版权所有 - 中国日报�(ChinaDaily) China Daily <![CDATA[Leaving a permanent impression]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/18/content_36406845.htm In 2005, when Yang Mingjie got a national medical doctor license, she disobeyed her family wishes and chose to work in a cosmetic surgery clinic.

]]>
Cosmetic surgery treatments that enhance overall personality gain in popularity

In 2005, when Yang Mingjie got a national medical doctor license, she disobeyed her family wishes and chose to work in a cosmetic surgery clinic.

Now, she is an experienced cosmetic surgeon and an expert in nasal surgery, and her private practice, Dalian Calmagic Cosmetic Clinic, established in 2015, has customers from all over China.

Each operation Yang performs costs the customer about 60,000 yuan ($9,368) to 80,000 yuan, and yet people need to book for a consultation and an operation at least one to three months in advance. The monthly revenue of the clinic ranges from 800,000 yuan to 1 million yuan, and about 20 percent of the customers are male, according to Yang.

"When I chose cosmetic surgery as a profession, cosmetic procedures were only for the very rich or those people who made a living out of beautiful looks," Yang said.

"Now things are different. Our customers come from various walks of life."

In 2016, the Chinese cosmetic procedure market was worth 87 billion yuan, and the number will rise to 464 billion yuan in 2020, at a compound annual growth rate of 40 percent, according to a report released by consultancy firm Deloitte last year.

With Chinese people's income and living standards rising steadily, their demand for good looks and cosmetic procedures have increased exponentially, the report said.

Chinese customers of cosmetic procedures - surgical or nonsurgical - range across age groups and those who opt for such procedures do so for improving their living or career standards and for social advancement, said Jin Xing, founder and CEO of Soyoung, China's leading online shopping and social media platform for cosmetic procedures.

Xiao Tian, a white-collar worker in the e-commerce industry in Beijing, said cosmetic procedures have become a necessity for her.

Born in 1990, she had double eyelid surgery in September 2015, and nose and chin surgeries two months later, which were followed by facial contouring and other injections later that year.

In December 2016, she redid her eyelids, removed a chin prosthesis, and had facial liposuction and filling.

Last year, she had two facelifts, one facial fat filling and hair planting procedures. She also had teeth aligning treatment, and is now undergoing regular cosmetic procedures on her skin, such as laser treatment.

"Cosmetic procedures have not only changed my looks, but also my life. It has brought me a better social life and career opportunities," Xiao said.

For Zhang Yuelin, a 24-year-old who runs a startup selling cotton tissue paper and an executive of a local company in Wuhan, Hubei province, cosmetic procedures are an integral part of daily life. "I care for how I look, and I want to be beautiful and youthful all the time," Zhang said.

"For me, cosmetic procedures are just like any daily beauty care product that helps me keep in good shape. But they are much more effective and the effect lasts a long time."

She had double eyelid surgery, one of the most popular cosmetic procedures in China, as soon as she passed the national college entrance examination. The operation was a reward for her hard work at high school and a way to make a good impression on her college classmates, she said.

It was not an easy decision to have facial surgery, especially when her family tried to scare her off by talking about plastic surgery failures, but finally, her craving for a pretty face overcame her fear and hesitation.

Since then, Zhang has had several surgeries to make her double eyelids more perfect, and also had micro cosmetic procedures, such as hyaluronic acid injection, from time to time.

Now, she has intense pulsed light therapy monthly to have clear skin complexion. The treatment, also known as photofacial or photorejuvenation, uses lasers or intense pulsed light to treat skin conditions and remove wrinkles, spots and textures.

"I want to have a decent life with a forever young and beautiful look, just like the so-called beautiful witches in Japan. They are senior in age but their faces show no signs of aging," said Zhang.

Both Xiao and Zhang said many of their friends, male or female, resort to cosmetic procedures to have good looks, as an improvement of their quality of life.

Discussing about where to have quality cosmetic procedures has become popular small talk for many young people nowadays, they said.

Xiao and Zhang like to share their cosmetic procedure experiences online, under the nickname of "Potato Sweet Potato" and "Ying Yue" respectively, and see many followers consulting them about cosmetic procedures.

In fact, the allure of cosmetic procedures has reached seniors also. Traditionally, Chinese seniors, especially female seniors, do not care much about their looks. But the situation is changing, as people now have the money and the patience to care for their looks and life quality, said Jin from Soyoung.

Zhang said her mother became attracted to cosmetic procedures after using them to restore youth at her encouragement. Now, cosmetic procedures are among Zhang's most cherished presents for her mother.

Just like the booming tourism industry, the increasing popularity of cosmetic procedures in China reflects the fact that average Chinese people are becoming rich enough to pursue spiritual pleasure, said cosmetic surgeon Yang.

She noted that cosmetic procedures are medical and invasive, and advised people to have such treatments given by qualified professionals in qualified facilities.

liuzhihua@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2018-06-18 07:28:40
<![CDATA[Beauty procedure market witnesses rapid transformation]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/18/content_36406844.htm The cosmetic procedure market in China is undergoing a rapid transformation in line with its exponential growth, says Jin Xing, founder and CEO of Soyoung, a leading online e-commerce and social media platform on cosmetic procedures.

One of the most significant changes has been the sizable chunk of people aged under 30 in the total number of people undergoing cosmetic procedures, he said.

Jin estimated that almost half of the people having cosmetic procedures are younger than 30. On Soyoung, nearly 70 percent of its registered 30 million users were born after 1990.

For one thing, young people are more open-minded about new technologies and services, and many of them regard cosmetic procedures as convenient and effective means to become attractive.

For another, the overall income of Chinese people has been increasing rapidly, while the prices of cosmetic services are reducing quickly due to a sharp drop in costs for marketing and customer acquisition, thanks to social media and e-commerce platforms such as Soyoung, and fierce competition among cosmetic procedure providers, Jin said.

An average injection of hyaluronic acid now costs less than 1,000 yuan ($156), whereas the price was about 6,000 yuan to 8,000 yuan five years ago. The number of cosmetic procedure entities in Beijing increased from about 230 three years ago to more than 400 now, according to Jin.

Customers have also become more rational towards cosmetic procedures, he added.

In the past, when considering having cosmetic procedures, people used to think only about surgeries to get double eyelids, a high nose, a pointy chin and bigger breasts, and some simply wanted to copy celebrities' facial features. Now, people want to have not only attractive features but also the overall harmony of features. In addition to having facial surgeries, they also spend money on enhancing the overall looks of the body, such as having a lipolysis treatment that removes unwanted fat deposits, according to Jin.

It is now widely known that cosmetic procedures are medical and only licensed professionals and facilities are allowed to provide such services, he said. Before having a cosmetic procedure, people will search for information on the procedure and compare doctors and facilities before making a final decision, he said.

People also care a lot about health and fitness, according to Jin. For instance, an increasing number of women have procedures to reshape private parts for a better sex life, he said.

However, Jin said he is concerned about some customers and providers of cosmetic procedures overlooking the medical risk, which can cause great damage to the prosperous industry.

Despite the maturity of cosmetic procedure technologies, these treatments are medical and invasive, which means they need to be conducted in a sterile environment and are not 100 percent safety ensured, he said.

As having cosmetic procedures seem to be fashionable among young people, they tend to forget that any neglect in such a medical treatment could lead to unwanted consequences, Jin said.

Yang Mingjie, a Dalian-based cosmetic surgeon in Liaoning province, said she is worried that growing demand for such procedures has attracted unqualified service providers, which will bring high risks to customers. Cosmetic procedures should be provided carefully and prudently, she said.

]]>
2018-06-18 07:28:40
<![CDATA[Men add fizz to race for perfect makeovers]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/18/content_36406843.htm Though men are still in a minority when it comes to cosmetic makeovers, the number of male customers opting for plastic surgeries for cosmetic reasons is increasing steadily, industry sources said.

For most of the men aged between 30 and 50, the onus is more on enhancement of features for improving their masculinity and many of them do this through cosmetic procedures, said Jin Xing, founder and CEO of Soyoung, China's leading e-commerce and social media platform covering cosmetic procedures.

About 17 percent of Soyoung's 30 million registered users are men, while five years ago, men were only of one tenth of the total users, Jin said.

A 25-year-old Beijing resident who asked to be identified as Ming Ming said many people around him, both male and female, have undergone cosmetic procedures.

"When you look good, you feel good," Ming said. "Besides, when you look good, people want to make friends with you. Therefore, it will benefit your career, and you also have better choices for a relationship."

The most popular procedures among men he knows are hair implants, nose jobs, and eyelid surgery.

Ming is now very satisfied with his look after he had his nose, chin and eyelids reshaped through surgeries in the past few years. He has also had nonsurgical procedures, such as abdomen liposuction and facial-contouring injections.

Running an art and performance training agency, Ming said he is considering using dental veneers to have "celebrity-like" smiles.

Wu Wenyun, founder and president of Myoung BeauCare Clinic, a private practice famous for nose and facial procedures, said that an increasing number of men are just as worried about their appearances as women.

Wu used to work at a major military hospital and founded the clinic in 2013. Through his observation, he found that men in first-tier cities are more likely to care about how they look and resort to cosmetic procedures.

About 60 percent of his customers work in the entertainment or fashion industries, where looking good is important for career development. For the rest, some want to be more confident and happy through enhancing appearances; some have cosmetic procedures because they have high expectations for their quality of life, and want to look young and handsome; and some, mostly businessmen, believe that facial contouring and features influence a man's fortune, and want to be luckier through improvement in contouring and features, Wu said.

The male customers at his clinic are mostly aged between 20 and 40.

liuzhihua@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2018-06-18 07:28:40
<![CDATA[PUTTING WORDS INTO PRACTICE]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/18/content_36406777.htm Like many other fields, the translation industry has been significantly reshaped by the growth of artificial intelligence in recent years.

]]>
The powerful influence of artificial intelligence is already fueling the market for portable real-time translation devices used for travel and business. Cao Chen reports.

Like many other fields, the translation industry has been significantly reshaped by the growth of artificial intelligence in recent years.

A report compiled by the future of humanity institute at Oxford University in June last year said that machine learning researchers predicted all human jobs may be automated within 120 years.

As for translating languages, it is believed AI will outperform humans within the next 40 years.

However, you don't have to wait that long to understand the powerful influence that machine translation is already having, where AI translations are often chosen as the preferred tool for many situations, especially business and travel.

In China, the products developed by iFly Tek, one of China's largest tech companies engaged in the artificial intelligence sector, usually top the list of inventions offering multilingual interpreting and translation functions.

In 2015, the Anhui-based firm manufactured a 50-centimeter-high robot to serve as an interpreter for the opening ceremony of in the 19th RoboCup World Championships.

In 2017, the iFLY Tek portable translator, the company's first generation of pocket-size instant translation devices, hit the market, offering translation from speech, the machine picks up Chinese and five other languages.

Over 200,000 units have been sold in 135 countries, according to data from the company.

In April this year, the second generation of devices was unveiled in Beijing, which enables real-time audio or text translation between Chinese and 33 other languages, including Polish, Tamil, and Hungarian, in addition to the more frequently-used ones like English and French.

Priced at 2,999 yuan, the portable device features a 2.4-inch touch screen and a camera, and can recognize several Chinese dialects, including Sichuan, Henan and Cantonese.

Chinese internet company Sougou has also entered the growing market for portable translation machines.

In January, the company produced an AI-powered, portable translation device dubbed the Sogou Travel Translator, to meet the translation needs of millions of outbound Chinese tourists.

The device features a 3.1-inch high-resolution touch screen, which can translate dialogue from 17 languages including Chinese, English, German, Arabic and Russian, into the target language in real-time.

The offline translation mode also allows real-time translation between English and Chinese.

Meanwhile, other smart translation devices, including the Sogou Smart Translation Recorder, and a new generation of multipurpose translation applications have also been launched for use in classes, meetings and other similar situations.

The upgraded portable translation device called the Sogou Smart Recording Translator was introduced in May, retailing at 398 yuan in China

The device supports the recording, transcription, translation and interpretation of both real-time and recorded conversations to and from 18 different languages, including Chinese, Arabic and Russian.

While impressive progress has been made in the world of smart translation, it remains a challenging task for a machine to gather as much data from real-world interactions as possible.

Experts said the role of human translators may be in editing the content produced by the combined cooperation of machines undertaking the role of translation, before stand-alone artificial intelligence can independently be developed for the market.

Zhou Wenting contributed to this story.

 

A Chinese couple traveling abroad use a portable translator when asking directions from a local. The iPod-sized translator, designed by Beijing Babel Technology, is one of hundreds of its kind popular among Chinese tourists. Provided to China Daily

]]>
2018-06-18 07:27:23
<![CDATA[China turns to AI for healthcare boost]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/18/content_36406776.htm Artificial intelligence is being increasingly used in medicine to examine medical scans and spot signs of diabetes, among other applications. In China, artificial intelligence is expected to play a much bigger role than many other countries, especially since there are only 1.5 doctors for every 1,000 people in the country, compared with 2.5 for every thousand in the United States, according to MIT Technology Review.

As part of its nationwide AI push, the country has been beefing up its healthcare facilities using the latest AI technology. Local researchers are already developing a variety of AI tools for medicine, including ones that can assist staff members at drug rehab centers to assess levels of addiction and another that helps children suffering from autism to improve their perception of people and surrounding environment.

In Shanghai, nearly 1,000 addicts in three of the city's five rehab centers, including one for exclusively for females, have been using a virtual reality system complete with an eye-movement tracking system when users put on a VR helmet and "walk into" scenes with drugs. Their eye movement and biological indicators, such as their heart rate and skin conductivity, are recorded in an objective way to show their levels of addiction.

Around 1,000 children suffering from autism in the city have also been using a VR system simulating real-life scenarios for interactive training.

In some cases, AI can do more than just assist medical professionals, it can also help the counter the affects of the country's acute shortage of doctors.

One hospital in Guangzhou, for instance, has been testing an AI system for the diagnosis of autism in children aged as young as 2 years old. The system, jointly developed by the Third Affiliated Hospital of Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou and the Duke Kunshan University, has achieved an 80 percent accuracy rate in screening 120 toddlers who were diagnosed with autism, the team behind the system said during a recent forum at DKU.

The system represents a major development in screening for child autism, which is considered a challenge in China due to the lack of experienced pediatricians who can perform accurate diagnoses.

Experts predict more AI tools will be developed in the country. A recent report from the International Data Cooperation predicted that China's market for AI healthcare services would grow to $930 million by 2022.

zhouwenting@chinadaily.com.cn

 

A doctor in one of Shanghai's rehab centers fits a VR helmet on a patient to test his addiction levels. Provided to China Daily

]]>
2018-06-18 07:27:23
<![CDATA[Driverless vehicles edge closer to reality]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/18/content_36406775.htm More driverless vehicles are entering people's daily lives in the Chinese transportation sector.

A recent report on public recognition and social attitudes toward AI technology released by Fudan University in May reveals that driverless cars are the best-known example of artificial intelligence's huge impact on life today in the country.

Specifically, many cases in the global transport hub of Shanghai demonstrate this point.

In March, a new metro line with driverless trains, equipped with intercoms, emergency alerts, smoke detectors and emergency brakes, was tested in the city. The Automated People Mover system on the Pujiang Line, which stretches for 6.7 kilometers and links Huizhen Road with Shendu Highway Station, will allow passengers to transfer to metro line 8.

At Shanghai Jiao Tong University, a trial run of a driverless minibus service has been in operation since April for on-campus commuting. Three eight-seat vehicles, guided by a map stored in a big data-based cloud platform, can pick up passengers and take them to the stop they select by scanning a QR code.

The driverless cars were developed jointly by the university's Research Institute of Intelligence Vehicles and a company specializing in the research and production of automatic driving systems.

In the same month, driverless sweeper trucks designed by a Shanghai-based company started tests at the Tus-Caohejing Science Park in the city.

The fleet of unmanned vehicles, comprising 3-and 6-meter-long vehicles, can self-activate every night at 2 am and clean the streets before dumping the trash and returning to their parking spots.

The smart trucks can deal with a variety of traffic conditions, including detecting traffic lights and road side barriers.

Driverless vehicles are also entering the field of manufacturing, represented by a newly-developed heavy-duty driverless truck put on a trial run in the city's logistics park in May, developed by Chinese consumer electronics retailer, Suning.

The prospect of streets filled with driverless cars moved one step closer to becoming a reality after a Shanghai unicorn company announced in late May that they plan to roll out two artificial intelligence towns featuring driverless vehicles in the city and in Jiangsu province within three months, making them the first of their kind in China.

The rising use of AI technology in transportation has received a warm welcome from the general Chinese population.

A global automotive consumer study released by Deloitte in June found that the China has the lowest percentage of consumers who think fully autonomous vehicles present a danger to road users out of any country in the Asia-Pacific region. This level of doubt is expected to decrease.

caochen@chinadaily.com.cn

 

Passengers get on a driverless minibus at Shanghai Jiao Tong University in May. Provided to China Daily

]]>
2018-06-18 07:27:23
<![CDATA[Threading tradition into the present day]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/18/content_36406774.htm Since her childhood, when she would watch her mother at work, Luo Jun has been pursuing her ambition to preserve the traditional embroidery of the Yi ethnic group and bring real benefits to her fellow embroiderers in Yunnan province.

]]>
Traditional craft of the Yi ethnic group enjoys a strong renaissance

Since her childhood, when she would watch her mother at work, Luo Jun has been pursuing her ambition to preserve the traditional embroidery of the Yi ethnic group and bring real benefits to her fellow embroiderers in Yunnan province.

"Embroidering has been part of my family for generations, like many other families in Yi communities. My mother was highly skilled in Yi-style needlework and costume-making. Her work formed my first impressions of beauty," Luo said.

Locals have a saying that Yi women can embroider as long as they have a needle and thread.

However, Yi people have another custom; children should burn the embroidery of their mothers after they pass away.

"When my mom told me that, I burst into tears and wanted to keep the traditional craft alive," she said. "So, like many other Yi girls, I started to learn embroidery."

Luo also understood that a love of needlework would not enough to keep the skill alive. She would have to find another way. So she started a company.

The company, focusing on Yi-style embroidery products, was established in 2009.

Local women get paid for their embroidery and the raw materials are provided by the company, which provides the necessary training and then sells the products.

By starting her own business, Luo, chairman of the Miyilu Ethnic Costume Co., has managed to fulfill her ambition and at the same time given an opportunity to local women to make a living through their needlework, and in turn pass on the traditional skills to another generation.

Helping others

Many people living in mountainous regions have few ways to make living aside from farming.

But after training, embroiderers can earn as much as 70,000 yuan ($11,100) a year working for her company, an exceptionally high salary for people living in mountainous Dayao county in the Chuxiong Yi autonomous prefecture, one of the country's two prefectures for the ethnic group.

In 2010, only 36 women joined the company so Luo started to organize training to inform women about the skill and the demand for the embroidery.

In the first few years, the company did not turn a profit. At that time, even Luo herself had little concept of "making a product". But her passion drove her on. And the business grew, with more local women joining. But selling the pieces was still difficult.

"Embroiderers know how to make, but they don't know how to sell," Luo said.

But she persevered. After conducting research and surveys, the company discovered more about their potential market and what customers might want.

The company then started to offer training courses on new patterns and designs. Meanwhile, more products were offered, ranging from pillows, wallets to decorations for vehicles.

The company's strategy finally paid off. Now more than 3,000 embroiderers work for the company and its revenues were more than 20 million yuan last year, a year-on-year increase of more than 25 percent.

Long process of transformation

Liang Bofa, a sales manager of Miyilu's branch in Kunming, the provincial capital, proudly displays a piece of embroidery, about 4 meters in length and 1 meter wide. "Camellias are embroidered on this piece, which usually takes more than two embroiderers more than a year to make," he said.

Liang explains that the camellia is a popular flower among the Yi people, but such a big piece is extremely rare. "Embroidery needs patience and persistence, otherwise the works will not be beautiful and will not be accepted by buyers," he said.

Luo said women of the Yi ethnic group were "born with the gene to make beautiful artwork", but the fact that every woman has her own view about beauty made it a long and difficult process to make the embroidery a commercial prospect.

For example, Yi people favor natural colors such as dark red and green. However, many potential customers prefer less-dominant hues.

Therefore, training and quality control are necessary to ensure the embroidery can be sold.

For Luo, if the traditional craft is to survive, it has to accept the latest fashion trends.

New role

Luo's contribution in promoting and saving ethnic culture and increasing income for her workers has won her recognition. In January, she was elected a deputy to the 13th National People's Congress, the only one in her county.

The new identity started a new phase in her life.

"Behind me are thousands of embroiderers and inheritors of intangible cultural heritage. So I must speak for them, calling for more support to prolong our traditional arts and techniques," Luo said.

Before the NPC annual session in March, Luo surveyed many embroiderers in Dayao's Tanhua township. She found some young embroiderers were uncertain about the future.

Therefore, Luo was especially interested in sections of the Government Work Report on the development of ethnic culture and micro-sized enterprises.

During the congress, she suggested that more support should be given to small enterprises in the cultural sector as well as industries based on intangible ethnic cultural heritages.

Brands should be made for these industries related to ethnic culture, she wrote in the suggestions. Following her return to Dayao after the NPC session concluded, Luo propagated key policies for her company, local communities and among some local officials.

"Many people paid attention to the sessions and I explained more about key agendas such as the constitutional amendment," Luo said with pride.

"As a deputy from a border area, I will focus on rural affairs, including poverty alleviation. I will strive to be voice for local people, so they get more attention and support as a deputy elected by local people," she added.

huyongqi@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2018-06-18 07:26:43
<![CDATA[Green dream dawns for a rainforest lost and regained]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/18/content_36406773.htm At the foot of Niuling Mountain in the southeast of Hainan island, lies a mysterious valley that is a palace of plants - from lowly weeds to the nobility of flowers.

Named Xinglong Tropical Garden, located a little bit north of the northern altitude of 18 degrees, the garden is home to more than 1 million trees belonging to 4,500 tropical species.

Famed as a natural oxygen bar, it boasts more than 65 kinds of rare plants that are on the endangered list, such as Shorea roxb, Hainan palm, Dracaena cochinchinensis, Vatica astrotricha, and Dalbergia odorifera, all collected from other places, both in China and overseas.

The garden is the fruit of 26 years of painstaking toil and scientific exploration by Zheng Wentai. Standing in the center of his huge tropical rainforest garden that radiate around for more than 800 hectares, one cannot help but be overcome with emotion by the amazing power arising from a deep rooted dream, courage and persistence.

"My friends said I was crazy, throwing large sums of money into a piece of unprofitable wasteland, and my parents even threatened to break off relations with me when I decided to launch my long-cherished plan to rehabilitate the forest in Xinglong in 1992," recalled Zheng, who is wearing a plaid shirt, a pair of blue jeans and Chinese slippers, his standard wear when working in his garden. And although 73 and thin, he remains incredibly fit.

Early days

Born in Indonesia in 1945, Zheng studied for four years at a middle school in Beijing and went to Xinglong in 1964, at the age of 19. He spent half his waking hours working and the other half studying at the Xinglong Overseas Chinese University, when he majored in tropical crops and plants. It was there Zheng developed his love for rainforests.

However, following the advice of his parents, he started his career in the early 1980s as a real estate developer after completing a university degree in architecture and design in the United Kingdom. And he made a handsome fortune in real estate.

Such that in 1992, at the age of 47, Zheng was able to say goodbye to his life as a successful realty boss and start his new life as a gardener, commencing to create the green world he had dreamed of .

"Traveling around China and overseas, I noticed the lack of environmental protection in the rush for economic development. And my heart ached during a visit to Xinglong, when I saw the once lush green land had become a barren Siberia after years of over-felling the trees," Zheng said, still sounding distressed at the memory.

"A serious illness in 1991 made me realize that life is short, and I must do something my heart really yearned for," Zheng continued, speaking standard Mandarin with a typical Beijing accent.

"Rainforests around the world are shrinking. So we must hurry up to save them before many species become lost," Zheng said, adding it was a difficult decision as it meant starting from scratch and required a huge amount of money.

But he decided to go ahead, selling his properties in Guangzhou, Hong Kong and Singapore for 100 million yuan ($15.58 million) and cooperating with the Xinglong Overseas Chinese Farm with the aim of building a brand new garden and a gene bank of tropical species for the nation.

More than 20 tropical plant experts were invited to be a think tank and a detailed long-term plan was drawn up. About 1,000 local workers were hired to help improve the soil and cultivate the seedlings of rare and endangered plants, some of which Zheng collected himself from overseas.

In his heart there is a list of rare plants that he is searching for. Whenever he learns about a certain rainforest plant, he will go see for himself without caring about the cost.

He was once rushed to hospital by friends after he fell from a cliff when searching for a cycad. The lucky thing was that he found the rare plant and has reproduced quite a number of them in his garden.

"We have tried hard to breed white Gironniera subaequalis, once a top-tier plant in Hainan's tropical rainforest, but so far little progress has been made. Maybe its associated species are no longer existing," said Zheng.

But a number of endangered plants are doing well having received good protection.

Stage two begins

Now Zheng has started the second stage of his rainforest rehabilitation growing epiphyte plants, such as mosses and orchids, a special yet indispensible part of tropical rainforests that boasts of 30,000 varieties around the world.

They grow on tree trunks and survive by absorbing rain, vapor and rotten materials on the trees.

"We have grown large areas of epiphyte plants, including various orchids, on the trees and rocks. Dendrobium is a beautiful epiphyte plant that flowers and also a precious plant for traditional Chinese medicine, that we are widely planting on trees in the garden. We are making the best use of every inch of the land by creating spatial gardens on the trees.

They help build a richer ecological structure and create some added economic benefits for the garden as well," said Zheng.

To protect their growth, he has temporarily closed the garden, which has become a popular four-star tourists site.

"I will reopen the garden to let people enjoy it at a proper time," said Zheng, sitting in his garden coffee bar, which is charmingly decorated with more than 200 kinds of blossoming orchids.

Some realty developers covet Zheng's garden and ask for a piece of land for housing projects inside. He refuses pointblank, although that would bring him a huge sum of money.

"I'm considering how to share with the local people the scientific research achievements my team has made in farm produce processing and developing new varieties of economic corps such as coffee, pineapple and lichi and tuberous crops," said Zheng.

Being an epicure himself, he has developed a number of delicious foods from local crops that people rarely ate before.

Every inch of earth in the garden gets good care from Zheng, said Xiao Wang, a worker at the garden.

For example, he said, one day Zheng stopped a visitor who was digging for earthworms to use as bait for fishing. Another day, he declined a visitor who tried to pick fruits from a waxapple tree, saying, "They are not for you, they are grown for the birds in the garden."

Zheng said his progress was still in its initial stages as "it takes at least 400 years to produce a sound system of tropical rainforest."

"It is now too early to judge what I have done. Compared with what I have spent, the garden is a much greater reward," said Zheng.

mazhiping@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2018-06-18 07:26:43
<![CDATA[Dragon boats and dumplings]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/17/content_36404008.htm Editor's note: Traditional and fusion cooking styles, regional and international ingredients and a new awareness of healthy eating are all factors contributing to an exciting time for Chinese cuisine. We explore the possibilities.

Every Chinese child knows the story of Qu Yuan, the folk hero who threw himself into a raging river when his country was vanquished three centuries before Christ was born. And every Chinese child would have listened wide-eyed to this patriotic tale while munching away on a zongzi, the glutinous rice dumpling.

These rice cakes, swaddled in reed or bamboo leaves, are supposed to commemorate his death, but were actually eaten long before that. Like many foods for festivities, they started off as sacrificial items.

 

Rice dumplings with peanuts, candied dates and salted duck egg yolk. Photos Provided to China Daily

As generations pass, the tale has begun to become more remote, but the dumplings have stayed on, just as the festival itself has now evolved and been named after the dragon boats themselves.

Its proper name is Duanwu, the midsummer festival, and it has been a tradition long before Qu Yuan and his tragic story, which only added to the romance of the origins.

Chinese all over the world eat zongzi at this time, although the dumplings have become everyday fare in certain communities.

Large zongzi full of savory glutinous rice and mung beans are eaten for breakfast in Guangdong province and Hong Kong, perfect as tummy fillers for those who need a carbohydrate hit to start the day. The attraction is a little square of pure fat rolled in fragrant five-spice powder tucked deep inside the saltwater dumpling, xianshuizongzi. The cube of lard moisturizes the rice and beans and is almost melted in the long cooking process.

This zongzi is often eaten drenched in sweet hoisin sauce or a spicy red chili oil.

An even larger cousin is the guozhengzong, the famous Cantonese steamed dumpling that is pillow-shaped and a full meal for a grown man. The ones from Zhaoqing are especially famous, with each weighing in at half a kilo.

Again, savory glutinous rice forms the base, with alternating layers of mung beans. It is then stuffed with a salted egg yolk, heavily seasoned slices of belly pork and lean pork, and wrapped up in a fragrant lotus leaf and steamed for hours.

Another very popular dumpling is the chaomizong, made with rice that is stir-fried with garlic and soy sauces to give it a darker color. This little pyramid is wrapped in a couple of bamboo leaves and often has dried Chinese mushrooms, chestnuts and fatty pork as filling.

They are close relatives of the Fujianese bakchang, or rou zongzi, and the fillings are similar.

In my grandmother's Fujianese household, the making of zongzi every year before Duanwu was a major undertaking.

Bundles of dried bamboo leaves had to be washed and individually scrubbed clean, then wiped dry.

Sacks of glutinous rice had to be carefully picked through and then soaked. Mung beans, too, had to be soaked and their skins laboriously removed.

Dried Chinese mushrooms would have their stems clipped off and then be rehydrated till they were nice and plump again. Similarly, dried chestnuts were soaked, and then the skin that was caught in the wrinkled folds of their flesh was carefully tweezered off.

Dozens of salted duck eggs had to be cracked, and their yolks removed. My grandmother insisted on using whole yolks for each of her dumplings, so we used up a lot of duck eggs.

Then, the special orders of pork would arrive and there would be a lot of cutting and seasoning. Every year, cases of top-quality soy sauces and the best five-spice powder went into the pots of carefully cut belly pork and chunks of lean pork leg.

On the day my grandma prepared to wrap the zongzi, bamboo poles would go up in the courtyard ready to hang the dumplings. And huge pots of boiling water would be started on the charcoal burners specially reserved for dumpling-making.

One of the aunts would be put in charge of the fires, armed with long tongs and gunnysacks of charcoal.

At the other end of the courtyard, the production line would start, with my grandmother leading the pack. It was she who would fold the dumplings into perfect pyramids, tying them with sea grass into neat bundles of 20, always with practiced ease.

Then, another aunt would bring the bundles over to be boiled.

Four to five hours later, the hot, dripping bundles would be hung up to dry on bamboo poles.

For the children, my grandmother also made tiny sweet pyramids of alkaline rice dumplings, which were golden yellow and chewy. These were dipped into granulated sugar or honey and would make us very happy.

The relatives who were given my grandmother's dumplings were always equally appreciative.

In the northern part of China, they prefer their dumplings sweetened with the addition of red bean paste or a puree of Chinese jujubes. The glutinous rice may also be mixed with millet or red beans.

Lotus nuts, candied osmanthus flowers and sweet chestnuts are other variations.

Whether it be sweet or savory, the dumpling is food that is most representative of the Duanwu festivities, not just in China, but wherever Chinese communities are gathered in the world.

paulined@chinadaily.com.cn

Recipe

Savory dumplings (simplified)

500g glutinous rice, soaked overnight

200g split mung beans, soaked

350g belly pork

20 dried Chinese mushrooms, soaked

20 dried chestnuts, soaked

10 salted egg yolks, cut in half

1 tablespoon oyster sauce

1 tablespoon dark soy sauce

1 teaspoon five-spice powder

40 pieces of large bamboo leaves, washed and dried

Cut belly pork into 20 pieces. Trim off the stems of Chinese mushrooms and cut caps in two. Marinate meat and mushrooms with the seasoning for at least two hours, or overnight in the fridge.

Drain the glutinous rice and beans.

Stack two bamboo leaves and use the broader stem ends to make a cone, leaving a tail of leaves at the other end. Place a spoonful of rice in the cone, spreading it up the sides so the meat, egg yolk, mushrooms and chestnut can be cradled in the hollow.

Add a spoonful of split peas followed by more glutinous rice to cover the filling.

Cup the cone firmly in your hand and fold over the leaves to create a flat base for the pyramid. Pinch the sides close and wrap the loose ends tightly around the dumpling. Secure with string or reed.

Boil the dumplings for at least four or five hours. Well cooked, the dumplings can keep for a week. Hang them up to dry before eating, so they will not taste soggy.

Variations:

Prepare walnut-sized balls of red bean paste. Soak the glutinous rice as usual.

Make the cone, add glutinous rice with a ball of red bean paste. Add more glutinous rice and wrap.

Boil three hours.

You can also skip the sweet filling and add soaked red beans to the rice. These dumplings are eaten with sweet syrup or sugar.

]]>
2018-06-17 10:49:53
<![CDATA[The art of variety]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/17/content_36404007.htm For the multitalented Lin Dihuan, life is not fully lived if you do only one thing or have just one career

Though not a professional artist, Lin Dihuan is extremely popular as a painter, thanks to his acclaimed works. These include a series of ink-and-brush paintings dedicated to the Chinese 24 Solar Terms and two series of stage settings tailored-made for the popular TV show Rendezvous With Chinese Poetry.

The 43-year-old teaches communication and design at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong province.

 

Paintings among the series of ink-and-brush works by Lin that are dedicated to the Chinese 24 Solar Terms.

Lin, a Guangdong native, became a celebrity after his 24 Solar Terms work was chosen as the illustration for the UNESCO heritage listing application.

His illustrations played an important role in getting the 24 Solar Terms - a treasure trove of knowledge developed through years of observing the sun's annual movements - added to UNESCO's List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in November 2016.

According to Lin, he spent nearly three months combining traditional Chinese elements with more contemporary aesthetics to produce the 24 Solar Terms series, which were originally created for his book on photography in 2012.

The paintings were based on his observations of rural life, which is closely connected with the solar terms. He used circular compositions with minimal strokes to depict each solar term's typical traits.

"I had no idea back then that my work would be a part of a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage application," he says.

Later, Lin's popularity soared even more when he was invited to do stage backdrops for Rendezvous With Chinese Poetry, broadcast on China Central Television.

The 10 works, based on lines from 10 ancient poems, wowed many with their impressive illustrations of the poems' content and with the painting techniques.

He was asked again last year to paint stage backdrops for the program's latest season.

Lin says his painting is based on traditional calligraphy, on which he spends more than 10 hours a week.

"Unlike many professional artists, I am not too focused on technique when I paint. I try to look at a painting with an outsider's perspective, and often bear in mind questions like what the painting can bring to me, to others and to the world," he says.

According to Lin, his style changes according to the themes, but the principle is that he has sympathy and a soft heart when painting, and tries to deliver that feeling to viewers.

Lin, who grew up in a rural family in the coastal city Zhanjiang, Guangdong province, has loved calligraphy and painting since he was a child.

When he was little, the family was too poor to afford regular art education, so he taught himself.

He used to spend his pocket money to buy books and magazines from recycling centers, and copy the paintings from them.

To cut costs, he learned to use a minimum palette and the simplest materials.

Lin started doing caricatures for magazines when he was in middle school and later followed his father's suggestion and studied clinical medicine in college.

However, instead of becoming a doctor like his classmates, Lin started doing administrative work at the university.

He says he made the decision because he felt he was too "unrestrained and vigorous" to be a doctor.

Since then, Lin has made full use of his free time to pursue his hobbies and "do anything I find interesting".

He became one of the first-generation web designers in China in the 1990s. And thanks to that, he was later transferred to the university's internet center, before eventually taking on his current position.

Speaking about how his career has progressed, Lin says he does not regret doing jobs unconnected with his college major.

"A man has only one life, and it is not fully lived if you do only one thing or have only one career," he says. "I dream of being a person who cannot be defined with a simple title."

In keeping with his creed, Lin took up photography in 2007.

He says he initially started taking pictures only to collect material for painting. He has traveled to more than 200 Chinese cities and taken more than 600,000 photos in the past few years.

He is now a member of the National Photographers Association and was recognized in 2012 as one of the most influential photographers of the year by the newspaper China Photography.

So far, he has published several books on photography, including his best-seller, Waiting for A Blossom. And he continues to record the lives of ordinary Chinese with his lens, and shoot photos about daily life in small cities and rural areas.

In the course of his work, he pays a lot of attention to left behind children and seniors in China's rural areas.

Speaking about the children, he says he remembers being shocked while photographing a 5-year-old girl in Weining, Guizhou province, during a trip there in 2016 as the girl was suffering from malnutrition and was poorly clothed in winter.

So he made up his mind to do something for those children. In the past couple of years, Lin has raised nearly 1 million yuan ($156,000; 131,000 euros; £116,000) through sales of his paintings to fund the education of the left behind children in a remote rural school in Weining.

He also organized several trips to send aid there, including clothes, books, stationery and snacks.

During his most recent visit to the area, Lin took along painting materials for the children.

Zhou Lu, a friend and fellow photography enthusiast, says, "He is always energetic."

Zhou also remembers Lin walking around a market for hours to find suitable clothes for the children.

In recent years, he has been spending a lot of his time on painting, including caricatures, which he regards as an important way to entertain himself and relax.

According to Lin, painting, photography, calligraphy and writing are just different means of expression.

"So, the most important thing is to choose the right form to express the right feelings," he says.

As a fan of traditional culture, Lin says he endeavors to present Chinese culture in his works, and provide a way for young people to get in touch with traditions.

According to his friend Guan Jianren, a researcher at Sun Yat-sen University, people like Lin's works because they connect traditional Chinese culture with modern life and awaken the "cultural genes" in the younger generation.

"They (the younger generation) find resonance in his works," says Guan.

Lin's caricatures, which feature traditional styles and materials, often reflect his observations of modern society. For example, some mock people's addiction to electronic devices.

"I hope that my caricatures can have a positive effect and make people optimistic," Lin says.

Asked how he deals with his celebrity status, Lin, who is now well known as a painter, photographer, calligrapher, columnist and author, says that becoming famous has not affected his daily life, and he manages to strike a good balance between his work and his hobbies.

Meanwhile, Lin updates his official account on WeChat, the popular social media platform, almost every day, posting pictures, new paintings or articles for more than 900,000 followers.

And he says he values his bond with his fans, whom he treats as friends.

As for his opinion of social media and the impact it has on his work, he says: "In the internet age, sharing works helps you get quick feedback. So it pushes artists to constantly adjust and innovate."

Lin believes that artworks are not only about self-expression, but should be meant for resonance. "When I create, I care about viewers' feelings, and try to make my work graceful, light and happy, a little candy for viewers," he says.

liuxiangrui@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2018-06-17 10:49:53
<![CDATA[A glass half full]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/17/content_36404006.htm With China's wine market set to become the world's second-largest by 2021, experts say the key to seizing a share of the sector is appealing to adventurous young consumers who are driving phenomenal growth

Located in Roussillon, a Catalan region in southern France that borders Spain, the famous Domaine de Rombeau winery is framed by rolling mountains and the Mediterranean Sea.

Averaging 2,500 hours of sunshine and no more than 600 millimeters of rainfall every year, the region's terroir allows the vineyard, which dates back to the early 18th century, to produce a variety of grapes with a remarkably high level of sweetness. The result is an exquisite wine that tastes similar to sherry and is well-received by consumers. Philippe Raspaud, the sixth-generation owner of the historic winery, calls this le gout du soleil, which means "the taste of the sun".

The wines produced in Roussillon account for 80 percent of the total in France, but Raspaud wants a larger share of the global market. China, he says, is key to achieving that goal.

"We want to sell to China because, in today's world, you simply cannot be absent from this market if you want to be qualified as a global brand," says the 35-year-old, who was in Shanghai before he participated in the 98th China Food and Drink Fair in Chengdu, Sichuan province.

"We see a huge gap between cheap supermarket offerings, mostly dominated by domestic wine producers, and super expensive offerings from regions such as Bordeaux, which even we French do not drink very often. No one has filled this gap for a decade," he says.

As the country's largest and oldest exhibition in the food and beverage industry, the trade fair has attracted upward of 3,000 exhibitors and 150,000 professional visitors this year. It is expected to consolidate 20 billion yuan ($3.18 billion; 2.68 billion euros; £2.37 billion) in transactions this year, half of which would be from the alcohol segment that includes wine, beer, liquor and Chinese baijiu.

China is the third-largest wine market in the world by value. According to a joint report released in February by Vinexpo, one of the largest exhibitions for wine and spirits in the world, and UK-based International Wine and Spirit Research, the growth rate of the Chinese wine market is forecast to exceed 30 percent over five years starting from 2017. By 2021, China is expected to become the second-largest wine market in the world, with a value of $23 billion, behind only the United States.

While the sales and export numbers of premium wines suffered after the Chinese central government rolled out a sweeping anti-corruption campaign in 2013, this at the same time resulted in a boom in the mass segment as more importers and dealers flooded the market with bottles that cost below $20.

Attracted by more affordable prices, young consumers have since poured into the market. Guillaume Deglise, CEO of Vinexpo, says that these buyers have become one of the key growth engines for the Chinese wine market.

"There used to be a weird phenomenon in China's wine circle where people who buy don't drink, and those who drink don't pay. Today we are very happy to see a rise of 'real drinkers' who shop based on their own preferences. This is definitely a good sign for any market looking for organic growth," says Deglise.

A consumer survey by UK consultancy Mintel found that a wine's origin is the most decisive factor for Chinese consumers when picking a bottle, and France, which is the largest wine exporter to China, is the most popular choice.

The 2017 survey, which polled about 2,500 young buyers, also found that wine standards or preferences have not emerged on a national basis, and Chinese consumers have yet to develop a loyalty to brands. This means a level playing field for new entrants to the Chinese wine market like Raspaud.

"I am told that Chinese consumers want to be different and individualistic, be it in their choice of wine or fashion," says Raspaud, who hopes to brand his wines as such.

Comparing high-end wine brand Laite to luxury label Louis Vuitton, the Frenchman says that his winery is the equivalent of an independent designer whose products are coveted by a small but passionate following.

He also says factors such as packaging and marketing matter more in China than in traditional markets like France or other European countries. As such, he has undertaken measures to redesign his wine labels exclusively for the Chinese market. Last year, Domaine de Rombeau exported 60,000 bottles of wine to China. Raspaud is hoping to double the amount this year.

Wang Shenghan, an e-commerce wine retailer based in Beijing, has an equally ambitious plan.

The 30-year-old's company, Lady Penguin, was one of the top performers on Taobao.com last year, raking in 50 million yuan in sales. She is confident of hitting 100 million yuan by the end of this year. She even says that "it would be an easy goal to accomplish".

The Beijing native, who graduated from Brown University in the US, developed an interest in wine while moonlighting at a three-star Michelin restaurant in New York. Her interest led her to spend a year learning about wine in France.

Wang later rose to fame in the virtual world after producing short videos about wine appreciation that were accompanied by hilarious narrations. In her videos, she would candidly compare the tastes of different wines to "an international hooker from Las Vegas" or "the hope of a developing country". Her videos, which are uploaded to her Sina Weibo account, have an average viewership of 600,000. She currently runs a team of 70 people that has produced 200 videos.

"I think people like watching my videos because I'm not technical or pretentious. I speak in terms people would understand," says Wang.

"Young people in China, especially those who have just started drinking wine, are tired of hearing wine terminology like terroir or tannin. That's definitely not the way to get people drinking."

Among those who took notice of her was Xu Xiaoping, widely considered the godfather of venture capital investment in China. With Xu's investment of 1 million yuan, Wang and two other partners established Penguin Guide, a food and drink education platform, in 2015. The next year, Wang started her own business, Lady Penguin, which focuses exclusively on wine.

According to Wang, most of Lady Penguin's customers are between 25 and 35 years old and come from first-tier cities like Shanghai and Guangzhou, Guangdong province.

"My customers don't have a strong preference for wines. Most of them just come with a certain budget, usually no more than 300 yuan, and let our customer service team select the wines for them," she says.

"From my perspective, wine drinking among young Chinese today is very much like restaurant hopping. They have a few favorites that they will keep returning to, but they're generally more eager to explore other options," she adds.

Looking ahead, Wang is planning to develop a wine education system that is suited to Chinese drinkers. Currently, most of the wine schools in China adopt the system created by The Wine and Spirit Education Trust in Britain in 1969. One of the key differences between these two systems is that Wang's would feature more wine pairings with Chinese cuisine.

"The dinner table is still the most important social occasion for the Chinese. And that's also where most of the wine will be consumed. So there should be a different approach to popularizing it," says Wang.

xujunqian@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2018-06-17 10:49:53
<![CDATA[Kids love to rock!]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/17/content_36404005.htm Dutch band targets its music at a younger audience to bridge the gap between cultures

Rock music met children's literature when a Dutch band toured China recently.

Hippe Gasten, a five-piece rock band whose music is aimed at children, was formed in 2005.

 

The audience of children and parents interacts with the band.

The band joined the Hand in Hand International Children's Music Festival for the fourth time in May and earlier this month, visiting five cities in China.

In their song Een Beetje Pippi, they sing about the delightful Pippi Longstocking, a little girl who never gets old. Pippi was created by Astrid Lindgren, a well-known Swiss children's author, in 1945.

The European character is popular with Chinese children and their parents, says Jon van den Elsen, the band's lead singer. The other band members are Daan Koch, who plays guitar; Richard Wallenburg, bass; Maurice Cramer, keyboards, and Bjorn van den Boom, drums.

"Kids are the best audience that you can have. They are honest. If they like it, you'll see them dance. If you don't like it, they'll put fingers on their ears," says Pieter van Dommelen, manager of the band.

Van Dommelen says the band member sing in Dutch, and on the China tour, Liu Jian, who created the festival with his American wife, translated the lyrics into Chinese and English for the audience.

"He added an extra layer of meaning to the lyrics - it's cool to be a girl, a tough girl. That makes it fit with Chinese culture and kids, we believe," says Van Dommelen. Pippi is also a TV character in the Netherlands, and her message is that you can be strong, confident and stay positive. She always says, "I've never done it before, but I think I can do it."

"We wrote the song hoping that everybody could have a little bit Pippi - power, imagination, positivity," Van Dommelen says.

Cultural exchanges are common these days. Children's interest in Chinese language and culture has soared in the United States and Europe in recent years, and it's a similar story the other way around.

US President Donald Trump's daughter, as well as the daughters of American investor and financial commentator James Beeland Rogers, became popular on social media platforms when they posted videos singing Chinese songs.

"Songs and music have become a new bridge for cultural interaction between Chinese and foreign kids, linking the world together in the new generation," says Su Haifeng, general manager of Lingo Bus, the Chinese-online-learning branch of education company VIPKID, which sponsored Hand in Hand.

"We teach various Chinese children's songs and music in our online class. In this way, kids will be more interested in a new culture and learn the language effectively," Su says.

By sponsoring the festival, Lingo Bus and VIPKID hope that more children around the world will become interested in foreign languages and cultures.

In a survey conducted by Lingo Bus on social media, more than 50 percent of children interviewed overseas said they planned to learn Chinese, and nearly all children in Beijing start learning English before primary school.

"Children and parents are making more efforts to learn new languages and cultures, so Lingo Bus aims to provide kids all across the world with a convenient and fun way to learn Chinese," Su says.

Lingo Bus takes a leading role in teaching Chinese overseas. Although it was launched less than a year ago, it has nearly 10,000 Chinese learners in 46 countries around the world, including the US, Canada and Egypt.

"From more than 10,000 applicants, we hired fewer than 500 Chinese teachers to ensure the quality of teaching. We aim to have 50,000 online students and 10,000 excellent teachers in three years, and become the top Chinese-learning platform for kids globally," Su says.

Hippe Gasten was invited by Hand in Hand to do a China tour in January last year, when Lingo Bus started.

"Music is quite universal. Children can feel the music, dancing and having fun," says Van Dommelen, adding that connections are made unconsciously, with audiences gaining interest in each other's cultures.

Koch, the guitarist, says that after shows the band members stay on the stage for half an hour and children can interact with them.

"They can approach us and touch the instruments. It's not far away anymore. Music is around them and so is the foreign culture," he says.

Singer Van den Elsen used to be a primary school teacher and says he noticed that music for children was mainly soft. There was a gap between baby music for kids under 4 years old and those over 12.

"That's where we jumped in," he says, adding that the band makes music for 6-to 99-year-olds.

Asked why he starts at 6, he says he used to say 8, thinking the band's music might be too noisy for younger children. "However, a 6-year-old came to me after a show and said, 'I like the music too, but I'm 6'."

Hippe Gasten wants children to know that music comes from instruments, not computers and other playing devices.

"You've got to show that. It's good and fun to present the truth behind music," says Koch, the guitarist. "Rock music for kids means direct and pure energy, the basic form. People start moving immediately. You see it. You don't have to ask."

The members of Hippe Gasten are happy to see that their music works in China as well as it does elsewhere. Bass player Wallenburg says that during their 13 years of presenting rock 'n' roll in the Netherlands and neighboring countries, they have developed a package of fun, positivity and energy. "And now it's coming to China," he says.

yandongjie@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2018-06-17 10:49:53
<![CDATA[SAFARI TIME]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/16/content_36402299.htm With hundreds of thousands of animals expected to arrive in Kenya's Masai Mara National Reserve to graze later this month, in a phenomenon in East Africa known as the great migration, the country's tourism officials have intensified efforts to attract Chinese tourists.

]]>
Lucie Morangi draws up a weeklong schedule for the benefit of tourists from China keen on visiting Kenya.

With hundreds of thousands of animals expected to arrive in Kenya's Masai Mara National Reserve to graze later this month, in a phenomenon in East Africa known as the great migration, the country's tourism officials have intensified efforts to attract Chinese tourists.

Last year, some 53,485 Chinese tourists visited Kenya, an increase of about 12 percent over 2016 and making China the fifth largest source market for Kenya.

The Magical Kenya campaign has been launched online by Kenya Tourism Board and it is promoting activities such as safari tours in Masai Mara. The government agency has also opened an official account on Chinese app WeChat and has uploaded a promotional video on Chinese streaming site Youku.

Usually it takes at least 15 hours to fly from China to Kenya. There are two weekly flights from Guangzhou to Nairobi, and a third is expected in July.

That country's immigration department has trained officers to speak in Mandarin so that the process of granting visas at airports there is hastened.

"You can apply for tourist visa online, it is very convenient," Wei Wang, a Chinese who works for Nairobi-based Long Ren Tours and Travel Ltd, said. Chinese tourists can also get visa on arrival.

Arrival

Once at Nairobi airport, the road trip of 16 kilometers will lead tourists to the city center, offering glimpses of life in the countryside as well as the urban hustle and bustle.

After checking into a hotel, one can choose from a host of tour options such as viewing giraffes or visiting an elephant orphanage located near Nairobi National Park and managed by Daphne Sheldrick, the widow of the well-known game warden David Sheldrick.

An entry ticket to the haven for elephants rescued from parks and reserves is 35 yuan ($5) per person.

Eating authentic Kenyan food for dinner while being entertained by traditional dancers might be a relaxing way to end the first day.

The Nairobi Gallery - in the heart of the city and housed in an old government building - is available for those with a taste for art. Locals used to refer to the building, constructed in 1913, as the place for "hatches, matches and dispatches", as births, marriages and deaths were recorded there.

The gallery is managed by Kenyan museums and showcases works by emerging African artists.

Day 2

An early morning departure from Nairobi will help tourists arrive at lunchtime in Amboseli National Park.

The park is famous for being the best place in Africa to get a close view of elephants among other wildlife species at the foothills near Mount Kilimanjaro, the dormant volcano in the neighboring country of Tanzania.

Other attractions in Amboseli include a visit to the Masai cultural village for an experience of the old culture.

The Amboseli Lodge, located 2 km or so from the park, has rustic cottages in the middle of nowhere, and one can get an online deal as low as only 705 yuan ($110) per night.

Day 3

After breakfast, a six-hour drive will get you to Naivasha in western Kenya's Rift Valley, where you can eat lunch at Naivasha Country Club hotel.

Relax in the afternoon by visiting Hell's Gate National Park known to be the only national park in Kenya, where you can choose to drive, walk or cycle to spice up your excursion.

A boat ride on Lake Naivasha can make your visit even better by allowing you to watch a variety of birds and hippos in the area.

Day 4

A two-hour drive after breakfast will see you arrive at the Lake Nakuru National Park, a bird lover's haven since it has more than 500 species, including one of the largest gatherings of long-crested eagles in the world. The park is home to rhinos, lions, leopards, hippos and the endangered Rothschild's giraffe.

The park is also where the other great migration happens.

Every year in Kenya, from April through June, flamingoes make their annual migration and descend upon Lake Nakuru and Lake Bogoria, blanketing the water in pink. They flock to the lakes because of the high alkalinity of water that nurtures algae for their chicks.

Day 5

Up to seven hours by road will take you across scenic fields of wheat and barley to Masai Mara.

The 82-km road linking the nearest town of Narok to the park gate, once considered a rough terrain, is being constructed by China Wu Yi Co Ltd, a Fujian-based property enterprise.

Estimated to cost $19.9 million, the Narok-Sekenani road is scheduled to be completed in April. New bridges are being constructed, promising to cut down travel time by more than three hours.

The firm also manages the Loita Plains hotel, conveniently located along the road.

The hotel has a Chinese chef who whips up authentic cuisine for visitors after a long ride costing an average of $20 per person. It is better to call in advance to ensure that they expect your arrival.

The hotel has cozy rooms for visitors who are on a budget and would like to linger more for Chinese hospitality. Rooms go for $60 per night.

Alternatively, one can proceed to the Mara Serena, located inside the park. Another option is the AA Lodges with tented camps, and a game drive after the checking in.

The park is renowned for the annual wildebeest migration, a natural wonder. The herds make the perilous journey from Tanzania's Serengeti National Park to Kenya's Masai Mara National Reserve from the months of July to September.

One can view the wildebeest on the banks of the Mara River, where tensions build over days before and the herds start crossing and dodging the waiting crocodiles.

But one might not catch the spectacle during their stay in the park as nature is unpredictable.

The park, however, offers other attractions such as the black mane lion, elephants and buffalo, three of the "big five", although luck is essential for spotting the other two - the highly elusive leopard and the endangered rhino. This is in addition to antelopes, zebras and the Masai giraffes together with hyenas and vultures.

Day 6

Breakfast is usually followed by a full-day game drive in the park. There is always something new to see in Masai Mara, said Zhang Tong, CEO of the Beijing-based Zhongfa Group that manages AA Lodges in Kenya.

"Actually, you can go for game drives everyday and have new experiences."

Picnics can be organized for you while you catch a glimpse of the hippos and crocodiles sunning themselves.

Later, a visit to a village to experience the Masai culture will make the safari memorable. An early morning hot-air balloon tour is also available that offers a mid-air view of the great migration, if you are lucky enough.

Day 7

One would catch an early morning game drive before checking out and taking the seven-hour drive back to Nairobi.

But visitors are advised not to take long walks, especially along low-traffic streets.

The city government allows a cultural market to be held in the central business district, at least once a week. Traditional products from Kenyan culture are displayed with bargain hunters having a field day. Some sellers speak Mandarin to communicate better with the growing number of Chinese tourists.

The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China has launched a credit card in partnership with Kenya's Stanbic Bank to help Chinese pay for hotels and other services.

It is also important to ask your preferred tour agent whether the itinerary provided includes park entrance fees, transport and game drives, accommodation at the campsites, meals and allowances for drivers and guides.

Contact the writer at lucymorangi@chinadaily.com.cn

 

A tourist car stops for a sunset view in the Masai Mara National Reserve at the end of a day's game drive. More than 53,000 Chinese tourists visited Kenya in 2017. Xiao Chenguang / For China Daily

]]>
2018-06-16 07:57:12
<![CDATA[DRAGON BOATS AND DUMPLINGS]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/15/content_36399356.htm Every Chinese child knows the story of Qu Yuan, the folk hero who threw himself into a raging river when his country was vanquished three centuries before Christ was born. And every Chinese child would have listened wide-eyed to this patriotic tale while munching away on a zongzi, the glutinous rice dumpling.

]]>
Traditional and fusion cooking styles, regional and international ingredients and a new awareness of healthy eating are all factors contributing to an exciting time for Chinese cuisine. Pauline D Loh explores the possibilities.

Every Chinese child knows the story of Qu Yuan, the folk hero who threw himself into a raging river when his country was vanquished three centuries before Christ was born. And every Chinese child would have listened wide-eyed to this patriotic tale while munching away on a zongzi, the glutinous rice dumpling.

These rice cakes, swaddled in reed or bamboo leaves, are supposed to commemorate his death, but were actually eaten long before that. Like many foods for festivities, they started off as sacrificial items.

As generations pass, the tale has begun to become more remote, but the dumplings have stayed on, just as the festival itself has now evolved and been named after the dragon boats themselves.

Its proper name is Duanwu, the midsummer festival, and it has been a tradition long before Qu Yuan and his tragic story, which only added to the romance of the origins.

Chinese all over the world eat zongzi at this time, although the dumplings have become everyday fare in certain communities.

Large zongzi full of savory glutinous rice and mung beans are eaten for breakfast in Guangdong province and Hong Kong, perfect as tummy fillers for those who need a carbohydrate hit to start the day. The attraction is a little square of pure fat rolled in fragrant five-spice powder tucked deep inside the saltwater dumpling, xianshuizongzi. The cube of lard moisturizes the rice and beans and is almost melted in the long cooking process.

This zongzi is often eaten drenched in sweet hoisin sauce or spicy red chili oil.

An even larger cousin is the guozhengzong, the famous Cantonese steamed dumpling that is pillow-shaped and a full meal for a grown man. The ones from Zhaoqing are especially famous, with each weighing in half a kilo.

Again, savory glutinous rice forms the base, with alternating layers of mung beans. It is then stuffed with a salted egg yolk, heavily seasoned slices of belly pork and lean pork, and wrapped up in a fragrant lotus leaf and steamed for hours.

Another very popular dumpling is the chaomizong, made with rice that is stir-fried with garlic and soy sauces to give it a darker color. This little pyramid is wrapped in a couple of bamboo leaves and often has dried Chinese mushrooms, chestnuts and fatty pork as filling.

They are close relatives of the Fujianese bakchang, or rou zongzi, and the fillings are similar.

In my grandmother's Fujianese household, the making of zongzi every year before Duanwu was a major undertaking.

Bundles of dried bamboo leaves had to be washed and individually scrubbed clean, then wiped dry.

Sacks of glutinous rice had to be carefully picked through and then soaked. Mung beans, too, had to be soaked and their skins laboriously removed.

Dried Chinese mushrooms would have their stems clipped off and then be rehydrated until they were nice and plump again. Similarly, dried chestnuts were soaked, and then the skin that was caught in the wrinkled folds of their flesh was carefully tweezered off.

Dozens of salted duck eggs had to be cracked, and their yolks removed. My grandmother insisted on using whole yolks for each of her dumplings, so we used up a lot of duck eggs.

Then, the special orders of pork would arrive and there would be a lot of cutting and seasoning. Every year, cases of top-quality soy sauces and the best five-spice powder went into the pots of carefully cut belly pork and chunks of lean pork leg.

On the day my grandma prepared to wrap the zongzi, bamboo poles would go up in the courtyard ready to hang the dumplings. And huge pots of boiling water would be started on the charcoal burners specially reserved for dumpling-making.

One of the aunts would be put in charge of the fires, armed with long tongs and gunnysacks of charcoal.

At the other end of the courtyard, the production line would start, with my grandmother leading the pack. It was she who would fold the dumplings into perfect pyramids, tying them with sea grass into neat bundles of 20, always with practiced ease.

Then, another aunt would bring the bundles over to be boiled.

Four to five hours later, the hot, dripping bundles would be hung up to dry on bamboo poles.

For the children, my grandmother also made tiny sweet pyramids of alkaline rice dumplings, which were golden yellow and chewy. These were dipped into granulated sugar or honey and would make us very happy.

The relatives who were given my grandmother's dumplings were always equally appreciative.

In the northern part of China, they prefer their dumplings sweetened with the addition of red bean paste or a puree of Chinese jujubes. The glutinous rice may also be mixed with millet or red beans.

Lotus nuts, candied osmanthus flowers and sweet chestnuts are other variations.

Whether it be sweet or savory, the dumpling is a food that is most representative of the Duanwu festivities, not just in China, but wherever Chinese communities are gathered in the world.

Contact the writer at paulined@chinadaily.com.cn

Sweetened zongzi with the addition of red bean paste or a puree of Chinese jujubes is popular in northern China. Photos provided to China Daily 

]]>
2018-06-15 07:30:41
<![CDATA[Recipe]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/15/content_36399355.htm Savory dumplings (simplified)

500 g glutinous rice, soaked overnight

200 g split mung beans, soaked

350 g belly pork

20 dried Chinese mushrooms, soaked

20 dried chestnuts, soaked

10 salted egg yolks, cut in half

1 tablespoon oyster sauce

1 tablespoon dark soy sauce

1 teaspoon five-spice powder

40 pieces of large bamboo leaves, washed and dried

Cut belly pork into 20 pieces. Trim off the stems of Chinese mushrooms and cut caps in two. Marinate meat and mushrooms with the seasoning for at least two hours, or overnight in the fridge.

Drain the glutinous rice and beans.

Stack two bamboo leaves and use the broader stem ends to make a cone, leaving a tail of leaves at the other end. Place a spoonful of rice in the cone, spreading it up the sides so the meat, egg yolk, mushrooms and chestnut can be cradled in the hollow.

Add a spoonful of split peas followed by more glutinous rice to cover the filling.

Cup the cone firmly in your hand and fold over the leaves to create a flat base for the pyramid. Pinch the sides close and wrap the loose ends tightly around the dumpling. Secure with string or reed.

Boil the dumplings for at least four or five hours. Well cooked, the dumplings can keep for a week. Hang them up to dry before eating, so they will not taste soggy.

Variations:

Prepare walnut-sized balls of red bean paste. Soak the glutinous rice as usual.

Make the cone, add glutinous rice with a ball of red bean paste. Add more glutinous rice and wrap.

Boil three hours.

You can also skip the sweet filling and add soaked red beans to the rice. These dumplings are eaten with sweet syrup or sugar.

]]>
2018-06-15 07:30:41
<![CDATA[The LA restaurants that set out to stimulate all five senses]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/15/content_36399354.htm At Vespertine, the last word in outlandish eating in Los Angeles, the staff are on a mission to "disrupt the course of the modern restaurant" as pioneers of the immersive culinary scene.

Something of an overnight sensation in southern California, the eatery was propelled to the top of Los Angeles Times critic Jonathan Gold's prestigious annual rankings soon after its launch last year.

From the volcanic stone crockery and chefs' aprons woven on a loom used for making Samurai garments, to the attentive troupe of waiters dressed in monastic black, everything has been orchestrated to stimulate much more than just the taste buds.

"We more or less created and synthesized the world that you're stepping into," says chef Jordan Kahn, hair swept into a raven-black curtain on one side, and shaved on the other.

"We want you to wander around and experience it however you want."

In LA's thriving foodie scene, Vespertine has emerged as one of a new generation of restaurants where the experience of eating is matched by an equally sumptuous feast for the other senses.

Dialogue, a tasting menu restaurant in nearby Santa Monica, promises an experience that "plays on the senses and emotions", while adventurous diners in Beverly Hills can try Somni, which is named after the Catalan word for "dream".

Even old hands like Austrian celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck, the head of a gastronomic empire, are getting in on this high-concept culinary high-wire act.

His The Rogue Experiencean eight-seat counter in West Hollywood where the tasting menu changes periodically - aims to "challenge expectations and push the boundaries for the future of food".

Four-act drama

Vespertine's Kahn says he was inspired to open up a shop when he happened upon an odd glass building in west Los Angeles with an exoskeleton of oxidized metal that has become known as "The Waffle".

He contacted the architect to propose opening a restaurant where the objets d'art would serve as the inspiration for the cuisine, rather than the other way around.

A meal at Vespertine is a four-act drama that begins with a welcome glass of champagne at the half-Bauhaus, half-Japanese garden inspired eatery.

Kahn greets diners in a kitchen worthy of an interior decoration magazine before they are escorted to the openair lounge on the top floor.

There, customers enjoy a sparkling wine aperitif infused with Californian pine spines and topped with an exotic flower, seaweed chips and a biscuit of charred onions and black currant.

In the dining room, guests taste 15 dishes. Kahn says his work is influenced by the molecular gastronomy of Spanish chef Ferran Adria and the avant-garde Chicago restaurant Alinea, where he cut his culinary teeth.

The menu includes scallops with marrow and slices of white asparagus and a rice pudding with trout eggs and sunflower petals.

Dessert is marshmallows sprayed with a buckwheat cream, jasmine sprouts, rhubarb and a carrot confit with blackcurrant coulis. Everything is washed down with biodynamic wines or kombucha cocktails.

Navigating the plate can be a game of hide and seek, with diners required to lift leaves or flowers to find the turbot or turkey underneath, or plunging the fork blindly into bowls that are partly closed over.

Close attention

Vespertine prides itself on paying close attention to each diner, says Kahn, who encourages his waiters to assess guests' eating habits, their dominant hand, mood and desire to converse.

Proponents lap up the eccentricity of the immersive dining scene, but its detractors are often put off by what they see as the pretentious atmosphere, a tendency for overly sweet cuisine and the exorbitant prices - up to $400 per head in LA.

But it's not a uniquely southern California thing.

Ultraviolet in Shanghai outdoes even the wackiest LA restaurant with its 360-degree videos and music piped into the dining room along with aromas for the guests to appreciate.

Spain's El Celler de Can Roca, named best restaurant in the world in several surveys, dazzled with its El Somni banquet, a culinary "opera" on a round table surrounded by a spherical theater screen.

Heston Blumenthal's The Fat Duck, in southern England, offers diners the Sound of the Sea, a seafood dish served with an iPod that provides a soundtrack of crashing waves as they eat.

Food can appear to take a back seat amid all this ostentation, but Kahn insists that the dining experience is about more than what's on the plate.

"Out of the 20 meals you have had in the past six months, how many of the dishes do you remember?" he asks rhetorically.

"Maybe one or two and, at the end of the day, how important was the food? The important thing was the connection that you felt - and that's long-lasting."

 

Chefs prepare dishes at Vespertine restaurant in California. It's among a new generation of restaurants where the experience of eating is matched by an equally sumptuous feast for the other senses. AFP

]]>
2018-06-15 07:30:41
<![CDATA[PICTURING THE PAST]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/15/content_36399353.htm "More than one hundred years after the collapse of the Han Dynasty (202BC-220), the Roman Empire, which favored the Chinese silk trade, gradually began to fall apart and eventually split into two halves. The eastern part, which became known as the Byzantine Empire, continued to trade with China. Archaeologists have since found that there was a novel thing that people from Byzantine sold to China. It was glass cup."

]]>
A new series of picture books for children will teach the history of China and the Silk Road, Yang Yang reports.

"More than one hundred years after the collapse of the Han Dynasty (202BC-220), the Roman Empire, which favored the Chinese silk trade, gradually began to fall apart and eventually split into two halves. The eastern part, which became known as the Byzantine Empire, continued to trade with China. Archaeologists have since found that there was a novel thing that people from Byzantine sold to China. It was glass cup."

This is an excerpt from a volume about commerce and trade from a series of picture books about Chinese history. Below the Chinese text is a vivid picture showing a busy spot on the Silk Road, depicting people dressed in the style of the Tang Dynasty (618-907). Among them, a Chinese man can be seen observing a glass cup being presented to him by a foreign businessman from the Western Regions outside Yumen Pass.

Meanwhile, a traveler leading a camel talks to another man as a Buddhist monk, who seems to be traveling far for his faith, passes by. There is a man with a male lion as its cub plays nearby. The lion, very much favored by Chinese people, was also brought to China from the Western Regions. Behind them, framing this busy tableau, is a row of inns, shops and restaurants.

There are eight volumes in the picture book set, designed for children aged 5 or above to learn about Chinese history through different themes: food in ancient times, the forming of the concept of home for ancient people, transportation throughout China's history, the great rivers where Chinese civilization originated from, and how people did business.

Recently published, the first print run of 20,000 sets has already sold out. So Li Jia, editor in charge of the book from the Children's Fun Publishing Co Ltd, has been busy supervising the second print run of 30,000 sets.

Children's Fun Publishing cooperated with the National Museum of China and the Chinese Academy of Fine Arts to create the books. NMC provided authoritative and accurate texts, while the CAFA team provided the illustrations. It took three years to complete the first five volumes.

In 2014, NMC began organizing public lectures for children ages 4 to 8, explains Zhao Jing, deputy director of the education and publicity department of NMC.

"We found this series of lectures makes it easier for young children to walk into museums and learn about the history of our country."

She adds that, "unfortunately, only a small number of children can attend our lectures, so we thought it was a good idea to make books based on them, which will enable us to reach a wider audience."

They decided to create a range of picture books so that young children, with the help of parents, will have their interest piqued by the vivid pictures, Zhao says.

However, as the first of its kind in China, the children's historical picture book turned out to be a very difficult one to produce.

"At first, our team found it impossible to draw the pictures to match the text provided by the NMC," Feng Ye, an art director at the CAFA, explains.

"We needed a very accurate description of the clothes, hairstyles, houses, tools, containers and surroundings of the ancient people, because this is an encyclopedic picture book based on historical fact," he notes.

In the volume about food, there is a picture about barns and wine-making.

"All the barns, the scenes of transporting grain and making spirits - and the bronze rhino-shaped wine container - are drawn according to historical fact or from cultural relics," Zhao says.

Apart from accuracy, the three sides agreed to employ a plain tone for the general style of the pictures, because "in general ancient Chinese people lived a simple life," Li points out.

Moreover, the NMC hopes to give young children a better chance to get closer to their precious collection of cultural relics by providing high-definition photos of them, Li says.

As a result, Feng adds, the colors used in the illustration should be harmonious with the modest nature of the cultural relics.

"So the people, animals and scenes in the pictures are more real than cartoonish; three dimensional with a good contrast between light and shadow."

Additionally, in order to hold the young readers' interest, the team had to tell the story of each theme from the perspective of a child, so a lot of content that young children cannot relate to in their daily lives was omitted, Zhao says.

"This is also why we chose these themes to arrange the content," she continues.

"We also added some simple games that children can play with their parents as they read the books."

For example, one page teaches children to pack porcelain-ware as people in the Song Dynasty (960-1279) did, so that they would not be broken during the unpredictable journey by sea.

The final three volumes, which are still works in progress, will cover the themes of Chinese art, ancient craftsmanship, and the games children played in ancient times.

"The last three themes have been even more difficult to create, but we hope young children will love them," Li concludes.

Contact the writer at yangyangs@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2018-06-15 07:30:41
<![CDATA[Notorious emperor was vilified, series claims]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/15/content_36399352.htm Was emperor Qin Shihuang a villain or a hero? Or somethingor someone - in between?

The man who united China under centralized rule and was interred with the Terracotta Warriors is largely known for his brutality, autocracy, opulence and lust for power.

But archaeologist Duan Qingbo, who led the excavation of his mausoleum, says there's much more to the Qin Dynasty's (221-206 BC) founder in his new book and upcoming TV series.

"Qin Shihuang is a great emperor in Chinese history. He had extraordinary ideals and passion," the professor said at the recent launch of his new book, Qin Mausoleum: A Dust-Laden Empire, in Beijing.

The book uses historical research to elaborate on Qin Shihuang's legacy. It explores some of the discoveries from his mausoleum to reveal a more complex side to his character.

Duan led the excavation team for a decade.

This, in turn, led him to believe the emperor has largely been "demonized".

The mausoleum's opulence resembles the palace of the Qin's imperial capital of Xianyang, which lies outside today's Xi'an in Shaanxi province.

Duan believes this indicates the emperor hoped to continue his ambitions to build the nation in the afterlife.

"The tomb suggests more than posthumous lavishness. It embodies his aspirations to unify China after his passing," he says.

Qin Shihuang was known for large-scale constructions, such as the Epang Palace.

"Epang was never finished. Only a rammed-soil foundation was completed. So, it's a myth that the palace was luxuriant," Duan says.

Duan refutes the notion that bloodiness and cruelty were Qin Shihuang's hallmarks.

He points out some statues buried alongside the Terracotta Warriors are acrobats rather than soldiers.

"Qin Shihuang was lonely in life. Nobody around him matched his insight and vision. He has become a caricature in death. People don't understand him," he says.

"We must remember this emperor devoted his life to designing a social-governance system that has profoundly shaped Chinese history for over 2,000 years. That makes him a great emperor. It's a pity we one-sidedly condemn him without acknowledging his philosophy and contributions."

Duan believes his tyrannical image is largely conjured by Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 24) literature. They criticized previous rulers to justify their overthrow and win public support.

The scholar speculates later chroniclers of history, such as Sima Qian, deliberately turned Qin Shihuang into a cautionary fable for later rulers, consequently contributing to his bad reputation.

He points out many dynasties' final emperors, as in the case of Qin Shihuang as a founder, became notorious despite their grand achievements.

Sui Dynasty (581-618) emperor Yang Guang is a typical case. He built the Grand Canal that stretches thousands of kilometers from East China's Hangzhou to Beijing which helped to transform the nation.

The UNESCO-recognized engineering marvel still operates today with many of its superlatives yet unmatched.

But Yang's role has been downplayed for reasons like those for Qin Shihuang's, Duan says.

Yang is often thought of as a character whose excesses and bumbling brought down the Sui.

Duan's CCTV-12 series about Qin Shihuang and his mausoleum will air from June 17 to July 2.

"We often see Qin Shihuang in literature," says associate director of CCTV-12, Quan Yong.

"But archaeology gives us a different angle from which to view him."

]]>
2018-06-15 07:30:41
<![CDATA[Looking to the future]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/14/content_36389490.htm A new TV series about a Chinese eye bank aims to raise awareness of the growing need for cornea donations, Xu Fan reports.

For most Chinese people, Sri Lanka is best known for its tea and gemstones. But what is lesser known is that the South Asian country is one of the largest donors of corneas in the world.

This became an inspiration for the new 40-episode TV series, You Are Always With Me, the first coproduction of its kind between China and Sri Lanka.

 

Director Cui Yali (sixth left) and actors Xu Yajun (sixth right), Ma Ke (fifth left) alongside cast and crew members promote the TV drama You Are Always With Me in Beijing. Provided to China Daily

Sarath Kongahage, media advisor to the Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena, is a consultant for the TV series. And, Devinda Kongahage, a veteran television and film director, will serve as the executive director. The cast mainly consist of Chinese stars, including veteran actor Xu Yajun, pop idol Ma Ke, actresses Yue Hong and Ke Lan. The drama is scheduled to begin shooting on July 1 and due to wrap up by October.

Set between the early 2010s and the present, the drama centers around oculist Yao Kefan, played by Xu Yajun, who overcomes a string of hurdles to establish the first eye bank for restoring donated corneal tissue in the fictional Chinese province of Nanhai.

Ma, the 1990-born actor who shot to fame in the fantasy TV series The Journey of Flower (2014), plays a fashion designer who lost his vision due to a hereditary corneal disease.

The drama will be shot in locations as diverse as Shenzhen, Hong Kong and several Sri Lanka cities, including Colombo and Kandy. Sirisena met the Chinese crew in May.

"We did a great deal of research. I met and talked with many oculists and eye specialists. They told me many emotional stories and showed me how they repaired the donated corneas and the procedures involved in performing transplant surgery," says series director Cui Yali, adding that some of the true stories became the inspiration behind some of their storylines.

The drama begins with a cornea donation from a pop star that helped to restore the sight of two patients. The story is based on the life of late singer Yao Beina, who died from breast cancer in 2015 at the age of 33.

One episode set in Sri Lanka features the protagonist doctor who leads a Chinese medical team to travel around the country performing cataract operations on local patients. The more they see of Sri Lanka, the more they learn about their peers' experience of cornea donations. Around 75 percent of donations in Sri Lanka are pledged by Buddhists, Cui says.

The story is based on real-life events.

In 2014, a project organized by the Chinese government with the support of first lady Peng Liyuan sent a team of Chinese doctors to Sri Lanka to perform 1,000 cataract operations for local patients and to reciprocate the 1,500 cornea donations made by Sri Lankans to Chinese patients.

Yao Xiaoming, an oculist at the Shenzhen Eye Hospital who founded China's first eye bank in Shenzhen in 2000, joined the Chinese medical team on this visit, and now serves as a consultant to the production.

"I heard the story from Yao Xiaoming. It piqued my interest and I traveled to Sri Lanka in October. I was surprised to hear locals I interviewed say they would be willing to donate their corneas after their death," recalls Cui.

In China, incomplete data shows that the country has around 3 million sufferers of corneal blindness, but only a few thousand corneas are donated domestically every year. After cataracts, disease of the cornea is the second leading cause of blindness in China, according to Yao.

Most of the Sri Lankan people Cui talked to were followers of Buddhism, who believe in the religious theory about the cycle of life and death. "They think kindness in this life will benefit them in the next," she explains.

But in China the culture and tradition surrounding this are quite different.

"Chinese people have a centuries-old tradition which leads them to believe that their bodies are gifts from their parents, and they should not be damaged," explains Cui.

"Most relatives would not be able to accept their loved ones leaving this world without their corpses remaining intact. This has made it very difficult for hospitals to persuade people to donate organs," she adds.

But for Cui, a graduate of the Central Academy of Drama, this theme has fascinated her for long. The forthcoming TV drama is just her latest effort to raise public awareness about cornea donation, following her directorial feature Mother's Eyes in 2008.

Promotional activities for the movie, which centers on an elderly woman who donated her corneas to her blind son, were cut short following a deadly earthquake in Sichuan province that year.

And now as a mother of a 4-year-old girl, Cui says she has spent more time pondering the meaning of life and her duty as a television industry insider.

"What kind of a person should I be? How can a television drama or a movie exert a more positive influence?" she says of the questions in her mind.

The director - who has signed up to donate her own corneas - reveals that most of the cast and crew members behind the drama are planning to follow her example.

Contact the writer at xufan@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2018-06-14 07:16:56
<![CDATA[Launch into the unknown]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/14/content_36389489.htm As a fan of Ridley Scott, producer Wang Donghui says he has watched the British filmmaker's sci-fi classic Alien (1979) more than a hundred times.

For Wang, himself educated in Britain, a sci-fi movie should not merely be a depiction of an imagined futuristic world but should also reflect the threats faced by contemporary society.

With his passion for the genre, Wang decided to produce The Secret of Immortal Code in 2014, a sci-fi horror movie conceived by China Film Group Corp, the largest studio in the country.

 

Cast and crew members of The Secret of Immortal Code promote the upcoming sci-fi film in Beijing. Photos Provided to China Daily

Headlined by award-winning actress Liang Jing and veteran actor Zhao Lixin, the movie directed by Li Wei and Zhang Nan is due to be released across the Chinese mainland on June 22.

Most of the sequences in the movie were shot in black and white, in an experimental move to evoke a dystopian atmosphere.

Set in the near future, the story depicts a world where the prevalence of deadly diseases is so rife that sick people choose to have their bodies frozen rather than relying on treatment, in the hope that future medical breakthroughs would cure them.

In a bid to resurrect her older sister who was frozen 18 years previously, the medical student protagonist played by Liang, follows a genius doctor (Zhao) on his trek to the North Pole to try and find a cure for her. But with the appearance of an unknown "monster" on the ship, the journey turns into a nightmare for the passengers on board, and a thrilling conspiracy unfolds.

Recalling the production process, Wang describes the decision to shoot this genre of film four years ago as nothing short of "bold", especially since the Chinese film industry had precious few precedents to work with.

Besides, at that time, it was common knowledge in domestic movie circles that it was difficult for homegrown sci-fi stories to compete with special effects-driven Hollywood films in terms of attracting a large local audience.

But the situation changed in 2015 when Chinese sci-fi novelist Liu Cixin won the Hugo Award. Not only was this widely regarded as a watershed moment for the sci-fi movie industry in China, but it also sparked a sharp rise in the number of quality scripts reaching the market every year since then.

"The idea to make The Secret of Immortal Code came before Liu's win. It was very difficult in the beginning, but we did hope to attempt something that few people have tried before," says Wang.

With his desire to make the movie something akin to the Chinese equivalent of Frankenstein, Wang says he believed that a crafted, polished storyline was more important than relying on market research.

"When I was the producer working on Brotherhood of Blades, most of the financiers (who turned down his request to raise the budget) said the market for martial arts period dramas in China had waned, since two similar productions had just bombed at the box office," recalls Wang.

But the Chang Chen-starring film directed by rising star Lu Yang proved that Wang's judgement was correct.

Spurred on by word-of-mouth acclaim, Brotherhood of Blades (2014) notched up a score of 7.5 of 10 on the popular Chinese entertainment rating platform, Douban. The film's success helped to revive the fortunes of the struggling martial arts genre and paved the way for its 2017 sequel to secure a far more healthy budget.

The sequel, which was also backed by the China Film Group, enhanced the studio's confidence in Wang, and provided him with a second project to produce The Secret of Immortal Code.

"When you are making films, you should always insist on exploring the unknown and untried. Otherwise you will just be repeating what others have already done," he says.

Yu Si, a young writer who was then studying at the Beijing Film Academy, was recruited to pen the storyline. The scriptwriter born in 1986 spent a lot of time researching medical and oceanic history, and had around 2,000 sketches made to help her build a complete picture of the futuristic world she was creating and flesh out the sets and characters.

"Movies make dreams. I'm really interested in the themes of science fiction, horror and monsters," says Yu, who is a fan of such classics as Guillermo del Toro's Crimson Peak and the Resident Evil franchise.

"It's a story about North Pole, oceanic adventure and mutant monsters. These things fascinate me," she says.

Although the movie encountered a string of hurdles, mainly surrounding a shortage of qualified special effects hands and budget limitations, Wang says he believes the biggest challenge facing Chinese sci-fi films has nothing to do with funding.

"Great sci-fi stories are about the complexities of human life, which usually stem from daily concerns," says Wang.

]]>
2018-06-14 07:16:56
<![CDATA[Classical collaboration]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/14/content_36389488.htm The world's oldest and most renowned music label, Deutsche Grammophon, has just signed a contract with China's top conductor and the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, Chen Jie reports.

Yu Long, China's preeminent conductor on the international scene, and the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra signed an exclusive contract with Deutsche Grammophon on June 7 to become the first Chinese conductor and orchestra to join the world's oldest and most renowned classical music label.

Their first DG recording will be released in 2019 to celebrate the 140th anniversary of SSO, the oldest symphony orchestra in China.

 

Chinese conductor Yu Long performs with the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra. Photos Provided to China Daily

One of the pieces in the recording will be Chinese composer Chen Qigang's La Joie de la souffrance for Violin and Orchestra, which was co-commissioned by the Beijing Music Festival and premiered at last year's closing concert of the event in Beijing.

Another piece that will feature in the album is Rachmaninov's Symphonic Dance.

Separately, the SSO also plans to record two more albums featuring Chinese composers' works and Mahler's pieces under the yellow label.

Meanwhile, in addition to the albums, DG will also release earlier recordings from the SSO's existing catalogue.

DG also announced at its headquarters in Berlin on Monday that it will celebrate its 120th anniversary this year with an unprecedented range of activities across the world. And Yu and the SSO will join the celebrations with a gala concert at the Imperial Ancestral Temple of the Forbidden City on October 10.

There, they will perform Orff's Carmina Burana with soprano Aida Garifullina, tenor Toby Spence and baritone Ludovic Tezier, before being joined by pianist Helene Grimaud for Ravel's Piano Concerto in G major.

Speaking about the contract, Clemens Trautmann, the president of DG, says: "I am excited about the new partnership. And we will collaborate with these leading and inspiring musicians and institutions in the world's most vibrant classical music environment.

"The work Yu has accomplished with the Shanghai Symphony in the last decade is truly remarkable. And it is reflected today in his high-profile international engagements and in the orchestra's impressive tour schedule, including its debut at last year's Lucerne Summer Festival.

"The recordings will help draw global attention to the outstanding musicianship of Long Yu and the SSO, and foster the already significant profile of DG in China."

Fedina Zhou Ping, the president of SSO says that DG and Yu started to discuss the partnership in early 2017. And they appreciate Yu's critically acclaimed work as music director of the SSO as well as his active engagement in classical music in both China and the world.

"Maestro Yu has worked with the SSO for a decade, and always promotes the orchestra's powerful blend of tradition and ambition," she says.

"Under his direction, the SSO has become one of the most vibrant arts organizations in the region. And Maestro Yu has designed professional seasons, introduced world-class musicians to the SSO, created the Music in the Summer Air Festival and the Shanghai Orchestra Academy with the New York Philharmoinc Orchestra, and has lifted the SSO to a world standard."

As for Yu, he says he is thrilled to be associated with the yellow label.

"It's not only a great honor to me and the SSO, but a recognition of China's classical music development.

"China is not only the second largest economy in the world, but its culture also has a great impact globally.

"So, we are determined to reach out to music lovers across the world, and will now be able to connect with new listeners through our recordings for the yellow label.

"I look forward to recording works by Chinese composers and sharing these and the wonderful artistry that the SSO brings to the great symphony repertoire with international audiences."

Composer Chen Qigang, whose work will feature on the first album, says: "It's easy to see the honor, but not the hard work and painstaking efforts behind the achievement. Thanks to Yu for choosing my work for the first DG album."

Congratulations also came from other composers and musicians.

Chinese composer Guo Wenjing says: "DG's contract is a big deal. The yellow label is a dream for musicians and orchestras."

Tu Song, a clarinetist and the Beijing Music Festival's program director, says: "Although people now mostly listen to digital music, most classic music is still recorded on albums."

"DG's contract with Yu and the SSO represents a recognition and encouragement for Chinese musicians and orchestras."

Yu's links with the SSO go back to 2009.

Besides, he founded the China Philharmonic Orchestra in 2000, and has been its music director since.

Yu is also the music director of the Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra that he joined in 2003.

And he has also devoted a lot of effort to the development of both orchestras.

Explaining why he decided to link the SSO with DG, he says that the SSO is the oldest orchestra in China, and possibly Asia, going back more than 150 years, and that in the last few decades, it has made a mark on the world classical music scene.

Shanghai opened to the Western world in 1843 and since that time, foreign cultures have integrated with Chinese culture through this commercial port.

The first Western music performers made a mark on the mainland in 1879 when a group of foreign musicians formed the Shanghai Public Band. Then, a few years later, Italian pianist Mario Paci built up the orchestra to more than 50 players, including some Chinese musicians.

