical last year.

The Lost Tomb and Nirvana in Fire are two recent hit web series originally taken from online books for TV.

"The investment risk of turning them (original content) into movies and TV series is quite low. That's why it has become a popular trend," says Gu Wancheng, senior vice-president, projects, Peacock Mountain Culture & Media Ltd, a private Chinese company in Beijing.

It isn't strictly fashioned after Hollywood as Chinese have always liked reading novels and playing video or phone games, she says. Building entertainment franchises has been a longtime business in the United States but companies there have taken the more traditional approach - keeping their eyes trained on best-selling books.

The copyright business is largely driven by the market in China, says celebrated author Liu Cixin, who is the first Chinese to win top global recognition in science fiction for The Three Body Problem, his first book of a trilogy, published in 2008. The three-body problem is a concept in classical mechanics.

A startup to handle copyrights related to science fiction has also been set up in the country, the Xinhua News Agency said in a recent report.

With a surge in the copyright trade, online communities where literature is discussed can be found at sites like Jin Jiang and Douban. Tech companies offering web entertainment are also vigorously developing phone apps that roll film-viewing and social forums into one, with Icast Show, Yi Zhibo, Meipai and Miaopai to name a few, Gu says.

That writers are reaping the riches from this trend is evident from available data.

In 2015, the market for online literature in the country touched 7 billion yuan ($1.05 billion), an increase of 25 percent from the previous year. It is estimated to rise by 2 billion yuan this year.

Online literature has helped many writers realize their creative dreams and has given cheaper access to literature to millions of Chinese, Wu Shulin, deputy director general, Publishing Association of China, said at the annual cross-media StoryDrive event in Beijing in May.

According to Hou Xiaoqiang, founder of the Shenzhen-based entertainment company China Wit Media, 14 of China's 20 top-grossing films and 30 percent of the popular TV series were derived from copyrighted content in 2015.

Even so, a certain amount of skepticism remains.

Liang Zhenhua, a professor at Beijing Normal University, senses a threat to serious literature from this trend but calls it transformative nevertheless.

Xu Fan contributed to this story.

Contact the writers through satarupa@chinadaily.com.cn


Posters of film, TV and web series The Lost Tomb, Nirvana in Fire and Mei Ren Wei Xian, and the latest Tiny Times film (clockwise from top). The shows and films are examples of how online books are being adapted in China. Photos Provided To China Daily


2016-09-17 09:08:28
<![CDATA[Chinese sci-fi author explores galaxies beyond printed words]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2016-09/17/content_26811005.htm The 2015 Hugo Award-winner, who lives in Yangquan, North China's Shanxi province, says he is looking to build a franchise of his works. A film adapted from the first book of the 53-year old's Three Body trilogy will likely be released in 2017. The interview has been translated from Chinese

What do you feel about the relatively new model of adapting books into films, TV or web series and video games in China?

In recent years there have been rapid developments in China's film and TV industries, especially the film business. A number of box-office successes and popular TV series have been adapted from literary works, mainly novels, which has made the copyright business lucrative.

But while that may be good news for both films and literature, there are factors that could lead to an overheating of the market.

Is it inspired by Hollywood?

Hollywood has had a big affect on the Chinese box office, which no doubt has inspired local entertainment. But China's film and TV industries at present aren't following the Hollywood model of making big-budget science-fiction films, for example.

Is your Three Body trilogy being adapted?

Parts of the Three Body trilogy are being adapted into films, TV shows, stage plays and games. A stage play based on the first part (The Three Body Problem) was successfully shown in the cities of Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou (in June). A film based on the first book is in post-production now. It is expected to be released by the middle of 2017.

Have you thought of turning your novels into video games or web series?

I certainly hope that my works can be made into games and network shows. In addition to the trilogy, I'm looking for collaboration on my other works.

Is sci-fi a popular genre in Chinese web entertainment today?

Science fiction has penetrated aspects of online entertainment but it is still a parallel genre much like the novels, so the online audience is comparatively smaller.

How are established authors responding to the trend of companies hiring people to write scripts online?

It is a big trend in film and TV - raising the incomes of writers and making their works known. But such creations are different from writing in the traditional sense, because when you work for a company, you also need to work with a team and not just as an individual writer.