Arrigo Foa then took over the baton from Paci in 1942. And Chinese musician Huang Yijun became the first Chinese conductor after new China was founded in 1949.

The orchestra became formally known as the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra in 1956.

As for Yu, he was born into a musical family in Shanghai in 1964, and then studied at the Shanghai Conservatory followed by Berlin's Hochschule de Kunste.

His time in Germany was influential in many ways. And speaking about his time there, he says:

"It was in Berlin that I learned the most important things about life, not just from my music studies but from the city's incredible culture scene as a whole."

Later, upon his return to China in the early 1990s, he began working with the country's leading orchestras.

He then founded the Beijing Music Festival in 1998 and China Philharmonic Orchestra in 2000. He is also the principal guest conductor with the Hong Kong Philhamonic Orchestra.

His guest-conducting work includes collaborations with the New York Philharmonic, the Philharmonia Orchestra, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the Tonhalle-Orchester Zurich, the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester, the WDR Sinfonieorchester Koln, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia.

Contact the writer at chenjie@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2018-06-14 07:16:56
<![CDATA[French adaptation of Bergman play makes a scene in Beijing]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/14/content_36389487.htm In Scenes from a Marriage, the late Swedish director and writer Ingmar Bergman laid bare his own life, including his relationship with his ex-lover, Norwegian actress and director Liv Johanne Ullmann, as well as his failed marriages and that of his parents.

Originally conceived as a six-episode Swedish TV drama in 1973, Bergman, who wrote and directed Scenes from a Marriage, also adapted the script for film.

Additionally, there have been more than a hundred stage adaptations worldwide, performed in numerous languages.

Most recently, French director, Safy Nebbou, turned the classic into a French-language play, which premiered in Paris in February 2017.

With more than 150 performances worldwide, the production, Scenes from a Marriage, made its debut in China on June 12 at the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing - a month before what would have been Bergman's 100th birthday.

The 90-minute play follows a couple who have been married for over ten years. They have two daughters and enjoy a happy, peaceful life. However, the husband has fallen in love with another woman, and the couple has to separate.

"My mother was a big fan of Bergman and she took me to watch the film version when I was 13 years old," Nebbou recalled, speaking before the play's opening. "I couldn't understand the film then, but I always wanted to adapt Bergman's work into a theatrical play."

He added: "I kept the play as simple as possible because Bergman's script is very strong. His insight about marital breakdown is very sharp and accurate, like a surgeon performing an operation.

"For me, the process of adapting Scenes from a Marriage into a play was a process of self-realization," Nebbou continued, "I am not married but I learned a lot about marriage from this play and what I knew myself."

The lead roles are performed by French actress and actor, Laetitia Casta and Raphael Personnaz.

"I play the role of the wife as a woman, not as an actress," explained Casta. "I feel her pain and anxiety in marriage."

Personnaz adds that the couple in the play are well-educated and have decent jobs, but they cannot open up to each other in their marriage.

"They hold back their emotions and they are lost when they face marriage," Personnaz observes. "It happens to many couples of different ages and cultures.

"When we stage the play in China, we are sure that Chinese audiences will spare a thought for their own marriages."

In 2008, the first Chinese stage production of Scenes from a Marriage was created by Ke Center for Contemporary Arts and premiered at the Shanghai Dramatic Arts Centre before coming to Beijing.

Director Zhou Ke said about the play at the time: "Although the film and TV program were directed by Bergman in 1973, many Chinese can relate to the turmoil and love that binds the couple together in the play.

"Through the re-staging of Bergman's masterpiece, we hope that people can reflect on issues in their own marriages and cherish their current relationships."

The most recent Chinese adaptation was in last December, when director Guo Shixing put on the play in Beijing.

The play is part of the ongoing 2018 NCPA International Theater Festival, which will see Chinese theaters, alongside theaters from France, Germany, Australia and Denmark perform 20 plays over 84 performances.

The festival, which started in May, will run through Sept 15.

chennan@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2018-06-14 07:16:56
<![CDATA[Ningbo International Vocal Competition gets October date]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/14/content_36389486.htm The dates for the 2018 Ningbo International Vocal Competition, which invites young international singers to perform Chinese art songs, have been announced this week.

Hosted by the Central Conservatory of Music and Ningbo municipal government, the Ningbo International Vocal Competition will be held from Oct 15 to 25 in Ningbo, East China's Zhejiang province.

The competition will select four winners from the male and female groups, as well as a foreign winner. The top prize is $20,000 and all of the winners will tour Beijing, Shanghai and Hangzhou.

According to Yu Feng, the president of the Central Conservatory of Music, having competitors perform Chinese art songs beside Western songs has been a tradition of the vocal competition, which started in 2000.

This year, competitors can choose their repertoires from over 30 Chinese art songs, including My Sentiment to the Yangtze River, which was composed by Chinese musician Qing Zhu (1893-1959) and has lyrics by Chinese poet Li Zhiyi from the Song Dynasty (1127-1279) and Wishes of the Rose, written in 1932 by composer Huang Zi (1904-1938).

"Foreign competitors, despite the language barrier, have performed the Chinese art songs very well, with accurate pronunciation and expressive singing," observes Yu. "From my experience of watching the foreign competitors' performances, they are very well prepared, learning some Chinese and putting in a lot of practice to sing the songs."

Yu continued, "the competition not only showcases young vocal talents from around the world, but also offers an opportunity to get to know Chinese culture through those art songs."

One of China's major international music competitions, Ningbo International Vocal Competition is held every three years. Formerly named the China International Vocal Competition, the event was held in Beijing in its first year and later moved to Guangzhou in 2002. Since 2005, the competition has been held in Ningbo.

According to Yang Jin, vice president of Ningbo municipal bureau of culture, radio & TV, press and publication, who organized the Ningbo International Vocal Competition, 85 competitors - including 55 foreign singers, from 40 countries - joined in the competition in 2014.

"We have seen a growing number of foreign singers applying to take part in the competition and we have also invited influential judges from around the world," he explained.

This year, the judging panel will be headed by renowned Chinese soprano and music educator, Guo Shuzhen.

Eleven musicians from seven countries, including Lenore Rosenberg, the associate artistic administrator of the Metropolitan Opera, Italian soprano Monica Bozzo, and soprano Dilber Yunus, a Kashgar native from the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region who later moved to Finland, will also join the panel of judges.

Singers of all nations, male and female, aged from 18 to 36 are eligible to apply.

Masterclasses and workshops, open to the general public, will be held during the competition as part of a bid to popularize classical music.

The Ningbo Symphony Orchestra, which was founded in 2015, will accompany the final competition.

chennan@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2018-06-14 07:16:56
<![CDATA[DANCING TO A DIFFERENT TUNE]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/11/content_36366796.htm Contemporary dancer and choreographer, Wang Yuanyuan has lost her voice working on new dance pieces on two occasions.

]]>
Contemporary dancer and choreographer, Wang Yuanyuan's latest production breaks new ground with its combination of dance and dialogue. Chen Nan reports.

Contemporary dancer and choreographer, Wang Yuanyuan has lost her voice working on new dance pieces on two occasions.

The first time was four years ago when she was choreographing Wild Grass, which took its inspiration from the renowned Chinese writer Lu Xun's 1927 poem collection of the same name.

The second time was for her latest piece, A Leaf in the Storm, based on a war novel by Lin Yutang (1895-1976).

On June 6, five hours before the premiere of A Leaf in the Storm, Wang returns to the Tianqiao Performing Arts in Beijing, where she spent most of the past 48 hours ensuring that all the detailed preparation work like rehearsals, stage setting and sound checks are all running smoothly.

"She has been rehearsing 12 hours a day for about half a month. She will go to hospital after the premiere," says Han Jiang, Wang's husband, who is a renowned lighting and stage set designer. "However, when the show is finally done, it will be clear that it has been worthwhile."

There is little doubt that the intensive rehearsals have taken their toll on Wang's health, especially as she is nervous about the new piece because it is the first production in which she has combined dance with dialogue.

"It took us two months to train the dancers," explains Han. "They had to speak onstage like dramatic actors, which is very challenging."

The idea to combine the two disciplines stems from her relationship with the Beijing Repertory Theater, which she co-founded in June 2017 with Han and set designer Tan Shaoyuan.

Last September, Wang made her directorial debut with a production of Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen's 1888 stage drama, The Lady From The Sea.

The experience of working with dramatic actors must have struck a chord of inspiration within the dance choreographer.

For Wang, the bold project will also mark the 10th anniversary of her company - the Beijing Dance Theater.

"We wanted to do something different," she explains, her voice low and husky. "For the company, it was time to try something new. We wanted to combine contemporary dance with many other art forms, like musicals and opera."

She continues, "The line between different art forms is quite blurred these days and audiences are open to them."

Wang first encountered A Leaf in the Storm - which was published in 1941, and is about the lives of several characters in Beijing during the Japanese invasion - about ten years ago.

What drove her to adapt the novel into a piece of contemporary dance were the vivid characters like Yao Boya, a wealthy, married man who is facing a crisis in his relationship with a woman named Danni.

"The romance, hope, belief, madness and death portrayed in the novel continue to run wild in my imagination," Wang croaks excitedly through her strained vocal chords. "It will still relate to a contemporary audience, even though the novel tells a story set during the 1940s."

After its Beijing residency, A Leaf in the Storm will tour around the country, as will the company's 2015 production, Oscar Wilde's The Nightingale and the Rose, this year. Over the next five years, several productions by the Beijing Dance Theater, including Wild Grass and Haze, will hit the road and visit theaters around China.

Born and raised in Beijing, Wang started learning Chinese dance at 10 years old and graduated from the Beijing Dance Academy in 1995, before she studied contemporary dance choreography.

From 2000 to 2002 she trained at the California Institute of Arts' School of Dance in Los Angeles. She was named resident choreographer at the National Ballet of China and was invited to serve as guest choreographer at the New York City Ballet in 2003.

She is widely celebrated for choreographing the ballet Raise the Red Lantern directed by Zhang Yimou, the dance scenes in director Feng Xiaogang's movie, The Banquet, and for her part in the production of the 2008 Beijing Olympics' opening ceremony.

Since founding the company in 2008 with Han and Tan, she has choreographed 15 dance compositions and toured the world.

With no government support, the trio rely on grants, commissions and ticket sales.

Recalling her decision to start the Beijing Dance Theater, Wang says that it was out of pure idealism and admits she still has mixed feelings about it.

"Artists speak through their work. I want to create movement I've never seen. I want to move the body in new and different ways," she says, adding that it's the same reason why she founded the Beijing Repertory Theater, which enables her to explore a different way of self-expression.

"Unfortunately, I cannot just focus on the art. I have to also manage the company."

In China, contemporary dance is still a minority interest and, as such, in the early years, getting funding was a struggle for Wang.

However, the turning point came in 2011 when she staged her controversial dance piece, The Golden Lotus, a stage adaptation of the 16th-century novel, widely considered to be one of China's most erotic works.

The dance piece was commissioned by the Hong Kong Arts Festival and premiered there, bringing Wang's company a lot of exposure and opportunities despite the controversy surrounding it.

For Han, who married Wang eight years after they first met, the company reached its peak after that performance, garnering a lot of invitations to tour abroad.

"Our shows have been booked until 2020 and we are proud to still have an international audience after so many years of hard work," he notes.

Han, who worked for the National Ballet of China for over a decade before he co-founded the Beijing Dance Theater in 2008, concludes: "It's her dream to choreograph new works and my job is to fulfill her vision."

]]>
2018-06-11 07:33:19
<![CDATA[China, Spain celebrate an evening of ancient court music]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/11/content_36366795.htm It's common these days to see Chinese and Western musicians work to create musical pieces that combine elements from both genres.

And while this type of musical collaboration was rare in the 17th century, it was not unheard of.

Yet, thanks to the efforts of Diego de Pantoja, a Spanish missionary who had been in China since the end of the 16th century and established cultural relations with the court of the Emperor Wanli (1563-1620) during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), the practice was pioneered.

Pantoja brought with him the first foreign instrument with a keyboard to the Forbidden City and demonstrated to the court the musical art of playing the clavichord.

It was from this time on that Western instruments such as the clavichord, spinet, organ and harpsichord began to appear in the Chinese imperial court.

And as a tribute to Pantoja, a program of music composed during the 16th to 18th centuries was staged in Beijing recently.

The concert took place in a traditional Chinese wood-and-brick building in the style of a temple, located in a bustling hutong in the city's Dongcheng district.

With its red pillars lining the interior, the building dates back to the Ming Dynasty and was once the site of an imperial printing workshop.

Seven Spanish musicians, with the women dressed in qipao and men in Chinese suits, played a program that blended the Western baroque style with traditional Chinese music.

The music was once played to the Chinese imperial court in the Forbidden City during the Ming and Qing (1644-1912) dynasties.

The musicians played Western orchestral instruments including the violin, harp and violone, alongside typical baroque instruments such as the lute and harpsichord - as well as the Chinese instruments, the erhu, dizi, sheng and guzheng.

The instruments mixed harmoniously and, in some pieces, the melody was accompanied by an aria, which was combined with the singing styles of traditional Chinese Kunqu Opera.

The musicians were from two separate bands. One is called Todos los Tonos y Ayres, which specializes in the research and interpretation of early Chinese music, as well as the musical relationship between Imperial China and the West.

According to Ruben Garcia Benito, one of its two musicians, the band took up ancient Chinese music in 2012 when they were living in Beijing. Since then, they have returned to China for a few weeks every year to learn more about Chinese instruments at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music.

They wanted to popularize the music with Spanish people because little is known about China's thousands of years of musical history in the country.

The other band taking part in the concert was the Iliber Ensemble, a chamber music group that specializes in performing baroque music using ancient instruments.

The two bands started working together on the project a year ago. According to Benito, the repertoire of the concert was designed to follow Pandoja's path from Spain to Macao and then on to Beijing.

Most of the musical pieces were rediscovered at libraries and museums, among which, the sonata pieces by Teodorico Pedrini were found in the National Library of China.

Benito says that he has been looking into dozens of academic papers, not only about Pantoja, but also about the lives of missionaries in the Chinese imperial court.

The concert attempted to highlight the links and differences between the Chinese and Western styles of music. "The origins of producing music might have been the same, but then the Chinese and the West went off in two different directions, with uniquely beautiful results," says Benito.

The concert, which was part of the 18th Meet In Beijing Arts Festival, was jointly held by the Cervantes Institute in Beijing and the Spanish embassy to China to commemorate the fourth centenary of the death of Pantoja.

In the early 17th century, he wrote a letter from Beijing to the Bishop of Toledo in Spain, giving a detailed introduction to life in China, including details of its geography and economy, as well as the country's history, religion and politics.

The letter was believed to represent the most comprehensive and objective understanding about China by a European native at that time.

"Pantoja was a key figure in helping the Spanish to learn about Chinese culture," says Alberto Carnero, the Spanish ambassador to China.

"It was due to his efforts that Spanish people began to develop a direct knowledge of China." Carnero says.

]]>
2018-06-11 07:33:19
<![CDATA[REDISCOVERING CHINA'S EARLY CIVILIZATION]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/11/content_36366794.htm Driving through Anyang's wide, dusty boulevards, you'd wonder why anybody would visit.

]]>
Anyang may seem like a backwater today, but it's home to the first-known Chinese settlement. Will Wain-Williams explores the city.

Driving through Anyang's wide, dusty boulevards, you'd wonder why anybody would visit.

Indeed, it seems like a backwater, a place of zero interest at first glance.

After passing some large, official-looking buildings, the town in Henan province becomes crumbly and dilapidated.

But this unassuming settlement is, in fact, home for the earliest-known Chinese civilization with systematic written characters - that is, the last capital of the Shang Dynasty (c. 16th century-11th century BC), the ancient city of Yin.

Henan is slap-bang in the center of China, in the country's Central Plains.

Throughout Chinese history, control of this area meant control of the nation.

It was the Shang Dynasty, however, that left the first records, the earliest-known Chinese writing, the oracle bones.

They were discovered in the late 19th century when an antiques collector in Beijing received some "dragon bones" from a traditional pharmacist to cure an ailment he had.

The collector, upon seeing the odd characters on the bones, suspected they may be an early form of writing rather than pieces of dragon skeleton.

He was right.

Archaeologists ended up digging up hundreds of them in Anyang, consequently discovering the Shang emperors' tombs.

The oracle-bone script consists of about 3,000 characters, only two-thirds of which have been deciphered.

Most are pictographs. It seems they were initially used solely for the purposes of divination. The same script was later carved into bronze ware to record historical events.

The people of the Shang were somewhat shamanic before what's now considered Chinese culture developed.

They believed in a supreme deity, known as Shang Di, and the power of nature and their ancestors to protect or curse them.

The oracle bones were often used to predict weather or the outcomes of such events as hunts or battles.

The pictographs were etched on bones and turtle shells that were then burned. The cracks that appeared were interpreted as either ji (fortuitous) or xiong (ominous).

A museum displacing much of what has been unearthed from the tombs is attached to Yinxu, or the Ruins of Yin.

It exhibits not only a huge oracle-bone collection but also an impressive array of bronze ware from around the country.

Bronze work was already incredibly developed by the Shang Dynasty.

The museum displays such items as ordinary cookware and large ceremonial urns with three legs sometimes used in rituals to venerate ancestors.

They're not only big but also show a quality of craftsmanship and detail that suggests they were created by an advanced culture.

Visitors can enter some Shang tombs. Of note is the final resting place of queen and general Fu Hao, the only discovered grave from the dynasty that hasn't fallen prey to theft.

Archeologists discovered hundreds of jade and bronze artifacts, and the skeletons of several animal and human sacrifices inside.

The bones of other human and animal offerings can be seen in a hall that shows several of the earliest chariots found in the country, interred with horses and drivers.

Visiting Anyang, and particularly the Ruins of Yin, offers a fascinating look into the early stage of Chinese culture.

The Shang Dynasty was the time when the basics of the Chinese civilization that has continued until today were forged - writing, philosophy, ancestor worship and fortunetelling.

It offers a view into the country's past that helps visitors understand its present.

 

The Yinxu Museum in Anyang, Henan province, exhibits not only a huge oraclebone collection but also such items as an impressive array of bronze ware and jade artifacts. Photos By Zuo Dongchen And Will Wainwilliams / For China Daily

]]>
2018-06-11 07:33:19
<![CDATA[Ctrip launches global self-service platform]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/11/content_36366793.htm China's biggest online travel agency, Ctrip, launched a self-service tour platform for destinations around the world on May 31.

Travelers can select options from the platform on the company's website or app, such as package tickets that cover destinations' classic attractions, public-transportation cards, exhibitions, rock climbing, bungee jumping, helicopter rides and skydiving.

The platform aims to offer one-stop service for individual travelers' needs, Ctrip's chief operating officer Yu Xiaojiang says.

The lack of uniform product-quality standards is a major problem facing Chinese travelers abroad, Yu explains.

The agency is working to upgrade overseas-tourism products' supply channels to give travelers the flexibility to make impromptu decisions, Yu says.

Ctrip's self-service platform offers 35,000 products in over 100 countries, including Japan, South Korea, Europe and the United States.

The agency is also offering incentives for quality travel operators in emerging destinations to put their products on the platform, such as train rides in Argentina's Ushuaia.

"We found young people are increasingly spontaneous in making travel plans," Yu says.

"Some even make decisions after arrival."

Over 5 million travelers used Ctrip for overseas travel in the first three months of the year, a 150 percent increase over the same period last year, the company reports.

Chinese born in the 1980s and '90s account for nearly three-quarters of the self-service platform's users.

They use it for scenic spots, day tours, WiFi, tour-guide booking and package tickets, Ctrip reports.

"The platform opens up a huge space to serve tourism innovation," Yu says.

Hundreds of products targeting individual travelers have taken shape on the platform.

It offers packages for activities in such cities as London, New York, Shanghai, Fujian province's Xiamen and Jiangsu province's Suzhou.

Local guide services and in-travel parties are also available on the platform.

A 24-hour response mechanism ensures travelers can get assistance wherever they are.

It will soon be available in other languages, such as Korean and Japanese, Yu says.

]]>
2018-06-11 07:33:19
<![CDATA[Wellness travel shows new muscle]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/11/content_36366792.htm FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida - It's one thing when hotels open fitness centers, but quite another when fitness centers open hotels.

Luxe gym Equinox is opening a hotel in New York's new Hudson Yards neighborhood next year in a move that embodies the evolution of wellness travel.

Most hotels have beefed up fitness options - you can book rooms with stationary bikes and rent workout clothes - but wellness travel has become much more than just keeping fit while on the road. Increasingly it's become the point of the journey. And it's bringing in big dollars.

Whether it's foraging for your own medicinal herbs in Peru, cycling across the California coastline or spending several thousand dollars to workout alongside celeb trainer Tracy Anderson in Aspen, Colorado, wellness tourists made 691 million trips in 2015, according to the Global Wellness Institute.

In the past, wellness vacations straddled between starvation-style bootcamps or relaxing spa weekends to detox from an unhealthy lifestyle.

But as self-care has evolved into a daily goal, it has found an obvious match in travel.

International and domestic wellness tourism brought in $563 billion in 2015, up from $489 billion in 2013, according to the Global Wellness Institute. Wellness travel is expected to grow to $808 billion by 2020.

The travel trend has mirrored the shift in retail. Gone are the days when shoppers head to a brick-and-mortar store to buy shoes that they could buy online. Instead, they're being lured to stores by experiences.

Similarly, vacationers are less excited about lying on the beach with umbrella drinks. They too want a more immersive experience, like a yoga meditation retreat or surf camp, to connect with others and revitalize themselves, experts say.

"(Fitness has) gone from being an activity to, now, it's a destination. It's a purpose," says Marshal Cohen, an analyst for the trend group NPD.

"That's a huge shift in spending. We're not building wardrobes anymore. We're building memories, and the photos we're clicking on our phones and posting on social media are the fruits of our labor."

The Curtain Bluff resort in Antigua launched a new wellness concierge where guests can meet with the team at no extra charge to design their own fitness program, including everything from zumba to pilates.

Amanpuri's resort in Phuket, Thailand, created four wellness immersions, where guests can focus on fitness, weight loss, digestive cleanses or mental awareness during a three - to 14-night vacation. Offerings include reiki, an alternative stress-reduction therapy, and life-coaching.

The trend is even spilling over to cruises, once stereotyped as weight-gaining vacations with bottomless buffets.

Now, wellness can be the point of the cruise. Holland America Line, in partnership with O, The Oprah Magazine, has programs for meditation and healthy living.

Cruise passengers can also combine wellness with sightseeing in ports of call. Take a shore excursion on a Regents Seven Seas cruise, for example, and you might end up doing yoga on a coconut plantation in Ko Samui, Thailand, or outdoor tai chi in Marseille, France, with a view of the sea on one side and a palace on the other.

"We are seeing (cruise) lines of every ilk and size embrace healthy eating, fitness, all sorts of positive, new kinds of approaches to yoga and that kind of thing," says CruiseCritic editor at large Carolyn Spencer Brown.

Savvy "athleisure" retailers are also seizing on it.

Lululemon and Free People, a bohemian line popular with yogis, have both branched into wellness tourism. Free People's retreats started a few years ago where participants can exercise and try journaling or tarot card workshop in spots like Glacier National Park.

Zen travelers are shelling out thousands to follow celebrity trainers to exotic destinations.

Tracy Anderson, who is Gwyneth Paltrow's business partner and the trainer who shapes Jennifer Lopez's famous booty, hosts a handful of intimate weekends every year with fewer than 40 guests. Participants sweat alongside the fitness guru and get to know her during fireside-style chats in cities including Miami and Aspen.

Shakira's trainer Anna Kaiser leads a few trips a year, including recent stints in Ojai and Austin.

And retreats for the hot workout du jour The Class by Taryn Toomey have all sold out, often within one hour. Toomey's guests pay between $2,000 and $6,000 for her cathartic workouts with options for beachside massages and picturesque hikes in spots like Mustique and Mexico.

Roughly 100,000 wellness lovers attended uber-popular Wanderlust festivals across North America last year, partaking in everything from yoga and meditation to stand-up paddleboarding and spinning in spots like Oahu, Hawaii, and Squaw Valley, California.

AP

]]>
2018-06-11 07:33:19
<![CDATA[A purple passion]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/10/content_36361111.htm Editor's note: Traditional and fusion cooking styles, regional and international ingredients and a new awareness of healthy eating are all factors contributing to an exciting time for Chinese cuisine. We explore the possibilities.

They are mainly purple, but also come in white and green. They can be as small as a thumbnail or as big as a small football, and can be long and thin, egg-shaped or round.

This is the eggplant, also known as aubergine in certain European countries, and brinjal in Southeast Asia.

 

Steamed eggplant with stir-fried minced pork. Photos Provided to China Daily

It is an enigmatic fruit, classified as a berry but mostly eaten as a vegetable. It should always be cooked well to neutralize the bitter seeds.

Some people hate it and others love it so much that the finished dish is reserved only for favored sons.

In Japan, for instance, there is an old folk saying: "Don't waste nasu on a daughter-in-law." Of course, we hasten to add that it's an obsolete attitude and nasu, or eggplant, is a universal favorite in Japan.

Cooking it requires confident kitchen skills. The spongy, dry texture of the eggplant needs sufficient heat to tenderize and enough oil to turn it into a creamy sweet pulp.

Even when it is made into a pickle, it has to be steamed first, unlike other vegetables.

Perhaps because of its need for such attention, the eggplant is not a favorite on Western menus. Its popularity started in the Middle East and lower Mediterranean, then spread eastward all the way to India, sweeping down to Southeast Asia, then on to China, Korea and Japan.

In these countries, there are many dishes that prominently feature the eggplant.

There is moussaka - layers of eggplant and minced meat baked under a cheese sauce - or baba ghannouj, a savory eggplant mash eaten as a dip, both from the Middle East. In India, eggplant is made into relishes and curries, while in Thailand tiny button eggplants go into curries and spicy sour soups the region is famous for.

Eggplant has been eaten in China for thousands of years, and it is roasted, fried, steamed, braised and pickled in a huge variety of recipes.

The plant is treated as an annual in the temperate parts of China, but in the south its habits are perennial. It grows almost as tall as a man, blossoming in late spring to early summer with tiny purple or white flowers that develop into fruit.

The berries are sheltered by large palm-shaped leaves before they grow big enough to catch the sun. Eggplants are best eaten young, since the mature seeds get very bitter because they contain nicotinoid alkaloids.

The eggplant is considered a "cooling" food in traditional Chinese medicine and is recommended for summer. It is rich in calcium, potassium and vitamins, especially vitamin E. Traditional Chinese medicine says it is good for blood circulation and the digestive system.

Steamed eggplant with coriander

4-6 long purple eggplants

2-3 sprigs coriander

2-3 cloves garlic

1-2 red chili peppers

2 tablespoons oil

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

Steam the eggplants whole over very high heat for 30 minutes.

Wash the coriander, then pick off the whole leaves and roughly chop. Next, skin the garlic and mince. Seed the red chili peppers and finely dice.

Remove the steamed eggplants and, using a fork, run its tines down the length, shredding them.

Plate the eggplants and spoon the garlic, chili and coriander on top.

Heat up the oil, soy and sesame oil in a small pot and pour the sizzling mixture over the eggplant. Top with toasted sesame seeds. Serve at once.

Fried eggplant sandwiches

300g minced belly pork

50g salty Chinese ham, finely diced

2-3 water chestnuts, peeled and minced

1 tablespoon cornstarch

Salt and pepper

1 egg, beaten

2-3 eggplants

Batter ingredients:

1/2 cup flour

2 tablespoons cornstarch

Salt and pepper

1 egg yolk

A little iced water

Mix together pork mince, diced ham and water chestnuts. Add the egg and cornstarch, salt and pepper. Stir vigorously in one direction until the meat mixture turns starchy.

Prepare the eggplants by slicing each diagonally into 2-cm-thick pieces. Make a slit in each slice to create a pocket without cutting right through.

Dust each eggplant pocket with some cornstarch and fill with a spoonful of meat mixture. Squeeze the sides together slightly to lock and distribute the mixture.

Make the batter. Beat up the egg yolk and add the plain flour and cornstarch, mixing it well. Add a little water if necessary to get a batter with a smooth dropping consistency. Add salt and pepper.

Prepare two cups of oil in a frying pan, and heat until the surface shimmers.

Dip each eggplant sandwich in the batter and slide it in the hot oil. Fry until golden brown, then drain well on kitchen paper.

Serve with a sweet vinegar and garlic dip. Mince a clove of garlic and add to a bowl of black vinegar sweetened to taste with honey.

Eggplant, Sichuan-style

This is yuxiangqiezi, a very popular spicy eggplant dish using lots of the bean paste chili sauce doubanjiang.

3-4 eggplants, about 400g

250g minced pork

1 tablespoon minced ginger

1 tablespoon minced white of leeks

1 tablespoon minced garlic

2-3 red chili peppers, diced

Coriander for garnish

1 teaspoon sweet bean paste, tianmianjiang

1 heaping tablespoon hot bean paste, doubanjiang

1 teaspoon sugar

Cut the eggplants into 2-cm chunks. Deep-fry them in very hot oil until they just change color. Drain immediately and reserve.

Pour away most of the oil, leaving about a tablespoon in the pan, and fry the minced ginger, leek and garlic. Add the chili. When the mixture is fragrant, add the minced pork and the sweet and hot bean pastes.

Finally, add the eggplants and toss to coat with the spicy mix. Cover the pan and cook for five minutes. Remove the pan cover and add a splash of water and the sugar.

Adjust the seasoning after tasting, then toss for a minute more and plate.

Beijing pickled eggplant

6-8 tender short fat eggplants

Salt

Garlic (about a whole bulb)

Steam the eggplants over high heat until they are soft. Cool completely.

Peel as much garlic as you want and mince it with a teaspoon of salt.

Tear the cooled eggplant into quarters and sprinkle some salt over the insides. Smear with a thick layer of minced garlic.

Pack everything into an airtight container, such as Tupperware with a lid, and set aside at room temperature for a day. Open the lid the next day and you should smell a slightly sour aroma.

Keep the pickled eggplants in the fridge, and enjoy them as a summer side dish.

paulined@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2018-06-10 12:57:06
<![CDATA[Getting a taste for cocktails]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/10/content_36361110.htm Winners of the recent Bacardi Legacy Cocktail Competition China share their passion for mixology and give their insights into the country's booming bartending scene

When the Bacardi Legacy Cocktail Competition China was launched in 2013, only around 100 bartenders from across the country signed up for the event.

When the sixth cocktail final competition was held in Shanghai this March, the registrants numbered more than 600.

"It's a good phenomenon," says Irving Holmes Wong, Bacardi's managing director for Greater China. "Many bartenders today believe this career is not just about drinks, but about creation."

In 2014, Xie Jun from Shanghai finished among the top three in the competition's global final. These days, he's one of the judges for the final in the China leg of the global competition.

Xie says that while the contestants each year have become younger, their creations are becoming increasingly sophisticated, reflecting how quickly the industry is maturing.

Many of these Chinese bartenders like to add Chinese elements such as traditional Chinese herbs and Chinese teas to showcase local culture. During this year's final, Han Chao mixed baijiu (Chinese white liquor) with Bacardi rum and other ingredients, such as passion fruit and rose syrup.

"Like whiskies, rums are aged in oak barrels, which will create unique flavors such as vanilla and honey. Baijiu is often pungent and doesn't have such flavors," says the 28-year-old, who is the bar manager of the PuXuan Hotel and Spa in Beijing, which will soon open to the public.

"I can not only make classical cocktails, but also modify them using Chinese elements. Such localization makes Chinese bartenders unique."

Xie says such cocktail competitions are good for the industry, as they encourage young bartenders to learn from their foreign peers and challenge themselves creatively. Being a part of the event also helps to raise one's profile.

Huang Xiao, 28, who works at Shanghai's Above the Globe, used to be an accountant before she made the switch to bartending four years ago. As one of the growing number of females who have made bartending a full-time profession, Huang says her job satisfaction comes from seeing customers enjoy her creations and from receiving recognition from being a part of the competition.

The winner of this year's China final was Huang Xiaoyang, who works at the Lab Loft Bar in Shenzhen, Guangdong province. The 23-year-old says that, though the hours are long and the pay barely decent, it is his love for creativity and chasing his passion that keep him motivated.

"My inspiration comes from my desire for continuous learning. What you pay this moment is what you will get in the future," says Huang.

"Even though I now live in a 3-square-meter rented room, my soul is free and I have great vision. I want to learn about anything that I'm interested in."

According to Wong, one of the factors behind the growing popularity of cocktails in China is the shift in consumption patterns. He says that Chinese consumers have become more adventurous and sophisticated.

Guangzhou bartender Li Jiahao, 34, shares the same sentiment. "About 10 years ago, Chinese customers frequented noisy clubs and discotheques. But in recent years customers are finding it more appealing to go to a quiet bar and savor wines and spirits," Li says.

Han Chao recalls that the objective of many consumers in the past was simply to get drunk. Today, people are more interested in exploration.

"Customers are more knowledgeable than before. They know what kind of flavors they like to drink. They often get me to make a customized drink for them instead of picking one that is on the menu," he says.

Xie says that Shanghai, owing to its cosmopolitan nature, is the Chinese city with the most vibrant cocktail scene. Of the four mainland cocktail bars that made it to the Asia's 50 Best Bars 2018 list, three are in Shanghai - Speak Low, Sober Company and Union Trading Company. Beijing's Janes and Hooch moved up three spots from last year's rankings to occupy 30th place this year.

"Shanghai boasts the most bars, including good-quality ones. In Shanghai, bartenders will have more opportunities to join master classes or trainings," he says.

Unlike in the West, bartending is still an emerging industry in China, says Wong, noting that cocktail bars only started to open in China in the past two decades. While most cocktail drinkers are from the big cities, the market in second-tier cities is growing quickly. As such, the demand for bartenders across most parts of China is soaring.

Xie agrees.

"Cocktail bars are springing up all over China. But there are not enough talented bartenders in the industry," he says.

"It's important to attract more bartenders in the industry and offer them good training and opportunities."

He adds that this talent shortage could boost bartenders' salaries. Cocktail establishments in second-tier cities might also begin to poach talent from big cities.

xulin@chinadaily.com.cn

 

Guangzhou bartender Li Jiahao prepares his creation at the recent Bacardi Legacy Cocktail Competition China final held in Shanghai. The competition has been attracting an increasing number of young bartenders as the industry grows over the past years in China. Provided to China Daily

]]>
2018-06-10 12:57:06
<![CDATA[Polishing the image of Chinese jewelry]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/10/content_36361109.htm By winning a Milan Design Week award, homegrown brand Charlene Classic is proving to be a gem at promoting design from China on the international stage

Chinese jewelry brand Charlene Classic enjoyed the limelight during April's Milan Design Week in Italy, where it exhibited a special collection at the Castel Sforzesco and won a Special Excellence Award.

The chairman of the jury, Davide Rampello, complimented the brand on its expression of Chinese culture and aesthetics, as well as its advances in the modernization of artistic traditions.

"We are delighted to find out that China's younger generation has such a profound understanding of culture and art; hence, we have more reasons to have high hopes for China's future," he says.

 

Airs of Virtue - plum blossom earrings. Photos Provided to China Daily

Comprising four pieces of jewelry with two different themes, Airs of Virtue and Plumage, the special collection was originally created to be exhibited at the Palace Museum, the biggest museum of ancient culture and art in Beijing, at the end of last year. The collection was inspired by an exhibit of ancient fans, also housed at the museum.

Airs of Virtue, for instance, is a nod to the etymology of the folding fan, and the earrings have adopted the shape of one, while the pattern and colors take their cues from the traditions of Chinese landscape painting and plum blossom, which is the national flower.

Plumage, perhaps unsurprisingly, takes its cues from the peacock feather fan and its 2,000 years of history.

However, rather than simply replicating the shape of a feather fan, designers studied a large number of ancient Chinese paintings in order to reveal the lightness and charm of the feather, from the beauty and lines of each barb, vane and rachis, to the overall structure.

Sitting in the living room of her studio in Beijing, Charlene Li Xiaoling, the founder of Charlene Classic, points to a meticulous Chinese painting and a Western oil painting hanging on opposite walls.

She talks about her understanding of the two different styles. "Oil painting is formed by thick strokes and swatches with strong visual impact, while Chinese painting requires a more detailed grasp of lines," she says. This ethos has helped shape her jewelry brand and its relative success.

Li confesses that Charlene Classic, which was established in 2013, did not really have a clear direction until around 2016. When it did finally happen, it was not consciously. She was simply following her instinct and aesthetic appreciation.

One day, a foreign friend paid her a visit and she showed him some of the designs, and he instantly recognized them, with their unique shape and style, as "something Chinese".

Li says: "At that moment, I realized that an appreciation for design or aesthetics is not developed within a day or two, but it is built up by every aspect of our personal experience, including one's education and cultural background. And it lives in one's bones and blood."

With this new direction to follow, the design team studied paintings from the Song Dynasty (960-1279), and the resulting collection, Forever Four Seasons, which expressed the connection between humans and nature, was exhibited in the Grand Hall during the 2016 Hong Kong International Jewelry Show.

"I want to popularize Chinese traditional culture, not by reconditioning old objects, but by creating something new and adding a contemporary aesthetic," Li explains.

Before she established Charlene Classic, Li was working for a French bank after graduating as a finance student from Peking University.

While the job paid her a high salary, she was not satisfied with the monotony of life, and the idea of creating fine jewelry started to gestate, harking back to her childhood playing among the stones in Fujian province.

"When I was a kid, if I was scolded or upset, I used to hide myself in the gaps of huge stones nearby where I grew up," Li says. "Now, as an adult, it's the smaller stones (gems) that give me comfort - they are my way to relax when I feel stressed.

"No matter what their size, stones calm me down and make me feel secure," she says. "I consider it my connection to nature."

Li feels a strong sense of achievement and satisfaction running her jewelry business. "The gem is the masterpiece of nature, but the process of turning a gem into a piece of jewelry makes people marvel at the ingenuity, imagination and skills of a person."

Li laments that she believes there is still some prejudice against a Chinese jewelry brand, on both a national and an international level, but it has not dented her faith or belief that she is pursuing the right course.

She observes that, perhaps due to the lack of Chinese fine jewelry brands in the past, local customers still associate Chinese jewelry with the jade rings that are popular among the older generation and, as a result, famous international jewelry brands have a stronger pull with younger buyers. At the same time, it's very hard for Chinese jewelry brands to knock on the door of the international market because of a reputation for cheap products and mediocre design.

"The benefit of that is that people are genuinely surprised when they see our products," Li says proudly. "I believe it's only a matter of time before people start to change their opinion about Chinese jewelry."

xuhaoyu@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2018-06-10 12:57:06
<![CDATA[Marimba was music to my ears]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/10/content_36361108.htm A celebrated Chinese percussionist, who made his home in the UK, tells of his love for an unusual concert instrument

Percussion virtuoso Le "Leo" Yu will return home to China this summer on a landmark tour representing the United Kingdom's prestigious Royal Northern College of Music. He arrived in Manchester as a scholarship student 12 years ago and now has international students of his own.

A sense of nervous excitement reverberates through the refectory at Manchester's prestigious Royal Northern College of Music, where students sit patiently waiting to perform examination recitals.

Dressed in the elegant finery of classically trained musicians, they carry apprehensive smiles and an array of intricate instruments, large and small.

Two young Chinese percussionists nod to their tutor, Le "Leo" Yu, then pass outside to take a break from the tension in the spring sunshine.

"There's nothing more that I can do for them," Le says. "I'm a little nervous for them, but I'm sure they'll do really well."

Only 12 years ago, he too was a nervous percussion student, stepping into the world-renowned RNCM having earned a scholarship on the strength of a DVD showcasing his talent to officials holding auditions in Beijing.

He remembers fondly the day he traveled half way around the world from his home in Xi'an to see the Chinese words for welcome - huan ying - written on the door mat at the RNCM.

"That's when I knew I'd made the right decision," he says. "I asked my parents what I should do when I was offered the scholarship and they told me, 'It's your dream, you must go and study in Manchester'."

The RNCM has become a magnet for talent from across the world, attracting students aware of its reputation as a first-class centre for music study.

In academic terms, thirty-year-old young man is visiting international tutor in marimba at the RNCM and an honorary associate artist. He graduated with the first International Artist Diploma in Solo Percussion from the RNCM, and has performed with orchestras the world over.

But he is also a percussion virtuoso who palys the marimba - a large woodwind percussion instrument of the xylophone family. In July he will return to China for a landmark tour as director of the RNCM Percussion Ensemble.

Born in the Chinese city of Hanzhong and raised in Xi'an, both Shaanxi province, Le has worked many notable musicians and performed in front of members of the royal family at the 60th Royal Overseas League Competition Award Ceremony in London's Southbank Centre. He won the first prize of mixed ensemble category with his Aurora Percussion Duo.

A year later the duo was chosen by Yehudi Menuhin's Artists Agency "Live Music Now" to deliver projects to special educational needs students across the UK.

Since 2016, Le has been a jury member for the China National Percussion Competition and the Southern Percussion International Tuned Percussion Competition in London. He is also an artistic adviser for the Sichuan Percussion Ensemble. He has been invited to give master-classes at School of the Arts, Singapore, the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, China Central Conservatory of Music, ShenYang Conservatory of Music, Xi'an Conservatory of Music and Zhejiang Conservatory of Music and many more.

Growing up, he recalls, there was a piano in the house but he never played it. It belonged to his dad, a keen singer and musician, who opted to work in television because in the 1980s it was difficult to make a living from music. His mother, Hong Yan Mo, was one of China's first-generation supermodels, showing off clothing by famous Chinese fashion brands at some of the earliest catwalk shows to take place in the country.

"It wasn't until later in life that I realized that I was part of a family who were interested in arts," Le explains. "I have seen lots of celebrities in my house and supported my mum in one of her fashion shows when I was only four. My dad dreamed of being a musician so was incredibly supportive when I said it was something I wanted to do."

Le's interest in music developed in 2000, when he saw a TV gala on Chinese Central Television over the Chinese New Year period.

"There were two kids, one a girl and one a boy, playing the drum kit. I thought it was so cool," he recalls. "I told my dad, 'I want to learn percussion, I want to learn drums', and he was surprised, but he bought me a drum kit. I later told my dad I wanted to be a professional percussionist. Again, he supported me. I attended Xi'an Conservatory and it was a professor there who asked me if I knew what the marimba is."

For the uninitiated, the marimba is a vast woodwind instrument, ages old in origin, but similar in age to Le as a formal concert instrument. It was originally played in Africa, and Guatemala in Central America and was introduced to North America in the late 19th century.

It was the Japanese marimba player Keiko Abe who spoke to instrument maker Yamaha about developing it into a concert instrument. The first five octave marimba was built in 1986, only a short time before Le was born.

Le is sponsored by Yamaha, with the company Encore sponsoring his mallets. So why did he choose that instrument above others?

"As a percussionist, especially in the early stages, you always play on drums and you never hear any melodic instruments, except for the triangle," he explains. "When I trained in the Xi'an Conservatory, the professors showed me the other instruments, including the marimba. I learned that, as a percussion musician, you can play a melody and I very much became interested in playing the marimba.

"I asked my dad, 'Could I have a marimba?', and he got me one. My parents were always very supportive. I used to practice all the time and my mum would say, 'Could you stop for a while and eat some fruit, or drink some tea?'. Normally in China, families encourage children to play piano. They never forced me to practice. I was lucky because I just loved it."

Le is committed to ensuring as many young musicians as possible can have the same opportunities and experiences he has had since leaving home as a teenager. His experience of leaving China for a new life in Manchester has allowed him to understand the appeal of living, studying and working internationally, he says.

"I want to encourage some young musicians from the UK and China because I have traveled a lot to play instruments and I want to help some people to travel as well. When I was their age, I didn't have that much information.

"It's the same for every international student," he adds. "You come to a country and you are not only learning what you do - I came here to be a percussionist - you are also learning about the place you choose to study and live. You ask yourself, 'do you know the stars that came from here, the culture, and what it's like?'.

Directed by Le, the RNCM Percussion Ensemble will tour in China for the first time from July 18 to 28, the first UK percussion conservatory ever to tour the country. The tour will begin in Beijing's Forbidden City concert hall, before visiting Tianjin Grand Theatre and the Qintai Concert Hall in Manchester's Twin City, Wuhan, Hubei province. The ensemble will spend three days in Wuhan, with a concert on day one and a percussion summer school in Qintai Concert Hall, with ensemble members teaching and doing workshops with local children. The tour will end with a percussion showcase concert at the 13th China National Youth Percussion Competition and Festival in Shanghai. The ensemble was invited to perform by Chen ShaoLun, president of the Shanghai National Percussion Association.

For China Daily

]]>
2018-06-10 12:57:06
<![CDATA[Unique way to showcase treasures]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/10/content_36361107.htm The private Xi'an Qujiang Museum of Fine Arts is a trailblazing institution in many ways, especially when it comes to displaying murals

In October 2011, when Zhou Tianyou became director of the Xi'an Qujiang Museum of Fine Arts, he had big plans for it. So when it officially opened to the public on July 31, 2012, he curated an exhibition displaying ancient Chinese murals.

Titled Origin and History of Ancient Chinese Murals, the permanent exhibition in a 1,000-square-meter hall features 88 panels (67 panels are original) from the Neolithic period to the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

 

Li Sen has been working for five years at the Mural Conservation and Restoration Center of the Xi'an Qujiang Museum of Fine Arts.

 

With murals unearthed in Shaanxi province serving as the main foundation, the exhibition is also the result of partnerships with about 20 national museums and archaeological institutes from 13 Chinese regions and provinces, including the Palace Museum in Beijing, the Liaoning Provincial Museum, the Gansu Provincial Museum and the Gansu Provincial Institute of Archaeology.

At the museum, visitors can see murals, such as a piece titled Dancing Men from the Neolithic age (from the Gansu Provincial Museum), a gold suit of armor from about 2,700 years ago, and an approximately 1-meter-tall stone Buddha head.

So how does this kind of art display influence visitors?

Zhou, 74, says, "When viewers see the murals, they not only appreciate the beautiful paintings, but also understand the lifestyles of people from different Chinese dynasties."

Pointing to two murals, which depict livestock trading from the Northern Wei Dynasty (386-534), he says, "The murals, which have vibrant scenes of daily lives, are a different way to communicate."

Murals have a long history in China, says Zhou, adding that the art form advanced remarkably in the Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 220). But he says that it reached its first peak in terms of style, technique and subject matter in the Tang Dynasty (618-907), when China enjoyed national unity, economic prosperity, cultural advancement and increased exposure to foreign cultures.

He says murals were commonplace in Tang imperial palaces, high-ranking officials' residences, and Buddhist and Taoist temples and caves. The murals portray various subjects, such as mysterious creatures, animals, architecture, religion as well as everyday life, he adds.

Speaking about the museum, he says: "Its function is to make history relevant for everyone who visits, and to make each individual think about how that knowledge can be relevant in his life. Murals are easy to understand and they explain a lot."

Meanwhile, Zhou also set up the Mural Conservation and Restoration Center at the Xi'an Qujiang Museum of Fine Arts, in cooperation with the Shaanxi Provincial Institute of Archaeology, to conserve, research, re-stores and exhibit ancient murals. From 2010 to 2017, the center restored 16 murals from the Ordos Bronzeware Museum of the Inner Mongolia autonomous region.

"The murals from Ordos are priceless, as they contain information about the cultural exchanges between the nomadic people and Western countries," says Zhou, adding that one mural from the Han Dynasty, titled Hunting, depicts a man sitting in a carriage to go hunting.

"The techniques used in these murals were three-dimensional, rather than the two-dimensional art style of traditional Chinese painting. And it is believed that the three-dimensional technique was brought in by Western travelers," says Zhou.

Speaking about the center, 30-year-old Li Sen, one of the three artists who work there, says, "Usually it takes months and sometimes years to re-stores one mural."

Li, who was born in Yulin, Shaanxi province, joined the center five years after graduating from Shaanxi Conservation College. Now he and his team members are involved in a project to re-stores a mural from the Qing Dynasty that is 4 meters tall and 3 meters wide.

Giving details about his work, Li says: "One of the most-used tools (in the restoration process) is the surgical blade. And restoring murals is like being a doctor doing a surgery. So when you save a damaged mural, you feel contented and excited."

Li also says he joined the center because of Zhou, who gave lectures about the mural project when Li was a college student.

For Zhou, recounting Chinese history using murals has always been a passion.

He says that Shaanxi province is home to the largest number of murals in China, adding that the Shaanxi History Museum had more than 540 murals in the 1990s.

When he was director at the Shaanxi History Museum from 1995 to 2004, Zhou wanted to launch a mural exhibition like the one at the Xi'an Qujiang Museum of Fine Arts, but failed to do so.

At that time, it was quite controversial to move murals from their original locations, such as tombs and temples. And the techniques of restoring and protecting the murals were not so developed.

"Now changes in air quality, temperature and humidity are closely monitored to prevent damage to the murals," he says.

Zhou, who was born in Zhuji, Zhejiang province, moved to Tianjin along with his family at the age of 6.

He graduated with a bachelor's degree in history from Nankai University in 1968, and then taught history at a middle school in Longjiang county in Heilongjiang province for four years before being transferred to teach in a middle school in Xi'an, Shaanxi province, for six years.

In 1978, he enrolled to study history at Northwest University in Xi'an, where he later taught and headed the Research Institution of Ancient Books and the library of the university.

Later, he became director of the Shaanxi History Museum.

Moving to a private museum was a challenge for Zhou - especially when it came to fundraising. Unlike national museums, which enjoy governmental support, private museums have to raise funds on their own.

But thanks to the local government of Xi'an, which supports the growth of private museums, the future of the Xi'an Qujiang Museum of Fine Arts is bright, says Zhou.

And with his experience of working in museums over the past four decades, Zhou says he aims to bring the museum on par with its national counterparts.

One of his plans is to build the institution as a platform for international communication on murals.

So, in 2013, the museum launched the Qujiang Mural Forum.

The event, which is now held every two years, attracts mural experts from such countries as Japan, Italy, Russia and Australia to discuss issues like the role and impact of murals on cultural development in relation to countries along the Silk Road.

The location of the museum, which is in the center of Xi'an and near the famous Dayanta Pagoda, also helps.

The museum, which is housed in the Westin Xi'an Hotel, is one of the first private museums in China to combine its operations with an international five-star hotel.

Separately, the museum also has two other exhibitions: Royal Gold Wares of the Ming Dynasty and Imperial Kiln Bricks of the Forbidden City and The Ordos Mongolian History and Culture of Genghis Khan. Previous exhibitions included silver plates and ceramics by Pablo Picasso, 19th-century Dutch oil paintings, and ceramics by Manufacture Nationale de Sevres of France.

In August, the museum will host an exhibition titled Royal Gold Wares of the Ming Dynasty, which will showcase over 150 items at the National Museum of Slovenia.

"This will be a breakthrough for private museums in China - holding an independent exhibition abroad," says Zhou.

chennan@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2018-06-10 12:57:06
<![CDATA[A flood of remedies]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/10/content_36361106.htm What do disease, a flooding river and a chaotic state have in common? They all need to be treated, or 治 (zhì). The water radical of the character suggests its root: The original meaning of 治 was to control the flooding river, or 治水 (zhì shuǐ).

]]>
Illness is often viewed in the Chinese language as a disease of disorder that requires firm 'treatment'

What do disease, a flooding river and a chaotic state have in common? They all need to be treated, or 治 (zhì). The water radical of the character suggests its root: The original meaning of 治 was to control the flooding river, or 治水 (zhì shuǐ).

To control the Yellow River, in particular, was a formidable task. A mixture of early history and myth, the innovative approach to taming the Yellow River by legendary tribal leader Yu the Great - diverting the water instead of building dams - was seen as a great administrative strategy, making Yu one of the most virtuous leaders in prehistory.

Defending against floods and preventing natural disaster provided political legitimacy, not only for Yu the Great but for emperors in successive centuries. Therefore, it's quite understandable that 治 also means "to rule, to govern" as in 治国 (zhì guó, govern a country) and 治军 (zhì jūn, govern the military).

To rule as a king or emperor is 统治(tǒng zhì). One of the core Confucian beliefs on statecraft is that governing the state starts with oneself, as in the saying from The Great Learning: 修身齐家治国平天下 (xiū shēn qí jiā zhì guó píng tiān xià) - Cultivate oneself, then put the family in order, then govern the State rightly, and bring peace to the world.

Sounds like too much work? Perhaps you take the more free-spirited Taoist view, which is 无为而治(wú wéi ér zhì, govern by doing nothing) - rule by noninterference. Unfortunately, only a few rulers in history implemented this idea, and still fewer correctly. Both views assume that the governance of state lies with individuals, which is 人治 (rén zhì, govern by people). As for the present day, 依法治国 (yī fǎ zhì guó, govern by law), or 法治 (fǎ zhì) for short, seems much more effective and is something China is working toward.

The Chinese equivalent of "politics" is 政治 (zhèng zhì), a term created by the Japanese using Chinese characters during the Meji Restoration in the 1860s. The neologism was quite apt, since both characters have the meaning "to govern state affairs", and was borrowed back into Chinese.

To govern is to bring order; therefore, 治 also means "stability, order and peace". A phrase people often see on posters and in the news in China is 社会治安 (shè huì zhì ān), or "public security and order", which often involves retiree volunteers with red armbands who monitor their neighborhood for suspicious people or activities.

In general, 治理 (zhì lǐ) refers to treatment. It can be used for pollution, corruption, natural disaster or poverty. In medical contexts, 治病(zhì bìng, to treat disease), 治疗 (zhì liáo, to treat), and 诊治 (zhěn zhì, to diagnose and treat) are the words used. For instance, 他的病治好了。(Tā de bìng zhì hǎo le. He was cured of his sickness.) Modern medicine has successfully cured many diseases, or 治愈(zhì yù, to cure). But in the unfortunate cases where there is no cure, the disease is called 不治之症 (bù zhì zhī zhèng).

Sometimes, this illness can be a figurative one. In the 1942 Yan'an Rectification Movement, Mao Zedong coined the slogan 惩前毖后,治病救人 (chéng qián bì hòu, zhì bìng jiù rén). The first part means "to learn from past mistakes to avoid future ones", an encouragement to reveal and discuss past mistakes; the latter part literally means "to cure the sickness and save the patient". The slogan was used to emphasize the importance of ideology and thought reform. Today, the phrase is still often used in State editorials promoting morality among Party members and condemning corruption.

To bring order often involves punishment of wrongdoing; therefore 治also means "to punish", as in 惩治(chéng zhì, to mete out punishment). Another Confucian saying about fair punishment and wise retribution goes: 以其人之道,还治其人之身。(Yǐ qí rén zhī dào, huán zhì qí rén zhī shēn.) It can be literally translated as "take the way the others treat you, and return the treatment to them", or "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth".

No matter if it's disease or a chaotic situation, to merely reduce the symptoms without attacking the cause is called 治标 (zhì biāo, treat the symptoms). To tackle a problem from the root, one must 治本 (zhì běn, treat the essence).

In some cases, 治 takes on a more general meaning - "to do", but with a more formal tone. For instance, in 治装 (zhì zhuāng, buy clothes), it means "to purchase"; in 治学 (zhì xué, pursue scholarly work), it means "to pursue".

From treating rivers and curing disease to governing the state, 治 is a word that embraces peace, health and order.

Courtesy of The World of Chinese; www.theworldofchinese.com.cn

The World of Chinese

]]>
2018-06-10 12:57:06
<![CDATA[NEW CIRQUE DU SOLEIL SHOW TO OPEN IN AUGUST]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/09/content_36358406.htm This August, Cirque du Soleil's Toruk - The First Flight will debut in Beijing's Cadillac Arena and Shanghai's Mercedes-Benz Arena following its run from February to May in the Atlantis Resort in Sanya, Hainan province.

]]>
The Montreal-based circus and entertainment company's Avatar-inspired acrobatics performance is set to debut in Beijing and Shanghai, Chen Nan reports

This August, Cirque du Soleil's Toruk - The First Flight will debut in Beijing's Cadillac Arena and Shanghai's Mercedes-Benz Arena following its run from February to May in the Atlantis Resort in Sanya, Hainan province.

The show in Beijing will take place from Aug 1 to 12. The Shanghai leg runs from Aug 16 to 26.

Fosun International Ltd, a leading investment company in China which developed the resort, was responsible for bringing the show to the cities. The conglomerate also has its hands in the Montreal-based circus and entertainment company, having acquired a 20 percent stake in 2015.

Inspired by James Cameron's movie Avatar, Toruk - The First Flight premiered in December 2015. During the past two and half years, it has toured more than 60 cities in over 11 countries and regions, including New York, Los Angeles and Sydney. The production marks the first time that Cirque du Soleil has created a show based on a movie. The show also features a collaboration between Cirque du Soleil and Lightstorm Entertainment, which is Cameron's production company.

Avatar grossed nearly $2.8 billion across box offices worldwide and won three Academy Awards, including Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography and Best Visual Effects. When the movie was released on the Chinese mainland in 2010, it raked in 1.3 billion yuan.

According to Michael Veilleux, company manager of the show, Toruk - The First Flight is set 3,000 years before the events depicted in the movie, in a time when humans have yet to set foot on Pandora.

"Our relationship with James Cameron began with my visit to his Avatar cutting room," said Daniel Lamarre, president and chief executive of Cirque du Soleil, in an early interview.

The company has collaborated with Cameron before on the 2012 movie Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away, a 3-D feature that included acts from some of the company's most popular live productions. Toruk - The First Flight is considered one of the largest productions in the world. Veilleux says that four Boeing 747 planes are needed to transport the entire set of the show during its world tour.

Like the movie, which featured groundbreaking visual effects, the show offers a visual feast with a huge screen the size of five Imax screens, over 40 projectors, and large-scale puppets.

"He is so amazing and generous that he gave us access to documents of Avatar. This is very important because it allowed us to invent new creatures and characters," says Veilleux of the partnership with Cameron.

"In Toruk - The First Flight, we're telling that story and we've tied that into the movie. Our goal here is to tell a story, not just to present acrobatics. That's why the acrobatics in the show is a supporting element linked with all the projection and puppetry that makes the show so unique."

Lamarre notes that Fosun International Ltd's entry as a shareholder of Cirque du Soleil has helped the company better engage Chinese spectators.

"Fosun acts as a 'cultural translator' to help us better understand the complex Chinese market, and as a facilitator that introduces us to the right people, opening doors and generally providing support to facilitate our growth in China," says Lamarre, who was in Beijing last December when the company's touring show Kooza was in town.

He also says that Cirque du Soleil plans to open a permanent show in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, its first on the Chinese mainland.

"We are building a state-of-the-art theater in Hangzhou, with the collaboration of our local Chinese partner XTD. Starting early 2019, the theater will present a spectacular resident show featuring a new technological concept never before seen anywhere in the world. With this show, we are looking at how we can marry the Cirque du Soleil signature with the Chinese culture. That show is being created specifically to cater to Chinese audiences," says Lamarre.

Cirque du Soleil has worked with the Chinese Performing Arts Agency for 30 years to hire Chinese performers for its various shows around the globe. The company has also established its Asia headquarters in Shanghai.

Contact the writer at chennan@chinadaily.com.cn

Inspired by James Cameron's movie Avatar, Toruk - The First Flight is set 3,000 years before the events depicted in the movie. Photos provided to China Daily

]]>
2018-06-09 07:40:53
<![CDATA[Top DJs fuse styles at New York's Governors Ball]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/09/content_36358405.htm NEW YORK - Two of the most sought-after producers in pop music, Mark Ronson and Diplo, have walked different paths, with Ronson reviving retro funk and Diplo reaching eagerly across the globe.

The two have fused their brands of dance music to create a new duo, Silk City, which made its debut last Saturday to the sweaty masses at New York's Governors Ball.

In its eighth year, Governors Ball - which brings some 150,000 people over three days to tiny Randall's Island, where the New York boroughs of Manhattan, Queens and the Bronx come together - remains the longest-running of a proliferating number of summer music festivals in the metropolis.

This year's festival took on daily themes, with the event on June 1 rekindling the flame of early 2000s indie rock. Meanwhile, there was a heavy emphasis on hip-hop on June 2 that drew a significantly younger crowd.

Silk City - so named after a Philadelphia diner where a young Diplo built his name as a DJ - kicked off a set with a distinct feel of Ronson as funk-infused beats merged with snippets of soul.

Diplo and Ronson - who produced for the late Amy Winehouse and collaborated with Bruno Mars on blockbuster hit Uptown Funk - in the course of an hour incorporated decades worth of samples from artists ranging from disco-era titan Van McCoy to young rap heroine Cardi B.

While bringing in some of the soaring sheets of electronica and pumping drums now associated with Diplo, Silk City shied away from the stage theatrics of Diplo's Major Lazer project with the two veterans spinning like classic DJs.

Diplo, who has explored the Jamaican and Brazilian dance scenes and more recently crafted a fresh sound for Justin Bieber, described Silk City on Instagram as "an homage to some of the greatest dance music cities in the world ... Chicago, London, Detroit, Paris".

Silk City ahead of the show released a first single, Only Can Get Better, a track of old-school, danceclub house with vocals by Australian R&B singer Daniel Merriweather.

Return of 2000s rock

Coachella in California, the biggest-name US festival, made waves this year by not booking any rock acts as headliners for the first time. Not so for Governors Ball, whose main stage on June 1 was led by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs followed by Jack White.

Music nerds quickly noted a historical parallel. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, one of several indie bands who revitalized the New York music scene at the turn of the century, played their first show in 2000 as the opening act to White's duo The White Stripes in the city's cozy Mercury Lounge.

In one of their first shows in New York in recent years, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs tore through its back catalog led by the stage-dominating presence of frontwoman Karen O, her voice searing through the festival grounds before switching gears for the intensity of Maps, the breakup roller-coaster that has become the band's most identifiable song.

White, again proving the monstrous volume possibilities on a sole guitar, played from his proudly weird new album "Boarding House Reach" but closed with White Stripes anthems - with the festival setup meaning he could not enforce his recent diktat that concert-goers surrender their phones to focus on his music.

Hopeful message from Halsey

Halsey found some of the most enthusiastic crowds of the festival on June 2 as she showed off graceful dance moves and her new flowing blonde hair in a set that featured a stripped-down piano take of dance hit Closer and saluted the gay rights movement on the start of pride month.

Urging the young generation to stay hopeful, the 23-year-old told the crowd that she had signed a record deal exactly four years ago - and then had attended Governors Ball, broke and anonymous.

The lineup was heavy on hip-hop with Travis Scott headlining before a massive audience on Saturday, opening with his soon-to-be-released track Stargazing, and Eminem closing on June 3. Other rappers at the festival included 2 Chainz, Post Malone, Lil Uzi Vert and Pusha T, who performed in the midst of his ever-escalating, social media-dominating feud with Drake.

The crowd obliged him by shouting obscenities directed at Drake, one of the top-grossing stars in recent years. Pusha T passed up on the opening to insult Drake other than to perform Infrared, in which he accuses Drake of not writing his own music.

Agence France - presse

]]>
2018-06-09 07:40:53
<![CDATA[A GLASS HALF FULL]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/09/content_36358404.htm Located in Roussillon, a Catalan region in southern France that borders Spain, the famous Domaine de Rombeau winery is surrounded by rolling mountains and the Mediterranean Sea.

]]>
China's wine market is set to become the world's second largest in 2021 and experts say that the key to seizing a share of the sector is appealing to the adventurous young consumers who are driving this phenomenal growth

Located in Roussillon, a Catalan region in southern France that borders Spain, the famous Domaine de Rombeau winery is surrounded by rolling mountains and the Mediterranean Sea.

Averaging 2,500 hours of sunshine and no more than 600 millimeters of rainfall every year, the region's terroir allows the vineyard, which dates back to the early 18th century, to produce a variety of grapes with a remarkably high level of sweetness. The result is an exquisite wine that tastes similar to sherry and is well-received by consumers. Philippe Raspaud, the sixth-generation owner of the historic winery, calls this le gout du soleil, which means "the taste of the sun".

The wines produced in Roussillon account for 80 percent of the total in France, but Raspaud wants a larger share of the global market. China, he said, is key to achieving that goal.

"We want to sell to China because, in today's world, you simply cannot be absent from this market if you want to be qualified as a global brand," said the 35-year-old, who was in Shanghai before he participated in the 98th China Food and Drink Fair in Chengdu, Sichuan province.

"We see a huge gap between cheap supermarket offerings mostly dominated by domestic wine producers and super expensive offerings from regions such as Bordeaux, which even we French do not drink very often. No one has filled this gap for a decade," he added.

As the country's largest and oldest exhibition in the food and beverage industry, the trade fair has attracted upwards of 3,000 exhibitors and 150,000 professional visitors this year. It is expected to consolidate 20 billion yuan ($3.18 billion) in transactions this year, half of which would be from the alcohol segment that includes wine, beer, liquor and Chinese baijiu.

Young consumers drive growth

China is presently the third largest wine market in the world by value. According to a joint report released in February by Vinexpo, one of the largest exhibitions for wine and spirits in the world, and UK-based International Wine and Spirit Research, the growth rate of the Chinese wine market is forecasted to exceed 30 percent over five years starting from 2017. By 2021, China would become the second largest wine market in the world with a value of $23 billion, behind only the United States.

While the sales and export numbers of premium wines suffered after the Chinese central government rolled out a sweeping anti-corruption campaign in 2013, this incident had at the same time resulted in a boom in the mass segment as more importers and dealers flooded the market with bottles that cost below $20.

Attracted by the affordable prices, young consumers have since poured into the market. Guillaume Deglise, CEO of Vinexpo, said that these consumers have become one of the key growth engines for the Chinese wine market.

"There used to be a weird phenomenon in China's wine circle where people who buy don't drink, and those who drink don't pay. Today we are very happy to see a rise of 'real drinkers' who shop based on their own preferences. This is definitely a good sign for any market looking for organic growth," said Deglise.

A consumer survey by UK consultancy Mintel showed that a wine's origin is the most decisive factor for Chinese consumers when picking a bottle, and France, which is the largest wine exporter to China, is the most popular choice.

The 2017 survey, which polled about 2,500 young wine buyers, also found that wine standards or preferences have not emerged on a national basis, and that Chinese consumers have yet to develop a loyalty to brands. This means a level playing field for new entrants to the Chinese wine market like Raspaud.

"I am told that Chinese consumers want to be different and individualistic, be it in their choice of wine or fashion," said Raspaud, who hopes to brand his wines as such.

Comparing high-end wine brand Laite to luxury label Louis Vuitton, the Frenchman said that his winery would be the equivalent of an independent designer whose products are coveted by a small but passionate following.

He also pointed out that factors such as packaging and marketing matter more in China than in traditional markets like France or other European countries. As such, he has undertaken measures to redesign his wine labels exclusively for Chinese market. Last year, Domaine de Rombeau exported 60,000 bottles of wine to China. Raspaud is hoping to double the amount this year.

A localized approach

Wang Shenghan, an e-commerce wine retailer based in Beijing, has an equally ambitious plan.

The 30-year-old's company, Lady Penguin, was one of the top performers on Taobao.com last year, raking in 50 million yuan in sales. She is confident of hitting 100 million yuan by the end of this year. In fact, she even said that "it would be an easy goal to accomplish".

The Beijing native, who graduated from Brown University in the US, developed an interest in wine while moonlighting at a three-star Michelin restaurant in New York. Her interest led her to spend one year learning about wine in France.

Wang later rose to fame in the virtual world after producing short videos about wine appreciation that were accompanied by hilarious narrations. In her videos, she would candidly compare the tastes of different wines to "an international hooker from Las Vegas" or "the hope of a developing country". Her videos, which are uploaded to her Sina Weibo account, have an average viewership of 600,000. She currently runs a team of 70 people that have produced 200 videos.

"I think people like watching my videos because I'm not technical or pretentious. I speak in terms people would understand," said Wang.

"Young people in China, especially those who have just started drinking wine, are tired of hearing wine terminology like terroir or tannin. That's definitely not the way to get people drinking."

Among those who took notice of her was Xu Xiaoping, widely considered the godfather of venture capital investment in China. With Xu's 1-million-yuan investment, Wang and two other partners established Penguin Guide, a food and drink education platform, in 2015. The next year, Wang started her own business, Lady Penguin, that focuses exclusively on wine.

According to her, most of Lady Penguin's customers are aged between 25 and 35 and come from first-tier cities like Shanghai and Guangzhou in Guangdong province.

"My customers don't have a strong preference for wines. Most of them just come with a certain budget, usually no more than 300 yuan, and let our customer service team select the wines for them," she said.

"From my perspective, wine drinking among young Chinese today is very much like restaurant hopping. They have a few favorites that they would keep returning to, but they're generally more eager to explore other options," she added.

Looking ahead, Wang is planning to develop a wine education system that is suited to Chinese drinkers. Currently, most of the wine schools in China adopt the system created by The Wine and Spirit Education Trust in Britain in 1969. One of the key differences between these two systems is that the former would feature more wine pairings with Chinese cuisine.

"The dinner table is still the most important social occasion for the Chinese. And that's also where most of the wine will be consumed. So there should be a different approach to popularizing it," said Wang.

xujunqian@chinadaily.com.cn

 

Left: The historic winery Domaine de Rombeau in France is eyeing a larger share in the global market, especially in China. Right: Philippe Raspaud (left), the sixthgeneration owner of Domaine de Rombeau, and the senior winemaker of the winery. Photos provided to China Daily

 

]]>
2018-06-09 07:39:56
<![CDATA[Winning over the crowds with a no-frills approach]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/09/content_36358403.htm Instead of the conventional platter of cold cuts, cheese and crackers, the patrons at Vinism, a cozy bar in a quiet residential neighborhood in Shanghai, passed around pickled ofals and Chinese dumplings while quaing their wines.

Established just two years ago, Vinism is among a new breed of wine bars in Shanghai that has moved away from the conventional approach of branding wine drinking as an activity reserved for the sophisticated. Rather, its focus is on affordability, experimentation and cultural relevance.

The bar's interior decor reflects as much. Here, the atmosphere is unmistakably casual. Customers are seated on rudimentary wooden chairs. The walls are decorated with colorful motifs, photo frames and chalk boards. There is no sommelier dressed in a suit waiting to give recommendations.

The bar stocks between 60 and 70 types of wine and regularly changes its selection every month. Each glass of wine costs only between 50 and 65 yuan ($8-10). Apart from Chinese favorites like dumplings and pickled offals, the bar also offers more creative dishes such as pig ear terrine.

Wine bars were a rarity in the city a few years ago. A quick search on Dianping.com, China's largest listing site for restaurants and bars, shows that there are now more than 20 wine bars in Shanghai. Among them is XO Bar, the brick and mortar outpost of online wine delivery platform Bottles XO. Then there is II Vino, a wine bar opened by an Italian wine dealer that exclusively promotes the produce of his country. Wine drinkers with bigger wallets could be found at Roosevelt Wine Cellar, a swanky establishment on the Bund which stocks about 4,000 vintages.

"Cocktails are cheesy. Beer is for fathers. Whisky is too expensive and strong," joked Shen Sibei, the owner of Vinism, about the reasons behind the rising popularity of wine bars.

The 31-year-old native of Zhejiang province has spent most of his professional career in the wine business. He made his first bucket of gold by establishing and running one of the country's first wine education institution chains, I-WAY. By the time he sold his shares to his partners in 2015, the company had 13 outlets across China.

"In the later years of my teaching career, the most common question I got from students was where they could drink good wine, instead of what defines a good wine. And that was when I knew it was time for me to try my hand at something else," said Shen, who studied wine in a college in Burgundy, France.

Though the bar is only two years old, Shen is already planning to open a chain of Vinism bars across major Chinese cities. After all, business has been brisk - the bar currently rakes in an average of 400,000 yuan every month, an impressive amount considering the size of the establishment.

Women are the key contributors to Vinism's financial success. Shen said that about 90 percent of his regular customers are women. He noted that this ratio was similar to the one he witnessed back at his wine school.

"Women find wine especially appealing because it's unlikely that they would get drunk on it," he said.

]]>
2018-06-09 07:39:56
<![CDATA[ART OF DOING DIFFERENT THINGS]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/08/content_36353615.htm Though not a professional artist, Lin Dihuan is wildly popular as a painter, thanks to his works such as a series of ink-and-brush paintings dedicated to the Chinese 24 Solar Terms as well as two series of stage settings tailored-made for the phenomenal TV show Rendezvous With Chinese Poetry.

]]>
For the multitalented Lin Dihuan, life is not fully lived if you do only one thing or have just one career. Liu Xiangrui reports.

Though not a professional artist, Lin Dihuan is wildly popular as a painter, thanks to his works such as a series of ink-and-brush paintings dedicated to the Chinese 24 Solar Terms as well as two series of stage settings tailored-made for the phenomenal TV show Rendezvous With Chinese Poetry.

The 43-year-old teaches communication and design at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province.

Lin, a Guangdong native, became a celebrity after his 24 Solar Terms work was chosen as the illustration for the UNESCO heritage listing application.

His illustrations play an important role in getting the 24 Solar Terms - a treasure trove of knowledge developed through years of observing the sun's annual movements - added to UNESCO's List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in November 2016.

According to Lin, he spent nearly three months combining traditional Chinese elements with more contemporary aesthetics to produce the 24 Solar Terms series, which were originally created for his book on photography in 2012.

The paintings were based on his observations of rural life, which is closely connected with the solar terms. And he used circular compositions with minimal strokes to depict each solar term's typical traits.

"I had no idea back then that my work would be a part of a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage application," he says.

Later, Lin's popularity soared even more when he was invited to do stage backdrops for Rendezvous With Chinese Poetry, broadcast on China Central Television.

The 10 works, based on lines from 10 ancient poems, wowed many with their impressive illustrations of the poems' content and the painting techniques.

He was asked again last year to paint stage backdrops for the program's latest season.

Lin says his painting is based on traditional calligraphy, on which he spends more than 10 hours a week.

"Unlike many professional artists, I am not too focused on techniques when I paint. I try to look at a painting with an outsider's perspective, and often bear in my mind questions like what the painting can bring to me, to others, and to the world," he says.

According to Lin, his style changes according to the themes, but the principle is that he has sympathy and a soft heart when painting, and tries to deliver that feeling to viewers.

Lin, who grew up in a rural family in the coastal city Zhanjiang, has loved calligraphy and painting since he was a child.

When he was little, the family was too poor to afford regular art education, so he taught himself.

He used to spend his pocket money to buy books and magazines from recycling centers, and copy the paintings from them.

To cut costs, he learned to use a minimum palate and the simplest materials.

Lin started doing caricatures for magazines when he was in middle school. And later, Lin followed his father's suggestion and studied clinical medicine in college.

However, instead of becoming a doctor like his classmates, Lin started doing administrative work at the university.

He says he made the decision because he felt he was too "unrestrained and vigorous" to be a doctor.

Since then, Lin has made full use of his free time to pursue his hobbies and "do anything I find interesting".

He became one of the first-generation web designers in China in the 1990s. And thanks to that, he was later transferred to the university's internet center, before eventually taking on his current position.

Speaking about how his career has progressed, Lin says he does not regret doing jobs not connected with his college major.

"A man has only one life, and it is not fully lived if you do only one thing or have only one career," he says. "I dream of being a person who cannot be defined with a simple title."

In keeping with his creed Lin took up photography in 2007.

According to him, he initially started taking pictures only to collect material for painting. He has traveled to more than 200 Chinese cities and taken more than 600,000 photos in the past few years.

He is now a member of the National Photographers Association, and was recognized in 2012 as one of the most influential photographers of the year by the newspaper China Photography.

So far, he has published several books on photography, including his best-seller, Waiting for A Blossom. And he continues to record the lives of ordinary Chinese with his lens, and shoot photos about daily life in small cities and rural areas.

In the course of his work, he pays a lot of attention to "left-behind" children and seniors in China's rural areas.

Speaking about the children, he says he remembers being shocked while photographing a 5-year-old girl in Weining, Guizhou province, during a trip there in 2016 as the girl was suffering from malnutrition and was poorly clothed in winter.

So he made up his mind to do something for those children. In the past couple of years, Lin has raised nearly 1 million yuan ($156,000) through sales of his paintings to fund the educations of the "left-behind" children in a remote rural school in Weining.

He also organized several trips to send aid there, including clothes, books, stationery and snacks.

During his most recent visit to the area, Lin took along painting materials for the children.

Zhou Lu, one of Lin's photography enthusiast friends, says: "He is always energetic."

Zhou also remembers Lin walking around a market for hours to find suitable clothes for the children.

In recent years, Lin has been spending a lot of his time on painting, including caricatures, which he regards as an important way to entertain himself and relax.

According to Lin, painting, photography, calligraphy and writing are just different means of expression.

"So, the most important thing is to choose the right form to express the right feelings," he says.

As a fan of traditional culture, Lin says he endeavors to present Chinese culture in his works, and provide a way for young people to get in touch with traditions.

According to his friend Guan Jianren, a researcher at Sun Yat-sen University, people like Lin's works because they connect traditional Chinese culture with modern life and awaken the "cultural genes" in the younger generation.

"They (the younger generation) find resonance in his works," says Guan.

Lin's caricatures, which feature traditional styles and materials, often reflect his observations of modern society. For example, some mock people's addiction to electronic devices.

"I hope that my caricatures can have a positive effect and make people optimistic," Lin says. And he adds that he always tries to look at the world with sympathy and a soft heart.

Asked how he deals with his celebrity status, Lin, who is now well known as a painter, photographer, calligrapher, columnist and author, says that becoming famous has not affected his daily life, and that he manages to strike a good balance between his work and his hobbies.

Meanwhile, Lin updates his official account on WeChat, a popular social media platform, almost every day, posting pictures, new paintings or articles for more than 900,000 followers.

And he says he values his bond with his fans, whom he treats as friends.

As for his opinion of social media and the impact it has on his work, he says: "In the internet age, sharing works helps you get quick feedback. So it pushes artists to constantly adjust and innovate."

Lin believes that artworks are not only about self-expression, but should be meant for resonance. "When I create, I care about viewers' feelings, and try to make my work graceful, light and happy, a little candy for viewers," he says.

Contact the writer at liuxiangrui@chinadaily.com.cn

 

Paintings among the series of ink-and-brush works by Lin that are dedicated to the Chinese 24 Solar Terms. Photos provided to China Daily

]]>
2018-06-08 07:43:17
<![CDATA[Painting project for poor expands reach]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/08/content_36353614.htm A retired soldier, a woman who has lost the use of a hand and an urban auto agent keen to experience rural life are all pursuing the same vocation - oil painting - in Shuangxi.

The quaint town in Pingnan county of East China's Fujian province built the Antai Art District, where they are learning to paint, in 2015.

The government-backed project was set up mainly to offer an engagement to poor farmers and rural residents with disabilities living nearby.

But today the place, which is run by a private real estate company, is an art venue that holds exhibitions and sells the amateur works online.

Ningde, the prefecture-level city of 3 million or so that governs the town, witnessed a significant reduction in poverty last year, according to local officials.

Although vulnerable social groups, such as people with autism and cerebral palsy or those without livelihoods, from the province's northeast and beyond Fujian still constitute a portion of enrollees for residency programs spanning weeks and months, fewer farmers visit Antai these days.

"This is mainly because we also teach art in the villages," says Lin Zhenglu, 47, the self-taught artist who is at the helm of creative affairs at Antai.

Some tourists from other provinces of China visit the art enclave during summer.

"This year, 3,000 people have registered for the program (as of May)," says Lin.

He asks the visiting students of different ages to paint, based on "real-life relevance", he adds.

Yu Yangsu, a retired soldier, has been learning landscape art since the past four months. He paints the natural scenery of Pingnan in vibrant colors.

"I feel young when painting. Plus, I get company," Yu, 66, says while sitting in front of his canvas in a studio, where his signature style seems to be painting lone trees amid mountains.

Yu calls himself an "empty nester", a term for parents whose children have grown up and left home.

As China Daily tours the compound on a recent morning, Xue Meilan, a 37-year-old woman, is seen in another studio painting an old kerosene lamp. A Mao Zedong book and a match box also feature in her work that has a 3D effect. Since the right side of her body was paralyzed, Xue has relied on her left hand, even for painting.

Some people from outside Fujian can be found in a workshop at Antai.

Among them is 48-year-old Yu Xia from Heilongjiang province who arrived in April and has since been trying to paint a frog in a humanlike posture. Her fellow trainee, a middle-aged male automobile agent from Shaanxi province, is making a portrait of a woman across the room - and he is "here for a glimpse of village life in Fujian".

The premises comprise 42 studios, with galleries, exhibition halls and training workshops on different floors. A plaque extols the project's "cultural vitality and economic prosperity".

Lin posts the paintings to WeChat, the messaging app of Chinese technology company Tencent Inc, when they are ready for sale.

While prices vary depending on how appealing a piece is to a potential buyer, the smaller artworks can fetch up to 500 yuan ($78) and the larger usually sell upward of 1,000 yuan, according to another teacher at Antai. It could take a fortnight for a painting to sell online.

It is not clear how many of the participants in the program take up art as a career once they step out of Antai.

satarupa@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2018-06-08 07:43:17
<![CDATA[GOING UNDERGROUND]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/08/content_36353613.htm A two-story red-brick building with curved exterior walls and a dark, orb-like entrance in the east of Beijing's central business district is lit up by a red sign hanging above the door that says, "Aye Be Meeting Someone".

]]>
Extravagantly decorated and positively otherworldly, a new subterranean eatery in the heart of Beijing's CBD is causing a bit of a stir. Li Yingxue reports.

A two-story red-brick building with curved exterior walls and a dark, orb-like entrance in the east of Beijing's central business district is lit up by a red sign hanging above the door that says, "Aye Be Meeting Someone".

Walking through the door reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland's rabbit hole, a Gatsby-inspired basement bar comes into view as you descend down the wormhole-like stairs into the ethereal subterranean dining area.

The restaurant is the vision of its owner, Wang Xiaoshen, who set out to create an ethereal playground for his customers. "I hope when my guests walk into the restaurant, they will forget about the problems in the real world and just enjoy a meal or a drink," says the 26-year-old.

With his second Beijing eatery, Wang was looking to refine his initial concept after his first restaurant, which opened in a hutong (traditional alley) in 2016, didn't fulfill all his ideas.

"I named the first one Meeting Someone, as I think everyone has a few special someones in their lives," Wang says. "This second restaurant is a place where you can just be yourself."

Wang used to work for an investment bank in the United States but decided a life of office work was not for him. After visiting Beijing in 2016, the Shanghai native decided to move to the capital from Los Angeles and open a restaurant in the hope of creating a life for himself where each day was guaranteed to be different.

He decorated the first restaurant by himself, and it soon became a popular haunt for young people to dine and share photos on social media.

For Aye Be Meeting Someone, the entire interior of the building had to be renovated from scratch, so Wang invited interior design company WAY Studio to help him put his ideas into practice.

After having his building plans overturned twice and being forced to make endless changes to the details of the design, the restaurant was completed by the end of 2017 after six months' hard work.

"Every step toward realizing my ideas was a difficult process for both the design team and the construction team," Wang says.

According to Wang, the curved exterior wall takes 160,000 red bricks to sculpt. The construction team printed out 380 individual blueprints measuring 20 meters long each detailing how to position each brick. "All the blueprints are still in the wall," says Wang, who personally customized all the green leather chairs and marble tables for the restaurant.

More than 400 different brass strips were used to create the first-floor ceiling, and a colored glass wall was added for an artistic touch of extravagance.

The walls of the second floor were wrapped in velvet to contrast the industrial exterior of the building. "I wanted the velvet wall to act as a membrane between reality and dreams, so the diners can meet themselves in their dreams," says Wang.

Executive chef Qin Zhanbin joined the restaurant in April and started to design a Mediterranean-style menu for their customers.

A chef for around two decades, Qin values the quality of the ingredients above all else, and he only uses one type of Italian extra virgin olive oil to cook all his dishes.

He has designed a dozen tapas for guests to share. From fresh shrimp with garlic and chili to ham and mushroom croquets, each dish is delicately and elaborately presented.

The fresh shrimp will be cooked medium to well done and served in a clay pot, which will finish cooking in the pot once it reaches the table. "I add the garlic and chili to the olive oil that I used to cook the shrimp in, which makes a good dipping sauce for the pre-meal bread," says the veteran chef as he shares some insider tips on how to finish a dish.

The ham-and-mushroom croquets look like a simple dish, but in fact takes Qin days to prepare. He first of all chooses four kinds of mushrooms and Iberian ham and chops them into small cubes before frying them in olive oil. The following day, he melts butter with flour and adds the minced mushrooms and ham, forms them into balls weighing around 20 grams, and then freezes them. And the next day, when guests order the dish, Qin fries them into croquets to order.

"The secret is to control the heat when melting the butter with the flour, and always to add some milk after you put the mushrooms in," Qin says.

Crispy suckling pig is Qin's signature dish. He uses three-month-old big-eared pigs which have been recently weaned, and cuts each 5-kilogram pig into six pieces. After being marinated, the pig is slowly cooked for 12 hours before being placed into cold water.

Once an order comes through, the pig will be roasted in an oven for 45 minutes, which is just about time for entrees. "I learned how to roast the pig from a Michelin chef I used to work with, who once cooked this dish for the Spanish royal family," Qin says.

Juicy lobster risotto and grilled cod with romesco green peas and asparagus are also a special creation of Qin's, where he uses white onions to make the base sauce for the lobster and adds nut puree to the cod dish to create a richer flavor.

Customers regularly hire out the restaurant as a dining hall for celebrations, ceremonies and birthday parties.

"It's just a place for people to offload their burdens and enjoy their time eating with friends and family," Wang says.

Contact the writer at liyingxue@chinadaily.com.cn

If you go

11 am-2:30 pm, 5:30 pm-12 pm. Building 15, Vintage, No 6 Langjiayuan, Chaoyang district, Beijing.

010-8589-0377.

]]>
2018-06-08 07:43:17
<![CDATA[Change is brewing as health-conscious Brits snub booze]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/08/content_36353612.htm Britain has celebrated its drinking culture for centuries but initiatives such as the "Dry January" campaign show body-conscious adults are now shunning alcohol in record numbers - a phenomenon seized upon by the drinks industry.

"I actually realized I slept better. I felt great. I had a lot more energy," 47-year-old Stuart Elkington says after he made the decision seven years ago to give up alcohol while trying to start a family with his partner.

A 2017 poll showed that 57 percent of 7,100 respondents say they had drunk alcohol in the previous week - the lowest level since the annual survey, conducted by the Office for National Statistics, was launched in 2005, when the figure stood at 64 percent.

That has translated into a rise in the number of Britons who say they do not touch a drop of alcohol - just over a fifth of those questioned last year, compared to 18.8 percent 12 years earlier.

The trend is particularly noticeable among those ages 25 to 44, where the figure climbed five points to 20.6 percent.

For all the benefits he felt after just six months of alcohol abstinence though, Elkington says he had one frustration.

"The one thing I did miss was actually having a beer. When I went and tried to find a really tasty beer I couldn't really find one," he says.

Fewer calories

Taking matters into his own hands, in 2016 he launched Dry Drinker, an online company selling beer, wine, sparkling wine and other alcohol-free or low-alcohol drinks.

The range rapidly expanded and today comprises more than 100 products.

"When you've got kids and a family or a busy life you don't really want to waste your time with hangovers," he says.

"For me it was about having the best of both worlds: I could enjoy some fantastic beer but without the negative aspects."

Elkington says that sales had skyrocketed on the back of demand for products offering "the taste of alcohol but without alcohol".

The trend seems to have been amplified by the popularity of "Dry January", which became a formal campaign in 2013, when people give up alcohol for a month after the excesses of the holiday season.

According to its instigators, Alcohol Concern, 5 million Britons took part last year.

Sales of beer and cider containing less than 1.2 percent alcohol jumped by nearly 28 percent in 2017 compared to 2015, with demand for alcohol-free wine rising 8 percent, according to consumer researcher Kantar Worldpanel.

The main driver of demand is "growing health-consciousness amongst consumers and greater awareness of the risks associated with heavy alcohol consumption," BMI Research analysts report.

Similar trends have been seen across developed nations.

"Low-alcohol drinks also have lower calories than conventional alcoholic drinks," it adds.

Quality flavor

Both the alcohol and mass retail industries have rushed into the blossoming sector.

"What you inevitably have in a shrinking market is people fighting harder for their market share," says John Timothy, who heads Portman Group, the British alcohol lobbyist.

Producers are spending millions of pounds on bringing "much better quality" low-alcohol products to market.

Several alcohol-free beers have recently been launched on the British market, including one by the world's largest brewer, AB InBev.

The Belgian-Brazilian company estimates that alcohol-free or low-alcohol beers will account for one-fifth of its beer sales by volume by 2025.

British supermarket giant Tesco recently launched a range of wines with less than 0.5 percent alcohol, which, it boasts, is "virtually indistinguishable" from a full-alcohol product thanks to a technique "that gently removes the alcohol without sacrificing the aroma, quality and flavor profile of the wine".

Rival Marks and Spencer is also on board.

"We had this idea with our supplier in South Africa called 'Journey's end' to develop a high-quality wine that would be lower in alcohol and lower in calories because we saw that consumers were increasingly aware in the UK of calories generally," its sommelier Sue Daniels says.

As a sign of the times, the Great British Beer Festival, which will transform a London exhibition center into the world's biggest pub in August, will buck tradition and offer alcohol-free beers for the first time in its history.

]]>
2018-06-08 07:43:17
<![CDATA[Capital gets taste of Italian goodies]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/08/content_36353611.htm The venue is Jenny Lou's Palmsprings shop in Beijing where Italian chef Fabio Falanga is boiling pasta, surrounded by Parma ham, cheese, vinegar, extra virgin olive oil and red wines from Italy.

All the products are labeled Protected Designation of Origin (DOP), Protected Geographical Indication (IGP) or Organic (BIO), which indicate high quality.

The event is the opening ceremony of the second edition of The Festival of Italian DOP/IGP/BIO Products in China, organized by the Italian Trade Agency and Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, in cooperation with the embassy of Italy on June 2, Italy's National Day.

The products promoted in Italian restaurants and Jenny Lou's shops aim to increase Chinese customers' knowledge of products labeled DOP, IPG and BIO, and to introduce high-quality Italian food to Chinese families.

Italian ambassador to China Ettore Sequi says that Italy has the highest number of geographical indications for its products in Europe.

"In Italy, we know how to turn the best ingredients into extraordinary products appreciated worldwide. One of the secrets of our success is our commitment to protect the environment and preserve biodiversity," says Sequi.

According to Sequi, Italy has more than 800 certified products, among which over 500 are DOCG/DOC/IGT wines and almost 300 are DOP/IGP food products.

Almost 60,000 Italian food producers gained the BIO certificate, covering about 20 regions such as Sicilia, Calabria, Puglia, Toscana, Emilia-Romagna and Lazio.

Sicilia is on the top of the parade with 9,444 certified BIO food producers, while Calabria is in second place with 7,978.

Amedeo Scarpa, the director of the ICE - ITA Beijing office and coordinator of the ICE offices in China, says Chinese consumers are getting more sophisticated and ready for new food experiences.

"Now, they pay more attention to food safety, and consumer safety is a commitment of Italy," says Scarpa.

"Italian food and beverages are an expression of the Italian lifestyle."

liyingxue@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2018-06-08 07:43:17
<![CDATA[READING INTO THE FUTURE]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/08/content_36353610.htm China is preparing to build a "Noah's Ark" for precious books and documents from ancient times, an official from the National Library of China in Beijing revealed in a recent interview with China Daily.

]]>
The National Library of China is building a new book repository to protect China's ancient literary treasures - and its cultural heritage - for future generations. Wang Kaihao reports.

China is preparing to build a "Noah's Ark" for precious books and documents from ancient times, an official from the National Library of China in Beijing revealed in a recent interview with China Daily.

A National Strategic Repository for Documents will be built in Chengde county, Hebei province, according to Sun Yigang, deputy director of the NLC.

Construction on the repository - which is mostly underground and around 68,000 square meters - will begin this year, and is expected to last until 2021.

"Ancient documents hold a country's history and culture," Sun says. "It's our duty to protect them well."

The NLC is home to around 3 million ancient books and documents - which are defined as those written before 1911, when the monarchy fell - which is the world's single biggest collection of its kind.

"However, the ancient books and documents of the NLC are housed in one place," Sun explains, outlining the motive behind the repository's creation. "If war, a terrorist attack or a natural disaster, such as an earthquake, really happened, irreversible loss would follow.

"For the sake of our culture, having such a facility is as important as repositories guarding a country's oil and food safety."

Sun adds that such document repositories are common in other countries like the United Kingdom, the United States and Norway, according to their survey.

"In these countries, the precious documents from their national libraries will be scattered and housed in different places," he said.

In ancient China, there were similar institutions.

For example, during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), when Siku Quanshu (The Complete Library of Four Sections), one of the largest collections of encyclopedic books in Chinese history, was complied following an imperial edict, six duplicates were also made.

Each one of the seven sets of books were housed in seven different libraries across China. Some were destroyed as a result of later wars. But three-and-a-half collections survive to this day.

Sun reveals that, as long as there is a second copy of the same book in the library, the duplicate will be moved into the new repository.

However, the most precious documents, which are often the only remnants of their type, will remain in Beijing.

The repository is also planned to become a hub for the digitization of the library's resources, which is a way to double down on the security and safety of the documents. Up to 16,000 terabytes of data will be housed there.

While the NLC has a branch library in Beijing near Beihai Park, Sun pointed out this backup is in the same city and some of its facilities are out-of-date.

"The site for a strategic repository should be at least 70 kilometers away and cannot be in the same seismic zone," he explains.

The new site in Chengde, which is about 200 km away and at a higher altitude than Beijing, offers a perfect location.

"Additionally, it's not that far away from Beijing, which is also convenient for our work," Sun adds.

Some technology that is used in the aerospace sector will be implemented at the repository to control humidity and temperature, but the deputy director also adds that different levels of protection will be designed for the different types of literary treasure.

"It's unnecessary to use the top technology to preserve all of the books," he says. "Sometimes, it can do more harm than good, making the books too fragile and sensitive to face any change in their environment."

Special systems will prevent possible damage by fire and flood.

The repository is only designed as a safe, rather than a library for the public, but Sun did not rule out the possibility for the facility to receive visitors in the future.

As the project proceeds, Sun says extra copies of contemporary books will also be housed there, as more space has been reserved for expanding the repository over the ensuing decades.

Calculations by the library predict that the repository will house over 25 million books and 1.18 million discs of digital replicas within the next three decades.

"We collect today to leave history for tomorrow," Sun says. "The project is not for our generation, but for our future."

Contact the writer at wangkaihao@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2018-06-08 07:43:17
<![CDATA[Hoping for a monster hit]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/07/content_36347343.htm The special effects team behind Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom has created a visual feast with the fifth installment of the dinosaur-themed franchise. Xu Fan reports.

In a dimly lit hall, the stage is decorated like a soon-to-erupt volcano. Suddenly, the roars and growls of dinosaurs rattle the floorboards. Then, under the direction of Spanish filmmaker J.A. Bayona, Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard began to run, feigning outright panic.

As one of the more interesting moments of their recent promotional tour in Shanghai, the stars were performing an epic sequence from the upcoming movie Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, much to the delight of the audience of screaming onlookers, which was mainly comprised of domestic movie fans.

With more dinosaurs than the past four films in the 25-year-old Jurassic Park franchise combined, the fifth installment will open in Chinese mainland cinemas on June 15, a week earlier than its debut in North America.

When the first installment Jurassic World was released in 2015, it became the first movie to take in more than $500 million at the global box office on its opening weekend, with a considerable haul coming from China.

And this may help explain the stars' passion for promoting the upcoming sequel here.

From speaking in Chinese using words like "dinosaur" and "velociraptor" to fictionalizing an anecdote to tease reporters, Pratt was happy to show off his stylish blend of charm and humor to the world's second-largest movie market.

With his popularity stemming from Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy franchise, the star who only recently opened his Sina Weibo account already has more than 170,000 Chinese followers.

Interestingly, taking place within the same time span as the off-screen world, the new story is set three years on from where the 2015 film ends and pulls a thrilling conspiracy into the frame.

Since the demise of the Jurassic World theme park, the island of Isla Nublar has been abandoned by humans and overrun by surviving dinosaurs. When an active volcano threatens to erupt, raptor researcher Owen Grady and Claire Dearing, the former park manager, return to the hazardous island and try to rescue the prehistoric creatures from their second extinction.

Speaking about his character Owen's relationship with Blue, a clever raptor that he raised and trained from its infancy, Pratt describes it as a father-and-child connection.

He believes it typifies the way for humankind to harmoniously coexist with other species on the planet, and demonstrates how that relationship should not be built on fear or intimidation.

Nowadays, most sci-fi blockbusters are shot on greenscreen soundstages, where the actors usually have to use their imaginations to picture the aliens or monsters in mind. But stars in Jurassic World 2 have a much better, if not slightly more terrifying, working environment.

And one of the key elements behind the enduring popularity of the dinosaur-disaster-themed franchise is its blend of physical effects and computer-generated images to create its visual feast.

In the new movie, Bayona reveals that the special-effects artists made a lot of animatronic dinosaurs, which he believes were "very helpful to the actors".

Animatronic dinosaurs are robotic puppets that have people hiding inside the creatures' bodies to manipulate their movements, such as opening their mouths or turning their heads.

"The Jurassic universe is grounded. It's not fantasy. The franchise is special because it's talking about our relationship with dinosaurs, and the interaction is more real than ever," explains the 43-year-old director.

And besides, Bayona - who is perhaps best known for his 2007 horror film The Orphanage - has plenty of tricks up his sleeve to make his actors appear genuinely terrified.

"We made an agreement that I have permission to scare them from time to time. When I was on the set, I played sudden roaring sounds from my computer to capture the actors' reaction on camera. You should have seen the faces of these people," says the director, wearing a big smile.

The lifelike props even scared the stars' children. Howard recalls her daughter, Beatrice, and Pratt's son, Jack, came to the film set one day, and were allowed to touch Blue. But Blue was so realistic that the young girl was too scared to approach it, and she kept muttering, "I want to go".

Reprising her character of Claire, who sparked an online controversy for running across the jungle to escape hungry dinosaurs on high heels, Howard reveals she will wear a pair of more comfortable shoes in the sequel.

But the Los Angeles native also gives a convincing reason for her choice of footwear. "If you wear high heels in real life, then you can run through the jungle in high heels," she explains.

Speaking about her role, Howard says: "Usually, there is just one moment or one event that completely changes a person's life. For Claire, that is Jurassic World. Now she is someone who is dedicated to ensuring these animals will have the protection like any other endangered species."

With so many action sequences, the stars were called on to perform some death-defying stunts, including an underwater escape scene and a sequence shot on a specially built roller coaster to simulate a fall from a cliff.

Recalling the experience, Pratt jokes: "We relied heavily on the brilliance of our director to keep us alive. We trusted him with our lives."

But Howard believes these scenes help add a certain charm to the new film.

"Honestly, the truth is that the more intense a scene is, the funnier Chris becomes. I think he lightened the mood on the set," she says.

Contact the writer at xufan@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2018-06-07 07:28:50
<![CDATA[Jackie Chan works to bring recognition to stunt performers]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/07/content_36347342.htm Jackie Chan has been a world-renowned kung fu giant for around four decades. But the 64-year-old still remembers his difficult early days.

At a news conference in Beijing on June 1, the martial arts star of more than 200 action films recalled his days as a stand-in in the early 1970s.

"I did most of the death-defying stunts then, and the star just needed to turn his head to have his face recognized. No one knows what I did," he says.

 

Jackie Chan spends the Children's Day with school children from Shanxi to unveil his upcoming event honoring stunt work, and he also joins hands with other stars to launch a charity project on poverty alleviation. Provided to China Daily

From his heyday in Hong Kong's martial arts movies to his foray into Hollywood, Chan has seen a lot of the pain and sacrifice made by stunt performers, a community that frequently sees its members get injured, or even become disabled.

"They are nameless heroes," Chan says.

"Nowadays, I have some influence, which I wish to use to do something for stunt performers. They deserve the same recognition as actors in serious movies," says Chan.

This is what's behind Chan's move to create the Annual International Jackie Chan Action Movie Week, which was launched in 2015.

In a change from the previous three editions, which were held in Shanghai during the city's top international film festival, the upcoming fourth event will be held in Datong, Shanxi province, from July 18 to 22.

Speaking about the event, Chan says he is delighted to see it is gaining recognition in and outside China.

"The Academy Awards is 90 years old. The Hong Kong Film Award has been held for 37 years ... I hope my awards (for stunt performers) can still exist after I pass away."

At the Friday briefing jointly organized by the China Movie Channel, the Datong government and Chan's firm, JC International, Chan introduced four members of his famous Jackie Chan Stunt Team, the group behind most of Chan's mind-blowing acrobatics on the big screen, founded in 1976.

One of the members is Paul Andreovski from Australia.

The stuntman began to learn martial arts when he was 8, and over the years has expanded his scope to more sports, including gymnastics, judo, boxing, Olympic wrestling and tae kwon do.

When Chan was making the gangster comedy Mr Nice Guy in Melbourne in 1996, Andreovski attended an audition. And that launched his decadeslong career as a stunt performer.

"A stuntman's job is very dangerous and many injuries occur - even death on many occasions. I've never met a stuntman who hasn't had a close call or a hospital visit," says Andreovski.

Andreovski says Chan's efforts will raise public awareness about what stunt performers strive and bleed for.

"Jackie Chan is loved and appreciated all over the world for all the films he has done, but also for all the risks he has taken. It would be wrong to acknowledge him only as an action actor. He is so much more," says Andreovski.

Over the past two decades, the stunt community in Hollywood has strived to push the Academy Awards to set up a prize category to recognize their work, but without success.

But Andreovski is optimistic, saying: "I hope purely on principle that the stuntman is acknowledged eventually as much as all the other departments in the film industry, such as actors, directors and wardrobe, and are rewarded accordingly."

Separately, the organizers of the Datong event say that some of Chan's classic movies will be screened during the program.

Chan will also join hands with around 10 top Chinese stars, including Wu Jing, Li Bingbing, Chen Kun, Zhou Xun, Yao Chen, Huang Xiaoming and Jing Tian, to launch a charity project on poverty alleviation.

And as part of the project they will visit a town or village in poverty to use their star power and knowledge to publicize local products and convert footage from their visits into a TV serial.

]]>
2018-06-07 07:28:50
<![CDATA[A killer success]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/07/content_36347341.htm Homegrown Chinese animation, Killer Seven, has enjoyed overnight critical success and its producers hope it's the start of an industry boom. Wang Kaihao reports.

In the past, Chinese animation films have rarely won rave reviews.

So, it was a shock to see a homegrown series nominated for an award at the prestigious Annecy International Animated Film Festival in France recently.

However, for Killer Seven, a 15-episode animated series which was piloted on April 25 through online streaming media platforms like Youku and Bilibili, it's very much a reality.

It has achieved an impressive 8.8 points out of 10 on film and TV review site, Douban, and is the only Chinese animation to be shortlisted at the French festival where no Chinese production has ever won before.

Among the previous winners in the TV film category are British productions Peppa Pig in 2005 and Shaun the Sheep in 2007.

The winners will be announced on June 16, the final day of this year's festival.

In the offices of Aha Entertainment, a studio hidden among the hustle and bustle of Beijing's Sanlitun area, its producer Zou Shasha, 34, better known in the industry through her English name Aiken, is the force behind this remarkable tale.

"We do have the chance to win, right?" says Zou.

In the comedy series, set in a fictional small city, a young man called Seven, who has lost his memory, is accidentally hired by a shadowy organization as an assassin. He chooses a job as a barber as his cover and, although Seven keeps failing in his assignments, he gradually shakes off the image of a loser and finds his true identity.

"We don't deliberately put in nods to traditional Chinese culture, but everything that happens on the streets of the small city makes you feel like it's a part of our daily life in China," says Zou.

He Weifeng, 31, director of Killer Seven, who is based in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, is a good observer of his neighborhood.

"Not everything in the film is based on my own experiences," he tells China Daily, "but they all come from what I observe and how I feel about life. They're my true emotions."

He adds that the assassin's story is only a "shell".

"I borrow his points of view to express inclusiveness and love," he explains. "I always wonder why completely different types of people can get along with each other. Better understanding and love makes for harmony and peace."

He, who grew up watching comedies starring Hong Kong actor, Stephen Chow, confesses that Killer Seven bears some resemblance to Chow's iconic films of the 1990s, which were extremely popular in China.

"I didn't deliberately use the style," he says. "It just came naturally. Chow's approach may have had its time, and will probably not reach those heights again, but while it continues to be a live comedy genres, I will keep following it."

The biggest selling point of the series is probably the creative action scenes, the show's fast pace and the characters' amusing accents, mixing Mandarin and Cantonese.

To obtain the latter, He invited "amateurs" to contribute voices, and an even greater realism and proximity to ordinary people's everyday life. As for He, he himself dubbed Seven's voice.

The director was also surprised that Killer Seven, which started with a "zero fan base," is now being lavished with praise.

TT Film, an influential cinema-centric WeChat public account, says: "If we can see an animation of such high quality each season, it will mark the rise of Chinese animation."

The show also climbed into Bilibili's Top 5 all-time list of Chinese animations and numerous online stores have began selling unlicensed, derivative souvenirs of Killer Seven - usually the sure sign of a cultural zeitgeist.

As a result of its success, Killer Seven may spark greater expectations for future animated productions from the director.

Speaking about the animation film scene in China, Zou says: "We used to have 'Chinese-style animation', but then, we lost it. Now, however, it's time for the genre to rediscover its Chinese identity."

In the 1950s and 60s, Chinese animations had a great reputation in the world; by mixing traditional Chinese paintings into modern animation, those early animators were able to create unconventional visual effects.

However, with the modern, highly-developed entertainment industry, Chinese animations are often criticized for catering only to young children or copying the styles of their counterparts in Japan and the United States.

Responding to the criticism, He says: "I understand these choices because it's risky to create a new style. It's ok to mimic others for learning, but there's nothing to be proud of when you are just learning Japanese or Disney styles well."

He says "Chinese-style animations" should not be restricted to ink painting techniques or other ancient styles.

"And the entry to Annecy means our own, homegrown characters have been recognized by the wider world. We don't have to always mimic others."

Meanwhile, despite the success earned by He, Zou says her studio does not aim to become another Ghibli or Pixar, which often use similar styles in each production - she wants diversity.

"I want to make Aha a studio which brings together the country's most talented animators together and nurtures their passion and their individual styles," she says. "For an animator, it's important to remain inspired."

But she is aware that there can be pitfalls, too. A sudden flood of capital can sometimes be a hazard for pioneers, she says, adding that some Chinese animations in recent years have enjoyed success, but the young filmmakers were easily distracted by enticing offers from tycoons.

"Some promising studios were then torn apart," she says.

He, who started to make this animation with a group of just five people, appreciates Zou's respect for creators.

"I only wanted to make a skit series," he recalls. "But, Aiken made me believe it should be a long-run franchise. It's better for us creators to focus on what we are good at, and leave the rest to be taken care of by someone more professional.

"It would otherwise be impossible for me, an Otaku (a stay-at-home man), to get in touch with the best production teams," He says.

He reveals the second season of Killer Seven is already being prepared, and says Zou also plans to launch a new animation festival in Guangzhou for more animators like He.

Elaborating on her plans, Zou says: "It will be my answer to Annecy.

"If I'm the only player in this game, I cannot get stronger, and all my efforts will have been in vain.

"The industry can only boom when more people join."

Zou started her first company as an expo booth designer in her sophomore year in college. And she later dabbled in different business sectors, ranging from stockbroking to being a big data analyst, until she joined Joy Media, one of the country's major TV comedy content providers.

She left her position as vice-president at Joy Media in 2013, and started Aha Entertainment a year later.

As for her career changes, she says: "Before the age of 30, it's important to expand your horizons as much as you can. Then, when you find an area you're really into, you settle down and stay there for a long time. Animation is something I'd like to work with for the rest of my career."

Aha Entertainment also produces some live action films.

"In China, animation is usually affiliated to giant film companies," she says. "I want to flip that structure, just like Disney, which owns Marvel."

Contact the writer at wangkaihao@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2018-06-07 07:28:50
<![CDATA[Singing from a new song sheet]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/07/content_36347340.htm A summer talent show released on Tencent's video platform that's looking to create a leading girl group from China has been generating a huge buzz on the country's social media platforms.

Already running for a month, the top 11 contestant in the program's final tally of votes will go on to form a girl band looking to break into Chinese entertainment circles.

As the Chinese adaptation of the South Korean reality show Produce 101, domestic audiences are used to seeing wannabe pop stars sporting slim figures, white skin and a saccharine smiles to match the accepted image of a K-pop goddess.

However, this past week has witnessed a quick burst of overwhelming attention on a contestant named Wang Ju, who was once regarded as an unpromising outsider because of her perceived unattractiveness.

The 25-year-old, despite being relatively good at singing and dancing, was darker and more stout than her more conventionally glamorous competitors, and so far from the ideal image portrayed by modern girl bands that her performances met with derision from some netizens.

Wang responded to the wave of unfriendly jeers - "Hell is empty, Wang Ju is here" was just one example - with a wry sense of humor, rather than feeling dejected about her lack of popularity.

"Many people told me that I am not suitable to be in a girl group, but you have the opportunity to redefine China's leading girl group." She told the audience with an air of confidence after one of her performances.

On May 26, the program aired some old photos of Wang that showed she was once also a fair-skinned "Miss Sweetheart" with a good figure a few years ago.

Wang says at that time she hadn't figured out her own standards of beauty, but she now understands that "being yourself is what makes a girl beautiful."

Besides, the lyrics she has written highlighting the importance of women's independence in society have resonated with many viewers, and her growing legions of followers.

Su Yujing, 24, joined one of Wang's fan clubs, and voted for the singer from Shanghai every day.

"I used to chase after the adorable stars in the Japanese girl group AKB48," says the Gansu province native, "But now I'm getting sick of pop idols with empty minds."

Su says she likes Wang, not only because she is well-spoken and hardworking, but also because of the amusing way that Wang's fans use to spread her message.

Since ju means chrysanthemum in Chinese, Wang's fans refer to themselves as Tao Yuanming - the name of an ancient Chinese poet who loved professed a love for chrysanthemums - and write rhyming couplets and memes to praise the singer and canvas votes for her.

This approach appeared to have worked well, as thousands of internet users found these ju-related phrases and memes flooding their screens over the following days.

"The slogans about voting for Wang Ju have gone viral, but I didn't find them offensive," He Wendi, one male netizen said on Sina Weibo. "I think the clamor for breaking the stereotypical standards of beauty has become louder in China."

Ke Yi, a university student based in Beijing, says that while the rush of publicity surrounding was likely to cool down after a week, the public's affection for her as an independent and confident woman was unlikely to diminish.

"Although public visibility has its drawbacks, as some people might simply be spreading the slogans merely for fun, I am glad to see that more and more people are giving up their spare time to consider the role of female independence because of Wang, who has showed us a distinctive image of what it is to be modern woman," says Ke.

Wu Xiaoyan, a research associate at the Shanghai Art Research Institute, principally studies feminism and urban culture.

She compared the overnight sensation of Wang to Li Yuchun, the winner of 2005's Super Girls, the first reality show for solo female singers in China.

"Audiences have grown more self-conscious over the past 13 years. They want to support people who can gain their sympathy, while most icons manufactured by the entertainment industry fail to tap into these emotions," says Wu.

The sociology major says that fans of Wang are looking to express their own eagerness to be independent, develop their own sense of identity and respect social diversity by supporting Wang, and it partly explains why Wang has garnered huge popularity among LGBT groups.

"Chinese youngsters' zeal for this form of entertainment may just be a fad, and won't necessarily trigger a change in people's attitudes." Wu adds, "Standards will only be influenced when we turn our gaze from the event itself to focus on these issues in our daily lives."

xingwen@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2018-06-07 07:28:50
<![CDATA[Trials and tribulations]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/06/content_36338664.htm No obstacle was too big - or too muddy - for the warriors who chose to test their mettle in the recent heats of the Super Spartan race in Beijing. Li Yingxue reports.

"What's your profession?" asks Beijing-based internet celebrity and actor Mike Sui.

"Aroo! Aroo! Aroo!" answered the Spartan warriors in unison, as they approached the line to start their grueling 12-kilometer obstacle race.

It was the start of one of the open group heats for the Super Spartan race held in Beijing on May 19 and 20, which saw more than 10,000 participants tackle 27 different obstacles along the way.

Also known as Michael Stephen Kai Sui, the Chinese-American comedian and his group of friends were handed their finishing medals two hours later, covered with mud from head to toe.

"It's cruel, but I love it!" says Sui, who was attending the event for the first time. "The Spartan Race is not just a game. For me it's a new lifestyle."

The Spartan Race features a series of obstacle races of varying distances and difficulty, ranging from six kilometers up to a full marathon. With more than 130 races held around the world every year, the race is made up of three core events - the Spartan Sprint, the Super Spartan and the Spartan Beast.

By completing all three race events in the space of a calendar year at one of the events around the world, any "warrior" can then be elevated to become a member of the Spartan Trifecta Tribe.

Zhao Jiaju is hoping to join the Trifecta Tribe. After winning the Spartan Super Elite group in Beijing, Zhao's next step is to become a Spartan Beast. As a long-distance runner, he learned about the Spartan Race from WeChat in 2017 and joined his first race in Qingdao, Shandong province, last September.

"When I was a child, I was like a monkey and loved to climb trees. I like the Spartan Race because it combines cross-country running with tests of endurance," says Zhao.

"Even though I'm good at running, I still need to build up my strength for the race. Everyone has to overcome their personal weaknesses to make it to the finish line."

For each of the obstacles in the Spartan Race, a warrior is only given one attempt to complete it. If they fail an obstacle, they are handed a punishment of 30 "burpees" - a push-up where the chest touches the ground followed by a jump in the air with both hands held behind their ears - before they are allowed to try again. Elite group and Age group warriors have to finish the obstacles alone, while open group participants are allowed to help each other.

Competitor Xu Wanwei opted to try a new approach in the recent Spartan event in Beijing. In her first attempt at cracking the Women's Elite Group event, Xu tried to achieve the best time possible by opting to bypass obstacles she failed on her first attempt rather than spending time on punishment rounds.

Aiming to achieve a better result in this competition, she planned to overcome all the obstacles along the course to give her a better chance at qualifying for the Spartan World Championships. While the former national athlete failed four obstacles during her first Elite event, on this occasion she initially failed three obstacles. After repeatedly failing to overcome each hurdle, she opted to repeat the series of penalty burpees before trying to overcome the obstacle once again. After several attempts at each obstacle, she finally overcame each hurdle.

"Last time I took part, I failed to get a good result. But this time I came mentally prepared to conquer all the obstacles and tried to figure out techniques to overcome them in advance," says Xu, who was named a Spartan ambassador in February.

"To complete the Spartan Race, you need to be able to run long distances, and also have strong muscular endurance," says Xu. "You also need to assign your strength rationally."

As the founder of the CrossFit gym in Beijing, Xu also brought 40 of her gym members to join her public group. "I wanted to show them that gym is not the only way of doing exercise - you can do all kinds of sports."

According to Xu, the Spartan Race can be a good way for people to identify their physical weaknesses, as different obstacles require different skills to complete them.

Richardson Manzol, who comes from Venezuela, is another Spartan ambassador. He led a team to run the Super Race an hour after he finished the Elite group event, and the following day, he returned to lead a vegan team in the Spartan Sprint competition.

Manzol says he has fallen in love with the event. "I took part in the Spartan Race in 2016, and I'm married to it now," says Manzol, who completed his trifecta last year.

"It's just like being a kid again. You are in a huge playground full of obstacles and you're allowed to get dirty," Manzol says.

Manzol has been a vegetarian for six years, and became a vegan two years ago. After learning about nutrition, Manzol realized that there were many other sources of protein other than meat and dairy, so he decided to adopt a vegan lifestyle.

By entering an entirely vegan team to compete in the Spartan Sprint for the first time, Manzol is setting an example of being a healthy vegan Spartan, which he hopes will inspire other people to try, or "even become a little bit curious about a vegan diet".

Sponsored by Japanese automaker Infiniti and Chinese sportswear brand Anta, the 2018 Spartan Race will see more than 20 events being hosted in China, more than double last year's nine events and five times the number held in 2016, when the competition was first introduced to China by sports marketing company SECA.

According to Zhang Haoyang, product manager for the Spartan Race in China, Beijing will host an event that combines all three major races on August 25 and 26 - the first Spartan Beast event in Chinaand the first chance for warriors to obtain their Trifecta glory in one weekend.

"Even though male warriors are in the majority, we are attracting more female participants, who are more willing to share their experience on social media," says Zhang. "Eighty percent of our participants are aged between 26 and 40, and half of them are unmarried."

"For the Spartan Race, if you can walk, you can definitely join the race, because for the open group, we encourage friends and colleagues to help each other," Zhang says. "There is no time limit, so we hope everyone will come and give it a try because the spirit of Spartan Race is to challenge yourself."

Contact the writer at liyingxue@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2018-06-06 07:18:35
<![CDATA[Music education gets new voice]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/06/content_36338663.htm Gong Linna, renowned musician is putting her philosophy toward musical education into practice with new teaching methods. Cheng Yuezhu reports.

Gong Linna, renowned Chinese musician and founder of Chinese New Art Music, put her music teaching methods to practice for the first time at the Tracing Roots practice concert and music festival of the Affiliated High School of Peking University on May 23.

The title of the concert, Tracing Roots, reflects Gong's philosophy toward musical education, that is, cultural roots are the foundation of innovation.

The first song of the concert, Search High and Low, is an allusion to the classical poem Li Sao (Sorrows After Departure), "The road ahead will be long, I shall search high and low."

 

Gong Linna performs at the Tracing Roots practice concert and music festival of the Affiliated High School of Peking University. Photos Provided to China Daily

"It's arranged to be sung by all performers, indicating that we should all search high and low for our roots," Gong says.

To explore the education and the popularization of Chinese music, in 2017, Gong established a research and development team, which includes ethnomusicologist, Du Yaxiong, and music historian, Zhao Zhongming, to deliberate her music teaching methods and summarize the vocal skills of Chinese music.

After the symposium, Gong aspired to turn her concepts into practical teaching methods which can be widely disseminated. By giving speeches about Chinese music at more than 40 universities and working with both professional and amateur singers of different age groups and occupations, Gong has developed a systematic approach to her vocal training methods.

Gong has also been utilizing various media platforms to maximize the effect of her music education program. She published audio courses entitled Learn Singing with Gong Linna, and the Tracing Roots concert was broadcast live via Yangyin Zaixian (CCOM Live), the online education platform of the Central Conservatory of Music.

"This concert is my first time cooperating with middle schools. I was only lecturing, but never actually practiced choruses in schools," Gong says.

The students are from seven affiliated high schools of Peking University from Beijing and Tianjin, for Gong believes that the popularization of Chinese music should rely on primary and secondary schools rather than music academies.

The children's passion for music and their outstanding performance amazed Gong, "when singing, they are completely immersed in the music. Music brings light and richness to one's spiritual world. So, learning to sing is never about passing examinations, but about enjoying the music."

Lu Yueming, instructor of the school's art center, says, "the children worked really hard and kept in mind Gong's instructions. Seeing their performance, I know that they truly fell in love with traditional Chinese music."

Although drawing from traditional Chinese literature and folk music, the songs are contemporary in style. Most of the songs are written or arranged by composer of Chinese New Art Music and Gong's husband, Robert Zollitsch, known in China as Lao Luo.

"With an international vision, he worked out how to make today's youngsters fall in love with China," Gong says, "Lao Luo will continue to write group songs based on Chinese folk music or ancient poems."

"Seeing the children perform my pieces, I realized I should write more songs for them," Lao Luo says, proudly. "It's a great encouragement for me to see how much they like the songs, and they really need content related to Chinese culture."

Speaking about her future plans, Gong says she would like to further popularize her teaching methods and Chinese music. "We need to promote the teaching methods to some rural areas. Right now, there are children who have been left behind, whose parents cannot keep them company, so I hope that music could give them warmth.

"Children should learn about the beauty of Chinese music. Only when you know about your own sounds, can you have cultural confidence," she concludes.

Contact the writer at chengyuezhu@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2018-06-06 07:18:35
<![CDATA[Young still seek family structure]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/06/content_36338662.htm

BEIJING - Traditional family structures remain popular among young Chinese with 59 percent saying they want to have a child within two years of marriage, according to a survey.

The dating and marriage survey, with 3,082 respondents from different regions and fields, was released recently by the Central Committee of the Communist Youth League (CYL).

As Chinese culture encourages parents to be deeply involved in their adult children's relationships, living together with their children is the traditional and most expected family pattern for most Chinese youth, according to the survey.

The survey showed that 6 percent of respondents chose a dual income, no kids, or DINK, lifestyle.

The survey also found that nearly 60 percent of young Chinese are willing to have two children.

After more than 30 years of a one-child family planning policy, China began to allow all couples to have two children in 2016.

Xinhua

]]>
2018-06-06 07:18:35
<![CDATA[China to regulate adulthood ceremony]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/06/content_36338661.htm

BEIJING - China is moving to standardize a coming-of-age ceremony for high school students in a bid to promote core socialist values and a sense of responsibility, Wednesday's China Youth Daily reported.

The ceremony should be held on Dec 4, China's Constitution Day, in principle, according to provisional norms on such ceremonies issued by the Central Committee of the Communist Youth League (CYL).

The date, however, could also coincide with China's Youth Day on May 4, or local coming-of-age festivals in accordance with local conditions.

The coming-of-age ceremony is held to mark the passage into adulthood when students turn 18.

Detailing norms for ceremony procedures, location, oath and logo, the CYL said the ceremony is an important opportunity to educate the students about morality, traditional culture, and foster a strong sense of nationhood, citizenship, laws and the Constitution, responsibility and gratitude.

The CYL began to advocate the coming-of-age ceremony as early as 1996 and issued several circulars in 1999, 2000 and 2002 to promote the practice, according to the newspaper.

Xinhua

]]>
2018-06-06 07:18:35
<![CDATA[Building an educational bridge between China, US]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/06/content_36338660.htm

CHICAGO - Building a two-way educational bridge between the United States and China is what Tom Watkins has dreamed of.

It is "for the betterment of the students and society," Watkins, former Michigan state superintendent of schools, told Xinhua.

Since a primary schoolteacher sparked his interest in China, Watkins has dedicated his life to building bridges, economically, culturally and educationally, between China and the United States. "One of the best ways to build relationship and forge a shared vision and common agenda is around education," he says.

He worked with the Confucius Institute to bring Chinese teachers to US, invited Chinese principals, teachers, university professors and presidents to conferences in the United States.

Meanwhile, he has visited countless Chinese schools and universities. "China has a long and rich history of educating its people ... The concept of teamwork, tolerance, cooperation and harmony are strong skills that students gain as part of the greater society and Chinese education," he told Xinhua.

"Chinese students are, overall, better behaved, calm and compliant in the classroom," he added, which is rarely seen at the same level as Western education.

But given all these, he admits: "neither US nor Chinese system of education has all the answers," the two countries should learn from each other.

Statistics released by US Institute of International Education in November 2017 show that in the 2016-17 academic year, students from the Chinese mainland studying in US reached 350,755, up 6.8 percent year-on-year and making up 32.5 percent of total international student studying in the US. China has become the largest source of foreign students for US colleges and universities for eight years running.

This one-way direction prompted Watkins to do something: bringing US education essence to China.

He becomes a partner of the Way American School, an innovative educational company in US that is partnering with China's Bright Scholar Schools to offer the best of Chinese and US education to students living in China.

The partnership has proved to be a supplementary program to standard Chinese curriculum, and equipped Chinese students with the critical academic foundation and skillsets necessary to succeed in their future pursuit of higher education both at home and abroad.

By building educational bridge, Watkins also aims to forge a deeper understanding between Chinese and Americans.

"The relationship between China and US is, and will remain the most important bilateral relationship on the planet," Watkins says. "By creating ways to strengthen our nations' bond through education bodes well for the US, China and all of humanity."

Now serving as managing director of China operations at Way American School, Watkins will move to China full time this summer. "There is nothing more important to the individual, family and society than the education of our youth. This is true regardless if you are Chinese or American."

Xinhua

]]>
2018-06-06 07:18:35
<![CDATA[Design finds a new language]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/06/content_36338659.htm The intrinsic beauty of the square Chinese characters is the focus of an ongoing contest for young designers. Fang Aiqing reports.

A group of young designers are integrating the aesthetic elements of hanzi (Chinese characters) into their designs. And inspired by the stories about the hanzi, they aim to make the characters part of people's daily lives.

The designers are taking part in The Beauty of Chinese Characters: Global Youth Design Contest being held by Beijing Normal University and the Academy of Arts and Design at Tsinghua University.

Hanzi is one of the world's oldest hieroglyphics and has been one of the main carriers of Chinese cultural connotations for millennia. But, according to French Sinologist Joel Bellassen, people should also focus on the intrinsic beauty of the square Chinese characters.

Recognizing this aesthetic potential, this year's contest is asking young designers aged between 18 and 44 from around the globe to create designs that are inspired by 30 Chinese characters.

This year's theme is a Chinese saying: "Harmony in the family is the basis for success in any undertaking" and the 30 characters share the common component baogaitou (which implies a house).

Wang Lijun, a professor at BNU's School of Chinese Language and Literature, says that the characters are related to life in ancient times.

In ancient times when hanzi resembled tiny pictures, the character jia (home) consisted of a baogaitou on the top and the component shi (a pig) at the bottom.

This was to indicate that it was only when people started to rear animals that they began to lead a settled life.

And since the ancients typically stored their wealth at home, many Chinese characters with the baogaitou component were related to wealth such as bao (treasure) and fu (rich).

Wang says the character ning (tranquil) for example, consists of components including baogaitou, xin (heart), min (which implies a utensil), and ding (which looks like a table), and the combination means that a meal at home calmed people.

Yu Dan, a professor at BNU who initiated the contest, says that hanzi reflects the origin of ideas and is a suitable way to tell foreigners about Chinese history and culture.

The last contest was held in 2016 and the theme was the component xin.

According to Yu, at that time the organizers received 1,250 entries from 16 countries and regions.

The gold award in that contest went to a series of clock designs called Zhuanxin (turning one's mind). The 30 themed characters featured in the contest were listed around the round dial without their component xin. The two clock hands were designed to represent the two shapes of the component xin.

One hand of the clock points to 10 components on the outer dial of the clock face, while the other points to 20 components on the inner dial. Depending on the position of the respective clock hands, a different character is formed by each one.

"Every moment had a unique meaning." says Lyu You, the designer, who wanted to combine all the 30 characters into a single product design.

Another award-winning design was by South Korean designer Kim Su-jin.

Kim, 32, has been learning Chinese for 16 years. And her design focused on the word huainian (missing someone).

For her, if the component xin of the first character huai (inclusive) was removed, the word became bunian (not missing someone at all).

This led to her designing a card with temperature-sensitive printing ink.

When the card is opened, the word bunian can be seen. However, later the component xin also appears.

Through her design, Kim wants to remind people of the feelings that can be conveyed through the written word.

For Kim, one of the best things about the contest is that it's a crossover event.

"Crossover is popular among designers these days, yet it is not often applied to design contests. So, designs like mine are often turned down," says Kim. "Yet, this one (the contest) eliminates the boundaries between the different genres of designs, so you can apply many forms that you cannot present elsewhere."

Now, Kim says she has managed to find suitable materials to make her cards and is planning to turn the design into a product and sell it.

Chi Xun, an associate professor of visual communication at the Laguna College of Art and Design in the United States, has long been using Chinese cultural elements in his teaching. Some of his students, who are participating in this year's contest, are using augmented reality technology in their designs.

"A Chinese character usually has more than one meaning. By using AR, multiple meanings can be presented at one time," says Chi.

"Every one of them (the characters) has its own history of evolution and 'family tree'. By looking into them, especially through the components, one can also learn about the culture and customs behind them," says Chi, who is fond of reading ancient Chinese prose.

Chen Nan, one of the other brains behind the contest and a doctoral supervisor of visual communication design at the Academy of Arts and Design at Tsinghua University, says that young designers should focus more on Chinese history and culture as Chinese characters have great vitality, especially considering that they have been passed through history.

Contact the writer at fangaiqing@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2018-06-06 07:18:35
<![CDATA[Four tips to create a minimalist wardrobe]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/06/content_36338658.htm There are plenty of clothes in my walk-in closet, so why do I feel like I have nothing to wear?

I've managed to accumulate pieces from clearance racks that I thought were great deals. My closet was stocked with dresses I bought on impulse, thinking that maybe I'd have an occasion to wear a floor-length gown.

"It was only $30," I'd say in justifying the purchase.

And then I'd never wear it.

Our relationship with clothing is complicated at times. We get attached to certain pieces. We repeatedly purchase items we convince ourselves will work out and then they don't. And sometimes we blow through our bank accounts buying clothes.

Choosing a minimalist wardrobe feels like a way to simplify life.

Caroline Rector of Denton, Texas, made the change herself back in 2013 and felt inspired to create a blog for women called Unfancy.

It became a viral sensation. Her blog received hundreds of comments, and women from all over the country wrote to her. She now works full-time managing her blog.

Rector said she made the change as a way to do a"clothing cleanse" and also to save some money. She had just gotten married.

"I wasn't all about minimalism but I was looking for a different approach with my clothes. We were the broke newlywed couple, so my solution was: I could have a really great closet if I shrink down my idea of what my closet should look like," she said.

On a visit to Rector's home, I saw how that approach can make you physically feel better. Her antique freestanding closet held everything she needed. It was so organized and tidy, with items arranged by color and with wooden hangers spaced so you could actually see the clothes.

Who knew something so simple could be so calming?

It was nothing like my current closet, where clothes are jammed tight. I fold my pants haphazardly. Most items are in disarray. And I can wholeheartedly say that there are about eight to 10 outfits I wear on repeat - without even touching some of the blouses I have.

Rector rolls up her jeans like burritos and packs them side-by-side in a cubby. That way she can clearly see all of her jeans at once.

The decluttering ideas of Marie Kondo, who created a phenomenon with her books Spark Joy and The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, have also served as motivation. Rector said she likes to use Kondo's KonMari folding method to organize workout clothes and pajamas.

Rector likewise inspired other women, like Denaye Barahona, founder of Simple Families, a blog and podcast about motherhood.

Barahona, a self-described impulse shopper, applied minimalism to her wardrobe and other aspects of her life. She cut back on appliances and gadgets in the kitchen and reduced toy clutter.

Overall, her minimalist wardrobe made her a smarter shopper.

"I like that experience of having less. How great it feels. Once you have that space, it's enjoyable," Barahona said.

Here are Rector's and Barahona's tips for a simpler wardrobe:

1. Get rid of clothes that don't fit your lifestyle.

"I think that the first step is to free yourself of any clothes that aren't serving you right now. We women tend to hold on to those pieces," Rector said. If you can, block out a weekend to dedicate yourself to doing this. Make sure you have some snacks and music.

2. Focus on your color palette.

"Find colors that work for you. So when you're looking into buying pieces, you know things will work together," Barahona said.

3. Save closet space for your favorite pieces.

"If you're out shopping and it's a meh, then maybe not. You don't want to bring it into your favorite closet space," Rector said. You must love the piece so much, it'll hurt to leave it.

4. Invest in quality and buy with intention.

"Even though you'll be buying less clothes, it doesn't mean you'll spend less. But when you are careful about what you're buying, then you can spend more because you're buying less often," Barahona said.

Tribune News Service

打造极简衣柜的四条建议

我的步入式衣柜里有很多衣服,但为什么我还是觉得没什么可穿呢?

我从清仓大甩卖里淘到过很多我认为特别划算的衣服。衣柜里塞满了我一时冲动买下的裙子,想着可能以后会有穿拖地晚礼服的场合。

“才30美金”,买衣服时我常会这样为自己辩解。

买回来后我就再也没穿过。

有时,我们和衣服的关系很微妙。我们会钟情于某些服饰,不停地买一些自以为实用却根本穿不着的衣服,有时甚至买到银行卡透支。

选择极简衣柜感觉就像是选择一种简化生活的方式。

得克萨斯州登顿市的卡洛琳·雷克托在2013做出了改变,并由此开设了名为Unfancy的针对女性的博客。

该博客很快引起轰动,收到数百条评论, 来自全国各地的女性都给她留言。现在雷克托全职管理她的博客。

雷克托表示她这样改变是为了“净化服装”,也为了存些钱。她刚刚结婚。

“不全是极简主义,我会寻找处理衣服的不同方法。我们是裸婚夫妻,所以我的解决方法是,降低对衣柜的预期,这样我就能有个非常不错的衣柜”,她说道。

参观雷克托家时,我亲眼目睹这个方法如何能让人感觉更舒服。她老旧的独立衣柜里装下了她需要的所有东西。衣柜整理得干净有序,井井有条,每件都按颜色分类,用木衣架隔开,这样就能看见每件衣服。

谁能想到如此简单的事就能让人感到平静?

不像我现在的衣柜,衣服塞得满满当当,裤子随意地叠着,大多数都放得杂乱无序。老实说,我只反复穿大约8至10件衣服——有一些衬衫甚至碰都没碰过。

雷克托像卷饼一样把牛仔裤都卷起来,然后一个挨一个地叠放在储藏格里。这样她就能一次清晰地看到所有裤子。

曾因《怦然心动》和《怦然心动的人生整理魔法》两本书创造轰动效应的近藤麻理惠,其整理理念也成了雷克托的动力。雷克托说她喜欢用近藤的怦然心动折叠法整理运动服和睡衣。

雷克托还激励了其他女性,比如狄娜亚·巴拉霍纳,她是关于母性的博客和播客平台 Simple Families 的创始人。

(本段的翻译有奖征集中)

总的来说,她的极简衣柜让她成为了更精明的消费者。

“我喜欢东西变少的体验。感觉真的很好。一旦节省出了空间,你就会感到快乐”,巴拉霍纳说道。

以下是雷克托和巴拉霍纳关于打造更简洁衣柜的几个小建议:

扔掉与你生活方式不符的衣服。

“我认为第一步是将自己从风格不符的衣服中解放出来。我们女性总爱留着这些衣服”,雷克托说道。如果可以,专门腾出个周末来做这件事,务必要准备好零食和音乐。

专注于适合你的色调。

“找到适合你的颜色。这样当你买衣服时,就知道哪些搭配起来合适”,巴拉霍纳说道。

把衣柜空间留给你最喜欢的衣服

“如果外出购物时,你觉得某件衣服一般,那可能就不合适,你肯定不想把这件放进最爱的衣柜里”, 雷克托说道。你必须深爱这件衣服,爱到不买就撕心裂肺的地步。

注重质量,用心选购

“即使买的衣服少了,也不意味着花的钱就会少。但当你用心选购时,可以增加一些预算,因为你买东西的频次降低了”,巴拉霍纳说道。

翻译高手:请将灰框标注内容译成中文,在6月11日中午12点前发送至youth@chinadaily.com.cn 或“中国日报读者俱乐部”公众服务号,请注明姓名、学校及所在城市。最佳翻译提供者将获得礼品一份,并在本报公众号中发布,请与“读者俱乐部”客服联系领取奖品。

上期获奖者:沈阳工业大学 王新

]]>
2018-06-06 07:18:35
<![CDATA[PLACE FOR PAPER TREASURES]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/05/content_36330925.htm First built in 1420, the Hall of Literary Glory (Wenhua Dian) in the Palace Museum in Beijing, China's former royal palace, also known as the Forbidden City, used to house myriad books during the imperial age.It was also where emperors of the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties reviewed imperial examinations.

]]>
The Palace Museum's Hall of Literary Glory reopens with a comprehensive exhibition of the works of Wu Changshuo. Wang Kaihao reports.

First built in 1420, the Hall of Literary Glory (Wenhua Dian) in the Palace Museum in Beijing, China's former royal palace, also known as the Forbidden City, used to house myriad books during the imperial age.It was also where emperors of the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties reviewed imperial examinations.

In recent years, the hall has been used to present porcelain artifacts before a brief closure.

However, since it reopened to the public on Sunday, the hall will better live up its grandiose name, as the space will now house the museum's abundant paper treasures - ancient Chinese paintings and calligraphy.

Perhaps an exhibition of works by painting guru, Wu Changshuo (1844-1927), is the perfect way to inaugurate this new era of the hall as he, too, initiated a new era.

About 100 of his works, which were selected from the collection of the Palace Museum, will be displayed for Iron Pens Grow Flowers: Exhibition of Wu Changshuo's Works, which will run through July 15.

It almost makes for a perfect summer exhibition as the painted flowers make it like a garden on paper.

According to Nie Hui, a researcher of painting and calligraphy at the museum, auspicious flowers are the most recognizable theme in Wu's paintings.

"Each flower represents a spirit," Nie says. "He skilfully mixes a common aesthetic with a literati's taste through the flowers."

For example, his paintings range from those of plum blossom and orchids - typically embodying the spirit of the Chinese literati - to peonies and wisterias, which are widely favored by the general public.

"Wu is among the peak of Chinese literati painters and the brightest star in recent Chinese painting history," Nie says.

"Later, people had overwhelming praise for him. It's just like the flowering world under his paintbrush: It's a rain of blossoms, and the falling petals are of riotous profusion."

According to Ren Wanping, deputy director of the museum, who curated the exhibition, some sections are designed for the exhibition to not only display a panoramic review of Wu's lifetime achievements but also to explore how his artistic styles formed.

In one section, Wu's paintings are juxtaposed with some ancient painters' works to trace the origin of his inspirations.

Xu Wei, a Ming Dynasty artist famed for his bird-and-flower paintings, and Zhu Da, an early Qing Dynasty painter better known for his pseudonym Bada Shanren, are among the predecessors who influenced Wu.

"However, unlike the cynical Bada Shanren, Wu treated the real world with a more open-minded attitude, and was thus more down-to-earth," Ren says.

Some of the displayed work proves Wu to be a man who not only observed life, but also fully understood how to enjoy it.

A highlighted scroll painting, A Peach Banquet with an Alcohol Jar, depicts big peaches - in a luster of red colors - with a jar of liquor. In Chinese, both peaches and alcohol are cultural symbols indicating longevity.

"The sharp contrast also mixes traditional folklore and a literati's philosophical thinking," Ren says. "It's not flamboyant, but it touches people's heart."

In another scroll painting, Precious Fruits, Wu continues to use sharp contrasts of colors.

"Each fruit in the painting seems like it is edible," Ren says. "And the words Wu left by the fruit also show he is very knowledgeable about his subject."

The words to which Ren refers describes characteristics of each fruit, as well as how they taste and where they are produced.

Another section of the exhibits highlights Wu's influence on the next generation of painters, by displaying masterpieces by followers of Wu, Qi Baishi (1864-1957) and Chen Banding (1876-1970), who became icons of Chinese artistic history in their own right.

Some of Wu's manuscripts, which were borrowed from the Beijing Fine Art Academy, are also on display to illustrate his recommendations to younger artists, including a handwritten price tag for Qi's work.

Compared with Wu, who is greatly admired within art circles, Qi, who's more of a household name, is more widely recognized by the general public in modern China.

However, a humble Qi once said that he only wanted to be the guard dog of three people after reincarnation: Xu Wei, Bada Shanren and Wu.

According to Mao Xiangyu, a researcher of painting history at the Palace Museum, Wu frequently communicated with other artists.

"He was often invited to paint or write calligraphy for friends," Mao says. "Some works are a reflection of his friendship with other artists." Other artists also gave him gifts. For instance, two portraits of Wu at the exhibition - one portraying him in a casual and half-naked lounging posture and one of him wearing a Qing Dynasty official's robe - were drawn by his tutor and friend Ren Bonian. The two pieces are on loan from the Zhejiang Museum in Hangzhou.

"Other than his excellent skills, Wu's great reputation and high status in art history are also partially due to such communication with fellow artists," Mao says.

Ren Wanping adds: "Wu lived in a pivotal time when China made the transition from a traditional to a modern society." Therefore, he simultaneously inherited old traditions as well as adopting the spirit of the age.

An independent section of the exhibition also focuses on Wu's calligraphy and seal-cutting work, which may remind people of an easily forgotten fact: Wu only began to learn painting in his 40s. Before that, he was an established calligrapher.

In one displayed piece, Wu mixes a rubbing of bronze cauldrons, calligraphy and paintings of flowers, which shows his versatility.

"Wu mixes calligraphy techniques into his paintings later on," Nie notes. "It's one of the things that give his painting new life."

According to Shan Jixiang, director of the Palace Museum, much work has been done for the opening of the Hall of Literary Glory as a gallery for ancient paintings.

The original ceilings and floors of the ancient building were kept to maintain a harmony between exhibits and the environment, but extra facilities, including lighting and temperature-control systems, were also added in a "reversible way." He also reveals that all of the museum's major exhibition spaces will be redesigned or renovated within the next three years.

Contact the writer at wangkaihao@chinadaily.com.cn

 

An exhibition of works by Chinese painting master Wu Changshuo marks the reopening of the Hall of Literary Glory (Wenhua Dian) in the Palace Museum in Beijing. The exhibition showcases Wu's paintings, calligraphy and seal-cutting works. Auspicious flowers are the most recognizable theme in Wu's paintings. Photos By Jiang Dong / China Daily and Provided to China Daily

]]>
2018-06-05 07:22:02
<![CDATA[FLAVORS WITH A DASH OF DELIGHT]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/05/content_36330924.htm In 1859, the first shipment of Hennessy arrived in Shanghai, marking the start of China's fondness for combining French cognac with delicacies from south of the Yangtze River.

]]>
When it comes to combining the tastes of the southeast with a little spirit, Chinese chefs have never been shy about adding a little cognac. Li Yingxue reports.

In 1859, the first shipment of Hennessy arrived in Shanghai, marking the start of China's fondness for combining French cognac with delicacies from south of the Yangtze River.

More than 150 years later, Hennessy invited four popular Chinese chefs to rediscover the beauty of food from the southeast and add a dash of cognac for good measure.

The four chefs - Du Caiqing, Chinese master chef at the Hyatt on the Bund, Shanghai; Gao Xiaosheng, Chinese executive chef at the Pudong Shangri-La, East Shanghai; Wang Yong, executive Chinese chef at the Four Seasons Hangzhou at West Lake; and Zhang Shaohua, executive chef at the Park Hyatt Ningbo - teamed up to host a gala dinner presenting traditional dishes from south of the Yangze River with a modern twist in Shanghai on May 21, as part of the annual Hennessy and Meals dining event.

"All the dishes we have designed, from the cold dishes to the desserts, are typical foods from either Shanghai, Hangzhou or Ningbo, and all are made using local ingredients," says Du.

Du designed his cold dishes - sweet lotus roots with osmanthus flowers, fish jelly with Pu'er tea, and smoked bean curd with kalimeris - to compliment Gao's pickled pig ear and pig tongue.

Usually fish jelly is made of crucian, but Du uses cod instead of carp to give it a fresher flavor. The jelly is made with a fish-and-shrimp soup and Pu'er tea, which gives it a dark red tinge and distinctive tea flavor.

"I put some lemon peel on top of the jelly to lighten the flavor of the dish," says Du. He uses tofu skin to cover the smoked bean curd with kalimeris, and adds a drop of vinegar and sugar.

Wang upgrades the Song Sao (sister-in-law) fish soup by using a white gravy base instead of a light soup, to which he adds sliced cucumbers and carrots.

"Traditionally the soup is light, with a bit vinegar and pepper, but I chose to make it a heavy soup that's also freshened by the cod that I roast first, before peeling off the crunchy parts," Wang says.

Wang cooked one of his signature dishes at the gala dinner - braised pork and abalone with brown sauce. He stews the meat Shanghai-style for an hour before adding the truffle sauce.

"The fattiness of the meat compliments the Hennessy XO very well, as it enhances the roundness of the cognac and elevates its elegance," says Wang.

"Usually we drink white liquor with Chinese dishes, but now we are exploring more about pairing red wine or cognac with Chinese cuisine."

Gao also brought one of his signature dishes to the gala dinner, a dish that took him years to perfect - mini eight-treasures-stuffed duck.

In 2002, Gao met a customer who liked the eight treasures stuffed duck dish, but wanted a smaller portion. Gao tried to use chicken, pigeon and even quail successively to make the dish but he was never satisfied with the results. It was only when he figured out how to stuff the skin of the duck's neck with the fresh ingredients - sea cucumber, abalone, mushrooms, bamboo shoots and glutinous rice - did it finally work.

Du's phoenix-tailed prawn was designed especially for the dinner. It's a modern take on peeled pan-fried prawns. Du peels half of each prawn and keeps the other half of their phoenix-like tail to improve the presentation of the dish. For seasoning, instead of dipping the prawn in vinegar, Du made vinegar and lemon "bubbles" using a modern molecular gastronomic technique.

"People are used to eating prawns with a spoon, so I think the vinegar bubbles will help make it more fun for the guests to enjoy the dish," says Du.

Zhang created a vegetable dish, crispy rice cakes with cane shoots, adding sea sedge powder as seasoning, which is also an updated way of serving the traditional Ningbo dish of sea sedge and rice cakes. The deep-fried rice cakes are sliced before they are served, and the natural curve they form adds an artistic touch to the presentation of the dish.

The gala dinner ended with Du's four Western desserts with Chinese ingredients served in the same glass bowl with dry ice - a thousand-layer cake made with broad beans, a Longjing tea flavor tiramisu, French pudding with kalimeris and black chocolate ice cream.

It's the fourth year of the Hennessy and Meals: The Rediscovery of the Taste of Chinese Cuisine event, which previously explored the cuisine of Xiamen, Fujian province, and Guangzhou and Shunde in Guangdong province.

Hennessy also opened a pop-up food lab in Shanghai from May 25 to 27 to explore the secrets behind the flavors. It was free to join by registering in advance. Customers were able to sample some of the dishes created by the four chefs for the gala dinner.

Model Zhang Liang, He Sui and actor Zhou Yiwei were invited to be the first "testers" at the lab, where they served Du's phoenix-tailed prawns as openers.

Contact the writer at liyingxue@chinadaily.com.cn

 

Four Chinese chefs - (from left to right) Du Caiqing, Gao Xiaosheng, Wang Yong and Zhang Shaohua - team up to host a gala dinner presenting traditional dishes from south of the Yangze River with a modern twist as part of the annual Hennessy and Meals dining event in Shanghai. Photos provided to China Daily

]]>
2018-06-05 07:22:02
<![CDATA[Taking the time to make a fresh start]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/05/content_36330923.htm Born and raised in Italy, 24-year-old Yang Qiying has worked for several Michelin-starred restaurants in the famed culinary country over the past six years, including Osteria Francescana, which was named as the planet's top eatery by the World's 50 Best Restaurants in 2016.

Yang moved to China at the end of that year, bringing with him all the skills he had accumulated over the years since he became interested in cooking at the tender age of 12. He was appointed executive chef of Italian cuisine at the Grand Hyatt Beijing and was the youngest senior chef ever to be hired by the hotel.

Last year, a new Italian restaurant, Simply Fresh, offered Yang the chance to head their kitchen and create his own menu to showcase his talent for creating Italian food with a modern twist - and Yang jumped at the opportunity.

"I have much more freedom when I'm creating new dishes," says Yang.

Adjacent to Guomao, Simply Fresh occupies a bright space on the second floor of China Overseas Plaza in Beijing's central business district. With key color tones of white, light gray and black, half of the restaurant's bespoke wooden tables face the dramatic floor-to-ceiling windows.

The owner of Simply Fresh, Xiong Jing, set out from the very beginning to give her customers a place where they could sit down with family and friends and just enjoy the food. "I want people to feel cozy and relaxed as they savor their meal," says Xiong.

Large, leafy plants lend a peaceful ambience to the informal minimalist space, while the floral centerpieces placed on each table add a further soft touch.

The tempting patisseries that are displayed in the cake fridge in the center of the restaurant are all handmade by Yang's team. After taking over the kitchen ahead of the restaurant's opening, Yang insisted on using his solid culinary background to create all the sauces, pre-meal breads, desserts and patisseries directly on the premises. The tangy, citrus sauce that Yang created for his baby-spinach salad made of oranges, raisins, pine nuts and Parmesan cheese helps to elevate the flavor of this simple dish.

He uses the peels from an orange, grapefruit and lemon mixed with concentrated juice to create the sauce, which has to be boiled in water several times before it's boiled with orange juice.

"I got the idea in Naples, Italy, where I grew up. They always use fruit to cook," says Yang. "Even though it takes us a long time to create, we make the sauce every day to ensure it's fresh."

Organic eggs with porcini besciamella, asparagus and truffle sauce is another signature dish that highlights Yang's innovative approach to cooking. When the egg yoke is mixed with the white sauce, an interesting combination of soft and creamy flavors melt in the mouth.

"Many people think eggs are an everyday ingredient and the way of eating them is a bit boring. So I wanted to cook an egg dish in a way you wouldn't normally try at home," says Yang.

Yang adds five different types of porcini mushrooms to the white sauce, which he leaves to soak beforehand, to add a strong, earthy flavor to complement the truffles. "I also add some dry mushroom powder to enrich the flavor," says Yang.

The main dish, Yang's sous vide Angus beef tenderloin with sea sedge powder, is a must-try. He matches the no-nonsense presentation of the beef dish with a simple yet artistic mustard-and-pea sauce and a red wine reduction - or any other sauce that the customer requests.

"I lived in Guangdong province for a while, and I noticed how people there liked to make soup using seafood and meat. So I thought of using sea sedge powder to lift the freshness of the beef," says Yang. The black-tailed prawn and seafood bisque, a traditional favorite, has been winning praise from users on Dazhong Dianping, a popular Chinese food-review website. The creamy soup is made from fresh prawns, clams, scallops and octopus - and a handmade tomato sauce as a base.

For his take on lava cake, Yang uses the world-famous Valrhona chocolate, which he recommends customers pair with a cup of Lavazza coffee as the perfect summer treat.

If you go

11:30 am-10 pm, 2/F North Tower, China Overseas Plaza. No 8 Guanghuadongli, Chaoyang district, Beijing. 010-5290-3887.

]]>
2018-06-05 07:22:02
<![CDATA[STUDIO SCENES]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/05/content_36330922.htm What did a Chinese scholar's studio look like hundreds of years ago? Collector, writer and curator Marcus Flacks offers a comprehensive insight into five different scholar's studios in his latest art book Custodians of the Scholar's Way: Chinese Scholars' Objects in Precious Woods, which has just been translated and published for Chinese readers.

]]>
The private workspaces of ancient Chinese scholars and their wooden objects are the subject of an art book by a key British antique collector. Deng Zhangyu reports.

What did a Chinese scholar's studio look like hundreds of years ago? Collector, writer and curator Marcus Flacks offers a comprehensive insight into five different scholar's studios in his latest art book Custodians of the Scholar's Way: Chinese Scholars' Objects in Precious Woods, which has just been translated and published for Chinese readers.

In his book released last month, the British author elaborates on his collection of around 200 wooden objects used by Chinese scholars, which were usually made from precious hardwoods, that helped to reflect the social status of their owners. Many of these pieces were bought early in his career as a collector and antique dealer, when classical Chinese furniture such as cabinets, armchairs and stools were popular and highly sought after by Chinese and Western collectors alike.

To give readers a better understanding of how ancient Chinese scholars spent their time in their studios, which were often regarded as private spaces that reflected the personal taste and lifestyle of their owners, Flacks recreated five typical styles of studio decorated by his collections of wooden objects, including a "female studio", an "imperial studio" and a "natural Tao studio".

"I felt it was of paramount importance to create a historical and aesthetic context for these pieces to live in, to help readers to reconnect with the history that helped form the world of the literatus," he says.

Screens on tables used to block out the wind as scholars practiced calligraphy or painted a variety of objects using ink brushes. From delicate censers, food trays, and boxes of weiqi - the game of Go that was popular among scholars - to pen boxes with engraved paintings and cases, all of these wooden objects were laid out in the studios designed by Flacks and depicted by Chinese painter Liu Xin.

Hai Yan, a major collector of ancient Chinese furniture, said at a talk with Flacks at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in May, that, compared to furniture, scholars' objects better represented the mindset of the Chinese elite and the individual aesthetics of ancient times. They connect modern Chinese society with a traditional culture which lasted for thousands of years.

Like many other collectors, Hai spent years building up his collection of large pieces of Chinese furniture, but tended to overlook the small objects used by scholars. However, as prices of smaller pieces have begun to rise in recent years, they have begun to attract more attention in market.

But for Flacks, who maintains a strong passion for Chinese culture, his collection of these long neglected pieces started in the early 1990s with his wife Debby. The Flacks refer to themselves merely as the "custodians" of these delicate wooden objects, which were often treated as items of secondary importance by the art market.

The British collector says that many dealers thought the couple were crazy because they often offered big sums of money for these small objects. They mainly bought from dealers and collectors directly as they traveled around the world.

As an antique dealer himself, Flacks has had the opportunity to see lots of good examples of these objects, which has helped him to develop his knowledge - and thus pave the way for him to write a book on such a specific subject matter.

Before publishing this book, Flacks released two works in 2012, Classical Chinese Furniture and Contemplating Rocks, both of which focused on the lifestyle of the ancient Chinese scholars and their interest in the spiritual world.

"To me, they are of unparalleled importance in the cultural history of China," says Flacks of his love for these objects.

The role of the scholars as the dominant force in Chinese culture endured from the Song Dynasty (960-1279) right until the end of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). The habits, rituals, pastimes and moral values of the literati and all of the fine art that went with them formed a pivotal part of cultural life in China, he explains.

The original English version of the book was published in 2014 and sold well among collectors with a cover price of $200. It took him two-and-a-half years to write, design and see it through to print. But the research and planning stages of the book cost him many more years than this, not to mention his decades of collecting experience.

And four years later, the Chinese version proved to be a major undertaking in itself. "There was a long period of negotiation and compromise with Flacks in the making of the book. He was meticulous about every detail", says Zhu Shuai, founder of the Paragon Book Gallery Beijing, the publisher behind the Chinese version.

"I can see that it's the most important book that Flacks has ever worked on. He put all his lifelong knowledge of collecting into it," says Zhu.

In fact, there has never been a book dedicated to such a specific category of wooden objects released in China. Priced at 1,580 yuan ($246) a copy - higher than most Chinese art books - more than 300 copies were sold online in the first two days of release, according to Zhu.

"Chinese buyers have higher expectations for art books with their burgeoning wallets," he concludes, noting, "they really place a value on traditional culture."

Contact the writer at dengzhangyu@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2018-06-05 07:22:02
<![CDATA[Kinky Boots to tread boards for first time in China]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/05/content_36330921.htm Broadway musical Kinky Boots will embark on its first China tour, kicking off the first of 31 shows in Shanghai from July 11 to Aug 5 at the city's newest musical theater, Shanghai Culture Square.

The Chinese productions, which will use the same full cast and range of props as the national touring edition in the United States, will see the musical move to Guangzhou, Guangdong province, from Aug 9 to 19, before heading to Beijing for its final run on Aug 24 to Sep 16.

This is the latest Broadway show to be performed in China, and for the first time, "Chinese audiences will be able to experience a multiple-award winning musical with no time difference from Broadway or the West End," said Li Zhen, vice general manager of Chinese Dream Entertainment (CDE) Live, the company that brought the show to China.

Kinky Boots premiered on Broadway in New York in 2013, and the West End in London in 2015. It tells the story of Charlie Price, a shoe manufacturer who is trying to save the factory he inherited from his father from going under. He forms an unlikely friendship with a drag queen and cabaret performer named Lola, and they end up developing a line of high-heeled boots together. In the process, Charlie finds that despite everything, he and Lola have so much in common, said Lance Bordelon, who will play Charlie in the China tour.

The musical is all about "having a good time celebrating who you are," Bordelon said, "Be it a pair of kinky boots or a new hat, everyone wants to express themselves."

Bordelon and Joshua N. Banks, who plays Lola in the show, were making their first visit to China to attend a launch event on May 28 for the musical's upcoming tour.

The story of Kinky Boots was inspired by true events, and written by Geoff Deane and Tim Firth. It was first made into a British film in 2005. The 2013 musical production won six Tony Awards, including best musical and best score for Cyndi Lauper, who was the first woman to win these categories singlehandedly.

In 2016 the play won three Laurence Olivier Awards, including best new musical.

Gao Xiaosong, a songwriter turned talk show host and culture critic, said that audiences will find "the music lingering in their minds long after they watch Kinky Boots", thanks to the efforts of songwriter Cyndi Lauper, a Grammy-award winning singer with a successful career spanning 30 years on the pop music scene. The songs she wrote for the play will easily find resonance with the audiences, Gao said.

"Some people are concerned that Chinese audiences might find the cultural phenomenon of the drag queen strange or unacceptable," Li said, "But as a matter of fact, transsexual performances have always existed in the traditional art of Chinese opera, as well as contemporary shows.

"We are confident that the musical will be a hit in China," she said. In fact, the show racked up 1 million yuan at the box office on the first day of ticket sales for the Shanghai shows on March 9.

CDE Live is a new company founded in 2016, and is a member of the Chinese Culture Group. The core staff members, however, have been active in China's musical industry for more than a decade. "The majority of us were from the 2011 Chinese production team of Mamma Mia," Li said. In the three years that followed, the Chinese version of Mamma Mia ran for 600 shows and another Chinese production of the established Broadway show, Cats, had 400 shows on extensive tours of China. "We visited about 30 cities, as far as Fuling in Sichuan province," Li said. "The two successful plays played an important role introducing musical theater to the wider public in China. The majority of people still have difficulty in enjoying musical productions in a foreign language."

Last year CDE Live created three Chinese musical theater productions: Murder Ballad, A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder and Little Shop of Horrors. "We didn't just translate the Broadway and off-Broadway shows into Chinese, but we also adapted the stories into a Chinese cultural context," she said. "Eventually the mission of our company will be to create original Chinese productions for the international market."

In the latter half of 2019, a series of six new theaters will be launched in Shanghai's West Bund area in Xuhui district, which will all be managed by CDE Live. By bringing in big productions such as Kinky Boots, CDE Live hopes to learn from the mature operations of Broadway's musical industry, and gradually develop a successful business model combining "show production, theater management and talent cultivation," Li said.

zhangkun@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2018-06-05 07:22:02
<![CDATA[Hitting the right notes]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/04/content_36321535.htm Shang Chunlai did not expect he would win the final ticket to the summer course of the Georg Solti Academy in Italy next year. The 26-year-old baritone was stunned for a few seconds after his name was announced following his performance at the National Center for the Performing Arts.

]]>
Two Chinese students will join 10 others from around the world for a three-week course at a music college specializing in Italian bel canto singing. Chen Jie reports.

Shang Chunlai did not expect he would win the final ticket to the summer course of the Georg Solti Academy in Italy next year. The 26-year-old baritone was stunned for a few seconds after his name was announced following his performance at the National Center for the Performing Arts.

Then he received congratulations and hugs from his peers seated beside him.

This is the third year that the Georg Solti Academy, the renowned music college specializing in teaching Italian bel canto singing, has held auditions for students to join its specialized training program.

More than 50 applicants submitted their videos of the three Italian arias to the organizers, and 21 got a chance to audition in Beijing last week.

Eight passed the audition and received a week of training by Jonathan Papp, the co-founder and artistic director of the Georg Solti Academy; Italian soprano Barbara Frittoli and language coach Stefano Baldasseroni.

Finally, Shang and baritone Zhao Denghui from the Conservatory of Milan won the opportunity to study in Italy.

Speaking after his name was announced, Shang, who hails from northeast China's Jilin province says: "To me, the NCPA is a dream, let alone Italy. "Describing the coaching after the audition, Shang, who studies opera singing at Northeast Normal University, says: "The three coaches are devoted and passionate. They have professionalism, are very disciplined and pay great attention to detail."

He said one of his audition pieces was the aria Per me giunto e il di supremo from Verdi's opera Don Carlo. And when Frittoli coached him she was so into the music and the scene that she cried.

Tenor Gao Yuan, who was also among the eight finalists, shared Shang's views saying: "Frittoli pays great attention to detail and emotion. I thought I was doing well with the expressions, but she said I was not emoting enough."

Soprano Liang Liaofan from the China Conservatory of Music says she made great progress with the language. Because she does not speak Italian, and as she cannot understand the libretto, just trying to remember the pronunciation affects her singing.

Tenor Zhou Xun, 22, from central China's Henan province, who did not make the final selection was still thrilled with being a part of the event.

Speaking about the program, he says: "It was a great experience to receive one week of intense training in Beijing. I know some of the applicants had applied for the project in previous years. So, I will come back next year."

Incidentally, Zhao, 27, who got the coaches nod this time had failed to gain approval in 2016.

Speaking about how fortunate he feels to be chosen, he says: "I studied in Italy for six years and have performing experience, but even in Italy, it's difficult to meet such famous coaches.

"In the past, the academy has been a good platform for young musicians at a very critical moment in their development."

As for the coaches, they were all impressed by the young singers' natural voices, but offered some constructive criticism.

For Frittoli, she says: "The Chinese singers all have wonderful voices, but many of them choose the wrong repertoire.

"They don't know their voices. They don't know how to use them. People have different voices. So, some can sing one way, but others cannot."

She suggests that singers don't try to sing everything at a young age.

"It (the voice) is like a new car. You have to take care of it, instead of driving too fast," she explains.

Papp, who was trained at the Royal Academy of Music in London and is a member of the vocal faculty of the Opera School there, says he is particularly excited to find so many young singers. "They don't have bad habits, so, I could teach them fundamental techniques and prepare them for long and healthy careers."

For language coach Baldasseroni, knowing more Italian is the key.

Speaking about his experience, he says: "In the audition, someone would suddenly stop and pause in a really strange place. If they understood the language, they would never do that.

"So, I tried to help them learn how to use the language."

The George Solti Academy, set up in memory of the great Hungarian conductor, was founded in 2004 by Papp and Candice Wood. Every year, it offers a three-week summer course to 12 students - chosen after global auditions - in the Tuscan seaside town Castiglione della Pescaia where, for over 40 years, Solti spent his summers.

The program came to China in 2016, and the initiative sponsored by Rolex, was hosted at the National Center for the Performing Arts.

Then, two Chinese singers also won the opportunity and now two more will go to the academy.

Academy co-founder Papp says: "I like music colleges. There is no politics, the faculty is from different backgrounds and with different experiences, but they have the same vision.

"We listen to the voice and we know what we can do with it."

As for Frittoli, the best moment is when she finds that a young student gets what she says and the voice comes out in the right way.

Contact the writer at chenjie@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2018-06-04 07:24:54
<![CDATA[Traditional tunes take center stage at SCO arts festival]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/04/content_36321534.htm In preparation for the 18th Meeting of the Council of Heads of Member States of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a traditional music concert was held on Wednesday as part of the SCO Member States Arts Festival.

The concert was organized by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and presented by the China Arts and Entertainment Group in front of a live audience of around 1,000 people, which included diplomats from member states, observer states, dialogue partners as well as representatives from the SCO.

Luo Shugang, the minister for Culture and Tourism, said at the concert that the ministry aims to "enhance the communication and cooperation in the cultural and tourism fields, as well as promote mutual understanding and friendship with the member states, observer states, and dialogue partners of the organization."

Four folk orchestras from China, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Russia took part in the concert: the Forbidden City Chamber Orchestra from the China Conservatory of Music; Kyrgyzstan's Akak Ensemble; the Uzbekistan National Music Group, Sato; and the Lyudmila Zykina State Academic Ensemble of Russian Folk Music.

The orchestras performed in the opening piece and finale of the concert together, a festive Chinese piece named Xiyangyang (Jubilant), and the well-known Russian folk song, Kalinka.

In other passages, the orchestras each performed their distinctive regional music masterpieces. The Forbidden City Chamber Orchestra presented three different Chinese musical styles, including a puppet play from Shaanxi province, the poetic lute piece A Moonlit Night on the Spring River, and a popular overture from Peking Opera.

Other performances showcased the vigorous and fast-tempo komuz music from Kyrgyzstan, a medley of Uzbekistan folk songs, and a piece adapted from the classical Russian folk song Moonlight composed by the renowned musician, Vasily Andreyev.

Dmitry Dmitrienko, the artistic director and conductor of the Russian ensemble, was responsible for conducting Kalinka at the concert, "Performed by artists from four countries, the piece symbolizes the cooperation between them."

The idea for the SCO Member States Arts Festival originated during multilateral cultural exchanges at the 2004 summit in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Member states passed the resolution to hold the annual arts festival the following year at the SCO summit in Astana, Kazakhstan.

This year's arts festival ran from May 29 to June 1 in Beijing, with a range of stage performances, exhibitions and master classes, including a folk dance performance and a photography exhibition of cultural heritage sites.

Li Jinsheng, general manager of the China Arts and Entertainment Group, says, "through a variety of activities, the arts festival intends to present the diversified civilizations of the SCO member states, in order to promote exchange and mutual learning between countries, and to strengthen people-to-people bonds."

chengyuezhu@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2018-06-04 07:24:54
<![CDATA[Turning the tide on vanishing village life]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/04/content_36321533.htm According to the third annual China National Conference on Historic Villages, traditional Chinese villages are vanishing at an alarming rate due to human or natural factors.

Over the decade from 2000 to 2010, the number of ancient villages dropped sharply from 3.6 million to 2.7 million. As of last year, a total of 1.6 million villages had disappeared across China, and this number is continuing to decline at an average rate of 1.6 per day.

With the purpose of raising people's awareness about this social phenomenon and the preciousness of traditional Chinese village culture, a forum was held in Beijing on May 14.

Hu Binbin, the director of the Research Center of Chinese Village Culture at Central South University in Changsha, Hunan province, stressed the importance of villages at the event.

"You may not come from the country, but the older generations in your family must have lived there. Because villages came first, before the cities. Villages are the foundation of culture."

Hu asserted that villages are the carriers of traditional culture, and the key link between ancient peoples and with those in the modern age.

Rejecting the argument that the disappearance of villages is a natural and reasonable consequence of mass industrialization and modernization, Hu maintained that no development should come at such a huge cost.

"Between the modern and the traditional, the past and the future, we should not lose our origins, but instead find a connection," said Hu.

Li Wuwang, the founder of the Great Channel, an online documentary channel, has been trying to create an archive of all the villages before they exit the stage of history with his documentary, The Great Tribe.

The production team traveled to 326 villages to scout for locations for the series. They created a 20-page presentation to assess the distinctive character of each village, and compare the history and entertainment value of the stories behind each locale. For the first season, the team paid field visits to 18 villages before selecting the final ten. On location, they interviewed over 200 villagers about matters that they really cared about, rather than simply documenting their daily lives from a distance. The team traveled more than 33,700 kilometers to complete the filming of the first season.

Li shared a behind-the-scenes story about the village of Xunlu village in the forests of the Greater Hinggan Mountains in Northeast China's Heilongjiang province, which only has a current population of around 100 people.

Because of the low temperatures in the forest, local residents often turned to alcohol to keep themselves warm. The original choice for the lead character in the episode drank so much that he died before filming could begin. The film crew met his son who had returned from the city, and he reckoned that the village would disappear within 10 or 20 years.

"We created archives of around 100 villages," Li said. "I wish more people would pay attention to these villages, or record them before they vanish. People should know there's something more to life apart from the tiny screen of a smartphone or computer."

Meng Haofan, an architectural designer, came up with one solution to stem the exodus from one village in Zhejiang province.

Last year, he rebuilt a number of old houses in a modern architectural style in Dongziguan village in the Fuyang district of Hangzhou, in a bid to encourage reverse migration.

His modern take on a traditional Chinese village immediately attracted widespread attention, drawing tourists from all over the country.

Posters were produced and a one-day tour was developed. Visitors flocked to take selfies with the stylish new houses as their backdrop. One painter even recorded the moment for posterity.

Meng introduced modern aesthetics to the village as his way of feeding the rural economy.

"Protecting villages helps them further develop, it's a dynamic relationship," Meng said.

Chen Yihuan runs a project named Didaofengwu, which was launched by Chinese National Geography magazine. The project is aimed at helping people to discover local specialties and help them to share their findings through social media, or in a series of books of the same name.

He claimed that below the county level, there was almost no village or town that could articulate its cultural characteristics clearly. This made him determined to raise people's awareness of their native culture and help encourage rural communities to become more culturally confident.

xuhaoyu@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2018-06-04 07:24:54
<![CDATA[EXPANDING INNER MONGOLIA'S MAGNIFICENCE]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/04/content_36321532.htm The Inner Mongolia autonomous region is developing new components for its tourism industry, such as "flower-season", "intelligent" and "poverty-alleviation" travel.

]]>
The autonomous region is developing new tourism offerings to enhance its appeal. Cheng Yuezhu and Yuan Hui report.

The Inner Mongolia autonomous region is developing new components for its tourism industry, such as "flower-season", "intelligent" and "poverty-alleviation" travel.

To this end, Arxan city in Inner Mongolia's Hinggan League staged the first Inner Mongolia Flower Season Tourism and Rhododendron Festival on May 19 and 20, as part of the 2018 China Tourism Day events.

The theme of this year's tourism day is "regional tourism and beautiful living". Regional tourism is a concept proposed by the State Council in March to maximize the benefits of modernized and quality tourism throughout an entire region.

Inner Mongolia's tourism development committee has since introduced a series of celebrations focused on the different areas' peak blooming seasons.

Flower-viewing tourism also features scenery, customs and local specialties. It's intended to enhance the popularity of Inner Mongolia from May to October.

Arxan's Rhododendron Festival is one of the first celebrations of this theme.

"It's an innovative approach to regional travel," tourism development committee director Deng Yiping explains.

"We're starting with rhododendrons as a medium to introduce Inner Mongolia's flower period to compensate for off-season lulls and create new peak-travel times."

The festival's opening ceremony was staged on the shores of Rhododendron Lake in the Arxan National Forest Park, which is a national 5A (top-level) destination.

Arxan has one of the country's largest forested areas per capita, local tour guide Zhang Huiqiu says.

Plant coverage is 95 percent. About 80 percent of the area hosts woodlands.

President Xi Jinping said Arxan is "beautiful in all four seasons" and "will rise to fame by developing tourism" during his 2014 visit.

The committee has developed policies favorable to visitors during the flower season. Arxan National Forest Park offered free entry during the Rhododendron Festival, and half-priced tickets for the rest of May.

The event attracted about 36,000 travelers.

It hosted such activities as a folk-attire pageant, a "taste of Inner Mongolia" food festival, and plaza-dancing, photography and cycling competitions.

The park has constructed a smart-experience center for visitors and an intelligent operation-and-maintenance center for management.

The 130-square-meter smart-experience hosts virtual-reality tours of the park, an Iben service robot, a multimedia-projection system, an all-in-one touch-screen machine and a motion-sensing screen. The high-tech devices provide travel information and immersive experiences.

The operation-and-maintenance center that opened last year serves about two-dozen functions, such as building safety and intelligent public service.

It not only allows travelers to access information and purchase tickets using mobile devices but also monitors and predicts visitor numbers.

Arxan city has developed poverty-alleviation tourism in recent years as one of the first national regional-tourism demonstration areas and a China National Tourism Administration "one-on-one" poverty-alleviation city.

Part of the project has been Bailang Forest Folk Culture Industry Development Ltd's souvenir processing.

"Poor locals can work here part time or full time to make tree-bark collages," general manager Xie Caiyun says.

"They can also receive stock dividends."

The Ministry of Culture and Tourism says the Hinggan League has been actively combining tourism and poverty alleviation by involving people living in poverty in the travel industry.

The percentage of residents living below the poverty line has seen a dramatic drop in recent years.

Authorities expect the new tourism approaches will further improve local people's livelihood in the near future.

Contact the writers through chengyuezhu@chinadaily.com.cn

 

The Arxan National Forest Park sees the blooming of rhododendron in May. The scenic city of Arxan promotes tourism for being "beautiful in all four seasons". Photos provided to China Daily

]]>
2018-06-04 07:24:54
<![CDATA[Suzhou projects its allure abroad]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/04/content_36321531.htm Jiangsu province's Suzhou has long been a celebrated national destination and, increasingly, an international attraction, in no small part because of concerted efforts to draw overseas globetrotters.

The number of annual visitors from abroad has continued to increase since 2014. Over 2 million arrived last year, 6 percent more than in 2016, the city's tourism bureau's deputy director Lu Feng says.

About 1.76 million spent at least a night in the city in 2017.

Japan, South Korea and the United States are the top source countries for visitors, Lu says.

Suzhou's tourism authority has launched a yearlong "Made in Suzhou" campaign that highlights the most distinctive local offerings, such as silk, local cuisine and art, in North America since June 2017.

Its social media accounts, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, have garnered nearly a quarter of a million followers and over 25 million hits on the continent.

"The United States and Canada have relatively large populations and relatively strong consumption power," Lu says.

And the exchange rate of the US dollar against the yuan has been relatively steady compared with the euro, he explains.

The city also began to make inroads in Europe last year.