Online writers are producing good writing but often the works aren't noticed by readers or even people from the industry because there are too many such novels. There should be some mechanism to select the better works from the pool by, let's say, the establishment of online literature awards.

With more tech companies getting into web-based entertainment, are cinema and TV likely to suffer a decline in the future?

When TV appeared on the scene, many thought it would be the end of films but that didn't happen. The development of online entertainment will definitely affect films and TV but they have their own advantages, and they can use the web to improve and promote the two industries. The three art forms will coexist in the long term.


Liu Cixin, an author who shot to prominence after publication of The Three Body Problem. Provided Tochina Daily


2016-09-17 09:08:28
<![CDATA[Lost in folds]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2016-09/16/content_26806562.htm Qin, 31, has an incredible ability, and a driving passion, to bring a piece of paper to life by working and folding it into works of art.

Qin Kun is hungry but he refrains from using his hand to pick a morsel of sushi. He does use his hands, however, for judging and feeling the paper that he shapes into intricate representations of animals and insects.

No scissors, no glue, no cutting, Qin works day and night in this pursuit.

Qin, 31, has an incredible ability, and a driving passion, to bring a piece of paper to life by working and folding it into works of art.

"I keep folding without knowing where I am heading for," Qin said "but then an idea grabs me until it blows my mind."

For years, he toiled on origami pieces alone in his studio in Guilin until one of his works, a paper mantis, was recently sold to a Spanish collector for 210,000 yuan ($31,400).

Some people think it's incredible, they see nothing but a piece of paper transformed by my work, he said.

But collectors who know about origami view it as high art, he added, and most of them are foreigners.

There are about 3 to 4 million people in China who dabble in origami and modern communications and the internet means that they can discuss their hobby and work with even the most skilled practitioner.

It's free to talk to anyone on the internet even those masters who have achieved international fame," Qin said.

Under a nom de guerre of Soma Cruz, Qin posts pictures of his work on the internet, sharing his love of origami with thousands of e-pals.

In 2006 Qin struck up communication over the internet with Eric Joisel, a French sculptor and paper-folding artist, considered among the finest origami masters in the world.

"It's quite amusing for the two of us to exchange ideas in poor English, so most of the time he just showed me how he went about his work on video", said Qin.

Joisel's friendship and encouragement inspired Qin.

Qin took a course in animal science and veterinary medicine at a secondary vocational school in Nanning, capital city of Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region in 2007, to better understand the "structure of animals".

Born to a tailor's family, Qin showed his talent in primary school.

I had no interest in study, he said, and would fold paper at every opportunity, he said.

He devoted himself to origami after leaving vocational school and quickly produced some amazing work.

His work, like that of any artist, is time consuming.

"Folding takes much longer than you expect, usually dozens of days for a work like the mantis, but if you work on an especially delicate one, then you can only make two or three a year."

Neither can any work be copied, each piece has its own unique character and the intricate detail cannot be repeated.

"Everybody can work out a base according to a crease pattern, but the shaping of the basic figure depends more on talent and creation", explained Qin. "Just think of how to create emotion from paper."

One such piece of work saw the creation of a monkey king, with each hair delicately crafted. After 20 days sweating and concentration, the work was finally completed and it is estimated to be worth more than 1 million yuan.

Among the works he highly values is a dwarf he made in 2014 when he thought he must do something special to mourn the passing of Joisel who died in 2010.

Joisel was renowned for his dwarf series, especially for their gestures, so Qin created a dwarf saluting, in tribute to a man he describes as a selfless origami master.

"Eric passed away, but his style stays. The most valuable lesson he passed on to me was not about folding skills but the universal truth that spending time on things you are not fond of is equal to wasting life."



Qin Kun devotes himself to origami and produces some amazing work. None of his works can be copied, each piece has its own unique character.Liu Jiaoqing / For China Daily



2016-09-16 09:43:26
<![CDATA[Japanese journalist focuses on wartime atrocities of Japan]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2016-09/16/content_26806561.htm Takuya Kobayashi, Beijing bureau chief of the Japanese Communist Party's official newspaper Shimbun Akahata, has paid several visits to the same Chinese county to report on a slaughter more than 70 years ago by the Japanese imperial army.

"I have been to Nan county in Hunan province," he said. "This act of Japanese aggression is little known even to the Chinese in other parts of the country and