"We want to show them that we have profound history and very distinctive culture and, at the same time, offer the most modern lifestyle," Lu says.

Suzhou's canal networks have earned it the nickname, "China's Venice".

Nine of its classical gardens are inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, and 11 sites along the city's canals are on the UNESCO World Culture Heritage List.

Suzhou is about half an hour from Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport via high-speed rail.

Visitors can pick and brew tea at Taihu Lake's Dongshan Mountain in springtime.

Seasonal gourmet food is served year-round.

Foreign visitors enjoy visiting ordinary families' homes and learning how to make such local delicacies as wonton.

Some join interactive experiences with local artisans, such as making fans, cultivating bonsai and creating oil-paper umbrellas.

International visitors can also go backstage to watch Kunqu Opera performers apply their elaborate makeup and even try it on themselves.

Suzhou plans to work with travel agencies to develop customized tours for international visitors.

About 90 travel companies in North America offer 380 Suzhou packages, Lu says.

Indeed, it seems Suzhou will likely continue to attract more international visitors with its modern approach and ancient appeal.

yangfeiyue@chinadaily.com.cn

Canal scenes are among Suzhou's charms. The city in Jiangsu province is also known for its classical gardens, pagodas, whitewashed housing, local cuisine and art. Provided to China Daily 

]]>
2018-06-04 07:24:54
<![CDATA[Skip the Colosseum and Vatican in Rome]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/04/content_36321530.htm ROME - There was no escaping it. Try as one might, there was no way out but to go with the dense flow of sweaty humanity.

This was the Vatican Museum with its endless galleries of some of the finest art Western civilization had ever produced and scores of highlights obstructed from full view by fellow journeymen, many of whom were trying to make the most of a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

One hapless tourist took pictures of the explanatory panels, unable to stand still and actually read them, before being swept up and moved along, up to the next masterpiece hidden from proper view.

This was a weekday in early autumn, when travelers in most destinations expect high tourist season to finally give way to a semblance of civility. Not in Rome, not at the Vatican.

It captivated in a few claustrophobic moments the challenges top tourist destinations now face across Europe be it Amsterdam, Venice, Rome or Belgium's Bruges.

"Memories which someday will become all beautiful when the last annoyance that encumbers them shall have faded out of our minds," Mark Twain wrote in his famed travel report through Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, The Innocents Abroad.

With overtourism gripping the great treasures of humanity, it seems a lot of amnesia is in order for memories to truly shine.

But hold on. There is another way. And you don't even have to give up a visit to a place like Rome.

One day after the suffocating zombie experience at the Vatican Museum, you might be forgiven for furtively looking over your shoulder at the Palazzo Massimo alle Terme museum and wonder, "Where is everybody?"

The art is as unbeatable as at the Vatican. Try finding a better 2,000-year-old discus thrower, and wonder how so much human expression could be put in a bronze like the boxer. And here you can circle it from every angle with nary another tourist in sight.

What it comes down to is an acceptance that you might not see every top-five attraction in a city or country. But what you will lose in namedropping "I was at the Uffizi" you will gain in true travel experience and a sense of adventure to go off the beaten track.

Here's how that philosophy plays out on a visit to Rome, even if it might sound sacrilegious to some:

Skip a visit to the Colosseum. Don't worry, you will get plenty of great views of it from all so many streets around there. Instead, try the Baths of Caracalla. The ruins of the baths, where 1,600 were served at once in Roman times, are awe-inspiring and you find better patterns for floor mosaics there.

Rome is so saturated with the greatest art that the list goes on forever. Too many sweaty shoulders to get a great view of statues of the legendary Bernini on the Piazza Navona? Head to slightly out of the way Santa Maria della Vittoria and see perhaps his greatest work, the sculpture depicting The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa.

You might even switch cities on your itinerary. Instead of Amsterdam and its choc-a-block crowds clogging the uneven streets, pick nearby Utrecht as your base. The canals have a charm all their own, and you will find a similar waft of weed coming out of its many "cafes".

It is a cautionary tale since the last thing an intrepid tourist now needs is to have someone tell them where to go. That is exactly how tourism turned into overtourism.

For 19th-century Twain, the "noblest delight" on his grand tour was "to be the first. That is the idea."

The challenge for the 21st century is almost the inverse: Instead of the traveler touching something, the challenge is how to be touched by something, to find something inspiring in this overwhelming world of mass tourism.

Just head off the overly trodden track. And with a bit of imagination, that can be done - even within Rome.

AP

]]>
2018-06-04 07:24:54
<![CDATA[Tech meets tradition]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/03/content_36318160.htm

Director Zhang Yimou continues to explore the relationship between man and machine in the "second season" of his concept stage show, 2047 Apologue

It has been more than 30 years since Zhang Yimou's directorial debut, Red Sorghum, won him international acclaim, including a Golden Bear for Best Picture at the 38th Berlin International Film Festival in 1988. Since then, he has enjoyed great success with global blockbusters such as House of Flying Daggers and The Great Wall and, more recently, he has just returned from the United States, where Boston University bestowed upon him an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters during the venerable institution's 145th Commencement on May 20.

But when the now-renowned Chinese filmmaker recalls that big break back in 1988, what makes him proud is that the movie was met with almost unanimous praise, especially from audiences.

 

Chinese film director Zhang Yimou will premiere the second season of the stage production 2047 Apologue, which combines technology and traditional Chinese folk art, at the NCPA this June. Photos by Zou Hong / For China Daily

"The feedback of the audience is crucial," says the 66-year-old Zhang in Beijing. "I want to communicate with them through my work."

Last June, Zhang was able to enjoy a much closer interaction with his audience when he returned to the world of live performance, premiering his pioneering stage production 2047 Apologue - a production he calls a "conceptual show" - at the National Centre for the Performing Arts.

The show combines the latest technology, such as laser lighting and robots, with traditional Chinese folk artists, including Qiu Jirong, a crossover Peking Opera artist, and musician, Wu Tong, who plays the sheng (a traditional Chinese wind instrument).

Zhang took the production on tour in March this year, visiting three Chinese cities - Shanghai, Hangzhou and Guangzhou - where Zhang was happy to discover that "the audiences have shown their interest and passion for the show, just like they did with my first movie."

The show was also staged at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland last year.

"Their feedback also made me think," Zhang says. "If the audience enjoys fresh and creative ideas onstage, they are not only entertained, but also inspired.

"It started a conversation between the audience and me, which was exciting."

A year on and Zhang is ready to launch the sequel to the show, which he's calling "the second season" of 2047 Apologue, and it will debut at the NCPA on June 12.

Like the first production, the show continues the director's reflection on the relationship between people and technology. Instead of telling stories through the show, Zhang creates seven pieces, which are performed by artists from seven countries, including the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom and China.

In one piece, award-winning contemporary dancer Li Yu performs to the drum beats created by percussionists from U-Theater in Taiwan, alongside the sounds of khoomei (a traditional throat-singing technique of Mongolia), while robotic arms mimic his movements. The shadows of the robotic arms are projected on a big screen on the back of the stage, and they change from following Li's moves to resisting, even threatening him.

"Technology changes our lives. But when I think of the relationship between technology and humans, I don't just see the positive side," Zhang laments. "I have three children and, like many young people, they are always looking at their phones. It made me think about the influence that technology has over us. It's a double-edged sword."

Referring to the production, he adds, "I don't simply showcase the latest technology and ancient Chinese art forms. I am trying to find a point to merge them together in a beautiful and inspiring way."

According to He Lulu, assistant director of both the first and second seasons of 2047 Apologue, the team has traveled the world to find the right artists for season two.

In the original show, they invited 78-year-old Wu Shuxiang from Anhua, in Southwest China's Guizhou province, to display her weaving skills with her 200-year-old loom. Wu from the Miao ethnic group, learned the skill from her mother, and she had never performed onstage before.

In the new production, the team will bring three retired loggers from Fujian province - Lin Longyou, Lin Beixiang and Lin Yongzhao - all of whom are older than 75, to perform ancient songs from their hometown, some of which date back nearly 300 years.

More than 20 singers, between the ages of 5 and 69, who form the Poya Songbook Chorus, from Poya village in Yunnan province, Southwest China, will also perform. Poya Songbook is an ancient collection of folk songs written on a piece of hand-woven cloth in hieroglyphic symbols. It originated from Poya village in Yunnan province. It is the only discovered record in the world that documents songs with hieroglyphics. In 2011, Poya Songbook was added to the list of National Intangible Cultural Heritage.

International performers will include a Hungarian shadow theater group, Attraction Performance; Turkish design duo Ezratuba and Tetro; and LED installation artists from France.

Last year, Andy Flessas (aka Andy Robot), a Las Vegas-based roboticist and computer animator who worked with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and also with Lady Gaga, performed in the first season of 2047 Apologue. Now, Flessas will bring more of his mechanized performers to the stage for season two of 2047 Apologue.

"Robots are like wild animals," says Flessas. "I train robots like training tigers. The first time we had four robots, and this time we have nine.

"In the first season, my job was to train the robots to understand dancing," he says. "In this season, I teach them how to work with musical beats.

"Zhang gives me gift to find my greatest potential," he continues. "I am doing something that I never thought I could do until I came to China."

Besides films, Zhang has been pushing boundaries during the past 30 years. In 1998, he directed a version of Puccini's opera Turandot, and he was also the director of the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympic Games.

"We want to show the audience something they have never seen," he says. "It takes lots of sleepless nights to create these original pieces, and is a nerve-wracking process.

"It's much more complicated to make this show, compared with directing movies," he says, " but what attracts me to it is that I can learn lots of new things by working with these artists."

He hopes to expand 2047 Apologue beyond the first two seasons, and he is keen to surprise audiences as well as hear their feedback.

"There have been many different views from the audience and critics about my movies," he says. "I am looking forward to their views about 2047 Apologue 2.

]]>
2018-06-03 14:56:15
<![CDATA[Sweet fruits of summer]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/03/content_36318159.htm

Editor's note: Traditional and fusion cooking styles, regional and international ingredients and a new awareness of healthy eating are all factors contributing to an exciting time for Chinese cuisine. We explore the possibilities.

The spring displays of flowers are fading, but the fruits that come after them are already appearing in markets - and they are a colorful cornucopia.

In the north, there are cherries, peaches, sugar plums, apricots, hawthorns and melons ripening, while regions nearer the tropics are harvesting pineapples, lychees, longans, mangoes, pomelo, waxberries and cherry tomatoes.

 

Some of these may be familiar, but there are quite a few fruits that are very Chinese, such as loquats, longans, lychees, mulberries, hawthorns and that delicious tree berry, yangmei, or the waxberry, also known as yumberry.

They will ripen throughout summer, and it is a continuous feast right until autumn.

First to appear are the loquats, because they have lain dormant on the trees since last winter and were just waiting for the weather to warm and the rains to arrive to plump up and sweeten. They are tangy with a slightly tart aftertaste.

The Chinese believe they are ideal for that in-between spell between spring and summer, because loquats are good for itchy throats. They are traditionally used as an ingredient in cough syrups.

Fresh loquats have sticky skins and the secret is to scrape the fruit with the back of a teaspoon, bruising the flesh underneath the skin so the connective tissues break. Then the skin can be easily peeled off.

Yumberries, or yangmei, are less fussy, though equally tasty. The surface of the deep red fruit is like a firm and dense raspberry but at the center is a single seed. It is very rich in vitamins and is often used for juices and dried as a preserve.

The hawthorns are also ripening and their dusky red fruit will be harvested for jellies, sweets and that iconic Beijing snack, candied haw or bingtanghulu. The haw fruits may also be sliced and dried and then added to pickled plums for another signature summer drink, plum juice tea or suanmeitang.

Northerners also love cooking haws down to a sweetened thick jam, a relish that is often eaten with rich meats or mutton hot pots. That's because the haw is a strong digestive aid and is often used as a dieting supplement.

Dark purple mulberries are delicious but short-seasoned, but when they are in abundance, they are juicy and sugar-sweet. They are very fragile and don't keep well, and are best eaten fresh as soon as they come off the tree.

China has been eating mulberries ever since it started cultivating silkworms thousands of years ago. These days, cultivars produce both abundant leaves and fruits. The leaves are dried for tea and the dried fruit is an ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine prescriptions.

Of course, the queen of all summer fruits is the lychee, fragrant and sweet and enough to tempt a smile from a petulant concubine.

The Tang poet Du Mu once wrote this:

"A lone rider cuts through red dust, the concubine smiles, The lychees have arrived."

It was said that the Tang emperor Xuanzong's consort Yang Yuhuan loved lychees so much that he had a special relay of fast horses courier the fruit into Xi'an, the capital, just so he could see her smile.

Even now, the earliest lychees to hit the market are a variety named Concubine's Smile, feizixiao. Grown in Guangdong and Hainan, the red-green papery husks hide snowy white sweet flesh and very small seeds.

The fruit that follows fast in the lychee's footsteps is the longan, or dragon's eye. It is a refreshing fruit with purer flavors than the lychee's musky sweetness. The translucent flesh is also dried to a dark pulp, which is used in TCM as a cure for anemia.

In the southern provinces, mothers in confinement are fed a drink of dried longans and Chinese jujubes daily to help them recover from childbirth.

No summer season passes without melons. Watermelons are the ultimate coolers, and large, juicy globes cut into slices are a surefire way to combat heat and thirst.

I live near a suburb of Beijing where the sandy soil produces many watermelons every year. The farmers set up stalls just outside their farms and tempt drivers with their produce. My favorite is a little dark, striped seedless melon called Black Beauty.

Moving away from the temperate north, there are the more exotic offerings from other regions.

The Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region is famous for its yellow apricots, grapes and huge pomegranates. Xinjiang apricots are tiny, the size of a quail egg, but what they lack in size, they more than make up in flavor. They are now exported all over China, thanks to better logistics. The arid low humidity also allows them to dehydrate if left on the trees, shriveling up into naturally dried fruits.

In the south, in Yunnan province, there are the white pomegranates from Mengzi, pale pink fruits that are very juicy and hardy enough to be shipped to other parts of the country.

From the same region in the Red River Valley also come mangoes, bananas and papayas. The local pineapples are very sweet.

The best pineapples, though, come from farther south in Hainan Island, where bananas are also grown all year round.

Several varieties of pineapple are cultivated here. My favorite is a little one that is peeled on the spot and handed to you like a large lollipop.

China is a huge country with a large and varied geographical footprint, and one of the pleasures of summer here is the wonderful array of fruits available.

]]>
2018-06-03 14:56:15
<![CDATA[In the steps of enigmatic foreign dancers]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/03/content_36318158.htm

The rapid growth of the Silk Road helped bring to China a group of people whose roots are the subject of debate

The young man - or perhaps he is an old adolescent - is visibly tired: sitting on a stool with his head buried in his lap and his forehead resting on one arm, he confronts the viewer with a full crop of exuberant curls. Invisible to us are his weary eyes.

But the story of the person portrayed by the pottery figurine, which can be fully told only by drawing on the imagination, still intrigues, even after 1,500 years.

 

Tang Dynasty pottery Kunlun slave dancer, unearthed in Xianyang city, Shaanxi province. Photos Provided to China Daily

During his lifetime he was known as a Kunlun slave.

"Kunlun in this context means black," says Ge Chengyong, one of China's leading historians.

"Some of my peers and predecessors have thought that these dark-skinned people, with curly hair, broad nose and thick lips, hailed from Africa. I believe they are more likely to have come from Southeast Asia, for example the Indonesian archipelago.

"Between the fourth and sixth centuries, to which the figurine has been traced, the trade route between China and Africa merely connected the Chinese empire with Egypt. So there is a very slim possibility that these men came from the heart of the African continent. On the other hand, words about them, albeit scant, appeared in writings of the time in which they are portrayed as 'wearing shorts and being superb divers or fast mast-climbers'. These are traits associated with islanders from Southeast Asia."

In fact, very little is known for sure about these "slaves", who are believed to have enjoyed a social status much higher than their designation suggests. These days their images appear as typical Tang Dynasty (618-907) polychrome ceramic figurines. Some are semi-naked, the lower part of the body wrapped in knee-length loin cloth, their signature dark skin shimmering under dim museum light.

But two things are beyond dispute. First, they entered the lives of the Tang people in an intimate way, attested to by the abundance of portrayals in pottery from Tang era tombs. Second, their arrival in large numbers in Tang China was made possible by the fast development of the ancient Silk Roads, including the terrestrial route and the maritime one.

The terrestrial one, the most famous, is composed of a network of trans-Eurasian trade routes connecting the Chinese heartland with the Eurasian steppes, the Mediterranean countries and the Indian subcontinent. The maritime one linked China to Japan and the Korean Peninsula to the north and Southeast Asia and Africa to the south.

"Some of these men may have been purchased - or captured - by local tribal leaders or human traders from one of those Indian Ocean islands," Ge says. "From there, they could have traveled to what today is Vietnam before moving farther toward the heartland of the Chinese empire. Their existence in Tang China has cast a tantalizing beam of light on the society of their adopted home, although most details of that existence are likely to remain forever shrouded in mystery."

Ge says that the Kunlun slaves, along with other non-Chinese domestic servants, were so popular at the time that having them within the household became not only fashionable but de rigueur for the rich.

"It was a fashion and a fad that reflected a general fascination with things exotic, a fascination that gripped all of society."

That was more than half a millennium after the initial opening of the terrestrial Silk Road, by a man named Zhang Qian, between 139 BC and 126 BC. Over the following centuries, a great miscellany of people traveled on Zhang's road, while having it constantly extended and expanded. Frequent cultural and commercial exchanges ignited the interest of the Chinese toward the outside world, and the sparkle turned into a bonfire during the era of Tang.

The Kunlun slaves were seen less as domestic servants and more as the embodiment of a foreign land, one which their masters could only imagine.

They didn't only dazzle with their crowns of curls. A Tang Dynasty pottery figurine unearthed in Xianyang, a little more than 20 kilometers north of Xi'an, in present-day Shaanxi province, captures a Kunlun slave performing a dance. His torso is twisted, the palm of one hand faces down, the other hand is raised in a tight fist, and he wears a beaded necklace, bangles and rings. You get the feeling that no banquet would have been complete without a few of his dynamic moves.

In another equally vivid rendition, a black teenage boy, half-naked, does a rod dance. Yet more moving than the dance gestures are his well-proportioned body, supple skin and youthful elegance, enhanced by palpable athleticism. Both images were on display at a previous Silk Road exhibition in Hong Kong to which Ge was a consultant.

"They could be entertainers or even acrobats," he says.

Yet despite their popularity with their clientele, the Kunlun slaves were far from the only group of people who were traded along the ancient Silk Road, says Rong Xinjiang, a professor at Peking University and a Silk Road researcher.

Rong makes the comment as he points to a paper sales contract for a slave, unearthed in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region in Northwest China. The contract, written in neat, inky Chinese calligraphy, shows that a man named Zhang Zu bought a slave from a Sogdian merchant. The contract was signed in the year 447.

"For those familiar with the ancient burial traditions of the Chinese, the discovery is not surprising at all," Rong says. "People believed that they should take underground with them all the contracts signed during their lifetime, just in case of a dispute.

"Between the fourth and eighth centuries, the Sogdian people from West Asia dominated the terrestrial Silk Road. The things they sold into China ranged from elaborately wrought metal wares and exotic-smelling spices to rare animals and even humans. In many cases they traded their own people, especially young Sogdian boys and girls from poor families."

In fact, the Sogdians were "the biggest slave traffickers of the Silk Road", Rong says.

"During Tang, human trading was nothing unusual," Rong says. "Markets were available at almost all major stops on the ancient Silk Road, from Dunhuang, in present-day Gansu province, where some precious letters written in the now-extinct Sogdian language were discovered, all the way to Chang'an," Rong says, referring to present-day Xi'an.

However, Rong stresses that with Tang being an open feudal society, these men should not simply be depicted as slaves.

"Of course they could be bought and sold, and their freedom, consequently, was severely curtailed. Yet these Sogdian people, distinguishable by their high-bridged nose and deep-set eyes, were treated far better. Let's not forget that in a society where things foreign were not just tolerated but celebrated, their masters bought them not for manual labor but to showcase wealth and a trendy life-style."

In other words, they were not necessities but accessories.

And the fact that many Sogdians were expert dancers must have certainly helped when their masters held a banquet to entertain guests. Their signature electrifying leaps and bewildering twirls were expected to set everyone in a mood for carousal.

"Despite their different origins, all of these men were either involved in regular exchanges with ancient China, or became part of it, thanks to the Silk Road," Rong says. "And they collectively held up a giant mirror to the Chinese empire, extremely open and highly hierarchical at the same time."

The ceramic boy, for his part, may have been a little too tired or homesick to reflect on such matters. He was discovered in a suburb of the city of Luoyang, about 400 kilometers east of Chang'an. (Luoyang was the capital for the Han Dynasty between 25 and 196. Later, during the reign of Tang, the city prospered once again, gaining for itself the title of the empire's "eastern capital" - as opposed to Chang'an, its western and official capital.)

The boy came in between those two periods. The statue has been dated to between the fourth and sixth centuries, a time in Chinese history marked by war, fragmentation and, surprisingly, art flourishing and rapid cultural development.

The sense of quietness he exudes contrasts with the color and cacophony of the time and place in which he found himself. In the ensuing centuries, it would be a color and cacophony added to by those who followed in his footsteps.

]]>
2018-06-03 14:56:15
<![CDATA[MIXOLOGY PICKS UP STEAM]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/02/content_36317951.htm When the Bacardi Legacy Cocktail Competition China was launched in 2013, only around 100 bartenders from across the country signed up for the event.

]]>
Winners of the recent Bacardi Legacy Cocktail Competition China share their passion for mixology and their insights into the country's booming bartending scene. Xu Lin reports.

When the Bacardi Legacy Cocktail Competition China was launched in 2013, only around 100 bartenders from across the country signed up for the event.

When the sixth edition of the cocktail final competition was held in Shanghai this March, the registrants numbered more than 600.

"It's a good phenomenon," says Irving Holmes Wong, managing director Greater China of Bacardi. "Many bartenders today believe this career is not just about drinks, but about creation."

In 2014, Xie Jun from Shanghai finished among the top three in the competition's global final. These days, he's one of the judges for the final in the China leg of the global competition.

Xie says that while the contestants each year have become younger, their creations are becoming increasingly sophisticated, reflecting how quickly the industry is maturing.

Many of these Chinese bartenders like to add Chinese elements such as traditional Chinese herbs and Chinese teas to showcase local culture. During this year's final, Han Chao mixed baijiu (Chinese liquors) with Bacardi rums and other ingredients, such as passion fruit and rose syrup.

"Like whiskies, rums are aged in oak barrels which will create unique flavors such as vanilla and honey. Baijiu is often pungent and doesn't have such flavors," explains the 28-year-old who is the bar manager of the PuXuan Hotel and Spa in Beijing, which will soon open to the public.

"I can not only make classical cocktails, but also modify them using Chinese elements. Such localization makes Chinese bartenders unique."

Xie says such cocktail competitions are good for the industry as they encourage young bartenders to learn from their foreign peers and challenge themselves creatively. Being a part of the event also helps to raise one's profile.

Huang Xiao, 28, who works at Shanghai's Above the Globe, used to be an accountant before she made the switch to bartending four years ago. As one of the growing number of female bartenders who have made bartending a full-time profession, Huang says her job satisfaction comes from seeing customers enjoy her creations and receiving recognition from being a part of the competition.

The winner of this year's China final was Huang Xiaoyang, who works at the Lab Loft Bar in Shenzhen, Guangdong province. The 23-year-old suggested that though the hours are long and the pay barely decent, it is his love for creativity and chasing his passion that keeps him motivated.

"My inspiration comes from my desire for continuous learning. What you pay this moment is what you will get in the future," says Huang Xiaoyang.

"Even though I now live in a 3-square-meter rented room, my soul is free and I have great vision. I want to learn about anything that I'm interested in."

According to Wong, one of the factors behind the growing popularity of cocktails in China is the shift in consumption patterns. He notes that Chinese consumers have become more adventurous and sophisticated.

Guangzhou bartender Li Jiahao, 34, shares the same sentiment. "About 10 years ago, Chinese customers frequented noisy clubs and discotheques. But in recent years, customers are finding it more appealing to go to a quiet bar and savor wines and spirits," Li says.

Han recalls that the objective of many consumers in the past was simply to get drunk. Today, people are more interested in exploration.

"Customers are more know-ledgeable than before. They know what kind of flavors they like to drink. They often get me to make a customized drink for them instead of picking one that is on the menu," he says.

Xie points out that Shanghai, owing to its cosmopolitan nature, is presently the Chinese city with the most vibrant cocktail scene. Of the four cocktail bars in the mainland that made it to the Asia's 50 Best Bars 2018 list, three are located in Shanghai - Speak Low, Sober Company and Union Trading Company. Beijing's Janes and Hooch moved up three spots from last year's rankings to occupy 30th place this year.

"Shanghai boasts the most number of bars, including good quality ones. In Shanghai, bartenders will have more opportunities to join master classes or trainings," he says.

Unlike in the West, bartending is still an emerging industry in China, says Wong, noting that cocktail bars only started to open in China in the past two decades. While most cocktail drinkers are from the big cities, the market in second-tier cities is growing quickly. As such, the demand for bartenders across most parts of China is soaring.

Xie agrees.

"Cocktail bars are springing up all over China. But there are not enough talented bartenders in the industry," he says.

"It's important to attract more bartenders in the industry and offer them good training and opportunities."

He adds that this talent shortage could boost bartenders' salaries. Cocktail establishment in second-tier cities might also begin to poach talent from big cities.

Contact the writer at xulin@chinadaily.com.cn

Guangzhou bartender Li Jiahao prepares his creation at the recent Bacardi Legacy Cocktail Competition China final held in Shanghai. The competition has been attracting an increasing number of young bartenders as the industry grows over the past years in China. Provided to China Daily 

]]>
2018-06-02 07:06:59
<![CDATA[Spicing up the summer menu]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/02/content_36317950.htm The Q Mex Bar and Grill at Sanlitun, Beijing, recently unveiled a series of new dishes, giving gourmands who love spicy food something to cheer about.

Top of the list is Chef Marcus Medina's spicy corn chowder. First created by Medina and his brother when they opened a Mexican restaurant in New York city some 40 years ago, this decadent and creamy roasted corn broth has been a staple at the US restaurant since the beginning.

Topped with black beans, cilantro and diced avocado, the soup makes for a decadent appetizer that prepares the palate for the larger dose of spice that awaits. Diners who are adverse to spice could order an alternative appetizer such as the refreshing Mexican Cobb salad of sliced chicken, roasted corn, avocado and shredded cheese.

Another spicy dish is the charcoal-grilled Australian skirt steak that is served with spicy and sour fried rice, sauteed onions and peppers. The new taco burger also packs a tantalizing heat with its spicy chorizo meat patty. Complemented with cheese and crispy corn chips, this dish makes for a textural delight.

The svelte Jalapeno butter fish, which features pan-fried tilapia served with fried rice and sauteed spinach, is another standout new offering.

Offering a reprieve from all the spice is the new dessert selection which includes the hazelnut chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream and the Tres Leches Cake which is soaked in not one by three kinds of milk.

The casual bistro has been an institution for Mexican cuisine in Beijing since it opened in 2012. The restaurant's most popular offering is its burrito - it sells more than 3,000 of them every month, according to Medina.

The quality and authenticity of the food has since won over hordes of local diners. While most of its customers in the past were expatriates, about 80 percent of them today are Chinese.

Medina attributes this rise in popularity among the Chinese to a patient, controlled introduction of new dishes.

"In the beginning, Chinese customers mostly ordered burritos and some appetizers. But they've eventually become more open to trying other types of Mexican food as we gradually introduce more dishes over the years," he says.

"There are similarities between Mexican food and those from Sichuan and Hunan. This similarity has made it easy for me to create dishes that Chinese diners can likely accept," he adds.

The menu at Q Mex Bar and Grill rarely stays the same. Every year, Medina and his team travel to Mexico to explore new ways of creating dishes that can appeal to the Chinese audience.

"It's important to move forward with our menu. This is the philosophy of Q Mex. Of course, sales figures are the decisive factor. It helps us know about customer preferences. We keep popular dishes on the menu and take off the ones that don't sell," he explains.

Medina opened its third restaurant in Beijing recently, and during the month-long World Cup soccer tournament that begins in Russia on June 14 fans can watch games live and enjoy food and drink.

If you go

Address: 4 Gongti North Road, Jidianyuan, Chaoyang district, Beijing

Hours: 11am - 3am daily Tel: 010-6585-3828

]]>
2018-06-02 07:06:59
<![CDATA[Best bets]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/02/content_36317949.htm Drama Scenes De La Vie Conjugale

Date: June 12-13 - 7:30 pm

Venue: National Centre for the Performing Arts

In 1973, Ingmar Bergman and Liv Ullmann finally broke up despite their marriage bonds that had lasted for years. Later, Bergman spent several months on screenwriting to describe a couple's moments of life for more than two decades and the film Scenes De La Vie Conjugale was shot. Bergman once again impresses everyone with his dazzling filmmaking. The drama is adapted from Bergman's classic creation, which focuses on the intimacy in fixed scenes and highlight primitive life conditions after unnecessary superficial whitewashes are eliminated. Both lovers not only attract each other and get weary of each other, but also feel eager and disgusted. Sex, lies, compromise, isolation and despair behind the betrayals are revealed. The two protagonists present in a single scene like an arena for fighting. They give vent to the innermost world and entangle with each other. All their throbbing, strength and contradictions intertwine together. Such perspectives are the real experiences of humans. No subjective judgment and peeping take place. Every audience can project their own experiences on the scenes they witness to enrich the great work.

Theatre Treffen in China - Five Easy Pieces

Date: July 3-4 - 7:30 pm

Venue: Tianjin Grand Theater

Is it possible - and with which means - to perform the life of child killer Marc Dutroux with children? Swiss theater director Milo Rau and his International Institute of Political Murder have conquered the biggest international stages in recent years with their matchless political theater. Their works are based on testimonies and reconstructions of true stories and mercilessly break through the taboos of our age. Together with the Campo arts center from Ghent, they have set up an ambitious project involving children and teenagers between 8 and 13 years old. Rau uses the biography of the country's most notoriously shameful criminal to sketch a brief history of Belgium and to reflect on the representation of human feelings on stage. Five EasyPieces probes the limits of what children know, feel, and do. Purely aesthetic and theatrical questions blend together with moral issues: How can children understand the real significance of narrative, empathy, loss, subjection, old age, disappointment, or rebellion? How do we react if we see them acting out scenes of violence or love and romance? In particular, what does that say about our own fears and desires? This makes for a confrontational experience.

Musical: Kinky Boots in Shanghai

Date: July 11-22 - 7:30 pm

Venue: Shanghai Culture Square

The winner of six 2013 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Kinky Boots features a Tony Award-winning score by Cyndi Lauper, a book by Tony Award-winner Harvey Fierstein, and direction and choreography by Tony Award-winner Jerry Mitchell. Inspired by true events, it takes you from a gentlemen's shoe factory in Northampton to the glamorous catwalks of Milan. Charlie Price is struggling to live up to his father's expectations and continue the family business of Price & Son. With the factory's future hanging in the balance, help arrives in the unlikely but spectacular form of Lola, a fabulous performer in need of some sturdy new stilettos. This joyous musical celebration is about the friendships we discover, and the belief that you can change the world when you change your mind. It has won every major Best Musical Award and is represented around the world with the Tony Award-winning Broadway company now in its fifth year.

Returning Home on a Snowy Night

Date: June 2-9 - 7:30 pm

Venue: National Centre for the Performing Arts

This drama is named after a line from the poem Staying at a Cottage of Mt. Hibiscus on a Night of Snow of the Tang Dynasty: "When the mountains lurk dim in the pale dark, the cottage of shabby looks stands lone in twilight. By the wattle gate now I hear dogs loudly bark, the master has come home in the snow of night." Wu Zuguang, the playwright, described the joys and sorrows of the famous actor named Wei Liansheng in the historical context where people were swaying in the midst of a raging storm. He has experienced both the prosperity of being popular in early years and hard times of despair. The love story between him and Yuchun, a concubine of the bureaucrat named Su Hongji is just a sad melody that costs their lives. The prosperity on the stage, the desolation of life, the variability of love and the changes of destiny ... With this sentimental love story, Wu Zuguang sought to explore the eternal essence of life, the awakening of nobodies and their inquiries toward the desolate destiny.

Yichi's Work Samadhi

Date: June 6-9 - 7:30 pm

Venue: National Centre for the Performing Arts

Samadhi tells stories of life that have taken place in Beijing. The stories came one after another in a period of 80 years from the beginning of the 20th century to the War of Resistance against Japanese aggression, the founding of new China, the beginning of the Reform and Opening-up until the closing ceremonies of the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008. The stories, old or new, short or long, are about people having an emotional entanglement with a theater building, for which they have either love or hate. Samadhi is nothing but three diaries of life, feeling sorrowful or pleasurable, tasting bitter or sweet.

La Bayadere by Guangzhou Ballet

Date: June 15-16 - 8 pm

Venue: Guangdong Performing Arts Center Theater

La Bayadere is a ballet, originally staged in four acts and seven tableaux by French choreographer Marius Petipa to the music of Ludwig Minkus. The ballet was staged especially for the benefit performance of the Russian Prima ballerina Ekaterina Vazem, who created the principal role of Nikiya. La Bayadere was first presented by the Imperial Ballet at the Imperial Bolshoi Kamenny Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia, on Feb 4, 1877. From the first performance the ballet was universally hailed by contemporary critics as one of the choreographer Petipa's supreme masterpieces, particularly the scene from the ballet known as The Kingdom of the Shades, which became one of the most celebrated pieces in all of classical ballet. By the turn-of-the 20th century, The Kingdom of the Shades scene was regularly extracted from the full-length work as an independent showpiece, and it has remained so to the present day.

]]>
2018-06-02 07:06:46
<![CDATA[You'll play luckier by counting to 13]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/02/content_36317948.htm Sherwood Smith, an author of fantasy and science fiction, said, "When I turned 13 and took a typing class, with typical early teen enthusiasm and total lack of critical ability, I started sending my stuff to publishers once I'd baby-sat long enough to earn the postage."

If you can count to 13 at the bridge table, you will quickly win the money to buy sheets and sheets of stamps - assuming you are playing for greenbacks. How did that ability help South in today's deal? He was in five diamonds. West cashed his two top spades, then shifted to the heart 10.

West made a weak jump overcall. South's three-spade cue-bid asked his partner to bid three no-trump with a spade stopper. When North could only admit to some club values, South signed off in five diamonds.

The key to the contract was avoiding a club loser. The normal line would have been to cash the king, then play low to dummy's jack. But the original declarer decided to find out as much as he could about the deal.

He took the third trick with his heart ace, drew trumps, played a heart to dummy's king and ruffed the heart nine. What had he learned?

That West had started with six spades, two hearts, one diamond ... and therefore four clubs. South cashed his club king to see East's singleton, then played a club to dummy's nine. When it held, he returned to his hand with a trump and played a club to the jack. The number 13 is lucky for bridge players.

]]>
2018-06-02 07:06:46
<![CDATA[Shows]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/02/content_36317947.htm Babies Proms Returns to Sydney Opera House

Date: June 2-3 - 7:30 pm

Venue: Guangzhou Opera House

Renowned pianist Simon Tedeschi will don a powdered wig and assume the persona of the musical wunderkind himself, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. In Meeting Mozart children will be introduced to the full range of his work, from Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star to Eine Kleine Nachtmusik and his operatic arias. They will also encounter a range of instruments in the Babies Proms ensemble and discover some of our best-known and loved classical music. Simon Tedeschi is one of Australia's finest musicians. After performing his first Mozart Piano Concerto at the Sydney Opera House at the age of 9, he has gone on to win a sting of international prizes and scholarships including an ARIA award for Classical Record of the Year. Simon said, "Mozart is the greatest contradiction in the universe. The marriage between innocence and gravitas makes him the biggest kid of them all. I jumped at the chance to 'play' Mozart not only because his music speaks to me with a directness that is unmatched, but because I have always been fascinated with this beguiling character who wrote music as if guided by both the ineffable forces of nature and whatever lies beyond. The opportunity to share this experience with the young (and the young at heart) will let me be a kid and communicate in a language that will hopefully remain with them for the rest of their lives."

Swan Lake by Russian State Ballet

Date: June 2 - 7:30 pm

Venue: Beijing Tianqiao Arts Center

Russian State Ballet is directed by Russian Ministry of Culture and has visited more than 80 countries and regions with international best level. The troupe has world tour in Germany, US, Italy, Spain, England and Japan, gaining success and recognition. Tchaikovsky's instantly recognizable music set against the wonderfully dark story of good against evil; Swan Lake is one of the most famous and loved of all ballets. This production by Evgeny Amosov, artistic director of The Russian National Ballet Theatre, is heralded around the world. Swan Lake's glamorous set is evocative of the Russian Imperial world in which the ballet was created, while the haunting moonlit lakeside is perfect for the tragic conflict of the human and spirit worlds and allows the audience to be swept away in the vulnerability of Odette/Odile.

You and Me and the Space Between

Date: June 2-10 - 7:30 pm

Venue: Beijing Tianqiao Art Center

The island is sinking. Its adults are useless. Time for the kids to save the day. The island of Proud Circle springs a leak and its citizens must find a way to stop their home from disappearing. It takes the wondering mind of a child to save the island, its people and their ways. Adventures happen, horizons widen and important things are said. From the mind of Australia's most accomplished children's playwright, Finegan Kruckemeyer, comes a tale of wonder and invention that is brought to life in unexpected ways. Storytelling, choreographed projections and live drawn animation explore the plight of refugees fleeing environmental change through the eyes of a child. Step inside a picture book with an artist and storyteller, amidst a paper set that is cut, ripped, patched and manipulated live to create a world of play.

The Curious Incident of The Dog in The Night Time

Date: June 2-3 - 7:30 pm

Venue: Guangzhou Opera House

The Curious Incident of The Dog in The Night Time is adapted by Olivier Award-winning playwright Simon Stephens from Mark Haddon's best-selling book of the same title, and directed by Tony Award winner Marianne Elliott (War Horse, Curious Incident). It has been the longest-running play on Broadway in over a decade, since it premiered at the Barrymore Theatre in September 2014. It won five Tony Awards including Best Play, six Drama Desk Awards including Outstanding Play, five Outer Critics Circle Awards including Outstanding New Broadway Play and the Drama League Award for Outstanding Production of a Broadway or Off Broadway Play. The show tells the story of Christopher John Francis Boone, who is 15 years old. He discovers Mrs Shears' dead dog Wellington, which has been speared with a garden fork, it is seven minutes after midnight and Christopher is under suspicion. He records each fact in a book he is writing to solve the mystery of who killed Wellington. He has an extraordinary brain, and is exceptional at maths while ill-equipped to interpret everyday life. He has never ventured alone beyond the end of his road. He detests being touched and distrusts strangers. But his detective work, forbidden by his father, takes him on a frightening journey that upturns his world.

A Coproduction of NCPA, Royal Opera House & Opera Australia Die Meistersinger von Nuernberg

Date: June2-7 - 7:30 pm

Venue: National Centre for the Performing Arts

Die Meistersinger von Nuernberg was composed from 1845 to 1867 and completed after Tristan und Isolde, and premiered at the National Theatre Munich in 1868. The work holds a unique position among operas by Richard Wagner, since it is his only "comic" opera and has lively music. The plot is based on an historical social context that include figures of the period. The protagonist Hans Sachs was the most famous "Die Meistersinger" in German history, who had written numerous poems to celebrate the spirit of humanity and life, making significant contributions to German art in the 16th Century. The figure was used by Wagner to express his ideal of reforming art and delivering high praise for German culture and art. This version is a coproduction of the NCPA, Royal Opera House, Convent Garden and Opera Australia, and a second opera produced by the NCPA in collaboration with the Royal Opera House after Andrea Chenier, which was launched in 2015.

Radwimps Asia Live Tour 2018

Date: June 11 - 7:30 pm

Venue: Shanghai Expo Culture Center

Creating very original master pieces with unique lyrical world, Radwimps has been described as "New Invention". Their music keeps high level of musicianship while still being pop as they flawlessly cross over various genres. Soon after their debut around the age of 20, they have become one of the most popular 4-piece rock bands with cutting edge style in the Japanese music scene. All of their studio albums marked the sales of over 100,000, and their concert tickets are one of the hottest tickets in Japan causing the toughest battles among fans. Radwimps composed and played the entire soundtrack for the critically acclaimed, award winning anime movie "Your Name", which opened in Japan during the summer 2016 and is scheduled to run from April 7 Stateside. The movie was also welcomed with big success in the UK in Nov. 2016. In addition to the movie becoming a record breaking hit around the world, the soundtrack they produced has also been highly acclaimed.

]]>
2018-06-02 07:06:46
<![CDATA[Nightlife & Activities]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/02/content_36317946.htm The Shadows Thief - AuMents Malasombra Visual Theater Dance

Date: Aug 22-26 - 7:30 pm

Venue: Beijing Tianqiao

Performance Art Center An emotionally dark, richly visual fairytale for adults and heavy-metal kids. How would you feel if your shadow took over your soul and began exploring its own desires and urges? What would you do? How could you get it back? Are self-confidence and friendship with others enough to defeat the evil of the shadowy Mister Malasombra? Internationally acclaimed Spanish company auMents combines visual theater, dance, video art, object theater, experimental shadow theater and rock music to create a beautiful, exciting, fantastical journey through a collective fantasy, plunging us through the human soul's darkness and light. Malasombra is a production that was developed for the stage in collaboration with auMents dance theater (Spain); cartoonist Max (Spain) - winner of the National Comic Book Award 2007. Max was responsible for the dramaturgy and the project's artistic implementation inspired by the world of shadows.

China Dota 2 Supermajor

Date: June 9-10 - 10 am

Venue: Shanghai Pudong Yuanshen Sports Center Gymnasium

The China Dota 2 Supermajor, hosted collaboratively by Perfect World and internationally-renowned esports company PGL, is the final stop in the inaugural Dota Pro Circuit. With the highest prize pool and largest qualifying points total in all Pro Circuit tournaments this year, the Supermajor becomes one of the most important loops in the DPC chain, a focus for all the powerhouse teams in duking it out before TI.

Tomas Saraceno: Aerographies

Date: June 3 - 10 am

Venue: Fosun Foundation, Shanghai

For his first solo exhibition in China, artist Tomas Saraceno will bring together a compendium of works from across his practice. This exhibition concentrates on the space above the Earth's surface, inviting viewers to travel together on an imagined journey from the microcosmic to the macrocosmic. Tomas Saraceno was born in 1973 in Tucuman, Argentina. He studied architecture at Universidad Nacional de Buenos Aires in Argentina and received postgraduate degrees from Escuela Superior de Bellas Artes de la Nacion Ernesto de la Carcova, Buenos Aires and Staatliche Hochschule fur Bildende Kunste Stadelschule, Frankfurt. In 2009, he attended the International Space Studies Program at NASA Center Ames in Silicon Valley, California.

Paul McCarthy: Innocence in Beijing

Date: June 2-17 - 10 am

Venue: M Woods Museum

M Woods is proud to present a solo exhibition by American master Paul McCarthy, a veteran of the Los Angeles scene and hugely influential to scores of artists across the world. McCarthy has dedicated his career to experimental practices, examining the shortfalls of conventional language and shining a light on the dark side of contemporary culture specifically consumerism and mainstream media as they are experienced in America. McCarthy's 50 years of artmaking have seen him work in nearly every conceivable medium, from painting and sculpture, to performance, video, feature-length film and recently virtual reality. For the exhibition at M Woods, the artist has chosen to present a survey of video, which he has worked with since the beginning and consistently returned to over the course of his career. Showing publicly for the first time in China are 43 works by McCarthy and selected collaborators, made between 1970 and 2013.

2018 Volleyball Nations League - Men (Guangdong-Jiangmen)

Date: June 22-24 - 4 pm

Venue: Jiangmen Sports Center

The VNL is a brand-new competition launched by the FIVB in 2018 for the top men's and women's national teams of the world, Jiangmen being one of its editions. The aim of the Volleyball Nations League is to raise the level of the sporting action for fans and provide a world class platform for athletes to compete and grow. Launching a men's and women's competition under the same name and format promotes equality in volleyball, while also making it simpler and more engaging to follow. In the men's event, Brazil, Italy, US, China, Serbia, France, Argentina, Iran, Poland, Germany, Japan and Russia make up the core teams, while Australia, South Korea, Canada and Bulgaria are the four designated challenger teams. For the women's competition, Brazil, Italy, US, China, Serbia, the Netherlands, Thailand, Turkey, South Korea, Germany, Japan and Russia comprise the 12 core nations. Argentina, the Dominican Republic, Poland and Belgium have been selected as challenger teams.

Branagh Theater Live: The Winter's Tale (Screening) in Shanghai

Date: June 2-6 - 7 pm

Venue: Huangpu Theater

King Leontes of Bohemia suspects his wife, Hermione, and his friend, Polixenes, of betraying him. When he forces Polixenes to flee for his life, Leontes sets in motion a chain of events that lead to death, a ferocious bear, an infant left in the snow, young love, and a statue coming to life.

Doboku: Civil Engineering in Shanghai

Date: May 26-June 24 - 10 am

Venue: Modern Art Museum

This is a design and education-focused exhibition, using art as a method to draw people's attention to civil engineering. In the exhibition, they will guide visitors to explore different crucial parts of city constructions and the indispensable facilities in their daily life, such as roads, railroads, metro, internet networks, water pipe and water dam. The exhibition aims to combine various art forms with city engineering to show visitors a different aspect of those complex constructions and the works behind the scene.

Blissful Land I: Into the Depth of Statues & Murals

Date: May 26-27 - 10 am

Venue: Shanghai Himalayas Museum

One day, a tailor receives a note: "Your mission is to sew a coat by midnight. The size does not matter, but it must fit perfectly." Come join in the magical adventure of the tailor and discover for who the coat was made. A play with few words combining puppetry, object theater, textiles and music. Winner of Israel's Interdisciplinary Play of the Year and Puppet & Prop Design Award for Children's Theater 2014, the play is performed worldwide. It also won conceptual solution of performance at International Puppet Theater Festival. The Train Theater is an artistic repertoire puppet theater for children, which promotes freedom of creation, innovation and excellence of professional artists. The theater is unique in the world of children's theater in Israel and a leader in its field. The theater was founded in Jerusalem in 1981, as a collaboration of four independent puppeteers: Michael Schuster, Alina Ashbel, Hadass Ophrat and the late Mario Kotliar. It started in a train car that was brought to Liberty Bell Park in Jerusalem. The train car transformed into a locomotive, a major driving creative force and hub of inspiration for puppet theater in Israel.

]]>
2018-06-02 07:06:46
<![CDATA[GERMAN COMPOSER CREATES A SYMPHONY OF CHIMES]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/02/content_36317945.htm When German composer Robert Zollitsch heard the sound of 65 Chinese bronze bells ringing during the 2006 Amsterdam China Festival in the Netherlands, he knew he had to create a piece of work featuring them.

]]>
Robert Zollitsch will launch a bianzhong project with a series of compositional works and even a stage production after more than 10 years of researching and experimenting on the ancient Chinese instrument, Chen Nan reports.

When German composer Robert Zollitsch heard the sound of 65 Chinese bronze bells ringing during the 2006 Amsterdam China Festival in the Netherlands, he knew he had to create a piece of work featuring them.

This year, Zollitsch will launch his bianzhong project titled Bells Renaissance with a series of compositional works and even a stage production based on the sounds of the bells.

"I had never heard such a unique sound before. Each of the bells produces two sounds. The whole set has a range of five octaves with a complete 12-tone scale," says Zollitsch, who is better known as "Lao Luo" in China.

Known as bianzhong, the bells originated about 2,500 years ago during the Warring States Period in China (475-221 BC). A set comprises bells of varying sizes that produce different sounds when struck.

When these bells were unearthed in 1978 from the tomb of Marquis Yi of Zeng in Suizhou, Hubei province in Central China, scholars described them as the greatest achievement in the development of musical instruments in China before the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC).

In 2006, Zollitsch traveled to the Hubei Provincial Museum for the first time to see the bianzhong and has for the past decade been researching on and experimenting with the instrument.

"The chime bells of Marquis Yi prove that music was regarded highly by the royals back then. As such, it shouldn't only be stored in museums. We need more musical scores to keep these bells alive," says Zollitsch.

The composer's plans of reviving the instrument also include training professional ensembles, having composition competitions, as well as publishing books about it.

In 2007, Zollitsch adapted a set of poems called Jiu Ge, or Nine Songs, by Qu Yuan, a poet from the Warring States Period. Although one of the poems, titled Shan Gui, or Ghost of Mountains, was written for the bianzhong, the German could not find bianzhong musicians to perform the piece and had to turn it into chamber music instead.

In 2013, Zollitsch composed a bianzhong piece titled Resounding Chimes as part of a collaboration with Yan Huichang, the artistic director of the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra. The musical piece was later performed by the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra and the Chinese Bianzhong Orchestra in a 2014 concert titled Chiming Notes That Resonate through Two Millennia - Opening Concert of the 37th Orchestral Season.

With the help of the bianzhong orchestra from Suizhou Museum, Zollitsch has written three songs centered on the instrument so far. The orchestra, which was founded in 1988 and has more than 30 members, performs daily at the museum using a 65-bell set.

"Bianzhong represents ancient Chinese culture. It's our dream to revive the instrument," says Nie Rong, the director of the orchestra.

Born and raised in Munich, Germany, Zollitsch came to China on a scholarship to study the guqin, the seven-stringed Chinese zither, in Shanghai in 1993. He met his wife, Chinese folk singer Gong Lina, at a concert in Beijing in 2002. Gong has throughout her career performed many works by her composer husband, including his latest bianzhong pieces. The couple are known to be passionate about reviving traditional Chinese folk music by infusing the genre with a contemporary twist.

Born in Guiyang, the capital of Southwest China's Guizhou province, Gong started learning how to sing Chinese folk songs at a young age. She joined the China Conservatory of Music in Beijing when she was 16 and went on to sing for the China National Traditional Orchestra after graduation. In 2000, Gong won the Best Female Singer Award at the Chinese National Singing Competition and became a popular figure who appeared on various TV shows. In 2009, Gong received praise for the song Tan Te, or Disturbed, which was composed by Zollitsch. The couple followed up on that achievement by releasing more songs such as Fa Hai, You Don't Understand Love. In 2017, they selected 24 traditional Chinese poems and turned each of them into a song with a title reflecting the 24 Solar Terms, a traditional Chinese calendar.

"When I sing the songs with the bianzhong behind me, I feel like I'm being transported to ancient China. It gives me goose pimples, and it feels great," says Gong.

"What makes Chinese music unique is the tradition. That's what we want to show the audience, especially the young generation."

Contact the writer at chennan@chinadaily.com.cn

 

Chinese folk singer Gong Lina will perform in the latest bianzhong pieces composed by her husband Robert Zollitsch. The couple are known to be passionate about reviving traditional Chinese folk music by infusing the genre with a contemporary twist. Provided to China Daily

]]>
2018-06-02 07:06:05
<![CDATA[Improvisation adds a modern twist to ancient tunes]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/02/content_36317944.htm About two decades ago, Ye Yunchuan traveled to China's western Gansu province to see the famous Mogao Grottoes in Dunhuang.

The Chengdu-born and Beijing-based music producer returned home with more than just a camera full of photos - he also gained an inspiration to create a Dunhuang-themed album.

Featuring seven young Chinese female folk musicians - Zhao Xiaoxia (guqin), Yang Xue (erhu), Su Chang (guzheng), Yu Yuanchun (pipa), Li Juan (flute and xiao), Di Lin (ruan) and Ma Rui (percussion) - this album will finally be released on June 6.

Titled Moonlight Glow Over Dunhuang, the album comprises 10 musical pieces created based on music scores that date back thousands of years. What makes the album unique, Ye says, is that the seven musicians improvised in the recording room like a group of jazz musicians jamming together.

"We brainstorm and inspire one another, which is rarely done in traditional Chinese folk music," says Ye, who also plays percussion in the album.

"We have similar musical backgrounds and have known each other for more than 10 years. So our cooperation was very smooth and natural. This album takes the audience back to the Dunhuang from thousands of years ago with some fresh beats," says guqin player Zhao.

"Many musicians from ancient China played the guqin without scores. Improvisation has always been important in the development of the guqin," adds Zhao, 35, an associate professor at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing.

Unlike Western music, which has strong beats, melody is an essential part of Chinese music, says Ye, who is renowned for his creations that fuse musical elements from the East and the West. Ye moved from his hometown in Chengdu to Beijing 17 years ago and started his company, Rhymoi Music, in 2003. The company has released about 65 albums in 15 years.

Besides music awards in China, Ye's creations have also won international acclaim. His 2009 album Masterpieces of the Chinese Qin from the Tang Dynasty to Today, which was performed by guqin player Zhao Jiazhen, won the Best Traditional Music Album at the 2011 Independent Music Awards.

One of his latest albums is When the Blues Meet Chinese Folk Music released in 2017. Musicians from 10 countries, including Grammy Award-winning jazz pianist Russell Ferrante, performed a variety of Chinese folk songs for the album. The songs include Just Past Sunset of Guangxi and Sheep Belly Headband with Three Blue Stripes from Shaanxi province.

"The most challenging aspect of making the album was finding ways to have the Chinese material feel natural and organic in a jazz and blues context. Some elements we had to work with were really quite uncharacteristic of the styles we were attempting to merge them with. It was a fun challenge," says Los Angeles-based pianist and composer Ross Garren, who helped rearrange songs for the album.

"This is the first time I've worked with Chinese folk music and I really enjoyed exploring this rich tradition."

For Ye, a self-taught musician who divides his days between traveling alone and making music, the process of releasing each album starts with his random ideas which he calls "crazy".

Last year, Ye went to Boston and met suona player Guo Yazhi, who studied at the Berklee College of Music, before initiating the idea of combining Chinese wind instruments with organ music. The result was an album titled Endless Journey which gathered musicians from countries including China, Israel, Turkey and the United States.

Released in last November, the album was recorded at the Methuen Memorial Music Hall in the US state of Massachusetts.

According to Ye, the organ in the Methuen Memorial Music Hall is considered the first concert organ in the US. Built in Germany by E.F. Walcker and Company, it arrived in the US in 1863.

"We recorded the album for three days, eight hours a day. I didn't feel exhausted because when the sounds of the organ and my instrument worked together, it was magical," says Guo, adding that he shares Ye's ambition of popularizing Chinese music worldwide.

]]>
2018-06-02 07:06:05
<![CDATA[WINNING FANS OF CHINESE JEWELRY]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/02/content_36317943.htm Chinese jewelry brand, Charlene Classic, enjoyed the limelight during last month's Milan Design Week in Italy, where it exhibited a special collection at the Castel Sforzesco and won a "Special Excellence Award."

]]>
By winning a Milan Design Week award, homegrown jewelry brand, Charlene Classic, is raising the profile of Chinese jewelry on the international stage

Chinese jewelry brand, Charlene Classic, enjoyed the limelight during last month's Milan Design Week in Italy, where it exhibited a special collection at the Castel Sforzesco and won a "Special Excellence Award."

Chairman of the jury, Davide Rampello, complimented the brand on its expression of Chinese culture and aesthetics, as well as its advances in the modernization of artistic traditions.

"We are delighted to find out that China's younger generation has such a profound understanding of culture and art, hence we have more reasons to have high hopes for China's future," he says.

Comprising four pieces of jewelry with two different themes, Airs of Virtue and Plumage, the special collection was originally created to be exhibited at the Palace Museum, the biggest museum of ancient culture and art in Beijing, at the end of last year. The collection was inspired by exhibit of ancient fans, also housed at the museum.

Airs of Virtue, for instance, is a nod to the etymology of the folding fan, and the earrings have adopted the shape of one, while the pattern and colors take their cues from the traditions of Chinese landscape painting and plum blossom, which is the Chinese national flower.

Plumage, perhaps unsurprisingly, takes its cues from the peacock feather fan and its 2,000 years of history.

However, rather than simply replicating the shape of a feather fan, designers studied a large number of ancient Chinese paintings in order to reveal the lightness and charm of the feather, from the beauty and lines of each barb, vane and rachis, to the overall structure.

Sitting in the living room of her studio in Beijing, Charlene Li Xiaoling, the founder of Charlene Classic, points at the meticulous Chinese painting and the Western oil painting hanging on opposite walls.

She talks about her understanding of the two different styles, "Oil painting is formed by thick strokes and swatches with strong visual impact, while Chinese painting requires a more detailed grasp of lines." An ethos that has helped shape her jewelry brand and its relative success.

Established in 2013, Li confesses that Charlene Classic did not really have a clear direction until around 2016, and when it did finally happen, it was not consciously, but she was simply following her instinct and aesthetic appreciation.

One day, a foreign friend paid her a visit and she showed him some of the design works and he instantly recognized them, with their unique shape and style, as "something Chinese."

Li says, "At that moment, I realized that an appreciation for design or aesthetics is not developed within a day or two, but it is built up by every aspect of our personal experience, including one's education and cultural background. And it lives in one's bones and blood."

With this new direction to follow, the design team studied artistic conception of paintings from Song Dynasty (960-1279), and the resultant collection, Forever Four Seasons, which expressed the connection between humans and nature, was exhibited in the Grand Hall during the 2016 Hong Kong International Jewelry Show.

"I want to popularize Chinese traditional culture, not by reconditioning old objects, but to create something new and add a contemporary aesthetic," Li explains.

Before she established Charlene Classic, Li was working for a French bank after graduating as a finance student from Peking University.

While the job paid her a high salary, she was not satisfied with the monotony of life and the idea of creating fine jewelry started to gestate, harking back to her childhood playing among the stones in Fujian province.

"When I was a kid, if I was scolded or upset, I used to hide myself in the gaps of huge stones nearby where I grew up," Li explains. "Now, as an adult, it's the smaller stones (gems) that give me comfort - they are my way to relax when I feel stressed.

"No matter what their size, stones calm me down and make me feel secure," she continued, "I consider it my connection to nature."

Li feels strong sense of achievement and satisfaction running her jewelry business. "The gem is the masterpiece of nature, but the process of turning a gem into a piece of jewelry makes people marvel at the ingenuity, imagination and skills of a person."

Li laments that she believes there is still some prejudice against Chinese jewelry brand, on both a national and international level, but it has not dented her faith or belief that she is pursuing the right course.

She observes that, perhaps due to the lack of Chinese fine jewelry brands in the past, local customers still associate Chinese jewelry with the jade rings that are popular among the older generation and, as a result, famous international jewelry brands have a stronger pull with younger buyers. At the same time, it's very hard for Chinese jewelry brands to knock on the door of the international market because of a reputation for cheap products and mediocre design.

"The benefit of that is that people are genuinely surprised when they see our products," Li notes, proudly. "I believe it's only a matter of time before people start to change the opinion about Chinese jewelry."

xuhaoyu@chinadaily.com.cn

Clockwise from top: Airs of Virtue - plum blossom earrings; Airs of Virtue - Landscape emerald earrings; Plumage - propitious twig earrings.

]]>
2018-06-02 07:04:37
<![CDATA[The 'King of the Commode' seeks an heir to his thrones]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/02/content_36317942.htm ALAMO HEIGHTS, Texas - For sale: One tiny kingdom, with many thrones. But it doesn't come with a hereditary title.

That belongs, in perpetuity, to Barney Smith - the undisputed "King of the Commode". "There's a lot of me in there," he says, sitting in front of the corrugated metal garage he's dubbed his Toilet Seat Art Museum.

There's a lot of, well, everything in there.

Smith has one seat decorated with a chunk of the Berlin Wall and another with a piece of insulation from the doomed Shuttle Challenger. There are lids festooned with flint arrowheads, Civil War Minie balls, Amtrak train keys, Pez dispensers - even $1 million in shredded greenbacks from the Federal Reserve Bank in San Antonio.

Every inch of door, wall and ceiling space is covered.

The sign out front - a commode lid, of course - says Smith's art is "not for sale". But after five decades and countless offers, the king says everything must go.

"At 96, I come out here with a cane. I've gotta hold onto everything to walk," says Smith, who is bent with arthritis and struggles to swing the creaking metal doors open for visitors. "I'm beginning to feel like that I'd rather be in an air-conditioned home in a chair, looking at a good program."

Still, walking away will be hard.

"This is my life's history here," he says.

It started more than 50 years ago, as a way to display hunting trophies.

Smith says his father would spend hours cutting out, sanding and varnishing wooden shields to mount his antlers. The son figured a toilet seat lid would do just fine.

"Well, I'm a master plumber, retired," he says. "I thought I ought to stick with my trade."

Smith had promised his wife, Louise, that he'd stop at 500. That was 850 toilet seats ago.

"If I would have just read my Bible as many hours as I spent on my toilet seats, I'd be a better man," he says with a twinkle in his eye.

Smith's workshop is stacked floor to ceiling with cardboard boxes filled with odds and ends. He engraves his works with castoff drills donated by a local dentist.

Smith readily admits that he's no Jasper Johns.

"The abstract artist would take it and he would spray a little paint over here and a little bit of paint here and say, 'This is the Alamo,'" Smith says with disgust. "I do detail."

Smith toiled in obscurity until an artist who'd come by to see some of his oil paintings caught a glimpse of his garage and told a local TV station.

"They twisted my arm so until I said to come on," Smith says.

The piece aired on a Friday. The following Monday, two other stations came calling. Then came the tourists.

"And so I just slung the door open," he says.

Smith officially opened as a museum in 1992. Since then, visitors from every state and 83 foreign countries have made their way to this little municipality completely surrounded by the city of San Antonio.

He asks that visitors make an appointment. But he doesn't turn anyone away.

Smith uses his walking stick to point out his favorites. Like a lavatory seat from the airplane that carried billionaire Aristotle Onassis's body home to Greece.

He regales tourists with the tale of "Old Rip", the "horny toad" who emerged alive after 31 years entombed in the courthouse cornerstone in his hometown of Eastland, Texas. He also treats each to a recitation of "When Earth's Last Picture is Painted" - a Rudyard Kipling poem he was assigned to learn in fifth grade.

No one leaves without signing his guestbook - and a toilet seat.

Smith is currently working on a seat commemorating the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. He suspects that will be his last.

In 2014, he lost Louise, his wife of 74 years. A few months ago, he fell and broke two ribs.

Daughter Julia Murders says they've had offers. A man from India, who wanted to buy the collection for his daughter, offered $20,000 - about $15 per seat.

"We discussed it and we said, 'Daddy, you know, you've been doing this your whole life. The last few years of your life, you've done nothing but this,'" says Murders, 69, who lives nearby.

People have told Smith that he's sitting on a pot of gold. But Smith isn't looking to cash in.

"I want all 1,350 to be intact in another museum somewhere," he says. "It's not the highest bidder. It's not being raffled off."

Austin writer and publisher Daedelus Hoffman says Smith and his collection are priceless. And he wants to help preserve that legacy.

His Cattywampus Press raised more than $30,000 to produce a full-color, clothbound book about Smith. "King of the Commode: Barney Smith & His Toilet Seat Art Museum" was released last Saturday, just in time for Smith's 97th birthday.

Hoffman hopes the book will help Smith attract a suitable buyer. If nothing else, he wanted to at least "document this piece of Americana."

"For me, Barney's story is about the innate human desire to create and communicate," Hoffman says. "He is a folk artist. And his story and his life work merits preservation."

Smith would love for the collection to remain where it is. But if it must move to remain intact, so be it.

"I'm ready to give it up and let it go to London," he says.

The Louvre, perhaps?

Associated Press

Retired plumber Barney Smith, 96, walks through his Toilet Seat Art Museum in Alamo Heights, Texas. Smith, called "King of the Commode", began his commode art work in 1992 and is looking for a buyer who will preserve his collection intact. Photos By Eric Gay / Associated Press

]]>
2018-06-02 07:04:37
<![CDATA[A NEW LOOK AT HUMAN EVOLUTION]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/01/content_36315174.htm Despite the popularity of short works on history these days, British historian Peter Watson sticks with his form of comprehensive writing. And his persistence is showcased in his two-volume work of more than 1,000 pages called Ideas: A History from Fire to Freud that was recently published in China.

]]>
A British historian's two-volume book tracing the development of human thought and how it has made us who we are over time has been released in Chinese. Fang Aiqing reports.

Despite the popularity of short works on history these days, British historian Peter Watson sticks with his form of comprehensive writing. And his persistence is showcased in his two-volume work of more than 1,000 pages called Ideas: A History from Fire to Freud that was recently published in China.

The work dwells on the key achievements of mankind from the time humans started walking upright and making fire to the year of 1900, when Sigmund Freud became well-known for his theory of psychoanalysis.

Watson's work, together with one of his earlier books, The Modern Mind: An Intellectual History of the 20th Century, which has been translated into nearly 20 languages, provides an integrated picture of the intellectual evolution of humankind to explain how we have become what we are today.

"Reading the book is like entering a museum of human thought, but the collections and the way they are displayed are quite different from ordinary museums," says Mu Ye, a Chinese poet and editor of the magazine Shanghai Culture.

Watson, 75, is a journalist-turned-scholar who was once a research associate at the McDonald Institute for Archaeology Research at Cambridge University.

He has also published dozens of books, both nonfiction and novels, some under the pen name Mackenzie Ford.

Watson says he came up with the idea of writing about intellectual history in the late 1990s. He was inspired to do this by the British philosopher Sir Isaiah Berlin.

Watson then made up his mind to write a history of ideas of the 20th century, which was later expanded to cover a longer period of time.

Watson's work not only includes abstract ideas, but also the products of ideas that have had social consequences.

One example in his work is the invention of the guillotine during the French Revolution.

Before the revolution, there were more than 100 ways to execute prisoners. However, the invention was not only a more efficient one, but also a deliberate way of equalizing punishment.

To deal with the numerous intellectual achievements of human civilization, Watson uses three of them - the soul, Europe and experiments - as clues to lay out the history of ideas.

For him, the idea of the soul, unlike that of God, evolves beyond the advent of the secular world.

And he says the pursuit of "an alternative, better self" has led humankind into romanticism. As a former psychologist, he argues that it has eventually become the idea of the unconscious in the modern world.

As for experiments, he says they have taken people away from following authority blindly and become a driving force for scientific revolutions that have shaped the modern world.

Speaking about the rise of Europe, he says it began in the heyday of the Middle Ages and was later developed into a secular world with the birth of a series of new ideas, including the emergence of individualism, when people started looking on themselves not as a part of humanity nor belonging to God, but as an individual in their own right.

The subsequent Renaissance enabled Europeans to enjoy life instead of thinking about an afterlife. And, this was why, in Watson's view, Europe began to take over and led human civilization into the modern world.

However, by stressing the prosperity of European civilization, as Watson has pointed out, he doesn't necessarily fall into the trap of Eurocentrism.

"It's obvious in intellectual history that Europe led the way for nearly 1,000 years. I'm simply describing a reality that was there," says Watson.

Meanwhile, there are chapters in the book on Chinese civilization.

Watson says he is impressed by the big differences in the Han civilization (206 BC-AD 220) and the Song civilization (960-1279), both of which were responsible for enormous innovations.

"I am particularly fascinated by the Song civilization, because it took place just before the big changes in Europe," says Watson, adding that he is especially interested in the competitive ancient imperial examination for selecting civil servants that was set up to encourage social mobility and gave ancient China a high level of literacy and education.

During his recent trip to China, Watson also listed some of the areas in which he believes China is leading the world, such as renewable energy, AI and the treatment of prostate cancer.

"I don't think that we are particularly deaf to what is happening in China. In fact, we're hungry for new information," says Watson.

"And one is also looking to China for some innovative ideas about how to live with the internet."

As for the future, Watson says he is fascinated by the link between political and intellectual history.

"It's a history that has never been written. It'll be a lot of work, but a very fruitful area," he says. "I'm too old, but it can be a career for somebody."

 

Peter Watson talks to Su Qi, deputy editor of financial magazine Caijing, during a promotional event in Beijing. Provided to China Daily

]]>
2018-06-01 09:43:48
<![CDATA[Photographer captures 'real' living legends]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/01/content_36315173.htm A set of photos depicting the legendary beings and fantasy worlds described in the Book of Mountains and Seas, a classic compendium of Chinese mythology, have been circulating online recently.

The pictures, which have captured the imagination of many fans, were created by Chen Xin, a 24-year-old photographer from Chengdu, Sichuan province.

In her pictures, creatures and characters - such as a mermaid who cried pearl tears, a butterfly that weighs more than 80 kilograms, a fish with a bird's head and a white deer with four antlers that only appears during floods - all come alive in the form of fairy spirits.

The classic tome, which present-day scholars believe was written by multiple authors during different ages, roughly during mid-and late Warring States Period (476-221 BC) and early Han Dynasty (202 BC-AD 220), mostly contains geographical knowledge of ancient China, passed down through folklore. It not only includes many well-known ancient legends and fables, but vividly describes numerous exotic mythical beasts.

"I have heard my family's elders, including my grandmother, recount the legends and tell these kind of stories all the time. They always caught my attention," recalls Chen, adding that the idea to develop a series of photographs based on the theme came naturally.

She began the project in July last year and carefully studied each of the mythical animals' descriptions in the book, before drafting her ideas and composing the picture before starting the work.

She started with the mythical animal, Chenghuang, which is described as "fox-like", but has horns on its back. She made a fox's tail with material she bought online and used 3D printing to create the horns, while the model's skin was painted white to resemble the color of the creature's fur as described in the book.

Chen went to painstaking levels of detail to ensure her subjects appeared vivid and lifelike. For instance, to make the outfit for a phoenix, she bought 7,000 differently colored peacock feathers at a price of 1 yuan for each pair.

"I'll try whatever it takes to achieve the ideal effect, as long as I can cover the costs and dedicate the time," explains Chen, who also spent a great deal of time editing the photos on her computer to achieve her vision.

So far, Chen has finished 18 sets of photos at a cost of more than 80,000 yuan ($12,500), with the longest picture taking an entire month to complete.

She and her team traveled to various locations around the country to find the ideal backdrops - from deserts to mountains and snowfields. According to Chen, there were often uncontrollable conditions, such as weather and the environment, during the process of shooting, so the team needed to adjust accordingly.

"The good thing is," Chen notes, "we often came up with new ideas when implementing the changes." Which is what happened when they were shooting the images of Bifang, a legendary bird. Chen spotted some dry grape vines next to the shoot's site and immediately decided to build a big bird's nest.

"There is a little interesting story behind every photographing session," she says.

Chen, a former teen model herself, discovered her passion for the art of photography gradually. She only became a professional photographer about three years ago, but she puts her camera skills to good use at a cultural creative company based in Chengdu and enjoys much freedom in her work. She spends most of her free time, however, working on her own photography projects.

"She always resolutely carries out her plan," observes her employer, Guo Hanlin. "Once she has an idea, all her mind is occupied with the detailed plans of how to get it done."

One fan on the Sina Weibo social-media platform, Lin Heye, comments: "I like her works as they are a fusion of fashion and traditional heritage.

"Young people are so familiar with images from Western fairy tales and myths. It's interesting for her to bring back Chinese legends in this way." According to Chen, her lens will continue to bring the folklore to life for a new generation. Besides continuing the Mountains and Seas series, she will also turn her hand to reimagining other classical Chinese themes, such as the 24 Chinese solar terms and traditional festivals.

"I am happy to try new things, instead of sticking to one fixed style," Chen says.

 

]]>
2018-06-01 09:43:48
<![CDATA[CUSTOM-MADE BEAUTY]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/01/content_36315172.htm A robot waves its arm as it applies foundation to your face. You use your phone to try different colors of lipstick. You say you want to remove some annoying pimples and a disembodied voice gives you advice and even arranges the delivery of some facial cleanser to your house.

]]>
The cosmetics industry is using technology to draw Chinese consumers. Chen Meiling reports.

A robot waves its arm as it applies foundation to your face. You use your phone to try different colors of lipstick. You say you want to remove some annoying pimples and a disembodied voice gives you advice and even arranges the delivery of some facial cleanser to your house.

During the third Viva Technology conference, a major global innovation and technology event held in Paris from May 24 to 26, many exhibitors showcased how the latest technologies are changing how we see ourselves and how AI, virtual reality, big data, genetics, robotics and 3D printing are being used by the cosmetics industry.

"The big problem for many customers is they don't really know what shade of foundation is right for them, what lipstick color goes with their skin tone, and how they will look with a particular hair color," says Stephane Rinderknech, CEO of L'Oreal China and executive committee member of L'Oreal Group, which has been an exhibitor at all three Viva Technology events, presenting its latest beauty tech innovations.

This year, L'Oreal demonstrated how it is applying advanced digital technologies to create "augmented" personalized services for consumers.

For instance, the company has developed a voice-enabled virtual mirror, in cooperation with Chinese technology giant Alibaba, that allows users to shop directly on Alibaba's e-commerce platform TMall for makeup products based on looks selected by the consumers while using the mirror.

With a click users can try a new lipstick. Don't like it? They can click and try another.

"Today, there's a strong trend among Chinese consumers - that is who I am, and I want to express myself," Rinderknech says.

And it is not the company's only foray in tech. L'Oreal has also sold over 1 million wearable devices that can detect real-time levels of ultraviolet. Users can upload information of their skin status on an app and it will offer a solution for protecting the skin.

"Such technologies are helping consumers satisfy their desire for beauty," Rinderknech says.

Liu Rong, supply chain and marketing vice-president of SoYoung, a cosmetic surgery social networking app, agrees.

"The application of technology in the cosmetics industry has great potential in the Chinese market as people are showing an increasing demand for self-expression," she says.

Liu says she has tried virtual makeup apps and customized styling apps, with which the service providers give a specific plan for each individual according to facial appearance, skin status and intended use.

"I felt those products were specially designed for me at that certain moment, which was very sweet," Liu says.

Domestic makeup consultancy app, Beauty Evolution, won the global innovation award at the Viva Technology, beating about 100 candidates from around the world.

Li Wei, partner of the two-year-old startup, says, "Data show more than 80 percent of our Chinese clients have previously purchased makeups that are not suitable for them. We hope that is not a problem in the future."

He explains that China is at the forefront of cosmetics tech as the cost of R&D in developed countries is about six times more.

"But the key is whether people feel they are really benefiting from the technology," he adds.

Since it entered the Chinese market in 1997, the 111-year-old L'Oreal has been introducing tailored products for the middle-class in China. Today, its skin research center in Shanghai can produce "quasihuman" skin with the skin tones of Chinese people to test the effects of makeup before it is mass produced, which also helps to avoid irritations or allergic reactions.

The company is now cooperating with domestic internet companies to get the feedback of Chinese consumers based on big data.

"China has become a global leader in technological innovation. And Chinese customers have shown a greater curiosity and better acceptance towards technology than other markets in the world," says Guive Balooch, vice-president of global innovative incubation at L'Oreal.

He expects targeted beauty solutions to see rapid development, fueled by the application of new technologies such as deep learning and AI.

So while robots may take our jobs, at least when they do, we'll be looking good.

 

 

 

A woman changes her hair color by using the virtual mirror at the Viva Technology Paris 2018. Photos provided to China Daily

]]>
2018-06-01 09:43:48
<![CDATA[UNIQUE APPROACH TO SHOWCASE TREASURES]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/01/content_36315171.htm In October 2011, when Zhou Tianyou took the position as the director of the Xi'an Qujiang Museum of Fine Arts, he had big plans for it. So, when it officially opened to the public on July 31, 2012, he curated an exhibition which displays ancient Chinese murals.

]]>
The private Xi'an Qujiang Museum of Fine Arts is a pioneering institution in many ways, especially when it comes to displaying murals. Chen Nan reports.

In October 2011, when Zhou Tianyou took the position as the director of the Xi'an Qujiang Museum of Fine Arts, he had big plans for it. So, when it officially opened to the public on July 31, 2012, he curated an exhibition which displays ancient Chinese murals.

Titled Origin and History of Ancient Chinese Murals, the permanent exhibition set in a 1,000-square-meter hall, features 88 panels (67 of them original) from the Neolithic period to the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

With murals unearthed in Shaanxi province serving as the main foundation, the exhibition is also the result of partnerships with about 20 national museums and archaeological institutes from 13 Chinese regions and provinces, including the Palace Museum in Beijing, Liaoning Provincial Museum, Gansu Provincial Museum as well as the Gansu Provincial Institute of Archaeology.

At the museum, visitors can see murals, such as a piece titled Dancing Men from the Neolithic age from the Gansu Provincial Museum, a gold suit of armor dating back about 2,700 years and a 1-meter-tall stone Buddha head.

So, how does this kind of art display influence visitors?

Speaking about the exhibition, Zhou, 74, says: "When viewers see the murals, they not only appreciate the beautiful paintings, but also understand the lifestyles of people from different Chinese dynasties."

Pointing to two murals, which depict livestock trading from the Northern Wei Dynasty (386-534), he says: "The murals, which have vibrant scenes of daily lives, are a different way to communicate."

Murals have a long history in China, says Zhou, adding that the art form advanced remarkably in the Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 220).

But he says that it reached its first peak in terms of style, technique and subject matter in the Tang Dynasty (618-907), when China enjoyed national unity, economic prosperity, cultural advancement and increased exposure to foreign cultures.

He says murals were a common sight in Tang imperial palaces, high-ranking officials' residences, and Buddhist and Taoist temples and caves.

And the murals portrayed a variety of subjects, such as mysterious creatures, animals, architecture, religion, as well as scenes of everyday life.

Speaking about the museum, he says: "Its function is to make history relevant for everyone who visits, and to make each individual think about how that knowledge can be relevant to their life. "Murals are easy to understand and they explain a lot," he says.

Meanwhile, Zhou also set up the Mural Conservation and Restoration Center at the Xi'an Qujiang Museum of Fine Arts, in cooperation with the Shaanxi Provincial Institute of Archaeology, to conserve, research, restore and exhibit ancient murals. And from 2010 to 2017, the center restored 16 murals from the Ordos Bronzeware Museum of Inner Mongolia autonomous region.

"The murals from Ordos are priceless as they contain information about the cultural exchanges between the nomadic people and Western countries," says Zhou, adding that one mural titled Hunting, from the Han Dynasty (202 BC - 220 AD), depicts a man sitting in a carriage to go hunting.

"The techniques used in these murals were three-dimensional, rather than the two-dimensional art style of traditional Chinese painting. And it is believed that the three-dimensional technique was brought in by Western travelers," says Zhou.

Speaking about the center, 30-year-old Li Sen, one of three artists who work there says: "Usually it takes months, or sometimes years to restore one mural."

Li, who was born in Yulin, in Shaanxi province, joined the center five years after graduating from Shaanxi Conservation College. And now, along with his team members, they are involved in a project to restore a mural from the Qing Dynasty which measures 4 meters tall by 3 meters wide.

Giving details about his work, Li says: "One of the most used tools (in the restoration process) is the surgical blade. And restoring murals is like being a doctor undertaking surgery. So, when you save a damaged mural you feel contented and excited."

Li also says that he joined the center because of Zhou, who presented lectures about the mural project when Li was a college student.

For Zhou, recounting Chinese history using murals has always been a passion.

He says that Shaanxi province is home to the largest number of murals in China, and that the Shaanxi History Museum had more than 540 murals in the 1990s.

When he was director at the Shaanxi History Museum from 1995 to 2004, Zhou wanted to launch a mural exhibition like the one at the Xi'an Qujiang Museum of Fine Arts but failed.

At that time, it was quite controversial to move murals from their original locations such as tombs and temples. And the techniques of restoring and protecting the murals were not so developed.

"Now, changes in air quality, temperature and humidity are closely monitored to prevent damage to the murals," he says.

Zhou, who was born in Zhuji, in Zhejiang province, moved to Tianjin along with his family at the age of 6.

He then graduated with a bachelor's degree of history from Nankai University in 1968, and then taught history at a middle school in Longjiang county, in northern China's Heilongjiang province for four years before he was transferred to teach at a middle school in Xi'an, Shaanxi province, for six years.

Then, in 1978, he enrolled to study history at Northwest University in Xi'an, where he later taught and headed the Research Institution of Ancient Books and the library of the university.

Later, he became director of the Shaanxi History Museum. Moving to a private museum was a challenge for Zhou - especially when it came to fundraising - because unlike national museums, which enjoy governmental support, private museums have to raise funds on their own.

But thanks to the local government of Xi'an, which supports the growth of private museums, the future of the Xi'an Qujiang Museum of Fine Arts is bright, says Zhou.

And with his experience of working in museums over the past four decades, Zhou says that he aims to bring the museum on a par with national museums.

One of his plans is to build the institution as a platform for international communication on murals.

So, in 2013, the museum launched the Qujiang Mural Forum.

The event, which is now held every two years, attracts mural experts from countries such as Japan, Italy, Russia and Australia to discuss issues like the role and impact of murals on cultural development in relation to countries along the Silk Road.

The location of the museum, which is right in the center of Xi'an and near the famous Dayanta Pagoda, also helps.

The museum, which is housed in the Westin Xi'an Hotel, is one of the first private museums in China to combine its operations with an international five-star hotel.

Separately, the museum also has two other exhibitions: Royal Gold Wares of the Ming Dynasty and Imperial Kiln Bricks of the Forbidden City and The Ordos Mongolian History and Culture of Genghis Khan. And previous exhibitions included silver plates and ceramics by Pablo Picasso, 19th century Dutch oil paintings, and ceramics by Le Manufacture Nationale de S��vres from France.

In August, the museum will host an exhibition titled Royal Gold Wares of the Ming Dynasty, which will showcase over 150 items at the National Museum of Slovenia.

"This will be a breakthrough for private museums in China - holding an independent exhibition abroad," says Zhou.

]]>
2018-06-01 09:43:48
<![CDATA[Tour introduces Xi'an to ethnic Mongolian culture]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/01/content_36315170.htm With strings of coral beads, silver plates patterned with flowers and embroidery kits scattered on the table, Bato Checheg demonstrates the art of making traditional Mongolian ethnic headwear, a skill she learned from her mother about 25 years ago.

Despite the crowds surrounding her, she cannot help murmuring a Mongolian folk song from her hometown, Ordos Otog Banner, Inner Mongolia autonomous region. Titled Riding Home, the song depicts the way Mongolian ethnic people welcome guests to their home on the grasslands.

"I sing the song when I work on the headwear. It's an old habit," says the 54-year-old Bato Checheg, in her blue and red traditional Mongolian robe.

The whole set of the headwear weighs more than ten kilograms.

"I learned the patterns and embroidery techniques from my mother and my mother learned these from her mother. It's our family knowledge of culture," she adds.

Bato Checheg has been recognized as an intangible cultural heritage inheritor and her craft was added to the list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Inner Mongolia autonomous region in 2007.

Along with the five other intangible cultural inheritors from Ordos city, she traveled to Xi'an recently to showcase her skills and conduct workshops with students from primary and middle schools around Xi'an.

As part of the ongoing Ordos Culture Nationwide Tour 2018 Xi'an Week, which takes place in the Shaanxi provincial capital until June 3, the intangible cultural heritage event will include inheritors showcasing their skills in silver bowl making, horsewhip making and wood carving.

Ordos Cultural Week, first launched in 2016 by the Ordos government, has toured Shenzhen in southern China's Guangdong province and Shanghai, according to Su Cuifang, head of the Publicity Department of Ordos.

"It's a rare opportunity for people living in urban areas to see Mongolian culture," Su says. "We bring a series of events, like workshops, live concerts, performances and exhibitions that offer the audience a glimpse of the unique Mongolian ethnic culture."

During the Ordos Cultural Week in Xi'an, an exhibition titled Eternal Divine Oil Lamp Lighting for Eight Hundred Years - The Ordos Mongolian History and Culture of Genghis Khan, will be held at the Xi'an Qujiang Museum of Fine Arts.

According to Dou Zhibin, director of the Ordos Museum, which is holding the exhibition, 168 items from the 13th century are on display, showing the essence of Mongolian culture in Ordos left by Genghis Khan.

Dou says that the Mongolians living in Ordos pass their unique culture from generation to generation, including the worship of Genghis Khan.

He also notes that Ordos is where Mongolian traditional etiquette is best preserved.

Festivities for the cultural week kicked off with a concert performance by the Uxin Matouqin Symphony Orchestra from Uxin Banner at Xi'an Concert Hall under the baton of conductor Chagan - who is a renowned composer from Ordos.

Formed in 2010, the orchestra is the only symphony orchestra in China which features morin khuur (horse-head fiddle) players and vocal performers who use the traditional khoomei (throat-singing) technique. Clad in long colorful robes and leather boots, the Mongolian musicians performed 11 repertories including Shan Dan Dan Hua Kai Hong Yan Yan (Red Morningstar Lilies are in Blossom), a rearrangement - based on the well-known folk song with the same title from Northwest China - by Chagan for the morin khuur to showcase the versatility of the instrument.

According to Chagan, who is now based in Beijing and has composed music for more than 40 films and TV series, since he became the conductor of the orchestra in 2010 he has found the job challenging, as the morin khuur has never before been used as a main instrument for a symphony orchestra. "The morin khuur is magical, with a profound history which deserves to be known by more people. Though it has just two strings, it can produce a wide range of sounds," explains Chagan, adding that more than 10,000 people from Uxin Banner's 130,000 residents play the morin khuur, which has helped in maintaining the instrument's popularity among the younger generation.

In 2014, the orchestra made its debut at the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing and in the same year, it performed more than 20 shows across Inner Mongolia.

In March, the orchestra was in Nice as part of the 2018 China-EU Tourism Year and for the Happy Chinese New Year events organized by China's Ministry of Culture.

Ordos Culture on Nationwide Tour 2018 also staged an original dance drama production, titled Senjidema, by the Ordos Folk Singing and Dancing Troupe, on May 29 at the Shaanxi Opera House, while the Ordos Folk Singing and Dancing Troupe held a gala at the same venue, featuring traditional Mongolian dance and music, the following evening.

]]>
2018-06-01 09:43:48
<![CDATA[LATEST FILM IS PUREST JIA]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/31/content_36305817.htm Over the past 16 years, Jia Zhangke has seen five of his directorial movies nominated for the Palme d'Or, one of the movie world's most prestigious awards.

]]>
With complex characters and a small-town setting, Jia Zhangke's new gangland flick, Ash Is Purest White, is an epic nostalgic tale told over nearly two decades. Xu Fan reports.,

Over the past 16 years, Jia Zhangke has seen five of his directorial movies nominated for the Palme d'Or, one of the movie world's most prestigious awards.

Again, his latest effort, Ash Is Purest White, was nominated for the honor at the recently held 71st Cannes Film Festival, as well as being selected to compete in a further six categories: best actress, best actor, best director, best screenplay, the Jury Prize and the Grand Prix.

However, while Jia's film failed to topple Japanese rival Hirokazu Kore-eda's Shoplifters for the top prize, the 48-year-old auteur is optimistic about the future.

Recently, Jia, alongside his wife and lead actress Zhao Tao, as well as actor Liao Fan, presented at a Beijing event to announce the Chinawide opening of Ash Is Purest White on Sept 21.

While considering his past achievements - especially at the Venice International Film Festival - Jia remains pragmatic about the Cannes defeat. "It's fair to lose something when you have gained another. I told my team, teasingly, that the honor will belong to us one day."

As a regular at international film festivals, Jia nabbed the coveted Golden Lion, the top honor at the Venice festival, for his film, Still Life, in 2006. His features Platform and The World were also screened in competition at the Italian festival in 2000 and 2004, respectively.

However, it's Zhao and Liao that he feels sorry for, noting: "I think they both perform extraordinarily and, while they have won a lot of international acclaim, I really hope their effort will be rewarded."

As Jia's biggest budget movie to date, Ash Is Purest White also stars Chinese cinematic heavyweights Feng Xiaogang, Xu Zheng, Zhang Yibai and Diao Yinan.

The crew traveled around 7,000 kilometers to shoot sequences in Shanxi province, the Three Gorges area and the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.

Despite being widely recognized as one of the country's top directors, Feng - who won the best actor award at the 52nd Golden Horse Awards in 2015 for his starring role in Mr Six - plays a Chinese-medicine practitioner who is a master of acupuncture.

Xu, known for his roles in the blockbusters Lost in Thailand and Lost in Hong Kong, plays a sci-fi novelist, a character loosely based on Liu Cixin, the first Asian author to win the Hugo Award, according to Jia.

"In recent years, I've been spending most of the time in my hometown (in Shanxi province) and sci-fi ideas have often come to mind," explains Jia.

With an increasing interest to explore the meaning of time and space, Jia writes Xu's character as an eloquent novelist who is enthusiastic about outer space and he also created a sequence that features actress Zhao's character marveling at the vast starry sky in Xinjiang.

"I wanted to shoot a movie that was more like a novel, which covers a long time span and features complex characters," says Jia, adding that time will help audiences to understand the protagonists and their struggles.

Set from 2001 until present day, the 141-minute film follows a couple of one-time lovers through the huge transformation of China. Zhao's character, Qiao Qiao, is a goodhearted woman who gets sentenced to five years in jail for protecting her boyfriend Bin, a hooligan with high aspirations, played by Liao.

Any foreign viewer who wants to get the core of the movie should first understand the Chinese term jianghu, which literally translates to "river and lake".

In Jia's movie, the phrase's meaning is rooted in martial arts, where it refers to the lifestyle that the protagonists choose to lead. They are a sidelined, low-class minority who pursue power or money, as well as maintain justice in a system built more on human relations than law.

Chinese cinema has depicted a number of such roles, especially in Hong Kong's triad movies, with John Woo's iconic 1986 movie, A Better Tomorrow, as one of the most representative examples.

"Jianghu is a phrase very familiar to the domestic audience, but difficult to understand for their Western counterparts. After consulting with some critics, we decided to keep the pinyin spelling in the subtitles to convey its uniqueness in Chinese," says Jia.

"For me, jianghu is a legendary world, and it's also a distinctive way for the Chinese to socialize with each other. I believe it will resonate with Chinese audiences."

The script, in which Jia focuses more on the characters than the backdrop of an ever-shifting Chinese society - a shared theme in most of his early films - took him three years to write.

"The entire process of creation is very exciting. It reminds me of the small-town life, the romances there and the historic moments we have experienced," observes the Fengyang-born director. To pay homage to his youth, he shot two-thirds of the movie on film, rather than digitally.

His cast, most of whom are fellow directors, were keen to pay tribute to Jia's work.

Zhang, known for directing coming-of-age movies like Fleet of Time, recalls that despite the version he watched in Cannes having a soundtrack in the Shanxi dialect and being subtitled in French - both difficult for him to understand - he was touched by the romance between the protagonists.

Director-actor Xu says he was privileged to walk into "Jia's cinematic world", that he said for decades has provided a window into China through which Western moviegoers could enjoy the country.

Contact the writer at xufan@chinadaily.com.cn

 

Actress Zhao Tao and actor Liao Fan star in Jia Zhangke's latest film, Ash Is Purest White.

]]>
2018-05-31 07:35:43
<![CDATA[Chinese sci-fi enters pivotal new phase]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/31/content_36305816.htm Sci-fi writer Liu Cixin has said on many occasions that he wanted to see his best-selling novel to date, The Three-Body Problem, portrayed on the big screen, or, preferably, as a TV drama adaptation.

Work on the movie version of the book - which is in fact the first volume of Liu's Remembrance of Earth's Past trilogy, but better known to Chinese readers as the title of the trilogy - began in March 2015, and the film was initially scheduled to be screened in 2016. But despite the high expectations of the Chinese moviegoing public, the release of the movie has been postponed several times since then, and is now not expected until 2019.

Many people, however, remain pessimistic about the quality of the movie, largely because China has so far never produced a successful scifi movie to match the quality of Hollywood offerings such as 2014's Interstellar, 1968's 2001: A Space Odyssey, or even this year's Annihilation, which was adapted from the 2015 Nebula Award winner that beat Liu's Three-Body Problem.

For film director Li Xiaofeng, Chinese sci-fi movies will only be able to improve if the genre is more widely accepted by Chinese audiences and enters the mainstream, rather than attracting a relatively small number of followers as it does today.

Li, the director of Ne Zha and Ash, is now producing a movie adapted from Han Song's short story, Cold War and Messenger. It is a sci-fi story about love and time shot against the backdrop of an interstellar Cold War set in the near future.

"Sci-fi films are to cinema as heavy industries are to industry in general," he says. "Because for me, half of it is about manufacturing, such as the making of the miniatures in Blade Runner (1982) or the outfits that the 1.9-meter-tall Bolaji Badejo wears to play the alien in Alien (1979). It takes time and energy to achieve such high levels of craftsmanship."

"According to my experience of filming in recent years, the different sections of China's film industry are so loosely organized that it is very difficult to achieve the texture of 'heavy industry' in a movie," he says.

"We still lag far behind the Hollywood in terms of conceptual design and adopting an efficient, well-organized approach to production in our movie industry."

But Chinese people aspire to make great sci-fi films, Han Song says. One of the most popular sci-fi writers in the country today, Han's works have won several major Chinese sci-fi awards including the Galaxy Award and the Xingyun Award for Global Chinese Science Fiction.

Mary Shelly completed the world's first sci-fi novel, Frankenstein, in 1818. And for China, the three waves of sci-fi fever which began at the end of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) and ran until 2006, when Liu Cixin started serializing his The Three-Body Problem trilogy in the periodical Science Fiction World and culminated in 2010 when the trilogy was published in book form, was not only a key turning point. It also appeared to predict the coming of the fourth wave of Chinese sci-fi, which Han describes as "unprecedented".

He connects this fever, Liu's success as the first Asian author to win the Hugo Award with the economic, social and scientific advancements in China.

"Why did the books appear in 2010? It was a special turning point in China's history. It was the year when the first people born in the 1980s turned 30 years old. This generation is very different to all the previous ones. It was the year when Shanghai hosted the World Expo and China was open to the world, which I think matters more than the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games," Han says.

Economically, China overtook Japan to become the world's second-largest economy in 2010. And, in the same year, China surpassed the United States for the first time to have the biggest output value of any manufacturing country in the world.

And a year later, and for the first time in China's long history as an agricultural country, the urban population exceeded that of rural areas.

"All these mark the huge progress that China has made on its road to modernization," Han says.

Since 2010, a huge amount of money has been invested in the science-fiction industry, which has now become prosperous. And Chinese people are more determined than ever to make a really great sci-fi film like Interstellar, Han says.

"Why? Because China is the country that has the most complete manufacturing chain in the world." And sci-fi, the heavy industry of the film genre, can be seen as a symbol of the development of science and technology, especially in the cutting-edge fields such as developing space stations, car engines or microchips.

"You can see why we want to make a good sci-fi movie so much," Han says.

"Like all literary genres, sci-fi reflects reality."

yangyangs@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2018-05-31 07:35:43
<![CDATA[WEB FILMS CLEANED UP]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/31/content_36305815.htm As part of recent review of its content quality, iQiyi - one of China's leading online media-streaming platforms - reported that it has removed more than 1,000 titles from its website.

]]>
A new focus on quality over quantity has seen the leading streaming platform iQiyi remove more than 1,000 videos from its servers and develop a better way of vetting content. Wang Kaihao reports.

As part of recent review of its content quality, iQiyi - one of China's leading online media-streaming platforms - reported that it has removed more than 1,000 titles from its website.

The move was revealed earlier this month at the iQiyi Technology & Entertainment World Conference by Yang Xianghua, vice-president of the company.

Many of the films were uploaded as early as 2014, the year when the term "internet feature film" was first used by iQiyi to describe the growing industry for films exclusively tailored to, and created for, the internet.

According to an industry report released earlier this year, about 1,900 such films went online nationwide in 2017, around 1,300 of which were released on the iQiyi platform.

"We want to encourage creativity," Yang explains. "Filmmakers should approach their work with a sense of enjoyment and fulfillment, rather than being opportunists who are only looking for money."

Withdrawing films is only the first step. At the conference, Yang revealed that 100 million yuan ($15.7 million) will be allocated as a bonus for online filmmakers who develop content that "promotes love and positive messages", he adds.

According to Zhang Hong, deputy head of the China Film Association, the total domestic revenue from online films was only 100 million yuan in 2014, which rocketed to 2 billion yuan in 2017. He predicts that the figure will continue its upward curve to reach 3 billion yuan this year.

In comparison, last year's total box-office revenue for domestic films in Chinese cinemas was 30 billion yuan, so Zhang believes that there is still a huge potential in the market for online movies. He estimates that internet features attracted 800 million Chinese viewers in 2017, around half the number of those who visited cinemas.

As China's paid-for video-on-demand market has taken off, Zhang sees the bigger picture and recognizes the potential for huge growth in the near future.

The biggest problem facing the burgeoning market, however, is that it is choked by a bottleneck of quality.

Up until now, Chinese online drama series like Day and Night and Burning Ice have proved incredibly popular and garnered widespread acclaim, with each scoring more than 8.5 points out of 10 on the popular TV-and-film-rating-platform, Douban.com. Comparably, online films have struggled to capture the public's imagination to the same degree. Some put this down to a lack of star power and, perhaps more importantly, quality in both content and production value.

For example, fantasy-romance The Ferry Man: Manjusaka garnered 40 million yuan in revenue from iQiyi's users, who were charged to watch it, making it the highest-grossing online film so far this year. Its 7.2-point rating on Douban.com is an improvement over the rating of its counter-parts from 2016 and 2017, which attracted no more than a 4-point rating.

Consequently, the industry is appealing for an improvement of quality, and iQiyi, with these new measures in place, is going to be a tougher sell than ever.

"Poorly made productions with inappropriate content and negative values will not be able to go online," Yang promises.

Ge Xufeng, a manager of online films with iQiyi, adds that at least 500 films were turned down by the platform in 2017 due to being "unqualified", as opposed to the handful that were rejected in 2015 and 2016.

In the past, online operators did not take enough time to evaluate content before offering space on their servers to miscellaneous filmmakers.

"We used to be undecided as to whether we set a high threshold to allow only high-quality products online," Yang says. "In the end, we gave the green light to a greater number of films, because many films are not able to be screened in cinemas.

"On online platforms, if only very few people watch a production, that at least means some feedback for its makers. However, we're rethinking whether this is the right policy."

As a result, Yang confesses, there are large swathes of erotic, overwhelmingly violent and improper content, as well those employing other eye-catching gimmicks, available online.

He observes that some filmmakers were producing work that was just on the edge of crossing the line of what is allowed.

"Their productions are based on where the bottom line of current regulation is," Yang notes. "And they sometimes crossed that line, which is why we had to keep withdrawing uploaded films."

To avoid such problems in the future, Yang says a new committee will be established to evaluate new projects from the beginning of their creation, rather than simply appraising them when the films are complete.

Then committee members will include many experienced scriptwriters drawn from the industry and external to iQiyi.

"If some topics have been repeated far too many times, or will create risk, we will suggest that the filmmaker puts the project on hold in case their efforts end up being in vain," Yang says.

Wang Hongwei, a director and an associate professor with Beijing Film Academy, observes: "Young filmmakers need more practice before taking on big projects for cinema. Online films give them a good platform to hone their craft, and they need to listen to advice."

Wang says online movies can be a channel to nurture a love of film within the new generations who are growing up in the internet era.

"Online platforms cannot be low-end copies of cinemas," he says. "Instead, they should be places for new formats, aesthetics and content to manifest, thrive and develop."

Increasing investment may be another solution to some quality issues.

According to Zhang, the total investment in online films in China reached 2.7 billion yuan last year, increasing 74 percent since 2016.

About 50 percent of the films produced have secured investment of 1 million yuan or more, while in 2016, that figure was closer to 20 percent.

"Bigger investments will gradually fill the gap between online films and those made for cinemas," Zhang believes.

The industry will take a more scientific approach as well.

Zhang says online films attracted about 8 billion clicks in China in 2017, 61 percent fewer than in 2016.

"That doesn't mean the market is shrinking," he explains. "That is because the major media-streaming platforms have made efforts to regulate their statistics and get rid of bubbles and traffic manipulation."

However, he also points out more works need to be done because iQiyi, Youku and Tencent - China's biggest three media-streaming platforms - have still not created a uniform standard to calculate traffic.

"If Hollywood is leading trends for commercial blockbusters," Zhang says, "then China is a pioneer for online film, which is in a position to establish standards for other countries around the world to follow."

Contact the writer at wangkaihao@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2018-05-31 07:35:43
<![CDATA[Documentary series looks at the lives of 6 Chinese authors]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/31/content_36305814.htm Nobel Literature Prize winner Mo Yan says he is the kind of person who dislikes to be on camera, but the novelist has agreed to "star" in an upcoming documentary series.

Literary Hometowns, a six-episode production that will air on China Central Television's documentary channel from June 8, features Mo and five other authors, Liu Zhenyun, Jia Pingwa, Alai, Chi Zijian and Bi Feiyu. One appears in each episode.

Mo, Liu and Alai, along with the documentary's creators, attended a ceremony to launch the series at Beijing Normal University on May 25.

The authors, who were all born in China's rural areas in the 1950s and 1960s, began to write after China launched its reform and opening-up policy.

The documentary series focuses on their birthplaces, old friends and relatives.

Also, viewers will get to see Gaomi, a small city in Shandong province that's the backdrop of Mo's 1986 epic novel Red Sorghum, and Shangluo in Shaanxi province, where Jia's award-winning novel Shaanxi Opera chronicles the villagers' lives.

The documentary series also focuses on ethnic Tibetan author Alai's climb up the 4,300-meter-high Balang Mountain in Sichuan province and travels with award-winning female writer Chi to China's northernmost village, Beiji, where the temperature can fall to as low as -42 C.

The series, produced by the CCTV documentary channel and made by Beijing Normal University's documentary center with support from the university's international writing center, took more than two years to complete.

Zhang Tongdao, the director and head of Beijing Normal University's documentary center, first got the idea for the series after watching the 2015 Sino-French documentary Once Upon A Time in Bussiere's Garden, which features an anecdote about French poet Saint-John Perse writing a poem in Beijing.

But the inspiration for Literary Hometowns came from the story of Lu Xun, arguably the greatest writer in 20th-century Chinese literature, who died in 1936.

"When Lu passed away, China's top film studios all wanted to shoot a production about him. But it was a pity. There were no video clips of him available," says Zhang.

So, Zhang, a Chinese language and literature graduate, wanted to avoid this situation in the future.

Also, Zhang had always wanted to see the places that had inspired the modern literary greats.

Citing the case of Alai's Mao Dun Literature Award-winning Red Poppies: A Novel of Tibet, which depicts the Tibet autonomous region's unique chieftain system, Zhang says: "I was very curious about how this great work was created.

"So, I told all the authors that we not only wanted interviews in Beijing but also wanted to travel with them back to the places where they were born and raised."

Though all the novelists made time to join the filming, their first reactions when approached were the same - they all refused to be part of the documentary.

Speaking about his initial response, Mo, who finally changed his mind thanks to Beijing Normal University literature professor Zhang Qinghua's persistence, says: "I had turned down the invitation many times. A writer is not an actor. I feel uncomfortable in front of a camera."

Mo, 63, who studied at the university in late 1980s, now heads the university's international writing center, of which Zhang Qinghua is the executive director.

For Mo, the series is an opportunity to again look at the relationship between a writer and his homeland.

And he explains this in the documentary when he says: "A writer's hometown means more than just where he was born. It is a place where he spent his childhood and grew into his youth, a place where his mother bled when giving birth, and a place where his forefathers were buried. Blood ties remain between him and his land."

xufan@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2018-05-31 07:35:43
<![CDATA[TV drama remade with fewer songs to appeal to modern tastes]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/31/content_36305813.htm One of the most broadcast TV dramas is The Legend of White Snake, a 50-episode series that debuted in 1992. But the tale, based on a book from the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279), is now being remade and stars Yu Menglong and Ju Jingyi.

Filming of the remake, which began in Wuxi, Jiangsu province, in early March, is scheduled to end of June.

The remake, also titled The Legend of White Snake, is licensed from Taiwan Television Enterprise - the maker of the original series - and will maintain the main storyline, but reduce the number of episodes to 36.

Over the past 26 years, the legend has inspired a string of films and TV dramas, such as Tsui Hark's martial arts fantasy, Green Snake and actress Liu Tao's 30-episode period drama, Madam White Snake.

But Zhu Kai, the chief producer of the remake and vice-president of ChineseAll Digital Publishing Group, says they stuck with the 1992 drama, starring Angie Chiu and Cecilia Yip, as it's the most popular.

"We acquired the copyrights of the script and all the songs from the Taiwan company, and tried to stay faithful to the original version."

The remake is jointly financed by ChineseAll, one of the country's largest digital-content publishers, and the leading online-video platform, iQiyi.

The story is set in Hangzhou, then the capital of the Southern Song court, and is about a 1,000-year-old snake spirit which that's transformed into a beautiful woman and falls in love with a young man. But the lovers are forced to separate by a Buddhist monk.

The monk named Fahai is depicted as a stubborn person, who cannot understand love.

Zhu says the new TV drama will feature a younger Fahai with a more complex personality.

He also says that the characters of the two snake spirits - the white one named Bai Suzhen and her younger sister, a green snake named Xiaoqing - will be loosely based on the snake Kaa in the Disney movie The Jungle Book.

"But the director thought Kaa looks more like a male snake so he made the visual-effects team give the characters a more female look," says Zhu.

Some of the songs from the 1992 version, which make up nearly 40 percent of the total scenes in that series, will be cut in the remake, as youngsters now want a faster pace, says Zhu.

The new drama is scheduled to premier next year.

Separately, ChineseAll, with its literature website 17K.com boasting more than 1 million online novelists, has launched a project seeking a writer to adapt the script into an online novel.

Dai Hezhong, executive president of ChineseAll, says The Legend of White Snake is one of the company's franchise projects to link literature and screen productions.

There are similar projects for The Rise of Phoenixes, a 70-episode TV series starring A-listers Chen Kun and Ni Ni; and the 50-episode police-themed TV drama Age of Legends, starring Hong Kong singer-actor William Chan and actress Ma Sichun, a best actress winner at the 53rd Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival.

xufan@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2018-05-31 07:35:43
<![CDATA[Lessons beyond diplomacy]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/30/content_36299227.htm The Model United Nations program for students, which was introduced in China in 1995, has grown steadily over the years. Xing Wen reports.

Shortly after the conclusion of the Beijing International Model United Nations 2018 program on May 13, the countdown for next year's BIMUN event began on the official website of the event.

This more or less echoed the words of Liu Jialing from the China Foreign Affairs University Model United Nations Association, the organizer of the program.

"Once we wind up this year, we gear up for next year," the 20-year-old says. "It's the flagship activity of our university."

MUN, which originated in the United States, made its Chinese debut at the CFAU campus in 1995, with delegations from four universities and some foreign students. But, thanks to efforts over the past 23 years, the CFAU has expanded the size of the conference.

This year, more than 600 delegates from more than 130 universities and 40 high schools from home and abroad were invited to join 12 committees at the four-day event.

Dati Surguladze, 16, a Georgian student from the international section of the Beijing No 55 High School, was one of those who got his first taste of the MUN.

"Now I understand Chinese culture better," says Dati who has lived in Beijing for a little over a year with his parents, both of whom are diplomats.

He says he took part in the event of his own volition, and now understands how the UN works.

But the broader significance of the MUN goes beyond just learning about diplomacy.

Confident

Cai Haohuan from Nanjing Foreign Language School looked confident when he debated the motions at the simulated World Tourism Organization conference.

"I'm interested in international relations and like public speaking, so the MUN is a combination of my interests," says Cai, adding that he has also developed the habit of following the news to keep up with current affairs.

He started to research the topics he was to speak on in March. And speaking about his preparation, he says: "Taking in different voices is as important as speaking from my own standpoint. And, sometimes, seeking a possible compromise is important."

Yu Shengming, a history major from Nankai University learned about teamwork at the event.

As an assistant director of the Joint Crisis Committee, he had to write a background guide and academic test for delegates along with the director and 14 other assistant directors.

In the JCC, the ministers of countries, such as the US, Russia and Syria were grouped together, and they were required to give an appropriate response to certain statements released by the crisis center.

"Their statements could bring opportunities or trigger problems for some countries," says Yu.

"At this point, cooperation between the countries and the delegates' capacity to deal with emergencies were highlighted."

Julian Coyne, an English teacher at CFAU who served as an adviser to UNESCO, says the diverse topics the students discussed at the conference will be conducive to their future careers.

"If they do any sort of international business, then they are going to have to discuss topics that are similar," he says. "So, they can learn how to discuss these things here."

International outlook

Li Shenrui from Heilongjiang University has been active in the MUN since 2013.

"At first, I saw it as a chance to improve my English," says the 21-year-old. "But now I think it gives me an insight into the world."

For Li, the MUN offers him a platform to communicate with delegates from different committees or diverse cultural backgrounds and learn more about the social realities of other countries.

"If all of us could take part in these kinds of activities, provocative comments on global issues might reduce," says Li.

Meanwhile, about two thirds of the student delegates at the International Monetary Fund were from courses other than economics or finance, according to Zhang Qian, the director of the committee and an English major at the CFAU.

"But the conference discussed topics, such as virtual currency and financial security, which concern all of us," says Zhang.

"I hope the delegates learned about global economic development and have their own views on related issues."

Wu Yihan, a Dannish major sophomore at Beijng Foreign Studies University, was chosen as the best delegate at UNESCO this year.

"I had to learn about Danish society and culture, for which I needed to analyze the country's domestic situation and international relations." says Wu, who traveled to the Harvard National Model United Nations at her own expense in February.

"The performances of my foreign counterparts spurred me on to narrow the gap between us," she says.

Youth responsibility

Speaking about the BIMUN 2018 theme "youth responsibility for a shared future", Wang Xiaohua, a 16-year-old delegate from Hefei No 8 Senior High School says the event highlighted the problem of global sustainable development, which reminds young people about the problems facing humanity and the planet. And influenced by the MUN, Wu plans to study public policy or international affairs in the US two years from now before working for an NGO.

Outlining how the event helps young people, look at the world and future problems, she says: "About 30 Chinese delegates discussed artificial intelligence and its potential impact on society. This will surely now be discussed by them with their friends and schoolmates. As a result, many more young people will now have a better idea about AI, and the potential problems it may bring."

Contact the writer at xingwen@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2018-05-30 07:19:56
<![CDATA[More than just a platform for debate, speeches]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/30/content_36299226.htm At this year's BIMUN, a delegate whose name plate reads "Associated Press" sat at the back of the UNESCO conference, taking notes on anything of substance achieved in the sessions.

Delegate Liu Xiangyi was from the main press center of BIMUN, a news reporting organ comprising major public media groups from around the world.

These delegates from the MPC were scattered in different committees to follow the motions, interview other delegates and run a press conference where necessary.

"I found it interesting to be a journalist here," says the 16-year-old, who wrote four reports on the first day of the event.

Liu gathered a lot of information related to UNESCO before she traveled from Hangzhou Foreign Languages School to Beijing, gaining knowledge about artificial intelligence and innovative technologies in different countries.

"I then hoped I could dig out something more meaningful by interviewing the delegates at the conference." She says.

Fang Hui, 20, an assistant director of the MPC, says to role-play a journalist is different from representing a country on the committees.

"The job of the journalist is to observe rather than defend a certain position," she says. "It's about staying neutral and keeping an open mind."

Journalists from the MPC were required to write previews, reports and comments in Chinese, English and French during the four-day event.

As an English major, Fang was in charge of editing English articles and giving delegates tips about their stories.

"During my preparation I read through news writing guides, which will help me to be a journalism intern next year." says Fang.

Mi Anchao, an English major from Beihang University, tried her hand at the simulated United Nations Development Program.

"Though I'd heard that the threshold for the media segment was not high, I found it's difficult to write in-depth reports," says Mi, adding that the MPC helped her develop a deeper understanding about journalism.

The junior says the experience could also help her in her application for a postgraduate program at the Journalism and Media Studies Centre of Hong Kong University.

Shi Yu, a senior from the Shanghai International Studies University, says the MPC not only offered delegates an opportunity to practice three languages, but also to look at the conference from a different perspective.

"I don't think all the delegates were keen on debates and speeches," says Shi. "So, students who wanted to experience the work of a reporter could find their place at the MPC and have a go at news writing.

"Talent for the country can come from the MUN. And it's important to learn how to tell the outside world about China."

This was the third time Shi had worked at the press center at BIMUN since it started in 2014. And he has already got a job offer from the international section of Xinhua News Agency.

Shi says he had found his passion through his experiences at the MUN.

]]>
2018-05-30 07:19:56
<![CDATA[Bringing nature to life]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/30/content_36299225.htm Fudan University's new Zujia Biological Museum will serve as home to many types of mammals, birds, insects, plants, fish, amphibians and reptiles. Cao Chen reports.

Shanghai-based Fudan University is to present zoological and plant specimens, collected since the 1950s, to the public.

Fudan University's new Zujia Biological Museum, will serve as home to examples of 210 types of mammal, 850 types of bird, 10,000 insects, 100,000 plants, 560 types of fish, 93 kinds of amphibian and 183 types of reptile.

"Earlier they were stored in cabinets in a 200-square-meter room, which was really cramped," says Tang Shimin, the laboratory technician of the life sciences school at the university.

 

Fudan University's Zujia Biological Museum presents a collection of zoological and plant specimens collected since the 1950s. Photos by Gao Erqiang / China Daily

"But now, they are in the renovated museum, which is over 1,000 square meters. And the animal specimens are placed in the spacious and bright showcases. The plant specimens, however are housed in the cabinets as they are not yet ready for display," says Tang.

Air conditioning has been installed to keep the room at about 20 C, a suitable temperature for the exhibits, he adds.

The pavilions showcasing the mammals and the birds are the two largest exhibits, and feature pandas, white-fin dolphins, cranes, storks and raptors.

Endangered or even extinct fish and amphibian specimens like alligators, lipotes vexillifer and beluga, are also on show.

Most of the specimens were collected in China by Tang Ziying, Tang Shimin's father, in the 1950s and 1960s.

Speaking about the challenges he faces in arranging the exhibits, Tang says: "Frankly, it is tough to arrange thousands of specimens, but I'm lucky to have my father's notes, which clearly record the scientific names, locations of the finds, habitats and other details.

"I also keep the record of every specimen we find today, which is for future reference. I hope to preserve and upgrade this legacy."

In the animal pavilion, Tang says, visitors can see how the species' lived, like in a zoo, because the museum took the animals' living conditions into account while creating the displays.

"We know pandas eat bamboo in the forest, and that camels live in the desert. And it shows in the displays," says Tang.

"We put the gibbons on the tops of trees, while the golden monkeys are on the ground. Even the facial expressions of the monkeys have been carefully considered."

The insect specimens are kept in the cabinets alongside the plants.

Lu Fan, the laboratory technician of the life sciences school at the university, and the man in charge of the plant specimens, says: "We have more than 100,000 plant specimens, of which 80,000 are certified by experts. Precious plants, like cathaya argyrophylla and dove trees are kept in storage."

Lu says 7,000 specimens of European plants in the museum were prepared by French scientists and scholars in the 19th century, brought to Shanghai during the 1920s and 1930s, and moved to Fudan University in 1970.

"They are extremely valuable for the study of European flora," he says.

Another highlight of the collection is the Tibetan sea buckthorns, collected from Mount Qomolangma at a height of 5,100 meters above the sea level.

"My colleagues and I searched Tibet, Qinghai and Yunnan for them because they are really small and widely scattered," said Lu.

"I was lucky to have excellent colleagues like Song Zhiping who went to the plateau seven times for rhodiola rosea samples and the late professor Zhong Yang who dedicated his life to seed research. We were a good team," he says.

Since 2009, the plant specimen information is fully digitized in a database with images, in response to the Ministry of Education's initiative on digital management of the university specimen collections in 2006.

While the museum is not open to the public yet, it supports scientists who need to identify specific plants and animals.

Xie Shixiang, a Fudan alumnus and a bird-watcher, says he often visits the museum to identify bird specimens.

"In the wild we usually watch birds from a distance," says Xie, "but here, the observation can be detailed without any time limit. It is like I have a lifelong free ticket to a nature theater."

Speaking about the displays, Tang says that even though many animals and plants can be seen only in books or on the internet, especially if they are extinct, this is not the case with the museum as its specimens are intact.

"This is no longer an issue. Even a snake's foot that is not completely degraded can be seen through its skeleton, which is very valuable scientific data," says Tang.

Separately, Wu Yanhua, the deputy director of the national experimental teaching demonstration center of biological sciences at the university, says the museum is now working on the construction of a digital specimen library and teaching videos.

"It will be open to the public when everything is ready," says Wu.

Contact the writer at caochen@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2018-05-30 07:19:56
<![CDATA[China becomes hot destination for Vietnamese students]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/30/content_36299224.htm HANOI - A Vietnamese girl in a white dress stepped out of the Chinese Embassy with her oval face brightened in the early summer sunlight.

Le Phuong Thao, 24, completed procedures to apply for a student visa to study in China in the coming autumn.

"I am lucky. I queued up here from 7 am this morning. Too many applicants are still waiting outside the embassy," Thao told Xinhua, pointing to dozens of people standing in long lines along the embassy's front wall.

Thao, who has received a letter of admission from Guilin University of Electronic Technology in South China's Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, is going to pursue a business management course at the Chinese university.

"My family runs a small electronics business whose key partners are Chinese firms. My parents want me to study this major so I can help develop our business," she says.

According to Tran Xuan Bach, director of Viet-Trung (Vietnam-China) Education, a study-abroad consultancy company in Hanoi, China has become a favorite destination for Vietnamese students.

Bach adds that applicants are youngsters from not only Hanoi, but also other northern localities such as Hai Phong, Bac Ninh and Bac Giang which house many Chinese investment and trading companies.

With over six years studying in China, Bach pointed out that Chinese education has many advantages that benefits Asian learners, especially Vietnamese ones.

"Chinese universities offer a wide range of high-quality programs but charge affordable tuition fees. With many scholarships available, their courses are even the most affordable options among leading universities in the world," he says.

Master's degree programs in economics, construction and communications are the most popular choices of Vietnamese applicants, who are mainly in their early 20s and about to graduate from local universities, according to Bach. Besides, Chinese traditional medicine is pursued by many Vietnamese youths.

Nguyen Van Trung from the capital Hanoi has graduated from the Fujian University of Traditional Chinese Medicine in China's southeastern Fujian province. Now, Trung runs a traditional medicine clinic in Hanoi.

"I'm glad that I chose China to study abroad. In my opinion, it is the best place in the world to learn traditional medicines," Trung says.

Trung plans to study further at the same Chinese university next year. "I have everything I need to study, to research at the Fujian University of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Professors there are very helpful and knowledgeable," he says.

Like Trung, many Vietnamese students who have finished studying in China and returned to Vietnam to work have given highly positive feedback on the quality of the Chinese education. Many of them were impressed by the development of Chinese cities and advanced teaching and learning facilities, and the profound knowledge of the lecturers.

Most of Vietnamese youths find it very easy to adapt to living and studying in China. "The geographical and cultural closeness between the two countries helps us feel comfortable as if we were at home. That's why we love studying in China," Trung explains.

Like many Vietnamese people who want to study in China, fourth-year student Nguyen Thanh Huyen is attending a Chinese language course at the Confucius Institute at Hanoi University. Huyen is studying hard to get a certificate of Chinese language proficiency next year to apply for a postgraduate course in Beijing.

"I'm really passionate about Chinese culture, films and music. Once I make it to China, I will travel as much as I can, so that I can see all the beautiful places, taste delicious specialties of different Chinese cities and provinces, and explore all of their customs," Huyen says.

Officially established in 2014, the Confucius Institute at Hanoi University, which often organizes Chinese classes and activities to promote teaching and learning of Chinese in Vietnam and facilitate cultural exchanges, has welcomed an increasing number of learners.

"Our classes are always fully booked. Sometimes we have to open up to 14 classes at the same time to serve over 300 students," the institute's head Do Thanh Van says.

According to her, many Chinese language learners at the institute are seeking for a scholarship to study in China.

"They believe that speaking Chinese and studying in China can help them secure a good job after graduation. They believe that they will have better opportunities thanks to China's rapid development," she notes.

Van finished her higher education in China, which has shaped her career, she says.

"Now, I can help Vietnamese students realizing their dreams of studying abroad. They can go to China and enjoy their youth, then define what they should do next for their future.

Xinhua

]]>
2018-05-30 07:19:56
<![CDATA[Reading out aloud]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/30/content_36299223.htm Audio files of Chinese texts read by well-known broadcasters are now available for students and teachers. Fang Aiqing reports.

Some 150 million domestic elementary and middle school students and more than 9 million of their teachers are now going to have their Chinese texts read by well-known broadcasters as demonstrations for reading aloud.

The first 100 audio files, covering famous Chinese poems and prose from both ancient and modern times, as well as translations of classic Western stories, were released on May 19.

 

Students, some dressed in hanfu, a type of traditional Chinese clothing, read aloud classic Chinese texts and poems about spring at a reading event in Beijing. Photos Provided to and by Shou Yiren / For China Daily

 

Teachers, students and parents can access the audio files online and via their smartphones for free, and more pieces will soon be made available.

More than 70 young, middle-aged and elderly broadcasters from China Central Television, China National Radio and China Radio International participated in the project.

Meanwhile, experts from the broadcasting and Chinese language teaching fields have gone over every one of the files to check them for accuracy.

The Chinese Textbooks-Reading Library for elementary and middle school students, jointly launched by the China Media Group and Ministry of Education, aims to help Chinese children with their Mandarin.

Ya Kun, 76, a renowned broadcaster, says that the project will not only benefit students and teachers, but will also be helpful to those who want to improve their Mandarin.

The first batch of audio files will include excerpts from The Analects of Confucius, well-known pieces by Lu Xun, a leading figure in modern Chinese literature, and Western fairy tales such as The Emperor's New Clothes by Hans Christian Andersen.

Yu Fang, 65, a participating broadcaster, says they read the texts for children so that they will be able to understand them at once.

"For us broadcasters, it is the expression of feelings rather than the pronunciation that we hope the children will get," says Yu.

At the launch of the audio project, Fang Ming, 77, a broadcaster, read The Sight of Father's Back, a famous prose piece by Chinese author Zhu Ziqing, in which Zhu recalls his father sending him on a train from home to Beijing.

In the piece, there is a description of Zhu's father crossing the railway tracks just to buy some oranges for him. Listening to Fang reading the passage is a moving experience.

Lu Jing, a professor at the Communication University of China, and a former broadcaster, says: "Such reading demonstrations allow us to fully appreciate the vividness of Chinese language and culture."

Yao Xishuang, the executive deputy director of the Caring for the Next Generation Committee of the Ministry of Education, and a state superintendent, says that while traditional Chinese teaching focuses more on writing, there is less importance given to expression, and the project aims to balance both objectives simultaneously.

Meanwhile, an official report says that the penetration rate of Mandarin is not the same in East and West China, or in urban and rural areas.

So, while more than 90 percent of people living in large cities speak Mandarin, only about 40 percent of people in the countryside and minority regions do so.

And, in some ethnic minority communities, the penetration rate is less than 20 percent.

Mi Yaniu, a broadcaster who used to be a primary school teacher, says that Chinese language teaching at the grassroots level is particularly dependent on reading aloud.

"So, if Chinese language teachers in rural areas are not able to do this (speak standard Mandarin and read aloud properly), neither will the children."

Yu Ying, the principal of Songlin Primary School in Fuzhou, in East China's Jiangxi province, says that the audio files are a great help for rural teachers and their students.

Contact the writer at fangaiqing@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2018-05-30 07:19:56
<![CDATA[Use this strategy to accomplish your goals ... and never burn out]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/30/content_36299222.htm

A couple of months ago, I bumped into an old acquaintance of mine, Kim, at a yoga studio. She looked great, and we marveled at how quickly (we calculated on the spot) three years went by. Three! We remembered sipping sangria together at a friend's party in the spring of 2015.

I asked how the corporate world was treating her, and she told me she'd be happy to be out of it by the end of this summer.

"How?" I asked with enthusiasm and surprise.

Kim's side hustle as a sales trainer was taking off. She was getting monthly clients and was about to sign a large corporate internet firm as their go-to sales trainer (on retainer, no less - I'll admit I was a bit jealous).

I was so impressed. Why? Because I'm obsessed with side hustles as a way to use your gifts to the fullest? Yes. But more so because she stayed at it. She went the full course (she also mentioned she purchased my side hustle program a couple of years ago, which I felt beyond flattered by). The more we spoke, the more I remembered her interest in my career as a coach back then, and I was delighted that she made it real.

Was it overnight? Nope. It took her a full three years.

It reminded me of one of my favorite Aesop's Fables, The Tortoise and the Hare. I've seen many people go fast and furious into a new project for two or three months, then give up. But slow and steady wins the race, and not just with side hustles - in everything worthwhile in life.

How can you apply this principle to your life too? Here are some ways:

Develop patience

The problem with humans is we expect immediate results, and we're disheartened when we don't get them. I recently had a Lego race with my 6-year-old nephew, James, who was confident he would win, despite my being faster than him. As I now know, if you make a single mistake, you have to go alllll the way back. He was calm and unhurried, and bingo - won!

As I get older, I realize the magical power of patience (I'm looking for a bracelet with the word on it, in fact)! But like the impatient, raring-to-go hare, we start fast and furious, and then at some point, hit a roadblock, get tired, and stop. What if you could relax a little, take a bit more pleasure in it, have faith in a great outcome, and take it one day at a time?

Sometimes, if I feel like something is happening a little slowly, I say the word "onward" out loud. Because even if I feel stagnant, I know I'm still moving forward.

Have a system

Instead of just setting a goal - "lose 10 pounds", "travel to Greece", "get promoted" - create a system that will ensure you get there. Can you walk 20 minutes or add something green to your diet every day? Can you sock away some of your paycheck every payday for that travel fund? Can you take on one or two extra projects per month to really assist your boss, then bring it up at review time?

These are not overnight wins, but they work. That's what systems do. I didn't get into the weeds of Kim's system with her (I was sweating!), but I'd betcha my life savings she had one.

Crank up the creativity

Ever notice that when you're in a rush, you block creative flow? You're so busy "getting it done" that you don't breathe or look up - and those moments of relaxation are when great thoughts, ideas, and opportunities flow to you!

When you pace a project - any project - your deadline will feel unhurried, so long as you begin on time (this is not an excuse to procrastinate!). You'll allow the universe to co-create with you. If you're racing and rushing, my darling hare, nothing can catch up to you - not even your inner wisdom.

Steadiness brings peace, pleasure and insight. But when you take a long rest on the side of the road (like the worn-out hare must), momentum is lost.

Because what goes up must come down

Little by little, life can be enjoyed. Each coffee. Each walk outside. Each time you press "save" on a finished chapter of a book you're giving yourself a whole year to write. Let this give you peace, confidence and joy. No hurry, no worry. The best things in life almost always take time. Think about the best, deepest relationships of your life as proof.

And so, dear tortoise, remember this and exhale: It doesn't matter how slowly you go, so long as you do not stop.

Tribune News Service

用这个策略去实现目标……绝不要累坏自己

几个月前,我在瑜伽馆碰到了老熟人金姆,她气色非常好。我们都感叹三年时间转瞬即逝(我们一起当场掐指算出的)。三年了!我们记得上一次见面是在2015年的春天,当时在一个朋友的聚会上,我们一起喝着桑格里厄汽酒。

我问她在公司的工作怎么样,她告诉我,这个夏天一过,她就能愉快地摆脱那份工作了。

“怎么回事?”我满怀兴趣而又吃惊地问道。

金姆的副业是销售培训,做得正是红火的时候。她每个月都能接到活儿,而且正准备和一家大型互联网公司签约,为他们的销售人员做上岗培训(竟然还是定期收取俸金 -- 我承认我有点嫉妒)。

我很佩服。为什么这么说?是因为我很着迷于副业这种能让人充分发挥才能的形式吗?没错,但更是因为她一直坚持在做。她参加了完整的课程(她也提到她几年前买过我的副业培训课程,这让我感到真心喜悦)。我们聊得越多,我越能想起她当时对我这个导师职业的兴趣,我很高兴她如愿以偿。

她是一夜之间做到的吗?不,她用了整整三年的时间。

这让我想起了我最喜欢的一篇《伊索寓言》故事 -- 《龟兔赛跑》。我见过太多人迅速狂热地投入到一个新项目两三个月时间,然后就放弃了。但缓慢而稳健的乌龟赢得了赛跑,不只是副业如此 -- 人生中所有值得去做的事概莫能外。

怎么才能把这个寓言的启示应用到生活中呢?有以下几种方法:

培育耐心

我们很多人的问题是急于求成,一旦得不到想要的结果就心灰意冷。最近,我和6岁的小侄子詹姆斯玩乐高比赛。尽管我比他快,他却相信自己能赢。现在我明白,如果你犯了一个错,你就得整个儿从头再来。他很沉着,不急不躁,果不其然 -- 他赢了!

随着年龄的增长,我意识到了耐心的神奇力量(说实在的,我正在寻找刻着“耐心”两个字的手镯)!但就像那只焦躁、跃跃欲试的兔子,我们急急火火地出发了,然后在某个时刻,碰到了障碍,疲惫了,于是就停了下来。要是我们能放松一下,从中多体会一些快乐,对好的结果多一些信心,持之以恒做下去结果会怎样呢?

有时,如果我感觉事情进展缓慢,我就会大声喊“向前”。因为即使我感觉停滞不前,我也知道自己还是在前进。

系统规划

不要只简单定个目标 -- “减掉10磅”,“去希腊旅行”,或“争取晋升” -- 要建立一个能帮你达到目标的系统规划。你能每天健步20分钟或者多吃绿色蔬菜吗?你能每次发工资时留存一部分作为旅行基金吗?你能每个月多做一两个项目来真正帮助你的上司,然后在项目复审时提出来吗?

这些不是一朝一夕就能成功的,但却很管用。这就是系统规划的结果。虽然我没参与金姆的计划制定(当时我正满头大汗!),但我敢担保她肯定有这样的规划。

发挥你的创造力

你是否注意到,当你赶着做事情时,创造性的想法就会被阻断?你忙于“把事情做完”,不会停下来喘口气或抬头舒展一下 -- 而那些放松的时刻正是绝妙的创意、想法和机会向你头脑涌入之时!

当你合理安排一个项目的进度 -- 任何项目 -- 你的截止期就不会给你带来压迫感,前提是你要按时启动项目(这不能成为拖延的借口!)。这样你就能得心应手,左右逢源。如果你急于求成,亲爱的兔子啊,那就什么都追不上你了 -- 甚至你的智慧也赶不上你。

(本段的翻译有奖征集中)

因为一切终会尘埃落定

慢慢地,你就可以享受生活,比如每次喝咖啡,每次外出散步,每次在写完一本书(你给你自己一整年的时间去写它)的一章点击“保存”的时候。让这一切带给你平和、自信和欢乐。生活不着急,烦恼全远离。人生中最美好的事物几乎都需要花时间。想想你人生中那些最美好、感情最深的人际关系,它们无不如此。

所以,亲爱的乌龟们,请记住这句话,好好地舒一口气:你前进的快慢并不重要,只要你永不停止。

翻译高手:请将灰框标注内容译成中文,在6月4日中午12点前发送至youth@chinadaily.com.cn 或“中国日报读者俱乐部”公众服务号,请注明姓名、学校及所在城市。最佳翻译提供者将获得礼品一份,并在本报公众号中发布,请与“读者俱乐部”客服联系领取奖品。

上期获奖者:西安 空军军医大学 吴东

(China Daily 05/30/2018 page20)

]]>
2018-05-30 07:19:56
<![CDATA[Current quotes]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/30/content_36299221.htm

"Now that five years has passed, I felt I have paid off my debts: I've taken part in all the activities of my friends and given all the speeches that I had to give. All in all, I really should go back to my writings now."

-Mo Yan, winner of 2012 Nobel Prize for Literature

“现在五年过去,我觉得我欠的债也还得差不多了,朋友们的活动我也都参加了,该说话的也都说话了。总而言之,我现在确实应该进入创作状态了。”

--莫言,2012年诺贝尔文学奖获得者

从世界范围来看,一个作家获得如诺贝尔文学奖这样的至高奖项后,往往会陷入到一个所谓的“诺奖魔咒”之中,持续写作变得困难。莫言获奖后似乎也经历了一个不短的调整期,而近期他连续发表十几篇作品, 而且采用了包括诗歌在内的多种文类形式,引发很多讨论。

“我写诗的主要目的,不是想通过写诗来表现自己‘全方位的才能',而是想通过写诗了解诗人这个庞大的群体。我现在体会到,只有你‘写诗'了,你才能够真正读懂别人的诗……只有体验过某种文体的创作过程,你才会真正推己及人,明白诗人们为什么要那样写”。

“一些新型博物馆在视觉上就像垃圾食品那样,令人欲罢不能。这种力量必须被严肃对待。它们会成为当地传统博物馆的竞争对手。”

--本·戴维斯,在线艺术品交易和研究平台Artnet评论员

"(New pop-up museums) are an attraction that quite literally aspires to be the visual equivalent of junk food. It's a very, very serious force to be reckoned with, rivaling the popularity of actual museums in any city it lands in."

-Ben Davis, Artnet critic

一座新的“披萨博物馆”将在纽约开放。这座博物馆里有披萨海滩、披萨山洞,还有几个奇幻屋,里面有各种各样的披萨供人摆拍--这是一座“自拍博物馆”。类似的“牛油果博物馆”、“糖果博物馆”等也将在美国开放。它们的出现,或许是因为看到了“冰淇淋博物馆”的成功。后者2016年在纽约开放的头五天,就以18美元每张的价格卖出了30万张门票。

(China Daily 05/30/2018 page20)

]]>
2018-05-30 07:19:56
<![CDATA[REVISITING A KEY JUNCTION]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/29/content_36292083.htm The title of an ongoing exhibition in Beijing has four Chinese characters - Ji Fu Tong Hui (a key junction on the outskirts of the capital city) - which are an apt description of Tongzhou, a district in the eastern part of the capital.

]]>
Visiting an ongoing exhibition at the Capital Museum is like reading a book about eastern Beijing's Tongzhou. It tells of the area's early glory and how it was rejuvenated thanks to a canal. Wang Kaihao reports.

The title of an ongoing exhibition in Beijing has four Chinese characters - Ji Fu Tong Hui (a key junction on the outskirts of the capital city) - which are an apt description of Tongzhou, a district in the eastern part of the capital.

Visiting the exhibition - comprising 169 displays - at the Capital Museum in Beijing is like opening a book about Tongzhou. It tells of its early glory and how it was rejuvenated thanks to a canal.

The district has been in the news in recent years after it was designated as Beijing's "sub-center". And this has led to the large-scale construction of infrastructure there.

But as construction began, a well-preserved ancient city dating to the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 24) was unearthed. The site has been identified as the remains of Luxian county from 195 BC.

The find was among China's top 10 archaeological discoveries of 2016.

Yu Ping, deputy director of the Beijing municipal administration of cultural heritage, says the find was never properly showcased to the public.

At the exhibition, daily items, pottery, construction materials and other cultural relics from the site are on display.

"The (Luxian) site is unique because it is the only discovered county-level city ruins from the Western Han Dynasty," says Gao Hongqing, curator of the exhibition. "It fills a void in our studies of urban construction and local government structure from that dynasty."

Gao says Luxian was closely connected with Beijing over the centuries.

In 938, the Liao Dynasty (916-1125) made Beijing one of its "five metropolises", and in 1153, the Jurchen ruler of the Jin Dynasty (1115-1234) moved its capital city to Beijing, making it the political center of northern China.

"Due to its pivotal position, the status of Tongzhou kept growing," says Gao.

Many artifacts from the Capital Museum's own collection, which were also unearthed in Tongzhou, are displayed. One of the items is a Liao Dynasty ceramic jar (pictured top) designed like leather bags used by nomadic people.

Kublai Khan's move to make Beijing the capital of the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) also gave a boost to Tongzhou's fortunes, especially after the construction of the Grand Canal, which links Beijing and Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang province.

"The city expanded and the population also grew rapidly," says Gao. "And that created a greater need for food. Tongzhou then became a hub for food supply, which was transported via the canal from southern China."

According to historical records, there were as many as 13 state-owned silos in Tongzhou during the Yuan Dynasty.

In 1329, as much as 3.5 million dan (a container that could hold about 75 kilograms) of rice was transported via the canal from southern China to Beijing.

In 2014, a section of canal in Tongzhou was put on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Gao says that Tongzhou was a crucial link both during the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties. And this is highlighted by some of the items on display like a plate used to weigh rice at Tongzhou's port.

There is a list of codes on display that shows there was a complicated system to check food quality and prevent fraud.

The Tongzhou District Museum also contributed some exhibits.

Zheng Xusheng, head of the museum, talks about a Qing map of the Grand Canal, from Beijing to Shandong province, from the reign of Yongzheng (1722-35).

According to Zheng, the map was taken to Japan during the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (1931-45) but was brought back to China around 2000.

"You can still find many facilities that exist today on the map," he says.

The exhibition runs until July 23.

Contact the writer at wangkaihao@chinadaily.com.cn

The exhibition of 169 displays at the Capital Museum in Beijing includes such items as a Qing Dynasty (16441911) map (top) of the Grand Canal, and other cultural relics like daily items, pottery and construction materials. Photos By Wang Kaihao / China Daily 

]]>
2018-05-29 07:52:27
<![CDATA[Sunken ceramic treasures star in maritime exhibition]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/29/content_36292082.htm A shipwreck is like a museum - a time capsule filled with stories of the people aboard, the voyage they were undertaking and the age in which they lived. An ongoing exhibition at the China Maritime Museum offers a glimpse into the stories of ill-fated voyages through the export of porcelain from 11 shipwrecks.

China and the World: Shipwrecks and Exported Porcelain on the Maritime Silk Road opened at the museum in Lingang New City, a satellite town in suburban Shanghai, on May 8. It'll run through Aug 7.

The exhibition showcases more than 240 objects from 22 museums and institutions across China, most of which were unearthed from the shipwrecks.

Chinese ships began to sail overseas as early as the second century and, by the Tang Dynasty (618-907), international trade flourished, carrying porcelain and silk from China to the Arabian Peninsula, Japan and the Korean Peninsula, before expanding to Europe and Africa. The trade route known as the Maritime Silk Road is part of the "wealth shared by all humanity", said Wang Lijun, director of the Ningbo Museum in Zhejiang province, at the exhibition's opening in Shanghai. By telling the historical stories of trade and exchange, "we hope to promote communication and play an active part in the building of the Belt and Road Initiative".

The exhibition was jointly created by the China Maritime Museum, the Nanjing Museum Administration in Jiangsu province and the Ningbo Museum in Zhejiang province. It was presented first at the Nanjing Museum from Sept 28 to Dec 28 last year, and then at the Ningbo Museum from Jan 19 to April 8. "Shanghai is the final stop for our exhibition," says Cao Zhijun, director of the Nanjing Museum Administration. "We received 220,000 visitors in Nanjing and 170,000 in Ningbo.

"The exhibition that took us two years to put together has won praise from both academic circles and the visiting public. It was also shortlisted for the top 10 quality exhibitions in China this year."

One of the shipwrecks was found in Batu Hitam. It is estimated that the Arabian ship was sailing from China's Yangzhou to a harbor in Iraq and sank around the year 830, according to professor Qi Dongfang from Peking University. It was discovered off the coast of Batu Hitam in Indonesia and excavated by Tilman Walterfang, a treasure hunter from Germany. More than 67,000 objects were salvaged from the shipwreck, 98 percent of which were ceramic.

Findings from the shipwreck contained so much information that Qi observed that "the Batu Hitam shipwreck is akin to a museum".

"It tells about the technology of porcelain making in the ninth century, and how new forms, patterns and methods were developed because of international trade," he explains.

Trade also accelerated the improvement of porcelain-making techniques, he says at a lecture on the exhibition's opening day. For example, he notes, China's blue-and-white pottery reached a very high technological and artistic level in the 15th century, and part of the reason was the fine pigments imported from the Arabian countries.

In addition to presenting objects and historical documents, the exhibition also features models of the ships and video recordings of the excavations and devices, allowing visitors to learn about ancient ship-building techniques, sea voyages and ceramics trading.

"We hope the exhibition will improve people's understanding of the ancient Maritime Silk Road and inspire more communication among different countries today," says Wang Yu, deputy director of the China Maritime Museum.

The museum, which opened in 2010, showcases China's rich maritime history, navigation, ship building and naval affairs.

If you go

9:30 am-4 pm, May 8-Aug 7, closed on Mondays. 197 Shengang Avenue, Lingang New City, Pudong, Shanghai. 021-6828-3687.

zhangkun@chinadaily.com.cn

 

The exhibition at the China Maritime Museum in Shanghai features more than 240 objects and models (above) related to ancient ship-building techniques. Photos provided to China Daily

]]>
2018-05-29 07:52:27
<![CDATA[THE ART OF THE CANTONESE SOUP]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/29/content_36292081.htm Heat tires the body. Humidity adds to the stress. When summer days get longer and hotter, the most nourishing meal is a pot of soup, lovingly cooked and full of goodness. No one understands that better than the Cantonese housewife, who has an encyclopedic collection of soups for every occasion, and for all weathers. Summer soups will be light, but full of ingredients that will chase away the effects of humid vapors, such as herbal ingredients like dried Chinese yam, Chinese jujubes, ginseng or angelica root. Certain ingredients are paired so that one can act as a detox cleanser, while the other replenishes nutrients.

]]>
Traditional and fusion cooking styles, regional and international ingredients and a new awareness of healthy eating are all factors contributing to an exciting time for Chinese cuisine. Pauline D Loh explores the possibilities.

Heat tires the body. Humidity adds to the stress. When summer days get longer and hotter, the most nourishing meal is a pot of soup, lovingly cooked and full of goodness. No one understands that better than the Cantonese housewife, who has an encyclopedic collection of soups for every occasion, and for all weathers. Summer soups will be light, but full of ingredients that will chase away the effects of humid vapors, such as herbal ingredients like dried Chinese yam, Chinese jujubes, ginseng or angelica root. Certain ingredients are paired so that one can act as a detox cleanser, while the other replenishes nutrients.

Old cucumber pork marrow bones soup

4 big marrow bones, cracked

2 old cucumbers

1/2 cup wolfberries

Heat a kettle of boiling water and scald the marrow bones. Rinse. Scrub the old cucumbers thoroughly, cut in half lengthwise, remove pith and seeds. Cut into large chunks, leaving the skin on.

Heat 2 liters water to a rolling boil and drop the marrow bones in. Add the cucumber chunks. Bring to a boil again and then turn down to a simmer for an hour. Remove any scum that floats.

Just before serving, add the wolfberries to the soup and turn off the heat. Season to taste. Keep warm. To serve, ladle one or two cucumber chunks and a marrow bone into the soup bowl, and ladle hot soup over them, adding wolfberries. Salt individually.

Old cucumbers are not your salad cucumbers, allowed to age on the vine, but a different variety, a close cousin. They have a cucumber freshness that infuses the soup, but the flesh cooks to a translucent creaminess. It's a pleasure scooping it up with your soup spoon and allowing it to just slide down the throat.

Old cucumbers are a neutral vegetable, but cooking them with skin on improves their detox abilities.

The rich marrow bones combine with the slight alkalinity of the cucumber to create a delicious light emulsion. The wolfberries are not boiled with the soup to preserve their natural sweetness and vitamins. They rehydrate very readily, and in the process, they absorb the flavors of the soup.

Winter melon and roasted duck soup

One roast duck carcass, cut into large sections

1 kg winter melon

1 large piece ginger, smashed

Cilantro leaves for garnish

Trim off all visible fat from roast duck pieces. Shave off the skin of the winter melon. Remove pith and seeds, cut into 2-cm chunks. Scrape the skin off the ginger, then rinse and bash with the flat side of a cleaver.

Boil water in a clay pot and add the duck, winter melon chunks and ginger. Bring to a boil and then turn down to a simmer for one hour. Remove any scum. Season to taste. Keep warm. Serve garnished with a few coriander leaves.

Duck carcass? Absolutely. This soup stems from a frugal tradition. We used to go out for occasional treats to restaurants serving Peking duck. After enjoying most of the skin and meat, it is a common practice to take home the duck carcass for soup.

Long slow simmering with winter melon makes the duck live again for another day.

If you don't have a habit of dining out on Peking duck, visit your favorite Chinese barbecue shop and ask for roast duck offcuts, like necks, legs and webs. There is an enormous amount of flavor left in these. Or buy half a duck.

Duck is a favorite summer meat, because it is considered "cooling", according to traditional Chinese medicine principles. Winter melon, too, is considered a light diuretic.

Black chicken herbal soup

1 black chicken

50 g huaishan, dried Chinese yam

50 g wolfberries

50 g American ginseng, sliced

1 piece ginger, bashed

Wash the black chicken inside and out. Cut off the tail and trim the fat, especially inside the cavity and around the neck. Drain and keep whole. Stuff the huaishan and wolfberries inside the chicken. Heat up boiling water in a clay pot and add the chicken and ginger.

Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer for an hour. Add the American ginseng slices. Season to taste. Break up the chicken to serve. Garnish with a few dried wolfberries.

The black chicken is actually the silky chicken, a beautiful bird with pure white feathers, red comb and wattle and a bright blue ear patch.

Its skin, and even its bones, are black, a genetic pigmentation. Chinese cooks like using it for soups because it is a lean-muscled bird with little subcutaneous fat.

Chicken will invigorate a body exhausted by heat and humidity. Finally, dried wolfberries can be eaten like raisins. After cooking, they turn mushy, so add a few extra at the end to refresh the taste.

Black-eyed peas and catfish soup

100 g black-eyed peas, soaked

1 local catfish, gutted and cleaned

50 g finely shredded ginger

Small piece rock sugar, about 20 g

Salt and pepper

Soak the black-eyed peas overnight so they cook more easily. Heat up a generous amount of oil in a frying pan and gently saute shredded ginger until golden. Remove the ginger crisps and set aside. Pour off some oil and then sear the cleaned, gutted catfish, browning the skin.

Pour boiling water into the pan and keep at a rapid boil until the fish stock turns milky. Pour the stock and fish into a clay pot and top up with more water if necessary. Add the black-eyed peas. Bring to boil and then turn down to a simmer for an hour. Season to taste, adding the rock sugar. Ladle the soup through a sieve into a serving bowl. Garnish with the ginger crisps.

This is an extremely nutritious but easily digested soup fed to recuperating patients. It is also a very typically Shunde soup.

Shunde is situated on the Pearl River Delta, and is built on reclaimed wetlands that were turned into a patchwork of fish ponds. Catfish, or tong sut, is a common enough fish but not a cash crop like the carp reared in the ponds. So it was used whole to make soup.

Dried cuttlefish and lotus root soup

300 g pork soft cartilage or ribs

300 g lotus root or one large segment

1 dried cuttlefish

1 large handful raw peanuts, soaked overnight

2-3 Chinese jujubes (dried red dates)

1 small piece ginger

Salt to taste

Blanch the pork ribs in boiling water. Peel and clean the lotus root and cut into thick slices. Rinse the cuttlefish and remove the backbone. Break off the tentacles and tear the main piece into two. Rinse the peanuts and red dates, and flatten the ginger with the side of a cleaver.

Place a large pot of water to boil, about 3 liters. When it boils, add all the ingredients except the salt. Skim off any foam or scum that rises as the soup comes back to boil, then turn the heat down low to simmer for an hour. When the soup is rich and flavorful, add salt to taste.

Take out the lotus roots, soft peanuts and pork ribs and serve them by the side with a soy sauce dip.

This is another Shunde classic that I remember from childhood. It is an incredibly flavorful soup because of the alchemy that happens when cuttlefish meets pork and peanuts. The lotus root simply absorbs all the flavors.

Dried cuttlefish is commonly seen along the southern coastal cities of China. Squid, or cuttlefish, is splayed and dried in the sun, with the heat concentrating all the sweetness as it shrinks and hardens. It actually looks like a miniature kite with its trailing tentacles.

Peanuts, slow cooked, contribute their nutty sweetness to the soup.

Contact the writer at paulined@chinadaily.com.cn

 

Cantonese people have an encyclopedic collection of soups for every occasion, and for all weathers. Black chicken herbal soup (above) and winter melon and roasted duck soup (top left) are among the choices for summer. Photos provided to China Daily

]]>
2018-05-29 07:52:27
<![CDATA[Saving the planet ... one dumpling at a time]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/29/content_36292080.htm Canadian scientists have collaborated with Hong Kong climate campaigners to create meat-free dumplings in the hope of persuading the world's biggest carnivores to stop pigging out.

China eats more meat than any other nation - twice the amount consumed by people in the United States - and a campaigning Hong Kong business is launching a more sustainable, plant-based diet that it says has less impact on global warming, but all of the taste.

"Just to tell people what not to do is not going to solve the problem. You've got to give them alternatives," says David Yeung, founder of Green Monday.

"Climate change, water scarcity, food security - these are giant problems. The easiest way to help the planet is to reduce meat consumption," the business founder says.

Green Monday was founded in 2012 as a social enterprise - a business with a mission to benefit society as well as turn a profit. It will launch Omnipork at its sixth Green Common food stores in Hong Kong at the beginning of June.

It is the latest substitute meat product aimed at carnivores who are open to finding ethical meat alternatives that have less of an impact on the environment.

Scientists attribute nearly 15 percent of global greenhouse gases to meat production.

The industry is the largest driver of global environmental change due to feed production, land use and methane emissions, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization.

Food, glorious food

China, which has around four times the population of the United States, consumes about twice as much meat as the US. People in China ate about 74 million tons of pork, beef and poultry in 2017, according to US government estimates.

Omnipork is the first food product created by Green Monday, which campaigns for people to ditch meat at least once a week.

Made of shiitake mushroom, rice and pea protein, the new food will initially only be available in prepared dishes such as dumplings and the traditional Asian dish of dan dan noodles.

As well as running grocery stores, the social enterprise has an online directory of restaurants with vegetarian menus and has invested in Beyond Meat, a California-based firm that produces a burger made from plants.

Yeung says it took Canadian food scientists about 18 months to achieve the right texture, moistness and taste to create a product that is "almost indistinguishable" from real pork.

Nearly three quarters of consumers globally are limiting or avoiding meat altogether, according to GlobalData, a data-analysis company that surveyed nearly 27,000 people in 36 countries, including China.

"The shift toward plant-based foods is being driven by millennials, who are most likely to consider the food source, animal welfare issues and environmental impact," says Fiona Dyer, a consumer analyst at GlobalData.

 Dumplings, mostly with meat stuffing inside, are among the favorite dishes of Chinese. Climate campaigners and scientists promote meat-free dumplings to reduce meat consumption. Xu Zhuzhu / For China Daily

]]>
2018-05-29 07:52:27
<![CDATA[FACES OF THE SILK ROAD]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/29/content_36292079.htm Since 2015, oil painter Wang Lei has traveled along the Silk Road - an ancient network of trade routes that extended across Europe and Asia - to paint portraits of people from various cultures, a journey that the artist sees as a search for his own identity.

]]>
Artist Wang Lei has spent the last three years documenting the Asian route of the ancient Silk Road by painting portraits of its people. Deng Zhangyu reports

Since 2015, oil painter Wang Lei has traveled along the Silk Road - an ancient network of trade routes that extended across Europe and Asia - to paint portraits of people from various cultures, a journey that the artist sees as a search for his own identity.

Over the past three years, monks, women in hijab, young men of Persepolis, the descendants of soldiers of the Roman legion, craftsmen, vendors and tourists have all been depicted by Wang during his trips to cities in China, Iran, Uzbekistan and Turkey.

The artist, who has just returned home to Beijing from his latest trip to Turkey, held a solo exhibition on Saturday at Beijing's Yishu 8, featuring faces painted along the Silk Road.

"My model can be anyone I encounter," explains the 41-year-old. "It's more than a portrait. It's a record of a person in the context of a certain culture."

It's the enrichment of culture, religion and art of the many cities in different nations along the Silk Road - and the frequent cultural exchanges - that inspired Wang's plan to travel and paint.

He started in Datong in Shanxi province, a cradle of Buddhist art where more than 5,000 sculptures of the sage reside in the Yungang Grottoes and the memory of these Buddha statues has influenced Wang's portraits. No matter whether he depicts men or women, each subject is given prominent ears, painted on purpose by the artist, to resemble those of the Buddha sculptures.

In the village of Liqian in Gansu province, Wang met a man whose appearance was identical to almost every other Chinese person with the exception of his striking green eyes. They reveal his identity to be that of a descendant of the Roman legionnaires that came to the region more than 2,000 years ago.

"We learn about the world, its history and its cultures mainly from books," Wang observes, "but there is a lot that books don't tell us, and we must find that out in person."

This is why he is impelled forward on his journey of discovery and believes that traveling is an important way to learn more about the world.

Christine Cayol, founder of Yishu 8, describes Wang as a "nomadic painter searching for his own culture," who uses travel as a way to rediscover his own roots.

"To paint the faces, and capture the atmosphere and an impression of certain moments along the Silk Road, as opposed to the Silk Road itself, are true realities," she explains. "It's a kind of going back to the geographic, climatic and human origins of Chinese culture."

It is not a new, nor a Chinese, tradition. Western painters have a long tradition of traveling to experience the world in order to broaden their horizons and improve their perceptions of the world. Artists in the 19th century went to Africa and the Middle East to find fresh subjects for their work. In the 1970s, Italian artists such as Francesco Clemente also embarked on journeys of discovery to countries like Afghanistan and Pakistan in search of the exotic, and inspiration from elements different to their own culture, explains Huang Du, an art critic.

Wang is one of the few Chinese artists to go and find inspiration from other Asian countries, "like a kind of visual archaeology," he adds.

"For a long time, Chinese artists have focused on Western culture," Huang elaborates. "However, Asian culture's enrichment, and its geographical proximity, means that they deserve more attention now, because of the Silk Road strategy."

Wang, the Beijing-based artist, says he became obsessed with his trips to Asian countries.

He often stayed for months in one country and talked as much as he could to locals and almost everyone he encountered on his trips. What Wang seeks, it seems, is to live like a local.

"The more I travel, the more questions I have about my own origin," he says.

Wang was born in northern China's Heilongjiang province, but his father was from eastern China's Shandong province. He lives and works in Beijing.

"The frequent movements of humans make the pursuit of our origin and identity a common desire the whole world over."

Wang's passion for traveling while painting comes from his years at the Central Academy of Fine Arts, where students were required to travel to rural places to produce artworks. After graduation, Wang spent three months living with a local family in Tashi Kuergan Tajik autonomous region in Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous region, a place near the border with Pakistan and Afghanistan, and it was there that he developed a love for painting portraits.

Wang also has two other series of works - the myth series and relics series - based on the subject of the Silk Road. He has painted around 100 pieces for his portrait and relics series in the last four years.

He's not finished either. While he's completed the Asian part of his Silk Road project, he plans to set off again later this year, this time to Europe. He will travel to countries like Italy, Germany and Romania, all of which hosted trading posts to transport goods along the Silk Road in ancient times.

Contact the writer at dengzhangyu@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2018-05-29 07:52:27
<![CDATA[Chengdu sets up library alliance along ancient route]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/29/content_36292078.htm The Silk Road was a win-win initiative in terms of friendship and peace, which led to mutual development and prosperity through enhanced communication, understanding and trust among the countries involved, according to the Chengdu Initiative of the Silk Road International Library Alliance.

Over 2,100 years ago, the Silk Road stretched for 10,000 kilometers across the European and Asian continents, becoming a historical symbol of the convergence of civilizations, the establishment of trade links, and the fostering of mutual cultural development and bonds between countries enmeshed in life along the route. An agreeable spirit of openness, cooperation, harmony and acceptance endured over this period, a statement from the group said.

The initiative was unveiled on Monday in Chengdu, as the Founding of the Silk Road International Library Alliance and the "Reading, City, Culture" Academic Forum on the Integration of Libraries and Bookstores events were held. Delegations from as far afield as Bangladesh, Belarus, Brunei, Bulgaria, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Myanmar and Qatar, as well as Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tunisia, Uzbekistan, Vietnam and Mongolia, attended.

Against the backdrop of globalization, a growing trend toward mutual development in the library field is emerging.

"Representatives from a variety of countries and regions are gathering in Chengdu, a key area in the origins of the ancient Silk Road in Southwest China, to form the Silk Road International Library Alliance, an initiative based on equality and friendship," the statement said.

In the spirit of "peaceful partnership, openness and acceptance, mutual learning and development," the group proposes strengthening business exchanges and partnerships among the libraries along the Silk Road, while moving forward with the "acquisition, protection, development and utilization of document resources" and the improvement of library services as a whole.

The initiative also aims to promote exchange and partnerships to its members, organizing visits to libraries along the Silk Road, encouraging exchanges between top-level managers and providing training to professionals to boost mutual development for all involved.

It calls for promoting academic exchanges and partnerships in scientific research, initiating dialogue across sectors and channels, and holding regular summits and forums for library directors along the Silk Road to share the results of their cultural heritage and research programs.

The initiative also aims to follow major issues faced by libraries and frontier sectors involved in scientific progress, by jointly discussing transformation and development strategies for libraries that contribute to the overall enhancement of human civilization, and to forging strong and open partnerships among libraries.

"The initiative pledges to maximize the reach and strength of this alliance and remain open to colleagues from abroad," said Chen Li, executive deputy curator of the National Library of China, who announced the initiative.

"If you are willing to invest your wisdom and effort in the Silk Road International Library Alliance and regional development initiatives, we welcome you to be our partner," Chen said.

"All members of the alliance will embrace the spirit of harmony, openness and acceptance in the discussion of the development plan to pave the way for our future together," Chen added.

huangzhiling@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2018-05-29 07:52:27
<![CDATA[Collection featuring Miao ethnic designs wows Fiji Fashion Week]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/29/content_36292077.htm A fashion collection featuring elements from costumes worn by China's Miao ethnic group stunned audiences on the closing night of Fiji Fashion Week on Saturday. The event drew some of the world's most talented designers and models to the South Pacific archipelago state.

"The show has been amazing, unbelievable," said one audience member amid the thunderous applause for the models showcasing the range.

"We love the wonderful Miao elements, with their bright colors, beautiful embroidery and motifs," two middle-aged women said. A Fijian girl aged 15 was quick to agree. "I like these clothes. They are really beautiful and special."

While the Miao-inspired collection has drawn wide-ranging praise, the reception the range received in Fiji was unrivaled - even the photographers were impressed by it as they took shots of the models in their unique costumes.

Resort wear was the theme of the two-day Fiji Fashion Week, which was held at the FMF Gymnasium in the country's capital, Suva.

And the specially-decorated performance hall was packed out with fashion lovers, designers and models from Fiji and other countries including China, India, Vietnam and Australia.

The 12-piece collection was designed by Chen Bin, a professor at the fashion institute of the Shanghai-based Donghua University, along with several of his students.

He was not surprised by the positive feedback from the audience because he believes the range has a unique quality, thanks to its design which incorporated typical elements of Miao costume.

"This is the first time we have taken part in Fiji Fashion Week and it's been a success. I think the foreign models have enjoyed wearing our Miao-inspired collection. This is a place where fashion meets tradition, and East and West also meet and mingle harmoniously," Chen said proudly.

In his eyes, Miao costumes are like history books that are worn by people, and is one of the rare and beautiful treasures of Chinese history and culture.

"It's not only about beautiful clothes, but also about China's long history and culture," he said.

"There are 56 ethnic groups in China, and the costumes of the Miao ethnic group in southern China are an important component of Chinese history. As designers, we should also be prepared to go out and showcase our fashion design and learn from our foreign peers," he said.

Yang Hui, director of the Confucius Institute at the University of the South Pacific, said she was glad that Chen's team could be involved in the fashion show.

"I am happy for their success and I am glad that the Confucius Institute could assist Chen's team's participation in the fashion show. We would like to be a bridge for language and culture and help boost cultural exchanges between China and the South Pacific Island states," she said.

This was the 11th annual Fiji Fashion Week, which is the biggest fashion show held in the South Pacific Island states.

Xinhua

]]>
2018-05-29 07:52:27
<![CDATA[A MORAL IMPERATIVE]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/28/content_36284895.htm It has been more than 30 years since Zhang Yimou's directorial debut, Red Sorghum, won him international acclaim, including a Golden Bear for Best Picture at the 38th Berlin International Film Festival in 1988. Since then, he has enjoyed great success with global blockbusters such as House of Flying Daggers and The Great Wall and, more recently, he has just returned from the United States, where Boston University bestowed upon him an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters during the venerable institution's 145th Commencement on May 20.

]]>
Director Zhang Yimou continues to explore the relationship between man and machine in the "second season" of his concept stage show, 2047 Apologue. Chen Nan reports.

It has been more than 30 years since Zhang Yimou's directorial debut, Red Sorghum, won him international acclaim, including a Golden Bear for Best Picture at the 38th Berlin International Film Festival in 1988. Since then, he has enjoyed great success with global blockbusters such as House of Flying Daggers and The Great Wall and, more recently, he has just returned from the United States, where Boston University bestowed upon him an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters during the venerable institution's 145th Commencement on May 20.

But, when the now-renowned Chinese filmmaker recalls that big break back in 1988, what makes him proud is that the movie was met with almost unanimous praise, especially from the audiences.

"The feedback of the audience is crucial," says the 66-year-old Zhang in Beijing. "I want to communicate with them through my work."

Last June, Zhang was able to enjoy a much closer interaction with his audience when he returned to the world of live performance, premiering his pioneering stage production, 2047 Apologue - a production he calls a "conceptual show" - at the National Center for the Performing Arts.

The show combines the latest technology, such as laser lighting and robots, with traditional Chinese folk artists, including Qiu Jirong, a crossover Peking Opera artist and musician, Wu Tong, who plays the sheng (a traditional Chinese wind instrument).

Zhang took the production on tour in March this year, visiting three Chinese cities: Shanghai, Hangzhou and Guangzhou, where Zhang was happy to discover that "the audience have shown their interest and passion for the show, just like they did with my first movie."

The show was also staged at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland last year.

"Their feedback also made me think," Zhang reveals. "If the audience enjoy fresh and creative ideas on stage, they are not only entertained but also inspired.

"It started a conversation between the audience and me, which was exciting."

A year later and Zhang is ready to launch the sequel to the show, which he's calling "the second season" of 2047 Apologue, and it will debut at the NCPA on June 12.

Like the first production, the show continues the director's reflection on the relationship between people and technology. Instead of telling stories through the show, Zhang creates seven pieces, which are performed by art-ists from seven countries, including the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom and China.

In one piece, award-winning contemporary dancer, Li Yu, performs to the drum beats created by percussionists from U-Theater in Taiwan alongside the sounds of khoomei (a traditional throat-singing technique of Mongolia) while robotic arms mimic his movements. The shadows of the robotic arms are projected on a big screen on the back of the stage, which change from following Li's moves to resisting, even threatening him.

"Technology changes our lives. But when I think of the relationship between technology and humans, I don't just see the positive side," Zhang laments. "I have three children, and like many young people, they are always looking at their phones. It made me think about the influence that technology has over us. It's a double-edged sword."

Referring to the production, he adds, "I don't simply showcase the latest technology and ancient Chinese art forms. I am trying to find a point to merge them together in a beautiful and inspiring way."

According to He Lulu, assistant director of both the first and second seasons of 2047 Apologue, the team has traveled the world to find the right artists for season two.

In the original show, they invited 78-year-old Wu Shuxiang from Anhua, in Southwest China's Guizhou province, to display her weaving skills with her 200-year-old loom. Wu Shuxiang, from the Miao ethnic group, learned the skill from her mother and she had never performed onstage before.

In the new production, the team will bring three retired loggers from Fujian province - Lin Longyou, Lin Beixiang and Lin Yongzhao - all of whom are more than 75, to perform ancient songs from their hometown - some of which date back nearly 300 years.

More than 20 singers, aged between 5 and 69 years old, who form the Poya Songbook Chorus, from Poya village in Yunnan province, Southwest China, will also perform. Poya Songbook is an ancient collection of folk songs written on a piece of hand-woven cloth in hieroglyphic symbols. It originated from Poya village in Yunnan province. It is the only discovered record in the world which documents songs with hieroglyphics. In 2011, the Poya Songbook was added to the list of National Intangible Cultural Heritage.

International performers will include a Hungarian shadow theater group Attraction Performance; Turkish design duo Ezratuba and Tetro, LED installation artists from France.

Last year, Andy Flessas (aka Andy Robot), a Las Vegas-based roboticist and computer animator who worked with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and also with Lady Gaga, performed in the first season of 2047 Apologue. Now, Flessas will bring more of his mechanized performers to the stage for season 2 of 2047 Apologue.

"Robots are like wild animals," explains Flessas. "I train robots like training tigers. The first time we had four robots and this time we have nine.

"In the first season, my job was to train the robots to understand dancing," he reveals, "In this season, I teach them how to work with musical beats.

"Zhang gives me gift to find my greatest potential," he continues. "I am doing something that I never thought I could do until I came to China."

Besides films, Zhang has been pushing boundaries during the past 30 years. In 1998, he directed a version of Puccini's opera Turandot, and he was also the director of the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

"We want to show the audience something they have never seen," he says. "It takes lots of sleepless nights to create these original pieces, and is a nerve-wracking process.

"It's much more complicated to make this show, compared with directing movies," he says, "but what attracts me to it, is that I can learn lots of new things by working with these artists."

He hopes to expand 2047 Apologue beyond the first two seasons and he is keen to surprise the audience as well as hear their feedback.

"There have been many different views from the audience and critics about my movies," he says. "I am looking forward to their views about 2047 Apologue 2."

Contact the writer at chennan@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2018-05-28 07:36:25
<![CDATA[SUMMER OF HARMONY]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/28/content_36284894.htm Music lovers will be able to enjoy the Music in the Summer Air (MISA) concerts this year through online streaming.

The festival of classical music with a youthful twist will take place in Shanghai from July 1 to 16. This is the ninth installment of the annual music festival founded by Yu Long, artistic director of the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra.

The festival program consists of 24 concerts, which will be performed at the Shanghai Symphony Hall and at the Urban Music Lawn.

Fourteen of the concerts will be live streamed online, via multiple platforms such as Tencent, Youku and the Paper. Concerts can be viewed live using mobile applications, or through a web browser.

"The concert hall has limited capacity, but music lovers will have a new way to participate in the festival by watching the concerts online, wherever they are," says Zhou Ping, the director of SSO.

As for how the idea of online streaming came about, it all boils down to a sporting encounter.

Last year there was a soccer game between the SSO musicians and those from the Berlin Philharmonic, when the latter toured in Shanghai. And the live streaming of the match was viewed by 4.71 million viewers, to the great surprise of SSO.

This is what encouraged the SSO to broadcast its concerts live on the internet.

"We hope our audiences, many of whom are mobile web users, enjoy these streaming services, and will participate in the online interaction with MISA," says Zhou.

This year for the first time, the MISA festival will feature the use of an animated film in a live concert.

On July 7 and 8, SSO will present a film music concert, Secrets of the Heavenly Book, alongside a live projection of the restored film made in 1983.

The original music of the film composed by Wu Yingju has had no score sheet, and so Shen Yiwen, a young composer with the SSO, had to transcribe the music from the original soundtrack.

In the past, the SSO has hosted a number of multi-media concert productions from abroad at the MISA festival.

"The concerts involving new media are expensive, and it's not just the copyright, but also the equipment and personnel that add to the cost," says Zhou.

Importing an overseas multi-media production can cost up to US$1 million, she says.

"That's why we thought of creating our own new-media concert productions to tell China's stories to overseas audiences."

Secrets of the Heavenly Book was made by the Shanghai Animation Film Studio in 1983.

Qian Junda, the film director, who is now 90, says: "I am pleased to find people still remember the film and the characters."

The film is about a conflict between a boy born from an egg and three foxes, who steal a book from heaven and gain supernatural abilities from it.

Giving details about the production, Qian says that the film features a series of traditional Chinese folk tales strung together in a fun way like "sugar-coated haws on a stick".

As for Zhou, she says: "It is a film full of wild imagination and innocent fun.

"While we were looking for a potential subject to work with, we found the film, which sparked lots of beautiful memories for our team members that we hope to share with the public."

Meanwhile, other highlights of the MISA festival include performances by two-time Oscar award winning composer Alexandre Desplat, and the Velvet Underground, according to Wang Xiaoping, the programming director of SSO.

This year, Desplat won the award for the best original score at the Academy Awards with his composition for The Shape of Water, his second win after The Grand Budapest Hotel in 2015.

He will conduct the SSO and present a concert of his masterpieces on July 15.

The Velvet Underground 50th anniversary memorial concert will be done by some of the original band members on July 11, says Wang, though he declined to give any names.

Separately, the New York Philharmonic will be participating in the MISA festival for the fourth time.

Jaap van Zweden, who is to take the job as the new artistic director of NYP, will make his debut with the orchestra at the MISA opening concert.

Totally, the NYP will play four concerts at the festival.

In the past nine years more than 200,000 people have taken part in the activities of MISA.

Speaking about the audiences and how they have benefitted from MISA, Jiang Tingfang, a representative of the municipal educational administration, says: "A large number of them are young people, a rare phenomenon in the international music scene. Through the years some of the young students who used to work at MISA as volunteers have become artists and started their own music careers at the festival."

zhangkun@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2018-05-28 07:36:25
<![CDATA[THE BIRTHPLACE OF NONGJIALE]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/28/content_36284893.htm Xu Jiyuan couldn't have imagined that a small courtyard he built in the 1980s would become the prototype for the nongjiale - farmers' houses turned into "agritainment" destinations, primarily as diners, culture centers and homestays.

]]>
The village recognized as the cradle of China's vast rural-entertainment sector has continued to expand, upgrade and diversify its offerings. Yang Feiyue reports.

Xu Jiyuan couldn't have imagined that a small courtyard he built in the 1980s would become the prototype for the nongjiale - farmers' houses turned into "agritainment" destinations, primarily as diners, culture centers and homestays.

The original Xu Family Courtyard was a simple rural residence with one-story grey-tiled bungalows on three sides in Nongke village in Pixian county on the fringe of Sichuan's provincial capital, Chengdu.

The buildings were constructed for Xu's sons to live in after marriage.

But - through a series of unexpected events - the property became a 2.5-hectare scenic recreational area offering leisure, catering and accommodation about an hour's drive from downtown.

Rooms still feature old-fashioned furniture and such antiques as sewing machines.

People dine, sip tea and chat over wooden tables amid rockeries, pavilions, fountains and sightseeing corridors.

Newlyweds entertain guests. Children ride horses. Friends converse.

"We take friends who visit Chengdu here," says Liu Feng.

Over 100,000 people visited the courtyard last year.

Spending averages over 300 yuan ($47) per head, says Xu.

It typically serves about 35 tables a day.

Xu didn't expect to make money when he started treating guests in 1987. Visitors were mostly potential clients for his plant-nursery business.

"They came to see my seedlings. I'd usually treat them to lunch," he recalls.

He hadn't thought of making money then. But he did spruce up the property to enhance business opportunities.

Xu planted more trees. The area started to look like a garden.

His place became a landmark in the village. Then word spread.

It became a stopover for officials visiting Nongke, largely by chance, Xu says.

"The road to Nongke was terrible," Xu recalls.

So, they'd stop at his eatery before making the long, rough ride out of the settlement.

Xu used to serve his guests homemade tofu pudding, preserved meat and chicken.

And he says he used to refuse payment.

"It's an honor as a farmer to treat guests, especially to food," Xu says.

Everything changed when the county hosted a national singing competition in 1988. Local authorities arranged for many visiting participants to dine at Xu's place.

He purchased ingredients to fulfill the orders and charged for the food since there was a large number of diners.

Soon travel agencies were knocking on his door to propose cooperation.

Xu then had more customers than his nongjiale could accommodate.

And his success inspired other households to set up shop. Incomes increased in the village.

Later, outsiders visited Xu's place and set up even better furnished and managed establishments outside the village, creating competition.

He started to feel anxious and made a drastic move.

"I invested 2 million yuan - all my savings - to improve my courtyard," he recalls.

He planned the landscaping, dishes and services. He built two large villas for leisure and meetings in 2004.

The local government supported him. It began to build roads and do landscaping.

Other villagers also began developing menus featuring local specialties. The settlement's nongjiale business was booming.

Xu has continued to improve his business since he understands challenges can arise. He continues to run his seedlings business and cultivates bonsais for sale.

He also travels with his cooks to expose them to new fare and requires them to develop a new dish every month.

The National Tourism Administration named Xu's Family Courtyard as China's first nongjiale in 2006.

But he didn't rest on his laurels.

He built a five-star village hotel in a 1.3-hectare resort connected to the property in 2011.

The hotel offers a bar and games, and hosts business and wedding services.

Xu and other households in Nongke banded together under the local government's guidance to establish the Nongkecun Scenic Spot Management Co in March.

Authorities hope the company can integrate and upgrade the nongjiale scattered throughout the village.

"We'll develop many distinctively themed homestays and courtyards," the company's general manager Fan Guohui says.

Themes include art, pottery, traditional Chinese medicine, rockeries and automobiles, Fan explains.

Some of the plans have been settled, and the places are scheduled to open in October.

Pixian native Yu Shitou has rented a 400-square-meter yard in Nongke village for 20 years.

He plans to build a cultural area in his inn with a library, Chinese zithers, calligraphy, painting and tai chi.

The 41-year-old has previously worked in the publication, tea, TCM and music businesses.

Yu is confident in his prospects. He expects to benefit from the area's reputation as the cradle of nongjiale and the upcoming opening of a nearby subway stop and highway.

He's also planning to expand his courtyard to feature an "entry-lux" destination with bonsai that targets younger travelers and will offer accommodation next year.

Indeed, it seems the birthplace of China's nongjiale has continued to grow up and is poised to mature even more quickly in the near future.

Contact the writer at yangfeiyue@chinadaily.com.cn

 

Top: Visitors, mostly city dwellers from Chengdu, spend their weekends at Xu Family Courtyard in Nongke village in Pixian county. Above: The nongjiale serves homemade dishes from bamboo steamers. Photos By Jiang Dong / China Daily

]]>
2018-05-28 07:36:25
<![CDATA[Ctrip reports surge in Q1 net income growth]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/28/content_36284891.htm

China's leading online travel agency Ctrip reported a surge in net income growth in the first quarter of this year, according to the company's unaudited financial results.

Net income attributed to Ctrip's shareholders increased to 1.1 billion yuan (about $170 million) in the first quarter of 2018 from 52 million yuan in the same period of 2017.

Net revenue increased 11 percent year-on-year to 6.7 billion yuan in the first three months. Transportation ticketing was the top revenue contributor, followed by accommodation reservation.

Ctrip's international businesses sustained robust growth momentum as the online travel agency continues to tap China's growing outbound tourism market and expand its customer base in overseas markets.

Excluding Skyscanner, the flight comparison site Ctrip bought in 2016, international air ticketing accounted for over 40 percent of the group's air ticketing revenue, while Skyscanner's direct booking program delivering revenue growth of over 600 percent year-on-year in the three-month period.

The company also increased its presence in lower-tier cities, with total gross merchandise volume of the offline stores rising around 50 percent year-on-year.

Ctrip is in a good position to capture growth in the travel industry, both domestically and globally, says the company's CEO Jane Sun. It expects its net revenue growth to continue at a year-on-year rate of approximately 12 percent to 17 percent in the second quarter.

Xinhua

]]>
2018-05-28 07:36:25
<![CDATA[Club Med opens maiden Joyview in Beidaihe]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/28/content_36284890.htm All-inclusive holiday-package provider Club Med launched its first Joyview resort in Hebei province's Beidaihe in late May.

The Joyview line specifically targets Chinese. It's also different from other Club Meds in that it offers flexible payment options rather than a single price for everything.

The French resort group runs nearly 70 facilities in 30 countries. Shanghai-based Fosun International Ltd acquired a 98 percent stake in the group in 2015.

It has since focused on making inroads in China, its fastest-growing market, Club Med president Henri Giscard d'Estaing says.

"As all-inclusive is not yet so well known in China, it gives an opportunity for a large number of potential customers to try and use Club Med," d'Estaing says.

Future Joyview resorts will be located within three hours' drive from major cities, d'Estaing says.

It chose Beidaihe because of its beaches and convenient location.

D'Estaing says the beach is like some of the best he has visited in France and the United States.

The maiden Joyview is about a three-hour drive or a two-hour high-speed-train ride from Beijing.

The resort offers a climbing wall, soft archery, an Omni sport court, sailing, windsurfing and horse riding.

It also hosts a Zen pool, hot springs and a Club Med Joyview Spa.

Mini Club Med features a kids' bid circuit, mini kitchen and organized activities.

A 617-square-meter ballroom and three multifunctional meeting rooms can host weddings, conferences and seaside events.

More than 200,000 Chinese visited Club Med facilities worldwide last year, a 15 percent year-on-year increase.

China hosts four premium and all-inclusive Club Med facilities. Joyview resorts will open in Zhejiang province's Anji and near Hebei's Great Wall this year.

yangfeiyue@chinadaily.com.cn

 

The maiden Joyview resort in Beidaihe, Hebei province, offers a variety of entertainment facilities including soft archery, an Omni sport court, sailing, windsurfing and horse riding. Photos provided to China Daily

]]>
2018-05-28 07:36:25
<![CDATA[Eat Beat]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/26/content_36276620.htm Organic Oolong teas by Pret

British fast food chain Pret A Manger has recently launched a new beverage program called "Pret-A-Cuppa", which consists of three kinds of organic Oolong teas, at its two outlets in Shanghai.

The pale green Alpine Oolong organic leaves are picked from the mountain tea plantation in Yunnan that is situated at an altitude of 1,500 meters above sea level. The tea, which has an aroma similar to green tea and floral notes, tastes slightly astringent and has a complex, multilayered aftertaste.

The second drink is the Honey Aroma Red Oolong. This fruity amber drink is smoother than the Alpine variety and contains flavors such as jasmine and rose, with a long-lasting finish that tastes like honey.

The third tea, Oriental Beauty, comes in a lighter shade of amber and has a citrus and floral aroma. The drink has a hint of musky wine and ends with long-lasting aftertaste of sweet flowers.

Established in 1986, the British chain has more than 400 outlets worldwide. Its first outlet in China was opened in Shanghai in 2014.

Pret A Manger

B1 Jing An Kerry Centre, 1515 Nanjing West Road, Shanghai

021-6132-0800

LG1-37, Shanghai IFC Mall, 8 Century Avenue, Pudong, Shanghai

021-6881-7678

Monday to Friday, 7:30 am to 10 pm; Saturday & Sunday, 9:30 am to 10 pm.

Shuck Off China World Cup: Oysterlicious

Established in 2016, this event is China's premier oyster culture event that celebrates all things related to this mollusc. Organized by Oysterlicious, the 2018 Shuck Off China World Cup will be held on Saturday, May 26, from 12 pm to 9 pm at East Beijing.

The event will feature a professional oyster shucking competition, craft beer, wine, cocktails and food including fresh oysters. Visitors can also enjoy live music at the Xian bar in East Beijing.

By connecting locals with shellfish experts, oyster farmers, suppliers as well as culinary artisans, Shuck Off provides a platform for sharing knowledge and educating diners about the world of oysters.

The competition on this day will include three rounds of oyster shucking in which participants compete for the titles of North China Regional Champion, All China Champion and World Champion.

Tickets for the 2018 Shuck Off China World Cup can be reserved through the official Shuck Off WeChat account (ID: oystershuckfest). Presale admission tickets are available for 120 yuan ($19) including six oysters and one drink; 200 yuan including 12 oysters and two drinks; 320 yuan for 24 oysters and four drinks.

Saturday, May 26, from 12 pm to 9 pm;

1/F, East Beijing, 22 Jiuxianqiao Road, Chaoyang district, Beijing

010-8414-9810.

]]>
2018-05-26 07:18:04
<![CDATA[The bidding often influences the play]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/26/content_36276619.htm Salvador Dali said, "The secret of my influence has always been that it remained secret." It is a secret from some bridge players that the bidding influences the play. They forget the auction when trick one begins.

In this deal, East can find the winning defense if he asks himself what key clue the bidding supplies. West leads the heart nine against four spades. How should East defend?

After North rebid one no-trump, showing a balanced hand with 12-14 points, South plunged into the contract that he hoped he could make.

West might have led a low club, but it would not have worked here. Declarer would have won with dummy's ace, run the spade jack and banked five spades, three hearts, one diamond and one club. But the heart nine was a logical lead. Unless the spade ace unexpectedly appeared on the board, West was going to have at least one trump left when in with his spade king.

The key decision then is East's. Has West led a singleton or from a doubleton? East should ask himself how West's holding would have influenced the bidding. If West has led a singleton, that would leave South with five hearts. Surely he would have mentioned the suit in the auction. Maybe not, but it was highly likely. So, West has led from a doubleton. East should encourage with his heart eight. When West gets in with his spade king, he continues with his heart six and receives a ruff. East's diamond trick will then defeat the contract.

]]>
2018-05-26 07:17:42
<![CDATA[Best bets]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/26/content_36276618.htm  

Musical: Kinky Boots in Shanghai

Date: July 11-22 - 7:30 pm

Venue: Shanghai Culture Square

The winner of six 2013 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Kinky Boots features a Tony Award-winning score by Cyndi Lauper, a book by Tony Award-winner Harvey Fierstein, and direction and choreography by Tony Award-winner Jerry Mitchell. Inspired by true events, it takes you from a gentlemen's shoe factory in Northampton to the glamorous catwalks of Milan. Charlie Price is struggling to live up to his father's expectations and continue the family business of Price & Son. With the factory's future hanging in the balance, help arrives in the unlikely but spectacular form of Lola, a fabulous performer in need of some sturdy new stilettos. This joyous musical celebration is about the friendships we discover, and the belief that you can change the world when you change your mind. It has won every major Best Musical Award and is represented around the world with the Tony Award-winning Broadway company now in its fifth year.

Theatre Treffen in China - Five Easy Pieces

Date: July 3-4 - 7:30 pm

Venue: Tianjin Grand Theater

Is it possible - and with which means - to perform the life of child killer Marc Dutroux with children? Swiss theater director Milo Rau and his International Institute of Political Murder have conquered the biggest international stages in recent years with their matchless political theater. Their works are based on testimonies and reconstructions of true stories and mercilessly break through the taboos of our age. Together with the Campo arts center from Ghent, they have set up an ambitious project involving children and teenagers between 8 and 13 years old. Rau uses the biography of the country's most notoriously shameful criminal to sketch a brief history of Belgium and to reflect on the representation of human feelings on stage. Five Easy Pieces probes the limits of what children know, feel, and do. Purely aesthetic and theatrical questions blend together with moral issues: How can children understand the real significance of narrative, empathy, loss, subjection, old age, disappointment, or rebellion? How do we react if we see them acting out scenes of violence or love and romance? In particular, what does that say about our own fears and desires? This makes for a confrontational experience.

The Little Singers of Paris

Date: May 31 - 7:30 pm

Venue: National Centre for the Performing Arts

In the summer of 1906, two young students, Pierre Martin and Paul Berthier, were on vacation in the abbey of Tamie in Savoy. They came up a "dream" which plans to start a choir school for child choristers that would travel from church to church, town to town, to carry the living testimony of the authentic tradition of religious music. Their dream came true in the next year. Despite the lack of money, their enthusiasm brought them to settle in an old dwelling in Paris suburb and they started to receive their first scholar. This was the birth of The Little Singers of Paris. The first rehearsal took place on Jan 10, 1907 and the first concert was held in the Parish Church of the Kings of France in October in the same year. It was well-received by music lovers in Paris. The Little Singers of Paris were soon become popular throughout France.

Joshua Bell & The Academy of St Martin in the Fields

Date: May 26 - 7:30 pm

Venue: National Centre for the Performing Arts

With a career spanning more than 30 years as a soloist, chamber musician, recording artist and conductor, Joshua Bell is one of the most celebrated violinists of his era, and his restless curiosity, passion, and multifaceted musical interests are almost unparalleled in the world of classical music. Named the Music Director of the Academy of St Martin in the Fields in 2011, he is the only person to hold this post since Sir Neville Marriner formed the orchestra in 1958, and recently renewed his contract through 2020. The Academy of St Martin in the Fields is one of the world's premier chamber orchestras, renowned for its fresh, brilliant interpretations of the world's most-loved classical music. Through its live performances and vast recording output - highlights of which include the 1969 best-seller Vivaldi's Four Seasons and the soundtrack to 1985's Oscar-winning film Amadeus - the Academy quickly gained an enviable international reputation for its distinctive, polished and refined sound.

Jukka-Pekka Saraste & WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne

Date: May 27 - 7:30 pm

Venue: National Centre for the Performing Arts

Jukka-Pekka Saraste has established himself as one of the outstanding conductors of his generation, demonstrating remarkable musical depth and integrity. Born in Heinola, Finland, he began his career as a violinist before training as a conductor with Jorma Panula at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki. An artist of exceptional versatility and breadth, Saraste feels a special affinity with the sound and style of late Romantic music. WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne is one of the most influential orchestras in the musical landscape of North Rhine Westphalia - thanks to its subscription series at Kolner Philharmonie and Funkhaus Wallrafplatz as well as partnerships with the region's largest concert halls and festivals. International tours and a growing number of award-winning CD releases confirm its international rank as an outstanding representative of the German orchestra scene.

La Bayadere by Guangzhou Ballet

Date: June 15-16 - 8 pm

Venue: Guangdong Performing Arts Center Theater

La Bayadere is a ballet, originally staged in four acts and seven tableaux by French choreographer Marius Petipa to the music of Ludwig Minkus. The ballet was staged especially for the benefit performance of the Russian Prima ballerina Ekaterina Vazem, who created the principal role of Nikiya. La Bayad��re was first presented by the Imperial Ballet at the Imperial Bolshoi Kamenny Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia, on Feb 4, 1877. From the first performance the ballet was universally hailed by contemporary critics as one of the choreographer Petipa's supreme masterpieces, particularly the scene from the ballet known as The Kingdom of the Shades, which became one of the most celebrated pieces in all of classical ballet. By the turn-of-the 20th century, The Kingdom of the Shades scene was regularly extracted from the full-length work as an independent showpiece, and it has remained so to the present day.

]]>
2018-05-26 07:17:42
<![CDATA[Shows]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/26/content_36276617.htm You and Me and the Space Between

Date: May 24-June 10 - 7:30 pm

Venue: Beijing Tianqiao Art Center

The island is sinking. Its adults are useless. Time for the kids to save the day. The island of Proud Circle springs a leak and its citizens must find a way to stop their home from disappearing. It takes the wondering mind of a child to save the island, its people and their ways. Adventures happen, horizons widen and important things are said. From the mind of Australia's most accomplished children's playwright, Finegan Kruckemeyer, comes a tale of wonder and invention that is brought to life in unexpected ways. Storytelling, choreographed projections and live drawn animation explore the plight of refugees fleeing environmental change through the eyes of a child. Step inside a picture book with an artist and storyteller, amidst a paper set that is cut, ripped, patched and manipulated live to create a world of play.

Swan Lake by Russian State Ballet

Date: June 1-2 - 7:30 pm

Venue: Beijing Tianqiao Arts Center

Russian State Ballet is directed by Russian Ministry of Culture and has visited more than 80 countries and regions with international best level. The troupe has world tour in Germany, US, Italy, Spain, England and Japan, gaining success and recognition. Tchaikovsky's instantly recognizable music set against the wonderfully dark story of good against evil; Swan Lake is one of the most famous and loved of all ballets. This production by Evgeny Amosov, artistic director of The Russian National Ballet Theatre, is heralded around the world. Swan Lake's glamorous set is evocative of the Russian Imperial world in which the ballet was created, while the haunting moonlit lakeside is perfect for the tragic conflict of the human and spirit worlds and allows the audience to be swept away in the vulnerability of Odette/Odile.

The Curious Incident of The Dog in The Night Time

Date: June 1-3 - 7:30 pm

Venue: Guangzhou Opera House

The Curious Incident of The Dog in The Night Time is adapted by Olivier Award-winning playwright Simon Stephens from Mark Haddon's best-selling book of the same title, and directed by Tony Award winner Marianne Elliott (War Horse, Curious Incident). It has been the longest-running play on Broadway in over a decade, since it premiered at the Barrymore Theatre in September 2014. It won five Tony Awards including Best Play, six Drama Desk Awards including Outstanding Play, five Outer Critics Circle Awards including Outstanding New Broadway Play and the Drama League Award for Outstanding Production of a Broadway or Off Broadway Play. The show tells the story of Christopher John Francis Boone, who is 15 years old. He discovers Mrs Shears' dead dog Wellington, which has been speared with a garden fork, it is seven minutes after midnight and Christopher is under suspicion. He records each fact in a book he is writing to solve the mystery of who killed Wellington. He has an extraordinary brain, and is exceptional at maths while ill-equipped to interpret everyday life. He has never ventured alone beyond the end of his road. He detests being touched and distrusts strangers. But his detective work, forbidden by his father, takes him on a frightening journey that upturns his world.

Babies Proms Returns to Sydney Opera House

Date: May 31-June 3 - 7:30 pm

Venue: Guangzhou Opera House

Renowned pianist Simon Tedeschi will don a powdered wig and assume the persona of the musical wunderkind himself, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. In Meeting Mozart children will be introduced to the full range of his work, from Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star to Eine Kleine Nachtmusik and his operatic arias. They will also encounter a range of instruments in the Babies Proms ensemble and discover some of our best-known and loved classical music. Simon Tedeschi is one of Australia's finest musicians. After performing his first Mozart Piano Concerto at the Sydney Opera House at the age of 9, he has gone on to win a sting of international prizes and scholarships including an ARIA award for Classical Record of the Year. Simon said, "Mozart is the greatest contradiction in the universe. The marriage between innocence and gravitas makes him the biggest kid of them all. I jumped at the chance to 'play' Mozart not only because his music speaks to me with a directness that is unmatched, but because I have always been fascinated with this beguiling character who wrote music as if guided by both the ineffable forces of nature and whatever lies beyond. The opportunity to share this experience with the young (and the young at heart) will let me be a kid and communicate in a language that will hopefully remain with them for the rest of their lives."

A Coproduction of NCPA, Royal Opera House & Opera Australia Die Meistersinger von Nuernberg

Date: May 31-June 7 - 7:30 pm

Venue: National Centre for the Performing Arts

Die Meistersinger von Nuernberg was composed from 1845 to 1867 and completed after Tristan und Isolde, and premiered at the National Theatre Munich in 1868. The work holds a unique position among operas by Richard Wagner, since it is his only "comic" opera and has lively music. The plot is based on an historical social context that include figures of the period. The protagonist Hans Sachs was the most famous "Die Meistersinger" in German history, who had written numerous poems to celebrate the spirit of humanity and life, making significant contributions to German art in the 16th Century. The figure was used by Wagner to express his ideal of reforming art and delivering high praise for German culture and art. This version is a coproduction of the NCPA, Royal Opera House, Convent Garden and Opera Australia, and a second opera produced by the NCPA in collaboration with the Royal Opera House after Andrea Chenier, which was launched in 2015.

Jakop Ahlbom Company: Lebensraum

Date: May 26-27 - 7:30 pm

Venue: 1862 Theater, Beijing

Two men are living in a small, single-room apartment. Their space-saving solutions are ingenious. Everything is multifunctional: the bed is a piano, and the bookcase also serves as a fridge. But they long for a woman in the house. To compensate for the lack of the feminine touch, they create a mechanical maid. One of the men makes romantic advances; the other sees her in a more practical role. But the doll soon shows there's more to her than polishing her day away. She has a will of her own and refuses to be bossed around. Things start getting more agitated in the one-room apartment. Buster Keaton's films of the 1920s were a big inspiration for this play, with the opening scene from Keaton's The Scarecrow giving Ahlbom the idea for Lebensraum. Whereas Keaton focused on the three-way relationship and the two men fighting over her, Ahlbom concentrates on the relationship between the two men that is disrupted by a doll. They project their own longings and wishes onto her, foist the finest of human traits upon her, and are disappointed when she does not live up to their idealized image of her.

]]>
2018-05-26 07:17:42
<![CDATA[Nightlife & Activities]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/26/content_36276616.htm China Dota 2 Supermajor

Date: June 9-10 - 10 am

Venue: Shanghai Pudong Yuanshen Sports Center Gymnasium

The China Dota 2 Supermajor, hosted collaboratively by Perfect World and internationally-renowned esports company PGL, is the final stop in the inaugural Dota Pro Circuit. With the highest prize pool and largest qualifying points total in all Pro Circuit tournaments this year, the Supermajor becomes one of the most important loops in the DPC chain, a focus for all the powerhouse teams in duking it out before TI.

The Shadows Thief - AuMents Malasombra Visual Theater Dance

Date: Aug 22-26 - 7:30 pm

Venue: Beijing Tianqiao Performance Art Center

An emotionally dark, richly visual fairytale for adults and heavy-metal kids. How would you feel if your shadow took over your soul and began exploring its own desires and urges? What would you do? How could you get it back? Are self-confidence and friendship with others enough to defeat the evil of the shadowy Mister Malasombra? Internationally acclaimed Spanish company auMents combines visual theater, dance, video art, object theater, experimental shadow theater and rock music to create a beautiful, exciting, fantastical journey through a collective fantasy, plunging us through the human soul's darkness and light. Malasombra is a production that was developed for the stage in collaboration with auMents dance theater (Spain); cartoonist Max (Spain - winner of the National Comic Book Award 2007. Max was responsible for the dramaturgy and the project's artistic implementation inspired by the world of shadows.

Blissful Land I: Into the Depth of Statues & Murals

Date: May 26-27 - 10 am

Venue: Shanghai Himalayas Museum

This exhibition, co-organized by Shanghai Himalayas Museum, Kucha Institute, Art Institute of Maijishan Cave, together with Shanghai International Culture Association, brings to Shanghai, for the first time, numerous world cultural heritages, such as murals of Kucha, Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, reputed as the cradle of Chinese Buddha culture, and murals and statues of Maijishan Cave, one of the four largest grottoes in China. Crossing 5,000 kilometers, a total of 80 art treasures will be presented as the first exhibition of Shanghai Himalayas Museum. With the Belt and Road Initiative, we are able to trace back along the ancient Silk Road to explore the bloodline of Chinese civilization and then look to the future to promote new international exchanges and prosperity. The Silk Road is the road of cultural exchange, the road for the common people, the road to development. The exhibition will continue the mission to allow more people to witness the open and inclusive Chinese civilization.

Tomas Saraceno: Aerographies

Date: May 26-June 3 - 10 am

Venue: Fosun Foundation, Shanghai

For his first solo exhibition in China, artist Tomas Saraceno will bring together a compendium of works from across his practice. This exhibition concentrates on the space above the Earth's surface, inviting viewers to travel together on an imagined journey from the microcosmic to the macrocosmic. Tomas Saraceno was born in 1973 in Tucuman, Argentina. He studied architecture at Universidad Nacional de Buenos Aires in Argentina and received postgraduate degrees from Escuela Superior de Bellas Artes de la Nacion Ernesto de la Carcova, Buenos Aires and Staatliche Hochschule fur Bildende Kunste Stadelschule, Frankfurt. In 2009, he attended the International Space Studies Program at NASA Center Ames in Silicon Valley, California.

Branagh Theater Live: The Winter's Tale (Screening) in Shanghai

Date: May 26-June 6 - 7 pm

Venue: Huangpu Theater

King Leontes of Bohemia suspects his wife, Hermione, and his friend, Polixenes, of betraying him. When he forces Polixenes to flee for his life, Leontes sets in motion a chain of events that lead to death, a ferocious bear, an infant left in the snow, young love, and a statue coming to life.

Doboku: Civil Engineering in Shanghai

Date: May 26-June 24 - 10 am

Venue: Modern Art Museum

This is a design and education-focused exhibition, using art as a method to draw people's attention to civil engineering. In the exhibition, they will guide visitors to explore different crucial parts of city constructions and the indispensable facilities in their daily life, such as roads, railroads, metro, internet networks, water pipe and water dam. The exhibition aims to combine various art forms with city engineering to show visitors a different aspect of those complex constructions and the works behind the scene.

Paul McCarthy: Innocence in Beijing

Date: May 26-June 17 - 10 am

Venue: M Woods Museum

M Woods is proud to present a solo exhibition by American master Paul McCarthy, a veteran of the Los Angeles scene and hugely influential to scores of artists across the world. McCarthy has dedicated his career to experimental practices, examining the shortfalls of conventional language and shining a light on the dark side of contemporary culture specifically consumerism and mainstream media as they are experienced in America. McCarthy's 50 years of artmaking have seen him work in nearly every conceivable medium, from painting and sculpture, to performance, video, feature-length film and recently virtual reality. For the exhibition at M Woods, the artist has chosen to present a survey of video, which he has worked with since the beginning and consistently returned to over the course of his career. Showing publicly for the first time in China are 43 works by McCarthy and selected collaborators, made between 1970 and 2013.

2018 Volleyball Nations League - Men (Guangdong-Jiangmen)

Date: June 22-24 - 4 pm

Venue: Jiangmen Sports Center

The VNL is a brand-new competition launched by the FIVB in 2018 for the top men's and women's national teams of the world, Jiangmen being one of its editions. The aim of the Volleyball Nations League is to raise the level of the sporting action for fans and provide a world class platform for athletes to compete and grow. Launching a men's and women's competition under the same name and format promotes equality in volleyball, while also making it simpler and more engaging to follow. In the men's event, Brazil, Italy, US, China, Serbia, France, Argentina, Iran, Poland, Germany, Japan and Russia make up the core teams, while Australia, South Korea, Canada and Bulgaria are the four designated challenger teams. For the women's competition, Brazil, Italy, US, China, Serbia, the Netherlands, Thailand, Turkey, South Korea, Germany, Japan and Russia comprise the 12 core nations. Argentina, the Dominican Republic, Poland and Belgium have been selected as challenger teams.

]]>
2018-05-26 07:17:42
<![CDATA[Second season of give me five kicks off]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/26/content_36276615.htm Variety show aims not only to bring laughter to audience, but also to bear deeper meanings, such as promoting Chinese culture, Chen Nan reports

The second season of the popular Chinese variety show Give Me Five was launched on April 28 on Zhejiang Satellite TV Station.

The show can also be viewed on major online streaming sites such as Youku, Tencent and iQiyi.

While the first season was about celebrities taking on a series of physical and intellectual tasks, the current one features stars trying out 12 occupations. It stars actress Yang Zi, singer-actor Wang Junkai, actor Dong Zijian, Zhang Yishan and actor Darren Wang from Taiwan.

Unlike some Chinese shows which are based on popular South Korean variety programs, Give Me Five is an original production by the Zhejiang Satellite TV Station.

Reception to the new season has been impressive. The first episode garnered more than 25 million views on iQiyi, one of the biggest online streaming platforms in China.

According to Zhao Wenzhu, the producer of Give Me Five, the primary audience of the show comprises college students and women aged under 30.

In the first episode, the five stars visit Manzhouli, the largest land port on the China-Russia border and learn how to work as firefighters for a day. In the second episode, the stars travel to a small town named Shigu in Lijiang, Yunnan province. Here, they cross the Jinsha River, a place with historical value - the Red Army crossed this water body in May 1935 before successfully breaking through enemy lines.

"One of the most memorable moments was meeting a local villager from Shigu town whose mother helped a Red Army soldier before the army crossed the Jinsha River," says Wang Junkai, 18, a member of the popular Chinese boy group TFBoys.

On May 10, the five stars of the show appeared at Sichuan University of Media and Communication where they filmed another episode of Give Me Five, drawing thousands of fans to the venue.

Before filming of the show began, the stars took time to remember the victims of the 8.0 magnitude earthquake that hit Wenchuan county, Sichuan province, 10 years ago on May 12.

"Zhejiang Satellite TV Station started producing variety shows 10 years ago. Now, variety shows are not only about bringing laughter to audience but also about bearing deeper meaning, such as promoting Chinese culture," says Zhou Lusha, the director of the first and second seasons of the show.

"The five stars of the show are born after 1990. They are similar in age as most of our viewers. We want to use their celebrity appeal to encourage and inspire the young audience."

According to Zhou, the stars will learn traditional Chinese painting, calligraphy and songs from classic Chinese films in the following episodes.

"In the first season of Give Me Five, the five team members went through 12 classes which helped with their personal growth. In the second season, we have made the show much more related to the audience. The 12 occupations are commonly seen yet easily ignored in real life," Zhou adds.

Contact the writer at chennan@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2018-05-26 07:17:15
<![CDATA[Historical theater makes a comeback]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/26/content_36276614.htm The 88-year-old Great Theater of China in Shanghai was reopened on May 16 after two years of renovations.

Located near People's Square at 704 Niuzhuang Road in downtown Shanghai, the facility was built in 1930 as a prime venue for Peking Opera performance. Famous artists such as Mei Lanfang, Ma Lianliang and Meng Xiaodong used to sing in the theater, which was known as one of the "Top Four Stages" of Peking Opera.

The building was listed as a protected historical structure by the municipality in 2005. Huangpu district authorities later made the decision to renovate the building in 2012. The Ever Shining Cultural Group, the operator of the theater, invited RHWL Architects from Britain to work alongside a Chinese team for the renovation.

The facade, which is defined by the twin towers, as well as the main structure of the building have been retained while the auditorium was reverted to its original three-tier design. An elevated orchestra pit has been added, along with other modifications to accommodate new lighting and audio equipment required for modern theater performances.

Upon entering the lobby, visitors will find a marble floor inscribed with sunflower and tri-star patterns. In the auditorium, the roof lighting design resembles the shape of a 32-petal lotus in full blossom.

Tian Qinxin, a renowned director from the National Theater of China, will be the artistic director of the re-opened theater. Tian promised to respect the cultural legacy of the historical place and bring in high quality plays from home and abroad.

"I have always paid attention to the big names in the international theater scene, and hope to introduce outstanding and pioneering productions to audiences here," Tian said.

The new theater will play an active role in the city's efforts to develop itself into a performing arts capital in Asia, according to Shanghai-based Wenhui Daily.

The Great Theater of China has also signed a new partnership with the Youth Troupe of Shanghai Theatre Academy. The troupe will use the facility as its training base and present new experimental plays regularly.

The new theater will launch its debut performing season in June, with 19 plays from nine countries scheduled to take place from then till the end of September. Some of the plays will be making their China or Asia debuts at the theater.

True to its heritage, Peking Opera will continue to be a key part of the theater's programs.

Shanghai-based Peking Opera artists Shi Yihong will present China's first chamber edition of the classical play Farewell to My Concubine, while Wang Peiyu, a woman Peking Opera singer well-known for her portrayal of elderly male characters, will present a solo concert.

zhangkun@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2018-05-26 07:17:15
<![CDATA[War novel takes new life as dance production]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/26/content_36276613.htm The dance production A Leaf in the Storm will be presented by the Beijing Dance Theater at Beijing's Tianqiao Performing Arts Center from June 6 to 10.

Based on a war novel of the same title by Lin Yutang, the production marks the first time the story is retold in dance. The novel, which was published by New York publishing firm John Day Book Company in 1941, is about the lives of several characters in Beijing during the Japanese invasion.

"There is romance, hope, belief, madness and death. Dancers will move according to their interpretations of these elements," says Wang Yuanyuan, a dancer-choreographer with the Beijing Dance Theater.

Dancer Zheng Jie will play one of the leading characters Yao Boya, a wealthy, married man who is facing a crisis in his relationship with a woman named Danni, who will be played by dancer Feng Linshu. Lao Peng, played by dancer Xu Zidong, completes the relationship triangle.

As the dance requires physical movement and dialogue, dancers have to challenge themselves by performing not only as dancers but also as drama actors, says Wang.

"The line between different art forms is blurred nowadays so we want to do a different dance production to mark the 10th anniversary of the company," says Wang.

She adds that the idea to combine dance with dialogue stems from her relationship with the Beijing Repertory Theater which she co-founded in June 2017 with lighting director Han Jiang and set designer Tan Shaoyuan. Han and Tan are also members of the creative team for A Leaf in the Storm.

Born and raised in Beijing, Wang became a professional dancer at age 10 after joining the middle school of Beijing Dance Academy where she learned ballet.

In 1995, she graduated from the academy after majoring in choreography. Three years later, she was named resident choreographer of the National Ballet of China.

From 2000 to 2002, Wang continued her training at the California Institute of the Arts' School of Dance in Los Angeles.

Such is her renown that some of China's top filmmakers have engaged her for choreography advice. She has choreographed a ballet scene for Zhang Yimou's 1991 film, Raise the Red Lantern, the dance sequences for Feng Xiaogang's 2006 film The Banquet, as well as performances held during major events such as the return of Hong Kong in 1997 and the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

In 2011, Wang debuted her original production Haze at the Kennedy Center in Washington. Created in 2009, the production touches on a variety of issues, ranging from environmental issues like pollution to emotional confusion.

Wang made her directorial debut with her rendition of the play The Lady from the Sea which was written in 1888 by Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen. Wang's production premiered in Shanghai last September.

]]>
2018-05-26 07:17:15
<![CDATA[Inspired by tradition]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/26/content_36276611.htm Qeelin, a jewelry brand which draws on Chinese culture for its creations, sees a bright future.

Jewelry brand Qeelin recently held an event in Wangfujing, one of the most prosperous areas in Beijing, to mark the opening of its WF Central boutique. Brand founder and creative director Dennis Chan, CEO Christophe Artaux and Chinese actress Nazha were present.

The boutique features a unique jewelry display cabinet, and is the brand's fourth store in Beijing.

At the event, Qeelin launched its Wulu Diamond Necklace, the newest member of its Wulu jewelry series.

 

 

From left: Chinese actress Nazha; CEO Christophe Artaux (right) at the opening ceremony of Qeelin's WF Central boutique. Photos Provided to China Daily

The unique feature of this piece of jewelry is that each 18K white gold necklace is inlaid with a gourd-cut diamond that weighs at least 1 carat and is GIA-certified as D, E or F.

China Daily spoke to the brand's CEO Christophe Artaux about the brand's jewelry and its future.

Q. Why do Qeelin collections feature Chinese elements?

The question goes back to the heart and inception of Qeelin. Qeelin was actually thought of 20 years ago by Dennis Chan. But the brand itself was launched only in 2004. So, it took Dennis seven years to bring the project to life. The idea came to him when he was traveling to Dunhuang where he discovered the treasures of China. He then wanted to find a way to project this beautiful part of Chinese culture to the world in a very modern and contemporary way, especially through jewelry.

So he decided to turn his feelings about China - whether they came from people, places, art, animals or objects - into meaningful, contemporary and modern design. This is why the whole inspiration is about Chinese symbolism and culture. The jewelry is a very unique value proposition.

Q. How does your brand tell its story to customers from different backgrounds?

We are very proud of our Chinese roots and inspiration. And this is the story we tell, like the one I've just told you, and the stories behind each of our collections. As you know, whether it's the Wulu, Bobo (panda) or Yuyi (longevity locks) collections, all of them tell a story and have a meaning. This is what we tell our customers. Our mission is to tell the story of the brand to all our customers and transport them into a world of playful jewelry. The story is about jewelry which is suitable for daily wear, but is modern and contemporary. We think these options can potentially fulfill the desires of any woman.

The reason why we started with the Chinese is because we are now essentially based in Asia, in Hong Kong. And China is our key market. Also, the Chinese understand the brand better, and this has a lot to do with our Chinese clientele. But for stores in Paris, we have a significant proportion of customers who are non-Chinese - French, Swiss, American, Russian. They love the story as it's different for them. And they get interested in the brand too. The only difference is that we are less visible to them because we are not in some countries.

Q. What is the possibility of the brand's creations being adapted?

We do not adapt our creations. Our creations are what they are, with Chinese symbolism, and our identity which we are proud of. We may work differently for some products, but essentially it's the same products.

Qeelin is now seeing quick development, and we are enjoying that a lot.

There are three main factors for this: 1. Unique positioning as we are different 2. Attractiveness of our product portfolio, we have exquisite jewelry in terms of quality, playfulness and modernity. 3. We see a growing interest in China - and also outside China - for Chinese-inspired and Chinese products.

Also, things have changed a lot over the past 20 years. In the past it was about Western brands coming to China. But now we see more Chinese customers focusing on their culture. There are Chinese artists and brands which are highly successful. Things are changing and we can feel that. We are taking advantage of this trend where Chinese people relate even more to our products, our culture.

Q. What are the differences between Chinese and non-Chinese customers?

The gap is narrowing because Chinese customers are getting more sophisticated, more informed especially with online communication. They are also getting more interested in homegrown products. The top luxury consumers these days are Chinese - whether the younger or the older generations - and this makes it important for a brand like Qeelin.

This is why we want to be constantly telling the story of Qeelin to non-Chinese customers and also to those who want to know it.

Q. How are your sales figures when it comes to Chinese and non-Chinese?

I'd say about 80 percent of them are Chinese because we distribute mainly in Greater China. But wherever we are in the world, we mainly cater to Chinese buyers, whether locals or travelers. In South Korea most of our customers are Chinese, and in North America there is a local diaspora of Chinese.

We cater to a Chinese clientele as we are a Chinese brand, and the Chinese understand us. But we also work with non-Chinese customers.

Q. How does Qeelin meet the needs of women who seek designer pieces?

There is a great change and evolution in the consumer space. Qeelin women now buy for themselves. We are talking about the modern Chinese woman - very independent, often urban, very much into creativity and design, very much connected to social networks and understands what's going on.

We are headed in the direction of women dressing in a natural way - wearing mix-and-match jewelry - making the brand approachable to a wider generation of women through creations with prices that are 10,000-20,000 yuan. So, the brand is way less niche and more approachable.

We are repositioning the brand and have adjusted the average price over four years. We did that through a streamlining of our product portfolio, reducing number of collections, focusing on our pillars - Wulu (No 1 by far), Bobo and Yuyi.

And we see a lot of Chinese buying jewelry for daily wear, especially Wulu.

Q. What do you expect in terms of growth in the coming two to five years?

My main wish for Qeelin is to grow the brand's awareness in China. This is why we are directing most of our resources to the Chinese market; now on the digital platform. I think we are unique, and we offer a different kind of jewelry with exquisite quality, very much in line with the trends of the market.

zhanglei@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2018-05-26 07:16:39
<![CDATA[Beer looks to light up World Cup]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/26/content_36276610.htm This summer looks set to be an exceptional one for football fans around the world, and not least in China, where the chance to shout, cheer and celebrate the "beautiful game" is rarely missed.

Yes, it's World Cup time again. And after a four-year hiatus the 21st competition is about to kick off in 11 cities across Russia, lasting an entire month starting from June 14 and ending on July 15.

While some may choose to spend many a sleepless night snacking in front of the TV on the long viewing journey toward the finals, others will be planning to hit the bar and party like there's no tomorrow. Whatever happens, there will always be one common element - beer.

 

Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow will bookend the 2018 World Cup, hosting the opening match of the tournament on June 14 and the final on July 15. Provided to China Daily

Football without beer is like a beef burger no pickle slice - it's just not the same without it.

This year, World Cup sponsor Budweiser and its partner FIFA are determined to top previous tournaments by offering up a new experience to football fans around the world with the launch of its biggest campaign to date, under the slogan "Light Up the FIFA World Cup".

"There is no other event on the planet like the FIFA World Cup that brings this many people together and unites them around a shared passion," says Brian Perkins, Budweiser's global vice president. "It is an epic global holiday that only takes place once every four years. We want to tap into these unprecedented levels of excitement."

Unlike the previous competition in Brazil, this year's World Cup is taking place in the colder climes of Russia, where Budweiser hopes to ignite a sense of passion and fire through the launch of its new noise-activated Red Light Cups.

While the wail of vuvuzela horns provided the rowdy soundtrack to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, this year the global brewing giant hopes to create a brighter backdrop to the event with party cups that respond to the ever-changing atmosphere around the pitch.

The idea is simple. The base of the beer cup holds a microphone that sets off three LED lights when it detects big changes in noise levels, such as cheering and clapping, sparking tens of thousands of cups to simultaneously turn the stadium into a sea of red whenever the football action erupts.

"This is the first ever beer cup that literally amplifies fan energy. The more you cheer, the more your cup lights up", Perkins tells China Daily during a recent interview.

And it's not just spectators in Russia that will be using the new cups. Fans from China and around the world will also be able to buy the cups and cheer along with the action in Russia.

"We will be making these available throughout China," he continues. "Our campaign shows how we can bring together fans from all over the world through beer and a shared passion for football."

Budweiser is also collaborating with 16 top hotels in 13 cities around China to host a series of rooftop viewing parties to allow fans to follow the immersive frenzy of the competition from up on high.

Perkins hopes Budweiser's marketing efforts will help the brand to reach some 3.2 billion football fans tuning into the World Cup over the summer.

zhanglei@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2018-05-26 07:16:39
<![CDATA[Night at the museum brings ancient culture to life]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/26/content_36276609.htm HANGZHOU - The ancient past was brought to life at the China Jiangnan Water Town Culture Museum in Hangzhou in celebration of the 42nd International Museum Day last Friday.

Visitors to the museum in east China's Zhejiang province sang and danced to centuries-old melodies, while characters dressed in old robes and gowns talked about floods and harvests, kings and princesses, and shopping at the town fair hundreds or thousands of years ago.

"We intend to recreate scenes of day-to-day life in old times with accuracy in every detail, and we have excellent actors to impersonate diverse characters that would typically be displayed using mannequins," says Yu Qiuna, vice curator of the Museum.

Living history

The theme of this year's International Museum Day is "Hyperconnected Museums: New Approaches, New Publics." China Jiangnan Water Town Culture Museum aimed to let the audience "live" the exhibition, rather than the usual walk-and-glance experience.

Members of the public were encouraged to play along in reenactments, savor traditional pastries, and watch artisans make crafts.

"We hope the public can actually have fun during this encounter with living ancient culture," she said. Passing on and developing culture is necessary for the nation to strengthen its cultural confidence, Yu says.

"I loved the 'Night at the Museum' movie trilogy! When the dark falls, magic happens and brings every exhibit inside the museum to life," says Shelly Lau, a British fashion designer visiting Hangzhou. "But never had I ever imagined that it would be possible to experience in real life!" She says the costumes of the Jiangnan ladies and the elegant wedding dress were inspiring.

"The world today is hyperconnected. The development of the worldwide web and the evolution it brings have pushed museums to broaden their functions. Museums are playing an increasingly crucial part in connecting societies and the public," says Liu He, director of Zhejiang's Provincial Administration of Cultural Relics.

Liangzhu culture at Yuhang

One of the major attractions at the exhibition was the gallery of the Liangzhu Culture, says Yu.

Earlier this year, the Liangzhu relic site of Neolithic ruins in Hangzhou's Yuhang district was officially recommended by the National Commission of China for UNESCO as a candidate for World Heritage status in 2019. The site, a complex with an ancient city, tombs and a dam, dates to 3300-2300 BC, roughly contemporaneous with the Old Kingdom period in ancient Egypt and the Sumer civilization in Mesopotamia.

The dam is considered the earliest known Chinese water conservancy project and has drawn huge attention, both from China and abroad, according to Yu.

Other important relics of the Liangzhu Culture were also on display at the Museum.

Archaeological work began in Liangzhu in the 1930s, and it has grown into a comprehensive large-scale heritage site, according to Wang Ningyuan, a researcher at the Zhejiang Provincial Research Institute for Cultural Relics and Archaeology.

In the new edition of a high school textbook on China released in September last year, Liangzhu is presented as an important origin of Chinese civilization.

"A Marvelous Night at the Museum" was also meant to commemorate archaeologists' efforts to study ancient civilizations along the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River, according to Yu.

"Our event was held in honor of the archaeologists who have worked in Yuhang, origin of the Liangzhu Culture, and the extraordinary achievements they have made," she adds.

In 2015, the discovery of the Liangzhu dam was listed among China's top 10 archaeological discoveries.

"Museums are temples to preserve and carry on human civilization, and bridges to connect our past, present and future," says Liu, adding that they play a special part in promoting cultural exchange.

Xinhua

]]>
2018-05-26 07:16:39
<![CDATA[COURTING CONTROVERSY]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/25/content_36270865.htm Jia Pingwa has been caught in controversies several times in his writing career that spans more than 45 years. His Ruined City was banned for 16 years until 2009, and he likens it to a "child with unlucky fate".

]]>
Making literary waves is second nature to Jia Pingwa, who recently published his latest novel, The Mountain Stories. Mei Jia reports.

Jia Pingwa has been caught in controversies several times in his writing career that spans more than 45 years. His Ruined City was banned for 16 years until 2009, and he likens it to a "child with unlucky fate".

Then, he courted controversy again with Ji Hua, a novel about an abducted woman, published in 2016.

In this book, Jia had the protagonist return to the place where she was kept captive because she could not go back to her former life.

It has been two years since the novel's release, but the work still raises eyebrows with its storyline.

Speaking about the novel, Jia says: "I respect women and sympathize with them."

And responding to the Chinese media, he says any comments and amplification of the original text is not right.

"As to the problems in rural areas, I'm actually in a dilemma over whether to praise or criticize. So, what I did was to represent the pains and complexity of human nature during social spasms as it progresses," he says.

This book is not the first time that Jia has attempted to focus on human nature and reveal the complexity of society.

In his 2007 novel Happy Dreams, he focused on farmers and their dilemma of staying on in the city or going back to the countryside.

The theme of dealing with dilemma also lingers over his latest novel, The Mountain Stories (Shan Ben), released in April by two publishers, one for the paperback, one for hardback.

"In the book, Jia depicts people from the grassroots who are simple and honest, and it is also them, at least some of them, who are cruel and evil, and sometimes bloodthirsty," critic Chen Sihe says.

"He captures conflicts."

Jia is also prolific. His latest work is his fifth since 2011, when he published Old Kiln.

His other works were The Lantern Bearer (2013), Lao Sheng (2014), Ji Hua (2016) and Shan Ben (2018).

Commenting on his ability to churn out works regularly, publishing veteran Pan Kaixiong says: "It's difficult even for a younger writer to maintain the momentum and quality that Jia manages. And each of his novels is distinctive."

Pan says Jia's works are the literary representation of contemporary Chinese history, from the early 1900s to the present.

Since 1973, Jia has published 16 novels and other works.

Jia says that over the years his literary influences have included ancient Chinese literature, Russian realism, Western modernism and post-modernism, as well as the revolutionary realism born shortly after establishment of new China.

"I started writing with what I was familiar with. Then I was concerned about the social meaning of my writing and thus I lost my voice and became a symbol of a collective consciousness, and later on I tried to find who I was," he says.

"I feel a strong urge to write. I'm never satisfied with my output, thinking only that the next one might be the best."

In his latest novel, Jia writes about frequent wars and deaths.

The story, however, is set in the Qinling Mountains in the 1920s and '30s, and is about the complicated nature of history and human beings.

In the story, a local armed force has grown out of some auspicious signs and a goodhearted woman's persistence.

Then, the heroes of the time rise to become warlords, but more warlords mean more suffering for ordinary people.

"I always wanted to write about Qinling, because to me, Qinling represents my hometown, and China," he says.

Jia also says that he believes that 70 to 80 percent of the country's historic events happened there, a place where the Yellow River merges with the Yangtze River, and the northern culture of the country merges with the southern one.

The idea for the book started taking shape when Jia visited Qinling to collect material for a book about animals and plants in the mountains.

But though that task is unfinished, he collected tons of folk tales about the 1920s and '30s.

The mysterious aspects in deep mountains are turned into vivid elements in the novel, where a mouse predicts the coming of wars, an old tree knows to reward goodness and a man could understand animals.

Critic Wang Chunlin says the novel is an "encyclopedia about Qinling", but adds that it is also about Chinese revolutionary history.

"Jia's thoughts even delve into religion and philosophy," Wang says.

Kong Lingyan, editor of the hardback, says Jia looks at history from above, and he chooses a small spot - a town - for a grand narrative.

Jia, who spent three years looking for ways to look back at history, says: "It (history) is subjective. It's the accumulation of numerous oral accounts, and it's about how individuals view it.

"From oral tales to literature, what really matters is the writer himself, how he or she views and feels things. Whatever I wrote, I was writing about me."

Meanwhile, some literary critics say Lu Juren, the female protagonist who's depicted as a perfect woman, stands for Jia's belief in the warmth of human nature.

And Jia lets Lu grow into a better version of herself.

Besides his obvious writing skills, Jia also has beautiful handwriting and a talent for calligraphy.

Kong says Jia has a habit of writing all his drafts on notebooks.

"Editors often receive a pile of Jia's notebooks full of beautiful handwriting."

Contact the writer at meijia@chinadaily.com.cn

 

]]>
2018-05-25 07:33:40
<![CDATA[Paying tribute to the classics]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/25/content_36270864.htm

For Jia Pingwa, ancient Chinese novels were born after history became legendary tales.

He also says the unity of nature and humanity is philosophy, and the unity of nature and "myself" is literature.

Jia says Chinese novels have several patterns. One is seen in Dream of the Red Chamber, with its slower pace and detailed depiction of everyday life.

As for other patterns, they are evident in Romance of the Three Kingdoms and The Water Margin, which are more straightforward.

"The Mountain Stories is my attempt to apply the Dream style to tell stories like that in the Three Kingdoms and The Water Margin," he says.

There is only one character in Journey to the West, he says. So, the different characters presented in the novel are only varied aspects, attitudes and emotions of one man, he says.

Critic Chen Sihe says Jia's latest novel is a tribute to ancient Chinese classics. And Jia is not just paying respect but also showing his own understanding of them and his resolve to transcend what he sees as some of their defects.

]]>
2018-05-25 07:33:40
<![CDATA[Growing interest in Jia's works]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/25/content_36270863.htm There has been a surge in the number of English translations of Jia Pingwa's works in recent years, says Carlos Rojas, a professor of Chinese cultural studies at Duke University and the translator of Jia's The Lantern Bearer.

"Jia was the least-translated (into English) contemporary literary master. For years, there was only Turbulence: A Novel, translated by Howard Goldblatt and released in 2003," says Rojas.

He says he is glad to see that more of Jia's works have been translated or are in the process of being translated.

"It's a good chance for more readers globally to get to know Jia," he says.

Ruined City, translated by Goldblatt, was released in January 2016. Rojas' translation of The Lantern Bearer came out in May last year. And Happy Dreams, translated by Nicky Harman, was published in October.

The Earthen Gate translation is set for release by British Valley Press in May. And Old Kiln has a trial translation by Canaan Morse out on Paper Republic.

Meanwhile, Rojas says that Ji Hua and Lao Sheng are being translated, and that the copyrights of the former was sold to British ACA Publishing at the 2017 Frankfurt Book Fair.

As for Shan Ben (The Mountain Stories), its rights were recently sold to ACA at the London Book Fair in April, shortly after its release in the Chinese market.

Zhang Xianming, head of the People's Literature Publishing House, says: "It seems that we are into quicker publishing cycles when it comes to introducing contemporary Chinese literature to the global market. The international publishing business is tracking China very closely."

]]>
2018-05-25 07:33:40
<![CDATA[Drawn in the beauty of solitude - a life inspired by Chinese poetry]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/25/content_36270862.htm A 75-year-old American writer and a reclusive Chinese poet who lived 1,600 years ago have come together in an unlikely literary romance.

On a visit to China earlier this month, Bill Porter, a translator and writer who has dedicated his life to Chinese culture, introduced his new book, Paradise of the Mind, to his Chinese readers.

The book records a tour Porter made last year of eastern China, during which he traced the footsteps of his favorite ancient poet, Tao Yuanming, and his follower, poet Su Dongpo.

"I love him as a poet, but I like him more as a person," says Porter. Achieving the idyllic lifestyle advocated by Tao is the goal he has been pursuing his entire life.

Porter has translated over 1,600 Chinese poems and written a series of books about his pilgrimages to China over the past 30 years.

He is best-known in China for his signature work, The Road to Heaven, a book about the time he spent in the mountains of Northwest China searching for hermits. Since it was published in 2009, the Chinese version of the book has sold over 200,000 copies.

For his years of effort in translating Chinese poetry, he was awarded a prize for translation by the American Academy of Arts and Letters in February.

"Chinese culture is like a treasure chest, and I want to share with people the treasure I have discovered," he says.

In 1972, when he was a doctoral student, he ran into a Chinese monk in New York's Chinatown, and was introduced to meditation and Buddhist scriptures.

"I felt that was exactly the lifestyle I wanted to have. Be a Buddhist practitioner!" says Porter. So he quit school and moved to Taiwan, hiding in temples tucked away deep in the mountains. At first he was attracted solely to Buddhism, but he later found himself lost in the beauty of Chinese poetry and philosophy.

Porter's first encounter with Tao Yuanming was in 1975, when he found a collection of Tao's poems in a bookstore.

"I was attracted by the thread-bound book and its style of calligraphy," he says.

"But when I read it, I was mesmerized by the lines that carried such beauty, serenity and simplicity."

Porter ended his three years in the temples of Taiwan as a lay Buddhist when he met his wife, who was studying Chinese philosophy. His passion for China grew so strong that he decided that it was something worth a lifetime of devotion.

Under the pen name of Red Pine, he has published some translations of Buddhist scripts and Chinese poems in the United States.

Although appreciated by professional translators and critics, the works did not sell well. He took a series of part-time jobs, including a job as a guide taking tour groups to China.

"Translating is not a way to make a living, but a way to enjoy myself," he says. "When I translate poems, the world stops around me."

He says he prefers to live a frugal and simple life just like Tao Yuanming did, because "from simplicity, mindfulness arises".

Fascinated by the hermit lifestyle depicted by Tao, Porter decided to set off on a pilgrimage looking for real-life hermits.

In 1989, with a photographer friend from the US, Porter traveled to the Zhongnan Mountains in Northwest China's Shaanxi province, and wrote The Road to Heaven based on his interviews with the hermits in the mountains.

"The Chinese publisher sent me a big sum of money and I was a bit surprised by its popularity in China," he recalls.

That was when he started his three decades as a pilgrim, traveling around China retracing the footsteps of ancient poets, writers and philosophers.

During his most recent Tao Yuanming-inspired trip, he visited the grave of Tao in Jiangxi province. He poured three cups of liquor, proposing a toast to the poet.

"I was about to cry. It felt as if Tao was standing right in front of me, within easy reach," he says.

It was not the first time he made a toast to the ancient poets.

In 2012, he traveled along the Yangtze and the Yellow rivers, and visited the graves of 36 Chinese poets. Knowing many of them were drinkers, he brought with him two bottles of whiskey from the US, as he wanted to wake them up with foreign alcohol.

Considering his age, Porter has decided to settle down and stop his wanderings. Together with some friends, he is preparing to open a meditation center in Seattle.

"The best things in life are things that can make the world stop," he says. "I found it in Chinese culture, and I would like to share that."

]]>
2018-05-25 07:33:40
<![CDATA[Enjoy a taste of Yangtze life]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/25/content_36270861.htm Originally the common repast of poor boatmen along the Yangtze River, spicy Chongqing hotpot has since become the fare of foodies across China, with many restaurants including their own interpretation of the dish on their menus.

]]>
A new restaurant brings the authentic taste of Chongqing hotpot directly from the banks of the Yangtze to the melting pot of Beijing. Li Yingxue reports.

Originally the common repast of poor boatmen along the Yangtze River, spicy Chongqing hotpot has since become the fare of foodies across China, with many restaurants including their own interpretation of the dish on their menus.

Fortunately for hotpot hunters in Beijing, Zhensanguan Chongqing Hotpot has brought the original taste of the Yangtze wharf to the melting pot of Sanlitun with the opening of its flagship venue. So what makes it so "authentic"? The restaurant flies all of the necessary condiments and fresh ingredients from Chongqing every other day to ensure that hungry Beijingers are getting the real deal.

Even down to the decor: the restaurant looks just like the ones you would find on the riverside, with a rustic wooden bench and a wall of glass jars each housing different traditional Chinese medicine items.

"Those are just some of the things we use to make the hotpot," explains Qi Ying, Zhensanguan's chef. "But that's not all of them. We use more than 60 ingredients in total."

According to Qi, each ingredient has its own function, such as licorice for detoxifying, and angelica dahurica for moistening the intestines.

"The dose for each ingredient is fixed. If you add more or less, the flavor would be different, and it took us more than a year to study that formula. After repeated trials, we finally got it just right."

The peppers Zhensanguan uses all come from Chongqing. Most are from the Shizhu Tujia autonomous county, while the Sichuan peppers are from Maoxian county. "We only use the fresh Sichuan peppers and cut the seeds when cooking so that there is no bitterness," Qi says.

The first part of the cooking process takes place nearly 2,000 kilometers away, where the seasoning for the dish is fried by chefs in Chongqing, who use a shovel and a large pot to cook it. The seasoning will stay a week in Chongqing before being flown to Beijing, giving the glutinous rice more time to continue fermenting, adding even more sweetness to the flavor.

It is then fried again during the Beijing part of the preparation to stimulate the fragrance of the hotpot.

"First, we melt the beef tallow in the pot and then add peppers before lowering the heat," he explains. "As the tallow turns red, we add a thick broad-bean sauce," Qi continues, "before boiling the sauce for one hour, when we add all of the traditional Chinese ingredients, seasonings and fermented glutinous rice."

The whole process takes about three to four hours and, according to Qi, the difference between Chongqing hotpot and Chengdu hotpot is the spicy flavor. Chongqing hotpot is milder, thanks to the fermented glutinous rice softening the piquancy.

Once all that is done, adding further authenticity to the dish is the eponymous pot itself.

Traditionally, it is served in a pot divided into nine sections. The square in the middle is the hottest part of the pot and it is where ingredients such as ox tripe, duck intestines and vegetables - things that need to be boiled quickly - are cooked, while sections around are where ingredients that need a little extra time to cook are boiled, such as duck blood and pig brains.

Buffalo tripe is one of Zhensanguan's signature ingredients. So is pork shoulder, which requires longer cooking to become tender - about 20 minutes for a 1-centimeter-thick piece.

Black tofu is also a must-try. Homemade with one portion of soybeans, two portions of black beans and one portion of glutinous rice, it tastes softer and smoother than normal tofu.

According to Qi, there are 13 different dipping sauces for the hotpot, but the most popular one is sesame oil with minced garlic, oyster sauce and coriander.

"You could also try canola oil with seasoning salt, which is also a Chongqing sauce," he adds. "The oil could lower the spiciness to protect your stomach."

The restaurant also serves other ingredients from Chongqing, such as needle mushrooms and nostoc commune - also known as star jelly, or facai - which cannot be found in Beijing.

While Zhensanguan prides itself on offering the most authentic Chongqing dining experience that can be enjoyed without having to contend with planes, trains or automobiles, the restaurant has made a few concessions to the demands of its Beijing clientele, explains restaurant manager, Cao Hongling.

According to Cao, besides sliced lamb and beef, Zhensanguan also provides different degrees of spiciness to suit the different palettes of Beijing's foodies, noting that "in Chongqing, we only serve one flavor - the hottest one."

There is also one more thing that Cao thinks that Beijing hotpot aficionados will enjoy - taking the hassle out of deciding what to wear for an evening of eating hotpot with pals.

People usually have to carefully consider their wardrobe choices, especially when it comes to that favorite wool sweater, because the smell of the food sticks to clothes and hair, sometimes well into the next day. This is apparently not a problem at Zhensanguan.

Cao says that because all the ingredients in the hotpot are natural, without any chemical substances or preservatives, enjoying a hotpot with friends will leave no olfactory trace of your evening meal on your favorite threads.

Contact the writer at liyingxue@chinadaily.com.cn

If you go

11:30 am-1:30 am, inside north gate of Beijing Workers' Stadium, Gongrentiyuchang Bei Road. 010-6551-9678.

 

]]>
2018-05-25 07:33:40
<![CDATA[Stadium plays host to new hub for fine dining]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/25/content_36270860.htm Besides being home turf to Beijing Guoan and swamped by hordes of soccer fans every match day, the Beijing Workers Stadium is also becoming a center for Chinese fine dining in the capital.

Wutong Plus, an upgraded version of the creative Beijing cuisine restaurant Wutong, opened there earlier this year to offer its new take on contemporary Chinese food to local foodies.

Located on the third floor of a three-story building to the southeast of the stadium, Wutong Plus can be accessed via an external elevator set within a glass curtain wall that leads to a dramatic gilded entrance. The restaurant's interior is separated into different areas by flowing lines, while a winding staircase connects the main dining room with its huge rooftop like a silk ribbon.

Yang Yijing, head chef at the restaurant, has more than two decades' experience with Chinese cuisine. Having grown up in Guangzhou, Yang is also well versed in Cantonese cuisine.

"When you taste our food, you can tell it's Beijing cuisine, but you will also notice a trace of Cantonese flavors," says Yang.

When designing the menu for Wutong Plus, Yang says the main idea was to take a creative approach and elevate Beijing cuisine to new heights by combining the finest ingredients with elements of Western cooking techniques.

Roast baby duck stuffed with rice and truffles is one dish that represents Yang's ethos perfectly. Unlike traditional roast duck, the duck is stuffed with fried rice mixed with truffle slices before being roasted for 45 minutes, allowing each grain of rice to soak up the flavors of the truffles and the duck fat.

"I got the idea to make the duck dish when I was visiting Macao to try the local roasted piglet," says Yang. "You can always find inspiration when you travel to new places to eat."

Besides using traditional fermented-flour sauce and sugar as a dipping sauce, Yang also created a passion-fruit sauce to add a sweeter element to the dish.

Fusion steamed fish with hot-and-spicy sauce is another of Yang's new creations. The fish is deboned and steamed to make it tender and fresh, while the soup is cooked separately using chilies and Sichuan peppers.

Stir-fried sirloin with okra is another must-try. Besides the well-seasoned beef, the dish is served on a metallic hand-shaped sculpture that is more like a piece of art than a plate.

"I'm still working on creating new dishes, which will all taste good and look fabulous at the same time," says Yang. Western elements with a Chinese take can also be found on the menu at Wutong Plus, such as fried penne rigate with diced pork and eggplant - which combines a Chinese-style sauce with Italian ingredients.

And with the arrival of summer, the rooftop at Wutong Plus is set to be a popular new spot to take in the night views of Sanlitun and enjoy the summer breeze with Chinese delicacies.

If you go

150 meters south of the side road of Workers' Stadium's east gate. 899 yuan ($141) per person. 010-5352-1539.

liyingxue@chinadaily.com.cn

 

The newly opened Wutong Plus, an upgraded version of the Beijing-cuisine restaurant Wutong, takes a creative approach by combining the finest ingredients with elements of Western cooking. Photos provided to China Daily

]]>
2018-05-25 07:33:40
<![CDATA[WAKING UP TO A MASTERPIECE]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/25/content_36270859.htm Chinese writer A Yi often appears ill at ease when talking at public events. Reading from a prepared speech in a low voice, his apparent lack of self-confidence seems to belie the fact that he has been hailed as one of the best writers of his generation by leading literary figures.

]]>
Forged in a moment of madness and nearly derailed by a debilitating illness, A Yi battled against all the odds to see his first full-length novel make it into print. Yang Yang reports.

Chinese writer A Yi often appears ill at ease when talking at public events. Reading from a prepared speech in a low voice, his apparent lack of self-confidence seems to belie the fact that he has been hailed as one of the best writers of his generation by leading literary figures.

In his own words, the writer is often wracked by feelings of "self-doubt" and this accompanied him right up until the release of his only novel to date, Zao Shang Jiu Dian Jiao Xing Wo (Wake Me Up at 9 AM), which was published in January.

By the close of the 150,000-character novel, A Yi said he felt relieved, confident, and even "a little bit of a narcissist" when talking about the characterization and direction of the novel.

Sitting in a cafe near his Beijing home, the writer talked for more than an hour about Chinese literature, translation and his new novel, before he abruptly had to stop.

Still recovering from a disease of the immune system that nearly killed him five years ago, he continues to take regular medication to control the condition, which leaves him tired and prone to occasional bouts of memory loss.

In 2012, when the idea for his first novel finally came to fruition after years of writing short stories and novellas, he plunged into a state of mind that can only be described as madness.

In a process he later described as "self-indulgent", he would spend weeks on end staying up all night trying to write - usually fueled by coffee, cigarettes and spirits.

In order to vividly depict the sound of a character's steps, he would try on different kinds of shoes and walk around his room. He talked to himself to work out ways to create the dialogue.

Midway through the novel, however, this madness began to take its toll his body. His immune system collapsed, and the large doses of medicine he was taking to fight its effects on his respiratory system damaged one of his kidneys, leading to surgery.

For a time, the disease deprived him of his ability to concentrate, read or write. But urged on by his sense of mission, he somehow managed to pull through.

Having dedicated so much time and effort to his novel, A Yi was initially unwilling to publish it. But realizing his frailty, and having spent most of his savings on medical treatment, he agreed to sell the global publishing rights to the book to an Italian literary agent in late 2013.

The Italian edition was published five months ahead of the Chinese version, which is now on its second print run, picking up awards such as the Southern Weekly Book of the Year 2017 and Asian Weekly Top 10 Novels 2017. An English translation is currently underway.

A Yi says he used his experiences of living in rural Jiangxi province as the backbone for the novel.

While he plays his former narrative style to the full, he breaks through its limitations and adopts a new narrative style that would "better represent and reconstruct the physical and spiritual images of the rural area in the novel", emulating techniques that American writer William Faulkner employed in many of his novels, including Light in August.

Born as Ai Guozhu in a village in Ruichang, Jiangxi province in 1976, A Yi is the second son in a family of five children. His mother and grandfather were amazed to find little Ai's talent for using metaphor at a very young age, and it soon became his star turn when he performed in front of relatives.

"That enhanced my tendency to use metaphors and to connect one thing to another as I read. Metaphors and story ideas keep exploding in my mind," he says.

In writing his novel, he had to force himself to use fewer metaphors, and even delete two-thirds of those he had already created "to stop readers getting annoyed".

A mediocre high school student, A Yi took enrolled at a local police academy in 1994. Over the next three years, he seldom listened to his teachers and practiced writing during class, usually finishing a short story by the end of each lesson.

He later became a policeman in the small town of Hongyi, Jiangxi province. Except for writing love letters - which he never mailed - to a woman he was secretly in love with, and witnessing the occasional murder or mass disturbance, A Yi soon grew bored of idling away his afternoons.

A year later, he was transferred to a county-level police bureau to write speeches for senior officers and investigation reports. In the evenings, he killed time with his colleagues playing mahjong.

During one all-night game, the moment dawned on him where he could see his "endless boring life stretching ahead".

In 2002, the 26-year-old Ai Guozhu quit his job and moved to Zhengzhou, Henan province, to work as a sports editor at a newspaper. The experience of being a policeman, the secret love and the days of boredom all soon became the inspiration for his writing.

After spending time in Shanghai and Guangzhou, he finally settled in Beijing. In 2009, he published his first book Hui Gu Shi (Gray Stories), a collection of short stories.

Two years later, his second book, Niao, Kan Jian Wo Le (The Bird, Saw Me), came out. His later novella, Xia Mian Wo Gai Gan Xie Shenme (Perfect Crime), has been translated into English, French, Italian, Swedish, Spanish, Russian and Arabic.

A fan of writers like Albert Camus, Raymond Carver and Franz Kafka, in his early short stories and novellas A Yi tried to imitate their allegorical and minimalist styles to suppress tension and emotion under a veneer of cold, simple words.

In 2011, the urban population in China surpassed that of rural areas for the first time.

A Yi realized that the China of his parents' generation and the traditional rural way of life were disappearing. He finally grasped onto the notion as the ideal subject for his first novel.

By creating the protagonist of Ai Hongyang, a local villain in the small village of Aiwan, and depicting his hastily organized but overly elaborate - and farcically formal - funeral, A Yi tries to show how quickly the rural way life in China that had existed for centuries is vanishing.

However, he found it impossible to employ his old style of allegory and minimalism in the novel. Instead, in the first three chapters of his first draft, he tried to pour his thinking onto the page without the use of punctuation - much in the style Faulkner depicted life in Yoknapatawpha county in the Deep South.

"It was impossible to create complicated characters like Shuizhi using the old style. She was the pretentious and insidious widow of Ai Hongyang. With few words and simple sentences, it would be hard to show the complexity of - or to reconstruct the image of - the rural area and its spirit," he says.

Worried that he might have "taken too big a stride" with his fluid writing style, he gave up on it.

A Yi also tried to record the customs of these rural areas, and went to great lengths to list all the popular local brands of snacks, drinks and dishes on offer at the funeral.

"Local brands will soon become outdated in rural areas. If nobody records them, they will soon be forgotten altogether."

Contact the writer at yangyangs@chinadaily.com.cn

 

A Yi, a policeman-turned-writer, published in January his first novel that represents the disappearing rural life in China Wake Me Up at 9 AM. Photos provided to China Daily

]]>
2018-05-25 07:33:40
<![CDATA[DRAMAS SPREAD WINGS]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/24/content_36263872.htm Inoka Weerasinghe, second secretary at the embassy of Sri Lanka in Beijing, says the hit Chinese TV series Ode to Joy has just become her latest mustwatch show.

]]>
Contemporary Chinese productions are not only taking off in Southeast Asia but are also enjoying growing popularity in Africa, the Middle East and Europe. Xu Fan reports.

Inoka Weerasinghe, second secretary at the embassy of Sri Lanka in Beijing, says the hit Chinese TV series Ode to Joy has just become her latest mustwatch show.

The drama, which tells the story of five women striving to make a life for themselves in contemporary Shanghai, is airing in Sri Lanka after a deal was signed in November last year between China Radio International and Rupavahini, Sri Lanka's national television network.

Among the Chinese dramas set to air in Sri Lanka under the deal is Xuan Zang, a biographical movie starring Huang Xiaoming as the titular Tang Dynasty (618-907) monk who made a 17-year overland journey across Central Asia and India in his quest to acquire Buddhist knowledge.

"The women (the protagonists of Ode to Joy) are very dynamic and independent. They reflect modern China and modern Chinese women," Weerasinghe tells China Daily during the 15th China International Film and TV Program Exhibition in Beijing. At the event, she invited Chinese producers to shoot films in the South Asian country, and she approached Chinese broadcasters about telecasting Sri Lankan TV dramas in China.

Held at the Beijing Exhibition Center from May 17 to 19, the annual event attracted hundreds of participants from more than 50 countries and regions around the world who were showcasing around 80,000 programs.

With the rising overseas popularity of Chinese movies and television series in recent years, "going abroad" has become a buzzword for many attending the exhibition.

Last year, China exported more than $400 million worth of movies and television productions and related services to the rest of the world, said Ma Li, director of the international cooperation department of the State Administration of Radio and Television, at an event during the exhibition.

With its growth in scale and diversity, China has in recent years expanded its movie and television program exports from Southeast Asia - traditionally its best-selling region - to the emerging markets of Africa, the Middle East, Europe and North America, Ma adds.

Apart from selling programs, China has been building channels or buying blocks of hours in local broadcasters' schedules in a bid to tailor Chinese content to appeal to foreign audiences.

China International Television Corp, which launched an alliance linking about 50 domestic top players in November, is a frontrunner in distributing Chinese productions overseas.

Last year, the household Chinese TV drama Journey to the West, the fantasy-adventure show recounting the travels of the mythological superhero, the Monkey King, aired in Nepal with the dialogue dubbed into Nepali, earning national-viewing figures of up to 34.5 percent.

"It was very popular there. Nepal's news agencies reported its debut as important news, making it a hot topic among locals," says Shen Jianing, assistant to the president of China International Television Corp, which sells an average of more than 20,000 hours of Chinese programs to more than 200 countries and regions around the world every year.

She is also sensing a change in tastes: Chinese dramas set against the backdrop of modern China have been selling much better than in the past.

The 45-episode romantic drama Mr Right, starring A-lister Jin Dong, and the 38-episode Wang Kai-headlining series Stay with Me, are two recent examples of Chinese series that were well received abroad.

Life Revelations, a 35-epsiode TV drama starring Hu Ge and Yan Ni, topped the local ratings for several weeks to reach more than 23 percent of the national audience when it aired in Mongolia last year, says Shen.

Receiving more than 200 million views on YouTube, Ode to Joy has become the top urban-themed Chinese TV drama of all time, and one of China's most popular domestic series overseas. It has been screened in more than 10 countries and regions, including Vietnam, Russia, Singapore, North America and South Korea.

For Hou Hongliang, producer of Ode to Joy and chairman of the Zhejiang-based production firm Daylight Entertainment, the numbers are encouraging.

"In the past and even in recent years, Chinese producers had to travel to Japan or South Korea to negotiate deals about remaking their popular productions," says Hou.

"But things have changed. South Korean companies are contacting us to buy series like Nirvana in Fire and The Disguiser, proving that Chinese titles are gaining influence in overseas markets," he adds.

And while shows about modern life in China are increasingly grabbing attention overseas, dramas that re-create the country's spectacular past are also growing in popularity.

"Foreign audiences, especially those in Southeast Asia, are drawn to these kinds of stories as they can better understand Chinese history and culture," says Li Qian, deputy director of international cooperation at Dongyanghuanyu Film and Television Culture Co Ltd, which has been distributing its television programs overseas for more than a decade.

According to Li, actress Yang Mi's Palace: The Lock Heart Jade and Zhao Liying-starring Legend of Lu Zhen are two of the company's bestselling dramas in overseas markets.

Palace: The Lock Heart Jade - a royal romance series set in China's Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) - has been distributed to eight countries and regions, including South Korea, Malaysia, Japan and Thailand. Legend of Lu Zhen, which chronicles a female palace doctor's romance with an emperor in seventh-century China, has been sold to six countries and regions, including South Korea, Malaysia and Japan.

Contact the writer at xufan@chinadaily.com.cn

 

Chinese and overseas producers and industry insiders (top) attend an event at the 15th China International Film and TV Program Exhibition in Beijing. Legend of Lu Zhen (left) and Ode to Joy (right) are among Chinese TV dramas that have been well received in overseas markets. Photos provided to China Daily

]]>
2018-05-24 07:31:56
<![CDATA[A TOUCH OF THE PERSONAL]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/24/content_36263871.htm Loneliness has haunted Zhou Quan since he was a child, but it also is the young filmmaker's inspiration for his directorial debut feature, End of Summer.

]]>
Director Zhou Quan's award-winning film about a 10-year-old boy's joys and sorrows is set to hit mainland screens later this week. Xu Fan reports.

Loneliness has haunted Zhou Quan since he was a child, but it also is the young filmmaker's inspiration for his directorial debut feature, End of Summer.

The movie's world premiere was at the 22nd Busan International Film Festival in October 2017, and it won the KNN award there. It was the only Chinese-language movie to win at that year's South Korean event.

On Friday, or one week ahead of Children's Day, the 105-minute movie about the growing pains of a child will open across the Chinese mainland.

The film's cast comprises teenager star Rong Zishan and veteran performers Zhang Songwen, Tan Zhuo and Taiwan actor Ku Pao-ming.

The film, set in the summer of 1998, is about a 10-year-old boy's joys and sorrows in the waterside city of Shaoxing in Zhejiang province.

In the movie, fifth-grader Gu Xiaoyang loves soccer but his hobby is frowned upon by his father, who, like most Chinese parents then, sees sports as a distraction from homework.

Gu discovers his father has a crush on a young English-language teacher.

But all settles down when the boy befriends a grandfather-like neighbor, a soccer fanatic who becomes his coach. And the boy's father returns to his wife, a local Yueju Opera performer who chooses to forgive him.

Zhou's maiden feature reflects his nostalgia for the past.

As the only child in his family in Shaoxing, the director, who was born in 1987, says he grew up with "the inherent yet unable-to-resist emotion of loneliness" like most Chinese youngsters of his generation, who were raised under China's family-planning policy.

"When the adults pin all their hopes on one child, it is natural to see him turn rebellious under the stress," Zhou says. "In my movie, I hope to explore the typical parent-child tension in Chinese families."

Zhou's loneliness was exacerbated when he was sent to a Melbourne middle school in 2005, embarking on a decadelong journey of studying abroad.

In his first year abroad, Zhou lived with a Chinese-Australian family and he was surrounded by schoolmates who were locals.

"No matter where I went, I was in a minority. I felt lonely and isolated," he says.

After graduating from the RMIT University in Australia, he went to the United States to study cinema at the American Film Institute, becoming the only Chinese student in the 28-member class studying film direction.

When he got the opportunity to shoot his first feature, he wanted to make it a bit personal, despite some investors wanting him to make a more commercial film.

"I graduated from the AFI near the end of 2013 and began to write the script in early 2014. I then polished the story for around a year."

When he took the project to the 13th Hong Kong-Asia Film Financing Forum in 2015, a key hub for Chinese-language movies to raise money, his work won the top HAF award, drawing Tencent Penguin Pictures on board.

The film cost around 6 million yuan ($942,000), and Zhou and his crew visited nearly 100 taimen - typical Shaoxing courtyards that host several families under the same roof - to find the ideal location.

The movie was finally shot in a 200-year-old complex around 80 kilometers from downtown Shaoxing.

Recalling the start of the process of finding the filming location, Zhou says: "It was a rainy day. And one of our cars was involved in an accident.

"Only the art director and I arrived at the place. The scenery was amazing. And it suddenly made us feel that all the earlier efforts were worth it."

Water is a key element in End of Summer as most of the sequences occur near a river known as Xixiaohe (West Little River).

Referring to the importance of water, Zhou says that he believes that rivers, a geographically integral part of most of southeastern China, symbolize local life.

Although Zhou prefers to feature traditional elements in his works, he plans to look at futuristic themes, too.

Zhou says one of his upcoming projects is a sci-fi series to explore technology's influence on humankind.

Contact the writer at xufan@chinadaily.com.cn

 

Young director Zhou Quan's directorial debut feature, End of Summer, about a 10-year-old boy's joys and sorrows in the waterside city of Shaoxing in Zhejiang province, will open across the Chinese mainland on Friday. Photos provided to China Daily

]]>
2018-05-24 07:31:56
<![CDATA[Film star, Huang, funds fresh film talent]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/24/content_36263870.htm Starring alongside Sylvester Stallone in the upcoming movie Escape Plan 2: Hades and recently appearing on the Cannes Film Festival's glamorous red carpet appears to have whetted the appetite of Chinese A-lister Huang Xiaoming for even greater international recognition.

Four years after his first visit to Cannes, where he attended a promotional event for John Woo's epic movie, The Crossing, the star was in the spotlight again on the French Riviera at this year's festival.

However, this time around he was not strutting on the red carpets as just an actor, but also showing off his talents as the producer of two acclaimed films, Forever Young and Long Day's Journey into Night, as well as in his role as an ambassador of China Film New Power - a program launched by the China Film Bureau to support emerging domestic talent.

"I feel proud of Chinese filmmakers," Huang says in an email interview with China Daily. "When Long Day's Journey into Night concluded its premiere screening, audiences (in Cannes) kept applauding for a long time."

The second directorial feature of Bi Gan, a Guizhou native, who shot to fame for his arthouse movie Kaili Blues, this new film was one of the 18 movies shortlisted from more than 2,000 submissions to contend for Un Certain Regard, one of Cannes' official competition categories that awards films which tell their stories in nontraditional ways.

The film, which stars Tang Wei and Huang Jue, follows a man's return to his hometown in southwestern China to find a woman he had spent an unforgettable summer with 12 years earlier.

It was met with mixed reviews upon its global debut in Cannes on May 15. While some critics lauded Bi for infusing Long Day's Journey into Night with a poetic tune and innovative use of a stunning one-hour-long, single-take camera shot, others claimed to be confused by the plot.

Huang reveals that he decided to finance the movie after hearing rave reviews of Kaili Blues, which won Bi the best new director award at the 2015 Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival.

"The newcomers should never be underestimated," says Huang, a veteran of more than 80 films and TV dramas over the past 20 years. "I was surprised to see that (Long Day's Journey into Night) skillfully combines 2D and 3D photography. The director's crafted manipulation of light and shadow stands out.

"I'm privileged to be part of the movie as a producer. I also hope that I can participate in such (arthouse) films as an actor in the future," he adds.

Now turning 40 and ranked among China's top stars, Huang, who is followed by 56 million fans on the microblogging platform, Sina Weibo, says he wishes to use his influence to help emerging young talent.

"Young filmmakers striving in pursuit of their dreams will shape the future of the Chinese movie industry," he says. "All the prestigious directors were once young and hungry, even the likes of Feng Xiaogang."

With a string of blockbusters from The Dream Factory (1997) to Youth (2017), Feng was a pioneer in directing commercial films, but has, in recent years, shifted his focus to more personal works. He ranks among the iconic figures who have reshaped the Chinese movie industry.

Speaking about his other film, Forever Young - which he both produced and starred in - he explains that it consists of four stories set in the 1920s, '30s, '60s and 2000s, respectively, and explores the complexity of humanity against different backdrops. With an all-star cast that includes Zhang Ziyi, Chang Chen, Wang Leehom and Chen Chusheng, the movie was an immediate hit when it was released across China in January.

"When I first read the script, I was attracted by the role of Chen Peng (a college student in the 1960s story). The character - who is a bit silly and stubborn but has a passion for love, his career and his dream - reminds me a lot of myself when I was around 20 years old," Huang notes.

When asked about the risk of investing in arthouse films, most of which have struggled for box-office success, Huang believes a movie is worth financing if it arouses thought, surprises audiences and demonstrates artistic value.

"A movie's value cannot be only judged by profits," he says. "If I can help young directors to realize their dreams, I won't care too much about the gains or the losses."

Speaking about his future projects, Huang reveals that his character in Stallone's upcoming action blockbuster, Escape Plan 2, will be a Chinese martial-arts practitioner. Huang will also appear on our TV screens in the forthcoming 52-episode series The Year You Were Late, about a retired military veteran's ups and downs during China's reform and opening-up.

 

Huang Xiaoming (right), one of the producers of Long Day's Journey into Night, with Bi Gan, the film's director. Provided to China Daily

]]>
2018-05-24 07:31:56
<![CDATA[China from behind the lens]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/23/content_36256371.htm Annual Looking China Youth Film Project has invited filmmakers from around the world to create short documentaries about Chinese culture. Fang Aiqing reports.

A group of young foreign filmmakers are taking an in-depth look at China through their camera lenses. Among them is Christian Grobbelaar, a young director from South Africa, whose short documentary Watch People unveils a remarkable tale of craftsmanship and redemption.

By repairing watches, Li Xin not only managed to fix the problems that lie behind the face of a wristwatch, but he's also fixed many of the problems in his own life as well.

With an array of delicate tools laid out on a blank sheet of paper on his table, the 25-year-old watch repairman begins to demonstrate the process of disassembly, cleaning, oiling and reassembly - an art that few people master now - while telling the story of the many twists and turns in his life.

After experiencing his parents' divorce, the once well-behaved student fell into bad company and rebelliously turned to a life of smoking, drinking and fighting.

During one particularly fierce fight 10 years ago, Li was stabbed twice. One blow pierced his lung while the other permanently damaged his central nervous system. As a result, he ended up crippled, and was forced to rely on crutches for the rest of his life.

Idling at home for several years, Li's life seemed to be doomed until he found a job at the time-honored Sheng Chang Watch Shop in Xiamen, East China's Fujian province, where traditional watch repair skills are passed on to the disabled.

"When it comes to fixing a watch, you will be faced with a variety of problems. The hardest ones to tackle are the problems you cannot see with your eyes, because they hid very deep. But we still always manage to find a way to fix them," Li says.

Grobbelaar's short documentary applies montage techniques and uses puns in both the title of the work and throughout the story.

As the story "unfolds in an artistic way and combines craftsmanship with humanity", the work was awarded first prize and best artistic presentation at the fourth Golden Lenses awards held recently by Beijing Normal University.

The award aims to reward excellent works from BNU's Looking China Youth Film Project, which annually invites young filmmakers from around the globe to China to experience Chinese culture and, with one-on-one help from a Chinese volunteer, create a 10-minute short documentary about Chinese culture.

Since its launch in 2011, 405 young filmmakers from 49 countries and regions including the United States, United Kingdom, France, Canada and Israel have participated in the project.

By 2017, they had produced 404 short documentaries based on their visits to more than 20 provinces of China and had garnered more than 90 awards in China and abroad, according to Huang Huilin, a professor at BNU who founded the Looking China Project and is director of the Academy for International Communication of Chinese Culture.

In 2017, the focus of the Looking China Project turned to craftsmanship. Foreign participants were asked to shoot documentaries that demonstrated their understanding of Chinese craftsmanship, and to highlight the cultural inheritance and innovation imbued in it.

The Sheng Chang Watch Shop was founded in 1928 and Li's boss, Zhang Xiangjie, 45, is the third generation of owners, who is famous locally for his sense of public spirit.

Zhang's innovative approach to combing business with the public interest has been widely reported in the media, and his desire to pass on his skills to disadvantaged groups rather than keep them in the family.

Several works in the 2017 Looking China Project focused on the types of traditional Chinese craftsmanship that are so familiar that many people take them for granted, while some others looked at the craft traditions that are rapidly vanishing in China's fast-paced society.

By telling these stories from the unique perspective of a young foreign filmmaker, these documentaries are helping to connect Chinese craftsmanship with more universal themes.

One example is the short documentary The Bridge Between Us by Serbian filmmaker Akos K. Kovacs. The film examines the father-son relationship bridged by the traditional Chinese musical instrument of the erhu as its techniques are passed down through the generations.

Immersed in a solo piece of music, the son breaks into a spontaneous smile as he expresses his feelings while playing the erhu.

Yet there was a time in the young man's childhood when he found learning the erhu to be an unbearably tortuous experience.

To escape the laborious process, the son used to record himself playing erhu and often played back the recordings to pretend he was practicing for hours on end. However, his father eventually discovered his trick, and ended up severely punishing him.

The father, who had been working in an erhu factory for 37 years, hoped his son would follow in his footsteps and was not impressed by his son's reluctance to practice.

But it was only after becoming an erhu teacher himself, the son finally realized the importance of cultivating a child's persistence. "Without my father, I wouldn't be the man I am today," he finally admits at the end of the documentary.

Among the other works, there is a documentary about the revival of traditional carpentry in modern woodwork presented in an accessible format, a warm story about a family that has been making spices for generations and a film covering the extraordinary life of 91-year-old actor Lan Tianye from the Beijing People's Art Theatre.

As Francesco Cardinali, one of the foreign advisers of the Looking China Project and a professor at the University of Macerata in Italy, said during the opening ceremony of the 2018 Looking China Project in April, the project is "not only giving an incredible opportunity to international students, but also, in a broad perspective, the best way to build a strong and healthy relationship between people and countries."

Adele Lengyel, a student from the Budapest Metropolitan University in Hungary, participated in the 2017 project. An avid food lover, the theme for her documentary was in never in any doubt - local food, and the making of steamed buns, in particular.

She remembered the first time she stepped into a traditional Chinese market, where culture shock soon turned into real shock.

She was shooting a sequence where fish were being poured into a huge tank where they were held until they were sold.

"I was filming the process when a live fish jumped out of the tank and started writhing on my leg. I screamed because I'd never seen a fish this big, and it was on my leg. Everyone in the market erupted into laughter. What could I do? The fish wanted to be the star of the film," she says.

That day, she was surprised by the large variety of vegetables and strange appearance of the bullfrogs and soft-shelled turtles on offer, and astonished by the sophisticated skills of the fish sellers and encouraged by the smiles on the faces of everyone in the market - who clearly enjoyed being on camera.

In Huang's opinion, the Looking China Project is also about intercultural communication.

"There are times when the foreigners and the Chinese volunteers are excited and curious to be working together, and other times they become perplexed and unable to agree on anything. Yet their friendship continues to grow as they learn to cooperate and tolerate each other with the best of intentions," says Huang.

"We discussed the documentary frequently via email before he came to China. Thanks to his detailed shooting plan, things worked out very smoothly," says Huang Xianliang, Grobbelaar's Chinese volunteer.

During the topic discussion on the first day of the project, she wrote a note to Grobbelaar after his presentation, saying "You are the best". Grobbelaar changed the word "you" to "we" and sent it back to her.

According to Huang Huilin, this year's Looking China Project, which is already underway, will involve 100 young foreign filmmakers from 35 countries and regions on a filming relay around 10 provinces and autonomous regions including Guangdong, Hubei, Liaoning, Guizhou, Qinghai and Inner Mongolia. The focus of this year's project is ecological civilization.

Contact the writer at fangaiqing@chinadaily.com.cn

 

Left and right: Adele Lengyel shooting the making of steamed buns; Lengyel shooting at a traditional market in Shanghai.

]]>
2018-05-23 07:58:40
<![CDATA[She's just a cosmic girl]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/23/content_36256370.htm Award-winning photographer, Ye Ziyi, travels to some of the planet's most remote areas to capture stunning images of the cosmos. Xing Wen reports.

"Look at the stars, see how they shine for you," Coldplay once sang, describing the ease with which most casual stargazers can enjoy the night sky. However, for Ye Ziyi, a 28-year-old Beijing native, it is an altogether more involved process, as she shoulders her heavy photographic equipment and travels around the world to capture beautiful images of the sparkling firmament.

It's worth it, however, because in 2016, she won the Beauty of the Night Sky category of the International Earth & Sky Photo Contest (TWAN).  

 

From left: Ye Ziyi; Luminous Salar de Uyuni was selected by NASA as its Astronomy Picture of the Day on April 15, 2017. Photos Provided to China Daily

Ye says she participated in the competition not just for herself, but for the other photography enthusiasts in China who devote themselves to the medium.

"There are a lot of outstanding photographers in China," she observes, "but the language barriers and insufficient opportunities make it harder for them to be seen or heard by the outside world.

"These awards allow me to meet more foreign photographers and learn from them, as well as acquaint foreign media and audiences with the work that Chinese photographers are producing."

About a year after scooping the award, her photo, Luminous Salar de Uyuni, was selected by NASA as its Astronomy Picture of the Day on April 15, 2017.

The picture depicts bright stars in the constellation of Orion the Hunter, and Aldebaran, eye of Taurus the Bull, hanging in the night sky over Bolivia. Below, the faintly luminous edges of patterns in the mineral-crusted mud of the Uyuni Salt Flat in southwest Bolivia can be traced to the horizon.

"Anyway, my efforts received the recognition they deserved and I am so happy about that. A dream of mine came true," proclaims Ye.

Her love of the stars, aurorae and solar eclipses all began at her high school astronomy club.

When she was 15 years old, her geography teacher gave her the opportunity to view the night sky, studded with billions of bright stars, using an astronomical telescope.

She was understandably awestruck by the boundlessness of it all.

"It was incredibly wonderful," she recalls, "and as time went by, I got to know stars better.

"My curiosity about the sky and stars has spurred me to travel huge distances, with or without companions."

Since 2009, in order to shoot a total solar eclipse, she made five separate trips to Shanghai, Kenya, the Arctic Ocean, Indonesia and the United States.

A total solar eclipse can last for several hours, while totality can range from just a few seconds to 7.5 minutes. Recording a total solar eclipse requires not only the photographer's patience but also a bit of luck.

"The first two trips were fruitless because of unfavorable weather conditions on the day of the eclipse," Ye explains.

It took packing nearly her own body weight in equipment, several ferries, trains and planes and a five-hour wait in freezing weather on the snow-covered Svalbard archipelago in the Arctic Ocean in March 2015 before she successfully witnessed a total solar eclipse.

"What I've imagined about the eclipse could not rival what I saw with my own eyes," Ye reminisces. "I want to show people the beauty and power of the nature through my photos."

A philosophy that would explain why she resigned from her job at a Singapore-based advertising agency to become a full-time "star-chaser."

Since substituting the rat-race for the space chase, Ye has spent half of her time on the road, camping on uninhabited mountains and down in remote valleys, waiting for the perfect moment to open the lens.

As her stature in night-sky photography circles has grown, so has the weight of her fridge door. She has developed a habit of buying a local fridge magnet every time she arrives in a new place and, now, dozens of them - some in the shape of African sculptures and others that are simply the name of their origin - litter the front of the appliance in her living room, which has become an evolving atlas of her celestial pursuit as she crisscrosses the globe.

"Chasing stars sounds romantic, but it's really not," She admits. "You will have probably slept in a field full of cow dung, and been subject of the various creatures' curiosity in the meantime."

Sometimes, Ye can be so focused on capturing a suitably dazzling tableau of stars, that she becomes oblivious to all else, including surrounding peril and her own health.

During a trip to Namtso, a lake in Tibet, she felt pain in her chest and could hardly breathe. A local first-aid station diagnosed her with early emphysema and warned her of the disastrous consequences if she was not treated in time. Despite such episodes, however, Ye does not consider her work to be dangerous.

"The media sometimes exaggerates the dangers, especially after they learn that I am a female photographer in my 20s," Ye says.

"Maybe what I am doing is dangerous. What I am doing is just a little bit out of the ordinary," she observes, "but I don't want to be labeled by my gender or age."

Explaining the reason behind her adventurous choices, she recalls an incident that took place at Yellowstone National Park in the US last year.

While Ye and her colleagues were on a shoot, unloading equipment and getting everything set up, a deer appeared, stared at them for a moment and then disappeared just like it was never there to begin with.

"At that moment it looked at us like human beings, and when I went to look, it had already gone," she remembers. "Then the idea occurred to me that, except for self-expression, photography is also an important way to record a fleeting moment.

"I would like to spare no effort in recording the fleeting beauty of the sky."

Contact the writer at xingwen@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2018-05-23 07:58:40
<![CDATA[Educology book gets English edition]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/23/content_36256369.htm The English version of a book on educology that explores the relationship between life and practice was published in Shanghai on May 14, three years after the release of the Chinese version.

The book, Reoccurrence and Breakthrough: An Outline of "Life-Practice" Educology, reflects on the history and theory of combining life and practice in the educational process to offer new perspectives on Chinese education.

The term educology refers to the fund of knowledge about the educational process, including understanding gained from theoretical, philosophical, scientific and praxiological perspectives.

Ye Lan, the author of the book and a professor at East China Normal University, has been researching this field with her team for around 30 years.

 

The English version of Reoccurrence and Breakthrough: An Outline of "Life-Practice" Educology. Provided to China Daily

"Based on Chinese culture, I answer the question of 'What is education?' in the book," says Ye. "The edition puts forward the idea that education promotes the quality of human life and demonstrates its trait of humanistic care through imparting knowledge about heaven, the Earth and human beings, while cultivating self-consciousness in life."

"The readers may understand that pedagogy is an independent discipline. Through the book, we demonstrate that the complexities, such as hierarchy, sociality and dynamism in educational practices, determine that pedagogy is a complex discipline focusing on education," she says.

The book first illustrates the link between the practicalities of primary education schooling, social development and the need for an outlook like a school of educology.

The author also makes it clear that Western philosophical views of education are significant but need to be adapted to be based more on the principles of Chinese education.

Ye puts forward an independent China-based discipline, and discusses the meaning of education.

The basic Chinese cultural thoughts are demonstrated in the last chapter to ground educational thought in Chinese historical narratives. School practices on the idea are shown to the readers.

Michael Connelly, a professor at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto, writes the preface to the book, saying it will offer profound insight into contemporary Chinese educational thought to Westerners.

"Ye critically explores Western thought along with historical and current Chinese thought to create an independent philosophy of education," says Connelly.

"The intellectual and historical range of the book provides interested readers with knowledge on subjects like Chinese political and cultural history, and practical educational reform initiatives, in the context of East-West tensions," he adds.

Zhang Xupei, an adviser to the Academic Committee of the Council at the Chinese Institute of Education, said Ye's point will shed light on the future advancement of Chinese education, such as advocating the idea of combining education with learning.

caochen@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2018-05-23 07:58:40
<![CDATA[Preparing for the worst]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/23/content_36256368.htm One survivor of the Wenchuan earthquake is teaching young people about disaster preparedness at a learning center in Chengdu. Li Yingxue reports.

Ten years ago, on the afternoon of May 12, 18-year-old Dai Guohong was sitting in his classroom when a crack suddenly emerged, splitting open the floor in front of the blackboard.

Dai watched as his teacher fell into the crack, and a few seconds later, he watched his own legs were also sucked into the crack beneath his feet. The crack then shut abruptly, leaving Dai's legs stuck in the middle. Unable to wrestle free, Dai tried to grab the desk and chair near him to make more room as the lights and ceiling began to fall onto him.

This was the Wenchuan earthquake, which destroyed Beichuan High School, in Beichuan county, southwest China's Sichuan province.

After the earthquake, Dai and his classmates initially sang songs and chatted to each other to keep their spirits up, as they lay trapped in the rubble waiting to be rescued. But the room gradually began to fall quiet and Dai was forced to drink his own blood to keep awake.

More than 50 hours after the earthquake, Dai was eventually rescued. He was the only survivor from his class, and his legs had to be amputated.

On May 12, 2018, Dai showed up to attend the opening ceremony of the Disaster Preparedness Learning Center Chengdu in Sichuan province, less than 200 kilometers away from Beichuan.

He is the first volunteer commentator at the center, which he hopes will help more people, especially the young, to be better prepared for disasters.

"I trained the staff at the center in March, and will come back when it's officially open to teach more people about earthquake preparedness," Dai says.

In the wake of the earthquake, it was a long process for Dai to recover physically and mentally. Life education helped him to get back into society, and he started to promote life education in 2016.

"I do experimental life education, so I hope this can be combined with the disaster preparedness experience at the learning center," says Dai.

The Disaster Preparedness Learning Center Chengdu is located at the Jiulidi campus of the Chengdu Youth Palace. The learning center focuses on education about how to survive earthquakes, fires, floods and geological disasters, as well as teaching daily life safety and running a survival park and workshops on these subjects.

The learning center project has been pushed forward by One Foundation, a charity founded by Chinese actor Jet Li, who also attended the opening ceremony.

"When I heard about the Wenchuan earthquake 10 years ago, I gathered all my 13 full-time staff members and friends and family to go there and provide as much help as we could," Li recalls.

"It was the first time that we had been faced with such a huge disaster, so we were all inexperienced in dealing with that."

Over the past 10 years, Li has continued to promote public welfare, especially to young people.

"In 2008 and 2009, on Sept 1, the first day of the school year, I would tell millions of students that everyone of us should be involved in some form of public service," says Li.

Li places an emphasis on educating young people as they will be key to influencing future generations.

"It's also hard to promote an awareness of disasters, unlike the awareness to protect teeth or staying healthy, which people already know about," Li says.

"We need both the government and companies, and some charities to work together."

The opening ceremony was also held to mark the launch of the UNDP-China Risk & Resilience Innovation Project Chengdu Base, which will use the learning center as the base for United Nations Development Programme China to carry out a variety of projects.

The UNDP works in about 170 countries and territories to eradicate poverty and protect the environment. They help countries to develop policies, leadership skills, partnerships, institutional capabilities and build resilience in order to achieve sustainable development.

Devanand Ramiah, deputy country director of UNDP China, believes that disasters are not natural - it's the risk that's natural. He says the base will become a learning hub that connects China with other countries around the world.

"First we want to make sure that people in general, and young people especially, are prepared to how to deal with disasters at a personal level," Ramiah says.

According to Ramiah, since the Wenchuan earthquake, there has been lots of progress on how to deal with disasters, such as using unmanned vehicles and drones.

"China is coming up with lots of innovation technologies. So this center will help to take this technology and its experience in terms of risk reduction and preparedness to other countries," says Ramiah, who says one of the aims of the center is to allow other countries through the UNDP network to bring their disaster response experience to China.

Contact the writer at liyingxue@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2018-05-23 07:58:40
<![CDATA[Competition for study in Germany]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/23/content_36256367.htm The first national competition for students majoring in German was held at the Shanghai International Studies University on May 20, with 24 students from eight universities around the country participating.

They went through four sessions - a prepared speech, an impromptu speech, a knowledge contest and a word-guessing game - which saw the SISU team take top prize. The three team members were awarded a subsidized study trip to Germany next summer.

Jiang Feng, Party chief of SISU, the organizer of the competition, says the event was intended to serve as a platform for students to not only enhance their skills in the German language, which is the most widely spoken language in the European Union, but also to expand their way of thinking about globalization.

The other teams entering the competition were from Fudan University, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Tongji University, Zhejiang University, Nanjing University, Guangdong University of Foreign Studies and Wuhan University.

Each university team assigned one member to participate in the session for the prepared speech on the topic of "The cultural mission of German learners set against the background of globalization".

Ye Yuchen, a sophomore student from Shanghai Jiao Tong University, said in his speech that he understood the mission was to offer more accurate and elegant translations, so that more great works of literature from one language could be better communicated to people speaking another language.

He said he recently read a historical book translated from German to Mandarin, but the translation was too rigid and at times confusing.

"Bad translation may result in the loss of a good book. So if any of us will take up the occupation of translating books in the future, we must avoid these kinds of mistakes," says Ye, who started learning German at senior high school.

Since then, he has aspired to become an interpreter. He said last year he worked as interpreter for a German writer of children's books during a book fair in Shanghai, and this experience made him more determined than ever to pursue translation as a career.

Ye will spend a semester at the University of Munich starting in the autumn.

"I will take full advantage of the opportunities both in and out of class to tell the teachers and students in Germany what China is like today," he says.

Jiang says the number of people learning German, which is spoken by around 100 million people in Germany, Switzerland, Austria and northern Italy, is obviously smaller than those learning English, but the trend of learning German is growing - and China needs to develop more experts in foreign languages to be able to actively participate in globalization.

"Moreover, Sino-German relations play an important part in the current complex state of international relations, and the German-speaking region is one of the largest trading partners for China. Such a large business and trading volume requires a large number of experts," he says.

Susanne Lada'a from the science affairs department with the Consulate General of Germany in Shanghai, says learning the language is an important step for those working in scientific circles.

"Many technical inventions and ideas are formulated by German-speaking scientists. It's usually better to read their books in the original language, as they often convey deeper meaning than the translated versions," she says.

She says that in Germany the government is pushing to increase the number of people learning Mandarin, especially since China is regarded as a crucial partner for Germany, not only in terms of trade, but also for cultural exchanges and other types of cooperation.

zhouwenting@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2018-05-23 07:58:40
<![CDATA[Four small acts of self-care you can do anytime]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/23/content_36256366.htm Recently, I attended an all-day event wearing the highest, most expensive heels I have. (I wanted to impress everyone with my look.) At the end of the evening, the cocktail reception had no chairs. None. I absolutely had to stand.

Hell, right? Well, not really. I'd invested in a little something that gave me happy feet (and added at least 2-3 hours to the fun - I stayed till closing time)!

What was it? Something small, but which made all the difference: Insoles for my heels, so I can wear them way longer, without pain. Seriously, if you wear heels, all I can say is buy a pack ASAP.

Normally, I wouldn't think to take care of myself in this way. But I am SO glad I did - it was an act of self-love that was proof to myself and my body that I deserve to be taken care of.

And don't we normally short-change ourselves? We put our needs last, justifying to ourselves, "I'll be OK... I don't need that extra thing that will make my life easier."

Increasingly, I'm thinking, Nope. No siree. I matter too. What small, seemingly unimportant additions can you add to your life, starting now?

Here are some suggestions:

1. Buy yourself flowers

Don't wait for your birthday, an S.O or a Valentine's Day cliche to come around. The other day, a friend gifted me some beautiful pink peonies when she came over for dinner, and I smile every time I look at them. I'm gonna get more once these one wilt. Just for me, baby.

2. Take a day off midweek for no reason

I'm actually writing this poolside. No friends. No emails. Just me and my words. Because I'm worth it, and so are you. What will you do - visit a museum? Hit up a movie or a mall? The options are endless (and during the week, everything is waaaayyyy quieter too). Bliss!

3. Spend a little extra for the quality option

I know organic blueberries are $2 more. But I just feel better when I eat them. What can you upgrade - even in a small way - that will nourish that hard-working body of yours?

If your default option is always the cheapest thing, pause the next time you're picking up your berries or veggies, and choose one thing to invest more in that'll satisfy you the most.

4. Hug yourself

This sounds weird - I get it. But when a friend of mine recently quit a job he hated, he was riding in that corporate elevator for the last time, and he put his arms around his shoulders and said, "Good move, Michael." It's a nicer, self-applied version of a pat on the back.

Just do it! You deserve your own love just as much as anyone in your family does.

Tribune News Service

四种任何时候都可以做的自我爱惜小技巧

最近,我穿着自己鞋跟最高、价钱最贵的高跟鞋(我希望自己的打扮能给每个人留下深刻印象),参加了一场持续一整天的活动。晚上最后一个节目,鸡尾酒会上没有椅子,一把都没有,我只好一直站着。

站得快累死了,对吧?嗯,并不完全是。我买了个能让双脚舒服一些的小物件(至少还可以坚持2-3个小时 - - 我一直待到活动结束)!

是什么呢?这东西不大,却发挥了重要作用:那就是高跟鞋的鞋垫,有了它,穿高跟鞋的时间就可以更久一些,脚也不会疼。真的,如果你也穿高跟鞋,那么建议你马上买一副。

我一般不会想到用这样的方式照顾自己。但我太庆幸自己这么做了。我用自我爱惜的实际行动向自己和身体证明,我值得被呵护。

我们通常不是会对自己马马虎虎吗?我们将自己的需求放在最后,自我安慰道,“我没事……我不需要那些能让我生活轻松的额外的东西”。

渐渐地,我在想,不,不能这样,我也很重要。那么,哪些微小、看似不重要的生活点缀,现在就可以添加到你的生活中呢?

下面是一些建议:

1.给自己买束花

别等到过生日、特殊活动或情人节这样的日子才想起来买花。几天前,一个朋友过来吃晚餐时,给我带了些漂亮的粉色牡丹花做礼物。每次我看到这些花都会露出微笑。等它们凋谢了我打算再买一些,只为我自己,宝贝儿。

2.周中休息一天,无需任何原因

我其实是在泳池边写的这篇文章。没有朋友、电子邮件,只有我和我的文字。因为我值得拥有一天周中休假,你也是。你会做什么呢?参观博物馆?看场电影或逛街?可选的活动有无数(而且在周中,到处都更安静)。真是太幸福了!

3.额外花点钱,用于品质之选

我知道有机蓝莓的价格超过两美元,但吃起来感觉就是更好。你可以怎样升级购买的食物,哪怕是就一点点,来滋养你那勤劳的身体呢?

(本段的翻译有奖征集中)

4.拥抱自己

我知道,这听起来挺奇怪。我的一个朋友最近辞掉了自己痛恨的工作,他在最后一次搭乘公司的电梯时,双臂环肩,对自己说,“干得不错,麦克尔”。这跟别人轻拍我们的后背一样,只不过是自己拍自己,但感觉更好。

这就试试吧!和家庭任何成员一样,你同样值得得到自己的疼爱。

翻译高手:请将灰框标注内容译成中文,在5月28日中午12点前发送至youth@chinadaily.com.cn 或“中国日报读者俱乐部”公众服务号,请注明姓名、学校及所在城市。最佳翻译提供者将获得礼品一份,并在本报公众号中发布,请与“读者俱乐部”客服联系领取奖品。

上期获奖者: 西安空军军医大学 杨一凡

]]>
2018-05-23 07:58:40
<![CDATA[EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/22/content_36250127.htm May 18, or International Museum Day typically, is full of surprises at the Palace Museum in Beijing, also known as the Forbidden City.

]]>
A digital journey through an ancient scroll, 'blank-period' porcelain and inkstones are on display at the Forbidden City as part of International Museum Day events. Wang Kaihao looks at these unconventional exhibits.

May 18, or International Museum Day typically, is full of surprises at the Palace Museum in Beijing, also known as the Forbidden City.

Much focus at the former imperial palace on the recent International Museum Day was devoted to the new digital display of China's most-celebrated ancient painting, Along the River during Qingming Festival, from the 12th century.

Visitors can take a virtual ride along the "river" to experience the prosperity of the capital city of the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127), thanks to 4D-dome cinema technology.

Two other exhibitions that opened the same day were equally unconventional.

The first displays rarely exhibited porcelains from the "blank period" of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) in the museum's Palace of Prolonging Happiness.

The Exhibition of Ming Dynasty Official Porcelain from the Zhengtong (1436-49), Jingtai (1450-57) and Tianshun (1457-64) Periods, which will run through June 17, shows 215 exhibits of a neglected segment of Ming porcelain. These pieces are often ignored today, even though the dynasty is generally considered a peak period in Chinese ceramic history.

In 1369, the "imperial kiln" was completed in Jingdezhen, in today's Jiangxi province, to produce exclusively for the royal family.

Most exhibits come from archaeological discoveries made in Jingdezhen in 1988 and 2014.

There was no porcelain exhibition particularly focusing on these periods anywhere before, says Lyu Chenglong, a researcher with the museum.

"The decades are called the 'blank period' because we haven't found any official porcelain bearing the names of the three emperors' reigns," he explains.

One exception is an exhibited bowl from a privately owned kiln in today's Hubei province, created during the reign of Tuanshun.

It was common practice in ancient China to inscribe the bottom of porcelain pieces with production reigns.

"One possible explanation is that emperors were unwilling to leave the information on porcelain because of continuous social upheavals," Lyu says.

Zhu Qizhen - the sixth Ming ruler, who's also known as Emperor Zhengtong - was taken by Mongols as a war prisoner during a military expedition. His younger brother, Zhu Qiyu, or emperor Jingtai, then assumed the throne.

But Zhu Qizhen returned to Beijing eight years later, reclaimed the crown and imprisoned his brother. His second reign was called Tianshun.

Only top-quality items were allowed in the Forbidden City during the Ming Dynasty.

Porcelain pieces with slight defects were broken and buried in the kiln.

This left a massive amount of abandoned pieces in Jingdezhen.

"We can determine when these pieces were produced based on the soil layers in which they're found," Lyu says.

"We have a vague understanding of these items. So the period isn't actually 'blank'."

Lyu says recent research suggests porcelain from this time testifies to high standards of production.

He mentions an 80-centimeter-high blue-and-white water container with a 70-cm diameter that's being restored from broken pieces.

"It's grand," he says.

"We've never found such a large piece from other periods of the Ming Dynasty."

The Forbidden City experienced a massive fire in 1421, one year after it was completed.

The inferno destroyed all three major palaces of the outer court. Reconstruction was completed during the reign of Zhengtong.

Lyu says the emperor first wanted to produce porcelain tanks to hold water in case of fires.

But creating such large porcelain pieces proved too difficult. Copper was used instead. Now, these containers are commonly seen in the Forbidden City today.

The museum's collection of porcelain pieces without time stamps posed a challenge to researchers.

"We previously categorized them into time periods by analyzing their artistic styles," Lyu says.

"But we realize we have to re-examine this approach as we study more samples unearthed in Jingdezhen."

Palace Museum director Shan Jixiang says: "The museum is an important platform to introduce recent archaeological achievements to the public."

New findings are being made as the museum categorizes its inventory.

The Selected Qing Court Inkstones from the Palace Museum Collection that opened in the Gate of Devine Prowess (Shenwumen) Gallery on International Museum Day is the first exhibition devoted to royal inkstones, the mortars used to grind ink for writing with brushes. The exhibition will run through July 29.

About 140 inkstones in the exhibition show the tastes of different Manchu emperors.

Exhibition curator Zhao Lihong says, "As a kind of stationery, the inkstones show Qing emperors' attitudes toward literary culture and their inclination to get along with Han people.

"Indeed, emperors like Qianlong (1711-99) engaged with Han culture and understood it in depth."

Qianlong wrote poems on almost every inkstone he collected.

The major hubs for inkstone production in China, like today's Anhui and Guangdong provinces, gave their finest pieces to the imperial court. But the rulers weren't satisfied.

Artisans of the court's imperial studio studied old collections to develop new formats.

"Emperors typically personally participated in inkstone design," Zhao says.

Some were designed with heaters to thaw frozen ink during winter.

"Qianlong also experimented with mixes of soil and stones from different parts of China to create the best raw materials," the curator says.

"Sometimes, he even ordered the production of 'counterfeit antiques'."

For example, an exhibited piece from Qianlong's reign was marked with the name of Su Shi, a prominent member of the Northern Song Dynasty's literati. Patinas were deliberately added.

The exhibition also displays rarely seen jade inkstones.

Another signature material of the Qing's royal collections are precious Songhua Stones.

The story goes that Qianlong's grandfather, emperor Kangxi, discovered the stone variety when visiting a region near northeastern China's Songhua River, during a trip to pay homage to his ancestors.

The area is believed to be where Manchu people originated from.

"Kangxi then wrote a passage venerating the stone to show his affection for this lesser-known treasure," Zhao says.

"It's also a metaphor to show his inclusiveness of talented individuals, irrespective of their ethnic group."

Contact the writer at wangkaihao@chinadaily.com.cn

 

A Ming Dynasty porcelain from the reign of Tianshun (above) and Qing emperors’ inkstones (right) are among artifacts at new exhibitions in the Palace Museum in Beijing. Photos By Wang Jing And Wang Kaihao / China Daily

]]>
2018-05-22 07:02:17
<![CDATA[Digital exhibits give kids artistic touch]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/22/content_36250126.htm In anticipation of the upcoming Children's Day, Future Park, a child-friendly exhibition created by influential Japanese art collective teamLab, opened in Wuhan, Hubei province, on Sunday.

The show consists of nine interactive digital installations, each of which requires the children to get involved with both the work and other visitors. Using technologies such as augmented reality, children can encourage plants and flowers to grow by touching seeds and leaves, or they can draw a colorful fish and watch it swim around their feet.

These types of installation are typical of Tokyo-based teamLab, an interdisciplinary collective that comprises more than 500 professional artists, designers, programmers and other technology specialists who produce interactive digital experiences combining art and technology. In the past few years, their shows across the world have attracted millions of visitors.

The Future Park exhibition is the first of its kind in China to target solely children, something that the art collective will continue to develop in the future to help improve children's visual education, according to Matsumoto Akitae of teamLab.

"We try to build a bridge between children's education and art, turning art into a fun experience," he explains.

In traditional museums, kids are less catered to, and art appreciation is always considered a more serious affair. To enable children to learn more about art through play, team-Lab set up its kids company five years ago with a remit to create exhibitions that were fun and child-oriented and to deliver experiences that would encourage children to move their bodies and cooperate with others, all while immersing themselves in art, explains Akitae.

The installation Story of the Time When Gods Were Everywhere uses pictographs to represent rain, fire, birds and animals. When kids touch these symbols, which are displayed on a large wall-sized screen, they change into animated images or short film plays, such as birds flying over a forest, chirping.

Liu Lingling, the mother of a 6-year-old boy, says it's the first time that her son has visited this kind of interactive exhibition. Apparently, he was very excited by an installation called Sketch Town, where he enjoyed drawing cars, houses and planes that, once drawn, change into rendered versions that children can interact with using their hands to make the planes fly, or cars move.

Liu's son seldom paints and does not go to museums, but Liu says she will return to Future Park with her son and his friends again.

"The show is to inspire children's imagination through art," says Yang Juze, founder of Shenzhen-based Blooming Investment, which organizes the show.

"There's not enough interesting activities provided for kids in China."

He adds that apart from taking children out to eat and to watch movies at the cinema, parents are limited in their choices for activities they can enjoy with their kids, stating that the need for cultural activities like Future Park is important, especially with China's economy increasing year after year.

Some five years ago, such interactive digital shows appeared in shopping malls and were not really regarded as art. Then the installations toured the world, receiving praise and growing in popularity and, as the art collective kept producing new works, people started to accept them as artists. Now, numerous galleries house teamLab installations, including Pace Gallery, and one of the collective's pieces fetched more than 1 million yuan ($156,580) last year.

Next month, teamLab will open a museum in Tokyo devoted to its immersive and multidisciplinary art.

Future Park will run through Oct 21.

dengzhangyu@chinadaily.com.cn

 

A child-friendly exhibition titled Future Park created by the Japanese art collective teamLab enthralls visitors in Wuhan. Provided to China Daily

]]>
2018-05-22 07:02:17
<![CDATA[WILD CREATIONS]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/22/content_36250125.htm Zhou Changxin travels in a truck loaded with painting supplies to China's wildest and most beautiful places, which he depicts on canvas.

]]>
Zhou Changxin travels throughout the country to paint isolated places. Deng Zhangyu reports.

Zhou Changxin travels in a truck loaded with painting supplies to China's wildest and most beautiful places, which he depicts on canvas.

He has traversed nearly all of the hundreds of counties in the country over the past two decades. The artist has visited the Tibet autonomous region's snowcaps, Yunnan province's rice terraces and the Inner Mongolia autonomous region's dunes.

His mission, he says, is to "depict the planet's pure beauty".

Zhou's latest show of 113 oil paintings - mostly of landscapes - running at Beijing's National Museum of China are selected from hundreds of works.

"I hope viewers can smell the sweet air, and feel the clean water and soft wind in my paintings, just like I do when painting in nature," the 45-year-old says in his Beijing studio.

His exposure to the elements has made him thin and tanned.

Zhou often drives for months to find "ideal" scenery. He typically finished works on site.

He'll often paint for hours and produce several pieces during a single stop.

"He's crazy about painting in the wilderness and is extremely diligent," his longtime friend Xu Hang says.

Xu recalls Zhou once painted for hours in subzero temperatures on a snowy mountain in Tibet, despite the cold that afflicted his mouth and hands.

The artist began focusing on landscapes after visiting Tibet in 1995. He describes the autonomous region as a place of "holy mountains and lakes". Even the flowers there are pristine, he says.

Zhou's teacher, mural painter Du Dakai, says he enjoys the vibrant blossoms Zhou paints. His focus on the wild is what has made Zhou prominent, Du says.

Zhou sometimes endures danger. He once got lost in Tibet - a place he has visited five times - during a 45-day drive through the region. The artist ended up in no-man's land - a place not even locals dare tread - for two weeks. But he produced about a hundred works during that time.

He often faces storms, landslides and tornadoes.

"I feel like a yak," Zhou says, joking about painting at altitudes exceeding 5,600 meters, where most people experience altitude sickness.

"I'm used to spending a long time painting at high elevations. I feel exuberant vitality of creations upon discovering flowers there."

Zhou's favorite Chinese destination is Yunnan. He has regularly visited the province to paint over the past 13 years. He's familiar with each of the province's counties' respective histories, cultures and geography.

"(It's) the best place to create," he says.

His style combines oils with xieyi ink painting - a freehand form that portrays the spirit, rather than the details, of a subject.

It's ideal for depicting Yunnan's colorful landscapes and traditional ethnic attire.

Zhou worked with Yunnan University to found a school devoted to ethnic art last year.

He has since spent much time in the provincial capital, Kunming, to develop the school.

He drives over 10,000 kilometers a year to engage with nature, he says.

The artist often goes to the Meili mountain range on the border of Yunnan and Tibet where he works between 5 am and 8 pm. He often waits for the weather to change to produce the ideal scenes.

"It's like a model posing for me," he says. "I'm lucky to experience such rare moments."

Zhou plans to travel across the United States in September in search of new vistas.

Contact the writer at dengzhangyu@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2018-05-22 07:02:17
<![CDATA[JINGART ADDS NEW DIMENSIONS]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/22/content_36250124.htm Faced with a local audience who is used to large expositions held at expansive venues, the inaugural Jingart art fair instead offered up a small and delicate art fair, in the hope that its diverse style and international vision would help enrich the capital's art scene and cultivate the next generation of collectors.

]]>
The inaugural fair showcasing high-end works from local and international galleries proves an instant hit with the capital's art lovers. Lin Qi Reports.

Faced with a local audience who is used to large expositions held at expansive venues, the inaugural Jingart art fair instead offered up a small and delicate art fair, in the hope that its diverse style and international vision would help enrich the capital's art scene and cultivate the next generation of collectors.

The high-end fair, which ran from Thursday to Sunday, took place at Beijing Quanyechang, a three-story former department store constructed in the early 1900s in the capital's historic Qianmen commercial area.

The baroque building is infused with the ornamental art nouveau touches, the architectural movement that flourished in Europe at the turn of the 20th century. Opening in 1905, the building operated as a department store until the mid-1970s, and is now a protected historical and cultural site.

The first edition of Jingart Beijing 2018 presents a similar classic, crossover style. Some 30 galleries and institutions showed a wide range of works - from fine art and furniture to works of design - at partially opened sections of the building, sparsely arranged over three floors.

It didn't quite feel like a typical contemporary art fair where booths extend as far as the eye can see, occupying a big space. It was more like a salon, and it reminded some visitors of a similar feeling to the first edition of the annual Shanghai fair Art021 in 2013.

While Bao Yifeng was one of the three co-founders of Art021 and also helped set up Jingart, he says it was never the intention to set up a Beijing edition of the Shanghai fair. Instead, Bao says, Jingart was envisaged as a completely different brand tailored specifically to the cultural interests of art buyers in Beijing and its neighboring regions.

Organizing similar art shows in a variety of locations is common occurrence for international fairs such as Art Basel (which takes place in Basel, Hong Kong and Miami) and Frieze (in London and New York). Bao says, however, that this business model does not fit with a local exhibition like Art021 which is primarily rooted in the tastes of local Chinese art lovers. They tend to differ from place to place.

He says that while visitors to the Shanghai fair showed a collective preference for modern and contemporary art which is the primary focus of Art021, leading buyers in Beijing tended to favor "traditional, classic" works, while the young generation of buyers were inclined to seek contemporary and international products.

The inaugural lineup of Jingart was set up to address that mixed demand, and future shows will continue to do so, say the organizers.

There were top international galleries such as Hauser & Wirth and David Zwirner, both of which have gallery spaces in Hong Kong and were making their Beijing debuts at Jingart. Leading local galleries also participated, including the Shixiang Gallery and Shanghart Gallery. Both Hauser & Wirth and the Shixiang Gallery worked with the Wu Dayu Foundation to show paintings by Wu, a 20th-century pioneer of modern Chinese art.

Also on show were many antique works of art, furniture and jewelry by contemporary designers. Many galleries sold works on display.

"Whether it was for trade, artistic exchanges or just out of interest, there were many reasons people are willing to invest the time and money to visit an art exposition," says prominent Beijing gallery owner Cheng Xindong.

Bao says the participants were selected to meet the varied interests of visitors and provided the featured galleries with a great opportunity to "share their client resources".

Competition for new collectors has grown dramatically as emerging art hubs like Chengdu, Wuhan and Shenzhen continue to boom. While established art fairs in major cities like Art Beijing, which has been running for more than a decade, continue to appeal to middle-class buyers who are willing to spend tens of thousands of yuan on a work, Jingart appears to be targeting the higher echelons of buyers: those who come from affluent background.

Bao says that while young collectors who attend their fairs come from many different backgrounds, some are from a family of antiques collectors, while others may have accumulated wealth in the finance or internet industries. They seem to be united by the fact that they are willing and able to spend hundreds of thousands of yuan, or even more, on artworks.

Shanghai gallery owner Hua Yuzhou, who attended Jingart, says the quality of the inaugural fair was a refreshing addition to the capital's scene.

Contact the writer at linqi@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2018-05-22 07:02:17
<![CDATA[Chinese stars rise at Cannes film fest]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/22/content_36250123.htm With the curtain falling on 71st Cannes Film Festival, two young Chinese directors have become the latest winners at the world-renowned event.

Wei Shujun, a 27-year-old director from Beijing, took home the Special Mention award - an honor second to the Palme d'Or in the shortfilm category - for his 15-minute film, entitled On the Border.

"My name was the first to be announced (as one of the winners). I was very excited," Wei told China Daily in a telephone interview on Sunday.

The young filmmaker graduated from the Communication University of China. He came up with the idea to shoot On the Border during a trip to the Yanbian Korean autonomous prefecture in Jilin province in 2016.

Seeing that the area's inhabitants are mostly elderly people, as the younger generations left for the bigger cities and better lives, he was inspired to create a story set against such a backdrop.

The story follows an ethnic Korean teenager named Hua Dongxing who leaves his hometown in a remote village to find his city-dwelling father, whom he hopes will finance his dream trip to South Korea.

"It's about the growing pains that most of us have experienced," Wei explains. "The movie looks into two common themes for youngsters: a craving for the outside world, and the unspoken yearning for romance."

Shen Di from the Shanghai Theater Academy was the other rising Chinese star at Cannes. She shared the second prize from Cinefondation, which is primarily dedicated to submissions made by film-school students, with Igor Poplauhin of the Moscow School of New Cinema.

Shen won the award for her 31-minute short movie, The Storms in Our Blood, which shared the award with Poplauhin's Calendar.

Loosely based on a true story about Shen's English-language tutor, The Storms in Our Blood - which Shen wrote and shot in just 15 days - centers on a Kenyan woman, portrayed by actress Jane Mansah, a Ghanaian student who is studying in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, who meets a Chinese sailor at a port city in Africa and voyages to a far-flung Chinese village to marry him.

"I was so happy about the award. I took it as a wonderful birthday present," says Shen, who turned 24 on May 17, the day the results were announced.

This year, competition was stiff, with the selection for the three Cinefondation prizes shortlisted to just 17 student films, chosen from among 2,426 entries submitted by 512 film schools from around the world.

xufan@chinadaily.com.cn

 

]]>
2018-05-22 07:02:17
<![CDATA[Marcel Duchamp Prize nominees promote Sino-French cultural ties]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/22/content_36250122.htm As part of the annual Festival Croisements, a series of events celebrating Sino-French cultural ties, the organizers of the prestigious Marcel Duchamp Prize bring the works of 10 nominated contemporary artists from France to Beijing.

Co-hosted by Tsinghua University Art Museum, the French embassy in China and the Association for the International Diffusion of French Art, the exhibition entitled Bridging the Gap runs until June 17.

Curator Jerome Sans says that Bridging the Gap highlights the dichotomy between the East and the West, a gap which is relatively narrow nowadays, reduced by the era of global communication.

The Marcel Duchamp Prize was founded in 2000 by the ADIAF. It aims to promote French contemporary art and support young, aspiring artists. The annual award is presented to an artist with outstanding pieces or achievements, who works or lives in France.

This year, selecting 10 nominees with diverse cultural backgrounds, the exhibition attempts to conceptualize the confrontation of cultures, accentuating the idea that art is able to travel across regions and continents, and is therefore constantly seen from different perspectives.

According to Yang Dongjiang, deputy curator of Tsinghua University Art Museum, the pieces on show in Beijing were carefully selected by both the museum and Sans himself. The selection criteria were that the artists should represent different ages, birthplaces and educational backgrounds, with works focusing on the present.

"The exhibition presents the trends of contemporary art, bringing a unique artistic view of the world," Yang explains. "I hope that this exhibition could bring new thoughts and experiences to the contemporary-art community of China, as well as help people understand and experience modern society and culture from the perspective of art."

Sans says that the works exhibited are like samples, showcasing how these artists living in France explore the contemporary art genres with their vigor in pluralistic art creation. "These artists represent the current trend of combining different styles and media, which firmly transcends the usual categorizations of contemporary art."

The trend is exemplified in the work of the only Chinese-born artist at the exhibition and 2002 Marcel Duchamp Prize nominee, Wang Du, whose pieces are hybrids of architecture, performance art and improv. With his symbolic giant sculptures and installations, he often criticizes today's media landscape and consumerist society.

Three of his works - Internal Medicine, Surgery and Urology - appear at Bridging the Gap and are taken from his 2016 solo exhibition, The Clinic of the World, which seeks to diagnose the ills of society.

Contemporary art takes up a substantial part of this year's Festival Croisements, which will host 68 events, ranging from art, drama, music to film, in 30 Chinese cities.

2018 marks the 13th year of the festival, which has evolved into the biggest foreign cultural festival in China and the biggest French cultural festival outside of France.

Since its establishment in 2005, more than 19 million people have participated in the festival, which, according to Robert Lacombe, director of the French Institute of China, maintains its original aim to encourage and develop encounters between the artists and cultural institutions of the two countries.

If you go

May 15 to June 17 (except Mondays), 9 am to 5 pm (entry before 4:30 pm). First-floor exhibition hall of the Tsinghua University Art Museum.

chengyuezhu@chinadaily.com.cn

 

Wang Du's Internal Medicine metaphorically examines the power relations between a cat and a rat. Photos provided to China Daily

]]>
2018-05-22 07:02:17
<![CDATA[SEEKING COMPOSURE]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/21/content_36241782.htm Shanghai Chinese Orchestra hosted a Chinese chamber music composition contest for the first time, in a bid to discover new composers and works of contemporary Chinese music.

]]>
The search for new works in contemporary Chinese music culminates in a Shanghai finale. Zhang Kun reports.

Shanghai Chinese Orchestra hosted a Chinese chamber music composition contest for the first time, in a bid to discover new composers and works of contemporary Chinese music.

The final round of the Liu Tianhua Chinese Chamber Music Composition Contest took place at the Shanghai Concert Hall on May 14, which was judged by a panel of nine scholars and industry leaders, 20 members of the media, as well as 445 audience members.

The top prize was won by Chen Xinruo, a composer from Beijing.

"This is the first major academic award I have received," Chen says in a telephone interview with China Daily. "I have won awards for my pop music compositions before, and my songs usually contain elements of traditional Chinese music."

Chen's award-winning composition, a piece inspired by imagery from the Tang Dynasty named Se Ju Teng (All Colors Soaring), will be performed and promoted by the SHCO, and the company will continue to commission new creations from him, as one of the company's contract artists for 2018-19, according to Luo Xiaoci, director of the SHCO.

"By hosting the contest, we hoped to find more high-quality music works that are suitable for public performances and broadcasting," Luo said.

Creativity is the key to the development of Chinese music and there has not been enough outstanding original works recently, she says.

A large number of great new compositions were created in the 1960s, when a major reform of the instruments and music system took place in China's folk music scene. Many of the pieces have become household melodies in China, and joined the repertoire of folk orchestras all over the country, according to Liu Xijin, head of the Chinese Folk Music Orchestra Society. Over the past decades, however, few good works have been created.

In the 1980s composers of Chinese music still tended to work using traditional methods, with only a few pieces being created by instrumentalists. Composer Tan Dun from the Central Conservatory of Music made his major breakthrough in 1983, creating an international-award winning quartet that combined traditional Chinese music with Western composition methods, Liu recalls.

Since then many compositions have followed a similarly route.

"But most of these new-school compositions we hear at China's folk music contests have been unpleasant to the ear," he said. "Now it is time for musicians to consider coming back, to serve the public and create music that's more acceptable to the audience."

He says composers tried to maintain an intricate balance between their artistic and academic pursuits and the wish to create works rooted in Chinese culture that can be enjoyed by a mass audience.

Traditional Chinese music earlier mainly consisted of chamber pieces played by three to eight instrumentalists, Liu says. New systems and combinations have kept coming out, and Chinese chamber music now has more diversity in its structure than Western chamber music.

"You can bring together all the string or wind instruments in a piece, and even use a plucked instrument with any of them."

Ten pieces were played by instrumentalists from the SHCO at the finals of the contest, which were each rated and scored by the judges, members of the media and the audience. The names of the composers remained hidden until the final results came out, in order to ensure complete impartiality. Liu was pleased to find there were a combination of modern composition techniques and Chinese elements in most of the works. "Some are immature artistically, but you can understand the artist's efforts."

The Liu Tianhua Chinese Chamber Music Composition Contest was founded in 2002 by Tang Sifu, a playwright and journalist with the Shanghai-based Wenhui Daily. This is the sixth installment of the contest, and the first time it has been hosted by a professional Chinese orchestra.

"Folk music of China is deeply rooted in the people," says Tang, 77. "It needs to keep finding new expressions that are consistent with its original characteristics."

The contest was named after Liu Tianhua (1895-1932), a composer, virtuoso erhu player and musical educator. He was recognized for his efforts in reforming how traditional Chinese instruments such as the erhu and pipa were used, optimizing their sound tones and volumes, as well as transcribing traditional Chinese music into modern Western scores.

Contact the writer at zhangkun@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2018-05-21 07:53:12
<![CDATA[Art show aims to foster peace]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/21/content_36241781.htm

ATHENS - The world may currently be in a constant state of flux and developing at a rapid pace, but it means nothing without peace. That is the message that representatives of the China Artists Association were looking to convey at the inauguration of an exhibition entitled Art and Peace.

The exhibition, which invites contemporary artists from China to display work that formed part of the project "Journey of Chinese art in the world", opened on May 10 at the State Museum of Contemporary Art in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki.

The exhibition, launched in 2016, has already been successfully held in Denmark, Italy, Finland, Georgia and at the headquarters of the European Union in Brussels.

"Art and peace, the theme of the exhibition, responds to the relationship of our countries, because we would like to further tighten our bilateral relations with Greece," Xu Li, vice president of China Artists Association, is reported as saying. "Under the Belt and Road Initiative, we would also like to show the whole world our tradition."

The exhibition, hosted following Greece's participation in the Beijing Contemporary Art Biennale in 2017, aims to use the language of Chinese contemporary art to tell stories about harmony and to bring comfort to those who have suffered as a result of violence around the world, the organizers explained.

With over 40 works of different styles, shapes and forms, the exhibition offers a vivid picture of contemporary art in China, while highlighting the Chinese value that "harmony is precious", and encourages the constant pursuit of peace and well-being.

"This exhibition, as well as the communication we have with the Chinese Artists Association, is a very good opportunity, because I think cooperation will not end here," Maria Tsantsanoglou, director of Thessaloniki's State Museum of Contemporary Art, says.

The exhibition will run through Sunday.

Xinhua

]]>
2018-05-21 07:53:12
<![CDATA[NCPA to stage Wagner's work as a joint production]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/21/content_36241780.htm Richard Wagner's comic opera, Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg (The Mastersingers of Nuremberg), will come to life with a joint production by the National Center for the Performing Arts, Royal Opera House and Opera Australia.

Directed by Kasper Holten, the director of opera at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden from 2011 to 2017, the upcoming production will feature an international cast, including Danish bass-baritone Johan Reuter, soprano Amanda Majeski and baritone Jochen Kupfer.

The China NCPA Orchestra and China NCPA Chorus will perform in the opera under the baton of conductor Lyu Jia, the artistic director of opera at NCPA.

The opera, composed between 1845 and 1867, premiered at the National Theatre Munich in 1868.

In the opera, master singers are holding a singing competition that Walther von Stolzing, a knight, needs to win. But he's an outsider and he doesn't know the rules.

However, to win the hand of his beloved Eva, he must sing and win the competition.

One protagonist in the opera, Hans Sachs, was one of the most famous master singers in German history.

Through the opera, Wagner uses the role to express his ideal of reforming art and delivering praise for German culture and art.

According to Zhao Tiechun, the vice-president of the NCPA, the opera, Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg, is the 62th opera produced by the Beijing institution.

So far the NCPA has done four Wagner operas - Der Fliegende Hollander (The Flying Dutchman), Lohengrin, Tannhauser and Tristan und Isolde (Tristan and Isolde).

Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg is the second coproduction by the NCPA and the Royal Opera House, Convent Garden, following Italian composer Umberto Giordano's opera Andrea Chenier in 2015.

Speaking about the upcoming production, conductor Lyu says: "The music of Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg has great dramatic diversity and the opera has a huge cast. Also, the over five-hour opera is quite a challenge for the audience, but we are looking forward to balance tradition and innovation."

Lyu also says that Wagner's operas challenge the singers' physical strength and singing skills due to very lengthy durations of the melodies.

Reuter, who will play Hans Sachs, has performed the role many times at the Metropolitan Opera, Royal Opera House and Deutsche Oper Berlin.

Majeski, an American soprano, will play Eva Pogner, a lead female role.

In 2016, she took the stage during Glyndebourne Opera Festival, an annual opera festival held at Glyndebourne, UK, playing the same role.

Speaking about her upcoming role, Majeski says: "Eva is the price and she was given up by her father. She doesn't have a choice about her life.

"But with this new production, I look upon the role with a fresh eye.

"Eva does take control of her own fate and in the end, we have a little twist in this production."

If you go

5 pm, May 31, and June 2, 5 and 7. No 2 West Chang'an Avenue, Xicheng district, Beijing. 010-6655-0000

chennan@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2018-05-21 07:53:12
<![CDATA[RIDE THE RAILS TO LIYANG]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/21/content_36241779.htm High-speed train route that opened on April 9 makes Liyang's hot springs, celebrated fish soup and bamboo forests more accessible to visitors from Shanghai and other cities.

]]>
A new line connecting the city in Jiangsu province to Shanghai makes it easier to enjoy its natural wonders. Zhang Kun writes.

High-speed train route that opened on April 9 makes Liyang's hot springs, celebrated fish soup and bamboo forests more accessible to visitors from Shanghai and other cities.

The city in Jiangsu province is near the border with Zhejiang and Anhui provinces. Liyang's high-speed train station opened in 2013, making the city accessible from any of these provinces' capitals.

Visitors from Shanghai used to transfer between trains at Nanjing South or Hangzhou East stations. This would usually take about three hours. Driving from Shanghai to Liyang takes about three and a half hours.

But the new G7395/7397 train route enables tourists to travel directly between Shanghai and Liyang in two hours and 40 minutes.

The new route was launched around the opening of the annual Liyang tea festival and tourism mart that ran from April 10 to May 10.

"Fine jade artifacts unearthed in Liyang date back over 5,000 years," says Zhu Hongxin, head of the city's tourism administration.

"The county of Liyang was established in 221 BC. We are one of the 57 counties and cities in China that have kept their original names."

The contemporary city is famous for the 18-square-kilometer Tianmu Lake, its 2,330 hectares of bamboo forest and its hot springs, which have been named among the top 10 in China.

The white tea harvested in the spring is arguably the most celebrated local specialty.

The buds are picked just as they're sprouting and are fried in an iron wok.

The brews are light and aromatic. But the flavor dissipates after about two pours.

"It contains less caffeine and more polyphenols than green tea, and offers many health benefits," says a tour guide with the Qiancaixun White Tea Garden.

Liyang is known for its population's longevity. Locals attribute this to their tea-drinking habits and the area's forested landscape.

The settlement's main tea garden is located on a small island in Tianmu Lake, about 7 kilometers from downtown.

Visitors often take a 40-minute scenic boat ride to the island. They disembark to stroll around the rows of tea trees and pick fresh leaves.

A 300-square-kilometer ecological-protection zone surrounds the water body.

The excellent natural environment produces the bighead carp that are a local delicacy.

The fish are too large for a single person to eat in a sitting. People previously threw away the heads, since they didn't contain much meat.

But in the 1970s, a local cook developed a recipe in which the head is boiled for over three hours until the broth appears milky, and the meat is tender and purged of its earthy flavor.

Fish-soup casserole is the primary specialty of most eateries and can cost up to 800 yuan ($127) at top-end restaurants.

Many visitors enjoy the dish and then soak in Liyang's hot springs.

The five-star Yushui Hot Spring resort and hotel is located near the Nanshan Bamboo Forest.

The forest's moso bamboo can grow as tall as 20 meters within five months.

It has to be cut every five or six years to preserve the forest, local tourism bureau representative Huang Ludong explains.

Farmers dig shoots every other year as a seasonal delicacy often cooked with fatty pork. They leave them alone every other year in order to allow the forest to flourish.

Indeed, it seems likely the bamboo groves are set to receive a growing number of visitors since the new train route adds new convenience to Liyang's natural appeal. That's not to mention the city's hot springs, tea fields and Tianmu Lake - and much more.

Contact the writer at zhangkun@chinadaily.com.cn

 

 

Hot springs, tea fields and natural scenery define Liyang's beauty. Provided to China Daily

]]>
2018-05-21 07:54:13
<![CDATA[Six Guizhou students to carry flags at 2018 FIFA World Cup]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/21/content_36241778.htm Whether they were dancing elegantly like a peacock, demonstrating their English skills or playing the reed-pipes like professionals, hundreds of students showed off their talent to try and earn the chance to travel abroad and broaden their horizons.

The FIFA World Cup in Russia this summer provided the opportunity for six talented students from China's southwest Guizhou province to realize their lifelong dream of going abroad.

About a month ago, a talent competition to find young flag carriers for the 2018 FIFA World Cup was held in Danzhai, a county in the province's Qiandongnan Miao and Dong autonomous prefecture.

More than 3,800 local students took part in the event, which saw 150 qualify for the final stages in a bid to win six air tickets to Russia and the chance to take part in a global event.

Mo Qiu, who plays football for her school team, along with five other local students, were finally selected and named as the flag carriers for the opening game of the World Cup this June.

"I have been dreaming about how I could one day go out and show the world the beauty of my hometown. It's a dream come true to be selected," says Mo Qiu during her acceptance speech.

Mo's speech reflects the aspirations of many teenagers living in the remote areas of Guizhou. The six students from Danzhai have been picked by Chinese real estate giant Dalian Wanda Group.

As a major partner and one of the top sponsors of this year's World Cup, Wanda was granted the exclusive rights to select the young flag carriers from around the world to attend the world's most famous football tournament. And it decided to hold the competition in Danzhai to find the six most talented local students.

In 2014, Wanda Group started a poverty-relief project in Danzhai, with the aim of helping the county build schools and improve its tourism infrastructure, and provided an investment of nearly 1.5 billion yuan ($235 million).

Now the county has been transformed into a popular tourist attraction, with more than 5 million people having already chosen it as their holiday destination.

The incomes of 15,000 poor local families have seen a dramatic increase, and more opportunities to see the outside world have arisen for some of the local kids with big dreams.

Xi He contributed to the story.

yangjun@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2018-05-21 07:54:13
<![CDATA[AR book a new guide to Hong Kong]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/21/content_36241777.htm Hong Kong Special Administrative Region tourism officials are tapping into the application of augmented reality technology to attract young people from the mainland to visit the city.

The Hong Kong Tourism Board has teamed up with Hong Kong-born and South Korea-based rapper Jackson Wang to create an AR "magic book" that features 3-D animation, video clips and AR interactivity.

The online book presents a vivid picture of what tourists can expect to do in the city when it comes to entertainment, sport, gourmet food and art experiences.

"The AR book is a bold attempt by the Hong Kong tourism board in brand communications," says Becky Ip, the deputy executive director of the tourism board.

"Those born in the 1980s and '90s have become the main force behind mainland consumption, and we need to cater to their preferences as much as possible," she adds.

This new form of tourism promotion aims to stimulate young people's desire to explore interesting ways to have fun in Hong Kong.

"Take art as an example. Hong Kong has a lot of galleries worth visiting," Ip says.

Many of the world's most renowned art exhibitions, such as Art Basel, as well as various film festivals, would make for an artsy experience for any visitor to the city, in addition to its highly developed retail experience, she says.

Using the AR approach, travelers can enjoy the vicarious experience of seeing Hong Kong from a local perspective, following in rapper Wang's footsteps as he encounters the unique thrills and spills that the city has to offer, according to the tourism board.

The phone app allows people to interact with Wang through AR games and take virtual photos with the celebrity.

"Jackson Wang is one of the most influential figures among Hong Kong's new generation, and his growing experience and familiarity with various scenes of the city will offer up the most authentic experience of Hong Kong to mainland consumers," Ip says.

Travelers can access the AR book via mainstream social media, including their WeChat or Sina Weibo accounts from May 10 to 31. Interactions with Wang are made possible through scanning themed posters in the online book via Alipay.

The tourism board is also working with China's biggest online travel agency Ctrip, Hong Kong Ocean Park, Cathay Pacific Airways and Hong Kong Disneyland to send Sina Weibo users gifts to help promote tourism.

Hong Kong has witnessed a steady increase in the number of mainland visitors in recent years. Last year, the city unveiled a series of favorable travel deals, from air tickets and accommodation to shopping and eating, as part of its plans to mark the 20th anniversary of its return to China.

The city received 44 million visits from the Chinese mainland last year, an increase of 4 percent over the previous year.

During the first three months of this year, visit numbers grew 12.7 percent year-on-year to 12 million. Travelers aged between 26 and 35 make up the biggest group of visitors to Hong Kong, according to Alibaba's travel platform Fliggy.

Parent-child experiences featuring museums, Disneyland, Noah's Ark and child-themed restaurants have also been included in travel packages to cater to the needs of young couples with children, which have also been a force to be reckoned with in Hong Kong's tourism market, Ip says.

To spice up the visitor experience, Hong Kong is also planning to develop new scenic spots in 18 districts for travelers. Sham Shui Po will be the first one to be rolled out later this year. Locals will lead tourists deep into local communities, exploring its many out-of-the-ordinary sights, IP says.

With the opening of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge and the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong high-speed rail link, Ip is optimistic about the future of Hong Kong's tourism market.

She expects the number of global visits to the city would soon break the 60 million mark, with 75-80 percent of these coming from the mainland.

To date, Hong Kong has offered 11 tourism new experiences for visitors to choose from, and the new AR approach offers them a new way to choose which one may be closest to their heart, Ip says.

yangfeiyue@chinadaily.com.cn

Application of augmented reality is expected to stimulate young mainland tourists' desire to explore ways to have fun in Hong Kong. Photos provided to China Daily 

]]>
2018-05-21 07:54:13
<![CDATA[China set to rule theme park kingdom]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/20/content_36235282.htm The country's theme parks will welcome more than 330 million visitors a year by 2020, making China the amusement park capital of the world

A growing appetite for thrill rides and immersive travel experiences will see the Chinese mainland overtake the United States and Japan to be crowned theme park capital of the world in the next two years.

Increasing public demand has given rise to a boom in theme park development in China, and there are currently more than 2,500 amusement parks across the country.

 

Increasing public demand has given rise to a boom in theme park development in China. Photos Provided to China Daily

Daily visits to the sites are expected to exceed 330 million by 2020, according to a recent report by Euromonitor International, a well-known global consulting company.

At least 300 of the parks have received investment above 50 million yuan ($7.95 million; 6.6 million; £5.8 million), but they will more than recoup that as retail sales are projected to reach $12 billion over the next two years - a staggering 367 percent growth over 2010.

Of the 20 most popular theme parks among Asian tourists, 13 are in China, according to a report by Themed Entertainment Association, an international nonprofit organization.

Among the heavyweights are Disneyland, which launched its Shanghai park to much fanfare in June 2016, while Universal Studios' Beijing site is expected to open its doors by 2020.

Other international theme parks, such as Japan's Hello Kitty park and South Korea's Lotte World, are also preparing to migrate to the mainland.

However, it's not just the big international parks that are enjoying the ride. Many domestic theme park brands have increasingly made their presence felt as well.

Happy Valley, known for providing simple joys and thrills, is investing in new technology to upgrade its facilities, while the Beijing Happy Valley park will be making a splash with China's biggest waterslide and a thrilling new rollercoaster this summer.

Run by the State-owned Overseas Chinese Town, Happy Valley has ranked among China's most-celebrated amusement park brands, with additional sites in Shanghai; Shenzhen, Guangdong province; Chongqing; Chengdu, Sichuan province; Wuhan, Hubei province; and Tianjin.

Attracting adults between the ages of 20 and 35 during the peak summer months of July and August, the Beijing park welcomes around 10,000 visitors a day on weekdays and double that on Saturdays and Sundays.

Li Xiangyang, deputy general manager of Happy Valley in Beijing, is pragmatic in his view of the recent influx of big-brand international parks, saying that foreign brands not only bring competition, but also opportunity.

"Foreign theme parks introduce Western elements," he says. "This should entice domestic parks to differentiate themselves by developing more Chinese experiences."

Nearly 40 percent of guests who have visited a Happy Valley park have returned, the company says. Li adds that the parks continue to renovate and evolve to provide new experiences to visitors.

Another homegrown franchise, Haichang Ocean Park Holdings, plans to open two new parks, in Shanghai and Sanya, Hainan province.

Scheduled for an August opening, the Shanghai park will cover an area of 29.7 hectares and feature more than 20 polar animal species and 300 fish. A special-effects cinema, science exhibition and interactive experiences with the large marine animals will be among the initial attractions.

Gao Jie, executive president of Haichang Holdings, hopes to attract 3.2 million visits in the park's first year of operation, with a view to reaching up to 6 million annual visits after that.

Speaking of competition from Disneyland - which is a 25-minute drive away - Gao says it acts as an incentive for Haichang to improve products and services.

The company runs eight theme parks, with venues in Dalian, Liaoning province; Qingdao and Yantai, Shandong province; Wuhan, Hubei province; Chengdu, Sichuan province; and Chongqing and Tianjin municipalities.

Last year, the company's ticket sales rose by 10.6 percent year-onyear to 1.18 billion yuan, 291.5 million yuan of which was profit.

Fantawild Adventure, another of China's leading domestic theme park brands, also plans to double the number of venues it has around the country to 40 in the next five to 10 years, according to Ding Liang, the company's senior vice-president.

One new Fantawild park that is already under development will delight fans of the Boonie Bears, a popular domestic animated series for children with significant marketing cache. The Boonie Bears attraction will reproduce classic scenes from the TV show and develop 4D film and stage dramas to entertain visiting families.

Last year, the domestic tourism market hosted 5 billion visitors, and a significant number of them opted for theme park experiences, the China Tourism Academy reports.

Both Happy Valley and Disneyland appear in the top 10 destination list compiled by the academy following the recent Tomb Sweeping Day holiday.

More than 31,000 tourists visited Qingdao Haichang Polar Ocean World, up by nearly 64 percent over last year's holiday, while Qingdao Forest Wildlife World received over 22,000 visitors, and Qingdao Fantawild Dreamland welcomed 36,400 - a record high.

The growing ranks of the Chinese middle class have brought prosperity to theme parks, says Lin Huanjie, head of the Institute for Theme Park Studies in China.

However, success is a double-edged sword and, with the rapid rise in the popularity of amusement parks, homogeneity and a lack of distinctive cultural themes at some attractions have spurred Chinese authorities to issue guidance for future park developers.

Those promoting Chinese culture and containing original, creative attractions will be encouraged, while those acting as a loosely themed facade for housing and office projects, or featuring unclear concepts, imitations or low-standard duplications, will be banned.

Lin welcomes the guidance, expressing his belief that it will help to preserve the healthy and sustainable development of theme parks in the country.

yangfeiyue@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2018-05-20 08:53:10
<![CDATA[The art of the cantonese soup]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/20/content_36235281.htm Editor's note: Traditional and fusion cooking styles, regional and international ingredients and a new awareness of healthy eating are all factors contributing to an exciting time for Chinese cuisine. We explore the possibilities.

Heat tires the body. Humidity adds to the stress. When summer days get longer and hotter, the most nourishing meal is a pot of soup, lovingly cooked and full of goodness.

No one understands that better than the Cantonese housewife, who has an encyclopedic collection of soups for every occasion, and for all weathers.

 

Black chicken herbal soup. Provided to China Daily

Summer soups will be light, but full of ingredients that will chase away the effects of humid vapors, such as herbal ingredients like dried Chinese yam, Chinese jujubes, ginseng or angelica root.

Certain ingredients are paired so that one can act as a detox cleanser, while the other replenishes nutrients.

Old cucumber pork marrow bones soup

4 big marrow bones, cracked

2 old cucumbers

1/2 cup wolfberries

Heat a kettle of boiling water and scald the marrow bones. Rinse. Scrub the old cucumbers thoroughly, cut in half lengthwise, remove pith and seeds. Cut into large chunks, leaving the skin on.

Heat 2 liters water to a rolling boil and drop the marrow bones in. Add the cucumber chunks. Bring to aboil again and then turn down to a simmer for an hour. Remove any scum that floats.

Just before serving, add the wolfberries to the soup and turn off the heat. Season to taste. Keep warm. To serve, ladle 1-2 cucumber chunks and a marrow bone into the soup bowl, ladle hot soup over them, adding wolfberries. Salt individually.

Old cucumbers are not your salad cucumbers, allowed to age on the vine, but a different variety, a close cousin. They have a cucumber freshness that infuses the soup, but the flesh cooks to a translucent creaminess. It's a pleasure scooping it up with your soup spoon and allowing it to just slide down the throat.

Old cucumbers are a neutral vegetable, but cooking them with skin on improves their detox abilities.

The rich marrow bones combine with the slight alkalinity of the cucumber to create a delicious light emulsion. The wolfberries are not boiled with the soup to preserve their natural sweetness and vitamins. They rehydrate very readily, and in the process, they absorb the flavors of the soup.

Winter melon and roasted duck soup

One roast duck carcass, cut into large sections

1 kg winter melon

1 large piece ginger, smashed

Cilantro leaves for garnish

Trim off all visible fat from roast duck pieces. Shave off the skin of the winter melon. Remove pith and seeds, cut into 2-cm chunks. Scrape the skin off the ginger, then rinse and bash with the flat side of a cleaver.

Boil water in a clay pot and add the duck, winter melon chunks and ginger. Bring to a boil and then turn down to a simmer for one hour. Remove any scum. Season to taste. Keep warm. Serve garnished with a few coriander leaves.

Duck carcass? Absolutely. This soup stems from a frugal tradition. We used to go out for occasional treats to restaurants serving Peking duck. After enjoying most of the skin and meat, it is a common practice to take home the duck carcass for soup.

Long slow simmering with winter melon makes the duck live again for another day.

If you don't have a habit of dining out on Peking duck, visit your favorite Chinese barbecue shop and ask for roast duck offcuts, like necks, legs and webs. There is an enormous amount of flavor left in these. Or buy half a duck.

Duck is a favorite summer meat, because it is considered "cooling", according to traditional Chinese medicine principles. Winter melon, too, is considered a light diuretic.

Black chicken herbal soup

1 black chicken

50g huaishan, dried Chinese yam

50g wolfberries

50g American ginseng, sliced

1 piece ginger, bashed

Wash the black chicken inside and out. Cut off the tail and trim the fat, especially inside the cavity and around the neck. Drain and keep whole. Stuff the huaishan and wolfberries inside the chicken. Heat up boiling water in a clay pot and add the chicken and ginger. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer an hour. Add the American ginseng slices. Season to taste. Break up the chicken to serve. Garnish with a few dried wolfberries.

The black chicken is actually the silky chicken, a beautiful bird with pure white feathers, red comb and wattle and a bright blue ear patch.

Its skin, and even its bones, are black, a genetic pigmentation. Chinese cooks like using it for soups because it is a lean-muscled bird with little subcutaneous fat.

Chicken will invigorate a body exhausted by heat and humidity. Finally, dried wolfberries can be eaten like raisins. After cooking, they turn mushy, so add a few extra at the end to refresh the taste.

Black-eyed peas and catfish soup

100g black-eyed peas, soaked

1 local catfish, gutted and cleaned

50g finely shredded ginger

Small piece rock sugar, about 20g

Salt and pepper

Soak the black-eyed peas overnight so they cook more easily. Heat up a generous amount of oil in a frying pan and gently saut�� shredded ginger till golden. Remove the ginger crisps and set aside. Pour off some oil and then sear the cleaned, gutted catfish, browning the skin.

Pour boiling water into the pan and keep at a rapid boil until the fish stock turns milky. Pour the stock and fish into a clay pot and top up with more water if necessary. Add the black-eyed peas. Bring to boil and then turn down to a simmer for an hour. Season to taste, adding the rock sugar. Ladle the soup through a sieve into a serving bowl. Garnish with the ginger crisps.

This is an extremely nutritious but easily digested soup fed to recuperating patients. It is also a very typically Shunde soup.

Shunde is situated on the Pearl River Delta, and is built on reclaimed wetlands that were turned into a patchwork of fish ponds. Catfish, or tong sut, is a common enough fish but not a cash crop like the carp reared in the ponds. So it was used whole to make soup.

Dried cuttlefish and lotus root soup

300g pork soft cartilage or ribs

300g lotus root or 1 large segment

1 dried cuttlefish

1 large handful raw peanuts, soaked overnight

2-3 Chinese jujubes (dried red dates)

1 small piece ginger

Salt to taste

Blanch the pork ribs in boiling water. Peel and clean the lotus root and cut into thick slices. Rinse the cuttlefish and remove the backbone. Break off the tentacles and tear the main piece into two. Rinse the peanuts and red dates, and flatten the ginger with the side of a cleaver.

Place a large pot of water to boil, about 3 liters. When it boils, add all the ingredients except the salt. Skim off any foam or scum that rises as the soup comes back to boil, then turn the heat down low to simmer for an hour. When the soup is rich and flavorful, add salt to taste.

Take out the lotus roots, soft peanuts and pork ribs and serve them by the side with a soy sauce dip.

This is another Shunde classic that I remember from childhood. It is an incredibly flavorful soup because of the alchemy that happens when cuttlefish meets pork and peanuts. The lotus root simply absorbs all the flavors.

Dried cuttlefish is commonly seen along the southern coastal cities of China. Squid, or cuttlefish, is splayed and dried in the sun, with the heat concentrating all the sweetness as it shrinks and hardens. It actually looks like a miniature kite with its trailing tentacles.

Peanuts, slow cooked, contribute their nutty sweetness to the soup.

paulined@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2018-05-20 08:53:10
<![CDATA[Furnished with a passport to prosperity]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/20/content_36235280.htm Young Liberians are learning skills from the Chinese that can help them to create promising businesses of their own

Alice Kemun aims to change the lives of hundreds of young people and contribute to the diversification of Liberia's economy.

Six months ago, the 30-year-old initiated a plan - along with eight others - to produce furniture from bamboo and rattan fibers.

 

In her workshop, Alice Kemun (also below right) works along with another eight young Liberians, most of whom are either high school graduates or dropouts. Photos by Alpha Daffae Senkpeni / For China Daily

 

That was after she graduated from a two-year skill training program funded by the Chinese embassy in Monrovia, the capital of Liberia.

She started learning furniture-making skills at a China-Liberia training school five years ago and came to realize that the skills she had learned might help her become an entrepreneur.

"At a certain point I noticed that it was more than what I thought, and I began putting in more time to become a professional," she recalls.

"Upon my graduation, my Chinese teacher thought it would be wise for us to start up a business to move the project forward, so that it opens people's eyes to the bamboo and rattan weaving sector in the country."

The bamboo and rattan weaving training program is a component of China-Aid Liberia and has trained and graduated 700 people, including Kemun, since opening in January 2007.

More than 100 graduates have started their own furniture-making businesses, selling the finished products in the market.

The government of Liberia requested the training program following a visit by the country's former president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to China in 2007, where she saw a flourishing bamboo and rattan furniture industry.

Experts say the attraction of the industry is in its renewable and cheap raw materials, which have lasting value-addition qualities. The West African nation is using the training program to empower its youthful population to become entrepreneurs.

Liberia is now a member of the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan, which has its headquarters in Beijing. The country has the potential to expand the value addition and possible export of the products it produces, says Nie Yongdou, the skill training program coordinator.

Nie says that within the next five years, the program will be expanded to other parts of the country.

"The training actually targets young Liberians and people with physical disabilities," he says, adding,"Females make up 60 percent of the students whom we have trained."

The 55-year-old, from Chongqing, has made Liberia his home since April 2008. He is compassionate about empowering females like Kemun, who is becoming a trailblazer for the promising industry.

"Our work in Liberia is not only about the training. We also cooperate with other social development groups to help people improve their lives," he says.

Liberia's Vice-President Jewel Howard Taylor lauded the impact of the project when she toured the training facility recently.

"The production of these things will cut costs and encourage other unskilled Liberians to go into a process aimed at sustaining their livelihood," she said, calling for locally made furniture to compete with its imported counterparts in the market.

Meanwhile, current trainees are considering the possibility of attending an annual seminar in China, in which eight Liberians have already participated, including Kemun in 2017.

Benesah Boedo, 22, is in his first year of the program but has an eye on advanced study in China. "The skill training is transforming me into a productive citizen," he says. "Young people in this country have to put their hands to work to make sure the country is developed and, with the help from the Chinese government, we need to take our chances."

"Some of us are not educated, so learning a skill will help us find ways to take care of our families," adds Amelia Johnson, a mother of five, who enrolled last August.

She sees the program as a means of creating self-employment and hopes to eventually own a furniture shop.

The local market is growing, but the challenge of sourcing funding to expand the sector is hindering people like Kemun from achieving their ambitions.

"It was difficult starting because there were too many things I didn't understand, although I had the skill," she says of her experience in accessing loans. "For now, we are actually linked with the Chinese, who gave us support, and we managed to source some other funding."

Nevertheless, the products are gaining exposure in the market, with "highly encouraging" profits despite the challenges.

"Customers love bamboo and rattan furniture, and we think a lot of Liberians will be attracted to it," says Matthew Davis, who was recruited in 2016 as a trainer after he completed his own training. "We are sure the industry will grow bigger."

Davis is looking forward to seeing huge investment in the sector and says it will help create jobs and revenue for the country.

For Kemun, the potential to export finished products is becoming ever more obvious. "But this can only be done when I have conquered the local market first," she says.

She is planning an exhibition in July to showcase her products to top entrepreneurs and government institutions. This will help keep the business afloat, find more funding and expand investment, she says.

"My dream is to help Liberians who think they cannot do anything with their hands, who think life is totally gone from them. I can bring them on board because I really want to train more people and make this rattan and bamboo sector a big business in Liberia, so that when the Chinese are gone our people will see the impact," she says.

For China Daily

]]>
2018-05-20 08:53:10
<![CDATA[Designs on utopia]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/20/content_36235279.htm Architect believes in community rather than grand statements

Over the past four years, Xu Tiantian has traveled between Beijing and Songyang in Zhejiang province many times. In fact, she has become so attached to the city that she says she regards it as her "child".

Considering that she has left indelible traces of herself across Songyang's landscape by designing 20 public buildings, 15 of them now complete, in various areas of the city, that analogy may well be right on the money.

 

 

From top left: Pine Park pavilion; Wang Jing Memorial Hall; Shimen Bridge transformed from a discarded bridge, all designed by Xu Tiantian. Photos Provided to China Daily

In March, an exhibition showing all of Xu's completed Songyang projects went on display at the Aedes Architecture forum in Berlin, and late this month they will go on display at the Venice Biennale of Architecture.

Songyang has more than 400 villages with a total population of about 240,000. Tourism and tea are the city's key industries - this in an economy that remains solidly agrarian.

Xu, 42, says that when she first visited Songyang, in 2014, it seemed that she was stepping into the past. Time seemed to crawl and the clear message from its many old buildings seemed to be "Urbanization has not caught up with us yet."

She went to a tea garden where she designed bamboo pavilions, marking the start of her connection with the "utopia city", which Xu says exists in the fable of the ancient Chinese poet Tao Yuanming, in which people live in harmony with nature and forget about the outside world.

For hundreds of years, many Chinese intellectuals have dreamed of living in Tao's utopia, she says, and it is what has guided her in designing buildings one after another in Songyang.

The bamboo pavilion is an open space in a tea garden in Songyang, where both tourists and farmers can step in to have a break. The bamboo theater in a bamboo forest has the same openness, with no doors and no windows. Only a dome structure connected by bamboo defines the open space under it as a theater.

"I would not design a marquee building in rural areas," Xu says. "It must fit in with the surroundings and serve locals well."

When she designed a memorial hall for Wang village in Songyang, locals asked her to build a fancy one like those they had seen in big cities, she says, but she refused.

She is fond of employing the concept of modern space to redesign a building's interior while choosing local materials for its exterior, such as bamboo and stones from waterways.

In Pingtian village, Xu found the worst house, which was inhabited by the poorest family, with a rundown cowshed and a pigsty. It was due to be demolished, but Xu decided to turn it into a village center.

She designed a show space in it, displaying farming tools used in Pingtian, along with a performance stage and two upstairs rooms where tourists can stay.

"I chose this dilapidated house to change the way locals think and to inspire confidence in their city," she says. "If the interior of even the worst house can be turned into something attractive, then other old houses in very poor shape can also be restored."

It worked, and many locals visited the center and started to renovate their old houses.

Xu regards the role of an architect in rural development as being that of a doctor, someone who diagnoses ailments and then offers remedies.

In rural development, architects should respect local traditions and culture, encouraging more people to take part in building their community, and working in collaboration with them rather than against them, she says.

Xu has won acclaim for her work in Songyang, and many cities have turned to her for help. The mother of three laments that she lacks the time to work on more buildings, even as China puts a premium on rural vitalization and eco-friendly public buildings, throwing open huge opportunities for architects.

Her next project is to turn discarded dredging vessels along the Yangtze River into usable public spaces.

After graduating from Tsinghua University, Xu went to Harvard University in the United States. She worked for two architecture companies outside China and set up her own studio, DnA_Design and Architecture, in Beijing in 2004, focusing on public buildings. The first building she designed was the Songzhuang Art Museum in the suburbs of Beijing.

dengzhangyu@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2018-05-20 08:53:10
<![CDATA[Pandas rebound from earthquake]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/20/content_36235278.htm Beijing resident Wan Yongqing was pleasantly surprised to see a restored panda base on 150 hectares in the Wolong National Nature Reserve in Sichuan province in late April - at the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda.

As a volunteer, he had visited the center and seen the devastation after the magnitude-8 Wenchuan earthquake on May 12, 2008.

"It was such a mess that I did not believe it could be rebuilt," he says. "But now it's home to the largest number of captive pandas in the world, and it releases them into the wild to enlarge the wild panda population."

 

Panda cubs relax at the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda in Wolong, Sichuan province, in October. Tang Jisi / For China Daily

Tang Chunxiang, a senior researcher, recalls that one panda died in the earthquake and six were missing.

"One of the pandas, a 9-year-old mother of three cubs, was found dead. And one of the six missing pandas was never recovered," Tang says.

The pandas that survived the quake were terrified and became restless, he says. They tried to escape whenever there was any noise. A keeper had to accompany each panda, caressing and talking with it softly.

Two months later, the pandas were no longer afraid. Most of the pandas from the center's base in Wolong were transferred to the Bifengxia base in the city of Ya'an, Sichuan, and to zoos in different parts of the country, including Beijing.

After the quake, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region offered financial aid of more than 1.4 billion yuan ($220 million; 186 million euros; £163 million) for the reconstruction of the center and surrounding villages.

The money was used by the center to build a successful new panda base on 150 hectares. Nineteen cubs were born last year, and more are expected this year, says Li Guo, a base official.

In the wake of the 2008 quake, the center released eight captive pandas into the wild. One died, but the others are faring well, according to observations made possible by the GPS tags that hang around their necks.

Tao Tao, a male panda, was 2 years old when released in 2012. He has lived in the wild for six years.

The center made a major breakthrough in improving the genetic diversity of captive pandas when the first cub produced by mating a female raised in captivity with a wild male was born in August.

Cao Cao, the mother, was 16 when released into the wild at the center's Hetaoping base in March last year, in time for the panda mating season, which runs from March to May.

At the center's Dujiangyan base, visitors can see keepers caring for pandas that, in terms of human age, would be 70 to 80.

"One year for a panda equals about three or four human years," says Li Desheng, a senior researcher.

After the quake, the center chose a site near Mount Qingcheng in Dujiangyan, Sichuan, to build the world's largest panda disease prevention and control center. The facility, which was also financed by the government of the Hong Kong SAR, oversees the activities of captive pandas and provides care for those brought in from the wild.

"The center also serves as a home at which some 10 elderly pandas can spend the rest of their lives," Li says.

Construction of the Dujiangyan center started in September 2011, and the facility began operations in March 2013.

Before 2008, the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda was home to about 100 pandas. Now, it has 270 captive pandas, accounting for nearly 60 percent of the global total. In addition, 34 of the center's pandas have been loaned to 15 zoos in 13 countries where they are the subjects of scientific research.

Contact the writers at huangzhiling@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2018-05-20 08:53:10
<![CDATA[At first, I didn't see; now it's clear]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/20/content_36235277.htm Ten years ago, at age 14, I was in my third year of middle school in northern Hebei province. That was the first time I physically felt an earthquake. The main thing I remember was donating 100 yuan ($16; 13.3 euros; £11.6) to the children of Sichuan. At that time, I had only 5 yuan per day of pocket money for my breakfast.

Ten years later, I stepped on the once-devastated land as a journalist. At the beginning, it was difficult to find any scars. At first glance, Beichuan county - the worst-hit county during the magnitude-8 Wenchuan earthquake - consisted of unique ethnic architecture interspersed with well-designed apartment buildings, schools, hospitals and parks. I saw people dancing in the square, walking dogs by the river, playing with kids on the street and dining out in restaurants.

I saw things that this county alone has. I saw things that every other county also has. But no scars of an earthquake. I wondered whether an earthquake had ever really struck this place.

Then I was taken to old Beichuan. The local people told me the new Beichuan was actually called Yongchang, but they were used to the name Beichuan and didn't want to lose it.

Walking in the ruins, I faced for the first time the moment of the disaster. I saw scattered clothes, cigarette butts, dusty dolls and ropes made of bedsheets to save hundreds of students trapped in a dormitory building at a vocational school. My tour guide told me of the bodies of thousands of victims that were still buried under the ruins, which had become a large cemetery.

I suddenly understood why so many people had told me that even if it were geographically possible to rebuild on the site of the old county, things would never be the same again.

The new Beichuan is a shiny new home in which people can forget their grief and start their lives over again. The old Beichuan serves as a lasting memorial for quake survivors, who can mourn their departed family members and friends. It's a warning for humans to respect the power of Mother Nature.

When I wandered in the new county again, I looked at every local resident with renewed respect. Reconstructing a whole county within 15 months is a truly extraordinary accomplishment, the likes of which is seldom found in other countries around the world.

Even more inspiring, it seems to me, is playing a role in rebuilding people's lives. That people here in the new Beichuan county can live normally - as normal as anywhere else - is a miracle.

Their experience shows how weak humans are in a confrontation with nature, and how tough it can be to prevail.

Now I see the earthquake. And I see Beichuan and its people courageously standing up afterward.

]]>
2018-05-20 08:53:10
<![CDATA[Getting hitched the way they want]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/19/content_36233560.htm Zhang Boya, 28, and Huang Zhan, 27, plan to have their wedding in Bali, Indonesia, in May next year.

]]>

More and more Chinese couples are choosing to ditch the traditional Chinese nuptial celebrations in favor of overseas weddings that are deemed stylish and intimate

Zhang Boya, 28, and Huang Zhan, 27, plan to have their wedding in Bali, Indonesia, in May next year.

The couple said they were initially unsure about the kind of wedding they wanted, but later decided on a cozy celebration in a foreign country after attending traditional nuptial celebrations in China that were defined by lavish banquets where people hardly knew one another.

"I prefer a small and intimate wedding with only my closest family members and friends," said the bride Zhang who was born in Taiyuan, Shanxi province.

While details of the event have yet to be confirmed, the couple has set aside a considerable budget of 350,000 yuan ($54,500) to host 18 family members and friends in the popular tropical holiday destination.

Zhang and Huang are just one of many couples in China who are choosing to hold their weddings overseas. In a recent survey conducted by Ctrip.com, one of China's leading online travel services, nearly 60 percent of young Chinese indicated that they plan to get married abroad.

According to Gai Yongbo, founder of QWedding, the overseas wedding market in China has been growing at an annual rate of 200 percent over the past few years. In addition, online searches for overseas wedding services on Baidu.com had also surged by nearly 250 percent in 2017 from the previous year, according to an industry report released by the Chinese search engine.

Industry players have also reported a similar boom in sales. Hua Zhenxiong, the director of QWedding Shanghai branch, said their orders tripled in 2017. Its sales in January also surpassed last year's first season figures.

"There are many reasons behind the soaring popularity of overseas weddings, but the most important one is that young couples hope to avoid the tediousness of traditional weddings at home," Hua said. "Due to traditions, they have to invite people, such as friends of their parents or remote relatives whom they don't even know."

Jon Santangelo, the co-founder of wedding boutique Chariot, shared a similar insight and said: "An overseas wedding offers them a decent excuse to avoid inviting extraneous guests, enduring tedious routines and getting exhausted in countless toasts."

Psychology also plays a part in choosing an overseas wedding over a traditional one at home, Santangelo said.

After all, an overseas wedding is still novel and perceived to be more expensive, he added. As such, exotic wedding photos will stand out on WeChat news feeds and win the envy of friends.

Zhang said she felt bored during her friend's wedding last year. She also noticed that the bride and the groom did not look like they were enjoying their big day. Instead of being a joyous celebration of the couple's union, the event looked "no more than a show that they were obliged to present".

As Zhang and her fiance, who is a Beijing native, explored other options, they came across numerous ads on overseas wedding and articles about celebrities holding their weddings on an island in Thailand, Indonesia or Italy. According to Ctrip, the wedding of Taiwan pop star Nicky Wu and Chinese mainland actress Liu Shishi in March 2016 drove the sales of Bali wedding packages up by 60 percent the following month.

"Once we decided on having an overseas wedding, everything fell into place," Zhang said.

More young Chinese couples are choosing to hold their weddings overseas. Photos provided to China Daily 

"It saves us from the complexity and tediousness of a traditional wedding, which can be intimidating when the two families are not from the same place. And because this overseas wedding is not as grand a ceremony as a traditional one held at home, all we have to consider is our budget and the theme."

Gai from QWedding said the rise in demand for overseas weddings is a result of the upgrade in China's domestic consumption.

He also noted that the most popular traditional wedding ceremonies in China in recent years feature a fusion of traditional Chinese elements with Western trends. Besides the traditional wedding rituals and lavish banquet dinners, a wedding in China is now considered incomplete without choreographed photo sessions and honeymoon trips.

Gai started to offer couples customized photography services in Bali in 2009. Faced with an increasing demand for extended wedding services, he set up QWedding in 2013. Business of the Shenzhen-based company has since taken of .

As one of the country's leading overseas wedding planners, the company now has 15 branches running across the country's major cities, including Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, Guangdong province.

 

 

Gai pointed out that simplicity and convenience are the main factors behind the decision to hold an overseas wedding.

"An overseas wedding trip is usually complete with a pre-wedding photo session and a honeymoon," he said. "The whole experience is more relaxing than that of a traditional wedding at home that has many routines cramped into one day."

Hua added that getting married in another country is also not as expensive as most people think. For example, the average price of orders at QWedding cost around 70,000 yuan, which is comparable if not lower than most traditional wedding banquets.

Hao Jiejing, 26, and her husband Jiang Kun, 27, can attest to the high price of a traditional celebration - the newlyweds recently spent a whopping 300,000 yuan for a 12-table banquet at Jing An Shangri-La West Shanghai.

The couple said that they were initially looking forward to having an overseas wedding but had to drop the idea after facing opposition from parents, a phenomenon which is not uncommon. The same survey done by Ctrip showed that only 8 percent of couples who want overseas weddings actually have one. Parental opposition was cited as the main factor.

One solution to this problem, albeit a more expensive one, is having two weddings. This is what Zhang and her fiance plan to do.

"We will have a small wedding in Bali and then throw a banquet for family members and friends who couldn't come to our wedding when we go back to China," said Zhang.

"This way, we can have our fun while satisfying our parents and keeping with tradition."

]]>
2018-05-19 08:07:16
<![CDATA[The evolution of marriage customs]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/19/content_36233559.htm

A wedding culture exhibition which shows the evolution in local marriage customs since Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) opened in Shanghai on May 1.

Believed to be the first of its kind on a provincial level in China, the Shanghai Nuptial Culture Exhibition has three major sections: marriage registration management system, marital customs, and family precepts. Admission to the exhibition is free.

More than 100 exhibits, including marriage photos, marriage certificates and dowries used during the different periods, are on display.

According to an official from the Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau, Shanghai's marital traditions changed starting from when the city was transformed into a foreign trade port in 1843.

Despite the growing popularity of modern marriages featuring a mix of Chinese and Western culture, traditional wedding customs, such as parental consent and how the couple should not see one another till their wedding day, has continued to exist.

In the past, when parents wanted to set their son up with a woman, they would first invite a matchmaker to visit the lady's home to inform her of their intentions. After learning of the woman's full name and birthday, the man's parents would seek advice from a fortune teller to determine whether the woman's luck and fortune is a match for their son's. Almost all Chinese families believed in Chinese astrology.

If the fortune teller determined the match to be an auspicious one, the man's parents would present gifts to the woman's family, symbolizing respect and kindness as well as the ability to provide a good life. Gifts to the bride in Shanghai during the Qing Dynasty usually comprised jewelry, clothing and tea. The matchmaker would also be rewarded with gifts and feasts if the matchmaking attempt was successful. The fortune teller would later pick an auspicious wedding date.

Wedding ceremonies in the past began with the groom and his family meeting the bride in her home. Before this day, the bride's dowry would have already been sent to the groom's house. The dowry represented her social status and wealth, and was displayed at the groom's house. The most common dowries included a pair of scissors that symbolized an eternal union and vases which represented peace and wealth.

Before the groom's arrival on the wedding day, the bride would be led or carried by her elder brother to a sedan covered by a red headkerchief. The groom would have to first pass a series of tests before he was allowed to see the bride.

Times have since changed and traditional marriage customs have become mixed with modern practices. Since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, young people have become increasingly inclined to propose without first consulting their parents and adopting simplified wedding customs.

Arranged marriages became obsolete after the implementation of the Marriage Law in 1950. The wedding process also became simpler and marriage certificates from civil affairs authorities became the norm.

In the 1960s and 70s, some couples chose to be wed in the marriage registration office. Others held their wedding ceremonies in the workplace. Some also chose mass wedding ceremonies which were less expensive.

During this period, classic marriage goods were watches, bicycles, sewing machines and radios. In the 1980s and 90s, these items were upgraded to televisions, fridges and washing machines.

caochen@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2018-05-19 08:07:16
<![CDATA[Good times for wedding expos]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/19/content_36233558.htm

The 2018 Shanghai Spring Wedding Expo that took place at the Shanghai World Expo Exhibition and Convention Center last month attracted about 178,010 people and raked in 1.294 billion yuan ($203 million) sales, according to organizers.

An 860,000-yuan order from Galleria, a one-stop wedding service company, was the biggest order placed during the spring wedding expo.

"The sales for our wedding expo are increasing every year," said Chen Yun, the manager of the wedding expo organizer. "The consumption upgrade for the entire industry is very obvious."

Established in 2005, the national wedding expo is one of the biggest in the country, providing couples a one-stop platform where they can acquire everything they need for their big day, including banquet bookings, photography, wedding planners and bridal gowns.

Over the past 13 years, the expo has been held 46 times in Beijing, 40 in Shanghai, 28 in Guangzhou, and in other cities like Wuhan, Tianjian and Hangzhou. The wedding expo always features famous brands, designers and celebrities. Some of its previous attendees include Lebanese designer Zuhair Murad and the White collection by Vera Wang. The annual sales garnered at the expos have consistently exceeded 10 billion yuan.

According to Chen, an increasing number of clients who were born in the 1990s are choosing individualized services.

"They want to create a new and original wedding. They want to have their wedding photos shot in an exotic location, not in studios, and an overseas wedding complete with their custom-made wedding dresses rather than rented ones," said Chen.

"We used to hold only two wedding expos in Shanghai every year, but now we have four - one for each season in March, June, September and December."

The Shanghai Summer Wedding Expo will take place on June 16 and 17.

]]>
2018-05-19 08:07:16
<![CDATA[Best bets]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/19/content_36233557.htm "Chang Ge Xing" Traditional Orchestral Works Concert by Suzhou Chinese Orchestra

Date: May 21 - 7:30 pm

Venue: Beijing Concert Hall

The Suzhou Chinese Orchestra is a professional orchestra organized by the Suzhou city government and Suzhou high-tech zone. It is led by national-level conductor Peng Jiapeng as artistic director and chief conductor. The orchestra is committed to Chinese traditional culture with its name brand focusing on Suzhou's Jiangnan flavor. The Chang Ge Xing traditional orchestral works concert will be held on May 21 in Beijing Concert Hall. Conductor: Peng Jiapeng; Cello: Kang Qiaoxuan; Pipa: Luo Huifang. Tracks: 1. Kiri Kadrabulk (Czech Republic) - "Remote Heart II" for traditional Chinese orchestras (2017); Zhao Jiping (China) - "Zhuang Zhou Meng" for cello and traditional Chinese orchestras (2006); 3. Yuca Teinsu (Finland) - "Amykes" for traditional Chinese orchestras (2015); 4. Zou Hang (China) - pipa concerto "Chang Ge Xing" (2015/2018); 5. Wang Danhong (China) - "The Macao Capriccio" for traditional Chinese orchestras (2015).

The Bolshoi Ballet The Flame of Paris  

Date: May 22-25 7:30 pm

Venue: National Centre for the Performing Arts

Founded in 1776, the Bolshoi Theatre of Russia has been and will remain, one of the main symbols of Russian culture. It is the main national theater, a bearer of the traditions of Russian music culture and center of world music culture, the spearhead of development for the country's performing arts. Amid a bustling Turkish market, the pirate Conrad falls in love at first sight with beautiful Medora, the ward of the slave merchant Lankedem's bazaar. Conrad kidnaps Medora when Lankedem decides to sell her to the Pasha. Inspired by Lord Byron's epic poem and reworked by Alexei Ratmansky from Petipa's exotic 19th-century classic, this miracle of the repertoire is one of the Bolshoi's most lavish productions. Complete with a magnificent awe-inspiring shipwreck and dramatic scenery, this grand romance allows enough dancing for nearly the entire company and made especially for those who seek miracles in theater. This Bolshoi Theatre production is intended for those who still seek for miracles in theater.

The Little Singers of Paris

Date: May 31 - 7:30 pm

Venue: National Centre for the Performing Arts

In the summer of 1906, two young students, Pierre Martin and Paul Berthier, were on vacation in the abbey of Tamie in Savoy. They came up a "dream" which plans to start a choir school for child choristers that would travel from church to church, town to town, to carry the living testimony of the authentic tradition of religious music. Their dream came true in the next year. Despite the lack of money, their enthusiasm brought them to settle in an old dwelling in Paris suburb and they started to receive their first scholar. This was the birth of The Little Singers of Paris. The first rehearsal took place on Jan 10, 1907 and the first concert was held in the Parish Church of the Kings of France in October in the same year. It was well-received by music lovers in Paris. The Little Singers of Paris were soon become popular throughout France.

Joshua Bell & The Academy of St Martin in the Fields

Date: May 26 - 7:30 pm

Venue: National Centre for the Performing Arts

With a career spanning more than 30 years as a soloist, chamber musician, recording artist and conductor, Joshua Bell is one of the most celebrated violinists of his era, and his restless curiosity, passion, and multifaceted musical interests are almost unparalleled in the world of classical music. Named the Music Director of the Academy of St Martin in the Fields in 2011, he is the only person to hold this post since Sir Neville Marriner formed the orchestra in 1958, and recently renewed his contract through 2020. The Academy of St Martin in the Fields is one of the world's premier chamber orchestras, renowned for its fresh, brilliant interpretations of the world's most-loved classical music. Through its live performances and vast recording output - highlights of which include the 1969 best-seller Vivaldi's Four Seasons and the soundtrack to 1985's Oscar-winning film Amadeus - the Academy quickly gained an enviable international reputation for its distinctive, polished and refined sound.

Jukka-Pekka Saraste & WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne

Date: May 27 - 7:30 pm

Venue: National Centre for the Performing Arts

Jukka-Pekka Saraste has established himself as one of the outstanding conductors of his generation, demonstrating remarkable musical depth and integrity. Born in Heinola, Finland, he began his career as a violinist before training as a conductor with Jorma Panula at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki. An artist of exceptional versatility and breadth, Saraste feels a special affinity with the sound and style of late Romantic music. WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne is one of the most influential orchestras in the musical landscape of North Rhine Westphalia - thanks to its subscription series at Kolner Philharmonie and Funkhaus Wallrafplatz as well as partnerships with the region's largest concert halls and festivals. International tours and a growing number of award-winning CD releases confirm its international rank as an outstanding representative of the German orchestra scene.

Contemporary Ballet: Nina - Materialize Sacrifice

Date: May 19-20 - 7:30 pm

Venue: Shanghai International Dance Center Grand Theater

Nina - Materialize Sacrifice studies how one might produce an energy strong enough to give a sense of the beauty and power to a body before it moves in space, and explores how to create a body which would absorb the energy of the floor and would not fall even when being pushed. French-born Vietnamese composer An Ton That creates a compact music with mechanical sound and hammering percussion, together with the mysterious dim stage light, the piece transpires a sense of thrilling tension. The female dancers' bodies are stiff like robots with no facial expression, yet their movement is sharp, fast and skillfully controlled, contrasting to the powerful but arbitrary manipulation of the male dancers.

]]>
2018-05-19 08:06:42
<![CDATA[Your second partner will help you out]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/19/content_36233556.htm

George Eliot said, "Animals are such agreeable friends - they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms." In bridge, it is beneficial if your partner is an agreeable friend; but on some deals you need to call on another friend, one of your opponents.

How can South get some help from a defender in this deal? He is in three no-trump, and West leads a fourth-highest club five. This is surely the most common bidding sequence. It is amazing how often three no-trump makes when you have at least 25 points between you and your partner.

First, declarer counts up his top tricks, his immediate winners. Here, he has eight: two hearts, four diamonds and two clubs. From where might the ninth winner come?

There are two candidates. The heart finesse might succeed; or East might hold the spade ace. However, if you glance at the full deal, you will see that East has neither the spade ace nor the heart queen. Instead, declarer can call on his left-hand partner, West, to provide a ninth trick. Since the dummy contains the club four and three, West must hold at most a five-card club suit. South should cash three of his diamond tricks, then take the club ace and exit with his last club.

West takes two more tricks in that suit, dummy discards two spades, and declarer ditches one spade and his last diamond. What does West do now? If he leads a spade, it is away from the ace and around to South's king. Or, if he chooses a heart, it is into declarer's ace-jack.

]]>
2018-05-19 08:06:42
<![CDATA[Shows]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/19/content_36233555.htm

Meng Jinghui Theater Sutdio The Life Attitude of Two Dogs

Date: May 19-20 - 7:30 pm

Venue: Beijing Comedy Theater

The Life Attitude of Two Dogs tells the tale of an elder dog Laifu and younger dog Wangcai leaving their home for the urban area in search of happiness and to practice their great ideals. The urban area is not so good as they have imagined, thus in the lustrous and dazzling life style, they see the various aspects of human life and make one stupid mistake after another. As a consequence, they begin to complain about their life and these complaints reflect larger problems of existence that cannot be understood by their simple minds. In order to eat their fill, they perform in the streets and attend an audition for talent shows, entering the entertainment world, they work as security personnel and get adopted, but later abandoned and beaten black and blue by a dog disposal team. Finally, they're determined to courageously live and soldier on no matter how tough their lives get.

The King's Singers

Date: May 20 - 7:30 pm

Venue: National Centre for the Performing Arts

The King's Singers were officially born on May 1, 1968, when six recently-graduated choral scholars from King's College, Cambridge, gave a concert at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on the Southbank in London. This group had formed in Cambridge and had been singing together for some years in a range of lineups under a different name, but this big London debut was the launchpad for the five-decade-long career of The King's Singers we know now. Their vocal makeup was two countertenors, a tenor, two baritones and a bass, and the group has never wavered from this formation since. 2018 marks the 50th birthday of the group, and to celebrate, The King's Singers are presenting their anniversary season: GOLD. Everything in this GOLD season, from triple-album to book and concert tour, celebrates the amazing musical heritage of The King's Singers, and also looks at the bright future of vocal music in all its forms.

Sir Andrew Davis & Melbourne Symphony Orchestra

Date: May 19 - 8 pm

Venue: Shanghai Symphony Hall

Sir Andrew Davis has served as music director and principal conductor of Lyric Opera of Chicago since 2000. He began his tenure as chief conductor of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra in January 2013. It has 88 permanent musicians. Melbourne has the longest continuous history of orchestral music of any Australian city and the MSO is the oldest professional orchestra in Australia. The MSO performs to more than 200,000 people in Melbourne and regional Victoria in over 150 concerts a year. Its principal venue is Hamer Hall.

The Tea Spell in Shanghai

Date: May 19-20 - 7:30 pm

Venue: 1862 Theater

Following his last work of Dreams of Zen, The Tea Spell is another starling dance play of choreographer Zhao Liang. It is also the second work of his oriental trilogy of body and soul. The work is inspired by the exquisite tea set relic, which was unearthed from Famen Temple and used for the emperor in Tang Dynasty (618-907). It follows the clue of "Tea", which blurs the boundary between time and space and returns to human nature. In the play, the three characters of a woodman, hermit and monk represent different types of people. They encounter a fair lady, constantly change and get lost in the endless loop, presenting a spiritual vastness of human beings through a fresh and elegant visual tableau. The storyline is vivid and manifests profound human nature. Through multisensory experience, the audiences glimpse into the subtle wisdom of the universe in a detached way. In terms of visual effect, the performance presents its cutting-edge aesthetics in terms of costumes, props, choreography and artistic makeup.

A Coproduction of NCPA, Royal Opera House & Opera Australia Die Meistersinger von Nuernberg

Date: May 31-June 7 - 7:30 pm

Venue: National Centre for the Performing Arts

Die Meistersinger von Nuernberg was composed from 1845 to 1867 and completed after Tristan und Isolde, and premiered at the National Theatre Munich in 1868. The work holds a unique position among operas by Richard Wagner, since it is his only "comic" opera and has lively music. The plot is based on an historical social context that include figures of the period. The protagonist Hans Sachs was the most famous "Die Meistersinger" in German history, who had written numerous poems to celebrate the spirit of humanity and life, making significant contributions to German art in the 16th Century. The figure was used by Wagner to express his ideal of reforming art and delivering high praise for German culture and art. This version is a coproduction of the NCPA, Royal Opera House, Convent Garden and Opera Australia, and a second opera produced by the NCPA in collaboration with the Royal Opera House after Andrea Chenier, which was launched in 2015.

National Theater of China Fusheng

Date: May 19-20 - 7:30 pm

Venue: National Centre for the Performing Arts

Fusheng, who holds expansive knowledge about Confucianism and is employed as a learned scholar in the Qin State, which has just unified China in the ancient time. As time goes on, Confucianism, which has long been admired for so long, has lost its influence. The First Emperor of Qin orders the "burning of books and burial of Confucian scholars." But Fusheng preserves the Confucian masterpiece The Book of History and defends the culture without fear of death, but when he seems to have succeeded, his soul is tortured. Yet as a scholar of Confucianism, he seems duty bound to sacrifice his life for it.

Years of Tranquility: Ton Koopman Conducts the Seasons

Date: May 25 - 8 pm

Venue: Shanghai Symphony Hall

Born in Zwolle, the Netherlands, Ton Koopman had a classical education and studied organ, harpsichord and musicology in Amsterdam. He received the Prix d'Excellence for both instruments. Naturally attracted by historical instruments and fascinated by the philological performance style, Koopman concentrated his studies on Baroque music, and soon became a leading figure in the "authentic performance" movement. At the age of 25, Koopman created his first baroque orchestra; in 1979 he founded the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra followed in 1992 by the Amsterdam Baroque Choir. Combined as the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra & Choir, the ensemble soon gained worldwide fame as one of the best ensembles on period instruments.

Nightlife & Activities

Blissful Land I: Into the Depth of Statues & Murals

Date: May 19-27 - 10 am

Venue: Shanghai Himalayas Museum

This exhibition, co-organized by Shanghai Himalayas Museum, Kucha Institute, Art Institute of Maijishan Cave, together with Shanghai International Culture Association, brings to Shanghai, for the first time, numerous world cultural heritages, such as murals of Kucha, Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, reputed as the cradle of Chinese Buddha culture, and murals and statues of Maijishan Cave, one of the four largest grottoes in China. Crossing 5,000 kilometers, a total of 80 art treasures will be presented as the first exhibition of Shanghai Himalayas Museum. With the Belt and Road Initiative, we are able to trace back along the ancient Silk Road to explore the bloodline of Chinese civilization and then look to the future to promote new international exchanges and prosperity. The Silk Road is the road of cultural exchange, the road for the common people, the road to development. The exhibition will continue the mission to allow more people to witness the open and inclusive Chinese civilization.

Iron & Wine Live in Shanghai

Date: May 20 - 9 pm

Venue: Mao Livehouse

Sam Beam, under the alias Iron & Wine will perform with his full band and play a special show featuring songs of his richly filled catalog consisting of classic albums such as Shepherd's Dog and his latest Grammy-nominated effort Beast Epic. Through the course of five live albums, numerous EPs and singles, Iron & Wine has captured the emotion and imagination of listeners with distinctly cinematic songs topping the US Billboard charts.

Tomas Saraceno: Aerographies

Date: May 19-June 3 - 10 am

Venue: Fosun Foundation, Shanghai

For his first solo exhibition in China, artist Tomas Saraceno will bring together a compendium of works from across his practice. This exhibition concentrates on the space above the Earth's surface, inviting viewers to travel together on an imagined journey from the microcosmic to the macrocosmic. Tomas Saraceno was born in 1973 in Tucuman, Argentina. He studied architecture at Universidad Nacional de Buenos Aires in Argentina and received postgraduate degrees from Escuela Superior de Bellas Artes de la Nacion Ernesto de la Carcova, Buenos Aires and Staatliche Hochschule fur Bildende Kunste Stadelschule, Frankfurt. In 2009, he attended the International Space Studies Program at NASA Center Ames in Silicon Valley, California.

Branagh Theater Live: The Winter's Tale (Screening) in Shanghai

Date: May 19-June 6 - 7 pm

Venue: Huangpu Theater

King Leontes of Bohemia suspects his wife, Hermione, and his friend, Polixenes, of betraying him. When he forces Polixenes to flee for his life, Leontes sets in motion a chain of events that lead to death, a ferocious bear, an infant left in the snow, young love, and a statue coming to life.

Doboku: Civil Engineering in Shanghai

Date: May 19 - June 24 - 10 am

Venue: Modern Art Museum

This is a design and education-focused exhibition, using art as a method to draw people's attention to civil engineering. In the exhibition, they will guide visitors to explore different crucial parts of city constructions and the indispensable facilities in their daily life, such as roads, railroads, metro, internet networks, water pipe and water dam. The exhibition aims to combine various art forms with city engineering to show visitors a different aspect of those complex constructions and the works behind the scene.

Jazz Night at K&K Vienna in Shanghai

Date: May 19-25 - 6:30 pm

Venue: K&K Vienna

Shanghai Old Keller Jazz Band is one of the most prestigious jazz bands in Shanghai that has played in high-level venues like several five-star hotels such as Shanghai Peace Hotel. Their love and dedication for music shine through and it is so special and unique, passionate, perfect. The band is famous for playing popular Chinese and foreigner jazz songs also in Europe and the United States. Band members: guitarist Gui Tianzhi, saxophone Zhu Guoping trumpeter Shu Zhang Gen.

Porter Robinson DJ Set

Date: May 24 - 8:30 pm

Venue: Modersky Lab Shanghai

Breaking into the scene in 2010 with "Say My Name", Porter Robinson has taken the electric dance music world by storm. Nonstop good bangers at shows have made him the hottest act in the scene. Influenced by Japanese culture and anime, his music often reflects oriental flare, which can be seen from his beautifully made visuals. "Sad Machine" is one of his fan-favorite iconic track, which has more than 36 million streams on Spotify. As for his new ID Virtual Self, the artist explains that the idea was inspired by Calvin Harris and is different to Porter Robinson.

China Dota 2 Supermajor

Date: June 9-10 - 10 am

Venue: Shanghai Pudong Yuanshen

Sports Center Gymnasium The China DOTA 2 Supermajor, hosted collaboratively by Perfect World and internationally-renowned esports company PGL, is the final stop in the inaugural Dota Pro Circuit. With the highest prize pool and largest qualifying points total in all Pro Circuit tournaments this year, the Supermajor becomes one of the most important loops in the DPC chain, a focus for all the powerhouse teams in duking it out before TI.

Paul McCarthy: Innocence in Beijing

Date: May 19-June 17 - 10 am

Venue: M Woods Museum

M Woods is proud to present a solo exhibition by American master Paul McCarthy, a veteran of the Los Angeles scene and hugely influential to scores of artists across the world. McCarthy has dedicated his career to experimental practices, examining the shortfalls of conventional language and shining a light on the dark side of contemporary culture specifically consumerism and mainstream media as they are experienced in America. McCarthy's 50 years of artmaking have seen him work in nearly every conceivable medium, from painting and sculpture, to performance, video, feature-length film and recently virtual reality. For the exhibition at M Woods, the artist has chosen to present a survey of video, which he has worked with since the beginning and consistently returned to over the course of his career. Showing publicly for the first time in China are 43 works by McCarthy and selected collaborators, made between 1970 and 2013.

2018 Run to the Beat

Date: May 20 - 8 am

Venue: Ming Tomb Reservoir

Run To The Beat is the first music Half Marathon in Beijing, taking place in the beautiful Ming Tomb Reservoir Scenic Area located in the city's Changping district. On May 20, live bands and DJs will line the track, while a musical party awaits at the finish line with center stage acts and some tunes to keep the blood pumping. Sponsor booths, F&B, and more dot the way, giving runners and support squads plenty to occupy themselves with. Whether you choose to run 10 kilometers or 5 km distances, this unique event welcomes runners of all levels. It's time to lace up your dancing/running shoes. Run To The Beat music running event was first established by IMG in London back in 2008. The first event attracted 12,000 runners to join. Later, the event developed its popularity worldwide and has since attracted over 100,000 runners to participate.

]]>
2018-05-19 08:06:42
<![CDATA[Art and craftsmanship]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/19/content_36233552.htm Taking pride of place in its newly-refurbished Sir Joseph Hotung Gallery of China and South Asia, a red lacquer box, designed by Chinese artist Jiang Qiong'er, is one of the British Museum's latest acquisitions.

]]>
Shanghai-born artist, Jiang Qiong'er, is moving heaven and earth to ensure that traditional craftsmanship remains relevant through functionality and the art of modern living

Taking pride of place in its newly-refurbished Sir Joseph Hotung Gallery of China and South Asia, a red lacquer box, designed by Chinese artist Jiang Qiong'er, is one of the British Museum's latest acquisitions.

Designed by Jiang and lovingly crafted by Gan Erke, the "Xi Pi Lacquer Heaven and Earth Lidded Box" is a masterpiece that combines Chinese traditional craftsmanship and modern design, perfectly embodying the cultural heritage of Chinese lacquer making - a tradition that has continued for thousands of years.

The box, with an outer diameter of 352 millimeters and a height of 55 mm, took 18 months to make and the shape is inspired by a traditional Chinese zan plate. Zan means "to gather" in traditional Chinese and a zan plate gathers several small plates and forms a round, or flower, shape signifying happiness and completeness.

The body of the box is crafted from black wood and treated using the traditional Chinese lacquer technique - using red spot Xi Pi lacquer for the surface and refined black polished lacquer for the inside - creating a rippled pattern that emulates floating clouds or running water; ever-changing, never predictable.

Jiang, 41, is the founder and CEO of Shang Xia, which is backed by French luxury company Herm��s. The core philosophy of Shang Xia's style is lightness, purity, simplicity, comfort and emotional touch.

"I feel honored that a Shang Xia work has become part of the permanent collection of the British Museum," the Shanghai-born artist says. "It represents not only the recognition and support of the world's top art hall to Chinese contemporary design and craftsmanship, but is also motivation for the cause we are following.

"I want to start from the original source of living art to seek the true meaning of craftsmanship in contemporary life."

This is not the first time that one of the world's top museums has acquired one of Shang Xia's designs. In 2014, Christie's Auction House held a special sale of 20 Shang Xia limited edition treasures, noting that the pieces resonated with modernity, a sense of design, craftsmanship and rare raw materials.

It was the first time an auction had been held for Chinese artworks with such contemporary design and all 20 pieces were sold, with some fetching a handsome return.

Later, one of the museums with the most renowned Asian collections in Europe - Musee Guimet - purchased three Shang Xia pieces including a "bamboo living space."

Additionally, the Musees des Arts D��coratifs in Paris also houses some of Shang Xia's works, including the "Shang Xia Da Tiandi Brown Xi Pi Lacquer and Carbon Fiber Table" and "Fuqi Agate Cups".

The British Museum expressed a desire to acquire one of Jiang's pieces to its permanent collection back in 2015. Throughout the whole design, creation and production process, they paid several visits to China to document the creation of the piece, shooting lots of video footage and images of Jiang and the craftsman.

"For them, this is to record history instead of just caring about the finished work itself," explains Jiang. "In my opinion, all the museums in cooperation with us are actually looking for, collecting and recording a microcosm of the highest level of life, techniques, artisanship, science and technology, art and design of a certain period in society," she muses, noting that the best preservation of China's rich heritage and craftsmanship is innovation.

Whenever she creates something, Jiang always asks three questions; firstly, how can it be made to be useful?

Some of the country's traditional know-how has become solely for decoration, but with no function, she notes. For example, when she met a craftsmen doing bamboo weaving in southwest China's Sichuan province, they were making an elephant for an entry into the Guinness Book of World Records.

"It's amazing," she observed, "but it's not going to be used in your daily life." Her team worked with the same Sichuan craftsmen to weave a "coat" to cover a white porcelain tea set. The thin bamboo strips are softly woven following the shape of the tea ware, seamlessly melding one material into the other. In terms of functionality, the design has enhanced the safety of serving hot tea, but when people hold the cup, they will feel the handmade craftsmanship.

Secondly, how can it be modernized?

The best example is perhaps Shang Xia's carbon fiber chairs, for which Jiang drew inspiration from Ming-style chairs, but created them using the ultramodern material to make the light and thin frame.

Her third question is "how can give it an emotional value?"

Shang Xia's "sculptured cloth" takes its inspiration from the herdsman of Inner Mongolia who make their rugs, yurts, clothing and cooking utensils with felt. The handmade clothing is passed from one generation to the next, and with it the family story and all of the emotion that evokes. Most felt is made from wool, which may be too heavy and uncomfortable for most urban applications, but Jiang and her team adapted the material from cashmere, to make a lighter, more luxurious - but equally functional - cashmere felt.

In Chinese, Shang Xia means "ups and downs," which Jiang reinterprets with her signature adaptability. She imagines "Shang" as "into the sky," representing the passage of history, craftsmanship and tradition, while "Xia," she says, is "the earth," representing the future, new technology and new material.

Whichever way you look at it, demand for Shang Xia's creations is soaring, and one of the reasons is that Jiang's flights of fancy remain firmly grounded in tradition, functionality and the art of modern living.

chenjie@chinadaily.com.cn

 

The "Xi Pi Lacquer Heaven and Earth Lidded Box", designed by artist Jiang Qiong'er. Photos provided to China Daily

(China Daily 05/19/2018 page16)

]]>
2018-05-19 08:05:19
<![CDATA[Money for old rope as H&M intros Econyl fabric]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/19/content_36233551.htm

Swedish retail giant H&M, known for its fast-fashion clothing for men, women, teenagers and children, launched its seventh Conscious Exclusive collection which uses renewable, recycled and sustainable materials to encourage environmental protection.

The collection, which launched on April 19, includes women's clothing, underwear, shoes and accessories and draws inspiration from the work of prominent 20th century Swedish artist and designer, Karin Larsson.

Using elements from Larsson's handmade tapestries and embroidery, the collection also reflects her love of interior design.

The color palette for the collection is predominantly green, white and black, with elements of dusky blue and powder pink and, alongside organic cottons, linens and silks, as well as Tencel and recycled polyester, H&M has introduced a new material: Econyl - a 100 percent regenerated nylon fiber made from recycled fishing nets and other nylon waste, which will be used to craft intricate pieces of lace.

Some of the most eye-catching offerings include a long sleeveless white dress, made with cotton and Econyl, and a gold and silver silk jacquard green floral dress constructed from recycled polyester.

"For this collection, we want to show how beautiful sustainable fashion can look," says Ann-Sofie Johansson, the creative adviser of H&M. She believes that there are still a lot of misconceptions about sustainable fashion and people still think it's about beige or unbleached fabrics.

"With this collection we want to show that you can create high-end fashion," she added, "really beautiful and pleasurable to wear, while at the same time still being sustainable."

H&M is one of the world's leading fashion retailers that insist on delivering sustainable fashion and design. In 2013, about 11 percent of their products were created using regenerated or other sustainably-sourced materials. By 2017, that number had jumped to 35 percent and the company recycled 17,771 tons of clothes.

"Our goal is to only use regenerated or other sustainable sources by 2030," explains Cecilia Stromblad Brannsten, the acting environmental sustainability manager of H&M. "We are using this method to provide environmentally-friendly clothing to more people and to promote these materials and manufacturing techniques."

Aside from the new clothing materials, in a bid to lower the impact of pollution caused by mining, H&M has also introduced jewelry and accessories using recycled silver. The precious metal is extracted and refined from old candlesticks, sterling silver flatware, coins and scrap jewelry.

According to Ann, any product that wants to carry the Conscious Exclusive label must contain at least 50 percent sustainable fabric.

One hundred percent is not always possible, concedes Johansson, because the fashion part has to be guaranteed.

"We want the pieces to be good and to be beautiful, because we are a fashion company first and foremost, then we add the sustainability," she notes.

Even though the company is trying to achieve a goal, it still faces difficulties and challenges, mostly with the limitations of recycling technology and techniques. The biggest challenge is the decomposition of the recycled materials.

"The techniques are not matured yet for the whole industry, and current process makes the lifetime of the resultant fabric short and nondurable," Johansson laments, adding that many recycled clothes are only good for one regeneration.

However, she remains positive about the future of sustainable clothing and recycling because the company is experimenting with new techniques and there is a growing demand for it.

"Our Conscious Exclusive collection is very popular, people want to buy sustainable fashion products, and we want to provide it for them in affordable and more accessible ways," she concludes, "and our next collection in 2019 will include men's clothing as well."

]]>
2018-05-19 08:05:19
<![CDATA[Culinary Olympics debuted in Guangzhou]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/19/content_36233542.htm

Dialogue between eastern and western gastronomic culture sparks inspiration

Bocuse d'Or, the prestigious gastronomic contest also known as the "culinary Olympics," just concluded its Asia Pacific section in the southern port city of Guangzhou, the first time it has ever taken place in China.

There, the increasing communications between western and eastern cuisine created new inspiration.

Japanese chef Hideki Takayama won the contest after a more than five-hour challenge. It was his second continental title after he claimed the championship in 2014, and Japan's third consecutive win.

 

Chefs compete in a cooking skills challenge at this year's Asia Pacific selection of Bocuse d'Or, a global gastronomic contest, in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, in mid-May. Photos by Liang Xu / Xinhua

But new faces in the region also performed well.

Thai chef Natcha Saengow, 23, nailed second place, while Seon Yeong Gu from South Korea, 24, took third.

"Bocuse d'Or is all about promoting new chefs and different cuisines," Florent Suplisson, director of the event, told Xinhua. "Every country has its own traditions and its own produce, and we want to show that at Bocuse d'Or. That's our purpose."

Australian contestant Michael Cole and Singaporean Noel Ng Choon Wee, fourth and fifth place respectively, will also join the Bocuse d'Or finale next January in Lyon, France.

The contestants were required to prepare 10 plates and a platter, using veal tenderloin and salmon respectively. They were also encouraged to use influences from in their unique cultures.

Saengow mixed salmon with Thai clams; Cole used Australian jarrah wood to smoke the fish; while Chinese chef Fu Zhuwei wrapped it in dumplings.

Founded by renowned French chef Paul Bocuse 31 years ago, Bocuse d'Or today includes some 60 national and four continental sections in Europe, the Asia-Pacific region, the Americas, and Africa. Numerous new ideas and inspirations are presented on the platform.

"This is what we call gastro-diplomacy," Suplisson said.

Aside from the contestants, elite chefs from across the world, many with Michelin stars, also joined in the event. During their stay in Guangzhou in Guangdong province, more than 80 foreign chefs visited local food markets and learned about the produce. Some of them even cooked at local kitchens.

Karl Firla, owner and head chef of bistro Oscillate Wildly in Sydney, was comfortable with the exotic local seafood and heavy Chinese kitchen knives.

"They're not so strange from my perspective, because obviously we travel a lot around the world to see what's happening in the industry," Firla said.

In the old days, cuisine was brought to different places mainly by immigrants, with their own traditions, emotions and stereotypes. But as Firla pointed out, with higher mobility and more access to different cultures, the spread and fusion of food has become an everyday reality.

"Different tastes are brought together in an easier and more creative way, and being exposed to such diversity can be a privilege," the Australian chef said.

"With all the diversity of cultures and the mixing, we're starting to build our own identity now," Firla said. "So it's a fantastic time to be in Australia and contribute to so many different components of our industry."

Many of the star chefs that visited Guangzhou had cross-cultural backgrounds, such as Brazilian and Colombian nationals studying in France, or French cooks working for London hotels.

Christophe Paucod, a Michelinstar chef and restaurant owner, taught French cuisine at culinary school Le Cordon Bleu in Tokyo 20 years ago, and noticed that more and more students were now from other Asian countries. "We have more and more students from China now," Paucod said.

"And those cooking schools in Paris are also witnessing the same trend."

Chinese chef Fu Zhuwei, who once studied in Turin in Italy, was given a wild card to the Bocuse d'Or finale. Deeply proud of his Chinese cuisine, Fu said he hopes to present the food to more customers and critics.

He said he also believes that the food and beverage industry in China should progress further, especially in standardization.

"Chinese cuisine has a long, long history, but we should keep learning," Fu added.

Xinhua News Agency

]]>
2018-05-19 07:43:06
<![CDATA[New procurement strategies, services improving business travel experience]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/19/content_36233540.htm

Business travel managers need to consider a shift in their hotel sourcing process, as fiscal performance and traveler satisfaction have become increasingly important, according to a recent survey.

The ACTE Corporate Travel Study was released by the Association of Corporate Travel Executives and HRS at the Corporate Lodging Forum in Shanghai last week to "take the pulse of the industry".

A total of 226 corporate travel executives around the globe responded to the survey. They are from companies with diverse business travel programs, ranging from a small size with less than $5 million in annual expenditures, to medium ($5 million to $10 million) and large scale (more than $10 million).

The report found that more than half of travel executives have changed their negotiation process of hotel sourcing over the past three years, with most reporting cost reduction and other benefits.

Greeley Koch, executive director of ACTE, said that for the past four decades, travel managers have "spent their third quarters buried in hotel sourcing reviews".

"The once-a-year negotiation strategy worked for a long time, but that was back when the industry was relatively quiet, and it took months or years for change to kick in," Koch said.

"Today, changes in pricing, content availability and your company's needs can hit within a matter of hours," he said.

About one-third of the respondents said that they were highly satisfied with their current negotiation approach, while the majority reported only moderate satisfaction, facing frustration with market fragmentation, rising prices, lack of data transparency and the amount of time and labor involved in the sourcing process, according to the survey.

Marco D'Ilario, vice-president of sourcing solutions at HRS, said: "In a global arena with thousands of hotel management groups vying for business travelers, a growing number of perceptive travel managers and procurement executives recognize the benefits of evolving with new automation tools and best practices to drive financial savings while improving traveler satisfaction."

The most common change was to begin working with a third-party hotel-focused specialist or consultancy service - a preferred option to companies with large hotel spends - or with a travel management company, a practice often used by those with small hotel programs.

Travel executives looking to reduce hotel costs, improve traveler satisfaction and increase program flexibility should consider the continuous sourcing model, a relatively new concept in hotel procurement, the report said.

Continuous sourcing is a year-round service that allows corporate hotel program managers to stay on top of hotel rate fluctuations in cities most relevant to their business.

The new approach introduces real-time awareness about rate trends in a company's key destinations, D'Ilario said.

"This dynamic method, increasingly used in multiple countries by multinational programs, gives hotel programs irrefutable data necessary to engage with their preferred hotel suppliers throughout the year," he said.

The report showed that expected cost reductions, improving traveler satisfaction and increasing program flexibility are cited as travel executives' primary motivators for considering the approach of continuous sourcing.

]]>
2018-05-19 07:43:06
<![CDATA[Roundup]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/19/content_36233539.htm

Appointments

Andrew C. Rogers has been appointed multiproperty vice-president and general manager of The Ritz-Carlton, Beijing. He will oversee the Beijing property as well as a portfolio of luxury hotels for Marriott International in northern China.

Rex Lam has been appointed executive assistant manager of InterContinental Beijing Sanlitun, in charge of food and beverage. He is from Hong Kong and has 25 years of experience in the sector.

Party Time

Sofitel Kunming in Yunnan province, the first French luxury hotel brand in the city, celebrated its second anniversary with La Nuit by Sofitel, a gala night of music and mixology, on May 4. About 100 VIP guests were in attendance at the event, including key opinion leaders. The hotel's unique helipad made a dramatic setting for an LED dance show, pop songs, dances, an aerial ballet and the sophisticated style of the evening's DJ star, Mariana Bo.

Culinary Delights

Leung Yu-king, executive Chinese chef of Island Shangri-la Hong Kong's Michelin-starred Summer Palace restaurant, is visiting Shangri-la Hotel, Shenyang in Liaoning province from Tuesday to Saturday and offering his signature take on Cantonese cuisine at a food festival.

At The Ritz-Carlton, Guangzhou in Guangdong province, Chinese traditional craftworks and modern arts filled with oriental sentiment are interspersed with its European interior, creating a vibrant atmosphere that coincides with the international jewelry brand Qeelin's "East meets West" philosophy. In celebration of the opening of the first Qeelin shop in Guangzhou, the hotel is cooperating with the brand to present a jewel-inspired afternoon tea at its Pearl Lounge.

]]>
2018-05-19 07:43:06
<![CDATA[UNDERSTANDING KISSINGER]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/18/content_36228039.htm More than 40 years has passed since Henry Kissinger was US secretary of state. Yet his voice still matters. And Kissinger's counsel and contributions to the bilateral relationship are still respected by Chinese leaders.

]]>
The first part of Niall Ferguson's biography of former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger, who turns 95 later this month, has just been published in China. Fang Aiqing reports.

More than 40 years has passed since Henry Kissinger was US secretary of state. Yet his voice still matters. And Kissinger's counsel and contributions to the bilateral relationship are still respected by Chinese leaders.

As Kissinger - a key figure in Sino-US relations since the 1970s - turns 95 on May 27, a Chinese version of Kissinger: 1923-1968 The Idealist, the first part of the two-volume biography of the man by British historian Niall Ferguson, has been published in China, three years after its release in the US.

Ferguson describes Kissinger as "the rarest of intellectuals who made it in the realm of power" and his biography, while looking at Kissinger's early years before his appointment as US president Richard Nixon's national security adviser, also looks at his intellectual capital that Ferguson thinks has been insufficiently studied.

In 2016, the biography won the Arthur Ross Book Award from the US Council on Foreign Relations, which rewards non-fiction books that make an outstanding contribution to the understanding of foreign policy or international relations.

A New York Times review in 2015 says of the book, "if Kissinger's official biographer cannot be accused of falling for his subject's justifiably famed charm, he certainly gives the reader enough evidence to conclude that Henry Kissinger is one of the greatest Americans in the history of the Republic, someone who has been repulsively traduced over several decades and who deserved to have a defense of this comprehensiveness published years ago."

Ferguson thinks it is important for the Chinese to understand Kissinger's early life.

"I'm constantly reminded of how many crucial decisions were taken in the period when Kissinger was in office, but nowhere I think has his role had more profound consequences than in China.

"And he was the only one individual who was involved at every juncture of US-China relations, from the very beginning right down to the present day."

Ferguson, 54, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and the Center for European Studies at Harvard University, is an internationally renowned author of several highly successful books, including The House of Rothschild and The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World.

Despite the many biographies of Kissinger, Ferguson took up the challenge of writing about Kissinger's life and thoughts after repeated invitations by Kissinger himself.

Ferguson was first approached by Kissinger for his biography nearly 15 years ago. And he then plunged into the plentiful personal diaries, letters and unfinished manuscripts that Kissinger gave him unprecedented access to. Some of the documents dated back to the 1940s.

The two reached a legal agreement in 2004 to guarantee Ferguson's independence while writing.

In fact, according to Ferguson, on reading his manuscript, Kissinger didn't speak to him for weeks because the former statesman felt that he had revealed too much.

And it was not until the book was published and some of Kissinger's associates read it and told him what they thought of it that Kissinger resumed speaking to Ferguson.

In Ferguson's words, sometimes the life of a single person like Kissinger helps us realize exactly why history changes direction and the world is transformed.

Kissinger's life is much like a typical American story.

As a German refugee from an Orthodox Jewish family, he was sent back to Germany as an American soldier in World War II, where he met Fritz Kraemer, the man who led him into history and philosophy.

After the war, Kissinger went to Harvard University in 1947 to study political science.

His doctoral dissertation, published in 1957 with the title A World Restored: Metternich, Castlereagh and the Problems of Peace, 1812-1822, looked at European diplomacy more than a century earlier.

In Ferguson's opinion, history is the key to Kissinger's ability to understand the contemporary world more than any other American statesman of the last two or three generations.

Kissinger wrote in his doctoral dissertation that no significant conclusions were possible in the study of foreign affairs without an awareness of the historical context.

For him, history is both a source of illuminating analogies and the defining factor in national self-understanding. Another Kissinger's book from 1957, Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy, explains his idea of a limited nuclear war.

This work propelled him from academic obscurity to what Americans call a public intellectual.

And then, from 1958 to 1968, Kissinger advised Nelson Rockefeller on foreign policy in three unsuccessful attempts to become the Republican candidate for the presidency.

That is why he was astonished when Nixon, Rockefeller's political opponent, offered him the post of national security advisor in 1968.

But it was Vietnam that became the defining point of Kissinger's career, as he realized that the Vietnam War could not be won by the US, and therefore a diplomatic solution rather than a military victory had to be the objective of American policy.

That was also when, for the first time in his life, he began thinking about China.

A memorandum recorded a conversation between Kissinger and Czech diplomat Antonin Snejdarek in January 1967 when the latter asked whether the US was planing to "form an alliance" with the Chinese against the Soviet Union.

At first, it seemed unbelievable for Kissinger. Yet according to Ferguson, the seed of opening communication with socialist China was planted then, and it later came to pass when Kissinger paid a secret trip to Beijing in 1971.

Ferguson says that Kissinger's meetings with the late premier Zhou Enlai, which culminated in the agreement that the then US president Nixon should make a visit to Beijing the following year, were among the most important meetings in modern history.

It later turned out that the publication of the Shanghai Communique, signed during Nixon's visit in 1972, resulted in accelerating the end of the Vietnam War, the US acknowledging Taiwan as part of China, and the economic transformation of China.

Ferguson also points out that Kissinger showed a remarkable ability to understand Chinese leaders' thinking considering that in 1971 he had no background in Chinese history.

"Therefore, he appears to have had an incredible ability to understand a foreign culture very quickly and intuitively. And I think that's only possible when you've had the kind of extraordinary early life that he did," says Ferguson, referring to Kissinger as a "mind-reader".

Ferguson himself also is very knowledgeable about Sino-US relations.

He coined the term "Chimerica" with German economist Moritz Schularick to describe the interdependence between the two largest economies in the world.

Yet, since the financial crisis in 2008, and with trade frictions arising now and then, Chimerica has turned out to be more like Chimera, the monster in Greek mythology.

Ferguson however, is still positive about Chimerica, adding that a new Cold War would be an enormous loss to the global economy.

Rather, he thinks that Sino-US relations are more like the relations between Britain and Germany in the early 20th century, which featured both close economic ties and geopolitical risks. And this, he points out, is what Kissinger has always wanted us to pay attention to.

Contact the writer at fangaiqing@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2018-05-18 07:44:06
<![CDATA[High-tech marks Buddhist grotto copies]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/18/content_36228038.htm Three grottoes in Dunhuang, Northwest China's Gansu province, have been replicated at Shanghai Tower, the world's second-tallest building, as part of a 10-month-long exhibition.

Jointly organized by the Gansu Provincial Administration of Cultural Heritage, Dunhuang Research Academy, Gansu Provincial Museum, Shanghai Tower and other institutions, the event opened on April 28, with the aim of providing visitors with an immersive experience by leveraging virtual reality and other advanced technologies.

The full-size replicas - two from the Mogao Caves and one from the nearby Yulin Caves - were installed based on digital archives of their originals.

Frescoes in the original caves have been copied using high-definition scanning and printing technologies, says Mi Qiu, curator of the exhibition.

Dating from the 5th to early 11th centuries, they represent three distinct styles of different periods of the Dunhuang grottoes, China's largest Buddhist art treasure.

Among them, the No 29 cave at Yulin was replicated using high-definition technology for the first time in a public presentation. The murals in the caves present the aesthetics and ethnic flavor of the Western Xia Dynasty (1038-1227), and the continuation of religious ideas at the time.

Mogao's No 220 cave presents frescoes from the early Tang Dynasty (618-907), showcasing many ancient musical instruments and dances. No 285 cave, which dates back to the Western Wei Dynasty (535-556) and features a reverse funnel-shaped roof, is said to have the richest contents of all the grottoes in Dunhuang. It depicts Buddhist and Taoist characters.

Apart from the three replica grottoes, 118 precious cultural relics from seven museums in western China, are also on display. Many exhibits are being shown in Shanghai for the first time, including a bronze statue named Galloping Horse Treading on a Flying Swallow from the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220).

The statue, unearthed in 1969 from the tomb of a military officer in Zhangye, also in Gansu, is one of the top national treasures in China. As part of the Gansu Provincial Museum's collection, it reflects the legend that a galloping horse can be so fast that it can actually fly higher than a swallow. It became the national official tourism logo in 1983.

The exhibition is also showing three-dimensional holographic images that enable visitors to view immovable sculptures from different locations, including an image of Buddha's nirvana, which features an 18-meter-long reclining Buddha from No 158 cave at Mogao.

Other key exhibits include a Buddhist thangka artwork featuring Milarepa, a Tibetan scholar, 10 original Dunhuang manuscripts, and a collection of other religious and secular documents discovered in the Mogao Caves in the early 20th century.

The exhibition, which runs through February next year, will also present more than 50 seminars and events about the culture, fashion, music and dance, literature and folk arts relating to Dunhuang.

The Dunhuang grottoes are a living record of the ancient Silk Road. More than 700 sandstone caves contain frescos, paintings, sculptures and other relics from the pre-11th century eras.

In 1987, the grottoes, also known as the Caves of the Thousand Buddhas, became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Facing threats of natural decay and human-induced damage, Dunhuang Research Academy has been working on a digital archiving project since the 1990s. After more than two decades in 2016, the academy launched e-dunhuang.com, a website offering virtual views of 28 of the Mogao Caves.

So far, the academy has completed the digitization of more than 100 caves, according to Zhao Shengliang, the deputy director of Dunhuang Research Academy.

"Dunhuang is a shared treasure of humanity and it is our responsibility to share Dunhuang culture with the world," Zhao says.

"We used to face a dilemma when it came to preservation and sharing. Digitization has solved that - it allows exhibitions of Dunhuang culture to take place at any time, and in any location."

Contact the writer at linshujuan@chinadaily.com.cn

If you go

8:30 am-8 pm, through Feb 28, 2019; entrance fee: 180 yuan ($28.6) per adult, half price for children. Shanghai Tower exhibition hall, Pudong New Area, Shanghai.

linshujuan@chinadaily.com.cn

 

The ongoing exhibition at Shanghai Tower features fullsize replicas of grottoes in Dunhuang and precious cultural relics from seven museums in western China. Photos By Gao Erqiang And Lin Shujuan / China Daily 

]]>
2018-05-18 07:44:06
<![CDATA[A MAN OF TASTE]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/18/content_36228037.htm When Zhang Zhicheng watched Japanese cartoon Cooking Master Boy for the first time, he knew that he was going to be a chef one day.

]]>
Young chef's new restaurant in Beijing offers patrons food without a formal menu. Li Yingxue reports.

When Zhang Zhicheng watched Japanese cartoon Cooking Master Boy for the first time, he knew that he was going to be a chef one day.

"You could feel the pride of being a chef," Zhang says.

"Like in the cartoon the young master chef is shining under golden lights."

Despite having seen it dozens of times, and been working the kitchen for more than 10 years, the 25-year-old chef still watches the cartoon in his spare time.

Last year, Zhang opened a new restaurant named Yanjintang, located at a quadrangle courtyard in Beijing. He only serves one table of up to 10 people each day and doesn't have a menu, so the guests walk in without knowing what they are going to get to eat. Plus, they have to book one month in advance.

"I always want to make something new and I'm always learning about new dishes," says Zhang. "There is so much to learn about Chinese cuisine."

For the first couple of months since opening, Zhang has cooked more than 500 different dishes for his clients. When each dish is served, Zhang explains to his diners what ingredients he uses and how he cooks the dish, then, spontaneously, thinks of a name.

"That's part of the reason I don't have a menu - the names of the dishes are just improvisation," he notes.

Zhang first tried to cook when he was in elementary school. One day his grandmother was angry that he did not finish his homework, so she did not cook for him.

Zhang remembered that his father had once showed him how to make egg fried rice, so he just picked up the pot.

What captured Zhang's imagination was the process of seasoning the fried rice.

"I realized that I could control the food, and make the food whatever flavor I want, which is amazing," Zhang enthuses.

After finishing junior high school, Zhang chose to study Chinese cuisine at Beijing Jinsong Vocational High School, against his family's wishes. At the same time, Zhang started to learn practical skills in the kitchen of his uncle's restaurant.

"I was 15 when I first entered the kitchen, the chefs were all masters specializing in Cantonese cuisine, and they were tough on me," Zhang recalls.

Each day Zhang had to wake up at 7 am to start a two-hour commute - involving a bicycle ride, the subway and a bus - to the restaurant. "In the winter, my shirts were wet before I even started work," he recalls.

"I started by carrying the ingredients each day and learning how to prepare the vegetables and clean fish," Zhang says.

Having seen his hard work and commitment, Zhang's parents gradually started to come around, changing their mind about his love of cooking.

At the age of 19, he successfully applied to be the chef for pop singer Su Xing's new restaurant.

"Su Xing was one of the most important people in my life," Zhang extols.

"He trusted me and gave me the chance to be a chef and let me try new things."

After working in Su's restaurant for two years, Zhang co-founded the high-end takeout platform Shetouhenmang (Busy Tongue). The platform received a 3 million yuan ($471,000) angel investment in 2016, but Zhang soon chose to quit.

"I realized that I don't like standard Chinese food, and I can't use a machine to make food," he explains.

"What I want is to have a small and pretty restaurant, from which I can serve and communicate with my guests."

He picked the quadrangle courtyard and decorated it for three months, finishing it in a color similar to Tiffany blue and with vintage furniture from the first half of the 20th century.

"I want my guests to feel comfortable, like they are at home, in my restaurant, so you would not notice that there are chefs cooking over there," Zhang says, pointing to the kitchen.

He refuses to set up a profile for Yanjintang on food review websites, as he does not want his restaurant to be so popular and crowded that it loses its intimacy.

Zhang starts each day by going to Sanyuanli Market to find seasonally fresh ingredients, while his staff head to the airport at midnight to collect ingredients that Zhang orders from all over the world. He insists using fresh ingredients.

"My principle of making food is using proper ingredients and simply follow the method, without taking shortcuts," Zhang explains.

When he cooks chicken soup with figs, he uses a gauze bag with chrysanthemum to filter the soup - the flower is cold and a bit bitter, which can calm the heat of the chicken soup.

He starts his pigeon soup the night before he serves it, as the bird requires steaming with spring water for at least eight hours. You can also find his signature crawfish dish, with flavors such as huadiao wine ice cream or fermented bean curd.

Zhang is passionate about learning new skills and discovering new dishes. As soon as he learns a new recipe, he cooks it for his guests.

"I have a formula in my head - I know how to calculate different seasonings and what flavor I can get - it's my talent," he says.

"I also have a pot in my head in which I cook the dishes many times before I cook it in real life."

Contact the writer at liyingxue@chinadaily.com.cn

 

Clockwise from top left: Zhang Zhicheng’s (above) restaurant boasts dishes such as fried luffa leaves, liquid nitrogen crawfish, bamboo shoots in spring with tofu, deepfried wonton wrappers topped with pea sprouts, braised pork in brown sauce with preserved vegetables, and sweet and sour hairtail. Yanjintang is located in a Beijing courtyard house. Photos By He Jing / For China Daily

]]>
2018-05-18 07:44:06
<![CDATA[HITTING THE RIGHT NOTE]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/18/content_36228036.htm When Danish tenor Peter Lodahl sang at the grand theater of the Tianqiao Performing Arts Center in Beijing recently, what resounded off the walls of the hall was unlike any of his performances in the past 75 international opera productions of his career.

]]>
Composed and written in Chinese and performed by both Western and Chinese singers, the opera Marco Polo is set to please music lovers. Chen Nan reports.

When Danish tenor Peter Lodahl sang at the grand theater of the Tianqiao Performing Arts Center in Beijing recently, what resounded off the walls of the hall was unlike any of his performances in the past 75 international opera productions of his career.

Hitting the high notes still proved to be a challenge, yet the 44-year-old tenor successfully managed to pull off his first performance singing in Chinese for the opera production, Marco Polo.

It is the first original Chinese opera produced by the Guangzhou Opera House for the Silk Road International League of Theaters, which was initiated by the China Arts and Entertainment Group in 2016. Representing 86 theaters from 32 countries and regions around the world, the league serves as a platform for the performing arts and was set up to promote cultural exchanges between China and other countries.

Marco Polo, which was composed and written in Chinese to be performed by both Western and Chinese singers, is based on the story of the Venetian explorer who traveled along the ancient Silk Road.

The story revolves around three Italian adventurers Marco, Niccolo and Maffeo Polo, who traveled along the Silk Road in the 13th century. The opera also charts the romance between Marco Polo and a young Chinese woman named Chuan Yun and the rise and fall of the Song and Yuan dynasties (960-1368).

After making its world premiere at the Guangzhou Opera House over May 4-6, the opera is now being staged in Beijing, running from Wednesday to Saturday.

Danish director Kasper Holten, former director of opera at the Royal Opera House in London from 2011 to 2017 and the current vice-president of the European Academy of Music Theatre, is directing the opera.

He invited Lodahl to sing in Marco Polo as the lead role but Lodahl initially turned it down.

"I speak six languages and have sung in 10 languages, but I have never sung in Chinese," says Lodahl, who studied at the Royal Academy of Music in Aarhus and at the Copenhagen Opera Academy, both in Denmark. He has worked with Holten on five opera productions to date. "Then I had second thoughts and decided to give it a try. Now, although I can't use Chinese in everyday conversation, I can sing in Chinese. And I'm looking forward to singing in more Chinese operas."

The other Western singers, including Damian Thantrey as Maffeo Polo and Jonathan Gunthorpe as Niccolo Polo, also learned to sing in Chinese from scratch.

According to Li Jinsheng, president of the China Arts and Entertainment Group, the opera took about three years to put together a team of international artists. Among them are London-based video designer Luke Halls, who was a member of the creative team behind the closing ceremonies of the 2012 London Olympics and Paralympics, and London-based set and costume designer Emma Ryott, who designed more than 1,800 costumes and accessories for this opera.

Munich-based composer Enjott Schneider spent 10 weeks finishing the three-hour opera, which would have normally taken two years to complete.

From August to October, he worked day and night on the libretto written by Wei Jin, one of the most influential poets in contemporary Chinese literature.

Since Schneider doesn't speak Chinese, a Chinese friend of his wrote out the words in pinyin and added the German translation under each line of the libretto.

"The sounds of each Chinese word is very different from Italian, one of the most common languages in opera productions. It was a big challenge for me to compose using the Chinese language," says Schneider, who is the chairman of the board of the German collecting society and performance rights organization, Gema.

The composer, who has a wide range of repertories for film, television, chamber works, orchestral music and operas, started researching Chinese music in the 1990s, which enabled him to combine traditional Chinese folk sounds with Mongolian music and Western classical music.

In the opera, audiences can hear the distinctive sounds of Chinese musical instruments, including the erhu, yangqin (a Chinese dulcimer) and bamboo flute, combined with khoomei (traditional Mongolian throat-singing) - all set against the backdrop of symphony orchestra.

"My interest in Chinese music started with the traditional Chinese philosophies, such as Taoism," says the composer.

Along with his Chinese musician friends - sheng player Wu Wei and erhu player Yan Jiemin - Schneider composed the concerto for sheng and orchestra and symphony No. 3 for alto and sheng.

He says the subject of Marco Polo was also inspiring because "Marco Polo is a sign for connecting cultures".

"Besides the significance of composing completely for a Chinese opera, I believe that the opera delivers something more, that is, love and peace. It's especially meaningful now because there are so many wars and misunderstandings in the world," the composer adds.

The Chinese cast includes tenors Tian Haojiang and Zhao Ming as Kublai Khan, baritones Yuan Chenye and Wang Yunpeng as Wen Tianxiang and mezzo-soprano Liang Ning as Liu Niang.

Unlike the premiere in Guangzhou, which saw the Macao Symphony Orchestra perform under the baton of Tang Muhai, one of the most acclaimed Chinese conductors, the Tianjin Symphony Orchestra will join Tang when the opera is staged in Beijing.

"I have been traveling between the East and the West since the 1980s and I've been trying to bridge the different cultures through music. The process of making this opera, Marco Polo, has been a major effort of communication," says Tang.

According to Jiang Yimin, a professor at the Peking University Academy of Opera, unlike some Western opera houses, which are cutting budgets and losing audiences, especially from the younger generations, China's opera houses and theaters, such as the National Center for the Performing Arts and the Guangzhou Opera House, are thriving in their productions of original and classical operas.

In 2017, about 130 opera productions were produced in China, Jiang says.

"Now, with Marco Polo, which is a new landmark in the opera scene in China, more Western singers and composers will be interested in China, and audiences will also take a fresh look at original opera productions in the country," says Jiang.

Contact the writer at chennan@chinadaily.com.cn

If you go

7:30 pm, May 16 to 19 Tianqiao Performing Arts Center, 9 Tianqiao Nandajie, Xicheng district, Beijing. 400-635-3355

China’s original opera production, Marco Polo, which is composed and sung in Chinese language by both Western and Chinese singers, is being staged in Beijing through Saturday. Photos Provided to China Daily

]]>
2018-05-18 07:44:06
<![CDATA[US orchestra visits 5 cities in debut China tour]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/18/content_36228035.htm The Pacific Symphony recently concluded its first China tour with a grand gesture. It performed My Motherland, one of the most famous Chinese songs, at the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing on Tuesday, as it signed off.

The tour, which ran from May 9, covered five Chinese cities - Shanghai, Hefei in Anhui province, Wuxi in Jiangsu province, Chongqing and Beijing.

The 39-year-old Pacific Symphony, one of the largest orchestra in the United States, is based in Orange County, California.

Orange County has the third largest Asian American population in the US. And the Chinese community there in particular has seen explosive growth.

Speaking about how the symphony has tried to boost its links with the Chinese in Orange County, Pacific Symphony's president John Forsyte says: "Since 2013 we have been devoted to engaging with the Chinese communities of the region (county area), and building on their enthusiasm for symphonic music. We are proud of the role we are playing as cultural ambassadors for Orange County and the community.

"Crossing the Pacific Rim to perform for the Chinese on the mainland is the logical extension of the work we've been doing in Orange County."

The Pacific Symphony toured Europe in 2006 and made its Carnegie Hall debut on April 21, 2018. Earlier, in 2017, the orchestra relocated its headquarters to the city of Irvine, a city of Orange County.

Forsyte says that the orchestra is supported by board members, including Chinese-American members. And three years ago, the orchestra launched a lantern festival event to celebrate the Chinese New Year, introducing traditional Chinese musical instruments, dance and art activities.

Speaking about increasing Chinese involvement with the symphony, Forsyte says: "There are about half a dozen musicians in the orchestra from China, and you can often hear Mandarin backstage.

"By coming to China, our musicians have a better understanding about Chinese culture, which is also important for our audience at home."

Chinese-American violinist Shelly Shi joined in Pacific Symphony in 2009.

Shi, who was born in Beijing, studied at the high school affiliated to the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing from the age of 9.

She was awarded a scholarship to go to the US to study violin in Santa Monica after she turned 16.

Speaking about her experience with the symphony, Shi says: "The orchestra has built a good relationship with the Chinese-American community by introducing various educational programs."

Giving details, she says one program is called Strings for Generations, and it teaches Chinese families to play instruments and perform together.

Meanwhile, Carl St. Clair, 66, the music director of Pacific Symphony since 1990, was invited to be a guest conductor for the Beijing Symphony Orchestra, Hangzhou Philharmonic and Guiyang Symphony Orchestra.

During their China tour, Pacific Symphony performed repertoires that include three short pieces from Leonard Bernstein, to mark the composer's centenary this year.

Besides, they have also performed works by Mozart, Mussorsky and Ravel.

Separately, Israeli-American violinist Pinchas Zukerman accompanied the orchestra during the tour, playing as soloist, performing Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 3.

At the NCPA in Beijing, Zukerman also performed the theme of the 1993 film Schindler's List by John Williams and invited the audience to sing along with him on Johannes Brahms' Lullaby.

Giving details about how he chose the music for the tour, St. Clair, a friend of Chinese conductor Chen Zuohuang since 1978 when they met at the University of Michigan, says: "I carefully selected the repertoire to show off Pacific Symphony's energetic spirit and warm sonority."

St. Clair, who was mentored by the late American composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein, first met Bernstein in the summer of 1985, when St. Clair was a conducting fellow at Tanglewood, studying conducting under his teacher Gustav Meier, who headed the program there.

St. Clair then became a student of Bernstein, who called him "cowboy" since St. Clair was born in Texas.

In 1990, Bernstein conducted his last concert, leading the Boston Symphony to perform Beethoven's Seventh Symphony at Tanglewood. But Bernstein was not able to conduct the premiere of his newly orchestrated final work, Arias and Barcarolles, so he turned that over to St. Clair, then a 38-year-old assistant conductor of Boston Symphony.

Speaking about that experience, St. Clair says: "I will never forget each lesson he gave me. It's hard to imagine that he has been gone for 28 years. For every piece I play onstage, I remember what he told me: to keep the flag of creating music flying and to give back.

St. Clair says when the orchestra toured China, they selected repertoires they enjoy and shared music with the audience.

chennan@chinadaily.com.cn

Left: IsraeliAmerican violinist Pinchas Zukerman plays at the NCPA in Beijing.  Photo By Wang Xiaojing / For China Daily

]]>
2018-05-18 07:44:06
<![CDATA[UNDERSTANDING KISSINGER]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/18/content_36228034.htm More than 40 years has passed since Henry Kissinger was US secretary of state. Yet his voice still matters. And Kissinger's counsel and contributions to the bilateral relationship are still respected by Chinese leaders.

]]>

The first part of Niall Ferguson's biography of former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger, who turns 95 later this month, has just been published in China. Fang Aiqing reports.

More than 40 years has passed since Henry Kissinger was US secretary of state. Yet his voice still matters. And Kissinger's counsel and contributions to the bilateral relationship are still respected by Chinese leaders.

As Kissinger - a key figure in Sino-US relations since the 1970s - turns 95 on May 27, a Chinese version of Kissinger: 1923-1968 The Idealist, the first part of the two-volume biography of the man by British historian Niall Ferguson, has been published in China, three years after its release in the US.

Ferguson describes Kissinger as "the rarest of intellectuals who made it in the realm of power" and his biography, while looking at Kissinger's early years before his appointment as US president Richard Nixon's national security adviser, also looks at his intellectual capital that Ferguson thinks has been insufficiently studied.

In 2016, the biography won the Arthur Ross Book Award from the US Council on Foreign Relations, which rewards non-fiction books that make an outstanding contribution to the understanding of foreign policy or international relations.

A New York Times review in 2015 says of the book, "if Kissinger's official biographer cannot be accused of falling for his subject's justifiably famed charm, he certainly gives the reader enough evidence to conclude that Henry Kissinger is one of the greatest Americans in the history of the Republic, someone who has been repulsively traduced over several decades and who deserved to have a defense of this comprehensiveness published years ago."

Ferguson thinks it is important for the Chinese to understand Kissinger's early life.

"I'm constantly reminded of how many crucial decisions were taken in the period when Kissinger was in office, but nowhere I think has his role had more profound consequences than in China.

"And he was the only one individual who was involved at every juncture of US-China relations, from the very beginning right down to the present day."

Ferguson, 54, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and the Center for European Studies at Harvard University, is an internationally renowned author of several highly successful books, including The House of Rothschild and The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World.

Despite the many biographies of Kissinger, Ferguson took up the challenge of writing about Kissinger's life and thoughts after repeated invitations by Kissinger himself.

Ferguson was first approached by Kissinger for his biography nearly 15 years ago. And he then plunged into the plentiful personal diaries, letters and unfinished manuscripts that Kissinger gave him unprecedented access to. Some of the documents dated back to the 1940s.

The two reached a legal agreement in 2004 to guarantee Ferguson's independence while writing.

In fact, according to Ferguson, on reading his manuscript, Kissinger didn't speak to him for weeks because the former statesman felt that he had revealed too much.

And it was not until the book was published and some of Kissinger's associates read it and told him what they thought of it that Kissinger resumed speaking to Ferguson.

In Ferguson's words, sometimes the life of a single person like Kissinger helps us realize exactly why history changes direction and the world is transformed.

Kissinger's life is much like a typical American story.

As a German refugee from an Orthodox Jewish family, he was sent back to Germany as an American soldier in World War II, where he met Fritz Kraemer, the man who led him into history and philosophy.

After the war, Kissinger went to Harvard University in 1947 to study political science.

His doctoral dissertation, published in 1957 with the title A World Restored: Metternich, Castlereagh and the Problems of Peace, 1812-1822, looked at European diplomacy more than a century earlier.

In Ferguson's opinion, history is the key to Kissinger's ability to understand the contemporary world more than any other American statesman of the last two or three generations.

Kissinger wrote in his doctoral dissertation that no significant conclusions were possible in the study of foreign affairs without an awareness of the historical context.

For him, history is both a source of illuminating analogies and the defining factor in national self-understanding. Another Kissinger's book from 1957, Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy, explains his idea of a limited nuclear war.

This work propelled him from academic obscurity to what Americans call a public intellectual.

And then, from 1958 to 1968, Kissinger advised Nelson Rockefeller on foreign policy in three unsuccessful attempts to become the Republican candidate for the presidency.

That is why he was astonished when Nixon, Rockefeller's political opponent, offered him the post of national security advisor in 1968.

But it was Vietnam that became the defining point of Kissinger's career, as he realized that the Vietnam War could not be won by the US, and therefore a diplomatic solution rather than a military victory had to be the objective of American policy.

That was also when, for the first time in his life, he began thinking about China.

A memorandum recorded a conversation between Kissinger and Czech diplomat Antonin Snejdarek in January 1967 when the latter asked whether the US was planing to "form an alliance" with the Chinese against the Soviet Union.

At first, it seemed unbelievable for Kissinger. Yet according to Ferguson, the seed of opening communication with socialist China was planted then, and it later came to pass when Kissinger paid a secret trip to Beijing in 1971.

Ferguson says that Kissinger's meetings with the late premier Zhou Enlai, which culminated in the agreement that the then US president Nixon should make a visit to Beijing the following year, were among the most important meetings in modern history.

It later turned out that the publication of the Shanghai Communique, signed during Nixon's visit in 1972, resulted in accelerating the end of the Vietnam War, the US acknowledging Taiwan as part of China, and the economic transformation of China.

Ferguson also points out that Kissinger showed a remarkable ability to understand Chinese leaders' thinking considering that in 1971 he had no background in Chinese history.

"Therefore, he appears to have had an incredible ability to understand a foreign culture very quickly and intuitively. And I think that's only possible when you've had the kind of extraordinary early life that he did," says Ferguson, referring to Kissinger as a "mind-reader".

Ferguson himself also is very knowledgeable about Sino-US relations.

He coined the term "Chimerica" with German economist Moritz Schularick to describe the interdependence between the two largest economies in the world.

Yet, since the financial crisis in 2008, and with trade frictions arising now and then, Chimerica has turned out to be more like Chimera, the monster in Greek mythology.

Ferguson however, is still positive about Chimerica, adding that a new Cold War would be an enormous loss to the global economy.

Rather, he thinks that Sino-US relations are more like the relations between Britain and Germany in the early 20th century, which featured both close economic ties and geopolitical risks. And this, he points out, is what Kissinger has always wanted us to pay attention to.

Contact the writer at fangaiqing@chinadaily.com.cn

(China Daily 05/18/2018 page18)

]]>
2018-05-18 07:44:06
<![CDATA[High-tech marks Buddhist grotto copies]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/18/content_36228033.htm Three grottoes in Dunhuang, Northwest China's Gansu province, have been replicated at Shanghai Tower, the world's second-tallest building, as part of a 10-month-long exhibition.

Jointly organized by the Gansu Provincial Administration of Cultural Heritage, Dunhuang Research Academy, Gansu Provincial Museum, Shanghai Tower and other institutions, the event opened on April 28, with the aim of providing visitors with an immersive experience by leveraging virtual reality and other advanced technologies.

The full-size replicas - two from the Mogao Caves and one from the nearby Yulin Caves - were installed based on digital archives of their originals.

Frescoes in the original caves have been copied using high-definition scanning and printing technologies, says Mi Qiu, curator of the exhibition.

Dating from the 5th to early 11th centuries, they represent three distinct styles of different periods of the Dunhuang grottoes, China's largest Buddhist art treasure.

Among them, the No 29 cave at Yulin was replicated using high-definition technology for the first time in a public presentation. The murals in the caves present the aesthetics and ethnic flavor of the Western Xia Dynasty (1038-1227), and the continuation of religious ideas at the time.

Mogao's No 220 cave presents frescoes from the early Tang Dynasty (618-907), showcasing many ancient musical instruments and dances. No 285 cave, which dates back to the Western Wei Dynasty (535-556) and features a reverse funnel-shaped roof, is said to have the richest contents of all the grottoes in Dunhuang. It depicts Buddhist and Taoist characters.

Apart from the three replica grottoes, 118 precious cultural relics from seven museums in western China, are also on display. Many exhibits are being shown in Shanghai for the first time, including a bronze statue named Galloping Horse Treading on a Flying Swallow from the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220).

The statue, unearthed in 1969 from the tomb of a military officer in Zhangye, also in Gansu, is one of the top national treasures in China. As part of the Gansu Provincial Museum's collection, it reflects the legend that a galloping horse can be so fast that it can actually fly higher than a swallow. It became the national official tourism logo in 1983.

The exhibition is also showing three-dimensional holographic images that enable visitors to view immovable sculptures from different locations, including an image of Buddha's nirvana, which features an 18-meter-long reclining Buddha from No 158 cave at Mogao.

Other key exhibits include a Buddhist thangka artwork featuring Milarepa, a Tibetan scholar, 10 original Dunhuang manuscripts, and a collection of other religious and secular documents discovered in the Mogao Caves in the early 20th century.

The exhibition, which runs through February next year, will also present more than 50 seminars and events about the culture, fashion, music and dance, literature and folk arts relating to Dunhuang.

The Dunhuang grottoes are a living record of the ancient Silk Road. More than 700 sandstone caves contain frescos, paintings, sculptures and other relics from the pre-11th century eras.

In 1987, the grottoes, also known as the Caves of the Thousand Buddhas, became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Facing threats of natural decay and human-induced damage, Dunhuang Research Academy has been working on a digital archiving project since the 1990s. After more than two decades in 2016, the academy launched e-dunhuang.com, a website offering virtual views of 28 of the Mogao Caves.

So far, the academy has completed the digitization of more than 100 caves, according to Zhao Shengliang, the deputy director of Dunhuang Research Academy.

"Dunhuang is a shared treasure of humanity and it is our responsibility to share Dunhuang culture with the world," Zhao says.

"We used to face a dilemma when it came to preservation and sharing. Digitization has solved that - it allows exhibitions of Dunhuang culture to take place at any time, and in any location."

Contact the writer at linshujuan@chinadaily.com.cn

If you go

8:30 am-8 pm, through Feb 28, 2019; entrance fee: 180 yuan ($28.6) per adult, half price for children. Shanghai Tower exhibition hall, Pudong New Area, Shanghai.

linshujuan@chinadaily.com.cn

 

The ongoing exhibition at Shanghai Tower features fullsize replicas of grottoes in Dunhuang and precious cultural relics from seven museums in western China. Photos By Gao Erqiang And Lin Shujuan / China Daily 

(China Daily 05/18/2018 page18)

]]>
2018-05-18 07:44:06
<![CDATA[A MAN OF TASTE]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/18/content_36228032.htm When Zhang Zhicheng watched Japanese cartoon Cooking Master Boy for the first time, he knew that he was going to be a chef one day.

]]>
Young chef's new restaurant in Beijing offers patrons food without a formal menu. Li Yingxue reports.

When Zhang Zhicheng watched Japanese cartoon Cooking Master Boy for the first time, he knew that he was going to be a chef one day.

"You could feel the pride of being a chef," Zhang says.

"Like in the cartoon the young master chef is shining under golden lights."

Despite having seen it dozens of times, and been working the kitchen for more than 10 years, the 25-year-old chef still watches the cartoon in his spare time.

Last year, Zhang opened a new restaurant named Yanjintang, located at a quadrangle courtyard in Beijing. He only serves one table of up to 10 people each day and doesn't have a menu, so the guests walk in without knowing what they are going to get to eat. Plus, they have to book one month in advance.

"I always want to make something new and I'm always learning about new dishes," says Zhang. "There is so much to learn about Chinese cuisine."

For the first couple of months since opening, Zhang has cooked more than 500 different dishes for his clients. When each dish is served, Zhang explains to his diners what ingredients he uses and how he cooks the dish, then, spontaneously, thinks of a name.

"That's part of the reason I don't have a menu - the names of the dishes are just improvisation," he notes.

Zhang first tried to cook when he was in elementary school. One day his grandmother was angry that he did not finish his homework, so she did not cook for him.

Zhang remembered that his father had once showed him how to make egg fried rice, so he just picked up the pot.

What captured Zhang's imagination was the process of seasoning the fried rice.

"I realized that I could control the food, and make the food whatever flavor I want, which is amazing," Zhang enthuses.

After finishing junior high school, Zhang chose to study Chinese cuisine at Beijing Jinsong Vocational High School, against his family's wishes. At the same time, Zhang started to learn practical skills in the kitchen of his uncle's restaurant.

"I was 15 when I first entered the kitchen, the chefs were all masters specializing in Cantonese cuisine, and they were tough on me," Zhang recalls.

Each day Zhang had to wake up at 7 am to start a two-hour commute - involving a bicycle ride, the subway and a bus - to the restaurant. "In the winter, my shirts were wet before I even started work," he recalls.

"I started by carrying the ingredients each day and learning how to prepare the vegetables and clean fish," Zhang says.

Having seen his hard work and commitment, Zhang's parents gradually started to come around, changing their mind about his love of cooking.

At the age of 19, he successfully applied to be the chef for pop singer Su Xing's new restaurant.

"Su Xing was one of the most important people in my life," Zhang extols.

"He trusted me and gave me the chance to be a chef and let me try new things."

After working in Su's restaurant for two years, Zhang co-founded the high-end takeout platform Shetouhenmang (Busy Tongue). The platform received a 3 million yuan ($471,000) angel investment in 2016, but Zhang soon chose to quit.

"I realized that I don't like standard Chinese food, and I can't use a machine to make food," he explains.

"What I want is to have a small and pretty restaurant, from which I can serve and communicate with my guests."

He picked the quadrangle courtyard and decorated it for three months, finishing it in a color similar to Tiffany blue and with vintage furniture from the first half of the 20th century.

"I want my guests to feel comfortable, like they are at home, in my restaurant, so you would not notice that there are chefs cooking over there," Zhang says, pointing to the kitchen.

He refuses to set up a profile for Yanjintang on food review websites, as he does not want his restaurant to be so popular and crowded that it loses its intimacy.

Zhang starts each day by going to Sanyuanli Market to find seasonally fresh ingredients, while his staff head to the airport at midnight to collect ingredients that Zhang orders from all over the world. He insists using fresh ingredients.

"My principle of making food is using proper ingredients and simply follow the method, without taking shortcuts," Zhang explains.

When he cooks chicken soup with figs, he uses a gauze bag with chrysanthemum to filter the soup - the flower is cold and a bit bitter, which can calm the heat of the chicken soup.

He starts his pigeon soup the night before he serves it, as the bird requires steaming with spring water for at least eight hours. You can also find his signature crawfish dish, with flavors such as huadiao wine ice cream or fermented bean curd.

Zhang is passionate about learning new skills and discovering new dishes. As soon as he learns a new recipe, he cooks it for his guests.

"I have a formula in my head - I know how to calculate different seasonings and what flavor I can get - it's my talent," he says.

"I also have a pot in my head in which I cook the dishes many times before I cook it in real life."

Contact the writer at liyingxue@chinadaily.com.cn

 

Clockwise from top left: Zhang Zhicheng’s (above) restaurant boasts dishes such as fried luffa leaves, liquid nitrogen crawfish, bamboo shoots in spring with tofu, deepfried wonton wrappers topped with pea sprouts, braised pork in brown sauce with preserved vegetables, and sweet and sour hairtail. Yanjintang is located in a Beijing courtyard house. Photos By He Jing / For China Daily

(China Daily 05/18/2018 page19)

]]>
2018-05-18 07:44:06
<![CDATA[HITTING THE RIGHT NOTE]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/18/content_36228031.htm When Danish tenor Peter Lodahl sang at the grand theater of the Tianqiao Performing Arts Center in Beijing recently, what resounded off the walls of the hall was unlike any of his performances in the past 75 international opera productions of his career.

]]>
Composed and written in Chinese and performed by both Western and Chinese singers, the opera Marco Polo is set to please music lovers. Chen Nan reports.

When Danish tenor Peter Lodahl sang at the grand theater of the Tianqiao Performing Arts Center in Beijing recently, what resounded off the walls of the hall was unlike any of his performances in the past 75 international opera productions of his career.

Hitting the high notes still proved to be a challenge, yet the 44-year-old tenor successfully managed to pull off his first performance singing in Chinese for the opera production, Marco Polo.

It is the first original Chinese opera produced by the Guangzhou Opera House for the Silk Road International League of Theaters, which was initiated by the China Arts and Entertainment Group in 2016. Representing 86 theaters from 32 countries and regions around the world, the league serves as a platform for the performing arts and was set up to promote cultural exchanges between China and other countries.

Marco Polo, which was composed and written in Chinese to be performed by both Western and Chinese singers, is based on the story of the Venetian explorer who traveled along the ancient Silk Road.

The story revolves around three Italian adventurers Marco, Niccolo and Maffeo Polo, who traveled along the Silk Road in the 13th century. The opera also charts the romance between Marco Polo and a young Chinese woman named Chuan Yun and the rise and fall of the Song and Yuan dynasties (960-1368).

After making its world premiere at the Guangzhou Opera House over May 4-6, the opera is now being staged in Beijing, running from Wednesday to Saturday.

Danish director Kasper Holten, former director of opera at the Royal Opera House in London from 2011 to 2017 and the current vice-president of the European Academy of Music Theatre, is directing the opera.

He invited Lodahl to sing in Marco Polo as the lead role but Lodahl initially turned it down.

"I speak six languages and have sung in 10 languages, but I have never sung in Chinese," says Lodahl, who studied at the Royal Academy of Music in Aarhus and at the Copenhagen Opera Academy, both in Denmark. He has worked with Holten on five opera productions to date. "Then I had second thoughts and decided to give it a try. Now, although I can't use Chinese in everyday conversation, I can sing in Chinese. And I'm looking forward to singing in more Chinese operas."

The other Western singers, including Damian Thantrey as Maffeo Polo and Jonathan Gunthorpe as Niccolo Polo, also learned to sing in Chinese from scratch.

According to Li Jinsheng, president of the China Arts and Entertainment Group, the opera took about three years to put together a team of international artists. Among them are London-based video designer Luke Halls, who was a member of the creative team behind the closing ceremonies of the 2012 London Olympics and Paralympics, and London-based set and costume designer Emma Ryott, who designed more than 1,800 costumes and accessories for this opera.

Munich-based composer Enjott Schneider spent 10 weeks finishing the three-hour opera, which would have normally taken two years to complete.

From August to October, he worked day and night on the libretto written by Wei Jin, one of the most influential poets in contemporary Chinese literature.

Since Schneider doesn't speak Chinese, a Chinese friend of his wrote out the words in pinyin and added the German translation under each line of the libretto.

"The sounds of each Chinese word is very different from Italian, one of the most common languages in opera productions. It was a big challenge for me to compose using the Chinese language," says Schneider, who is the chairman of the board of the German collecting society and performance rights organization, Gema.

The composer, who has a wide range of repertories for film, television, chamber works, orchestral music and operas, started researching Chinese music in the 1990s, which enabled him to combine traditional Chinese folk sounds with Mongolian music and Western classical music.

In the opera, audiences can hear the distinctive sounds of Chinese musical instruments, including the erhu, yangqin (a Chinese dulcimer) and bamboo flute, combined with khoomei (traditional Mongolian throat-singing) - all set against the backdrop of symphony orchestra.

"My interest in Chinese music started with the traditional Chinese philosophies, such as Taoism," says the composer.

Along with his Chinese musician friends - sheng player Wu Wei and erhu player Yan Jiemin - Schneider composed the concerto for sheng and orchestra and symphony No. 3 for alto and sheng.

He says the subject of Marco Polo was also inspiring because "Marco Polo is a sign for connecting cultures".

"Besides the significance of composing completely for a Chinese opera, I believe that the opera delivers something more, that is, love and peace. It's especially meaningful now because there are so many wars and misunderstandings in the world," the composer adds.

The Chinese cast includes tenors Tian Haojiang and Zhao Ming as Kublai Khan, baritones Yuan Chenye and Wang Yunpeng as Wen Tianxiang and mezzo-soprano Liang Ning as Liu Niang.

Unlike the premiere in Guangzhou, which saw the Macao Symphony Orchestra perform under the baton of Tang Muhai, one of the most acclaimed Chinese conductors, the Tianjin Symphony Orchestra will join Tang when the opera is staged in Beijing.

"I have been traveling between the East and the West since the 1980s and I've been trying to bridge the different cultures through music. The process of making this opera, Marco Polo, has been a major effort of communication," says Tang.

According to Jiang Yimin, a professor at the Peking University Academy of Opera, unlike some Western opera houses, which are cutting budgets and losing audiences, especially from the younger generations, China's opera houses and theaters, such as the National Center for the Performing Arts and the Guangzhou Opera House, are thriving in their productions of original and classical operas.

In 2017, about 130 opera productions were produced in China, Jiang says.

"Now, with Marco Polo, which is a new landmark in the opera scene in China, more Western singers and composers will be interested in China, and audiences will also take a fresh look at original opera productions in the country," says Jiang.

Contact the writer at chennan@chinadaily.com.cn

If you go

7:30 pm, May 16 to 19 Tianqiao Performing Arts Center, 9 Tianqiao Nandajie, Xicheng district, Beijing. 400-635-3355

 

Top and above left: China’s original opera production, Marco Polo, which is composed and sung in Chinese language by both Western and Chinese singers, is being staged in Beijing through Saturday. Above right: Munichbased composer Enjott Schneider (right) and Chinese poet Wei Jin at the Tianqiao Performing Arts Center in Beijing on Monday. Photos Provided to China Daily

(China Daily 05/18/2018 page20)

]]>
2018-05-18 07:44:06
<![CDATA[US orchestra visits 5 cities in debut China tour]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/18/content_36228030.htm The Pacific Symphony recently concluded its first China tour with a grand gesture. It performed My Motherland, one of the most famous Chinese songs, at the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing on Tuesday, as it signed off.

The tour, which ran from May 9, covered five Chinese cities - Shanghai, Hefei in Anhui province, Wuxi in Jiangsu province, Chongqing and Beijing.

The 39-year-old Pacific Symphony, one of the largest orchestra in the United States, is based in Orange County, California.

Orange County has the third largest Asian American population in the US. And the Chinese community there in particular has seen explosive growth.

Speaking about how the symphony has tried to boost its links with the Chinese in Orange County, Pacific Symphony's president John Forsyte says: "Since 2013 we have been devoted to engaging with the Chinese communities of the region (county area), and building on their enthusiasm for symphonic music. We are proud of the role we are playing as cultural ambassadors for Orange County and the community.

"Crossing the Pacific Rim to perform for the Chinese on the mainland is the logical extension of the work we've been doing in Orange County."

The Pacific Symphony toured Europe in 2006 and made its Carnegie Hall debut on April 21, 2018. Earlier, in 2017, the orchestra relocated its headquarters to the city of Irvine, a city of Orange County.

Forsyte says that the orchestra is supported by board members, including Chinese-American members. And three years ago, the orchestra launched a lantern festival event to celebrate the Chinese New Year, introducing traditional Chinese musical instruments, dance and art activities.

Speaking about increasing Chinese involvement with the symphony, Forsyte says: "There are about half a dozen musicians in the orchestra from China, and you can often hear Mandarin ba